A380’s stellar performance undermined by ongoing technical delays: operators
By Max Kingsley-Jones
Two years on from its service debut, operators have told Flightglobal that the Airbus A380
has proved itself to be a crowd pleaser from a passenger point of view but suffers some frustrating technical problems.
This week's Flight International
features our exclusive
A380 in-service report, in which launch customers Emirates, Qantas and
Singapore Airlines provide no-holds-barred overviews of the
double-decker's performance, while Airbus, Engine Alliance and Rolls-Royce give feedback on their experiences.
The general verdict is that the A380 has delivered a significant
operational boost to the airlines' marketing teams and has equalled or
bettered performance guarantees but continues to experience technical
delays caused by problems that Airbus acknowledges it should have got
on top of by now.
"We're busting our seams on the A380this aeroplane is a peach," says Emirates Airline
president Tim Clark, who adds that performance has beaten the
manufacturer's guarantees. "The faster the A380 flies the less fuel it
burns," he adds.
This is echoed by Qantas group executive operations Lyell Strambi
who says the aircraft has "met or exceeded" all the guarantees.
The airlines are united in their praise for Airbus's support, which
executive vice-president Tom Williams admits is running at a "heavier
level" than envisaged at this point in the programme.
The A380 has suffered the usual gremlins that crop up during early
operations, such as problems with sensors and some component failures.
However, the single most frustrating technical issue centres around the
warning system, which SIA and Emirates believe is too sensitive, and
results in misplaced fault messages.
Clark blames the problem on "overcomplex" software that has dragged
down the technical despatch reliability from the 98.5% target to the
Airbus says it is working hard to address the problem and raise the
TDR to the target level, which Williams expects will be achieved by
SIA, which has the largest A380 fleet and was the type's first
operator two years ago, says it has suffered some "teething problems"
with its Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, which has prompted a number of unscheduled changes.
R-R's head of marketing for Airbus programmes, Richard Keen, says
that SIA's "very precautionary approach" to its A380 operations, with
regard to any possible operational risks, "necessitated an extra engine
change or two".
However, he adds that all the teething problems have been "closed
out or contained" and that the Trent 900's "disruption index" is
running at 99.8% - in line with a mature Trent product.