Airbus A380 Specifications
The A380-800 has a standard seating layout for 555 passengers on two decks in a three-class configuration. This will vary from airline to airline. QANTAS, for example, has fitted its aircraft out with 523 seats in three classes. The A380 has 49% more floor area but only 35% more seats than the Boeing 747-400 which it was set to compete against (this is in the 555 seat configuration). This allows more room for passenger amenities such as bars, gymnasiums and duty-free shops at the airline’s discretion. Of course, these amenities are all very well at the conceptual stage, but economic pressures add a bit of a reality check and to date, no airline has added these amenities, save for First Class cabins on Emirates and Singapore Airlines.
In April 2018 Airbus announced plans to offer passenger sleeping berth modules that would be able to be slotted into the cargo hold. These modules would be able to be inserted and removed just like cargo containers and could be slotted in for certain legs of a flight. As well as sleeping berths there could be options to slot in conference rooms, lounge areas, to name a few. We feel that economics will somehow come back into play and that the airline company accountant might be hard-pressed to find a justification for leaving cargo behind in favour of some added passenger comfort. Unless of course, the airline can convince their travelling public to pay enough of a premium for these extra services.
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 test-bed in May 2004.
Goodrich supplies the engine sensor system for the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 and Ametek the sensor system for the Engine Alliance GP7200. BAe supplies Systems Controls and Hispano-Suiza provides the FADEC (Full Authority Digital Electronic Control) system for the GP7200.
The take-off length for the Airbus A380 800 is 2,900m at maximum weight at sea level, ISA +15° conditions and the initial cruise altitude is 35,000ft. The aircraft complies with the noise emission limits of ICAO (Chapter 3, Schedule 16) for overflying, approach and side-on manoeuvres including 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 320,000 Litres of fuel. Refuelling can be carried out in 40mins.
The 22-wheel Goodrich landing gear consists of two under-wing struts each with four wheels, two central under-fuselage struts each with six wheels and a twin nose wheel. Each landing gear supports about 167tonnes. Messier-Dowty supplies the nose landing gear with 350bar hydraulic pressure and Messier-Bugatti the braking and steering systems. Smiths Aerospace supplies 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, provides 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. The maximum operating speed is Mach 0.89 and the range is 15,000km or 8,000nm with the maximum number of passengers. The turnaround time at the airport terminal, including passenger disembarkation, cleaning, restocking and embarking the passengers for the next flight is a minimum of 90 minutes.
In order to make the A380 even better and naturally more saleable to airlines, Airbus have undertaken a program of updates and improvements. These A380 Plus updates have one main focus and that is the economy of operation. Whilst there is a sector of the market that benefits from the luxury offers of deluxe personalised cabins and the like, a strong case for using the A380 is its capability of moving a huge number of people for a relatively low cost. Airbus expects a 4% saving on fuel burn and with several other modifications a per seat saving on overhead costs of 13%.
So what is the A380 Plus and how will it differ from the current A380?
Firstly, aerodynamics. The A380 might be seen as rather curious as it did not come to market originally with winglets. Winglets offer the ability to generate more lift without adding substantially to wingspan. Too much wingspan, of course, incurs the need for wider gate areas at airports which is a huge additional overhead. The generation of more lift, of course, is a major factor in reducing fuel burn. The design of the winglets is similar to the split configuration of the Boeing 737 MAX, with the larger upward-pointing winglets (uplet) being 3.5 metres and the downward-pointing winglets (downlet) being 1.5 metres.
This additional lift also gives the opportunity to carry more payload. To this end, Airbus is increasing the available deck space in the passenger cabin by, making the fore and aft staircase more functional so they take less space. So gone is the nice sweeping staircase in the rear. Also where there are bins beneath the windows, these will now be removed giving more available space to the width of the cabin. The improved lift will enable an increase to the Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) of 570 tonnes which could be translated to varying 80 more passengers or flying 300nm further than today’s range of 8,200nm. Airbus says that the average seat configuration chosen by airlines is 497 in total and that this could rise to 575 in the A380 Plus.
Emirates have been pressuring Airbus for a NEO (New Engine Option) version of the A380, however, Airbus is reluctant to commit to the huge development costs while sales of the aircraft are so soft. The current A380 Plus features go some way to achieving the economic savings airlines are looking for.
Airbus A380 Spec Table
|Typical Seating||555 passengers|
|Airbus A380 Price (average)||US$375.3 Million|
|Length||73 Metres (239 Feet 6 Inches)|
|Height||24.1 Metres (79 Feet)|
|Fuselage Diameter||7.14 Metres (23 Feet 5 Inches)|
|Cabin Length||50.68 Metres (166 Feet 4 Inches)|
|Maximum Cabin Width, Main Deck||6.58 Metres (21 Feet 6 Inches)|
|Maximum Cabin Width, Upper Deck||5.92 Metres (19 Feet 11 Inches)|
|Wheel Base||30.4 Metres (99 Feet 9 Inches)|
|Track||14.3 Metres (46 Feet 11 Inches)|
|Wing Area||843 Square Metres (9,096 Square Feet)|
|Wing Span||79.8m (261 Feet 10 Inches)|
|Sweep, 25% of Chord||33.5%|
|Maximum Ramp Weight||562,000kg (1,238,998lb)
|Maximum Take-off Weight||560,000kg (1,234,600lb)|
|Maximum Landing Weight||386,000kg (850,984lb)|
|Maximum Zero Fuel Weight||361,000kg (795869lb)|
|Maximum Fuel Capacity||320,000 Litres (84,535 U.S. Gallons)|
|Typical Operating Empty Weight||277,000kg (610,700lb)|
|Typical Volume Payload||664,000kg (1,463,869lb)|
|Powerplants||A380-800 – Four 311kN (70,000lb), initially de-rated to 302kN (68,000lb), later growing to 374kN (84,000lb) thrust
Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or 363kN (81,500lb) thrust Engine Alliance (General Electric-Pratt & Whitney) GP-7200 turbofans.
|Range with Maximum Number of Passengers||15,000 Km (8,000 Nm)|
|Maximum Operating Speed||0.89 Mach|
|Long Range Cruising Speed||0.85 Mach|
|Service Ceiling||43.000ft (13,100m)|
|Total Freight and Cargo Volume||171 Cubic Metres (6,039 Cubic Feet)|
|Bulk Hold Volume||18.4 Cubic Metres (650 Cubic Feet)|
|Maximum Volume of Pallets||Under Floor 13 Pallets|
|Container Capacity||Underfloor 38 LD3 containers|