Emirates' despatch reliability on the Airbus A380 remains below expectations but the carrier is confident all the remaining kinks will be worked out by mid-2012, says Emirates president Tim Clark.

Clark says the reliability figure for its A380 fleet is running at 97%. "It should be higher. Those last remaining percentage points are those niggly little things," he adds.

Clark gave his view after an A380 belonging to Singapore Airlines (SIA) was stranded in Zurich for three days with a rudder control fault, less than a week after an in-flight smoke incident on an SIA sister ship.

"It's a huge airplane, an extremely complex airplane, a new airplane and therefore will have all sorts of bugs the designers and engineers wouldn't have foreseen," Clark says, adding that the A380 is a "very good" aircraft.

"I think all the launch customers in the first three or four years will face things like water leakage you probably have until the middle of next year for real maturity," he says.

SIA has defended the reliability of the A380, despite its recent problems.

"The A380 has had one of the smoothest introductions to our fleet compared to our previous experience of entry into service of new aircraft," says the carrier.

"Technical issues do crop up from time to time, which is not unexpected even of aircraft types that have been in service for decades.

"It has to be noted that the A380 is the world's first superjumbo aircraft, as well as the first aircraft with a clean sheet design in a long while, so any operational disruptions that occur will naturally garner more attention."

Airbus has delivered 43 A380s to five operators. Emirates remains the largest with 15, with 75 more on order, while SIA has 11.

"In the greater scheme of things, the aircraft's dispatch reliability is comparable to any aircraft currently in service. We continue to work with Airbus on ways to improve the operational performance of the A380," SIA adds.

In-flight engine failure on a Qantas A380 last November prompted the carrier to ground its fleet. Rolls-Royce, manufacturer of the Trent 900 powerplant, has booked a charge of £56 million ($90 million) to cover service, support and uncontracted settlement.

Additional reporting by Ghim-Lay Yeo

Source: Flight International