Refurbished Qantas A380 faces mechanical problems days after return to service

A refurbished Qantas A380-800 has run into dual technical snags shortly after returning to service following a six-month overhaul in Abu Dhabi, the Australian Aviation reports. The plane, registered as VH-OQI, left the Victorville storage site in January and subsequently encountered two glitches in two consecutive days last week, with one incident compelling a return to London during a Singapore-bound journey.

The A380 was ferrying passengers from Singapore to London's Heathrow airport on 13th July when it was obliged to descend near Frankfurt due to a malfunction with the autopilot system.

While the aircraft executed a safe touchdown at Heathrow, the ensuing flight to Sydney via Singapore had to reroute back to London nearly two hours into the journey. This detour occurred as the plane was traversing the boundary between Hungary and Slovakia, reportedly owing to a navigation system issue. The aircraft accomplished an overweight landing at Heathrow's runway 27L, with the crew indicating the utilization of maximum reverse thrust for exiting the runway at the final turnoff.

Notably, VH-OQI had only resumed operations after its extensive cabin refurbishment a few days prior, with its maiden flight on July 10 from Sydney to London via Singapore, and a return trip the next day, both occurring without any reported issues.

This comes on the heels of another Qantas A380 making headlines last December for an emergency landing in Baku en route to London, due to a sensor light warning of potential smoke in the cargo hold just days before Christmas. However, the plane made a safe touchdown in Azerbaijan after turning around above Tbilisi, Georgia.

Subsequent investigations found no traces of smoke, establishing the episode as a false alarm due to a sensor malfunction. Qantas sent a recovery flight, which arrived in London on Christmas Day. The grounded plane, VH-OQH, was subsequently cleared for service and resumed its commercial flights a few days later.

Another Qantas A380, VH-OQA, was implicated in a high-profile safety incident, arguably the most serious in Australian aviation history. Its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine exploded shortly after take-off in November 2010, leading to a significant fire. However, the aircraft was later returned to service.