Fear of flying and the Airbus A380

Thursday, 29 March, 2012

The jewel in the Airbus crown, the A380, did not have a great day on Tuesday, when two of the superjumbos had to abandon flights. An A380 operated by Singapore Airlines and flying from Singapore to Frankfurt had to return to base after one of its four Rolls-Royce engines developed a fault and had to be shut down. Meanwhile, a superjumbo operated by China Southern Airlines ZNH and flying from Beijing to Guangzhou turned back to the Chinese capital after a malfunction with the air pressure system in the passenger cabin.

Fear-of-flying passengers will have noted that these incidents came after an order by regulators last month for inspections of all 71 operational A380s because of a wing cracking problem. And one wonders about the emotional state of the 430 passengers on that Singapore Airlines A380 when it turned back almost three hours into the flight to Frankfurt on Tuesday. Did they think that another engine might go? Singapore Airlines, by the way, was the launch customer for the A380 in 2007 and, interestingly, in November 2010 the A380 suffered its worst scare when one of the engines on a Qantas superjumbo exploded forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in… Singapore.

Airbus 380

Talking of fear of flying, Erica Jong, the author of the erotic classic of that name was 70 on Monday. It was trains, not planes, though that fired her imagination. Snippet:

“A grimy European train compartment (Second Class). In the window seat a pretty young widow in a heavy black veil and tight black dress which reveals her voluptuous figure. She is sweating profusely. The train screeches to a halt in a town called (perhaps) Corleone. A tall languid-looking soldier, unshaven, but with a beautiful mop of hair, a cleft chin and somewhat devilish, lazy eyes enters the compartment. He is sweaty and disheveled but basically a gorgeous hunk of flesh, only slightly rancid from the heat. The train screeches out of the station. Then we become aware of the bouncing of the train and the rhythmic way the soldier’s thighs are rubbing against the thighs of the widow…”

Well, you get the picture. Might the A380 ever be the setting for such a fantasy? Unlikely.

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