After the embarrassment of having to announce repeated delays to the delivery of its flagship super jumbo, the folks at Airbus must be gloating over the similar misfortune that has befallen its rival. Boeing said that it would have to postpone the first deliveries of its new 787 Dreamliner to late November or December 2008. The company had given reassurances that despite production mishaps and a short test-flight programme, the first delivery would take place on schedule next May.
As for the Airbus A380, much has been said about how the aircraft is larger than life. Weighing in at 361 tonnes, the two passenger decks have an area of almost 6,000 feet, roughly the equivalent of three tennis courts. Can you imagine the hype if Airbus pulls a marketing stunt and invites Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, the two top players in men’s tennis, to play an exhibition match on one of its test flights?
But the A380 is not the biggest aircraft of all time. That dubious honour belongs to the Hindenburg, the mammoth German airship destroyed by fire in 1937. The Hindenburg was as high as a 13-storey building and just 23 metres shorter than the equally ill-fated Titanic.
Still, no superliner since the Concorde has aroused as much passion and curiosity as the Airbus A380. Let’s just hope it doesn’t end up with the same fate as Concorde.