A380 test flight plagued by technical glitch

29th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

TOULOUSE, France, Aug 29, 2006 (AFP) - A test flight by Airbus' problem-plagued A380 was called off in mid-flight Tuesday because of a fault with the super jumbo's landing gear controls, the company said.

TOULOUSE, France, Aug 29, 2006 (AFP) - A test flight by Airbus' problem-plagued A380 was called off in mid-flight Tuesday because of a fault with the super jumbo's landing gear controls, the company said.

"Shortly after take-off the crew noted a discordance between two light signals, making it impossible to know whether or not the main landing gear was lowered," said a spokeswoman for the aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

"That sparked the launch of a security mechanism stopping the undercarriage from being retracted, and it returned to land without difficulty in Toulouse."

The plane, which left the southwestern French city of Toulouse at 0500 GMT to Tozeur in southern Tunisia, was forced to turn back after just 34 minutes, airport authorities in Tozeur said earlier.

The technical glitch is the latest of several to be detected on board the A380, the world's biggest commercial airliner.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which owns 80 percent of Airbus, announced in June that deliveries would be delayed by six to seven months because of a production problem involving wiring connections.

Only nine of the aircraft are to be delivered in 2007, an announcement that caused EADS share price to slump and led to top management changes at both Airbus and its parent company.

Airbus said the plane was headed to south Tunisia to "complete a series of tests in hot climates, most of which were carried out this summer in the United Arab Emirates".

The four A380 test planes have clocked up more than 1,800 hours of flying time in more than 575 flights since the first test flight on April 27, 2005.

The double-decker plane is designed to carry 555 to 840 passengers, about 35 percent more than the Boeing B747. To date, 16 airline companies have ordered 168 of the super-jumbo jets, including Singapore Airlines, Dubai-based Emirates, Malaysia Airlines and Australia's Qantas.

The A380 was designed to supplant the B747 as the giant of the skies, but Airbus has been hit by fierce competition from Boeing and its new 787 Dreamlimer.

The Dreamliner plane has been marketed to airlines as a fuel-efficient long-haul jet, which has gained favour in the industry because of the surging cost of aviation fuel.

Boeing has also reported some production delays and weight problems for the Dreamliner, but says that it should enter service on time in 2008.

Alan Mulally, head of commercial airplanes at Boeing, said in July that demand for the plane had been "phenomenal" and that 363 orders had been placed since its launch in 2004.

In midafternoon trading, the price of shares in EADS showed a gain of 4.02 percent on the Paris stock exchange at 23.55 euros.

The share price was boosted by a report saying that Russian state bank Vneshtorgbank had accumulated a 5.0-percent stake in the aerospace and defence group.

The Moscow business daily Vedomosti quoted sources close to the bank and government officials as saying Vneshtorgbank had spent some 1.0 billion dollars buying EADS stock.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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