If the first flight of the Airbus A380 was a little late, nobody who gathered at Toulouse for the historic event seemed to mind. That the entry into service (EIS) may be delayed by up to six months may find the airline launch customers less than forgiving.

Airbus executives, basking in the glow of the first flight, were more reticent in talking about the likelihood of deliveries being delayed.

Gerard Blanc, executive vice-president, Operations, promised "an update of the production plan".

"First we have to go to our customers to understand their desires and expectations and then we will finalise our revised plan.


"There will be a moderate delay [to deliveries] but our target remains to deliver the aircraft in 2006."

Customers including Launch airline SIA, Qantas, Emirates and Air France-KLM have all been warned of delays of up to six months in deliveries. By way of response, some have scoured their agreements for the compensation clauses.

New levels of customer support have been developed by Airbus both in terms of efficient maintenance regimes and back-up for airlines in the event of a problem with an aircraft.

Patrick Gavin, executive vice-president, Customer Services, says: "The A380 is the one aircraft that simply has to keep flying. We will have hundreds of people on board - it cannot be grounded."

To keep the aircraft in the air, Airbus has put in place a sophisticated set of systems to monitor and report on an aircraft in service, together with a rapid response procedure for technical support.

Source: Flight Daily News