The new Airbus A380 Superjumbo is one of the most advanced passenger aircraft in the world. Designed and manufactured in Europe by Airbus Industrie, it is the world's first twin-deck, twin-aisle airliner. First entering service in 2007 with Singapore Airlines on a flight from Singapore to Sydney, Australia, the Airbus A380 was soon operating on services with Emirates, Qantas and Air France. By April 2011 the company had firm orders for over 234 airliners with 46 delivered and in service, in part due to the significant advantages that come with its operation.
The Airbus A380 is a long-range aircraft that can travel an impressive 8,300 nautical miles without refuelling, which allows the aircraft to leap-frog many of the hub airports that are an essential stopover for other long-range aircraft. The additional market appeal for many travellers to fly directly to their ultimate destinations with no need to stop midway is an important marketing advantage that the Airbus A380 has over some of its competitors.
Seating Capacity and Passenger Comfort
With its unusual double-deck layout and full wide-bodied construction, the A380 can be equipped to seat up to 800 passengers; more than any other operational airliner in the world. The construction also allows for every passenger to benefit from greater levels of space and comfort than other aircraft in operation, including more headroom, wider stairs and aisles and more personal luggage space. This increased capacity and the inherent flexibility of the double deck layout also allows airlines to specify a wider range of passenger classes and levels of comfort, with some carriers providing private sleeping quarters for first-class passengers. The air quality and ambient environment in the A380 is also at the leading edge of current standards. The cabin air recycles every three minutes, while 220 windows flood the interior with natural light.
Economy and Profitability
The A380 makes great use of lightweight materials, such as carbon fibre, aluminum, fibreglass and impact-resistant thermoplastics. This unusual and innovative construction reduces unnecessary weight and makes the A380 among the most economical aircraft of its type in the world. With a low-fuel burn rate per seat, the airliner can also be operated with higher profit margins, making it a sensible choice for commercial reasons too. Indeed, Airbus claims operators can either increase capacity on routes by up to 20 percent at no extra cost, or fly the same capacity at a reduced overhead rate of 15 to 20 percent per seat.
The Airbus A380 has strong environmental credentials. The larger capacity allows more people to fly without the need for extra aircraft, thereby easing on-the-ground congestion -- an important consideration with rises in population predicted over the coming years. The A380 is helping to bring down the air transport sector's greenhouse gas emissions. It burns 17 percent less fuel per seat than its leading competitors and produces only about 75 g of CO2 per passenger kilometre -- well below current international limits. The A380 is a class leader in noise reduction. It produces 50 percent less noise on takeoff and up to four times less when landing than competing aircraft.