Airbus CEO takes dive as A380 has issues

Nov. 18, 2010 at 1:41 PM
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SEVILLE, Spain, Nov. 18 (UPI) -- With his company plagued by faulty Rolls-Royce engines mounted on the Airbus A380 super jumbo, Airbus boss Tom Enders jumped out of an A400M freighter plane.

For those who are concerned about his safety -- don't be. Enders, the Airbus chief executive officer, took the dive with a parachute strapped to his body and observers say he's an expert jumper.

Enders with the jump over Spain not only realized a dream of his but also tested the plane's suitability as a paratroop-delivery platform.

"It was an enormous pleasure for me to experience the excellent qualities of the A400M for paratroop operations," Enders was quoted as saying by aero industry site "Paratroopers serving with our customer nations can be confident that the A400M will provide a far superior platform for their operations in future."

Seven nations have ordered the A400M military transport aircraft from Airbus Military, but most of them, including Germany and Britain, have scaled back orders due to budget pressures and because the plane has become more expensive than anticipated.

The A400M aircraft acquisition program, launched by Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., was originally to cost $27 billion but, according to a recent study, final costs could now rise to $44 billion.

Enders' jump comes as Qantas, an Australian airline, grounded all of its Airbus A380s after a Nov. 4 in-flight engine explosion on an A380 en route from Singapore to Sydney.

Airbus said Thursday it would hold engine maker Rolls-Royce financially accountable, after Enders had warned last week that deliveries of the A380 could be affected next year.

Rolls-Royce might have to replace nearly half of the engines on A380 jets operated by Qantas, Lufthansa from Germany and Singapore Airlines, the Financial Times reports.

This could turn into a problem for the airlines, The New York Times reports.

The daily quoted an airline executive, who asked not to be named, as saying that there are "very intense discussions" going on with Rolls-Royce and Airbus to determine "how new engines would be sourced."

It wasn't yet known how quickly the required replacement parts could be manufactured, an executive at another carrier told The New York Times.

"There may be enough of a shortage of spares now that engines may have to be taken off aircraft that are still on the production line" at Airbus, the executive, also unnamed, said.

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