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article imageAccident delays Airbus A380 test flight to Chiang Mai

By dpa news     Sep 1, 2007 in Travel
Bangkok - An Airbus A380 test flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai was delayed Saturday after the mammoth aircraft's left winglet was crushed while backing out of its parking space at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The accident was caused by the Thai Airways International (THAI) push-back operator who clipped the hanger, crumpling the A380's left winglet, as he backed the aircraft onto the tarmac for scheduled morning departure.
"This sort of thing happens every day, in every airport around the world," said Edouard Ullmo, Airbus' executive vice president of sales for Asia Pacific.
Airbus decided to remove both winglets, designed to stabilize the aircraft in heavy turbulence, before resuming the flight to Chiang Mai Saturday afternoon.
"We can fly with one winglet or no winglets," said Ullmo. "This is standard procedure."
Saturday's test flight to Chiang Mai, a popular tourist destination situated 560 kilometres north of Bangkok, was the second stopover in the kingdom for the A380.
THAI has ordered six of the planes, the world's largest.
The Chiang Mai flight was designed to disprove criticisms that the massive A380, with a wingspan of 79 metres, was too large for most airports.
"We want to prove with the flight to Chiang Mai that the A380 is capable to operate also on so-called secondary airports," said Ullmo.
Instead, the test flight has revealed some on-going operational problems at Thailand's largest international airport, Suvarnabhumi, which was just opened for commercial flights in September, last year.
The new airport has been plagued with numerous teething problems, including cracks found on the taxiways shortly after opening, missing baggage and insufficient bathrooms.
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