Click any photo for larger version. Photos by Niek van der Zande, via FlightBlogger and Reuters.

Airbus flew a double-decker Airbus A380 to the 2011 Paris Airshow to put on display and to hopefully attract additional customers. However, while taxiing, the world’s largest airliner’s wing clipped a building ripping off the right winglet and putting the aircraft out of service and unable to fly.

Luckily an A380 owned by Korean Air came to the rescue and flew one of their A380s t0 the Paris Air Show. Being the largest airliner has its benefits and challenges — this is not the first time the A380s size has been an issue. Recently, an Air France A380 struck the tail of a CRJ 700, causing it to spin out.

A spokesperson for Airbus told that the A380, “took the taxiway it was instructed by ground control to take.”

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So it’s ground control’s fault for not knowing the length of the A380 wing. At what point will it be determined that this aircraft will need to be towed around taxiways to safeguard against these types of incidents?

I’m glad to have flown on an A380, but I have come to dislike it.


The aircraft was actually said to be being pulled by a tug at the time….so it was the tug drivers slip up. Even if it was under its own power and taxiing around, it is still the PICs job to ensure your aircraft is able to accommodate its specified routes and can maintain clearance of all objects.

If a $50K Volvo can have a proximity sensor and stop the vehicle why can’t they put in the wings of the Airbus. Seems that would save a lot of time and money on these minor accidents.

Yah. that is pretty funny isn’t it.. but its been over a year and am sure they have worked the bugs out of it. Mercedes has their own system as well.

There is technology out there they could use to stop this. A building is one thing but if they hit another plane like that commuter jet they spun around I think something will have to be done.

I agree. At least a warning system. I am sure a new memo is going out to all A380 pilots:

“Okay pilots, we didn’t think we would have to remind you all again so recently since the Air France incident, but remember your planes are f’n huge. Unless you have flown the AN-225 or Spruce Goose you have no idea how long those wings are. So please, please please do not hit buildings, planes or anything else. Sincerely, Airbus”

(in case someone doesn’t get my humor, that is NOT an official Airbus statement by any means)

Airbus is too caught up in the fact that it’s the world’s largest airliner to concede that it’s a mammoth menace on the ground. Of course, they don’t need to. I think people are pretty well aware by now. Two incidents involving the A380 within the last 3 months pretty much tells the story.

What a hoot to see these pics…..
When I heard of the incident I didn’t think much of it, but WOW, that wing sliced and diced and got bit off in a big way.
Yep, the airplane is a beast and looks like it too.
They better stop running into things on the ground !!
Too bad for Airbus at the show…..
Go Boeing Go
Get that GD 787 off the ground already, will ya?

Well Boeing might be winning the “don’t damage your airplanes” contest, but not so much in the “orders” contest 🙁

But so far things look good for an Aug/Sept delivery of the first 787.


Tony Teague

Pretty poor judgement likening the A 380 to a Volvo. Volvo drivers always fail to use their indicators

How about sending the copilots out to the wing tips and if they see something they can raise a flag or something… 🙂

Even just putting cameras on the wingtips would be helpful. Don’t they already have a camera on the tail?

Yes, there are cameras all around the airplane, nose, tail, and belly. They surely need them on the flanks.

Some reports say that the A380 was taxiing. Others say the aircraft was being towed by a tug. Which is right?

Maybe it was actually a good thing they had a Korean Air A380 on hand to do the flying display…far more pleasing to look at than the typical white whale look of other A380’s.

Charles de Gaulle

I heard Air New Zealand chief pilot Dave Morgan was at the controls. Is that true?

Mike Klaene

I have flown Cessna 172 and 182 for the Civil Air Patrol here in the US. It is hard enough to know where the wing tip is in those, an airliner must be near impossible. With the CAP we are required to have a wing walker on the ground if the clearance is close. Being on the center line is no assurance of clearance. Hitting the CRJ was an accident – this was a screw up.

jim guglimenio

when the wingspans get as wide as they are on the A380, it is time to rethink cockpit location. I think a cockpit on each wingtip would be appropriate –The pilot on the left wingtip, copilot on the right wingtip. The problem is that if wingspans get very much longer, the 2 pilots could find themselves flying in different time zones.

You’d think someone at either Airbus or the airshow would have done the simple math to figure out the safe taxi routes ahead of time. It seems like pretty basic stuff.

R Lopaka

Merde…..La DOH!!! Maybe they shoulduv made wingtips….Break A Way and carry a some spares?

All they need is folding wingtips. The Navy’s been doing it for years.

folding wing tips is an excellent idea (i was in the aviation branch of the navy for 9 years), but in the case of this aircraft it would probably add an additional 2000 pounds of build weight to the bottom line which would mean it would have to carry less passengers (revenue) or less fuel (range), and god forbid if the crew forgets to unfold the wing tips prior to takeoff the carnage could be a historical one (the navy has had multiple incident of this happening). the only current answer for this problem is to restrict this aircraft to airports that are completely safe for it’s size…

Tom, that’s what checklists are for… Although it will probably be like the old saying about gear-up landings, there are those who have and those who will (probably coined by one of those who have).

Folding wingtips would have been a nice feature for such a span. As you know, that was the original plan for the 777, but rejected for weight reasons, as previously stated. With airport taxi problems certain to plaque the A380 for its remaining life, Airbus might wish they had done a folding design. There is no reason to fear forgetting to lock them down before take-off, redundant proximity and lock sensors could refuse engine power above a small amount when the aircraft is on the ground, unless all sensors agree the tips are down and locked. Finally, as any airline pilot knows, wing tip carnage is a regular event in any large fleet, it happens to them all. Been there – fortunately haven’t done that.

Russell Weeks

It seems like a simple solution, just move the Taxie center line away from all objects to clear the largest aircraft. How simple can you get.

Ken Gold

Granted that the 380 is a big beautiful aircraft, one that Airbus can be proud of. Yet I think it has long since been decided that Boeing’s smaller yet still very well-suited to today’s travel and traveler is wiping out the sales chances of the 380.

Saw off the other wingtip and sell it as the ‘Clipwing’ model…”Handles like a Pitts”…”Passengers will love it…”

Hey, how about they have two people with radios walking/driving at each wingtip?
I figured out how to fix that 380. Run it back the oposite way and shear off the other side to mach. i wish I had the money in my poccket that wing will cost to fix…….

Eric W

It’s not the wings are too long, it was the building too tall! Another issue with its size less obvious is with the long wings the outboard engines are farther out than other airliners. So those airports where it operates had to add 50 feet of pavement to each side of their taxiways so the engines are not taxied over dirt or whatever else might be out there. That’s the big reason, not weight or runway length, why it only flies to a few locations. That and the double-deck jetways that have to be installed for reasonable boarding times.

An thus the market for refurbished A380’s shall begin.

During WWII they had an enlisted man ride the wing of a taxiing P-47 to give the pilot directional assistance. Maybe two of the Flight Attendants could have that job on the A380. They could go out the overwing exit and sit there as spotters while taxiing.

William Hudson

Obviously Russell and Eric didn’t notice that both engines were already over the grass. This is a very narrow taxiway not really suitable for low wing jets with underslung engines.

The PIC is ultimately responsible to know if his craft can safely navigate the taxiways by doing his homework before the flight and finding out how much clearance each path has — apparently the PIC got caught up in air show mania and skipped some vital planning — shame on the airline for not drilling this into their pilots brains. And I do agree that such a behemoth needs cameras and proximity sensors to operate more safely on the ground. Maybe the airline got to wrapped up in reversing the negative publicity of the Concorde disaster by putting on a show with the A-380 and they got careless. I definitely would not fly on an A-380 operated by the French after all these tragedies and all these mishaps. I think that the A-380 can operate safely if the pilots are diligent in their pre-flight planning — and the pilots know how to recover from a stall.

trevor hulse

epic fail! they need to make speacal taxi ways for the airbus a380.
and make them further away from bildings!

The taxiway appears to have a slight curve, so it could be that old favourite “Swept Wing Growth” where they have taken account of the width of the aircraft, but not the fact that on a swept wing aircraft the full length of the wing is what counts as it turns. It has been catching towing teams and pilots out since the first swept wing aircraft and I am sure it will continue to do so….

Cameras are a good idea. Folding wings might be. A spotter could be as well.

As far as the building being tall is concerned, it’s actually somewhat short considering what’s in it.

It is rather humorous to me personally to see an embarrassing accident like this happen. It would NOT be humorous if someone got killed, but still…

That video of the S60 crashing was somewhat humorous/embarrassing considering that I am a Volvo fan.

Yeah, sure… Blame the crash on the latest generation crash dummy. But at least it wasn’t like a 1960’s Volvo station wagon that got hit in the side at over 70 m.p.h.

What happened to this vehicle was amazing. There were 2 teens racing (which made the accident in the first place). in the official report the police said that the driver was going more than 70 miles per hour, although they couldn’t tell exactly how fast.

So this driver slams into the side of this Volvo 140 (I think this was the model). The impact makes all 4 or 5 occupants unconscious.

This is a story relayed to me by the previous owner of a 240 we have. This accident happened to his friend, and it made him REALLY like Volvos. It was this guys friend’s family with the husband driving, wife next to him–albeit unbuckled, which cost her a pulverized pelvis, and the 2 or 3 kids in the middle bench seat (buckled).

The 140 was stopped at either a stop sign or stop light when it was hit by this speeding car that slammed into the SIDE at OVER 70 m.p.h.! The Volvo rammed into a house as a result, which threw the house off of its FOUNDATION! The police had to reach in and turn off the ignition (yep, the engine was still running), and after an operation on her pelvis the mother and entire family returned to normal–minus a wrecked vehicle.

What’s so phenomenal about this is the fact that most cars would have had a hole through the middle instead of protecting the occupants.

Anyway, back to the hilarious, expensive, and embarrassing accident with this Airbus A380. I must say that it is very odd, and yet funny as well. Although I sure hope that someone figures out something so that we don’t have anymore blown engines, spinning regional jets, ripped buildings, or missing winglets on the A380 again…

Fiat Lux!

Mark Howarth

Surely precautionary measurements were conducted on taxiways, ramps, etc, or anywhere this aircraft could be expected to operate. Gives a bit of a new meaning to “hangar rash”

Yep ! !

Mark Howarth

Surely precautionary measurements were conducted on taxiways, ramps, etc, or anywhere this aircraft could be expected to operate. Gives a bit of a new meaning to “hangar rash”


frank warzocha

how about wing walkers like all airlines suppose to have.

Margaret Metz

This actually gave me a belly ache to look at.
If this was being “towed,” then the wing walkers would be responsible.
Just glad that it happened on the ground, and there weren’t any serious injuries to human lives…poor plane…

I guess bigger is NOT always better…

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