Designed in close collaboration with major airlines, airports and airworthiness authorities, the A380 superjumbo is the most advanced, spacious and efficient airliner ever conceived. Launched in December 2000 and now in its detailed definition phase, the A380 will enter airline service in 2006.
While meeting the most stringent international certification requirements, the A380 embodies the very latest technologies for materials, systems and industrial processes. Offering about a third more seating and far more available floor space than its closest competitor, the A380 will deliver an unparalleled level of comfort, with wider seats and aisles, open spaces for passengers to stretch their legs and access to lower-deck amenities. The A380’s modern technology and economies of scale provide 15 per cent lower seat-mile costs than today’s most efficient aircraft. Consequently, the A380 will offer passengers luxury travel at much more affordable prices.
The A380 will help cope with growing passenger numbers without negatively impacting the environment thanks to significantly reduced noise and emissions levels. Thanks to new generation engines and advanced wing and undercarriage design and technology, the A380 will not only comply with current noise limits but will be quieter than today’s largest airliner, meeting strict local regulations such as QC2 for departure at London airports. The A380 will generate half the noise level at take-off and carry 35 per cent more passengers than its competitor over distances such as London-Singapore.
And the A380’s environmental friendliness does not stop at noise reductions. The economic fuel consumption of the A380 – around 13 per cent lower fuel burn than its closest competitor – will also help reduce the impact of exhaust gases on the atmosphere. Indeed, the A380 will be the first long-haul aircraft to consume less than three litres of fuel per passenger over 100 kilometres (95 miles per imperial gallon) – a fuel burn comparable with the best of small modern turbo-diesel cars.
While offering all the advantages of a completely new design, the A380 will extend the benefits of Airbus family commonality to the very large aircraft sector. Thanks to the same cockpit layout, procedures and handling characteristics, pilots will be able to transition to the A380 from other Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft with only minor additional training.
Designed in collaboration with some 60 major airports to ensure airport compatibility and a smooth entry into service the A380 provides the smartest and most economical solution to growing air traffic and airport congestion. The only alternative, an increase in frequencies of existing aircraft, would not only require billions of dollars of investment by airports (in new runways, terminals and even airports) but would also contribute to greater congestion and a significantly increased impact on the environment. Airbus’ analysis of this issue has been irrefutably confirmed, both implicitly, through industry-wide participation in the programme from its outset, and explicitly, through the already immense success of the A380 on the market. To date, nine customers have announced firm commitments for a total of 97 A380s, including 17 freighter versions.
The A380 Family starts from a baseline passenger aircraft, the A380-800 with a capacity of 555 passengers in three classes, and a range of up to 14,800km/8,000nm. The freighter version, the A380-800F will carry a payload of 150 tonnes (330,000lbs) over 10,400km/5,600nm. Stretch, shrink and extended range variants of the baseline version will become available as and when the market requires them. The A380 can be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines or GP7200 engines from The Engine Alliance (a General Electric and Pratt & Whitney joint venture).