Qantas to Resume A380 Flights – Should You Avoid those Flights?

Qantas Airbus A380

Qantas Airbus A380

Qantas today announced that it plans to resume initial Airbus A380 operations from Saturday, 27 November, commencing with a QF31 service from Sydney to London via Singapore

No doubt the engine explosion on Qantas Flight QF32 earlier this month caused many passengers to consider whether to fly on Qantas’, or other airline’s, A380 services. The Qantas decision to ground their fleet and undertake a rigorous engineering investigation to determine the cause before returning them to service is exactly what I would expect from one of the world’s safest airlines.

In their media release today, Qantas stated:

A380 engines remain subject to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Airworthiness Directive issued on 11 November, mandating that all Trent 900s undergo certain inspections every 20 flying cycles. Qantas will comply fully with this directive both for A380s brought back into service and for new aircraft entering the Qantas fleet. (Note from Steve: A  flying cycle is one take-off and landing.)

This is a very rigorous inspection regime, and will help ensure the dangerous condition does not eventuate on other aircraft but does it make you feel comfortable flying on the A380?

As an aviation professional, I am satisfied that flying on an A380 poses no greater threat to my safety than any other aircraft. Why?

Firstly, Qantas and other A380 operators are experienced and reliable, I trust them.

Second, the various regulatory authorities like EASA maintain strong control of safety standards and an unsafe aircraft would be grounded by them.

Finally, Airbus and Rolls Royce make quality products and are rightly proud of their engineering prowess, and covet their safety record. Again I trust them.

So I am looking forward to flying direct to London on a Qantas A380 next year for our Great Britain and Ireland adventure.


Cheap Airfares in Australia

Australia is experiencing an unprecedented increase in airlines offering discounted airfares over the last couple of years and it does not look like abating with Tiger Airways joining the fray. Established carrier Qantas held a near monopoly after the collapse of Ansett until Virgin Blue was established to bring the fun and discounts back.

Qantas responded by launching Jetstar as their discount airline, offering fares as low as $49 currently on many popular routes. Tiger Airways is offering fares as low as $39.95 on its routes including Canberra to Melbourne, giving Canberra residents a much needed respite from consistently higher fares than other Australian cities enjoy.

Unlike low cost airlines in other countries (notably Europe), all these carriers operate out of the exact same airports as the major carriers making them an option for internal travel connections to your overseas flight and they may even service your international destination.

Australia is huge country and these discounts are giving travellers an option to get further afield on their visits Down Under without cutting to deeply into the budget.


Jetstar flies into Avalon not Tullamarine Airport in Melbourne.


Aviation Fun and History in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is rich in aviation history, exhibits and home to the largest aerospace company in the world, The Boeing Company (Technically, it is now a Chicago based company but the heart is still in Seattle) and summer is the time to visit. For aviation enthusiasts there is an event or exhibit to visit almost every weekend during the blue sky weekends of May through August, here are my favourites:

Collings Foundation B-17 Flying Fortress

1. Museum of Flight. The Museum of Flight in Seattle is one of the best run aerospace exhibits I have visited and hosts aviation events throughout the year. The exhibit highlights include the Personal Courage Wing housing fighter aircraft from World War I and II, and the Great Gallery where you can explore aviation history. Memorial Day weekend the museum hosts these three great events:

The Aluminum Overcast: B-17 flight experience in this veteran warbird for $399.

Tuskegee Airmen who became German Prisoners of War, listen to the experiences of the Red-tailed fighters as told by the pilots themselves.

Cascade Warbird Fly-in, aircraft from World War II to Vietnam will grace the tarmac outside the museum.

2. Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour. Looking down on the factory floor, you have to remind yourself that the aircraft under construction are amongst the largest in the world despite being dwarfed in this massive facility. The tour is proceeding with presentations and exhibits on the future of flight and flight simulator ride but the heavy metal on the production line holds my attention longest.

3. Flying Heritage Collection.Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has many passions and the wealth to indulge them. The Flying Heritage Collection is his personal stable of historic aircraft, many restored to flying condition and exercised in the air on regular occasions. Currently located at Arlington Airfield, the collection is moving to Paine Field in late 2007. Tours are by appointment only.

4. Evergreen Aviation Museum. Home of the Hughes Hercules flying boat (Spruce Goose), the Evergreen Aviation Museum has a large collection of rare and unique aircraft.

5. Arlington Northwest EAA Fly-in. The second largest fly-in event in the USA, Arlington is less well known than Oshkosh but no less impressive for aviators. Fantastic home built aircraft sit along side warbirds and wide range of aviation products from books to your next aircraft kit.


Travel Tech – Internet Travel Bookings (Airlines)

No matter how good your purchase price is, someone will get a better deal next week.

This small piece of wisdom should be printed on every receipt but open your mind to the subliminal message, the reason I quote it so often to travellers. A good price is still good even if someone gets a better deal, do not let another shopper’s good fortune ruin your enjoyment. Good advice when buying airline tickets online.

As your own travel agent, it is up to you to get the best airfare for your next trip, and these basic tips can help get you a great deal:

1. Orbitz, Travelocity and Expedia provide a quick and easy way to review the market for your travel destination, and determine the median price.

2. Use Seat Guru to check out the airlines that service your route and select the ones that provide the level of service you require.

3. Check the airline’s own website, and see if they offer better prices there. I prefer to deal directly with an airline.

4. Sound Money Tips reports Wednesday night between midnight and 1am is supposed to yield the best deals but Wednesday in general is a good day to shop.

5. When you find an airfare less than the median price with a good airline, buy it.