Sunday, September 2, 2007

A380 Superjumbo damaged in Bangkok mishap

A tip of an Airbus A380's wing scraped a repair building at the Suvarnabhumi airport while preparing for a test flight to Chiang Mai on Saturday morning.

European plane maker Airbus let Thai Airways International (THAI) uses the world's largest passenger plane in a trial flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

The plane, which arrived in Thailand on Friday as part of an Asian tour to promote its sales, carried 150 VIP guests, businessmen and reporters on this special flight. It was scheduled to leave the airport at 9.45am.

Its tip hit the building when it was backing out of the parking area to the taxiway, officials said. There were no injuries.

THAI president Apinan Sumanaseni said minor damage occurred to the jet's winglet, and expected that it would take an hour to fix the damage. The flight would be resumed on Saturday afternoon.

The pushback vehicle operator was not blamed for the damage as Mr Apinan said the accident occurred because the jet is so large that it needs more space on the taxiway.

Airbus officials were sanguine.

"This sort of thing happens every day, in every airport around the world," said Edouard Ullmo, Airbus' executive vice president of sales for Asia Pacific.

Airbus decided to remove both winglets, designed to stabilise the aircraft in heavy turbulence, before resuming the flight to Chiang Mai Saturday afternoon.

"We can fly with one winglet or no winglets," said Ullmo. "This is standard procedure."

THAI ordered six A380 megajets, which will be delivered in the next two years.

The A380's main deck is 20 inches wider than the Boeing 747 jumbo jet's cabin, while the upper deck is 71% wider. The aircraft is 72.7 metres long, two metres longer than the B747-400. But its wingspan is much wider than the B747-400, at 79.8 metres compared to 64.5 metres.

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