Airbus learns from A380 saga: CEO

Wed Feb 15, 2012 10:48am EST
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By Harry Suhartono and Tim Hepher

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The head of Airbus said he had ordered an internal investigation into how the company allowed wing cracks to develop on its flagship A380 passenger jet as the world's largest planemaker sought to draw a line under weeks of embarrassing publicity.

Chief Executive Tom Enders reiterated the world's largest jetliner was safe to fly as engineers repair hairline cracks in the wings, and sought to allay any concerns the setback to Europe's industrial prestige could spread to the future A350.

"We made a mistake here and we are repairing it as quickly as possible," Enders said at the Singapore Airshow on Wednesday. "This plane is absolutely safe to fly."

"Are we learning from this? Absolutely. We are taking lessons from the A380 program for the A350 program," he said, referring to the company's next project, a mid-sized jetliner designed to compete with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

"We have a thorough investigation underway on how we could make these mistakes in the first place and to eradicate the sources of the mistakes," he said.

A series of announcements about the cracks, which Airbus and regulators say do not affect parts critical to safety, has embarrassed Airbus and overshadowed Enders' appointment to run parent EADS from June.

After initially underestimating public concern about teething problems on the double-decker plane, Airbus has given detailed briefings on parts and manufacturing errors. An Airbus spokesman said it had given information as it became available.

Enders declined to comment on a German media report that the slip-up could cost Airbus 100 million euros ($131.3 million) to fix, but acknowledged it was likely to be "a bit of money."   Continued...

An Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner, takes part in a flying display during the 49th Paris Air Show at the Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 23, 2011. 

REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes