Thursday, November 11, 2010

If it's a Boeing, you're still not going

So last week the engines on A380s were falling off or spurting oil all over the place, and instead of embracing the romanticism and adventure of potentially fatal flights, Qantas and now Singapore Airlines have grounded their fleet of A380s. It's not like the good old days when planes were made of cloth and string, men were men, and the ground had plane-shaped holes in it.

Still, never mind, you don't have to fly around in an A380, and if you don't want to be propelled through the air with the greatest of ease by Rolls-Royce engines, there are other manufacturers. (I'm glad that even if we've abandoned some of our traditions, Rolls-Royce are keeping with the fine old British custom of producing shiny machinery that tends to spurt oil at random and then conk out.)

But today I read that Boeing's Dreamliner is even more of a recurring-bad-dreamliner than previously thought. After a number of years of failing to get the plastic wings to stick to the body (a trivial task for anyone with an Airfix kit and a tube of Bostik) it finally appeared they had things right, until the test flight this week where the aircraft lost primary electric power ... because of a fire.

Now I've been on a plane where the electrics weren't operating properly, and I've been on a plane where the engines were spewing oil as we flew along. But I've never been on board a burning plane with no electric power. That's a fairly large flaw, along with not staying up in the air when required.

I guess that this just shows that the old "If it's not a Boeing, I'm not going" slogan doesn't stand up to scrutiny. Whereas "Sit down and stop making a fuss, it's only an Airbus" fits more with European manners and deportment, and "When in a Dehavilland, you'll count yourself lucky to land" may just be realistic.

But you shouldn't base your choice of aircraft on what it rhymes with. If that had happened two centuries ago, I doubt the Montgolfier brothers would ever have got off the ground.


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