Airbus A380 Superjumbo Twin-Deck, Twin-Aisle Airliner, Europe

Airbus has announced the development of an all new design Superjumbo, the Airbus A380, which is the world's first twin-deck, twin-aisle airliner. Advantages of the A380 include lower fuel burn per seat and lower operating costs per seat. The 555 seat Airbus A380-800, with a non-stop range of 8,000nm, was launched in December 2000. The aircraft entered production in January 2002. First flight (with the Rolls-Royce engines) took place from Blagnac Airport, Toulouse, in April 2005. Over 100 test flights have been completed. Five aircraft are taking part in the test programme. The second first flew in October and the third in November 2005.

First deliveries are scheduled for Singapore Airlines in November 2006 and Qantas in April 2007. First flight with the General Electric / Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance GP7200 is scheduled for 2006.

Airbus Industrie is a consortium formed by EADS and BAE Systems. EADS, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, was formed by a merger of Aerospatiale-Matra of France, Daimler-Chrysler Aerospace of Germany and CASA of Spain (former members of Airbus).

Airbus' A380 aircraft sections will be transported from sites in Broughton (UK), Hamburg (Germany), Puerto Real (Spain) and St Nazaire (France) in a specially constructed huge roll-on/roll-off vessel, the "Ville de Bordeaux", built by Jinling Shipyard in Nanjing, China. The vessel was launched in July 2003 and has the largest water stern door (22m x 14m) ever built on a ro-ro vessel. The vessel will take the components to Bordeaux. From there they will be transported via specially constructed barges up the Garonne River and then transferred by road trailer to the final assembly line in Toulouse.


15 customers, including: Singapore Airlines (launch customer with an order for 10 aircraft), Lufthansa (15), Emirates (41), Air France (10), Qantas (12), Malaysia Airlines (6), Virgin Atlantic (6) International Lease Finance (10), Kingfisher Airlines (5), Qatar Airways (2), Federal Express (10), Korean Air (5), Thai Airways (6), Etihad Airways (4) and China Southern Airlines (5), have announced firm orders for 149 of Airbus' A380 airliners. 17 of these are for the cargo version.


The A380 is a member of the Airbus Flight Operational Commonality family with similar flight decks and operating procedures in the A320, A330 and A340 aircraft, providing easy crew transition training, cross crew qualification and mixed fleet flying. Thales Avionics developed and supplied the eight high format, high-resolution, 150mm x 200mm (6in x 8in) liquid crystal displays and is to provide the digital head-up display (HUD). Honeywell of the USA has been selected to provide the next-generation flight management system, which will have increased data handling speed and a graphical user interface with pop-up menus and cursor control, rather than a text-based interface. Honeywell will also supply the satellite communications system. Goodrich will supply air data systems.

Rockwell Collins will supply communications systems including VHF and HF radios and multi-mode receivers. Northrop Grumman has been selected to provide the LTN-101E inertial navigation system. Smiths Industries will provide the video management unit which will include the display from cockpit door and cabin surveillance systems. L-3 Aviation Recorders of Florida will provide flight data and cockpit voice recorders.


In order to minimise the unladen weight, the Airbus 380 structures incorporate a range of new materials as used on the A318 and A340 families of aircraft. Carbon fibre reinforced plastic is used for the central box of the wings, the horizontal stabilisers (which are the same size as the Airbus A310 wing), the fin, the rear fuselage section and for ceiling beams. A new material, Glare, that is highly resistant to fatigue is used in the construction of the panels for the upper fuselage. The aluminium and fibreglass layers of Glare do not allow propagation of cracks, it is much lighter than conventional materials and represents a weight saving of about 500kg in the construction. Impact resistant thermoplastics are used on the wing leading edge. The aircraft has 16 wing spoilers supplied by Patria of Finland.

The A380 incorporates two rather than three Eaton Corporation hydraulic systems with an increased hydraulic pressure of 5000lb/in² instead of a standard 3,000psi.


The A380 has twin-aisle cabins on the upper and lower decks, with 49% more floor space for 35% higher seating capacity. A three class layout provides 555 seats. A typical upper deck layout provides 96 business and 103 economy class seats. The main deck provides 22 first class seats and 334 economy class seats. Two stairwells link the passenger decks. A lifting system between passenger decks provides access for passengers with limited mobility. There is also a cargo hoist linking the two passenger decks. The size of the A380 makes possible a number of configurations and passenger facilities.

There are eight full size doors on both sides of the aircraft. On either side, there are two doors on the main deck and one door on the upper deck forward of the wing that can be used simultaneously for embarking or disembarking passengers.

For speedy baggage transfer, two hold loading belts, one at the forward end and one at the rear end under the fuselage can be used simultaneously.

Matsushita Avionics Systems has been selected to supply its next-generation eX2 inflight entertainment system.


The aircraft is equipped with four 70,000lb thrust engines, either the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or the General Electric / Pratt & Whitney Engine Alliance GP7200. Rolls-Royce delivered the first Trent 900 engine in February 2004 and it made a successful first flight on an A340-300 testbed in May 2004. The GP7200 is scheduled to make its first testbed flight by the end of 2004. Goodrich will supply the engine sensor system for the Trent 900 and Ametek the senor system for the GP7200. BAE Systems Controls and Hispano-Suiza will provide the FADEC (full authority electronic control) system for the GP7200.

The take-off length is 2,900m at maximum weight at sea level, ISA +15° conditions and the initial cruise altitude 35,000ft. The aircraft complies with the noise emission limits of ICAO (Chapter 3, Schedule 16) for overfly, approach and side-on manoeuvres and stricter regulations of London Heathrow airport concerning take-off and landing. This enables aircraft operations at night.

There are ten fuel tanks with a capacity of 131,000l of fuel. Refuelling can be carried out in 40mins.


The 22 wheel Goodrich landing gear consists of two underwing struts each with four wheels, two central under-fuselage struts each with six wheels and a twin nose wheel. Each landing gear supports about 167t. Messier-Dowty supplies the nose landing gear with 350bar hydraulic pressure and Messier-Bugatti the braking and steering systems. Smiths Aerospace will supply the landing gear extension and retraction system. The load on the airport runways and aprons are of similar magnitude to that of a 747. ELDEC of Lynnwood, Washington, will provide the landing gear proximity sensing system.

The aircraft can complete a 180° turn within a width of 56.5m, which is within the 60m width dimension of standard runways.


Maximum operating speed is Mach 0.89 and the range is 15,000km or 8000 nautical miles with the maximum number of passengers.

The turnaround time at the airport terminal, including passenger disembarking, cleaning, restocking and embarking the passengers for the next flight is a minimum of 90mins.


The A380 is the first major commercial airliner program with a freighter version being co-developed as part of the new aircraft launch. The A380-800F will transport 150t of freight using standard, interlineable containers and pallets. The full payload range of the A380-800 F is 5,600nm. Launch customers are FedEx (ten aircraft) and Emirates (two) and first deliveries are scheduled for 2008.

Other probable derivatives of the A380 are an extended range version, A380-800R and a stretched version A380-900.

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