Airbus A380 hits building at Bangkok Airport

A tip of an Airbus A380’s wing scraped a repair building at the Suvarnabhumi airport, Bangkok while preparing for a test flight to Chiang Mai on Saturday morning.

Airbus let Thai Airways International (THAI) uses the world’s largest passenger plane in a trial flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

The plane, which arrived in Thailand on Friday as part of the Asian tour to promote its sales, carried 150 VIP guests, businessmen and reporters on this special flight. It was scheduled to leave the airport at 9.45am.

Its tip hit the building when it was backing out of the parking area to the taxiway, officials said. There were no injuries.

THAI president Apinan Sumanaseni said minor damage occurred to the jet’s winglet, and expected that it would take an hour to fix the damage. The flight would be resumed on Saturday afternoon.

Airbus A380 accident Bangkok

The pushback vehicle operator was not blamed for the damage as Mr Apinan said the accident occurred because the jet is so large that it needs more space on the taxiway.

Airbus officials were sanguine.

“This sort of thing happens every day, in every airport around the world,” said Edouard Ullmo, Airbus’ executive vice president of sales for Asia Pacific.

Airbus decided to remove both winglets, designed to stabilise the aircraft in heavy turbulence, before resuming the flight to Chiang Mai Saturday afternoon.

Airbus A380 accident Bangkok

“We can fly with one winglet or no winglets,” said Ullmo. “This is standard procedure.”

The A380’s wingspan is much wider than the B747-400, at 79.8 metres compared to 64.5 metres.


10 thoughts on “Airbus A380 hits building at Bangkok Airport”

  1. I still think it was due to the carelessness of Airport staff.

    This accident actually looks worse with the Thais than the Airbus.

    At the other end of the flight path, Chiang Mai’s airport is much small but it maneuvered without problems. Link below is a blog on A380’s Chiang Mai visit.

  2. Just for your information, a winglet on an aircraft is not designed to stabilise the aircraft in heavy turbulence. It’s primary job is to help reduce wingtip vorticies caused during flight (especially at slow speeds and high angles of attack). The reduced wingtip vorticies help to reduce induced drag, and therefore helps to increase the range of tne flight.

    As for the accident, if the aircraft was too large and needed more space on the taxiway, what was the aircraft doing on that taxiway in tbe first place? How did it manouvre into the parking ramp? And is Bangkok’s brand new Suvarnabhumi airport just not equipped to handle an A380?

  3. Thanks for your feedback!

    My understanding is that this was just human error by the ground staff. Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport has been certified as capable of handling A380 operations. Airfield design, runway and taxiway width and separations is ICAO Code F compliant. ICAO Code F is the international acceptable standard for aircraft with wingspans over 214 feet such as the Airbus A380.
    Further ICAO ratings are:
    Deviations from ICAO Code F standards: None.
    Operating restrictions used for the A380: None.
    Possible impact of A380 operations on ground operations (special designated routing issues): None.
    Potential effect of ground operational restrictions on capacity (airport assessment): None.

    Which means the airport is fully A380 capable and should not have any problems operating the A380.

  4. Its either the Airport or Thai Airways’ fault.

    Airport marks the guided yellow-lines for taxiing while Thai Airways is contracted for most ground operations including the push-back.

  5. Yeah winglets main role is not to inprove stability, but mainly to reduce induced drag, however they do contribute towards stability evin if it is a small contribution

  6. I’m responding to comments like this one by oddief1, above:

    “Its either the Airport or Thai Airways’ fault.”

    You don’t understand Thai culture. In Thailand, when people have a problem, they say, “Mai be lai,” which means “It couldn’t be helped.”

    Then they focus on fixing the problem. It’s difficult for Westerners to comprehend at times, but it get’s people focused on the job at hand and not on blame. We Americans only think about lawsuits.


  7. First of all regarding the subject of Thai language/culture; I am a British national who currently lives in Thailand and “Mai ben Rai” firstly means (“It’s Okay or No problem”) to which it makes no sense in this situation. I have never seen a Thai person break something.. shrug then say “No problem” as they usually go mental at each other. You’ve made it out as if they just go “Ahh well who cares we’ll just fix it” – This might be me splitting hairs but hey 😉

    Secondly Thai people take great pride in what they do to which an accident like this is very embarrasing of course however, if it truely was an error whilst ‘testing’ A380 manuvors nobody can really be to blame and I believe ANY culture would deal with it in this way.

    Finally as explained earlier winglets on an aircraft this size in fair weather flight should not make any difference to the aircrafts performance other than a slightly spent fuel load. As a trainee pilot I would not be worried for such a short flight (BKK to Chiang Mai) for the winglets to be removed. Not that you get them on small single prop aircraft mind 😉

  8. In addition to the tug driver there has to be a marsheler and two wing ‘walkers’ who coordinate by hand signals and radio the a/c movements.As the stand is a380 certified the problem would seem to lie with the ‘push back people.