As far back as 1988, Airbus (an EADS company) realised that they needed to come up with an answer for the stranglehold that Boeing had over the upper end of the aviation market with the Boeing 747. At the 1990 Farnborough Airshow, the Mega Project was announced. Designers from Airbus’s four partners Aérospatiale, Deutsche Aerospace AG, British Aerospace and CASA were
invited to put forward new technologies that might be incorporated into this project.
In 1993 Boeing and several Airbus related companies formed a feasibility study group into a Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT). This was seen as a small market and one possibly not worth pursuing by one company alone. Boeing dropped out after two years as they saw that the investment was very unlikely to be recouped by sales later on, so they continued plans to further stretch and develop the Boeing 747.
Airbus in June 1993 began development of their own large airliner which was designated A3XX. Several unusual designs were put forward, one being the twin fuselages of two A340s attached side by side. The Asian economic downturn of the late 1990’s prompted the design to not only be very
large, but also to concentrate on the reduction of operating costs. Airbus targeted a 15% drop in running costs for this new design.
A newly restructured Airbus Industrie on 19 December 2000 voted the EU 8.8 Billion program into being and the A3XX was re-designated the A380. The logical progression of the Airbus type number should have made it the A350 as the A340 was the then latest Airbus design. It was decided that the number 8 best represented the layout of the twin-deck design, as well as being a lucky number in Asia which was the target market for this aircraft.
The A380 design was finalised in early 2001, and the first structural components were laid down on 23 January 2002.
Airbus have offered the A380 initially in two versions:
The A380-800 which in a three-class configuration can carry 555 passengers or if configured as all economy this can raise the total to 853. In May 2007 Airbus also offered a configuration with 30 fewer passengers which added a further 370Km (200 nautical miles) to its range. The range of this aircraft is 15,400Km (8,300 nautical miles) which is equivalent to flying Hong Kong to New York.
The A380-800F which is designed to carry 150 tonnes of cargo over a range of 10,400 Km (5,600 nautical miles) has been put on hold while Airbus concentrates on the passenger side of the market.
There is also an A380-900 stretch version on the drawing board which could carry 656 passengers in a three-class configuration or 960 passengers in an all economy version. The current wing area already is rated for the extra weight this would incur, however, strengthening of certain areas would still need to be undertaken.
If there is more you want to learn about this airliner, please visit; A380 Specs, A380 Assembly, A380 Order Book, A380 Interior and A380 History.
We welcome your comment below, is there more we could be showing or are there topics you would like to see? Thank you.