David Lau, Jetstar’s head of engineering for Australia and New Zealand

Jetstar’s Engineering Head Details Aircraft Updates, Cooperation With Qantas

Qantas’ low-cost carrier is in the process of selecting a vendor for half of its Airbus A320 interior updates.

David Lau, Jetstar’s head of engineering for Australia and New Zealand, has 23 years of aviation experience—initially with Qantas Engineering and Qantas Group entities, followed by 10 years at Jetstar, a Qantas low-cost subsidiary launched in 2004. 


David Lau, Jetstar’s head of engineering for Australia and New Zealand.

Jetstar operates a fleet of Boeing 787-8s, Airbus A320s and A321s and Bombardier Q300s. What is the average age of these fleets? Do you plan any fleet changes? 

On average, the Jetstar fleet is around seven years old. Our 787 fleet average age is 2.9 years old, while our A320- family aircraft averages 7.6 years old. We are looking forward to introducing new A320neos soon.


What maintenance capabilities does Jetstar have in-house and what type of work has to be outsourced? 

In Australia, we undertake line maintenance activities on Jetstar’s A320 fleet and 787 fleet. Our hangars in Newcastle cater to A320s, while Melbourne performs both A320 and 787 overnight maintenance, as well as A Checks.

Jetstar-branded airlines Jetstar Asia, Jetstar Japan and Jetstar Vietnam undergo maintenance in Singapore, Tan Son Nhat in Vietnam and at Tokyo, Narita, where their operations are based.

Typically, work that is outsourced includes heavier structural base maintenance checks, as well as engine and component shop overhauls as the scale benefits and expertise is far greater with the OEMs and third-party MROs.


Qantas and Jetstar recently entered into a component services agreement with AFI-KLM E&M to cover both carriers’ 787 fleets. How much overlap in maintenance and vendors is typical between Qantas and Jetstar? Any plans to change this? If so, why? 

Qantas and Jetstar work closely together. With Qantas due to get its first 787-9 later this year, we have been sharing our knowledge and experience of maintaining these aircraft.


Work began in August to refit the A320s in Jetstar’s fleet. What is the project scope and what is Jetstar’s strategy for completing it without interrupting service?

We recently announced the A320 cabin enhancement project, which is the largest investment in a cabin refresh for our A320 fleet.

With this project, Jetstar will redesign and refresh 43 A320s operating in Australia and New Zealand using Airbus’s new Spaceflex Version 2 design.

This redesign will include replacing the seats, improving the lighting, reconfiguring the layout, and adding room for six more passengers and more baggage space.


Qantas Engineering won a tender to complete work at its Brisbane base for about half of these aircraft. Has an MRO provider been chosen for the remainder of the fleet? 

The selection process for the combined reconfiguration and maintenance checks is still in the process of being finalized.


Jetstar Asia signed a 10-year contract late last year to use FLYdocs data and records-management software. How do you expect the implementation of this software to improve processes? Are there plans to integrate other new software or technology into Jetstar’s maintenance operations? 

We are continuing to explore and invest in new technologies and efficiencies, and they will be used more and more in the Jetstar maintenance operations. Streamlined data and records-management software can only enhance the operation and interaction with MROs. 


There was an engine incident last year on one of Jetstar’s 787s, due to a mechanical resonance issue that was addressed in a service bulletin issued earlier this year. At the time of the incident, work to replace the problematic components in the engine had not been completed. In response, Jetstar modified its service-bulletin compliance time. How has this compliance time change been implemented across Jetstar’s fleet moving forward? 

This was a known issue for airlines using these engines. Our aircraft have all been completed. We finished the modification well ahead of the mandatory compliance time, always taking a high standard for safety matters.


A 787 was also the culprit in an erratic-airspeed incident for Jetstar in December 2015. In response, Boeing made changes to its flight-control software to reduce the chances of this type of incident recurring. Is Jetstar doing any type of preventative maintenance to address issues like these?

Jetstar worked very closely with Boeing, which gave them the opportunity to understand the issue at the time. Boeing has since upgraded flight software on all 787s to lengthen the time that low-speed readings occur before reverting to the backup system.

The handling of this incident is a great example of the safety measures of the aircraft manufacturer, well-trained pilots and an airline working exactly as they should. Crew actions and training standards were well-executed in this event, as noted by the Australian Transport Safety Board. c


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.