The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage. This allows for a cabin with 50% more floor space than the next-largest airliner, the Boeing 747-400, and provides seating for 525 people in standard three-class configuration, or up to 853 people in all economy class configuration. The A380 is offered in passenger and freighter versions. The A380-800, the passenger model, is the largest passenger airliner in the world, but has a shorter fuselage than the Airbus A340-600 which is Airbus' next biggest passenger aeroplane. The A380-800F, the freighter model, is offered as one of the largest freight aircraft, with a listed payload capacity exceeded only by the Antonov An-225. The A380-800 has a design range of 15,200 kilometres (8,200 nmi), sufficient to fly from New York to Hong Kong for example, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph at cruise altitude).
The new Airbus is sold in two models. The A380-800 was originally designed to carry 555 passengers in a three-class configuration or 853 passengers (538 on the main deck and 315 on the upper deck) in a single-class economy configuration. In May 2007, Airbus began marketing the same aircraft to customers with 30 fewer passengers (now 525 passengers) traded for 370 km (200 nmi) more range, to better reflect trends in premium class accommodation. The design range for the -800 model is 15,200 km (8,200 nmi). The second model, the A380-800F freighter, will carry 150 tonnes of cargo 10,400 km (5,600 nmi). Future variants may include an A380-900 stretch seating about 656 passengers (or up to 960 passengers in an all economy configuration) and an extended range version with the same passenger capacity as the A380-800.
The A380's wing is sized for a Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) over 650 tonnes in order to accommodate these future versions, albeit with some strengthening required. The stronger wing (and structure) is used on the A380-800F freighter. This common design approach sacrifices some fuel efficiency on the A380-800 passenger model, but Airbus estimates that the size of the aircraft, coupled with the advances in technology described below, will provide lower operating costs per passenger than all current variants of Boeing 747. The A380 also features wingtip fences similar to those found on the A310 and A320 to alleviate the effects of wake turbulence, increasing fuel efficiency and performance.
1. Flight Deck
Airbus A380 seat map.
Airbus used similar cockpit layout, procedures and handling characteristics to those of other Airbus aircraft, to reduce crew training costs. Accordingly, the A380 features an improved glass cockpit, and fly-by-wire flight controls linked to side-sticks. The improved cockpit displays feature eight 15-by-20 cm (6-by-8-inch) liquid crystal displays, all of which are physically identical and interchangeable. These comprise two Primary Flight Displays, two navigation displays, one engine parameter display, one system display and two Multi-Function Displays. These MFDs are new with the A380, and provide an easy-to-use interface to the flight management system—replacing three multifunction control and display units. They include QWERTY keyboards and trackballs, interfacing with a graphical "point-and-click" display navigation system. One or two HUD (Head Up Display) is optional.
The A380 can be fitted with two different types of engines: A380-841, A380-842 and A380-843F with Rolls-Royce Trent 900, and the A380-861 and A380-863F with Engine Alliance GP7000 turbofans. The Trent 900 is a derivative of the Trent 800, and the GP7000 has roots from the GE90 and PW4000. The Trent 900 core is a scaled version of the Trent 500, but incorporates the swept fan technology of the stillborn Trent 8104. The GP7200 has a GE90-derived core and PW4090-derived fan and low-pressure turbo-machinery. Only two of the four engines are fitted with thrust reversers.
Noise reduction was an important requirement in the A380's design, and particularly affects engine design. Both engine types allow the aircraft to achieve QC/2 departure and QC/0.5 arrival noise limits under the Quota Count system set by London Heathrow Airport, which is expected to become a key destination for the A380.
The A380 can run on mixed synthetic jet fuel with a natural-gas-derived component. A three hour test flight on Friday, February 1st, 2008 between the Airbus company facility at Filton in the UK to the main Airbus factory in Toulouse, France, was a success. One of the A380's four engines used a mix of 60 percent standard jet kerosene and 40 percent gas to liquids (GTL) fuel. The aircraft needed no modification to use the GTL fuel, which was designed to be mixed with regular jet fuel. Sebastien Remy, head of Airbus SAS's alternative fuel program, said the GTL used was no cleaner in CO2 terms than regular fuel but it had local air quality benefits because it contains no sulphur.
4. Advanced materials
While most of the fuselage is aluminium, composite materials make up 25% of the A380's airframe, by weight. Carbon-fibre reinforced plastic, glass-fibre reinforced plastic and quartz-fibre reinforced plastic are used extensively in wings, fuselage sections (such as the undercarriage and rear end of fuselage), tail surfaces, and doors. The A380 is the first commercial airliner with a central wing box made of carbon fibre reinforced plastic, and it is the first to have a wing cross-section that is smoothly contoured. Other commercial airliners have wings that are partitioned span-wise in sections. The flowing, continuous cross-section allows for maximum aerodynamic efficiency. Thermoplastics are used in the leading edges of the slats. The new material GLARE (GLAss-REinforced fibre metal laminate) is used in the upper fuselage and on the stabilizers' leading edges. This aluminium-glass-fibre laminate is lighter and has better corrosion and impact resistance than conventional aluminium alloys used in aviation. Unlike earlier composite materials, it can be repaired using conventional aluminium repair techniques. Newer weldable aluminium alloys are also used. This enables the widespread use of laser beam welding manufacturing techniques — eliminating rows of rivets and resulting in a lighter, stronger structure.
5. Passenger Provisions
The A380 produces 50% less cabin noise than a 747 and has higher cabin air pressure (equivalent to an altitude of 1500 metres (5000 feet) versus 2500 metres (8000 feet)); both features are expected to reduce the effects of travel fatigue. The upper and lower decks are connected by two stairways, fore and aft, wide enough to accommodate two passengers side-by-side. In a 555-passenger configuration, the A380 has 33% more seats than a 747-400 in a standard three-class configuration but 50% more cabin area and volume, resulting in more space per passenger. Its maximum certified carrying capacity is 853 passengers in an all-economy-class configuration.
Compared to a 747, the A380 has larger windows and overhead bins, and 60 cm (2 feet) of extra headroom. The wider cabin allows for 48 cm (19 inch) wide economy seats instead of 43 cm (17 inch) seats on a 747, although the seat pitch of 81 cm (32 inch) is the same as that on a 747. Singapore Airline's economy-class seats feature 27 cm (10.6 inch) LCD screens in each seatback, as well as an AC power supply in most seats; business-class seats are 84 cm (34 inches) wide, can lie flat for sleeping, and have 39 cm (15.4 inch) LCD screens.
Airbus' initial publicity stressed the comfort and space of the A380's cabin, anticipating installations such as relaxation areas, bars, duty-free shops, and beauty salons. Virgin Atlantic Airways already offers a bar as part of its "Upper Class" service on its A340 and 747 aircraft, and has announced plans to include casinos, double beds, and gymnasiums on its A380s. Singapore Airlines offers twelve fully-enclosed first-class suites on its A380, each with one full and one secondary seat, full-sized bed, desk, personal storage, and 58-cm (23-inch) LCD screen at a 20% to 25% price premium over standard first class seating. Four of these suites are in the form of two "double" suites featuring a double bed. Emirates has not yet revealed their front-end A380 product although Qantas Airways has shown their product which features a long flat-bed that converts from the seat but does not have privacy doors. The Times (UK) newspaper has revealed that Emirates' first class passengers, will be able to shower on the A380.
Integration in the Infrastructure...
Early critics claimed that the A380 would damage taxiways and other airport surfaces. However, the pressure exerted by its wheels is lower than that of a Boeing 747 or Boeing 777 because the A380 has 22 wheels, four more than the 747, and eight more than the 777. Airbus measured pavement loads using a 540-tonne (595 short tons) ballasted test rig, designed to replicate the landing gear of the A380. The rig was towed over a section of pavement at Airbus' facilities that had been instrumented with embedded load sensors.
Based on its wingspan, the U.S. F.A.A. classifies the A380 as a Design Group VI aircraft, and originally required a width of 60 m (200 ft) for runways and 30 m (100 ft) for taxiways, compared with 45 m (150 ft) and 23 m (75 ft) for Design Group V aircraft such as the Boeing 747. The FAA also considered limiting the taxi speed of the A380 to 25 km/h (15 mph) when operating on Group V infrastructure, but issued waivers related to the speed restriction and some of the proposed runway widening requirements. Airbus claimed from the beginning that the A380 could safely operate on Group V runways and taxiways, without the need for widening. In July 2007, the FAA and EASA agreed to let the A380 operate on 45 m runways without restrictions.
The A380 was designed to fit within an 80 × 80 m airport gate, and can land or take off on any runway that can accommodate a Boeing 747. Its large wingspan can require some taxiway and apron reconfigurations, to maintain safe separation margins when two of the aircraft pass each other. Taxiway shoulders may be required to be paved to reduce the likelihood of foreign object damage caused to (or by) the outboard engines, which overhang more than 25 m (80 ft) from the centre line of the aircraft. Any taxiway or runway bridge must be capable of supporting the A380's maximum weight. The terminal gate must be sized such that the A380's wings do not block adjacent gates, and may also provide multiple jetway bridges for simultaneous boarding on both decks. Service vehicles with lifts capable of reaching the upper deck should be obtained, as well as tractors capable of handling the A380's maximum ramp weight. The A380 test aircraft have participated in a campaign of airport compatibility testing to verify the modifications already made at several large airports, visiting a number of airports around the world.
2.Take-off and Landing Seperation
In 2005, the ICAO recommended that provisional separation criteria for the A380 on takeoff and landing be substantially greater than for the 747 because preliminary flight test data suggested a stronger wake turbulence for the first. These criteria were in effect while the ICAO's wake vortex steering group, with representatives from the J.A.A., Eurocontrol, the F.A.A., and Airbus, refined its 3-year study of the issue with additional flight testing. In September 2006, the working group presented its first conclusions to the ICAO, which rendered new interim recommendations on the issue in November 2006.
The ICAO advised that an aircraft trailing an A380 during approach should maintain a separation of 6 nmi, 8 nmi and 10 nmi respectively for non-A380 "Heavy", "Medium", and "Light" ICAO aircraft categories, compared with 4 nmi, 5 nmi and 6 nmi spacing for other "Heavy" aircraft. Another A380 following an A380 should maintain a separation of 4 nmi. On departure behind an A380, non-A380 "Heavy" aircraft are required to wait two minutes, and "Medium"/"Light" aircraft three minutes for time based operations. The ICAO also advised to use the suffix "Super" to the air traffic control to distinguish the A380 from other "Heavy" aircraft.
Airbus continued undertaking extensive comparative trials until December 2007 and expects the ICAO's wake vortex steering group to issue revised distances similar to those required by the Boeing 747.
Parallel to the design of the A380, Airbus conducted the most extensive and thorough ever undertaken market analysis in commercial aviation. As of 2007, Airbus estimated a demand for 1,283 passenger planes in the category VLA (Very Large Aircraft, with more than 400 seats) for the next 20 years if the airport congestion remains at the actual level. If the congestion increases, the demand could reach up to 1,771 VLAs. Most of this demand will be due to the urbanization and rapid economic growth in Asia.
The A380 will be used at relatively few routes, between the most saturated airports. Airbus also estimates a demand for 415 freighters in the category 120-tonne plus. Boeing, who offers the only competition in that class, the 747-8, estimates the demand for passenger VLAs at 590 and that for freighter VLAs at 370 for the period 2007-2026. In 2006 two industry analysts anticipated 400 and 880 A380 sales respectively by 2025.
As of February 2008, there were 191 orders for the A380, while there were 20 for the 747-8I (both not including VIP orders) and 81 for the 747-8F. The break-even for the A380 was initially supposed to be reached at 270 units. Due to the delays and the falling exchange rate of the US dollar, it increased to 420 units. In April 2007, Airbus CEO Louis Gallois said that break-even had risen further, but declined to give the new figure. As of April 2008, the list price of an A380 was US$ 317.2 to 337.5 million, depending on equipment installed.
- Cockpit Crew: 2
- Seating Capacity: 525 (3-class).
- 644 (2-class).
- 853 (1-class).
- Length: 73 m (239 ft. 6 in.).
- Span: 79.8 m (261 ft. 10 in.).
- Height: 24.1 m (79 ft. 1 in.).
- Wheelbase: 30.4 m (99 ft. 8 in.).
- Outside fuselage width: 7.14 m (23 ft. 6 in.).
- Cabin width, main deck: 6.60 m (21 ft. 8 in.).
- Cabin width, upper deck: 5.94 m (19 ft. 6 in.).
- Wing Area: 845 m2 (9 100 sq. ft.).
- Operating empty weight: 276 800 kg (610 200 lb.).
- Maximum take-off weight: 560 000 kg (1 235 000 lb.).
- Maximum Payload: 90 800 kg (200 000 lb.).
- Cruising Speed: Mach 0.85.
- Maximum Cruising Speed: Mach 0.89.
- Maximum Speed: Mach 0.96.
- Take-off Run at M.T.O.W.: 2 750 m (9 020 ft.).
- Range at design load: 15 200 km (8 200 nmi.).
- Service Ceiling: 13 115 m (43 000 ft.).
- Maximum Feul Capacity: 310 000 L (81 890 US Gal.).
- Engines (4x).: GP7270 (A380-861).
- Trent 970/B (A380-841).
- Trent 972/B (A380-842).
- Cockpit Crew: 2
- Seating Capacity: 12 couriers
- Length: 73 m (239 ft 6 in)
- Span: 79.8 m (261 ft 10 in)
- Height: 24.1 m (79 ft 1 in)
- Wheelbase: 30.4 m (99 ft 8 in)
- Outside fuselage width: 7.14 m (23 ft 6 in)
- Cabin width, main deck: 6.60 m (21 ft 8 in)
- Cabin width, upper deck: 5.94 m (19 ft 6 in)
- Wing area: 845 m² (9,100 sq ft)
- Operating empty weight: 252,200 kg (556,000 lb)
- Maximum take-off weight: 590,000 kg (1,300,000 lb)
- Maximum payload: 152,400 kg (336,000 lb)
- Cruising speed: Mach 0.85
- Maximum cruising speed: Mach 0.89
- Maximum speed: Mach 0.96
- Take off run at M.T.O.W.: 2,900 m (9,510 ft)
- Range at design load: 10,400 km (5,600 nmi)
- Service ceiling: 13,115 m (43,000 ft)
- Maximum fuel capacity: 310,000 L (81,890 US gal),356,000 L (94,000 US gal) option
- Engines (4 x): GP7277 (A380-863F)Trent 977/B (A380-843F)