BA's A380s to be delivered with full-life wings

Toulouse
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British Airways has opted to ensure its Airbus A380s are delivered from the outset with full-life wings, incorporating the modifications developed in the wake of the bracket-cracking problem on the type. The airline, which is taking a new 575t higher-weight version of the aircraft, will have the affected wing-rib bracket components replaced at Toulouse.

BA describes the decision as a "no-brainer", adding that any post-delivery withdrawal from service would have been a "real logistical difficulty".Its A380 schedule is "fortunate" because it enabled the carrier to take advantage of the repair as well as the introduction of the permanent production wing from 2014.

"It's the best of both worlds in that respect," the airline says. Airbus expects the permanent A380 wing fix, tested on its MSN4 airframe, to secure certification towards the end of this year.

The airline has not detailed its planned configuration for the type, nor the total seat count. Its 747-400s are all fitted with a four-class cabin, with 299 or 345 seats depending on the weighting towards business class.

Thomas Burger, Airbus A380 product marketing director, says the airframer has trimmed the type's empty weight to within 1% of original targets, and operational reliability of the current build standard, covering the last 25 aircraft, exceeds 99%.

A total of 20 A380s have been delivered this year and Airbus is aiming to hand over another 10 - including five to Emirates, and others to Thai Airways, Malaysia Airlines and Korean Air - before the close of 2012.

On the same day that BA's second A380 arrived at the final assembly line, the fuselage sections of the latest Emirates aircraft, MSN127, were offloaded at the Pauillac port in preparation for barge and convoy transfer to Toulouse.

Airbus's backlog for the A380 stands at 170 aircraft. Only one carrier, Russia's Transaero, has ordered the type this year, but Burger says: "We've had six uninterrupted years of orders, which we think is a good sign."

While Airbus slowed its A380 production rate earlier this year, as it sought to address the wing issue, the official transport timetable shows 33 convoys are scheduled for 2013.