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      07-18-2006, 07:38 AM   #9

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The Airbus A380 lands at Britain's Farnborough Air Show outside of London.
The doubledecker superjumbo jet has been dogged by production delays.

Wolfgang Kumm/European Pressphoto Agency

London/NewYorkTimes No matter where it goes, the Airbus A380, a double-decker superjumbo jet so big that it has been called the Whale, turns heads. As the world’s leaders in aviation gather at the Farnborough International Airshow, which opens Monday about 30 miles southwest of here, the A380 will be on center stage as it makes its Farnborough debut.

But the plane is also an outsize reminder of the problems facing Airbus and its parent company, the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company.

For Airbus, the show could not come at a worse time. Against a backdrop of a booming demand for air travel, Airbus has faltered as its rival, Boeing, has soared. The only good news coming from EADS is the inroads it has made in gaining Pentagon contracts — a symbol of stronger trans-Atlantic relations that the United States hopes to display.

Delays in the delivery schedule for the A380, and questions about the timing of stock sales by EADS’s French co-chief executive, Noël Forgeard, led to his dismissal two weeks ago. Some have said Mr. Forgeard’s departure was accelerated by the show since it would have been awkward for him to represent a company he was about to leave.

Another big question is what Airbus will announce about its redesign for its new midsize plane, the A350, which is lagging behind Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner in the race for orders.

Potential A350 buyers have so roundly criticized the new craft that Airbus is in the middle of a nose-to-tail redesign. Estimates are that Airbus is spending $10 billion on the redesign — which it may call the A370 — and it may introduce the redesign at Farnborough.

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