Just Above Sunset
January 23, 2005 - Our Man in Paris Explains Events in Toulouse

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On Tuesday the 18th down in Toulouse the Airbus folks rolled out the new plane (the basic story here).  The Airbus A380 "superjumbo" is, we are told, the largest civil aircraft ever built.   It’s big - designed to carry 555 passengers in a three-class arrangement, giving it one-third more seating capacity than a Boeing 747.  A planned stretched version would carry 656 passengers, and an all-economy-class configuration would be able to carry more than 800 passengers.  I think I saw the number 888 somewhere.  In the International Herald Tribune you can find photos here - to give you an idea.  And National Geographic has a similar slide show here The inauguration of President Bush crowded this out the news.


And Ric Erickson of MetropoleParis noticed that.


Bonjour Alan –


Not featured in today's New York Times. The most recent BIG news from the USA concerned Apple's iPod mini and the new Mac mini computer, both cheaper and more 'mini' than previous Apple products.  Meanwhile, the 'girlie' Europeans, who can't get anything right, dropped a probe on Titan last week and rolled out the world's biggest passenger jet this week.  Where have we gone wrong?


Yep – those wimpy Euro-Weenies did land a craft on Titan with amazing results, and rolled out a super-sized airplane that makes the Boeing folks look like amateurs.  They’re doing American stuff better than we are – as we are consumed with the battle over moral values and gay marriage and such things.


Something is up.


Here’s Ric’s story for Just Above Sunset – byline Paris -




Paris: Wednesday, 19 January - Yesterday's date will be historical for two reasons. Sixty-eight years ago Howard Hughes flew a monoplane he designed and built non-stop from Los Angeles to Newark, New Jersey, averaging 332 miles per hour and setting a speed record for the transcontinental distance. The flight was on 18 January and the story was reported on the front page of the New York Times the day after.


Yesterday in Toulouse Airbus Industrie unveiled its super-jumbo A380 in front of four European heads of state and five thousand invited guests with a sound and light show worthy of the world's newest and largest passenger jetliner. The ceremony took place in one of the assembly halls built especially to accommodate the near 100-metre wingspan and seven-story high tail.


Google News in French referenced 320 articles treating the subject - which was absent from the online edition of the New York Times today.  Instead the New York Times had a story about new grille styles on cars.


Tony Blair, British Prime Minister, correctly noted that European expertise had never before marketed such a light level of technical innovation. The other leaders, who included the French, German and Spanish heads of state, evoked a possible enlargement of Airbus partners, with Russia as a likely candidate.


Representatives of the thirteen airlines who have ordered 139 examples of the A380 were also on hand.  Air France configurations will have 538 seats and Singapore Airlines has opted for comfort, specifying a layout with 480 seats.  Virgin Atlantic is reported to have ordered their A380’s with a beauty salon and a casino.


The present model can accept up to 800 seats and has a range of 14,000 kilometres.  The Airbus marketing and engineering departments foresee eventual shortened and stretched versions. The sticker price is 10.7 billion euros, the same as for the Eurotunnel.


While Airbus seems to be in the lead with new ultra-large aircraft, Boeing is apparently focusing on long-distance aircraft with a capacity of 200-300 seats - the 7E7 Dreamliner - a sector of the market where Airbus is also present and doing well. In addition, about half of the new Airbuses have been ordered with American engines, worth about 40 percent of the value of an aircraft.


As the politicians noted in yesterday's ceremony, Airbus is a major symbol of cooperation within the European Community.  The Airbus A380 has had 6500 engineers working on it for five years and each partner builds a major sub-section, with the whole being assembled in Toulouse.  Given the size of the A380, the transport of parts has been a major challenge.


The first example of the A380 will have its flight tests in March, and is expected to be on public view at the Salon du Bourget near Paris in June.  See Airshow at Bourget - for airfans, even if you can't afford to buy your own jet fighter or an Airbus A380.  This year from Monday, 13 June until Sunday, 19 June.  See the website link for more details, and InfoTel: 01 53 23 33 33.


Here’s Ric’s view of the matter, rendered visually, as he is a cartoonist too -

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Do you know these guys?  Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder – from the International Herald Tribune photos at the ceremonies in Toulouse, looking up at the new airplane that will dominate the industry, with their countries working together and building an economic coalition.  We got George Junior and his empty speech this week about dominating the world with our values. 

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Footnote on our own coalitions –


From Reuters this – Friday, 21 January –


The White House has scrapped its list of Iraq allies known as the 45-member "coalition of the willing," which Washington used to back its argument that the 2003 invasion was a multilateral action, an official said on Friday.

The senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the White House replaced the coalition list with a smaller roster of 28 countries with troops in Iraq sometime after the June transfer of power to an interim Iraqi government.
The official could not say when or why the administration did away with the list of the coalition of the willing.


Some folks talk about cooperation and coalitions – others just do it.  Talk is cheap.


Copyright 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
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This issue updated and published on...

Paris readers add nine hours....