Emirates is announcing it will introduce a larger aircraft boosting capacity on the recently established Dubai-Dublin route beginning July 1st. The move follows the very high demand observed on the route since first operated on January 9th . The carrier will be replacing the 237-seat Airbus A330-200 with a Boeing 777-300ER configured with 8 First Class private seats, 42 lie-flat Business Class seats and 310 Economy Class seats.
Five days ago the carrier already announced it was bringing an additional daily flight to satisfy growing demand on the Dubai-Madrid route from July 1st while opening the new Dubai-Barcelona route with one daily flight from July 3rd. Both routes will be served by Boeing 777-300ER.
Great expectations are also building as the carrier is set to launch its new daily service between Dubai and Dallas Fort Worth on February 2nd also employing a Boeing 777-300ER
The Dubai global super hub allows passengers to simplify travel itineraries by offering just one connecting point between most globally remote destinations. The carrier which is currently the world’s largest operator of Boeing 777 (up to 99) and Airbus A380 (20) has suggested that leveraging on Dubai’s uniquely advantageous geographical location allows almost exponential traffic growth. Recent aircraft orders for up to 50 Boeing 777-300ER and remaining backlog order for up to 70 Airbus A380-800 confirms their model’s potential for growth.
Hoping to unseat Saab’s Gripen as Switzerland fighter replacement for its aging fleet of F-5, Dassault Aviation is reportedly sweetening its deal offer for its Rafale multirole fighter aircraft. Switzerland’s Le Matin newspaper, citing a high ranking Air Force officer has revealed that a January 19th 2012 letter from the French aircraft manufacturer ‘counter offer’ will be presented to Switzerland’s Council of States on February 13th. This unexpected development follows the November 30th 2011 selection of the lower cost Gripen despite the certainty that the Rafale had a scored better in evaluation against the Gripen and EADS Eurofighter Typhoon.
Under the new deal Switzerland is being offered 18 Rafales at a price of $2.94 billion. This compares favorably to the $3.37 billion that the Swedish company was offering for 22 Gripen aircraft. Most surprisingly the new offer is not only significantly below the $4.35 billion initially asked by Dassault but if agreed to, would also give Swiss Rafales unrestricted access to the entire French Air Force logistics infrastructure.
This would include sharing of high resolution satellite images from Helios IA, IB, IIA, IIB projects to which Italy, Spain, Belgium and Greece have already been included. In addition tactical data exchange with France’s four AWACS based at Avord Air Force Base would available on board the Rafale’s communication links terminals. These unprecedented and far reaching agreements would finally give Swiss pilots access to all French military air bases, training simulators, various air assets when participating in exercises, (probably tankers, transports and support), access to firing ranges and training corridors in the Mediteranean where supersonic flights can be conducted.
This new deal puts forward the Rafale superior range and access to the AWACS distributed tactical data as the force multiplier that permits 18 Rafales to fulfill the same operational requirements 22 Gripens (Switzerland evaluation reportedly concluded that 3 Rafales could be employed for every 5 Gripens).
Controversy surrounding the evaluation process
The actual deal itself is now set to undergo more scrutiny as reports of a mismanaged evaluation process have surfaced, forcing a parliament’s investigation. In a 5-pages open letter sent to various parliament members, a previously unknown “group for the army’s credibility and Integrity” is providing detailed accounts of the alleged manipulation of the evaluation’s scores that ultimately led to the Gripen’s selection. The parliamentary investigation that will now convene will certainly bring the program’s evaluation phase under a more critical eye. Managed by the Armasuisse agency, the program identified the 3 main areas of score-based evaluation for the competing aircraft;
1. 60% for operational effectiveness (air-to-air, air-to-ground, reconnaissance, further development potential)
2. 15% for adaptability (maintenance processes, compatibility with existing swiss infrastructure and ease of operation by the militia, noise emission)
3. 25% for cooperation and compensation (economic benefits to local enterprises and military cooperation)
In a presidential election year, the deal also exposes France’s highest ranking officials to political risks. After years of failure to secure international sales for the Rafale (United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Lybia and possibly India) they have now engaged the nation’s most coveted national strategic assets alongside Dassault commercial concerns.
The US Navy is awarding Boeing with a $687.5 million contract for procurement of 14 single seat F/A-18E multirole combat aircraft along with one twin-seat F/A-18F variant of the Super Hornet. The latest Lot 36 production contract for fiscal year 2012 is being executed as part of the multi-year III production agreement. Under the agreement a total of 69 single seat F/A-18E and 21 twin seats F/A-18F aircraft have now been funded for production.
Operational since 2002, the F/A-18-E/-F is currently being marketed under its latest incarnation designated Block II. The Block II upgrade, operational since April of 2005 implements most advanced integrated and networked warfighting technologies concepts designed to keep the F/A-18-E/F Super Hornet platform relevant for all types of contingencies until 2035. The aircraft is now relying on the most advanced sensors to perform its mission. Its primary sensor is the long range, agile electronically-steered X-band APG-79 (Active Electronically Scanned Array) AESA radar antenna which allows simultaneous real time air-to-air/air-to-ground radar detection mode with minimal exposure to enemy radar locator systems. The AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Tactical Forward Looking Infra Red ATFLIR sensor ensures improved delivery of laser-guided air-to-ground ammunition. The Joint Helmet Mounted Ceueing System JHMCS offers Infra Red/ heat seeking targeting and homing capability at high off-bore sight angles during dog fights. A full complement of defensive/protective equipment incorporates the ALR-67(V)3 digital Radar Warning Receiver, AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Counter Measure IDECM and ALE-55 Towed Decoys. Communications for tactical command and control in a networked environment is ensured by the Multi Functional Information Distribution Systems MIDS which allow the F/A-18E/-F to remain ‘connected’ to various joint ‘assets’ using the HAVE QUICK, SINCGARS and Link 16 tactical communication and information sharing media.
With its 11 hardpoints (including 6 under wing pylons) provides reliable and robust vector for the conduct of modern condition air-to-ground and air-to-air missions scenario. In air-to-ground mode, the Super Hornet systems are interfaced with the latest weapons including the precision air-to-ground Global Positioning System/Inertial Navigation System-based JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munition). The ATFLIR laser-designated Paveway Laser Guided Bombs also come into play for air-to-ground , all weather precision bombing. Air-to-air engagements which are now dominated by the Beyond Visual Range envelope are conducted with the AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air to Air Missile. The Super Hornet can still revert to its 20 mm cannon in the event of close encounter. Having retained dominant dog fighting capabilities thanks to the helmet-mount JHMCS sights, the Super Hornet can alo fire the most agile sidewinder yet; the AIM-9X.
As of January 1st 2012, Boeing had delivered a total of 482 F/A-18-E/-F aircraft including 201 single seats -E models, 257 two-seats -F models to the US Navy plus another 24 -F models to the Royal Australian Air Force.
Norwegian Air Shuttle announced today Europe’s largest ever aircraft order to both Boeing and Airbus. The deal valued at 127 Billion Norwegian Krown ($21.7 billion) will secure 100 Boeing 737 MAX8 and 22 Boeing 737-800 NextGen aircraft from Boeing and 100 A320neo aircraft from Airbus. In a addition, both agreements provide Norwegian with the right to acquire 100 Boeing 737 MAX along with 50 A320neo.
While the A320neo portion of deal marks Norwegian first ever transaction with Airbus, the $11.8Billion portion with Boeing for the firm aircraft will officially make Norwegian Europe’s launch customer for the 737 MAX. Norwegian, Scandinavia’s second largest carrier which has an existing backlog with Boeing for another 55 737-800 NextGen and 6 787-8 should begin receiving its new 737 MAX8 aircraft starting in 2016. Following a previous firm purchase of 42 Boeing 737-800 NextGen in 2007, the carrier exercised the right on 24 of 42 options available. With 2 aircraft delivered in 2009, 5 in 2010 and 16 in 2011, the remaining 737-800 NextGen aircraft should have joined the fleet by 2016.
Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo fuel efficiency
Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo are the two highly fuel efficient newest incarnation of respectively the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft (Airbus claims as much as 95% airframe commonality between the neo and previous versions). The two designs are incorporating new engine technology and blended winglets (marketed as sharklets by Airbus) allowing the double digit improvement in fuel efficiency over the previous version. While Airbus is offering the A320neo with a choice of 2 engines; the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G PurePower and CFM LEAP-X, the Boeing 737 MAX is restricting its offer to the CFM LEAP-1B engine.
In the 180 passengers single aisle segment, Norwegian expects the MAX8 to deliver 10-12% fuel burn reduction over its 737-800 NextGen and near 20% over older (2001-build) 737-800 it operates. While the A320neo would deliver about 15-17% reduction in fuel consumption over older A320. The environment-friendly model espoused by both designs also delivers quieter operation while releasing 10-12% less CO2 and NOx pollutants.
For Norwegian, the 16 million passengers transported in 2011 represents a net gain of 3 million over 2010. The spike in market share is directly attributed to the 16 additional 737-800 NextGen delivered throughout the year. For instance the December 2011 24% growth in RPK over the previous year has been attributed to the 22% rise in capacity over the same period.
For Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos a sustained environment-friendly strategy provides an opportunity for lower fuel and other aircraft related operating cost and hence higher revenue potential for the carrier. The carrier is also implementing a very aggressive fleet renewal policy of operating aircraft for no more than 7 years duration, after which time period they will be rented out or sold.
Levels of service aboard the low Cost carrier’s aircraft have encouraged business travelers by introducing more comfort. Characteristically aboard the 737-800, the introduction of Recaro leather seats, their reduction in numbers from 189 to 186 for increased seat’s pitch, and the use of Boeing signature Sky Interior’s with WiFi and LED ‘mood Lighting’ highlight that trend.
To its growing network of destinations in Scandinavia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East, 54 new routes were added in 2010 alone. The 118 destinations currently served in 36 countries are served by more than 300 direct flights and offer a choice of some 5,058 itineraries. Daily flight operations intensity is led by the Oslo-Bergen route supported by 14 flights followed by the Oslo-Trondheim to which 12 flights are assigned. For 2012, the current fleet of 48 737-800 and 14 Boeing 737-300 will transition to an all-737-800 fleet while growing to 63 aircraft permitting the carrier to pursue additional growth and lower cost.
Syria is looking to acquire up to 36 Yakovlev Yak-130 jet from Russia on a $550 million deal. The news was announced on Monday by the Kommersant newspapers via the Moscow Times citing sources at Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms export agency.
Advanced Fast Jet Training System
The 2-seats Yakovlev Yak-130 modern Lead-In Fighter/Advanced Jet Trainer is a very effective fighter trainer solution using a tandem instructor/trainee seating arrangement. The aircraft is very versatile training proposition by offering the ability to simulate on-board systems of many 4th and even 5th generation fighter aircraft via software re-configuration. As such it offers air arms the ability to inexpensively prepare its pilots to transition to any aircraft such as F-15, F-16, F-22, F-35, also including popular fighter aircraft like the Mirage 2000. Accordingly the Yak-130 digital fly-by-wire system can be configured to mimic the flight characteristics of some of these aircraft. Naturally the Russian Air Force which has ordered 55 such aircraft, will deploy it in training role supporting the transition to advanced variant of the Mig-29 and Sukhoi-27 family of aircraft.
Combat Role With Syria
Syria would also likely take greater advantage of the aircraft additional capabilities in an armed reconnaissance/ground attack role. The aircraft can actually offer a very potent fighter/attack/combat capability. When deployed for that purpose it is equipped with B-8 multiple rocket pods or even advanced Russian IR and TV guided air-to-ground precision weapons. The aircraft modern system architecture allows weapon’s store interfacing with advanced targeting sensors for both air-to-air and air-to-ground roles. The air-to-air and air-to-ground ammunition are attached to 8 under wing pylons and one fuselage-centered attachment point. Fully equipped and thanks to its two 5,500 lbs (2,500 kg) thrust turbofans, the Yak-130 carries up to 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) of weapons at subsonic speed (maximum speed 660 mph-1,060 km/h). Operated via its complex digital fly-by-wire the aircraft offers superb handling, ‘controllability’ and maneuverability.
Mission Systems Architecture And Sensors
The integrated on-board systems main functions (navigation, mission, sensors, weapons release, aircraft systems) are presented to the crew on Multi Function Liquid Crystal Displays and allow the aircraft to operate and simulate modern combat scenario such as detection, tracking, targeting and engagement of aerial and ground targets using Infra Red (heat seeking) homing or radar guided (semi active) missiles. The aircraft is primarily marketed as fitted with the Osa multimode radar offering the capability to simultaneously engage 4 air threats while tracking 8 at ranges of up to 54 miles (85 km) for flight vehicles whose radar cross section (RCS) is 15 squared feet (5 square meter). For ground attack missions, the Osa radar will track 2 targets simultaneously. The other 2 radars optionally offered by Rosoboronexport for use on the Yak-130 are the Kopyo-21I and Kopyo-M for dual air-to-air and air-to-ground offensive employment. Against air threats these radars are both capable of attacking two targets simultaneously while tracking 8 for the -21I and 10 for the -M. In air-to-ground mode the Kopyo will detect and track 2 moving or stationary targets using enhanced sensor features such as ground mapping zooming at ranges varying from 12.5 miles (20 km) to 50 miles ( 80 km).
This move by Russia would offer critical support for Syria’s embattled President Bashar Al Assad at a time when the international community seeks to impose an arms embargo against its regime following almost a year of violent crackdown against protesters.
This effort is taking place as the carrier is undergoing the most significant fleet modernization effort of its history. On December 13th 2011, Southwest Airlines finalized the largest order of airplane by value and airplane count in Boeing history. The $19 Billion dollar deal (at list price) for 58 Boeing 737NG (-800 variant) and 150 Boeing 737MAX affirmed Southwest as the launch customer for the highly fuel efficient MAX variant. With the 737-800 due to be delivered starting this year, the 2013 completion target date for the Evolve Cabin will give the carrier enough momentum before the introduction the 737MAX begins sometimes in 2017.
The new Evolve concept brings eco-friendly principles aboard the aircraft via introduction of more durable materials that are also easier to sustain, recycle or dispose of. But as well it appears that the new materials offer advantages in efficiency, cost and additional business opportunities.
The new Evolve cabin most visible achievement is to allow the Southwest 737-700 to accommodate 143 passengers instead of 137 previously. Significant gains in weight savings were made possible by using new fibers on the aircraft leather seats. The new fiber showcases the more durable and very light weight E-Leather fabrics that will cover the new seats. The weight economy is even more appreciable since the current aluminum seat frames have been retained in order to contain cost escalation. Southwest reveals that keeping the current seats frame made possible saving an additional $50 million on the upgrade work. With improved Ergonomics, the new Evolve design is also making additional under-seat space available for passenger comfort and/or carry-on luggage. The carrier credits the resulting reduction in seat recline from three inches to two inches for not protruding excessively anymore into the following row’s passengers private space.
However, the entire scope of measures permitting such far-reaching improvements encompasses employing smaller and lighter life-vest pouch, re-design of seats back pocket, lower-profile seats with re-designed headrest and lumbar support.
In addition to visual amenities such as lighter cabin colors, recyclable and more resistant carpet, new wind screens, and pervading use of aluminum, Southwest claims it has achieved nearly 6 pounds in seat weight savings and 635 pounds overall per aircraft quantifiable to nearly $10 million saved per annum. In all the Evolve Cabin represents favorable business initiative for the 737-700 fleet which will become even more economical to exploit. Awaiting the 737MAX family and the promise of double digit reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emission on the prowess of the CFM LEAPX engine platform alone, Southwest will still extract remarkable operating economics and customer appeal from its 737-700 fleet.
Air China announced it would increase its flight frequency between Beijing and Los Angeles while introducing brand new Boeing 777-300ER on the route. The new 777-300ER flights will operate as flights CA 987/988 and CA 983/984 beginning June 1st 2012. The move follows Air China accepting the 4 brand new aircraft from Boeing between July and December 2011.
The new schedule will see two daily flights each departing Los Angeles and Beijing. For instance China Air flight 984 would depart Los Angeles at 1:40 am and flight 988 at 1:20 pm arriving in Beijing the next day landing respectively at 05:20am and 5:00 pm (all local time).
Previously flight CA983 eastbound leg originated in Beijing at 9:35 pm every evening while CA987 operated solely on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday leaving Beijing at 1:50 pm for their 11hr 40min journey. In similar fashion the 12 hr 50 min eastbound return flights from Los Angeles to Beijing operating as flights CA984 departed at 12:40 am everyday while CA988 adhered to 11:50 am departure on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.
By increasing its weekly services between Los Angeles and Beijing to 14 flights, Air China is attempting to increase its market share on a highly promising segment. The brand new Boeing 777-300ER gives the emerging global carrier the flexibility and branding that it needs to compete. The 777 twin engines operation brings advantageous operating economics that the aging 747-400 normally assigned to the route can hardly deliver. A streamlined ground and flight operation would translate in generating higher number of flights with sustained passengers density at the carrier’s global hub. The increased flight connections at Air China Beijing hub would consolidate its global gateway status. The added comfort of the state-of-the-art 777-300ER automatically brings the Air China brand on part with other highly recognized Asian 777-300ER operators such as Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Eva Air, Thai Airways International and others.
Air China Boeing 777-300ER
With its layout of 8 First Class seats, 42 Business Class seats and 263 Economy Class seats, the 313 passengers-capable aircraft is more comfortable than the 747-400 aircraft it is replacing and can challenge existing trans-pacific Asian rivals.
First Class seating
The ‘Forbidden Pavilion First Class’ seat that had been previously introduced as an upgrade to 6 of the carrier’s 14 Boeing 747-400 (the remaining 8 being -400M combi variant have not received the upgrade) seems a natural fit for the 777-300ER. Under the re-designation of Premium First Class seat, it provides a fully enclosed flat bed ‘Suite’ experience. In that segment Air China may now compare favorably with for instance, Singapore Airlines 35-in wide enclosed First Class seat (Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER seat is different from the lavishly luxurious Suite offered exclusively aboard SIA Airbus 380). Korean Air top-of-the-line First Class Cosmo suite and Cathay Pacific First Class Suite can also fall be challenged by Air China improved First Class posture. Thai Airways International and Eva Air are other 777-300ER Asian operators with highly competitive First Class products.
The Business and Economy Class seat
The fully reclining 180 degree business class seat aboard Air China 777-300ER provide a marked improvement over the comfort of the 170 degree recline Capital Pavilion Business seat found aboard the 747-400. While it is still difficult to surpass Singapore Airline 34-in wide Business-Class seats, Air China 42 Business Class seats will help attract West Coast-based US business travelers looking for connecting flights in Beijing. Putting forward their 777-300ER, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways International and Eva Air have proved adept at crafting well-researched Business and Economy Class products that can aggressively woo Asia’s travelers looking for the most convenient flight combination via a major Asian hub.
With 9 passengers seating abreast in 3-3-3, Air China has improved on the 3-4-3 found aboard the 747-400 while adhering to philosophy espoused by the other previously-mentioned Asian Global carriers. However its 135 degree of recline will ensure a very comfortable experience.
The 8/42/263 seats configuration indicating respectively First, Business and Economy class also maintains Air China in line with its rivals. Singapore airline flies a 777-300ER configured in 8/42/228, Cathay Pacific: 6/53/238, Thai Airways International: 8/30/274, Korean Air 8/56/227 and EVA Air 36/71/211. All these carriers having adopted the 3-3-3 standard in Economy Class.
On a previous survey of 777-300ER operation Air France and Emirates appeared at both end of the spectrum. After consolidating its entire First Class offerings to its A380, Air France seemed to have found a way to make money flying high density 777-300ER configured with 42 Flat Bed Business seat in addition to 24 Premium Economy seats and 317 in economy but in 3-4-3 arrangement.
Emirates Airlines, the largest 777-300ER operator, elected to install 8 private suite in First Class cabin as in its A380. In a move reminiscent of Air France, its 777-300ER are now fitted with 42 Business Class seats and 3-4-3 abreast seating in Economy capable of seating 304, 308 or 314 passengers.
By standardizing the 3-3-3 configuration in lieu of 3-4-3, Asian carriers with global ambitions have silently upgraded their Economy Class cabin to Premium Economy. With an order of 15 Boeing 777-300ER outstanding with Boeing and 14 747-400 all delivered before 2000 still flying, Air China is the latest major playing banking on the type to execute a successful business strategy in the 21st century, replacing the more expensive to maintain and operate 747-400.
Virgin Australia is announcing it will boost its daily coast-to-coast service between Melbourne and Perth and shuttle service between Melbourne and Sydney. The carrier plans to introduce its 2 widebody Airbus 330-200 aircraft on both routes. The two daily flights between Melbourne and Perth are set to launch on May 14th 2012. The new short haul service between Melbourne and Sydney will begin operating the very next day on May 15th 2012.
The new schedule will permit the A330-200 to conduct the 3h45min Melbourne-Perth flight departing at 1pm and 5:30pm Melbourne time daily. The return leg will allow Perth-Melbourne passengers to arrive at 1:45pm and 10:45pm.
On the much shorter 1 hour-long route between Melbourne and Sydney, the widebody aircraft will be deployed in order to satisfy peak hour travel demand departing Melbourne at 7:15am and returning by 11:35am.
The carrier is finding that configuring its A330-200 with 27 Business Class leather seats and 251 Economy Class leather seats has created opportunities. The twin-engined widebody aircraft offers significantly more comfort than the single aisle twin-engined Boeing 737-700 that can also be employed on the routes. The 2-3-2 Business Class cabin is enhanced by the comfort of two aisles, while the Economy cabin accommodates 2-4-2. This uncharacteristic use of an A330-200 on a seemingly shorter ‘commuter’ link between Melbourne and Sydney provides relief for high peak hour passenger density using a very compelling proposition for business travelers.
The Air France/KLM group just released its traffic figures for the month of December 2011. An overall improvement for passenger traffic of 7.5% from last year’s December (2010) was most dramatic in Europe with a 14.8% rise, the Americas came in second with a 9.0% increase, followed by Africa/Middle East with 5.1% jump. The carrier’s Asian network only saw a 4% rise in traffic while the Carribean/Indian Ocean network traffic only appreciated by 3.6%. The 6.11 million passengers transported this past December proved a double digit improvement to last year’s December’s 5.47 million (11.7% more). The net increase in number of passengers transported this year is a stern reminder of last year’s 5,100 flight cancellations that followed two rounds of extreme winter weather in December alone. The cargo segment in keeping with slowing demand, only recorded modest improvement of 0.3% in Revenue Tonne Kilometer and 0.1% in Available Tonne Kilometer.
Le Figaro newspapers citing financial forecast from Secafi Consultancy signals that Air France may have bled 183 millions Euros between April and September 2011 hence the premature exit of CEO Pierre Henri Gourgeon in this past October. The newspaper anticipates among other top priorities for new CEO Alexandre De Juniac a salaries and hiring freeze, a more limited engagement in Alitalia’s capital from the current 25% as well as more stringent cost controls measures at Air France (as KLM may have recorded profits during the same period).
Already, the carrier announced last week that it would suspend its Paris-Newark flights from April 20102 to October 2012 following a reduction from 7 to 5 weekly flights in the same route this winter. Retreating altogether from Newark would allow Air France to consolidate its flight operations to New York JFK airport while still retaining up to 13 daily flights to Newark Liberty in New Jersey from Heathrow, Amsterdam and Paris thanks to its Air France/KLM Joint Venture with Delta Airlines. A new strategic plan articulating entirely the various cost savings initiatives should be available as early as Thursday when Air France’s Board convenes.
A Qantas flight QF32 that originated in London Friday on its way to Sydney via Singapore encountered severe turbulences while cruising through Indian airspace. It was reported that seven of the 450 passengers aboard the A380 Super Jumbo suffered various cuts and bruises and had to be treated upon the aircraft arrival in Singapore. The violent turbulences began apparently as the A380 Super Jumbo flight had only 3 hours remaining in its 12 hours and 35 minutes trip to Singapore. The additional and final leg linking Singapore to Sydney normally takes another 7 hours and 20 minutes.
Friday’s incident comes amidst newest controversial revelations surrounding the A380 safety as Australia’s The Age newspapers recently published commentaries by the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association (ALAEA) regarding cracks found on the A380 wings.
It must be remembered that in November 2010 another Sydney bound Airbus 380 flight also operating as QF32 originating in London had been forced to return to Singapore Changi International Airport after experiencing troubles with engine number 2, just 15 minutes after having taken off from Changi International Airport. At the time, the brand new Airbus 380 was carrying 433 passengers and 26 crew. That highly publicized incident did in fact reverberate safety criticisms against the giant aircraft throughout the travel industry.