May 17, 2012

Airbus parent profits hit by A380 wing problem

Airbus parent company EADS said May 16 its first quarter earnings were hammered by a hefty $203-million charge to fix problematic wing parts on its flagship A380 superjumbo.

EADS says the charge to fix the so-called “wing rib feet” – the metal brackets that connect the wing’s ribs to its skin – on all the A380s in service had left first quarter profit at approximately $168.7 million. That’s still well above the $15 million the company lost in the year earlier period due to an accounting change.

EADS said the cost of fixing the problem will slow its efforts to improve the A380 program’s profitability, and makes its target of delivering 30 of the aricraft this year “more challenging.”

Airbus delivered four of the massive 500-seat A380s in the first quarter, bringing the total in service to 71, with seven different airlines.

The cracks were first discovered on some of Singapore Airlines’ aircraft last year. Airbus has said the problem doesn’t pose a safety risk.

In February, Europe’s air safety authority EASA extended an order to inspect the aircraft’s wings to the entire global fleet of Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.

EADS is a European holding company, with joint French-German management and based in the Netherlands, that also encompasses Eurocopter helicopters, Astrium satellites and Cassidian defense electronics businesses among other divisions.

Airbus expects to deliver around 570 aircraft in 2012, up from 534 last year, while expanding its order book. AP

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