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Old 5th Jul 2004, 18:58
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Belgium
Posts: 13
Airbus: A380 has a weight problem

Overweight superjumbo won't guzzle, Airbus vows
July 5, 2004
Associated Press WorldStream

Airbus SAS conceded Monday what aviation watchers have long suspected: The European aircraft maker's new A380 superjumbo has a weight problem.

According to the company's own projections, an Airbus spokeswoman said, the largest commercial airliner ever built will weigh 290 metric tons (319 short tons) _ about 5 percent heavier than the previous target.

The figures were first reported in Monday's edition of German weekly Der Spiegel, citing internal Airbus documents.

"These are our working assumptions," Kracht said when questioned about the report.

The weight of an aircraft has a direct impact on its fuel efficiency, a key benchmark for airlines deciding what planes to buy.

But Kracht insisted that the A380 Airbus will still meet its fuel efficiency target _ 131 kilometers (81 miles) for one gallon of kerosene per passenger _ when the plane goes into service in spring 2006.

"That remains the objective and remains what we will match," she said.

Airbus and U.S. rival Boeing Co. are going head-to-head with very different visions for the future of commercial aviation.

Airbus _ which delivered more planes than Boeing for the first time in 2003 _ sees a market for superjumbos carrying passengers via major regional and connecting flights. Boeing is meanwhile staking its future on direct point-to-point routes serviced by its 217-seater 7E7 "Dreamliner," to be launched in 2008.

Both companies, however, are betting on improved efficiency to win over the airlines.

According to Kracht, Airbus could compensate for the A380's bulge by improving aerodynamic performance to maintain fuel efficiency.

"Even assuming it was slightly heavier but on the other side you have better aerodynamics, the end result is that you are meeting performance," she said.

Another option could be to squeeze more weight out of plane parts and furnishings such as passenger seats, galleys and toilets. But analysts say components have already been pared to a minimum, with lighter composite materials accounting for a full 20 percent of the A380.
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