Airbus reeling from bad news

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As I noted last week, Airbus is considering moving some manufacturing operations out of Europe, to countries where the dollar (not the euro) is is the currency, or linked to the currency. The Wall Street Journal reports that today's meeting of the board of directors of parent company EADS will consider just such a move.

Not exactly a triumph for Europe, the euro, or European workers.

But potentially even worse news for the A 380 whale jet comes from a technical committee which includes both European and American regulators. They have handed down a decision which threatens the principal advantage touted as the selling point of the A 380: its ability to increase passenger capacity at major slot—contolled hub airports like Tokyo's Narita and London's Heathrow.

The regulators have found that the excessive wake generated by the superjumbo requires extra spacing between landings, to allow the turbulence to die down. That could well mean that one A 380 landings counts as two slots.

The group called for maintaining significantly longer—than—normal distances between a landing superjumbo and airliners flying directly behind it, though it didn't require any changes in vertical or horizontal spacing for A380s during takeoffs or at higher altitudes.

If the 380 is a twofer in landing slots, airlines might as well schedule 2 smaller aircraft, like the 787 (which promises to be at least as efficient in terms of per passenger mile cost) at different times of the day, which appeals to business travelers interested in schedule flexibility.

It has been quite awhile since Airbus has caught a break. But then again, the rival 787 is not yet near its first flight, and a lot could go wrong for Boeing, too.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson   9 29 06

Update: ATW Daily News, an offshoot of trade magazine Air Transport Week, is reporting that the new model of the A 350, intended to compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, may be delayed because of the A 380 wiring problems.

A350 XWB entry—into—service date appears to be sliding 6—12 months owing to the ongoing A380 wiring difficulties. At the Farnborough Airshow, Airbus said the 314—seat A350—900 would be the first variant to enter service, in mid—2012. However, sources at Airbus told ATWOnline that "the program is likely to slip into 2013 because all the engineering talent is focused on the A380," echoing a previous statement by ILFC Chairman and CEO Steven Udvar—Hazy

I warned half a year ago that the A 380's demands on the limited engineering resources of Airbus could endanger the A 350, and airliner with the potential to sell many times the number of aircraft as its giant sister.

Moreover, money aside, there are absolute limits on the time of its [Airbus']engineering resources. The A—380 has experienced technical difficulties. The challenge of a massive new product right now may be a bridge too far.

Update:

Reuters gives more details on the new regulations, in an article headlined "Airbus superjumbo to force planes to wait on runway "

"Following three years of exhaustive studies, the Airbus A380 Wake Vortex Steering Group has rendered its conclusions and is now in a position to recommend more specific guidance," Airbus said in a release posted on its Web site.

"On departures, a 'heavy' aircraft following the A380 will have to wait two minutes, and the 'medium' sized and 'light' aircraft will have to wait three minutes," it said.

That is longer than standard two—minute separation required when planes take off after a 747.

"On approach, the spacing for the following aircraft is increased compared with the existing separation rules for aircraft currently in service," Airbus said.

A large plane such as a Boeing 747 will have to hold off by an additional two nautical miles, while spacing for medium models will require an extra three and smaller airliners will need an additional four.

Hat tip: Richard Baehr

As I noted last week, Airbus is considering moving some manufacturing operations out of Europe, to countries where the dollar (not the euro) is is the currency, or linked to the currency. The Wall Street Journal reports that today's meeting of the board of directors of parent company EADS will consider just such a move.

Not exactly a triumph for Europe, the euro, or European workers.

But potentially even worse news for the A 380 whale jet comes from a technical committee which includes both European and American regulators. They have handed down a decision which threatens the principal advantage touted as the selling point of the A 380: its ability to increase passenger capacity at major slot—contolled hub airports like Tokyo's Narita and London's Heathrow.

The regulators have found that the excessive wake generated by the superjumbo requires extra spacing between landings, to allow the turbulence to die down. That could well mean that one A 380 landings counts as two slots.

The group called for maintaining significantly longer—than—normal distances between a landing superjumbo and airliners flying directly behind it, though it didn't require any changes in vertical or horizontal spacing for A380s during takeoffs or at higher altitudes.

If the 380 is a twofer in landing slots, airlines might as well schedule 2 smaller aircraft, like the 787 (which promises to be at least as efficient in terms of per passenger mile cost) at different times of the day, which appeals to business travelers interested in schedule flexibility.

It has been quite awhile since Airbus has caught a break. But then again, the rival 787 is not yet near its first flight, and a lot could go wrong for Boeing, too.

Hat tip: Ed Lasky

Thomas Lifson   9 29 06

Update: ATW Daily News, an offshoot of trade magazine Air Transport Week, is reporting that the new model of the A 350, intended to compete with Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, may be delayed because of the A 380 wiring problems.

A350 XWB entry—into—service date appears to be sliding 6—12 months owing to the ongoing A380 wiring difficulties. At the Farnborough Airshow, Airbus said the 314—seat A350—900 would be the first variant to enter service, in mid—2012. However, sources at Airbus told ATWOnline that "the program is likely to slip into 2013 because all the engineering talent is focused on the A380," echoing a previous statement by ILFC Chairman and CEO Steven Udvar—Hazy

I warned half a year ago that the A 380's demands on the limited engineering resources of Airbus could endanger the A 350, and airliner with the potential to sell many times the number of aircraft as its giant sister.

Moreover, money aside, there are absolute limits on the time of its [Airbus']engineering resources. The A—380 has experienced technical difficulties. The challenge of a massive new product right now may be a bridge too far.

Update:

Reuters gives more details on the new regulations, in an article headlined "Airbus superjumbo to force planes to wait on runway "

"Following three years of exhaustive studies, the Airbus A380 Wake Vortex Steering Group has rendered its conclusions and is now in a position to recommend more specific guidance," Airbus said in a release posted on its Web site.

"On departures, a 'heavy' aircraft following the A380 will have to wait two minutes, and the 'medium' sized and 'light' aircraft will have to wait three minutes," it said.

That is longer than standard two—minute separation required when planes take off after a 747.

"On approach, the spacing for the following aircraft is increased compared with the existing separation rules for aircraft currently in service," Airbus said.

A large plane such as a Boeing 747 will have to hold off by an additional two nautical miles, while spacing for medium models will require an extra three and smaller airliners will need an additional four.

Hat tip: Richard Baehr