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Buy our monster jets or else

I like airplanes, but am rather suspicious of this huge new Airbus that they have just rolled out, handsome though it does look and useful though it will surely be in many circumstances. In particular, I suspect that the A380 is costing Europe a whole lot more than is being officially suggested, and that Boeing decided not to build a similar aircraft for good, loss-avoiding reasons.

Well, I still do not know very much about Airbus finances, but this story certainly backs up the costing-more-than-they-are-admitting aspect:

TSUNAMI-struck Thailand has been told by the European Commission that it must buy six A380 Airbus aircraft if it wants to escape the tariffs against its fishing industry.

I realise that it is carrying the search for a silver lining to absurd lengths to say such a thing, but one good thing about this whole Tsunami horror is that it has brought this EU vileness rather more out into the open than would have happened otherwise. As it is, the combination of nastiness and lack of political sensitivity being shown by the EU is extraordinary even by their low standards. Do they not see that the Tsunami has somewhat changed things?

The Thai trade negotiators, not unreasonably, seem to betting that things are indeed now rather different. They seem to be calculating that, if they simply expose the nature of the deal they are now being faced with by the EU, the EU will back down in the face of worldwide disgust, not least within Europe itself. The Thais will get their aid. They will be allowed to sell their keenly priced fish products without punitive tariffs being slapped on them. And they will not have to buy six of these damned great airplanes unless they decide that they want to. All of which is a lot to hope for, but at least they may get more of what they want than they would have done if the Tsunami had no struck.

The EU Referendum Blog has more on this whole sordid episode:

The aircraft will cost Thailand some £1.3 billion – nearly the amount that all 25 EU members states have pledged in tsunami aid to the whole affected region.

Richard North also points out that Thailand was being shafted before the Tsunami in a similar manner. This is not about the EU getting nasty; it is about it remaining nasty.

But that is the EU, naked in tooth and claw. While workers from across world are on the ground, helping to rebuild the Thai economy, EU officials are also right in there – undermining the basis of any recovery.

And according to North, Thailand is not the only country that is being “encouraged” to buy Airbuses with EU trade policy concessions.

The irony is that by swapping a bit of freer trade for aircraft orders, the EU is agreeing, reluctantly, to do itself a favour. It is agreeing to impose the terrible burden of cheaper goods upon itself. But even when it does good things, it cannot seem to help stirring in bad things, like flogging unwanted airplanes.

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85 comments to Buy our monster jets or else

  • Snorre

    What? How in the world did they think that nonsense up?

  • Richard Easbey

    Snorre:

    oh, pumpkin–this kind of stuff is what these guys LIVE for. But don’t worry; we’re trying our best to catch up here in the states.

  • Julian Taylor

    I liked Branson’s comment, that he would have casinos and double beds fitted in the Virgin Atlantic A380’s, so that passengers would have at least two chances of getting lucky.

  • Verity

    It could be a good troop carrier. Oh, wait a minute! They don’t have any troops …

  • D Anghelone

    It could be a good troop carrier.

    The military favors a high-wing design in large aircraft. Passenger liners are usually mid-wing. The A380 is a low-wing.

  • Stehpinkeln

    Dare I say Colonialism? In a somewhat different form, of course. The almost-but-not-quite EU is in for some nasty shocks the next 6 weeks or so.
    I’m barely fluent in American and FORTRAN, so my reading of the Eurabian media depends on translations, which means I could be wrong (GIGO), but it seems like the press is under the impression that Neo Cons are on the way out in this administration. Let me point out that Condi was one of the founders of the NeoCon movement. If Europe thinks that President Bush is gonna come begging in a few weeks they very, very wrong.
    “those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse, ready with one small push to go over the brink are wishful thinkers who are only kidding themselves.”
    -Arthur Schlesinger Jr. 1986

    Good ‘ol Art isn’t the only person who has trouble reading the writing on the wall. The Old ‘give them aid that they have to spend here’ game has been played by America for so long that the turd world is hip to what’s going down. America is going to make a point of asuring that the turd world has choices. Old Europe neeeds to wake up to that.

  • Have we built this monument of western technology merely to allow more pissed up idiots trample all over the pleasant parts of the globe?
    They send us prawns and we send them prawns.

  • Wild Pegasus

    Absolutely disgusting.

    – Josh

  • Kristopher Barrett

    Expect retaliation from the US and Boeing.

    They’ll try to punish the EU … instead of asking the Thais to send us those prawns cheap.

  • Airbus looks more an more like a project based wholly on national (transnational?) prestige. I wonder how many of the 149 orders already supposedly placed for the A380 resulted from strong-arm nationalistic tactics?

  • Daveon

    The actual mechanics of large aircraft sales by both Airbus and Boeing are pretty bizzare even in the best of times.

    Just looking at the aircraft… My gut feeling is the A380 is a good bet, assuming that like Singapore Airlines the airlines do actually give the passengers a few cm more leg room. There’s also the issue that no matter how you spin it, the 747 airframe is getting old and that impacts a lot of other things. There’s a lot of long haul routes that can fill a 747 twice over. Airbus have been wiping the floor with Boeing for a lot of reasons apart from subsidy – the new Singapore Airlines routes with the A340s are incredible and Boeing wants a slice of that pie with the 7E7. Boeing are going to get pretty agressive about this stuff if Airbus build competitor there too.

    There’s a more serious issue here about subsidy of any business. Boeing cry foul over the subsidised loans to Airbus, Airbus cry foul over the defence spending in the US. Neither is kosher, frankly, and neither company is particularly ethical when it comes to closing orders. There’s no such real thing as a “book” price for an aircraft so they get to horsetrade.

    Boeing have made some stunningly bad decisions over the last 10 years, Airbus seem to have an issue with project management. It would be interesting to yank all subsidy and watch them actually have to earn a living.

  • Edward Teague

    Evidently this site has unearthed a rich seam of neo-Luddites, they seem to dwell on both sides of the Atlantic yet again proving Wegener’s theory of Continental drift.

    Airbus 300 series paid off the wholly transparent state subsidy after some 700 aircraft, now 3,000 have been sold and Airbus industry (not subsidized by military aircraft procurement) outsells Boeing commerical jets worldwide. (I sense some verdancy in the transatlantic comment). NB The 300 series are the only wide bodied passenger jets that can land with a fuel load, so string are the wings – safer and certainly more environmentall friendly than the Boeings which have to expel fuel in an emergency landing.

    The 747 has been flying for 35 years and sold some 1300.

    The A380 needs to sell 250 to break even, it’s half way there and hasn’t flown yet – and will have a useful life of at least 40 years. 30 year estimates / best guesses are 2000 planes.

    The BAC 111 is the fastest passenger jet flying today and started life commercially 40 years ago and shuttles our brave lads in Iraq daily. As well as the Blessed Blair family to their hols.

    No commercial endeavour is riskless, Boeing with their 7E7 are producing the first composite fuselage (Us made) / wing(they have had to ask Japan to design and make these which has caused a rumpus in the US) aircraft, it will offer no fuel economies over the A380 although it will have bigger windows (WOW!!!) and is claimed will have better air con – possibly also a record number of cup-holders – an essential in any US designed transport from SUV’s to baby buggies and lawn chairs.

    No commercial endeavour will reject financing whatever the source.

    No commercial endeavour of this size will fail to attract pols who want to dwell in the reflected glory…..
    and no doubt claim some of the glory – eg TB says it will change the way we travel…

    . ? .

    We get on the plane, take off, land, getoff – I’m missing something? Branson ( the most popular man in the world who has delayed delivery of all the planes Virgin ordered for several years) has of course dwelt in the sun at the reception – I will place a small wager on the A380 flying in 30 years time, as for Branson…..may he get lucky.

  • Pete_London

    Its gets worse:

    Five days after the tsunami struck, the EU legislated against Thailand by slapping a new tariff designed to extinguish its booming trade in cumarin, a plant extract used in perfume.

    On 31 December, the EU imposed duties of €3,480 (£2,430) a tonne for Thai exports of cumarin – a move entirely designed to protect Rhodia, a French chemicals firm and the EU’s only producer of cumarin.

  • Brian,

    once more I marvel at your selective perception. The article in the Scotsman also contains this sentence:

    This is still less than the US tariff on Thai prawns: 97 per cent

    As to airplane itself: Slots for landing and starting at the big airports are in short supply, so bigger planes that can carry more passengers make perfect sense. The A380 also is more fuel efficient than the 747.

    Also consider this: The 747 is in use for decades now, and the A 380 will be a viable model for about 40 years. That’s plenty of time to make up development costs.

  • Daveon

    The 300 series are the only wide bodied passenger jets that can land with a fuel load, so string are the wings – safer and certainly more environmentall friendly than the Boeings which have to expel fuel in an emergency landing.

    The 300 series aren’t *all* wide bodied. Airbus suffers from eclectic numbering which makes it harder to fathom the nature of the plane from the number than it does for Boeing.

    But apart from that, yup.

    The other question raised is where Boeing got the equipment for the all composite fuse.

  • Yep, selective perception:

    Less than two weeks after a 40-foot wave flattened massive swaths of Southeast Asia, the United States slapped a tariff on millions of dollars worth of seafood imports from India and Thailand.

    The American shrimpers have employed an oft-abused anti-dumping law and some dubious calculations to argue that foreign farmers are selling their shrimp below cost due to subsidies.

    The US International Trade Commission has sided with the American shrimpers consistently, and between November 30 and January 6, the commission paved the way for duties ranging from 2.35 percent to a whopping 112.81 percent.

  • Ralph: “Slots for landing and starting at the big airports are in short supply, so bigger planes that can carry more passengers make perfect sense.” On the other hand, there are very few commercial airports in the world today that have slots able of accomodating an aircraft this size.

  • Sorry, it’s “Ralf”, of course:-)

  • John

    This is still less than the US tariff on Thai prawns: 97 per cent
    Ralf, this figure is reported, but not referenced.

    The only numbers I have been able to find (Link)are far, far lower.

    The table below shows the progression from the original petition, to preliminary duty, to final duty.

    The most useful final duty rate is the separate or all others rate, which is the average duty imposed on a particular country for those companies actually exporting.

    The table shows that, with the exception of China, final duty amounts were far lower than originally alleged by the petitioners.

    (separate rate or all other rate)

    Country Petition Prelim Final

    Brazil 32% to 349% 36.9% 10.4%

    China 112.81% to 263.68% 49.1% 55.2%

    Ecuador 85% to 166% 7.3% 3.3%

    India 82.30% to 110.09% 14.2% 9.5%

    Thailand 57.64% 6.4% 6.0%

    Vietnam 25.76% to 93.13% 16.0% 4.4%
    ….
    The net effect is that of the six original countries which included India, Thailand, China, Vietnam, Ecuador and Brazil, only China got hit with duties so high as to keep them out of much of the U.S. market

  • 1327

    >The BAC 111 is the fastest passenger jet flying today >and started life commercially 40 years ago and shuttles >our brave lads in Iraq daily. As well as the Blessed Blair >family to their hols.

    I think you mean the VC-10 ?? I would be suprised if there are any BAC-111’s flying anymore. The last one I saw was being used as a flying test bed by the RAE at Farnborough.

    Sorry for being the a/c geek 🙂

  • No problem, Alisa. 🙂

    Right now there are about 60 major hubs who can accomodate the A380. That’s more than enough, considering that the initial number of these planes won’t be all that high, and it currently is more economical to connect smaller airports to these hubs with smaller planes. And at the same time the number of A380 in use grows there also will be more hubs
    which can accomodate them. There will have to for many of the existing hubs frequently have none or little room to grow.

  • John,

    the numbers you present are from the Southern Shrimp Alliance, the lobby group which pressed for the tariifs in the first place. They have an interest in overstating imports and understating tariffs, of course.

    This alliance also receives federal subsidies to finance its lawsuit against the Asian shrimp farmers, and they also will receive payouts from penalities collected in anti-dumping cases, dumping being a phony concept.

  • John

    Ralf:

    One, there is no source listed for the number you give from the Scotsman

    Here is another for the fact that 97% source(Link)is a ridiculous number

    We preliminarily find that producers/exporters have sold frozen and canned warmwater shrimp from Brazil, Ecuador, India, and Thailand in the U.S. market at less than fair value, with margins ranging from 0.00 to 67.80 percent for Brazil, 6.08 to 9.35 percent for Ecuador, 3.56 to 27.49 percent for India, and 5.56 to 10.25 percent for Thailand.

    You’ll probably not note that the stated preliminary numbers is quite in line with the final 6.0%

  • John,

    “margins ranging from 0.00 to 67.80 percent for Brazil, 6.08 to 9.35 percent for Ecuador, 3.56 to 27.49 percent for India, and 5.56 to 10.25 percent for Thailand” isn’t referring to tariffs payable by these countries, it is indicating by how much the farmers from there are supposed to have offered their produce by less than the ‘fair’ market price; this is called dumping.

  • Edward Teague

    1327 Ooooops! Yes – VC10

    Daveon – Boeing Completes First 7E7 Composite Fuselage Section News release
    SEATTLE, Jan. 11, 2005 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] recently completed the first full-scale composite one-piece fuselage section for its new 7E7 Dreamliner program, demonstrating concepts for 7E7 production that begins next year.

    The structure, 22-feet (7-meters) long and nearly 19-feet (6-meters) wide, is the 7E7’s first major development piece.

    “This is a piece of aviation history,” said Walt Gillette, Boeing vice president of Engineering, Manufacturing and Partner Alignment. “Nothing like this is already in production. Hundreds of aerospace experts from Boeing and our partners developed everything, including the design, tools that served as the mold, programming for the composite lay-down, and tools that moved the structure into the autoclave. ”

    He added that using composites “allowed us to create optimized structural designs and develop an efficient production process. We now see how all advanced airplanes will be built from this time forward.”

    The barrel section was built last month, after several months of development work. Building the piece, which includes stringers, started with computerized lay-down of composite tape on a huge mold. That mold was mounted on a tool that rotated the barrel as the tape was applied. The structure was then wrapped and placed in Boeing’s autoclave for curing. The final step was unwrapping, inspection and tool removal.

    The team subsequently cut out windows and doors, and tested a painting process. It also ran numerous tests to verify structural integrity.

    Gillette added that “everyone will see benefits of this technology — Boeing and our partners, our customers and the flying public. By integrating this into a single composite structure, we reduced the number of parts in this section significantly and reduced the weight by almost 20 percent. That will mean lower costs for the airlines while for passengers it enables us to have bigger windows, lower cabin altitude pressurization, and higher cabin humidity.”

    The team will build seven more development pieces, representing different sections of the airplane, throughout 2005.

    Contact: Lori Gunter 425-717-0571 will answer all your questions.

    Impressive technology – one trusts they have got their sums right.

  • R C Dean

    Two observations:

    First, the limited number of landing slots at major hubs has quite a lot to do with the fact that the major hubs are either state or quasi-state operations, and that new airports are almost impossible to build due to state regulation. Existing carriers have existing hubs all sewn up; new hubs or even expanded hubs work to benefit their competitors, and therefor they have little interest in pressuring their state partners to allow more building.

    Second, the growth in air traffic is predominantly in direct flights that avoid the hubs. The new Airbus will not partake of this growth market. Boeing’s development strategy is based on this fact/expectation. The Airbus is designed to serve last decade’s market, as you expect from a plane that took 35 years to develop.

  • David Crawford

    RC Dean,

    You got the point exactly correct.

    Look at US airlines. Southwest, unbievably profitable, flies from point A to point B. The dinosaurs (United, American, etc.) force you to fly from point A to point B by way of point C. And the dinosaurs have lost billions in the last decade.

    Yes, I’m sure there are a couple of dozen direct routes that could support a 380. (London – NY, LA – Tokyo, etc.) However, the future of air travel is direct flights. About the only people that will, in the future, actually accept lengthy layovers will be those flying on the cheapest tickects. Charge a back-packer $800 for a r/t ticket from Londo to Bangkok and they’ll accept any inconvenience. Charge a business traveller $1,500, and they’ll demand a direct flight.

    Finally, Branson is so full of shit about casinos and beds and gyms on those airplanes. I grew up in Seattle, and I heard all that crap about the 747 when it first rolled out. And yeah, how many piano bars and restaraunts have you seen lately on a 747? The airlines will pack the plane wall-to-wall with people. And have fun in Bangkok (for example) when the flight lands and 800 people line up at the 8 immigration counters staffed by the slowest officials on earth.

  • Edward Teague

    R C Dean

    Is it possible there are 2 different markets ? The hubs will not wither on the vine e.g I can fly direct from Manchester virtually every day in a wide bodied jet, with a choice of airline to Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Washington, Newark, Chicago.

    Personally I don’t really care what airliner the airlines choose to use, so long as I get there on time and at the lowest cost.

    Shirley there is room for both strategies – making a profit from either is the difficult bit. The Airbus Industrie record so far looks good to me.

  • Julian Taylor

    Finally, Branson is so full of shit about casinos and beds and gyms on those airplanes. I grew up in Seattle, and I heard all that crap about the 747 when it first rolled out. And yeah, how many piano bars and restaraunts have you seen lately on a 747? The airlines will pack the plane wall-to-wall with people. And have fun in Bangkok (for example) when the flight lands and 800 people line up at the 8 immigration counters staffed by the slowest officials on earth.

    Uh, Virgin do mostly operate 747’s, from the 200 range up to the 400 series. As for the rest – ever been on a 747 in Japan or China? You can hardly move, on an internal flight, mostly due to the incredibly tight seating configurations, less legroom, smaller seats etc. which allow for a greatly increased number of passengers in their configuration. As for the notion that airports cannot handle 800 people at a time, Bangkok regularly handles 3 or 4 747-400’s landing within a matter of minutes – is having 1000 passengers disembarking and passing through immigration within 10 minutes all that different from the future of having one or two A380’s and three 747-400’s land?

    Branson may well be full of “shit about casinos and beds and gyms” as you put it but, speaking personally, on a long haul from London to Narita flight one thing to reduce the monotony of forcefed B-movies and endless Blackadder repeats is the ability to get up, walk around and maybe sit in a more comfortable bar area or get a massage. Last time I flew on an American flight was London to LA in 1988 – all we got to see for TEN HOURS was non-stop Tracey Ullman repeats (God only knows what they showed in Economy).

  • Daveon

    I’m sure there are a couple of dozen direct routes that could support a 380.

    There’s a lot of major long haul routes out of Europe and Asia – this is not a jet for the kind of route Southwest run. This is for BA, Virgin, SAA, SA and other long haul business routes. There are several different models for aviation that work in different markets. The US internal carriers with hub/spooke systems (United for example) are in trouble. The long haul flag carriers who don’t have the hastle of that type of domestic market are doing ok (BA, Lufthansa, SAS, KLM etc… maybe not wonderfully but ok) – I think this is an example where the US internal market does not extrapolate well to the global one.

    The reality is business travellers already pay $10,000+ for direct business class flights from London to Bangkok without blinking – but the prices are kept high because of the lack of capacity on those 12 hour+ routes. This is why the Europe/Asia flag carriers have been among the first to put their names down for the A380.

    I doubt if we’ll see casino’s and the like, but I do suspect the seats will have more leg room (even if it is marginal) – Singapore have led the way with this on their ultra long routes like Singapore-NYC a 17 hour trek.

    Interesting statement on the composite fuse. The point I was getting at is that the kind of manufacturing plant to build large scale composite structures was not developed nor paid for by the civilian aerospace market but came from else where. The ability to do something this radical is a spin off from investment elsewhere in the group.

  • Daveon

    Julian, in flight entertainment has come a long way, although not on BA quite yet. Virgin and Singapore offer about 40 digitally stored movies downloaded to your seat.

    As for beds. BA have beds on most Business Class long haul routes and very very comfortable they are too. Virgin is bringing them in.

    Business travellers expect it now.

  • ShaneMcC

    Did anyone check if Thailand had an import tariff on Long Haul Jets?

    As to Boeing not producing a “super-jumbo”. I think it is more indicative of cross-over with the 747 than as to the long-term profitability of the 380.

    For a site that espouses competition I would have thought that the large jet situationwould be competitive as it is all about competitiveness. As has already been said Airbus and Boeing are going to take whatever public money is available to help reduce their risk and improve their competitiveness and and if public money is there on one side (in defence spending or subsidy) then it will there on the other as the trading blocks attempt to compete!

    Personally I’m looking forward to my first flight on an 380 just as I did my first (and subsequent) flights on 747’s. It’ll mean that I’m going somewhere more exotic than Paris or Belfast!

  • ShaneMcC

    the large jet situation would be looked upon favourably as it is all about competitiveness

  • DS

    The comparison of Boeing’s “subsidies”, which amount to selling actual hardware to the US military which it asked for, and Airbus’ subsidies which are a guarantee that a government created, financed and protected “company” will never lose money and will never have to pay for financing its gigantic development costs, is laugable.

    Thats not to say that it isn’t good that Boeing has a competitor, but that competitor is 450 million taxpayers.

  • R C Dean,

    the hubs are and will remain where it’s at. The numbers of slots for landing and starting will not grow that much at existing hubs, which makes the use of bigger and more fuel-efficient airplanes imperative for the big carriers. And of course the number of hubs is aqlso going to grow, so that the A 380 will be able to go to more and more locations.

  • Daveon

    which amount to selling actual hardware to the US military which it asked for

    It amounts to rather more than that in fact. It also includes vast bungs for “R&D” which allow Boeing to effectively write off a lot of technology development costs that the civil aviation arm would have to absorb. The compoosite fuse is a classic example of that. The direct subsidies in the form of loans to Airbus had to cover the develop for the compoosite tails on the A320(I think) whereas the US military paid for the equivalent inside Boeing. Sure, the military gets value, butr ultimately the EU tax payers have from previous Airbus generations.

  • Johnathan

    My father, who was in the Royal Air Force as a navigator in the 1950s, recalls trips to Canada on the old Stratocruisers, which had two decks: the usual seating area, and a deck with sleeping cabins and a bar in which one could walk around in comfort. It seems it has taken us about 50 years to get back to the time when long-haul flying could be a fun, uncramped and even glamorous experience. Let’s face it, the demise of Concorde has left a void.

    The behaviour of the EU, and for that matter, the US govt re Thailand is atrocious. But then the broader point applies to farm subsidies and the rest which distort world markets and hurt economies in Africa and poorer parts of Asia.

  • Jacob

    This AIRBUS thing makes us – libertarians – uneasy.

    The hated EU governments, using taxpayer money, have built a magnificient bussines, which, contrary to our predictions – though wholly state-owned, is successful. Airbus planes are good planes, no doubt about that. Airbus customers get a good product at a competitive price. That’s more than government-owned companies deliver, usually.
    I don’t know about the financial equation – how much gov. money was invested, and whether there are profits now, or further gov “investment”.

    Boeing, which gobbled up all US competitors just needed the Airbus competition.

    Now, there is probably a market for both a big and a small modern plane. Boeing has decided to develop the small one, while Airbus went for the big one. Why didn’t they both do both types of plane ? Is that some kind of unoficial division of the market ? Anyhow, it looks like the loser is Boeing, which slipps from no 1 position to no 2.

  • Joel Català

    Nearly nauseating.

  • H.

    Correction: Airbus is not “wholly state-owned”. In fact, the majority of its capital is privately held. Its shareholders are BAe (privately-owned) and EADS (a number of private companies, plus French & German gov’t state shares).

  • I'm suffering for my art

    Brian:

    handsome though it does look
    Are you kidding? It’s an ugly, ungracious, portly-looking gargoyle! IMO. 🙂

    Regards,

  • I have a couple of questions on the new Airbus
    1. How many airports are there now that have the capacity to handle such large numbers of arriving/departing passengers
    2. How many airports can handle the turbulence generated by the jets of such a plane when taking off? Wouldn’t it require a longer lag time between flights?
    3. How many airports can expand to support items 1-2 above?

  • I wonder about the “300 series [being] the only wide bodied passenger jets that can land with a fuel load”. I was aboard an Air France A320 taking off at De Gaulle (en route to Strasbourg) when it ate a bird in the right engine (which was promptly destroyed). We just flew away on the takeoff, but orbited De Gaulle for more than an hour in order to get the airplane down to landing weight. (Hell, the way it looked to me, we could have just pressed on to Strasbourg.)

    (I should say that I’m a major Boeing fan, but that airplane was pretty impressive when it counted.)

  • DS

    “It also includes vast bungs for “R&D” which allow Boeing to effectively write off a lot of technology development costs that the civil aviation arm would have to absorb.”

    Evidence?

  • Why cant the Thais buy the aircraft and then on sell them?

    Perhaps because they, like everyone else think there’s no secondary market out there

  • Why cant the Thais buy the aircraft and then on sell them?

    Perhaps because they, like everyone else think there’s no secondary market out there

  • CrawfishBrain

    I also wonder if this number of people can be efficiently shepherded onto the plane in an economical manner. One problem with moving such large numbers of people might be that security will be given second status and the airlines will cut corners in screening the passengers. Not to mention that the larger number of people on the plane, greater amount of fuel I imagine is necessary for the larger plane, and the worldwide media attention given to its debut make it that much more of an attractive target for terrorists.
    In their haste to get 800 people on a single plane, will there be less security at some airports? The terrorists will definitely be checking to find the softest airports.

  • Brian,

    as it happens the EU didn’t blackmail anyone, and the Scotsman got it all wrong: Thailand intended to buy the planes all along, and threatened (apparently for show), to renege on the deal unless the EU drops the tariffs on Thai prawn:

    A major aircraft deal between Thailand and European consortium Airbus is likely to go ahead despite threats of a delay by the Thai government blamed on political grandstanding ahead of national elections, analysts said.

    Thai premier Thaksin Shinawatra said Tuesday that national flag carrier Thai Airways International would delay signing a purchase agreement for eight Airbus aircraft, including six A380 superjumbos, while demanding that the European Union ease trade rules covering Thailand’s shrimp, poultry and farm products.

    The Thai cabinet had approved the 96.3 billion baht (2.4 billion dollars) deal to buy 14 aircraft for the national carrier, to be split between rival manufacturers Boeing and the European consortium Airbus, but it rejected a cash-only deal.

    Analysts said, however, that the Airbus deal was on the verge of being completed and the delay threat was for the benefit of a domestic audience ahead of a Thaksin re-election bid expected in February next year.

    http://www.eubusiness.com/afp/041125054347.popezj1g

  • DS

    “Thailand intended to buy the planes all along, and threatened (apparently for show), to renege on the deal unless the EU drops the tariffs on Thai prawn:”

    But if Airbus was a private enterprise as opposed to a creation and ward of EU governments, such a request would be non-sensical and irrelevant. The economic linkage between aircraft and shrimp is non-existent in itself.

    The “chicken and the egg” character of which came first is irrelevant (I suspect this sort of government horse trading has been going back and forth since the first day of negotiations). The fact that the Thai government knows that it can get shrimp tariffs reduced by threatening not to buy Airbus planes proves that Airbus is not an independent for-profit business, but a ward of the state, to be fought for and protected by the EU government.

    This is the worst kept secret on the planet.

  • mishu

    I thought the whole point of smaller airliners having more value was that airlines could have more flights more often. It’s about flexibility. Business demands can change at any given moment so it’s not competively advantageous to risk missing the one flight with 800 people on board. However, if you miss the flight with 250 people on board, you can catch the next one a few hours later and still make it to that overseas meeting the next day.

  • Me? I think the 380 is wonderful, as are all other Airbus products!
    (But then I am a supplier to the programme and would like to carry on being so).
    Very oddly, they’re actually easier to deal with and sell to than Boeing are. Very odd.

  • elmar g

    I read somewhere that Airbus has standardized maintenance procedures throughout its range of aircraft, which saves money. That is the sort of long-term thinking that US manufacturing seems incapable of.

    Why is it so hard for you to admit that Airbus is simply doing better than Boeing right now? And it is not just Airbus: Eurocopter is now the top helicopter manufacturer globally.

  • David Davenport

    [ The A380 needs to sell 250 to break even, it’s half way there ]

    Some of Airbus’s claimed contracts to buy A380’s may not actually be firm orders, and are instead more like options to buy, options which may not be fulfilled.

    An issue of the magazine Aerospace America a couple of years ago claimed that L’Autobus de l’Avion was selling A380 “contracts” for downpayments of as little as $500k US. If the airline business slumps, many of those “contracts” will go the way of orders for supersonic airliners

    [ … the hubs are and will remain where it’s at. The numbers of slots for landing and starting will not grow that much at existing hubs, which makes the use of bigger and more fuel-efficient airplanes imperative for the big carriers. And of course the number of hubs is aqlso going to grow, so that the A 380 will be able to go to more and more locations. … ]

    But one of the auguments for a medium size airliner with transoceanic range, such as the 7E7, is that smaller, heretofore regional airports can become international flight airports charging lower rent to their airline customers.

    [Now, there is probably a market for both a big and a small modern plane. Boeing has decided to develop the small one, while Airbus went for the big one. Why didn’t they both do both types of plane ? Is that some kind of unoficial division of the market ? Anyhow, it looks like the loser is Boeing, which slipps from no 1 position to no 2. ]

    Assuming the A380 is a sales success, and assuming Boeing doesn’t offer a revamped 747 with composite fuselage and main wing. A stretched 747 with an enlarged upper deck might be able to pack 600 or so immortal souls in.

    Beyond that, if very big airliners prove to be the future trend, Boeing may hopscotch the A380 with a blended body/flying wing airliner to seat 1000 or more.

    … The A380 may also have a design problem. It’s a little overweight and its wing aspect ratio may be too small, thereby causing too much induced drag.

    — David Davenport

  • David Davenport

    [ Eurocopter is now the top helicopter manufacturer globally. ]

    Do you have any evidence to support that allegation?

  • David Davenport

    Take a look:

    Typical Airbus Long Range Airliner AR 9.2 ( In other words, a normal aspect ratio for Airbus or Boeing or anyone else’s large, long range airliner — DD )

    Actual A380 AR = 7.53

    Induced Drag Penalty Due to Less-than-Optimal b 22%

    Source:

    http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:t_8FsQMixKYJ:www.aoe.vt.edu/~mason/Mason_f/A380Viti.pdf+A380+induced+drag+aspect+ratio&hl=en

  • David Davenport

    Let’s see, Eurocopter:

    ” … Formed by the merger of the helicopter divisions of Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm (MBB) from Germany and Aerospatiale from France in the early 90s, the group is now a subsidiary owned 100% by EADS (European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Company), one of the three largest aerospace groups in the world. By a process of successive integrations, Eurocopter has become Europe’s leading fully integrated aeronautical group, there being at present only two remaining entities : the parent company, Eurocopter, and the German subsidiary Eurocopter Deutschland. This ultimate configuration has enabled the group to have unified command structures, while at the same time respecting the national identities of the partner nations. …”

    http://www.helis.com/timeline/eurocopter.php

    [ This ultimate configuration has enabled the group to have unified command structures, while at the same time respecting the national identities of the partner nations ]

    Wow, unified command structures! While at the same time respecting the national identities of the partner nations! EUtopia is on the march!

  • David Davenport

    The A380’s wingspan is approximately 80 meters wide, because airports worldwide are presently constructed and standardized to allow no wider wingspans. However, the portly A380’s wingspan is too narrow to achieve the optimum lift to drag ratio possible for a large subsonic airliner.

    Yes, the 747’s aspect ratio is closer to optimum! Current model 747’s will prove to be more fuel efficient than A380’s and future, revamped 747’s even more so!

    The current 747’s cruising speed is also slightly faster than that of the stubby-winged Euro fatboy.

    This 80 meter gate width problem is one reason why Boeing has chosen not to build a much larger airliner at the present time.

    There are three possible solutions to the 80 meter gate width problem:

    (1) Have airports enlarge their taxiways and parking ramps;

    (2) Build very large airliners with wings that fold while parked or taxiing in the same way that the wings of properly designed aircraft carrier aircraft fold.

    ( Whoops, Rafale’s wings don’t fold. But we’re not here to bury Rafale — yet. )

    (3) Build a very large airliner in a blended wing-body/flying wing configuration, thereby getting a good lift/drag ratio with a narrower aircraft width from wingtip to wingtip.

    Aspect ratio?

    “… Aspect ratio is a measure of how long and slender a wing is from tip to tip. The Aspect Ratio of a wing is defined to be the square of the span divided by the wing area and is given the symbol AR. For a rectangular wing, this reduces to the ratio of the span to the chord length as shown at the upper right of the figure. ( The A380 has enough lifting area because it has more chord length. Relatively stubby, fat wings. — DD. )

    AR = s^2 / A = s^2 / (s * c) = s / c

    High aspect ratio wings have long spans (like high performance gliders), while low aspect ratio wings have either short spans (like the F-16 fighter) or thick chords (like the Space Shuttle). There is a component of the drag of an aircraft called induced drag which depends inversely on the aspect ratio. A higher aspect ratio wing has a lower drag and a slightly higher lift than a lower aspect ratio wing. Because the glide angle of a glider depends on the ratio of the lift to the drag, a glider is usually designed with a very high aspect ratio. The Space Shuttle has a low aspect ratio because of high speed effects, and therefore is a very poor glider. The F-14 and F-111 have the best of both worlds. They can change the aspect ratio in flight by pivoting the wings–large span for low speed, small span for high speed.

    …”

    Source: http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/geom.html

  • Jerry

    David, you’re right – just merge everybody together and you have the ‘biggest whatever’.
    Aeroflot was once the worlds largest ‘air carrier’ but there is no way in h*ll I’ would ever have gotten on one of their flying coffins.
    For other but similar reasons I will NEVER get on and Airbus, ANY Airbus. Am sure that this will not impact Airbus’es bottom line in any way, simply a choice based on the wonderful examples of the A320.
    How many of them had, uh, difficulties that Airbus later blamed on ‘pilot error’ (easy since the pilots were dead).
    The 14yr olds they have programming these flying laptops are simply too in awe of ‘gee, we can let the computers do everything’.
    Fly by wire, sure, anybody ever consider chafe ?
    According to Aviation Week and Space Technology seveal years ago, the phrase ‘why is it doing that’ stated and recorded by confused flight crews many times.
    Sorry, not with my alabaster body.

  • David Davenport

    You’re right Jerry, some pilots don’t like the feel and handling qualities of Airbuses. That’s another debating point.

    The 747-400’s aspect ratio is 8.0 with a with a wingspan of apporixmately 71 meters.

    More on aspect ratio and who’s the first to tranpsort 800 or more paqssengers.:

    http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/aerodynamics/q0167.shtml

    Finite and Infinite Wing

    We call a finite wing “3D” because the air is able to travel up and around the wingtip to produce trailing vortices. The flow around a 2D wing is not able to move in this third dimension. This situation is not possible on a real aircraft since one cannot build an infinite wing. However, an airfoil section tested in a wind tunnel is a 2D wing because the walls of the tunnel prevent the flow from being able to travel around the tips. An example of a 2D wing being tested in a wind tunnel is shown below. In this case, the wing is mounted vertically so that the floor and ceiling prevent the air from being able to flow around the tips.

    ( picture)

    Aerodynamically, the effect of trailing vortices reduces the slope of the coefficient of lift vs. angle of attack curve. The lower the aspect ratio of the wing, the more the lift-curve slope is reduced. This behavior results from the fact that the trailing vortices are able to influence a larger portion of the wing the smaller the wingspan becomes. The ideal lift curve slope of any 2D wing is 2p. If you look at wind tunnel data for any airfoil shape, you’ll see that the slope of the lift curve is indeed very close to this value. As aspect ratio decreases, however, the lift curve slope becomes less than 2p which reduces the overall lift that the wing can produce. You can learn more about this behavior in an article about estimating the lift coefficient.

    The reasoning above explains why commercial airliners like the Boeing 747 and other long-range aircraft like the B-52 Stratofortress bomber have very long, slender wings. These wings have a high aspect ratio that reduces the effect of trailing vortices and maintains a high lift curve slope. Such a wing is more aerodynamically efficient and allows the plane to maximize its range. ( The B-52 bomber did indeed pioneer the way for the Boeing 707 airliner. — DD )

    Source: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/aerodynamics/q0167.shtml

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Carry 800 – 1.087 passengers? Already done that.

    Boeing
    747
    Long-Range Jetliner

    Although the 747 typically carries 300 to 500 passengers, this represents only a small fraction of the aircraft’s lifting capability. High-density versions flown in east Asia routinely carry up to 800, and one Israeli 747 airlifted a staggering 1,087 refugees from Ethiopia in 1991.

    By 2001, over 1,250 747s had been built with a new series of 747-400ER extended range and 747-400X Quiet Longer Range variants under development. Boeing hopes that these improvements will keep the 747 line competetive with the new Airbus A380.

    Source: http://www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/jetliner/b747/

    ….

    OK, I’m being a smarty pants. It is good that Airbus is becoming strong competition for Boeing. Otherwise, the airliner business would be snoozy and stale.

    I suspect Airbus designers have sketches of an Airbus II with wider wingspan and folding wingtips. But first, the Model A Airbus has to achieve some market success.

  • E. v. Mansfeld

    There’s another take on the A380 that I find interesting, and much less flattering to the Europeans. According to this version of the story, the A380 is, like much of what corporate Europe produces, yesterday’s technology: A potential white elephant subsidized by corporatist industrial policy.

    What do I mean when I say the A380 is old technology? For one thing, gigantism in jetliners is hardly a new idea – the 747 has been there for decades. More importantly, Boeing claims that the per-seat economics (e.g., on a full flight) for it’s new, 289-seat 7E7 are about equal to those of the 555-seat A380. If true, this would be a major technological breakthrough, accomplished by revolutionary use of carbon-fiber composites and other fancy engineering. The airline flying a 7E7 from New York to Paris wouldn’t sacrifice much (or perhaps anything) in profits on full flights, and risks less because it’s going to be easier on any given flight to find 289 passengers to fill a 7E7 than 555 to fill an A380. Presumably, airlines will prefer the 7E7 over the A380 – unless Airbus, with the help of the French government, makes the deal too sweet to ignore with discounts and residual value guarantees. And even if those incentives fall short in the long run, Europeans can crow about their new hyper-jumbo today, without much worrying whether it sells enough copies to recoup the huge investment already sunk into development. This would be a familiar scenario for Airbus.

  • David Davenport

    Does anyone know which side is currently ahead in the competition for A380 engines?

    Article dated 2 March 2002

    Rolls-Royce loses ground to its
    US rivals in the race to power the
    European SuperJumbo

    Rolls-Royce which looked likely to take the lion’s share of engine
    orders for the new European Superjumbo lost ground again this week
    to its main rival an alliance of General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, who
    captured a $1.5 billion order from Emirates airlines.

    This week at the Singapore Airshow, Emirates airlines purchased
    engines from the alliance for the 22 A380-800 aircraft it is buying.
    Emirates also has options for a further 10 A380’s which would also
    be powered by alliance engines.

    The GE-P&W Engine Alliance now claims that its GP7000 engine
    family leads in the race to power the A380 among airline customers,
    with 32 firm aircraft

    The Emirates order is for GP7270 engines rated at 70,000 pounds
    (311 kN) of thrust to power the 20 A380-800 passenger aircraft and
    GP7277 engines rated at 76,500 (340 kN) pounds of thrust for two
    freight versions.

    Air France ordered GP7000 engines for its 10 firm A380 aircraft in
    May 2001. ( Air France did that? Hmmm ….. )

    Emirates expects deliveries of its A380s to start from September 2006
    with the super-jumbo A380 operating on routes from Dubai to Europe,
    Asia, Australia, and North America.

    http://www.ndtcabin.com/articles/rr_loses_order.php

  • Daveon

    Current model 747’s will prove to be more fuel efficient than A380’s and future, revamped 747’s even more so!

    Sorry I’ll need more than you’re back of the envelope calcs for that one. IIRC Boeing scrapped the stretch 747 and there’s little more to be done with that airframe and avionics set up.

    The A380 will have the Airbus full envelope flight controls which have made the Airbus familiar far cheaper to operate than equivalent Boeings. They’ll also have the standardised cockpit – another innovation which reduces pilot certification and training cycles. They’ve also, as somebody else pointed out, got their act together on exchangable parts.

    Interestingly there’s still a lot of US pilots refusing to fly Airbus because they blame the composite empenage for that crash in 2001 off New York. I wonder what they’ll make of an all composite fuse?

    What do I mean when I say the A380 is old technology?

    I’m afraid that I have no idea. However, as a pointer the costs of running an airline are more than just the point to point routing for the plane. A landing slot and associated handling fees at a major airport are enormous. Assuming there are enough passengers and on the main Europe-US/Asia routes there are plenty, then the economics don’t stack up.

    I’m dubious of the running claims for the 7E7 myself, but we’ll let the market decide. Over the last 5 years they’ve been deciding they like Airbus. It will be interesting to see what happens.

  • Daveon

    Billy Beck,

    We just flew away on the takeoff, but orbited De Gaulle for more than an hour in order to get the airplane down to landing weight.

    With a damaged engine and a declaired emergency, if there was no immediate threat to the aircraft then the standard safety procedure would be to dump as much fuel as possible before landing.

  • Aaron

    Ralf,

    I think you miss the concept that in the future people will fly from Guangzhou to Sacramento DIRECT.

    And from Chengdu to Chennai.

    They will fly in smaller planes unless the demand for a A380 is there.

    Europe loves hubs, though, that is true.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    Small might be the way to go for the future, is that the gist of the thread direction?

    Interesting thought. Very interesting.

    The rationale for large aircraft for long distance flights in the past was because of economical engineering considerations. Take those considerations away, what happens?

  • Shaun Bourke

    Daveon,

    For a better understanding about the refusal of US pilots to fly Airbus products I highly recommend a research document prepared by A300 pilots in the states after the FL587 impact……….

    http://www.usread.com/airbusa300pilots/

    …… scroll down its in pdf and Word. This will enlighten you to the culture within Airbus as well as the poor design. Towards the end is a rundown on ADs issued on the A300…. note the flurry of them after the FL587 incident.

    For a view from the tour operator’s eye into the future of airtravel into the vast Pacific Ocean area try this….

    http://www.suite101.com/article.cfm/current_events_pacific_islands/112523

    As you will see choice and consumer demand is where Boeing is going unlike ‘Renault Aviation’.

    As usual China Daily gives a treasure trove of info about real problems, this time with the A380……

    http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-01/19/content_410459.htm

    …..at some 5 tonnes overweight dry it will be interesting to see how if at all they can par down this excess. If they cannot they are going to be required by the operators to offer further discounts on price to compensate for the reduced performance.

    Here is an excellent rundown on the birth of the 7E7….

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/technology/chi-0501120278jan12,1,7632975.story?coll=chi-techtopheds-hed&ctrack=1&cset=true

    Here is a rundown on the looming economic disaster that will befall ‘Renault Aviation’. In reality though it is the EURO that is in decline on its long slid to join its uncle the Reichmark in the dust bin of history…….

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/boeingaerospace/2002122290_airbusdollar17.html

    The slippage in sales of the R-R Trent is due to the higher costs of purchase and maintenence as the Trent is a 3 spool design whereas the GE and the Pratt are single spool.

    This older article from Sept ’03 shows how little in the intervening time frame A380 sales have improved….

    http://www.aiaa.org/aerospace/Article.cfm?issuetocid=398&ArchiveIssueID=42

    This article gives a broad outline of the whos and whats of the 7E7…..

    http://www.aerospace-technology.com/projects/dreamliner/

    When Boeing committed to the 747 it was do or die and many expected Boeing to crash and burn. The 7E7 will carry the Boeing flag well into the 21st century and in all variants likely will exceed 2000 units.

    My tuppence is with Boeing… where is yours ?

  • Aaron,

    unless terrorism puts severe restrictions on air travel, the number of passengers will grow rapidly, and faster than airports can be expanded. So for existing hubs larger planes are essential, to get thbe most out of the limited slots. A lot of the hubs are also prevented from further growth, so that many additional airports are going to be expanded, and thereby able to service the A 380.

    Passengers also want as low prices as possible, so the economies of scale favor the A 380. The direct flights you mention will be a small part of the overall market, and probably the option for those who are willing to pay more. Besides, if direct flights really were the wave of the future, regional airports would also have to grow to hubs of some kind, and thereby become destinations for the A 380, too.

    There is going to be a market for both planes.

  • Shaun,

    in the 80s many Americans were erronously convinced that Audi limousines were accelerating by themselves. This is just more of the same.

  • MDP

    Ralf: in the 80s many Americans were erronously convinced that Audi limousines were accelerating by themselves. This is just more of the same.

    Are you implying that CBS News sometimes airs bogus investigative reports?

  • David Davenport

    Surely this couldn’t happen to the A380:

    http://www.aviationnow.com/avnow/news/channel_bca_story.jsp?id=news/cc0105.xml

    [ Cause & Circumstance: An Overwhelming Force
    By Richard N. Aarons
    12/23/2004 01:39:31 PM

    After three years of field and laboratory investigations and studies, the NTSB issued a remarkable finding of probable cause of the crash of American Airlines Flight 587. The Airbus Industrie A300-605R came down in a residential area of Belle Harbor, N.Y., on Nov. 12, 2001, about 0916 EST shortly after takeoff from JFK on a scheduled FAR Part 121 flight to the Dominican Republic. The first officer was at the controls, the captain was handling non-flying pilot duties, and seven cabin attendants were in their seats, as were the flight’s 251 passengers. All those on board and five people on the ground were killed by impact forces and post-crash fire.

    Within days of the accident, NTSB investigators knew that the vertical stabilizer had separated from the airplane, causing it to roll onto its back, shed its engines and dive into the streets of Belle Harbor. The investigative focus quickly turned to the tail structure, characteristics of the A300-600 rudder control system design, A300-600 rudder pedal inputs at high airspeeds, aircraft-pilot coupling, flight operations at or below an airplane’s design maneuvering speed, and upset recovery training programs.

    In the end, the Safety Board determined the probable cause of this accident was “the inflight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer’s unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program.”

    ( That is, parts of AA’s training program having to do with handling an A300 in turbulent air. — DD )

    The Safety Board also expressed concern that pilots may not be aware that, on some [ Airbus ] airplane types, full available rudder deflections can be achieved with small pedal movements and comparatively light pedal forces. In these airplanes, at low speeds (for example, on the runway during the early takeoff run or during flight control checks on the ground or simulator training) the rudder pedal forces required to obtain full available rudder may be two times greater and the rudder pedal movements required may be three times greater than those required to obtain full available rudder at higher airspeeds.

    An example of this situation, said Board investigators, is the A300-600. At airspeeds lower than 165 knots (when rudder travel is unrestricted by the airplane’s rudder limiter system) the rudder can travel +/-30 degrees, requiring a pilot force of about 65 pounds to move the rudder pedals about 4.0 inches, producing full rudder deflection under those conditions. However, at 250 knots, when the limiter restricts rudder travel to about +/-9.3 degrees, a pilot force of only 32 pounds is required to move the rudder pedals about 1.3 inches. That’s correct: 1.3 inches, producing full rudder deflection at that speed. The rudder system on the A300-600 uses a breakout force of about 22 pounds. Thus, at 250 knots, the rudder can reach full available travel (9.3 degrees) with a pedal force of only 10 pounds over the breakout force.

    … ]

    In other words, the A300-600’s rudder controls are an analogous to an autombile with excessively sensitive and forceful power steering, power steering which responds to a small turn of the steering wheel as the car accelerates by turning the front wheels to their maximum angle of excursion.

    Granted, this overly forceful steering may be acceptable if the driver or pilot is carefully trained to use it — provided that —

    — provided that the driver/pilot feels comfortable knowing that applying a little more hand or foot force than the recommended maximum control force input can cause the front wheels or the rudder to break loose and fall off entirely while travelling at less than the manufacturor’s specified velocity for maximum maneuverability! — DD

  • David Davenport

    From another web site:

    http://www.airmanshiponline.com/08-03-02/092-How%20much%20rudder%20is%20too%20much.htm

    [Pilots Ask: How Much
    Rudder Is Too Much?

    FRANCES FIORINO/NEW YORK

    Airline pilots are perturbed by recent National Transportation Safety Board recommendations which state flight crews must be made aware that aggressive rudder input can induce structural damage or failure but do not define ways to recognize or prevent disaster.

    One airline captain compared the situation to the FBI’s putting the nation on high alert in response to threats of terrorism–yet being unable to define where exactly danger lurks and what actions one must take to avoid peril.

    Pilots want clear-cut definitions, and quickly.

    The board’s Feb. 8 recommendations to the FAA stem from its ongoing investigation of the Nov. 12, 2001, crash of American Airlines Flight 587. When the Airbus A300-600R was at 2,400 ft. altitude and an airspeed of 255 kt. about 2 min. after takeoff from New York JFK Airport, its vertical stabilizer fell from the aircraft. Flight 587 plunged into a residential community, killing 265 people (AW&ST Nov. 19, 2001, pp. 34 and 36).

    “PILOTS WORLDWIDE LACK meaningful guidance regarding ‘how much is too much’ when it comes to rudder inputs,” said Capt. John Darrah, APA president. He added that the NTSB notes that in its safety recommendations, the widely used Airplane Upset Recovery Training Aid states pilots must be prepared to use full control authority when necessary.

    The Air Line Pilots Assn. (ALPA) last week issued a Safety Alert Bulletin to its 67,000 membership, which essentially reminds pilots to maintain the status quo:

    * Continue to operate aircraft following current training and guidance material, unless specifically directed otherwise by the carrier or the FAA, as well as follow existing operational procedures regarding the use of flight controls for engine failure, gusty crosswind and upset recovery.

    * Remember that rudder use as cited by the NTSB–“sequential, aggressive, full and opposite rudder input”–may result in structural damage or failure.

    * When this type of input is used, neither the rudder limiter nor operating at or below design maneuvering speed may prevent structural damage or failure. ( … at least if the aircraft is an A300-600. ) ]

    We can all rest assured that this will never happen to an A380.

  • David Davenport

    Here’s Boeing’s statement re the A380 rollout, pointed to by one of my favorite bloggers, Howard Veit:

    http://www.oraculations.blogspot.com/

    “…
    The A380 does not mark the beginning of a new stage in commercial aviation; it is the crowning achievement of a bygone era. An era when passengers had to deal with multiple connections and few flight choices. Industry data from the past 10 to 15 years is clear: demand for air travel is up, the number of flights and the number of cities with non-stop services is up, yet the average size of airplanes flying today is down.

    Consider that Airbus says London’s Heathrow will use the most A380s during the next two decades. Yet, the 747’s share of departures at Heathrow hasn’t changed during the past twenty years. Airbus lists Tokyo’s two airports and Hong Kong’s as major A380 hubs. But at those three airports, the 747 as a percentage of departures is about half of what it was in the 1990s. If large airplanes solve congestion, the 747 departures would have been going up. …”

    –Randy Baseler, Boeing Chief of Marketing

    Posted 3:16 AM by Howard http://www.oraculations.blogspot.com/

    CORRECTED POSTING: I had originally criticized the Bush Administration for what I felt was their negligence in allowing the EU to build a very large plane, the A380, and then through subsidization and blackmail blow Boeing away. This posting was incorrect as several emailers pointed out to me, and partcularly emailer Jay S. who directed me to the Boeing site. According to Boeing blogger and Chief of Marketing, Randy Baseler: Boeing is betting the huge EU plane is a bust and the future of airline travel lies in smaller planes. Entire Post HERE(link)

    http://www.boeing.com/randy/ ( the linked item)

    “Randy’s Journal

    After the unveiling

    20 January 2005
    Seattle

    What a week — I’m sure the folks who put on the big event in Toulouse are relieved that it has finally happened. It was quite a show from what I have seen, and I’m sure a good time was had by all. We’ll see if President Bush’s inaugural can match the festivities!

    Admittedly, I’ve spent much of the week offering an alternative view of what the A380 stands for. And I think the world’s media have it about right. Boeing and Airbus have a legitimate difference of opinion on where the future of commercial aviation is going, and we’ve placed our bets accordingly.

    Boeing believes the future will continue to follow the trend of more point-to-point, non-stop flights with more frequencies and more choices for passengers. Airbus believes in the superjumbo and a future dominated by more hub-to-hub traffic with more connecting flights for passengers.

    The debate will continue, and the verdict will be decided in the years to come. The judges will be the airlines and all of us, the flying public.

    So how do you want to fly?

    The A380 rolls out
    18 January 2005
    Seattle

    Today is a blue shirt and red tie day. I’m doing some TV interviews on what Boeing thinks of the A380 on the day of the big unveiling event.

    And in the days leading up to it, I have been asked by more than a dozen reporters on our reaction to the new airplane. Here is what I’ve told them. Without question the A380 is a great engineering and industrial achievement. We congratulate Airbus on reaching this significant milestone. The people who designed it and put it together should be proud.

    But that isn’t all I have said. Along with the A380 being an engineering marvel it also represents a very large misjudgment about how most passengers want to travel and how most airlines operate.

    The A380 does not mark the beginning of a new stage in commercial aviation; it is the crowning achievement of a bygone era. An era when passengers had to deal with multiple connections and few flight choices. Industry data from the past 10 to 15 years is clear: demand for air travel is up, the number of flights and the number of cities with non-stop services is up, yet the average size of airplanes flying today is down.

    Airbus is calling for a significant shift in recent trends. It believes we will all fly from hub to hub, with one or more connecting flights to complete our journey. Boeing believes airlines will continue to give passengers what they want — more frequency choices and more non-stop, point-to-point flights.

    Consider that Airbus says London’s Heathrow will use the most A380s during the next two decades. Yet, the 747’s share of departures at Heathrow hasn’t changed during the past twenty years. Airbus lists Tokyo’s two airports and Hong Kong’s as major A380 hubs. But at those three airports, the 747 as a percentage of departures is about half of what it was in the 1990s. If large airplanes solve congestion, the 747 departures would have been going up.

    Either Airbus knows for certain that the trends of the past 10 to 15 years are about to do an immediate U-turn, or it has misread the state of aviation as it really is today and where it’s going in the future.

    So I applaud the achievement. But the A380 is flying into the headwind of reality. It is truly a big airplane for a small market. ” ( End Randy’s Journal)

    //////////////

    What I can add to Andy’s journal is that about ten years ago, Boeing observed that demand for new 747’s was trending down, even as total air travel was increasing and demand for smaller than jumbo sized airliners such as the Boeing 777, 737, and some Airbuses was increasing. In particular, there has been mucho growth in demand over the past decade for twin engine airliners, such as the 777, with enough range to fly transoceanic routes.

    Surely someone at Airbus also noticed this trend, but then it’s so ego gratifying to have a bigger airplane … and it’s so typically Olde Worlde to be a step or two behind the times.

    Just as the Concorde exemplifies the 1960’s euphoric go-go-go modernistic optimism, a modernism which is now mostly post and retro and in the past, an A380’s sales flop may mark a reversal of trend from the end of the 20th century phenomenon of mass mass mass two legged cattle herd international travel across wide open borders.–DD

  • David Davenport

    I say again, in order to minimize induced drag, the A380’s wingspan should be about 100 meters wide instead of 79 and a fraction meters

    Compare: the largest 747, the 747-400, has a maximum gross take off wight of about 800,000 pounds ( ~364 metric tonnes. ) The A380’s maximum gross takeoff weight is around 560 metric tonnes. The 747’s wingspan is 64.4 meters. Good aeronautical design practice would require that the aircraft’s wingspan be proportional to its weight, which would put be about 100 meters wide for an A380 loaded to 560 metric tonnes.

    Other people’s calculations indicate that the A380 will fly, but it will do so with more drag and hence less fuel efficiency than an airliner with a properly sized wing such as the 747. ( See http://64.233.161.104/search?q=cache:YQ-6xXoaeHQJ:www.aoe.vt.edu/~mason/Mason_f/A380Hosder.pdf+A380+induced+drag+aspect+ratio&hl=en)

    The A380 will generate enough lift because its main wing has sufficient lifting area, 845 square meters, in proportion to its weight. However, the A380’s wing purchases this lifting area by being wider from leading edge to trailing edge of the wing than is normal. The additional front to back wing width, also known as wing chord, is unfavorable in regard to optimum lift/drag ratio.

    — David Davenport

  • Daveon

    >shrug< Shaun, I'm well aware of all that, but I am also aware that you can produce a similar post pointing out all the errors made in pilot training and the findings of the engineering studies showing the pilot managed to put the tail section into over double it's maximum stress. I'm not impressed, myself, with the way the rudder pedals respond, however, that's the point of pilot training - pilots have to gain certification on marques precisely because of this type of thing. A lot of the early CFT (controlled flights into terrain) by Airbus aircraft were due to pilot error. Airbus changed the flight controls to take outthe problem that caused them and, as you would expect, the number have dropped through the floor. David, So how do you want to fly?

    In comfort between long haul destinations – I can live with discomfort for short haul flights but I flew 125,000 miles last year, mostly on 747s which, in economy class, were too cramped.

    I don’t see the 7E7 offering me the options I need. I fly from major airports to major airports where I do business (London, Hong Kong, Seattle, SFO, Taipei etc…)

    Cut/Paste in comments is hard on the eyes and I’m not, even now, clear on your point. I can’t comment on the aerodynamics of the A380 without knowing a hell of a lot more about the aircraft than lift/drag. But it’s been a long long time since I worked in the aircraft industry and then we were a supplier to a company which bet the farm on building small regional jets.

    Boeing have consistently made bad aircraft design decisions for years now. As I said, we’ll let the market decide.

    My personal feeling is Boeing are designing for regional markets and Airbus for global. Based on my needs, I’d like to see more, larger aircraft which can give me a couple of inches more leg room. I’m not greedy, beds etc… are nice, but I generally fly economy and it doesn’t take much extra to dramatically increase the experience.

  • Shaun Bourke

    Daveon,

    Shrug…..Before you get too carried away with the FL587 impact I strongly recommend you read through the extensive technical material available at this site….

    http://usread.com/flight587.html

    A feature not remarked well about the A300 series rudder pedals is that rudder commands from the flight control computer and the auto pilot operate the rudder pedals and NOT the rudder !….therefore any data on the DFDR that references rudder pedal movements actually gives NO indication as to how the pedal inputs were generated.

    Uncommanded rudder movements are often refered to as a feature of the A300 series and if you have much time in a Bonanza V-tail you will feel right at home in an A300. It should be noted that pilots of the big heavys rarely have their feet on the rudder pedals during flight.

    Since I am a Sydney to LA and NY flyer I will stick to the 747-400 which will take the same amount of time as a flying Renault or a 7E7 which will slice 2 hours of the ocean section.

    David Davenport,

    You are quite correct about the poor aspect ratio of the A380 wing panel. This is due entirely to Renault Aviation being unable to design a structrually strong enough panel with a higher aspect ratio. Add to that it is almost 12,000 pounds over weight DRY, I doubt the abilities of this craft to get airborne at max loads from high altitude airports especially during summer. Its going to be very interesting reading the pilot’s manuals for this boat.

  • Daveon

    Shaun,

    I keep up to date with the aircraft industry even though I no longer work in it, so I’ve read quite a lot of the material both sides have generated about that crash. I’ve also worked with engineers who’ve been involved in the training process converting MD and Boeing pilots to Airbus and who have also worked on the flight controls.

    Uncommanded rudder “events” leading to catastrophy are hardly unique to Airbus, although the case in question was almost certainly made worse by the pilot’s training. I agree that the design of the Airbus flight control system was ridiculous and I, for one, am glad it’s been dealt with, just as the pilot over-ride of engine power on approach was fixed.

    Checking Boeing and Airbus sites they both give the crusing speed of the 7E7 as 0.85Mach. How do you estimate the 2 hour saving?

  • Shaun Bourke

    Ralf,

    Audi build compact and small intermediate sized motor cars as well as some sports cars. I am unaware of Audi ever building a Limo, at least for North America or Australia. Maybe you are confused between the M-B’s 3 pointed star and the Audi’s 4 rings as M-B used to build a Limo known as the 600 Pulman.

    As for Audis not hanging around silly Leslie Stahl of ’60 Minutes’ fame got her knickers in a knot a few years back because some froggie broad driving an Audi Quattro won the ‘Race to the Clouds’ and held the outright record for a few years so it must have been incumbent on silly Leslie to trash somebody and Audi.

  • David Davenport

    [ You are quite correct about the poor aspect ratio of the A380 wing panel. This is due entirely to Renault Aviation being unable to design a structrually strong enough panel with a higher aspect ratio. Add to that it is almost 12,000 pounds over weight DRY, I doubt … ]

    That IS interesting. I didn’t know that.

    [ … I’d like to see more, larger aircraft which can give me a couple of inches more leg room … ]

    But it’s not the volume of the passenger cabin per se which gives more leg room, it’s the number of seats that end up being crammed into the length and width
    available. So what if the A380 cabin is, say, twice the length of the 7E7 cabin if the big Airbus has 2.2 times as many seats in each aisle?

    Again, I’m being smart alecky about Airbus, but Boeing and the aviation world in general needs Airbus’ competition.

    My hunch about commercial aviation in the early 21st century? Back to the 1970’s and early 1980’s, perhaps perhaps — alternative fuels for gas turbine engines and unducted fans cruising at 0.7-something Mach.

  • Shaun Bourke

    David Davenport,

    Scroll down to the bottom of the page where there is a rundown on composite useage…….

    http://www.netcomposites.com/news.asp?2704

  • Shaun Bourke

    It appears that the overweight issue is now into the area of 2% DRY…………

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/999134.cms

    ………hmmmm 13,500 pounds ?

    And Virgin Airlines has setup its exit strategy from the A380 programme……

    http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/209051_interior24.html

    ……delay, complain about the weights and demand an even larger version than you have ordered.

  • Daveon

    But it’s not the volume of the passenger cabin per se which gives more leg room, it’s the number of seats that end up being crammed into the length and width
    available. So what if the A380 cabin is, say, twice the length of the 7E7 cabin if the big Airbus has 2.2 times as many seats in each aisle?

    I can only go off the published seat configs and numbers that the lead airlines are going by. Singapore are claiming larger seat pitches, although it looks to me like the width will stay the same.

    Width is fine by me, it’s the 6’4″ of me that has trouble not the 40″ round the middle.

    Sure, some airlines will probably play sardines – IIRC some JAL 747s have a near 600 seat configuration which would probably be impossible for me to sit in. However, the airlines will have the flexibility.

    My gut feeling is the 7E7 and the A380 are targeting radically different markets. The real problem for Boeing is the market they’re targetting for the 7E7 is getting crowded and Airbus are also going to be playing there.

  • Julian Taylor

    Please, stop the long posts and use links – we all know how to click on a URL and you can make your point quicker and more visible by doing it.

    Thank you

  • Mandy Ibotson

    The comment giving the reason for the A380’s *slightly* low aspect ratio is totally incorrect. The aspect ratio is limited by the A380’s wings having to be able to fit into existing airports. I.e Airbus couldn’t make the wings as long as they wanted to as they’d hit other parked aircraft as the A380 manouvered on the ground at airports.

    So the A380 requires a certain wing area to support its weight in flight, and ideally that area would be built as a long, narrow wing. However the designers can’t make the wings as long as they would like due not to structural reasons but due to the dimensions of existing airport taxiways and parking areas.