Nancy Bird returns to the air

Qantas’s Airbus A380 registered VH-OQA or known as “Nancy Bird Walton” finally returned home from Singapore on the 22nd April.

The A380 suffered an uncontained engine failure on the 4th November 2010 as it departed Singapore with bits of the engine falling to the ground, forcing an emergency return to Singapore.

Since the return of the aircraft to Singapore, the aircraft has had investigators crawling over it to establish what happened. After they finished, it came to repairing the aircraft.

The work was carried out at SIA Engineering at Singapore Changi, costing A$139 million (about $144 million give or take), involving engines, and the damage on the left wing between ribs on the forward spar and upper and lower wing sections. With 70,000 man hours of work,over 18 months.

In addition, a major repair requiring the fixing a custom made patch to the upper wing skin, which was pierced by debris from the No 2 engine. Part of the front spar and lower wing skin was also replaced. Inside the wing, various components were replaced including harnesses, fairings, flaps, fuel pipes, and various other hydraulic and electrical systems. All four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines were also replaced during the time of the refit.

The net result is that the plane is “as new” for all intents and purposes – except for a 200kg extra weight on the plane as a result of the patch.

For testing, the plane was put through some it’s pre-delivery drills including a four hour flight test and a full electrics system test.

For Qantas, who have an aircraft valued at A$300 million, they see this as an investment – and keeping Qantas’s safety record intact.

Repairs took almost 18 months to complete, and used almost 40,000t of tooling and parts. The entire tab of A$139 million ($144 million) was picked up by insurance companies. Another A$95 million came from Rolls-Royce, which supplied the Trent 900 engines, as compensation.

Richard de Crespigny –  who was the captain of the original flight was the captain to ferry the bird back to Australia as QF32, who ha absolute confidence in the aircraft.

Flight number QF32 however will be retired in the near future.

It’s good to see Nancy Bird back in the air, and it will returning to active service on the 28th April, operating Sydney to Hong Kong in the first instance.


  1. SW says

    I saw her today in the hanger when I was on the bus transferring between the QF Intl and QF domestic terminals at SYD.