April 22 - A Qantas A380 plane that suffered a mid-air engine explosion in 2010 lands back in Sydney after undergoing $140 million of repairs in Singapore. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
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Australia's Qantas took its repaired A380 superjumbo back to the skies on Saturday, resuming a 3,900 mile (6,300 km) journey dramatically interrupted 18 months ago when one of its engines blew up over Indonesia.
After 140 million U.S. dollars of repairs, the aircraft landed back in Sydney on Sunday (April 22), after taking off from Singapore shortly before midnight, carrying Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and members of the crew who safely landed the crippled Airbus in Singapore with 440 passengers on board in November 2010.
Captain Bruce Simpson landed the superjumbo without regular paying passengers, as it was a ferry flight to get the plane back in Australia and on the A380 roster.
"She was perfect," he said.
On board was Captain Richard De Crespigny who was at the controls the day the plane had the mid-air explosion. "I'm feeling emotional now," he said.
Passengers savoured the moment, and Joyce said, "I think everybody had a tear in their eye when the aircraft took off. It's very special."
The return to service of the flagship European jetliner ends a harrowing episode for the airline, planemaker Airbus and engine supplier Rolls-Royce.
Investigators have blamed the incident on a potential manufacturing flaw at Britain's Rolls-Royce, which endured blunt criticism from Joyce following the Trent 900 engine explosion.
Qantas and Airbus said the aircraft is safe and nearly as good as new after going through what they described as the biggest repair job on a single aircraft in aviation history.
The only visible scars are two patches of metal under the left wing where it was pierced by debris, some of which shot out at an angle that narrowly missed the top of the fuselage.
With each aircraft costing almost 400 million USD at today's list prices, the insurance-paid repair bill of A$139 million (143 million USD) was cheaper than writing off the damaged jet.
The plane, named after Australian aviation pioneer Nancy Bird-Walton, began the 6-1/2 hour journey home as flight QF32, the same call sign it was using at the time of the incident, and will now retire the number.
The aircraft will stay in Sydney for a week before its first commercial flight to Hong Kong on April 28.
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