Airbus Group SE is in “intense” talks with potential new customers for its A380 superjumbo as it considers enhancements to raise the appeal of the biggest passenger jet.
“There’s no panic, it’s an orderly process,” Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said in an interview Tuesday at the Paris Air Show.
Enders said Airbus is studying ways to help airlines make better use of the plane’s spacious cabins. It’s also considering stretching the fuselage to add seats, or equipping the plane with new engines to increase efficiency, though the CEO made no commitments on either products or timetables.
The Toulouse, France-based company has struggled to win new airline customers for the A380 for almost three years now. Emirates is the largest buyer, with 140 in total on order, and has pushed Airbus to fit new engines on the double-decker.
“I wouldn’t make any predictions here” on when Airbus will commit to specific plans on either stretching the plane or offering new engines, Enders said. Rolls-Royce Plc, one of two powerplant providers for the A380, would be the more likely company to offer new engines, Emirate President Tim Clark said in May.
Enders said he’s he’s hopeful it would be “days, not weeks” before Airbus wins clearance from regulators to begin test-flying A400M production aircraft again following the crash of an A400M last month that killed four test pilots and left two crew severely injured.
Early findings from Spanish investigators probing the crash showed that three engines experienced power failure after takeoff and didn’t respond to the crew’s attempts to restore them, while other gear performed as expected in the aircraft. Enders said the company has understood the cause of the fault.
Asked if Airbus might have a look at United Technologies Corp.’s Sikorsky Aircraft division, which builds helicopters and is being targeted for divestiture, Enders said “we’re very interested in following the decisions.
‘‘Whatever decisions UTC finally takes will influence the world of helicopters one way or the other.’’
For more on the 2015 Paris Air Show, go here: Special Report