Airbus A380 test flight delayed after accident

Saturday, September 1, 2007

The Airbus A380 Superjumbo.

A test flight of the new Airbus A380 superjumbo, the largest passenger jet in the world, was delayed today after a superficial accident at Suvarnabhumi Airport, which serves Bangkok, Thailand.

The minor accident occurred during push back, as the aircraft was leaving a parking space before it was due to fly to Chiang Mai International Airport. As the jet was being pushed back by a Thai Airways International tug operator, the left winglet struck the side of the hangar, and was crumpled against it.

The winglets, designed to improve fuel efficiency, are non-vital parts. After an inspection, Airbus decided to remove both winglets and continue the flight without them. The plane left four hours after its scheduled 9:45 a.m. local time departure, carrying 150 passengers.

The flight was intended to counteract criticisms that the massive airliner, which has a 79-metre wingspan, is too big (and thus too complex for ground crews) to be practically operated at most airports. It also demonstrates continuing problems at Suvarnabhumi airport, which has suffered various incidents since it opened last September, the most severe of which being the discovery of large cracks in airport taxiways shortly after opening.

Airbus has said they will continue with their tour of Asia demonstrating the plane.