Engineers call for grounding of A380 after cracks found in wings

The Daily Mail reports this evening that cracks found in the wing sections of several Airbus A380 jumbo jets have led to deep concern among a group of Australian aircraft engineers. Calling for the grounding of all A380 aircraft, the group highlighted recent faults uncovered in the wing structures of several Singapore Airlines and Qantas jets in their complaint.

Acknowledging the cracks, the airlines and manufacturer claim that the faults are in non-critical sections of the wings and that an easy detection and repair method has been identified. None of the seven current carriers that operate the aircraft are planning on taking the equipment out of service.

Nevertheless, news of the cracks is a significant concern for Airbus, which has been struggling to compete in a market that’s quickly moving towards smaller, more fuel efficient equipment. With the earliest delivery of their next generation aircraft slated for late 2013 2014, they need to rely on sales of the A380 to propel revenue. If technical difficulties keep plaguing the A380, it could significantly impact the future of the company.

[flickr image via Jlcwalker]

The final days of a Boeing 747 – from king of the skies to a pile of rubbish

The Daily Mail has an interesting article on the final resting place of a Boeing 747. The Jumbo had been in service for 35 years and covered over 55 million miles but took its final trip to Cotswald airport in the UK.

In just two days, experts from Air Salvage International turned the mighty beast into a pile of twisted metal. The owners of the jet (Dubai Air Wing) first made sure that anything of value was removed from the plane, and all parts taken out will be tested to see if they are in good enough condition to be resold as spares.

The final job of this 747 was probably its most interesting one – transporting horses around the world. The plane was one of just a few dedicated horse carriers, flying the four footers to major equestrian events. In the final photo of the article, you see the small pile of debris which was once a 747 – and once flew British Airways passengers around the world.

So long, Northwest 747’s

The end of an airline is upon us. While there are still a few wrinkles in th merger between Delta and Northwest Airlines to iron out, things are pretty much set in stone when they start repainting aircraft. To start, Delta, a carrier that has never had the 747 jumbo jet in its livery, will be usurping Northwest’s aircraft and putting them on long haul routes.

You can see the whole process of repainting in the above video.

To many, this is a sad passage of redtail aircraft from the once proud Northwest Airlines into the sad mass of Delta airlines. It’s nostalgic, I suppose, but I’m going miss the NW frequent flyer program more than it’s 747s.

Spend the night in a Jumbo without leaving the ground

In December, Stockholm airport will be home to the first Boeing 747 hostel in the world. This 747-200 was built in 1976 and is currently being converted into a 25 room hostel with 3 beds per room.

Each room features a flat panel TV, wireless Internet access and a shared shower/toilet facility. The upper deck of this 747 has several more luxurious rooms with their own bathroom facility. For the ultimate in overnight luxury, you will even be able to spend the night in the cockpit, where you can enjoy a fantastic view of the air traffic at Stockholm’s Arlanda airport.

In addition to the 747 conversion, the developers are also building a restaurant and excursion area where visitors will be able to walk on the wing of the Jumbo. With the possible exception of working for the airline, or leaving the plane in an emergency, this will be the only time you’ll ever be able to do that!

And don’t forget – you don’t become a member of the mile high club unless you are at least one mile off the ground!

I’ve never been a big fan of hostels, but I’d most certainly make an exception for this one. The Jumbo Hostel will open its doors for reservations in December, in the meantime, why not enjoy some of the photos on their site.

Jumbo Jets Disappearing from the Sky

Jumbo jets, like Boeing’s classic 747, are a bit like that Buick your grandpa used to drive. They are sizable enough that you don’t have to concern yourself too much with what is going on outside. What’s a little turbulence to such a massive beast? What’s a six hour flight when you can stand up and actually walk around? (I was a little kid last time I rode in “the boat,” but you get the analogy).

High fuel prices have been grounding more and more of these large aircraft. And those who fly frequently are none to happy about it. Aside from a smoother ride, larger aircraft offer more seating options, more lavatories and more overhead space. If you are flying from New York to L.A. or Atlanta to Seattle, a little extra room can make a big difference.

Among major carriers, American and Delta still offer the most jumbo jet flights at more than 50 per day. However, wide-bodied planes are nowhere to be found on Northwest‘s and Continental‘s domestic routes. According to the industry, large aircraft will account for less that 1% of air traffic by the end of this year.

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