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September 29, 2006
Airbus reeling from bad news
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.
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.
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.
Reuters gives more details on the new regulations, in an article headlined "Airbus superjumbo to force planes to wait on runway "
Hat tip: Richard Baehr