Jumbo Wings Glide out on the High Tide

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Byline: ERYL CRUMP

GIANT wings for the Airbus A380 superjumbo set off for France aboard its purpose-built ship for the first time yesterday, as a row over dredging dragged on.

The Port of Mostyn says its needs a channel clearing in the River Dee estuary so the massive vessel, the Ville de Bordeaux,can dock.

Its plans have been blocked on environmental grounds, with talks over an alternative still going on.

Airbus has to meet tight schedules in exporting the wings for the 555-seater aircraft to Toulouse for final assembly.

So far it has been able to get round the problem by using a smaller ship, but as production steps up difficulties are beginning to creep in.

Yesterday the 5,200- ton ne ship made its first visit to the port thanks to high tides.

The Ville de Bordeaux arrived from Hamburg with a rear fuselage already on board. Wing sections were brought downstream on a specially-built barge from Broughton and loaded onto the ship using a 96-wheeled, 12-axled remote controlled vehicle.

The ship will arrive in St Nazaire tomorrow to be loaded with more components before sailing to Bordeaux. Barges will then take the parts along the Gironde river to the Airbus factory at Toulouse.

Airbus ordered the ship to carry the wings from Broughton,plus parts from other Airbus plants, to France because the A380 aircraft parts are too large to be carried by aircraft.

When the A380 programme gets into full swing the ship plans to visit Mostyn weekly.

Port of Mostyn managing director Jim O'Toole said: ``In spite of the ongoing dredging issue at the port,access by the ship was possible on this occasion due to a combination of favourable tides and navigating it through a detailed realignment of what was until now a straight line approach to the port.

``We and Airbus are continuing to work with the regulators to resolve the dredging issue which will otherwise prevent the ship from entering Mostyn in future. The long-term future of the port relies on a permanent solution being found. …