Airbus Military decided against bringing a Saudi Arabian multi-role tanker/transport (MRTT) to the Paris air show due to the tight parking conditions available in the static display area earlier this week.
The first of six A330-200-based MRTTs for the Royal Saudi Air Force had been expected to visit Le Bourget, even as Airbus Military was delivering Australia’s second example and also was supporting trials activities with the type for the UK Royal Air Force.
“There wasn’t enough room to display the aircraft,” said a company source, who noted that it had already committed to bringing its A400M “Grizzly Three” and C-295 AEW airborne early warning and control system demonstrator to the show.
With other large aircraft including a US Air Force Lockheed Martin C-5M, Boeing’s 747-8I and two A380s also in the display area, Airbus’s military arm decided that it could be risky to manoeuvre the tanker into a parking spot. While the decision meant a disappointment for show-goers, it may have been a good call, given the mishap which embarrassed its parent company when the starboard wingtip of A380 MSN4 struck a building on 19 June.
Airbus did, however, exhibit a commercial A330 alongside the A400M at the show on Friday for China Southern.