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Thursday, February 2, 2023

First Qantas Airbus A380 to return to service

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The first Qantas Airbus A380 to return to Australia ahead of its reintroduction to service has been announced, and it is scheduled to arrive in Sydney next week.

VH-OQB, dubbed Hudson Fysh, will be the first Qantas A380 to return from overseas storage, and will be transported from Dresden, Germany to Sydney shortly.

The aircraft is being returned to its home base in order to begin the necessary preparations for the aircraft and crew to take to the skies.

It will be the first of ten A380s to be reintroduced into the Qantas fleet, with the remaining two superjumbos being retired early.

Due to the fact that it was one of only two Qantas superjumbos grounded at a purpose-built A380 hangar at LAX, rather being parked at the Victorville ‘boneyard’ in the California desert, Australian Aviation claimed back in August that VH-OQB may be the first A380 to return to service.

VH-OQB had recently been transported from LAX to a facility in Dresden for a scheduled landing gear upgrade in preparation for a planned refurbishment. Since then, Hudson Fysh has been stored at Dresden Airport.

“After arriving, OQB will enter Hangar 96 where it will spend the next few weeks undergoing additional checks and maintenance by our Sydney Engineers,” Qantas said in a staff memo.

“We’re expecting the aircraft to be available for ground and crew refresher training from mid-December and will have a cabin refurbishment before its return to service.”

Qantas recently announced that at least one of its A380s would return to Australia before the end of the year in order to prepare the plane and its crew for its return to service.

The announcement came after Qantas pushed out the return of the superjumbos not once, but twice.

Due of Australia’s rapid vaccination rollout, the Flying Kangaroo originally planned to keep its 12 A380s in the California desert until late 2023. However, the airline later indicated that five of the 12 will be returned by mid-2022.

Hudson Fysh is now expected to resume regular passenger service on flights between Sydney and Los Angeles as early as April 2022, according to a revised timeframe.

This second fast-track decision was taken because demand for foreign travel, notably on Qantas’ Sydney – LA and Sydney – London flights, had exceeded expectations, according to the airline.

While it’s great to see VH-OQB back, it’s also bittersweet. Despite earlier forecasts that all 12 A380s will be brought back into service, Qantas is scheduled to retire two of its planes early.

It’s the start of the end for Qantas’ legendary A380 fleet, as Airbus prepares to deliver its last-ever A380 to Emirates, following the decision to discontinue the Airbus A380 program.

In light of the announcement, Australian Aviation looked back at the airline’s A380 fleet’s history and invited readers to guess which superjumbos will be grounded for good.

VH-OQA received more than half of all votes placed in the poll, with readers feeling Nancy-Bird Walton might retire early and work at the HARS Aviation Museum or the Qantas Founders Museum.

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