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  (Source: United Artists)
Latest issues come at an inopportune time for Airbus who is trying to fight off Boeing's superjet entrant

The Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) is sounding the alarm on one of the world's most iconic passenger aircraft designs, claiming that they are suffering from a design flaw.

The aircraft in question is the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger jet.  The four-engine aircraft is manufactured by Airbus, a subsidiary of The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V. (EADS) (EPA:EAD).  

The airplane, which saw its maiden flight in April 2005, and saw an Oct. 2007 commercial introduction, has enjoyed having no real peer over the last several years, as it offers almost 50 percent more floor space than The Boeing Comp.'s (BA) 747-400.  It packs 478 square metres (5,145.1 sq ft) of floor space.  The A380-800 variant has a range of 15,400 kilometres (8,300 nmi; 9,600 mi) and has a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph at cruising altitude), meaning that it can travel from Hong Kong to New York City, without refueling, in only 17 hours.

But according to the Australian engineering group, the deployed aircraft show cracking in their wing ribs.  Steve Purvinas, secretary of the ALAEA, comments, "We can't continue to gamble with people's lives and allow those aircraft to fly around and hope that they make it until their four-yearly inspection."

The cracks were first found on A380s deployed in the fleets of Singapore Airlines (SGX: C6L) and Qantas Airways (ASX: QAN) (which primarily operates out of Australia).  The two airlines account 26 out of the 50 delivered passenger A380-800s, as the second and third largest A380 users.

A380 Plane
The Airbus A380-800 [Image Source: Qantas Airways]

So far no American airline company has adopted A380.  FedEx Corp. (FDX) and United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS) placed commercial orders, but later cancelled after being inconvenienced by delays from the aircraft-maker.

BBC News quotes Airbus representatives as confirming the wing rib cracking, but insist it's harmless, and that passengers shouldn't be worried about the cracking wings.  States the company, "We confirm that minor cracks were found on some noncritical wing rib-skin attachments on a limited number of A380 aircraft. We have traced the origin. Airbus has developed an inspection and repair procedure, which will be done during regular, routine scheduled four-year maintenance checks. In the meantime, Airbus emphasizes that the safe operation of the A380 fleet is not affected."

Qantas has thus far repaired two of the members of its fleet that it spotted cracks in.

The A380 had been being considered as a possible upgrade option for the President of the United States' plane, Air Force One.  This is not the first issue to afflict the craft -- earlier wiring issues delayed shipments of the aircraft.

The cracking issues are bad timing for Airbus.  The company is currently trying to sell new customers on the aircraft and ward off Boeing, who just unveiled the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, a craft that finally brings Boeing abreast of Airbus in the mega-aircraft department.  The 747-8 took its maiden flight in Feb. 2010.

Source: BBC News



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RE: A380 for AF1?
By nafhan on 1/9/2012 3:05:09 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously: the 747 is not big enough.


RE: A380 for AF1?
By Ringold on 1/10/2012 12:09:43 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
The A380 had been being considered as a possible upgrade option for the President of the United States' plane, Air Force One.


I agree with some of the disbelief. When other world leaders fly commercially, is AF1, a golden chariot by comparison, not enough? -.- Plus, if there's anything that should be bought domestically purely as a symbol, wouldn't it be that?


RE: A380 for AF1?
By michael67 on 1/10/2012 6:13:18 AM , Rating: 1
Ofc Boeing is gone get the contract, but that dose not mean the A380 is not gone be used as a bargaining card.

And unless Boeing comes whit a ridicules high offer, and forces the government in a do or die situation, and overplays the domestic card, Boeing is getting the contract.

And if they don't get it, they just sue and cry wolf again and get it that way, just like with the tankers.


RE: A380 for AF1?
By Keeir on 1/10/2012 11:37:10 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
When other world leaders fly commercially


#1. When its a documented fact that US airliners can be hi-jacked, I am not sure having the president fly commerical all the time is a great idea

#2. List of Countries that maintain private large aircraft for high government use

Australia
Belgium
Bulgaria
Brazil
Canada
Denmark
France
Germany
... List goes on.

Maybe you should ment to say,
"When other world leaders fly commerically to make a political statement, why does US leaders feels that just AF1 is not enough of a golden chariot?"

Because I assure you that most if not all First, Second, and Third world countries maintain a private fleet of aircraft for use by high officals, and the high officals usually use them.


RE: A380 for AF1?
By Natch on 1/10/2012 9:03:47 AM , Rating: 2
We could always convert a C-5 Galaxy. That's big enough to haul an M-1 tank, and I'm sure they could split it into two decks, for more room. That, or have enough room for a basketball court, so Mr Obama could enjoy some sport while flying here and there. ;)


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