updated 8/30/2006 8:28:07 PM ET 2006-08-31T00:28:07

An Airbus A380 superjumbo test flight heading from France to the North African desert was cut short Tuesday as a precaution, the plane manufacturer said.

The jet was scheduled to fly to the airport of Tozeur-Nefta in southern Tunisia, but the pilot returned to the plane's base in Toulouse, France, soon after takeoff because of a "minor incident," said Airbus spokeswoman Anne Galabert. She declined to elaborate.

Galabert said the shortened flight was a "non-event" that received attention only because journalists waiting in Tunisia were disappointed when they learned they would not see the world's largest passenger plane.

The decision to turn back was "something that is completely normal in the testing phase," she said, adding that the flight will be rescheduled for a later date.

Five A380s have clocked more than 1,800 hours of test flights, she said.

The A380 program has been under close scrutiny since delays in the long-awaited superjumbo sent stock in parent company European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co. tumbling more than 25 percent in June. They also led to a major management reshuffle at the Franco-German company, and customer and investor confidence was rattled.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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