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Airbus A380

The Airbus A3XX-100 was an entirely new aircraft that was scheduled [as of 1997] to be introduced into service by 2003. The A3XX-100, unlike other currently planned aircraft, would feature a double-deck design capable of holding 555 passengers and 187,000 pounds of cargo when full. The aircraft would be 232 feet long, 79 feet tall, and have a 259-foot wingspan. MTOW would be approximately 1.1 million pounds, supported by a four-strut, 24-wheel main landing gear. A final decision on the aircraft design was expected to occur sometime toward the end of 1998. It was anticipated that the aircraft's basic shape and size would not change, but changes in its operational characteristics may occur. Engine selection, wing design, and other modifications may result in operating weight changes but should not affect the general size of the aircraft.

The Airbus A3XX-200 is a stretched derivative of the A3XX-100 that was being considered for production after the 100 is introduced. The aircraft would be identical to the 100, except for the addition of a 22-foot fuselage section. This stretch would accommodate an additional 101 passengers, bringing the total passenger capacity up to 656. The MTOW for the 200 would be 1.21 million pounds. As of 1997 the Airbus A3XX-200 was the largest NLA that is being considered for development.

Taking a clean-sheet design for airlines' operational needs of tomorrow, Airbus developed the A380 as the most spacious and efficient airliner ever conceived. This 525-seat aircraft would deliver an unparalleled level of comfort while retaining all the benefits of commonality with Airbus' other fly-by-wire aircraft Families. With two full-length decks offering 50% more floor surface than any other high capacity aircraft. Broader seats. More personal storage. Better head room. Wider stairs. All in all, more space for every passenger to relax and appreciate the quietest cabin of any airliner currently flying. The wide open spaces outside the A380 benefit from its design, too. The A380's engine emissions are well below current international limits, contributing to improved air quality around the airports it serves.

Its twin, full-length, wide-bodied cabin has exceptionally efficient air filters. With four high level air outlets instead of the traditional two, the cabin air gets refreshed every three minutes. Which helps passengers to feel fresher, both during and after the flight. There is a fresh approach to its environmental impact, too. With a new wing design and composite materials accounting for 25% of its structural weight, the A380 is a much more efficient aircraft all round. And by producing only about 75g of CO2 per passenger kilometer, the A380 is contributing to the aviation industry's commitment to constraining greenhouse gas emissions.

Two full-length decks with more space for every passenger. 220 windows flooding the cabin with natural light. An onboard noise level that's the lowest of any existing passenger aircraft, quiet enough to significantly reduce fatigue.

But the environmental benefits of the A380 don't just belong to the passengers. The stringent ISO14001 corporate certification awarded to Airbus recognizes our use of a robust Environmental Management System to minimize the environmental impact of the A380, throughout its life cycle.

The Airbus A380 goes to great lengths to make long-haul flying feel more natural. There's the extra space per passenger afforded by its twin, full-length, wide-bodied cabins. The cabin air, recycled every three minutes to keep the atmosphere fresh. The natural light provided by 220 cabin windows. And while the A380 feels more natural inside, the environment outside benefits too. From the dramatically reduced external noise levels. From the lower fuel consumption and significantly improved CO2 emissions per passenger kilometre. From the increased capacity at airports and the reduced need for expansion.

In November 2007 Andrea Rothman and Laurence Frost of Bloomberg reported that Airbus SAS planned to build a 900- seat version of its A380 superjumbo. Emirates, the aircraft's biggest customer, had said it would buy the new model. Airbus would begin developing an A380 ``stretch'' after the standard plane reaches full production in 2010, Chief Operating Officer John Leahy said in an interview. The biggest Arab airline would fit out the plane to carry 750 passengers on a typical flight, Clark said. Routes to countries such as Thailand and Saudi Arabia, destination of the Muslim Hajj pilgrimage, would even support a 1,000-seater plane, though airports might struggle to cope. The stretched superjumbo, to be designated the A380-900, would be developed once the current edition reaches its maximum build rate of 40 planes a year in 2010, Leahy said. The new jetliner would enter the market around 2015, he said.

Airbus projected a market of 1,250 aircraft A380-sized planes over the twenty years to 2030. Boeing expected a market for just 325 such planes. Airbus' break-even for the A380 is 420 planes, 160% of Boeing's market projections. If Boeing was off by 50% on the high side, the market for super jumbos is 488 planes, of which Airbus must sell 86% just to break even. Equally, if Airbus was off 50% on the low side, the super jumbo market is 625 planes, of which Airbus must sell 67% to break even. On top of this, Airbus expected to sell 751 A380s, or 154% of Boeing's 50% upside calculation, and 120% of its own 50% downside calculation.

Boeing cited the current trend in airline customers "focused on point-to-point travel" -- flying non-stop, direct, from origin to destination -- rather than the hub-to-hub travel for which the A380 is designed. Hub-to-hub requires most passengers to board small-airliner regional/"feeder" flights to reach the first hub airport (where large groups of passengers gather to board the A380) then change planes to the A380 and ride it to another hub airport, then again board a connecting small-airliner flight to reach their ultimate destination.

The Boeing Sonic Cruiser proposal was aimed at Airbus, specifically the new 550-seat A380. If Boeing could produce a 300-seat Mach 0.95-0.98 machine with greater than 6,000-n.mi. range and only slightly higher costs, it could transform the economics of airline operations. The first-class, business-class, and high-end economy-class passengers would be drawn into the new machines, leaving behind the low-yield passenger categories for the Airbus A380. Sonic Cruiser's timing was suspicious to some, who wondered whether Sonic Cruiser was an unripe concept, intended primarily to create doubts about the A380's future. The proposal may also have helped to prevent Japan from joining the A380 as an industrial partner.

With three cancellations and not a single order in the first ten months of 2013, Airbus announced 08 November 2013 a disappointing outlook for the once-feted A380. Sales of the world's biggest commercial aircraft suffered in 2012 after hairline cracks were discovered on the wings of the A380. Only nine planes were sold in 2012, down from an initial order of 30. On 17 November 2013 Dubai-based Emirates airline placed an additional order for 50 A380 aircraft, confirming the continued strong demand for very large aircraft in the Middle East that are needed to meet the region’s higher than average traffic growth. The order was signed at a ceremony at the 2013 Dubai Airshow.

Four customers were scheduled to receive their initial jetliners in 2014 – representing the most ever in a calendar year since A380 deliveries began in 2007, while also bringing the operator count up to 14. On 26 May 2014 South Korea’s Asiana Airlines took delivery of its first Airbus A380, becoming the eleventh operator of the type in the world. Asiana Airlines had ordered six A380s, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. Airbus currently had 324 firm orders for the A380, from 20 customers.

According to Airbus’ September 2013 Global Market Forecast (GMF), in the next 20 years (2013-2032), "In the Very Large aircraft market, dominated by the A380, there is a requirement for 1,334 passenger aircraft valued at US$519 billion. Of these, 47 per cent would be needed in the Asia-Pacific region, followed by the Middle East (26 per cent) and then Europe (16 per cent). Asia-Pacific’s requirement for the A380 is demonstrated by the region’s growth in middle classes which is set to quadruple in Asia-Pacific in 20 years."

The A350-1000’s new engine – the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 successfully made its first flight-test 05 November 2015 aboard Airbus’ dedicated A380 “Flying-Test-Bed” aircraft. The aircraft took off from Airbus’ facilities in Toulouse and performed a fl ight of 4 hours, 14 mins during which the engine covered a wide range of power settings at altitudes up to 35,000ft. The engine’s operation and handling qualities were evaluated from low speeds to Mach 0.87.

The Trent XWB-97 development engine was mounted on the A380’s inner left engine pylon, replacing one of the aircraft’s Trent 900 engines. The crew on board this first flight were: Airbus Experimental test pilots Etienne de Malleray and Hugues Van der Stichel; Experimental Test Flight Engineer Gerard Maisonneuve and Flight Test Engineers Emmanuele Costanzo and Jean-Philippe Cottet.

Commencing around nine months prior to the A350-1000’s first flight, this engine flight-test program included hot weather as well as icing condition testing campaigns. The specially enhanced Trent XWB engine produces 97,000lbs of thrust on take-off – making it the most powerful engine ever developed for an Airbus aircraft.

  • Singapore Airlines’ opted in September 2016 not to extend the lease for its first Airbus A380 after only 10 years of flying - the airline does not want to expand its A380 fleet beyond the 19 aircraft it operated and the five more on firm order.
  • Air France was not taking the final two A380s it had on order.
  • Lufthansa reduced its commitment by one aircraft.
  • Qantas Airways did not want to take the eight in the backlog.
  • Virgin Atlantic did not want the six it bought a decade and a half earlier.

Australian airline Qantas Airways on 07 February 2019 announced it had formally canceled an order for eight Airbus A380 superjumbo jets. The Qantas announcement came following doubts over the future of the world's largest passenger airliner, as A380 orders continue to decline and stall. In January 2019, Airbus removed orders for 10 of the European superjumbo jets, reportedly linked to Hong Kong Airlines. Emirates airline has ordered 56 A380s, but is reportedly considering switching some or all of them for smaller fuel-efficient aircraft such as the A350 or A330. The cost of each aircraft is said to be about €385 million ($435 million).

As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus would cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021. European aerospace multinational Airbus said on 14 February 2019 that it would stop manufacturing the double-decker A380 aircraft, the superjumbo popular with travellers but too costly for many airlines. “Due to the lack of airline demand we have to wind down production of the A380,” Airbus said in its full year results for 2018. Airbus said Dubai-based airline Emirates had reduced its order of A380 by 39 planes, leaving just 14 superjumbos in the order book left to be delivered. “As a consequence of this decision and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, deliveries of the A380 will cease in 2021,” said Airbus. The company, which has its headquarters in Toulouse, had been forced to slow down its production of the A380 in recent years and warned in January 2018 that the model could be scrapped if new orders were not forthcoming.

The decision was a boon for rival Boeing and a crushing blow for Airbus. The European plane maker had hoped the A380 would squeeze out Boeing’s 747 and revolutionise air travel as more people take to the skies. Instead, airlines had been cautious about committing to the costly plane, so huge that airports had to build new runways and modify terminals to accommodate it.

The last order from Emirates would have brought the build total to nearly 350 and kept the A380 production line open until at least 2028. Total production was 274 aircraft. Another 140 or so aircraft were on order at one time, with subsequent cancellation of the orders. The 747 made aviation history when it entered service with Pan Am in 1970. Production looks set to continue at least until 2022. The Boeing 777's 1,547 deliveries take it ahead of the 747's 1,544 as the world's leading widebody aircraft.

The A380 "was never a good idea", according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president of the Teal Group consultancy. "In fact, it was a very bad idea, one of the worst self-inflicted wounds in aerospace history. The market wants range and efficiency; capacity for capacity's sake is not wanted at all," he said. The A380's four jets are a disadvantage, he said, as twin jets "can do most of the job in terms of range and seat count... Airbus made its problem worse by designing an aircraft that's extremely heavy, even for its seat count."

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Page last modified: 05-03-2019 18:33:28 ZULU