25 May 2012

A380 - DC10 of 2000s?

During the past 12mts, I saw and read more news about 'cracks' in the wings of A380s and finally EASA has ordered all operators (airlines) to check their A380s. Now all of these operators are conducting checks by grounding their A380 fleet for a while.

This reminds me of the story of DC10...

DC10 has been produced by McDonald Douglas in the 70s and marketed as the game changer aircraft. Company was in a race with Boeing to produce a high capacity long range aircraft. They have introduced DC10 to the market before the legendary Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet. However, these two aircrafts had different stories; after couple of emergency landings and crashes, including one of the most fatal air disasters in aviation history (TK891 Paris-London), DC10 disappeared from the market in the 80s while 747 is still in use and its new generation 747-800 model have been introduced last year. Lufthansa has just received the very first passenger version of it last month.

A very similar story is in the works. Airbus rushed to introduce A380 before Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Boeing 747-800 as two companies have been racing to secure bigger orders from the airlines, particularly those in the Middle East and Asia with ambitious growth plans. Although the two arch-rivals had entirely different visions and strategies to achieve that.

McDonald Douglas worked on DC10’s design and after some other enhancements (stretched fuselage, increased wingspan with winglets, refined airfoils on the wing and smaller tailplane, new engines and increased use of composite materials), re-launched it as MD-11. This aircraft is still in use, mostly in cargo airlines. KLM is the only MD-11 operator for regular passenger flights as of 2012.

Maybe Airbus should do the same for A380? Like software updates; they can launch A380 v.2 to make it more safe and reliable.

I will have a closer look at this story...