Super-Jumbo development widened to new partners

Click to follow
The Independent Online
EUROPE'S four leading aircraft manufacturers yesterday decided to continue studies into the development of a 550-800-seat super- Jumbo jet in partnership with Boeing of the US. The decision came only after it was agreed to widen the project to include Airbus Industrie and Japanese and Russian companies.

Although the compromise has averted the threatened collapse of the joint project, the French partner in the studies, Aerospatiale, is still understood to have deep misgivings about any further participation with Boeing.

The five companies have agreed that the feasibility study launched last year into the so-called Very Large Commercial Transport will continue until mid-1995.

However, Airbus Industrie will join the European side in an advisory capacity while the potential involvement of aerospace companies in Russia and Japan will also be addressed in the next 12 months.

The European manufacturers involved in the joint study - Aerospatiale, British Aerospace, Deutsche Aerospace and CASA of Spain - are the four industrial partners in Airbus Industrie.

But Airbus Industrie itself has not been involved as it is studying its own super-Jumbo, the A3X.

Jurgen Thomas of Deutsche Aerospace, who is the European project director of the joint study, said yesterday that initial results had been 'very encouraging'. He said studies suggested a market for 450-500 aircraft by 2010, more than half in the Asia-Pacific region.

John Hayhurst, project director for Boeing, said: 'No insurmountable technical obstacles' had been discovered.

However, industry sources said that the main obstacle to the project remained to be overcome - how Airbus and Boeing could jointly market one aircraft when they were in competition in other areas and when the super-Jumbo would also compete with existing aircraft that were produced by each manufacturer.