On Wednesday night, 30 January 2019, a huge aircraft decided to make an unscheduled appearance at Adelaide Airport due to the severe weather hitting Melbourne Airport and surrounding areas. The double decker Airbus A380-800 aircraft was operating the daily service between Singapore and Melbourne, flying under the flight number SQ217.
The flight began its journey back in Singapore the same morning, departing Gate B2 at Singapore Changi Airport slightly behind schedule at 1117hrs (11:17am SGT).
9V-SKG is operated by Singapore Airlines who purchased this aircraft brand new from Airbus back in 2008. The aircraft was previously registered in France with the registration of F-WWSP during all its testing flights, from there it was registered under its current registration, 9V-SKG. This particular aircraft was the 19th to be built and was delivered to Singapore Airlines on 4 June 2009, making the airframe almost 11 years old.
Throughout the flight from Singapore to Melbourne the Airbus A380-800 flew at a cruising altitude of 41,000ft. An hour out from Melbourne Tullamarine Airport it was sent into a holding pattern just over Birchip, north of Melbourne Airport. The aircraft began descending down to 30,000ft and continued to circle between Boort and Kerang before setting its sights onto Adelaide at around 2022hrs (08:22pm AEST).
With the aircraft confirmed for diverting to Adelaide the world quickly spread around various social media sites with Plane Spotters and Aviation Enthusiasts alike rushing down to the airport to see the superjumbo arrive. The flight touched down at 2146hrs (09:46pm ACST) utilizing the full length of Adelaide’s main runway, Runway 23 (RWY23). The superjumbo taxied off the runway using ‘Foxtrot 6’ via ‘Alpha 4’ and ‘Lima’ to its arrival gate of Gate 19, the total taxiing time took 15 minutes as they had to wait for Qatar to push back and depart so the superjumbo could fit.
As it pulled into Gate 19 the First Officer on board gave us all a wave. The air bridge was connected to the forward left door so ground crew and engineers could get access to the cockpit, an Australian Border Force Official was at the gate as soon as the doors were open to give the all clear.
Various Singapore Airlines and dnata airport staff were around walking to and from the aircraft throughout the diversion. No passengers or baggage disembarked the aircraft and the only thing that was added was a splash of fuel to get it safely on its way to Melbourne.
While Adelaide can accommodate the Airbus A380-800 superjumbos we are yet to receive any scheduled services by any airline, our greatest chance was Emirates but they have just recently downgraded our aircraft to a small capacity variant of the Boeing 777. I guess the reason being for no A380 flights into Adelaide all comes down to not enough demand and traffic to warrant it.
As all the spotters gathered to check out this rare yet often common occurrence we were all left wondering if it was going to stay overnight or fly out later. Around 2300hrs (11:00pm ACST) ground crews connected up the tug and within a few minutes the air bridge was being removed and the plane was pushing back, ready to continue on its journey to Melbourne. At 2324hrs (11:24pm ACST) it took off using Runway 23 (RWY23) en route to Melbourne.
The flight later arrived at Melbourne at 00:54 (12:54am AEST) with the direct flight from Adelaide only taking 59 minutes. The total duration of this flight including the brief stopover in Adelaide took just over nine hours.
It was great to see this aircraft in Adelaide and was by far one of my best aircraft to catch this year, being only one month into 2019 it exciting to see what the rest of the year will bring us here in Adelaide.