Aircraft Profile – Airbus A380
Aircraft Profile – Airbus A380 :
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, an EADS subsidiary.
The largest passenger airliner in the world, the A380 made its maiden flight on 27 April 2005 from Toulouse, France, and made its first commercial flight on 25 October 2007 from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines. The aircraft was known as the Airbus A3XX during much of its development phase, but the nickname Superjumbo has since become associated with it.
In the summer of 1988 a group of Airbus engineers, led by Jean Roeder, began working in secret on the development of a ultra-high-capacity airliner (UHCA), both to complete its own range of products and to break the dominance that Boeing had enjoyed in this market segment since the early 1970s with its 747. McDonnell Douglas unsuccessfully offered its smaller, double-deck MD-12 concept for sale. As each manufacturer looked to build a successor to the 747, they knew there was room for only one new aircraft to be profitable in the 600 to 800 seat market segment. Each knew the risk of splitting such a niche market, as had been demonstrated by the simultaneous debut of the Lockheed L-1011 and the McDonnell Douglas DC-10: both planes met the market’s needs, but the market could profitably sustain only one model, eventually resulting in Lockheed’s departure from the civil airliner business.
Roeder was given approval for further evaluations of the UHCA after a formal presentation to the President and CEO in June 1990. The project was announced at the 1990 Farnborough Air Show, with the stated goal of 15 % lower operating costs than the 747-400. Airbus organized four teams of designers, one from each of its EADS partners (Aérospatiale, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, British Aerospace, EADS CASA) to propose new technologies for its future aircraft designs. The designs would be presented in 1992 and the most competitive designs would be used. In January 1993, Boeing and several companies in the Airbus consortium started a joint feasibility study of an aircraft known as the Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT), aiming to form a partnership to share the limited market.
On 19 December 2000, the supervisory board of newly restructured Airbus voted to launch a €8.8 billion program to build the A3XX, re-christened as the A380, with 55 orders from six launch customers. The A380 designation was a break from previous Airbus families, which had progressed sequentially from A300 to A340. It was chosen because the number 8 resembles the double-deck cross section, and is a lucky number in some Asian countries where the aircraft was being marketed. The aircraft’s final configuration was frozen in early 2001, and manufacturing of the first A380 wing box component started on 23 January 2002. The development cost of the A380 had grown to €11 billion when the first aircraft was completed.
Boeing, meanwhile, resurrected the 747X programme several times before finally launching the 747-8 Intercontinental in November 2005 (with entry into service planned for 2009). Boeing chose to develop a derivative for the 400 to 500 seat market, instead of matching the A380′s capacity.
Major structural sections of the A380 are built in France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Due to their size, they are brought to the assembly hall in Toulouse in France by surface transportation, rather than by the A300-600ST Beluga aircraft used for other Airbus models. Components of the A380 are provided by suppliers from around the world; the five largest contributors, by value, are Rolls-Royce, SAFRAN, United Technologies, General Electric, and Goodrich.
The front and rear sections of the fuselage are loaded on an Airbus Roll-on/roll-off (RORO) ship, Ville de Bordeaux, in Hamburg in northern Germany, from where they are shipped to the United Kingdom. The wings, which are manufactured at Filton in Bristol and Broughton in North Wales, are transported by barge to Mostyn docks, where the ship adds them to its cargo. In Saint-Nazaire in western France, the ship trades the fuselage sections from Hamburg for larger, assembled sections, some of which include the nose. The ship unloads in Bordeaux. Afterwards, the ship picks up the belly and tail sections by Construcciones Aeronáuticas SA in Cádiz in southern Spain, and delivers them to Bordeaux. From there, the A380 parts are transported by barge to Langon, and by oversize road convoys to the assembly hall in Toulouse. New wider roads, canal systems and barges were developed to deliver the A380 parts. After assembly, the aircraft are flown to Hamburg, XFW to be furnished and painted. It takes 3,600 litres (950 gallons) of paint to cover the 3,100 m² (33,000 ft²) exterior of an A380.
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 in three classes) 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.