Airbus A380 faces industry challenges

An Airbus A380 lands at the airport in the northern German city of Bremen.

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Steve Chiotakis: Authorities continue to comb the waters off the Atlantic Ocean looking for clues as to why that Air France jet went down last week. All 228 people on board were killed. It was the worst aviation disaster in nearly eight years.

The maker of that doomed jetliner was coping with plenty of trouble already, even before the crash. Airbus has been hurt by nagging production delays, and it's struggling to hold on to customers who are having second thoughts about purchasing its new line of jetliners. Here's Marketplace Senior Business Correspondent Bob Moon.


Bob Moon: The double-decker "superjumbo" A380 has been slow to take off with the airline industry. So Airbus is undoubtedly hoping to announce some new orders next week at the Paris Air Show, the world's largest aviation exhibition.

So far this year, the European plane maker leads America's Boeing Corporation in new orders. But airline industry consultant Michael Boyd says it's a tough sell all around:

Michael Boyd: Aircraft sales are down in the U.S., and in Europe, and across the globe, because of the recession.

If that's not enough of a challenge, Airbus is now facing questions about whether faulty airspeed sensors might have played a role in last week's deadly crash of an A330 Air France jetliner.

Still, Boyd doubts that one event will have any effect on orders for the new-generation Airbus jumbo jet.

Boyd: If you had airplanes falling out of the sky, like we had with the first jets that came out by the British in the 1950's, yes. We don't have that here. We have a tragic event. We've just got to accept the fact humans make mistakes and humans build airplanes, and equipment that fails.

Airbus officials insist their A330 has become a reliable backbone of the world's transportation system.

I'm Bob Moon for Marketplace.

Chiotakis: As if that weren't enough for the airplane industry, today GE Aviation told
Reuters it expects orders this year to be cut in half.

About the author

Bob Moon is Marketplace’s senior business correspondent, based in Los Angeles.

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