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Superjumbo heads for UK after engine replacements

The first Qantas A380 superjumbo to fly since the planes were grounded after an engine failure left Sydney for London today.

The Australian airline grounded its six-strong fleet of Airbus superjumbos after flight QF32 from London to Sydney was forced to make an emergency landing soon after taking off from Singapore, where it had stopped for fuel on November 4.

None of the 433 passengers or 26 crew on board were injured, but passengers reported seeing flames and a large amount of debris from the jetliner was found strewn over western Indonesia.

The aircrafts' engines have since been replaced.

The first A380 to fly since the safety crisis left Sydney just after 5.30pm local time.

It is due to arrive at Heathrow's Terminal 3 at 10.30pm GMT.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce joined the 350 passengers for the first leg in a gesture intended to reassure customers about the plane's safety.

The airline's spokesman Tom Woodward said the flight left Sydney a few minutes late but with no problems.

A statement on the Qantas website said the decision to restore A380 services followed an intensive engine inspection programme.

It said: "Qantas is now satisfied that it can begin reintroducing A380s to its international network progressively.

"Initially Qantas will operate a single A380 on routes between Australia and the United Kingdom.

"As more A380s return to service, Qantas will assess when and how best to deploy them."

The November 4 incident was the most serious safety scare to date for the world's newest and largest jetliner and prompted modifications to the Rolls-Royce engine used on 20 A380s by three airlines.

The engine problem prompted a global safety review of the Trent 900 engine used on 20 A380s across three airlines.

Qantas has replaced at least 14 engines on its fleet, and so far is returning only two of its A380s to service.