Sunday, September 2, 2007

New Airbus Verses New Airport

The irony of this is that I dislike the new Airport almost as much as I don't enjoy flying in an Airbus.

Airbus A380 Delayed After Bump at Thai Airport

An Airbus A380 demonstration flight in Bangkok operated by Airbus SAS and carrying 150 passengers was delayed for almost four hours today after the aircraft hit a building at the international airport.

The plane, scheduled to depart at 9:45 a.m. local time from Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok to the northern city of Chiang Mai, took off at about 1:15 p.m. after engineers removed two winglets attached to the plane, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said in Bangkok.

The superjumbo jetliner arrived in Bangkok yesterday as part of an eight-day tour of Asian nations, including Hong Kong, Vietnam and South Korea. Airbus, the world's largest maker of commercial aircraft, won certification from European and U.S. authorities in July for the double-decker A380 model to fly into most of the world's major airports.

``The aircraft can operate safely without the winglets,'' designed to help save fuel for long hauls, Schaffrath said by mobile telephone on the plane before its departure. ``The damage has been carefully assessed and we will continue with our Asian roadshow.''

The A380, scheduled for its first delivery to Singapore Airlines Ltd. in October, has already made test flights to more than 40 airports, including Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt, New York John F. Kennedy, Los Angeles and Sydney, Airbus said in July.

None of the 150 passengers on board the Bangkok flight, including reporters, Thai airport officials and diplomats, were injured.

`Small Bump'

The A380's left wingtip bumped into a Thai Airways International Pcl maintenance building while it was moving to the runway for take-off, Thai Airways Chairman Chalit Pukbhasuk told reporters at the airport earlier.

``This is just a small bump, which doesn't damage the whole plane,'' said Chalit. Thai Airways President Apinan Sumanaseni said the accident happened because crew and ``supporting'' staff at the airport ``weren't familiar'' with the A380.

``We have to be more careful in the future,'' Apinan said. ``We will have to make adjustments when we use this type of aircraft.''

Thai Airways, Southeast Asia's second-biggest carrier, may add as many as 65 planes worth as much as 350 billion baht ($10.2 billion) over the next 10 years as part of a fleet expansion program, Apinan said Aug. 10. They include Airbus A330-300 planes and the A380.

Saving Fuel

The winglets are pieces of metal attached to the plane's wings, designed to save fuel. Airport engineers removed the two winglets from the aircraft's right and left wings before the plane was ready for its second test flight.

Airbus competes with Boeing Co. and is running two years behind schedule on A380 deliveries. Singapore Airlines will take delivery of the world's largest commercial aircraft on Oct. 15, 1-1/2 years behind schedule, the airline said Aug. 16.

The accident in Thailand won't impact the Toulouse, France- based plane maker's ``delivery of the aircraft'' to airlines that have placed orders, Schaffrath said.

``All the planes being manufactured are on track,'' he said.