Wednesday, April 27, 2005
With the enthusiasm and gusto typically reserved for the accomplishments of third word economies, 30,000 French people, who had little else to do on Wednesday, celebrated the fact that they built a really big plane, and it actually took flight. French President, Jacque Chirac, keenly aware of recent set backs in France's more traditional industries of wine and bread, oozed with glee at the party:
"A new page in aviation history has been written," French President Jacques Chirac said in Paris. "It is a magnificent result of European industrial cooperation."
Roughly translated Chirac's statement seems to mean, "in a few years nobody will want this gas sucking monstrosity, but for now our state run company can get the peasants to celebrate another largely meaningless accomplishment. That and we got the rest of Europe to unwittingly finance this glorious French employment program!
Underscoring, the dubious wisdom in building really, really big things was the generally held belief that the industry might be moving to more economically sized planes to maintain maximum fleet flexibility. Like a drunken Philippe armed with fireworks on Bastille day, this soiree was largely a celebration of Airbus shooting itself in the foot:
"But some analysts say signs of a boom in demand for smaller, long-range jets like Boeing's 787 "Dreamliner" show that Airbus was wrong to focus resources on a superjumbo jet at the expense of its own mid-size A350 - which is due to enter service in 2010, two years after its Boeing rival."
None-the-less, it is rare these days for Europe to have it's moment in the sun, and like the Democrats in the U.S., they enjoy celebrating these victories, regardless of how hollow history will prove them to be. Even then the party was not without it's tense moments as the brave crew, unwilling to trust the assurances of European engineers and a state employed workforce, took extra safety precautions on this, the plane's maiden flight:
"Part of the delay is down to the superjumbo's struggle with a weight problem that consumed months of engineering time......The crew took no chances - donning parachutes for the first flight. A handrail inside the plane led from the cockpit to an escape door in case the pilots lost control."
UPDATE: The American Thinker weighs in with some related thoughts.