Emirates attributes first A380's grounding to 'foreign object'

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Emirates is attributing the mysterious electrical glitch that grounded its first Airbus A380 in September to a "foreign object" and has praised Airbus for its efforts in rectifying the problem quickly.

The Middle Eastern carrier says the aircraft is demonstrating "high despatch reliability" in service.

Emirates was forced to withdraw its first - and, at the time, only - A380 from service for around a week in early September after an "electrical issue" was noticed at the end of a training mission. The 489-seat jet had been operating the airline's prime Dubai-New York route twice-weekly for several weeks, and the grounding disrupted the airline's schedule.

The problem is understood to have arisen in the aircraft's avionics bay, which is located near the two on-board shower cubicles, leading to speculation that the issue might be related to Emirates' unique cabin configuration.

But Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says the problem had nothing to do with the showers, adding: "Almost certainly, a foreign object caused an electrical problem. Once [the cause was] identified, remedial action was taken by Airbus."

Clark does not elaborate on the source of the foreign object, but describes Airbus's efforts to rectify the problem as "outstanding, with no expense or resource being spared to get the job done". He adds that the A380 "continues to have high despatch reliability".

The airline took delivery of its second A380 on 24 October. This aircraft has joined the first on the Dubai-New York route, enabling A380 frequencies to be increased to daily.

Clark says the opening of Emirates' huge new Terminal 3 at its Dubai base on 14 October has been "smooth and glitch-free after many months of testing".

Industrial action at Boeing, however, has held up deliveries of 777 aircraft to the airline. Emirates senior vice-president, commercial operations, for the Americas Nigel Page says it has had to scale back plans for daily services between Dubai and Los Angeles to three a week as a result of the hold-up.

Delivery delays have also forced the airline to delay the launch of San Francisco flights and limit frequencies.