Paris Air Show: Accidents blight Airbus

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Media captionThe wingtip of an Airbus A380 demonstration plane struck a building at Le Bourget

Airbus' appearance at the Paris Air Show has been blighted by misfortune, with two key planes damaged.

The wing tip of its demonstration A380 superjumbo struck a building at Le Bourguet airport venue during taxiing.

Gearbox problems have stopped its A400M military transporter from performing a scheduled aerial display, although it will still take part in a fly-past.

It left Boeing able to steal the limelight on the first day of the show with its new, lengthened 747-8 jumbo.

The US rival said it had already received 17 orders for the enlarged plane from two as yet unnamed customers, one of them for 15 planes.

The firm also claimed the first confirmed deal of the show: an order for six 777 planes worth $1.7bn (£1.1bn) from Qatar Airways.


Despite its bad luck at the opening, Airbus is expected to put in a strong showing at this year's show with a string of orders expected for its new low-emission A320neo plane.

The medium-haul 150-seater planes are a redesign of the traditional A320 that cuts emissions by 15%, reducing clients' carbon footprints and their fuel bills.

The European firm has now received orders and committments to buy 390 of the A320neos.

The first to arrive during the air show came from leasing firm GE Capital Aviation Services, which said it would buy 60 aircraft worth $5.1bn.

Airbus signed deals for 100 planes last week, with budget carriers Cebu of the Philippines and GoAir of India.

Orders have also come in from airlines Virgin American, IndiGo and Tam, as well as from the plane leasing firm ILFC.

The $16bn 180-plane order from IndiGo, which is the biggest single order by far, is being finalised after being announced in January.

Another 200 planes are expected to be ordered by Malaysia's AirAsia, with the related plane engine order said to be going to the French-American firm CFM.

And Scandinavian airline SAS is expected to follow suit, with plans to buy 30 A320neos worth $2.4bn, with engines from CFM.

Qatar Airways chief executive Akbar al-Baker said that he too expects to buy the Airbus planes, on top of the 777 order already placed with Boeing.

Upgrade delays

Boeing is considering whether to upgrade its 737 planes in response to the apparent popularity of the A320neo, or whether to develop a new plane altogether.

The US firm said it intended to take its time over the decision and would not be making an announcement at the air show.

Airbus announced on Saturday a two-year delay to its new stretched A350 jets.

The A350-1000 will not be delivered until 2017, as Airbus wants to give Rolls Royce more time to develop engines for the plane.

The standard A350-900 is still expected to be ready by late 2013.

Separately, Rolls Royce signed a $2.2bn contract with Brazil's Tam airline to deliver Trent XWB engines for 27 Airbus A350 aircraft, as well as a 12-year servicing contract.

Also in Brazil, manufacturer Embraer said it had signed deals to sell 39 of its Embraer 190 regional planes, worth $1.7bn.

This year's Paris Air Show is taking place at Le Bourget exhibition centre on the outskirts of Paris from 20 to 26 June 2011.

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