Airbus has run into trouble in France and Germany over its plans for completing the A380 and transporting giant sections of the aircraft by road.

Local inhabitants around Airbus' Hamburg factory have taken legal action to prevent construction of a 140 Ha extension to the plant to accommodate new hangars for A380 cabin furnishing and structural assembly. EADS Airbus has asked the Hamburg higher administrative court to hear the case on 15 February, but admits the issue may drag on until late summer with appeals and counter-appeals. Airbus chief executive officer Noel Forgeard says: "We're not above the law, but we're very confident the evidence will convince the court that we have a good case to proceed." He adds that Airbus "has no plans" for an alternative site.

Meanwhile, the issue of how A380 wings and fuselage sections will be transported from Bordeaux to Toulouse for final assembly has caused friction between France's transport ministry and the communities through which the huge road transporters will carry the sections from the river Gironde to Toulouse. Airbus says it will move the sub-assemblies on special low- loaders by means of an "exceptional convey", at a rate of one a week.

Three possible routes are being considered and transport minister Jean-Claude Gayssot has pushed through a law allowing the project to go ahead with "extreme urgency". A final decision on the route will be taken in April, but already there is strong local opposition to the favoured route, through Lot-et-Garonne. Prime Minister Lionel Jospin has told the authority to "come to its senses". The first section of A380 is due to be transported in December 2003.

Source: Flight International