Paris Air show kicks off; A380 Super Jumbo grounded

Paris Air show kicks off; A380 Super Jumbo grounded

The enthusiasm was slightly blighted after an Airbus A380 super jumbo was damaged and grounded when its wing tip struck a taxiway structure.

The Airbus' star jumbo had suffered damage to its wing tip after it collided with a a building at the Le Bourget airport, where the six-day event is taking place with participation of nearly 2,100 international exhibitors including top aircraft manufacturers and aerospace firms.

With Airbus super jumbo out of show due to the accident, it was the Boeing's new 747-8 jumbo that hogged all the limelights at the prestigious show which has been a leading event in the aviation and air defence system for over 100 years.

It was a sort of double whammy for the Airbus as it had to cancel a scheduled demonstration flight of its A400M military transport aircraft due to a minor technical problem.

An Airbus official later said an A380 operated by Korean Air will participate in the air show as replacement for the damaged aircraft.

Inspite of the first day glitches, major defence industry players were quite upbeat about opportunities in the aviation and aerospace industry and identified Middle East and India as places of great opportunity.

Raetheon's Vice President of Air Warfare Systems Harry Schulte said the company was not disappointed at either of US' fighter plane maker Boeing and Lockheed Martin not getting the Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft contract and said his company was looking forward to integrate its weapons on jets to be selected by India.

"We are very upbeat about opportunities in India and would like to further enhance our engagement with the country by offering best technology solutions to India's defence requirement," said William Blair, President of Raytheon India.

Meanwhile American defence major Boeing announced orders and commitments for 17 orders for its latest jumbo 747-8 Intercontinentals.

The 747-8 Intercontinental can seat 467 passengers - 51 more than the current 747 - while ensuring better fuel efficiency. The new plane was unveiled in February this year.
Placed by two undisclosed customer, the orders are valued at a combined USD 5.4 billion at list prices. One customer has committed to 15 of the new passenger version of the 747-8 while the other placed an order for two.

"These orders for the 747-8 Intercontinental mark a major milestone for the programme and demonstrate the market's need for an airplane of its size and range," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

"It will play a valuable role in further growing these carriers long-haul route networks."
The orders bring the 747-8 Intercontinental total backlog to 50 firm aircraft, plus five from a commitment from Air China contingent on Chinese Government approval. It also brings the total 747-8 backlog, including 76 747-8 Freighters, to 126.

The new 747-8 Intercontinental carries 467 passengers in a three-class configuration.
It features a new wing design, an upgraded flight deck, and its interior incorporates features from the 787 Dreamliner, including a new curved, up swept architecture that will give passengers a greater sense of space and comfort while adding more room for personal belongings.

Saudi Arabian Airlines, country's national airline, has placed a firm order for four additional A330-300 aircraft in addition to the eight ordered in July 2008, taking the total order for the type to 12.

"We are reaping the benefits of operational efficiency and productivity with our new fleet of A330s, and our passengers love it too. The A330 is an important pillar upon which we are building our ambitious expansion plans by simultaneously meeting rising passenger demand and expectations," said Khalid Al Molhem, Director General of Saudi Arabian Airlines.

Including leased aircraft, and today's four A330, in the years to come, Saudia's Airbus fleet will grow to 62 aircraft.

There is a special interest this time among the defence majors participating in the even in the wake of internal strife and turmoil in the Arab world as they are "expecting impressive orders" from the countries of the region to upgrade their security apparatus due to the increasing unrest.

"All nations (in the region) are very interested in protecting their economies and I think the defence industry will have lot of opportunities to protect and ensure their economic security," Tom Kennedy, President of Raytheon's Integrated Defence Systems said.

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