The Latest: Airbus A380 test pilot laments its demise
TOULOUSE, France (AP) — The Latest on Airbus’ announcement that it will stop making the superjumbo A380 (all times local):
One of the Airbus A380’s original test pilots says the giant plane will be remembered for pushing the technological barriers of aviation like the supersonic Concorde.
Claude Lelaie was a co-pilot aboard the maiden flight of the superjumbo in 2005, 101 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight.
Speaking Thursday to The Associated Press, Lelaie said he was “feeling a bit sad” after Airbus announced the end of the A380 program.
But he also expressed understanding, saying: “That’s business, you have to ensure the success of the company.”
The now-retired pilot said that despite its huge size and weight, the A380 was a “very nice aircraft to fly” and not that different from other Airbus models in the way it handled.
He said technological advances from the A380 then fed into other models, including the A350. The A380 and the now also retired Concorde, he said, “both made history and allowed progress, technological progress.”
Unions decried Airbus’ decision to abandon the A380 amid worry about possible job losses as a result.
Airbus says that a recent data breach appeared to target its intellectual property.
Guillaume Faury, the head of Airbus commercial aircraft and future CEO of the Airbus group, said Thursday that the company is working on technical and legal tools to combat this kind of cyberattack.
He said “we are constantly under attack, this is the new world we are living in.”
He said what was different in the recent attack is that personal data was sought, and “at this stage of the investigation it seems that some IP was targeted.” He would not elaborate while the investigation is ongoing.
Airbus said in late January that hackers broke into its information systems but the breach had no impact on commercial activities. The perpetrators obtained access to data that included the professional contacts and identification details of some Airbus employees in Europe.
The head of European aviation manufacturer Airbus says he’s optimistic that Britain and the EU can find a solution for a smooth divorce instead of a chaotic cliff-edge Brexit next month.
Airbus CEO Tom Enders has threatened to move its U.K. operations out of Britain if there’s no deal spelling out future trade relations.
While Airbus is stockpiling parts on both sides of the Channel in case of a no-deal Brexit, Enders said Thursday that “I’m still optimistic that a solution can be found, that the forces of reason will finally prevail” in London and in Brussels.
France-based Airbus is particularly vulnerable because its airplane parts are made in several countries, including at 25 facilities in Britain. Tariffs between the U.K. and EU would be a huge blow.
Airbus has reported a 29 percent rise in profits for 2018 despite losses of 899 million euros ($1 billion) from its troubled A380 superjumbo jet and A400M military transporter plane.
The company reported Thursday net profit of 3.1 billion euros over last year, up from 2.4 billion euros in 2017. Revenues were up 8 percent to 63.7 billion euros, including from its defense business.
Airbus announced earlier Thursday that it will stop making the iconic A380 plane and reported a charge of 463 million euros related to that decision. In addition the plane maker reported a charge of 436 million euros on the A400M, used by several European militaries.
Airbus said it forecasts similar profits in 2019 in line with growth in the world economy and air traffic.
The long-haul carrier Emirates says it has struck a deal valued at $21.4 billion with Airbus, while saying it is sad to see the end of production of the double-decker A380 jetliner.
Emirates made the announcement Thursday at the same time that Airbus in Toulouse, France announced the end of the iconic airliner’s production.
The Dubai government-owned airline, based out of the world’s busiest airport for international travel, had the A380 as the backbone of its fleet.
Emirates says it will receive 14 more A380s until the end of 2021, taking its total A380 orders to 123. The airline will purchase 40 A330-900 aircraft and 30 A350-900s.
European aviation giant Airbus says it will stop making its superjumbo A380 in 2021 after struggling to sell the world’s biggest passenger jet.
Airbus said in a statement Thursday that Emirates is cutting back its orders for the plane and as a result “we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production.”
The decision is a boon for rival Boeing and a blow for Airbus. Airbus had hoped the A380 would squeeze out Boeing’s 747 and revolutionize air travel as more people take to the skies.
Instead, airlines have been cautious about committing to the costly plane, so huge that airports had to build new runways and modify terminals to accommodate it. The double-decker planes started flying in 2008 and seat more than 500 passengers.