Aircraft Wiki
Airbus A380
An A380 taking off at the 2007 Paris Air Show.

An A380 taking off at the 2007 Paris Air Show.

Role Passenger Plane
Crew 2-4
Passengers 525 in 3-class configuration
853 maximum
First flight April 27, 2005
Entered service October 25, 2007
Manufacturer Airbus
Produced 251
Length 238 ft 7 in 72.72 m
Wingspan 261 ft 8 in 79.75 m
Height 79 ft 24.09 m
Wing area 9,100 sq ft 845 sq m
Empty 611,000 lb 277,145 kg
Maximum takeoff 1,268,000 lb 575,155.13 kg
Engine 4 × Rolls Royce Trent970, Rolls Royce Trent 972, and Engine Alliance GP7270
Power (each) 320KN (72.000 lbs)
Maximum speed 587.2 mph 945 k/hr
Cruising speed 561.1 mph 903 k/hr
Range 8,000 nmi 14,800 km
Ceiling 43,028 ft 13,115 m
Rate of climb

The Airbus A380 is a two-leveled, four-engined jet airliner created by Airbus S.A.S. Its first flight was on 7 April 2005. It is the world's largest passenger aircraft, capable of carrying up to 853 passengers or 525 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.

As of 2019, 239 aircraft have been delivered. It began commercial operations with Singapore Airlines in late 2007.

The A380-800 has a range of 14,800 km (8,000mi), and a cruising speed of 562 knots (1041 km/h), and a max speed of 640 knots or mach 0.97 (1185 km/h).



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.[1] 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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

In June 1994, Airbus began developing its own very large airliner, designated the A3XX. Airbus considered several designs, including an odd side-by-side combination of two fuselages from the A340, which was Airbus’s largest jet at the time.[5] The A3XX was pitted against the VLCT study and Boeing’s own New Large Aircraft successor to the 747, which evolved into the 747X, a stretched version of the 747 with the fore body "hump" extended rearwards to accommodate more passengers. The joint VLCT effort ended in April 1995, and Boeing suspended the 747X program in January 1997. From 1997 to 2000, as the East Asian financial crisis darkened the market outlook, Airbus refined its design, targeting a 15 to 20 percent reduction in operating costs over the existing Boeing 747-400. The A3XX design converged on a double-decker layout that provided more passenger volume than a traditional single-deck design.

Design phase[]

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.[5] 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, studied multiple 747-400 derivative designs before finally launching the Boeing 747-8 in November 2005 (with entry into service planned for 2009). Boeing chose to develop a variant 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.[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.

Airbus sized the production facilities and supply chain for a production rate of four A380s per month.[7]


Five A380s were built for testing and demonstration purposes.[9]

The first A380, serial number MSN001 and registration F-WWOW, was unveiled at a ceremony in Toulouse on 18 January 2005. Its maiden flight took place at 8:29 UTC (10:29 a.m. local time) 27 April 2005. This plane, equipped with Trent 900 engines, flew from Toulouse Blagnac International Airport with a flight crew of six headed by chief test pilot Jacques Rosay. After successfully landing three hours and 54 minutes later, Rosay said flying the A380 had been “like handling a bicycle” .[10]

On 1 December 2005 the A380 achieved its maximum design speed of Mach 0.96 (versus normal cruising speed of Mach 0.85), in a shallow dive, completing the opening of the flight envelope.[9]

On 10 January 2006 the A380 made its first transatlantic flight to Medellín in Colombia, to test engine performance at a high altitude airport. It arrived in North America on 6 February, landing in Iqaluit, Nunavut in Canada for cold-weather testing.[11]

On 14 February 2006, during the destructive wing strength certification test on MSN5000, the test wing of the A380 failed at 145% of the limit load, short of the required 150% to meet the certification. Airbus announced modifications adding 30 kg to the wing to provide the required strength.[12]

On 26 March 2006 the A380 underwent evacuation certification in Hamburg in Germany. With 8 of the 16 exits blocked, 853 passengers and 20 crew left the aircraft in 78 seconds, less than the 90 seconds required by certification standards.[13]

Three days later, the A380 received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval to carry up to 853 passengers.[14]

The maiden flight of the first A380 using GP7200 engines - serial number MSN009 and registration F-WWEA - took place on 25 August 2006.

On 4 September 2006 the first full passenger-carrying flight test took place.[15] The aircraft flew from Toulouse with 474 Airbus employees on board, in the first of a series of flights to test passenger facilities and comfort.

In November 2006, a further series of route proving flights took place to demonstrate the aircraft's performance for 150 flight hours under typical airline operating conditions.

Airbus obtained type certificate for the A380-841 and A380-842 model from the EASA and FAA on 12 December 2006 in a joint ceremony at the company's French headquarters.[16][17] The A380-861 model obtained the type certificate 14 December 2007.[17]

As of February 2008, the five A380s in the test programme had logged over 4,565 hours during 1,364 flights, including route proving and demonstration flights.

Delivery delays[]

Initial production of the A380 was troubled by delays attributed to the 530 km (330 miles) of wiring in each aircraft. Airbus cited as underlying causes the complexity of the cabin wiring (100,000 wires and 40,300 connectors), its concurrent design and production, the high degree of customization for each airline, and failures of configuration management and change control.[18][19] Specifically, it would appear that German and Spanish Airbus facilities continued to use CATIA version 4, while British and French sites migrated to version 5. This caused overall configuration management problems, at least in part because wiring harnesses manufactured using aluminium rather than copper conductors necessitated special design rules including non-standard dimensions and bend radii: these were not easily transferred between versions of the software.[20]

Airbus announced the first delay in June 2005 and notified airlines that delivery would slip by six months. This reduced the number of planned deliveries by the end of 2009 from about 120 to 90–100. On 13 June 2006, Airbus announced a second delay, with the delivery schedule undergoing an additional shift of six to seven months. Although the first delivery was still planned before the end of 2006, deliveries in 2007 would drop to only 9 aircraft, and deliveries by the end of 2009 would be cut to 70–80 aircraft. The announcement caused a 26% drop in the share price of Airbus's parent, EADS, and led to the departure of EADS CEO Noël Forgeard, Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert, and A380 programme manager Charles Champion.[21] On 3 October 2006, upon completion of a review of the A380 program, the CEO of Airbus, Christian Streiff, announced a third delay, pushing the first delivery to October 2007, to be followed by 13 deliveries in 2008, 25 in 2009, and the full production rate of 45 aircraft per year in 2010.[22] The delay also increased the earnings shortfall projected by Airbus through 2010 to €4.8 billion.[23]

As Airbus prioritized the work on the A380-800 over the A380-800F, freighter orders were cancelled (FedEx,[24] UPS[25]) or converted to A380-800 (Emirates, ILFC[26]). Airbus suspended work on the freighter version, but said it remained on offer,[27] albeit without a service entry date.[28] For the passenger version Airbus negotiated a revised delivery schedule and compensation with the 13 customers, all of which retained their orders with some placing subsequent orders (Emirates,[29] Singapore Airlines[30] Qantas,[31] Air France,[32] Qatar,[33] and Korean Air[34]).

The first A380 with redesigned wiring harnesses achieved power-on in April 2008, with a 3 1/2 month delay.[35] On 13 May 2008 Airbus announced reduced deliveries for the years 2008 (12) and 2009 (21).[36]

Entry into service[]

The first aircraft delivered, MSN003, (registered 9V-SKA) was handed over to Singapore Airlines on 15 October 2007 and entered into service on 25 October 2007 with a commercial flight between Singapore and Sydney (flight number SQ380).[37] Two months later Singapore Airlines CEO Chew Choong Seng said that the A380 was performing better than both the airline and Airbus had anticipated, burning 20% less fuel per passenger than the airline's existing 747-400 fleet.[38] Singapore Airlines operated its first two aircraft, in a 471-seat configuration, between Singapore and Sydney. This was then expanded to include Singapore–London from 18 March 2008 after the third aircraft was delivered.[39] A fourth aircraft was delivered to Singapore Airlines on the 26 April 2008 which enabled it to use the type on the Singapore-Tokyo route from 20 May.[40] On 2 August 2008 Singapore Airlines began the temporary use of the A380 to Beijing to meet increased demand for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing,[41] and on 4 August made the company's 1000th commercial flight with an A380.[42] Singapore Airlines operates six A380 aircraft as of September 2008.[43]

Emirates Airline was the second airline to take delivery of the A380 (registered A6-EDA) on 28 July 2008 and started flights between Dubai and New York [44] on 1 August 2008. [45] Emirates will begin flights between Dubai and London on 1 December 2008 and Dubai to Auckland (via Sydney) on 1 February 2009. [46]

The first aircraft for Qantas (third airline to take delivery of the A380), MSN014, (registered VH-OQA) was delivered to Qantas on 19 September 2008.[47] Qantas has announced it will use the A380, in a 450-seat configuration,[48] on its Melbourne to Los Angeles route from 20 October 2008. Subsequent routes include Sydney to Los Angeles and London [49]starting on the 24 October 2008.

Air France has said that its A380s will be used on its Paris to Montreal and New York routes. Lufthansa will be using the aircraft for its long-haul destinations to North America and Asia.


The new Airbus is sold in two models. The A380-800 was originally designed to carry 555 passengers in a three-class configuration[50] 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.[51] The design range for the -800 model is 15,200 km (8,200 nmi).[52] The second model, the A380-800F freighter, will carry 150 tonnes of cargo 10,400 km (5,600 nmi).[53] 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.[5]

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.[5] 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.

Flight deck[]

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.[54] 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.[55] One or two HUD (Head Up Display) is optional.[1]


The A380 can be fitted with two 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.[56] The GP7200 has a GE90-derived core and PW4090-derived fan and low-pressure turbo-machinery.[57] Only two of the four engines are fitted with thrust reversers.[58]

Noise reduction was an important requirement in the A380's design, and particularly affects engine design.[59][60] 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.[5] hh


The A380 can run on mixed synthetic jet fuel with a natural-gas-derived component. A three hour test flight on Friday, 1 February 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 supplied by Shell. 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.[61][62]

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.[63] Newer weldable aluminium alloys are also used. This enables the widespread use of laser beam welding manufacturing techniques[64] — eliminating rows of rivets and resulting in a lighter, stronger structure.

Avionics architecture[]

The A380 employs an Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA) architecture, first used in advanced military aircraft such as the F-22 Raptor, Eurofighter Typhoon, or Dassault Rafale. It is based on a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) design. Many previous dedicated single-purpose avionics computers are replaced by dedicated software housed in onboard processor modules and servers. This cuts the number of parts, provides increased flexibility without resorting to customised avionics, and reduces costs by using commercially available computing power.[55].

Together with IMA, the A380 avionics are very highly networked. The data communication networks use Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet, following the ARINC 664 standard. The data networks are switched, full-duplexed, star-topology and based on 100baseTX fast-Ethernet.[65] This reduces the amount of wiring required and minimizes latency. [66].

The Network Systems Server (NSS) is the heart of A380 paperless cockpit. It eliminates the bulky manuals and charts traditionally carried by the pilots. The NSS has enough inbuilt robustness to do away with onboard backup paper documents. The A380's network and server system stores data and offers electronic documentation, providing a required equipment list, navigation charts, performance calculations, and an aircraft logbook. All are accessible to the pilot from two additional 27 cm (11 inch) diagonal LCDs, each controlled by its own keyboard and control cursor device mounted in the foldable table in front of each pilot.[66]


Power-by-wire flight control actuators are used for the first time in civil service, backing up the primary hydraulic flight control actuators. During certain maneuvers, they augment the primary actuators. They have self-contained hydraulic and electrical power supplies. They are used as electro-hydrostatic actuators (EHA) in the aileron and elevator, and as electrical backup hydrostatic actuators (EBHA) for the rudder and some spoilers.[67]

The aircraft's 350 bar (35 MPa or 5,000 psi) hydraulic system is an improvement over the typical 210 bar (21 MPa or 3,000 psi) system found in other commercial aircraft since the 1940s. First used in military aircraft, higher pressure hydraulics reduce the size of pipelines, actuators and other components for overall weight reduction. The 350 bar pressure is generated by eight de-clutchable hydraulic pumps. Pipelines are typically made from titanium and the system features both fuel and air-cooled heat exchangers. The hydraulics system architecture also differs significantly from other airliners. Self-contained electrically powered hydraulic power packs, instead of a secondary hydraulic system, are the backups for the primary systems. This saves weight and reduces maintenance.

The A380 uses four 150 kVA variable-frequency electrical generators eliminating the constant speed drives for better reliability. The A380 uses aluminium power cables instead of copper for greater weight savings due to the number of cables used for an aircraft of this size and complexity. The electrical power system is fully computerized and many contactors and breakers have been replaced by solid-state devices for better performance and increased reliability.[67]

The A380 features a bulbless illumination system. LEDs are employed in the cabin, cockpit, cargo and other fuselage areas. The cabin lighting features programmable multi-spectral LEDs[68] capable of creating a cabin ambience simulating daylight, night or shades in between. On the outside of the aircraft, HID lighting is used to give brighter, whiter and better quality illumination. These two technologies provide brightness and a service life superior to traditional incandescent light bulbs.

The A380 was initially planned without thrust reversers, as Airbus believed it to have ample braking capacity. The FAA disagreed, and Airbus elected to fit only the two inboard engines with them. The two outboard engines do not have reversers, reducing the amount of debris stirred up during landing. The A380 features electrically actuated thrust reversers, giving them better reliability than their pneumatic or hydraulic equivalents, in addition to saving weight.

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 ft) versus 2500 metres (8000 ft)); both features are expected to reduce the effects of travel fatigue.[69] 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.[13] The two full-length decks and wide stairways allow multiple seat configurations of the Airbus A380. The announced configurations go from 450 (Qantas) up to 644 passengers (Emirates Airline two-class configuration).[70]

Compared to a 747, the A380 has larger windows and overhead bins, and 60 cm (2 ft) of extra headroom. The wider cabin allows for up to 48 cm (19 inch) wide economy seats at a 10 abreast configuration on the main deck,[71][72] while 10 abreast seating on the 747 has a seat width of only 43.7 cm (17.2 inch)[73] (seat pitch varies by airline).

Airbus' initial publicity stressed the comfort and space of the A380's cabin,[74] 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.[75][76] 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. Four of these suites are in the form of two "double" suites featuring a double bed.[77] Qantas Airways has shown their product which features a long flat-bed that converts from the seat but does not have privacy doors.[78] Emirates Airline's fourteen first-class private suites have shared access to two "shower spas". [79][80] First and business class passengers have shared access to a snack bar and lounge with two sofas, in addition to a first-class-only private lounge.[81]

Integration in the infrastructure[]

Ground operations[]

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.[82] 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.[83]

Based on its wingspan, the U.S. FAA 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.[84] 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.[85][86] 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.[87]

The A380 was designed to fit within an 80 × 80 m airport gate,[88] 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.[89] Service vehicles with lifts capable of reaching the upper deck should be obtained,[90] as well as tractors capable of handling the A380's maximum ramp weight.[91] 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.[92]

Takeoff and landing separation[]

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. These criteria were in effect while the ICAO's wake vortex steering group, with representatives from the JAA, Eurocontrol, the FAA, 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.[93]

In November 2006 the ICAO issued new interim recommendations. Replacing a blanket 10 nmi separation for aircraft trailing an A380 during approach, the new distances were 6 nmi, 8 nmi and 10 nmi respectively for non-A380 "Heavy", "Medium", and "Light" ICAO aircraft categories. These compared with the 4 nmi, 5 nmi and 6 nmi spacing applicable to 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.[94]

In August 2008 the ICAO issued revised approach separations of 4 nmi for Super (another A380), 6 nmi for Heavy, 7 nmi for medium/small and 8 nmi for light. [95]

Proposed variants[]

Airbus A380-900[]

In (year?), Airbus top sales executive and COO John Leahy confirmed the plans for an enlarged variant, the A380-900, a stretch of the A380-800's airframe from 73m to 79.4m in length.[96] This version would have a seating capacity of 650 passengers in standard configuration, and around 900 passengers in an economy-only configuration. The development of the A380-900 was planned to start in 2010. Airlines including Emirates,[97] Virgin Atlantic,[98] Cathay Pacific[99], Air France/KLM,[100] and Lufthansa,[101] and leasing company ILFC had expressed interest in the extended model[102]. The extended version and any further development of the aircraft were abandoned in 2019 with the cancellation of the program altogether despite interest in the aircraft.

Airbus A380plus[]

Airbus proposed the A380plus in 2017 as a more fuel-efficient and updated version of the existing A380-800. The aircraft aims at cutting operating costs by 13% through a new wing and wingtip design, revised maintenance intervals and updates to the cabin layout. It has been claimed by the manufacturer that fuel burn would be reduced by 4%. The most prominent feature of the new design is the larger 4.7m high 'sharklets' on the wingtips, echoing Boeing's 'split scimitar' winglet design. Airbus aims to get the aircraft airborne by 2020, however no firm orders have been made since the program began, and with the close of the A380 program, it appears less likely that the A380plus would come to fruition [109].


Parallel to the design of the A380, Airbus conducted the most extensive and thorough market analysis of commercial aviation ever undertaken.[6] 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 current 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.[103]

The A380 will be used on relatively few routes, between the most saturated airports. Airbus also estimates a demand for 415 freighters in the category 120-tonne plus. Boeing, which 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.[104] In 2006 two industry analysts anticipated 400 and 880 A380 sales respectively.[6]

In February 2008, there were 191 orders for the A380, while there were 20 for the Boeing 747-8i (not taking into account non-commercial 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.[18] 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.[105]

Orders and deliveries[]

Sixteen customers have ordered the A380, including an order from aircraft lease firm ILFC and one VIP order. Total orders for the A380 stand at 198 as of 24 July 2008.[106] A total of 27 orders were originally placed for the proposed freighter variant. These have since been cancelled or converted to A380-800 following the production delay and the subsequent suspension of the freighter program.

Orders and deliveries by year

2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Total
Orders A380-800 78 0 34 10 10 24 33 9 4 32 19 9 42 13 2 0 -2 4 -70 0 0 251
A380-800F 7 10 0 0 10 -17 -10 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Deliveries A380-800 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 12 10 18 26 30 25 30 27 28 15 12 8 4 5 251


Measurement A380-800 A380-800F
Cockpit crew Two
Seating capacity 525 (3-class)[52]
644 (2-class)
853 (1-class)
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 6.58 m (21 ft 7 in)
Cabin width, upper deck 5.92 m (19 ft 5 in)
Wing area 845 m² (9,100 sq ft)
Operating empty weight 276,800 kg (610,200 lb) 252,200 kg (556,000 lb)
Maximum take-off weight 560,000 kg (1,235,000 lb) 590,000 kg (1,300,000 lb)
Maximum payload 90,800 kg (200,000 lb) 152,400 kg (336,000 lb)
Cruising speed Mach 0.85
(647 mph, 1,041 kph, 562 knots)
Maximum cruising speed Mach 0.89
(677 mph, 1,090 kph, 588 knots)
Maximum speed Mach 0.97[107]
(737 mph, 1,185 kph, 640 knots)
Take off run at MTOW 2,750 m (9,020 ft)[88] 2,900 m (9,510 ft)[88]
Range at design load 15,200 km (8,200 nmi) 10,400 km (5,600 nmi)
Service ceiling 13,115 m (43,000 ft)[108]
Maximum fuel capacity 310,000 L (81,890 US gal) 310,000 L (81,890 US gal),
356,000 L (94,000 US gal) option
Engines (4 x) GP7270 (A380-861)
Trent 970/B (A380-841)
Trent 972/B (A380-842)
GP7277 (A380-863F)
Trent 977/B (A380-843F)
Thrust (4 x) 311 kN (70,000 lbf)

Sources: Airbus A380 specifications[52]


See also[]

  • List of jet airliners
  • List of aerospace megaprojects
  • List of Airbus A380 orders and deliveries

{{Aircontent |similar aircraft=


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External links[]