It’s hard to comprehend that one machine could lift almost a thousand people and all their baggage 30,000 feet in the air and take them nearly 10,000 miles on one tank of fuel – sufficient to fly from London to Singapore non-stop at a cruising speed of 560mph.
You would be forgiven for believing that this goliath of the air must be really bad for the environment, but the A380 burns up to 20% less fuel, per seat, than its nearest competitor. That is one of the most significant advancements in fuel efficiency and emissions reductions for 40 years. In fact the A380 produces less than 75g of CO2 per passenger kilometre and that is half of the European emission target for cars manufactured from 2008 onwards.
Airbus began working towards building the A380 in 1991 and delivered its first A380 in 2007. It was not all plane sailing; there were a lot of delays in initial production and this was mainly attributed to the 330 miles of wiring in each craft!
Another factor that contributed to delays was the high level of customisation for each airline. The A380 is so large it opened up a whole new world of possibilities. Emirates for example that are the largest A380 customer by far have fitted some of their A380 first class sections with individual cabins with en-suit showers –passengers on long haul flights to Dubai will never have smelt so good!
As if the A380 was not big enough in November 2007 Airbus top sales executive and chief operating officer John Leahy confirmed plans for an enlarged variant, A380-900, which would be slightly longer and be capable of carrying up to 900 passengers.
As of February 2012 there had been 253 firm orders for the A380, of which 71 have been delivered. The largest order, for 90 aircraft, was from Emirates.