x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Emirates airs A380 concerns

Emirates Airline has listed concerns with the new A380, following a series of glitches that delayed or cancelled flights.

Emirates Airline has given Airbus a list of concerns over its A380 super-jumbo jets after a series of problems that have forced the Dubai-based carrier to delay and cancel flights. Singapore Airlines and the Australian carrier Qantas have also had problems with the A380, which began commercial service in Oct 2007. The problems have involved operational reliability, rather than in-flight safety. Emirates' problems with the double-decker aircraft were raised in a 46-page presentation in a meeting at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, last month. Breakdowns have grounded the four A380 aircraft in Emirates' fleet for 500 hours. Reports of the carrier's A380 problems were first reported in the German newspaper Der Spiegel. "Technical issues are expected with new aircraft, particularly one that uses many new technologies," an Emirates spokeswoman said yesterday. "Naturally, as the airline operator, we want these to be resolved as soon as possible." She added that the airline's confidence in the A380 "remains unchanged - it is an excellent aircraft. Feedback from our customers thus far has been very positive". Airbus said it was taking steps to eliminate problems as quickly as possible. The company will increase its stock of A380 spares at its parts centres, including one at Dubai Airport Free Zone, and make available response teams for technical support. "Airbus takes customers' comments very seriously," it said in a statement yesterday. Emirates began flying the aircraft in August last year and a month later grounded an aeroplane due to an electrical problem. On Dec 4, an electrical fault forced an Emirates A380 flight to New York to turn back, after passengers had already waited 14 hours while Emirates fixed a fuel-pump leak. The electrical fault caused interior lighting and the digital entertainment system to malfunction. Singapore Airlines twice grounded an A380 due to a fuel-pump problem, while Qantas identified problems with fuel pumps on two of its A380s this month. Emirates is the largest customer of the A380 aircraft from Airbus with 58 on order, worth more than US$17 billion (Dh62.44bn) at list prices. The spokeswoman said it was not considering changing its orders. "We have no plans to cancel any," she said. But the airline was in talks that could involve delaying deliveries, as airlines worldwide battle a decline in demand. Emirates operates A380 aircraft on its New York and London routes, and plans to begin ­operating the super-jumbo to Incheon International Airport in Seoul, South Korea, from November. Robert Ziegler, an analyst with AT Kearney in Dubai, said the public airing of the A380's shortcomings could pose a serious issue for Airbus. "This doesn't reflect very well on Airbus," Mr Ziegler said. "That's whose image is impacted." With airlines suffering from the economic downturn, delaying the schedule of future deliveries "would not be such a bad thing right now", he said. The A380 joins a long list of aircraft that suffered initial problems. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is now nearly two years behind scheduled release due to production problems. The Boeing 777, the most popular long-range aircraft to date, had gearbox-bearing wear issues that reportedly caused British Airways in 1997 to temporarily withdraw it from transatlantic services. igale@thenational.ae