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What is the History behind the Airbus A380 Super Jumbo?

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History of the Airbus A380

The 555 seat, double deck Airbus A380 aircraft is the most ambitious civil aircraft program yet. On entering service in October 2007, the Airbus A380 was and is the world’s largest airliner, easily eclipsing Boeing’s 747.

Airbus first began studies on a very large 500 seat airliner in the early 1990s. The European manufacturer saw developing a competitor and successor to the Boeing 747 as a strategic play to end Boeing’s dominance of the very large airliner market and round out Airbus’ product line-up. Airbus began engineering development work on such an aircraft, then designated the A3XX, in June 1994. Airbus studied numerous design configurations for the A3XX and gave serious consideration to a single deck aircraft which would have seated 12 abreast and twin vertical tails. However, Airbus settled upon a twin deck configuration, largely because of the significantly lighter structure required. Key design aims include the ability to use existing airport infrastructure with little modifications to the airports, and direct operating costs per seat 15-20% less than those for the 747-400. With 49% more floor space and only 35% more seating than the previous largest aircraft, Airbus is ensuring wider seats and aisles for more passenger comfort.

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 at Heathrow

A Malaysia Airlines A380 at Heathrow.

Using the most advanced technologies, the A380 is also designed to have 10-15% more range, lower fuel burn and emissions, and less noise. The A380 would feature an advanced version of the Airbus common two crew cockpit, with pull-out keyboards for the pilots, extensive use of composite materials such as GLARE, and four 320 to 347kN (72,000 to 78,000lb) class Rolls Royce Trent 900 or Engine Alliance (General Electric/Pratt and Whitney) GP-7200 turbofans now under development.

Several A380 models are planned: the basic aircraft is the 555 seat A380-800 and high gross weight A380-800, with the longer range A380-800R planned.

Future models will include the shortened, 480 seat A380-700, and the stretched, 656 seat, A380-900. (The -700, -800, and -900 designations were chosen to reflect that the A380 will enter service as a fully developed aircraft and that the basic models will not be soon replaced by more improved variants). A380 final assembly takes place in Toulouse, France, with interior fitment in Hamburg, Germany. Major A380 part assemblies are transported to Toulouse by ship, barge and road.


The first two A380s pass each other at Sydney Airport.


An Air France A380 in flight.

A380 History Time Line

Date  Event
 1988  A team of engineers at Airbus began work to design a ultra-high-capacity airliner (UHCA) to compete with Boeings’ 747 stranglehold of that market
 September 1990  The announcement to go ahead with an ultra-high-capacity airliner (UHCA) project was made at the Farnborough airshow.
 January 1993  Boeing and several Airbus related companies start a joint study into a Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT)
 June 1994  Airbus announce they will be going it alone to develop their own Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT) which they designated the A3XX
 19 December 2000  The board of the newly restructured Airbus, approved €8.8-billion to go ahead with the rechristened A380 project.
 23 January 2002  The design having been finalised the previous year, construction starts on the first wing box.
 18 January 2005  The first of 5 test A380s was unveiled in Toulouse. Her registration was F-WWOW.
 27 April 2005  The maiden flight of the A380, registration F-WWOW, took place at 10:29am, French time and lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes. This was using Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.
 June 2005 Customers for the A380 were advised to expect a 6-month delay due to wiring problems.
 01 December 2005 The A380 achieved its maximum design speed of mach .96 in a shallow dive.
 10 January 2006 First trans-Atlantic test to José María Córdova International Airport in Colombia.
06 February 2006 Cold climate testing was performed at Iqaluit, Nunavut in Canada.
 14 February 2006 Stress testing of the wing revealed that the wing broke at 146% of the required level instead of 150%. Further strengthening was added which increased the weight by 30Kg.
  26 March 2006 In Hamburg a test with 853 passengers and 20 crew managed to evacuate a darkened A380 with half the exits blocked in 78 seconds.  The requirement is for this to be achieved in under 90 seconds.
 29 March 2006 Type approval for the A380 was received from both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
 13 June 2006 A380 customers were advised of a further delay with a slippage of a further 6 to 7 months.
 25 August 2006 A380, registration F-WWEA first flew using the Engine Alliance GP7200.  Engine Alliance was a 50/50 alliance between General Electric and Pratt and Whitney.
 04 September 2006 Passenger facilities and comfort testing began using 474 Airbus employees.
 03 October 2006 A third delay of the A380 was advised to customers with the first delivery being slated for October 2007.
 15 October 2007 The first Airbus A380, registration 9V-SKA, was delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines.
 25 October 2007 The first commercial flight of the A380 took place from Singapore to Sydney.  All seats were auctioned off for charity.


If there is more you want to learn about this airliner, please visit: A380 HomeA380  Specs,  A380 Order BookA380 Interior and A380 Assembly.
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13 thoughts on “What is the History behind the Airbus A380 Super Jumbo?”

    1. Hi Eliecer,

      first let me translate your comment to English for others: ”
      I am fond of airplanes thank you very much for this article of Airbus A380 … very complete”

      I thank you for your comment and hope that our other pages interest your as well, thank you for stopping by.

      “Te agradezco tu comentario y espero que nuestras otras páginas también te interesen, gracias por pasar por aquí.”

      Kind regards Peter

    1. Hi Peter,

      as you can gather it was written quite some time ago when the A380 was still new and there were very few opportunities to actually see one for yourself. Livinig in Sydneyu we were fortunate to have one of the first services of the A380 on the Singapore to Sydney route.
      It’s funny to think that those first A380s of Singapore Airlines that feature in the site are now about to be retired from Singapore Airlines. It seems now that the age of the Superjumbo and the Jumbo are possibly going to come to a close or at least be less significant than was first predicted. Today surely belongs to the super twins, the Boeing 777, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A350 XWB and the Airbus A330. With advances in engine technology, these twin engined giants are achieving ETOPS certification to allow them to fly anywhere on the globe at much lower costs.
      Thanks for stopping by Peter.

      Regards Peter

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  2. Hello.
    I wwnt to tell you that I’m using this site for a long
    time and you put very good content. I shared your newest post on twitter and got a lot of positive feedback.

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    1. Hi Hungs and thank you for your feedback. We appreciate our readers giving us feedback. You can actually rate us now, you will find the rating widget on the right hand side.
      Thank you again.
      Cheers Peter

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