Airbus 380 Makes First Fligh - History

Airbus 380 Makes First Fligh - History

The Airbus 380 made its first test flight on April 27th 2005. The Airbus the largest commercial airliner ever built set a record even when flying empty as the heaviest commercial aircraft to ever fly. The 380 which Boeing has announced that it would not compete against will provide Airbus with control over the market for the largest aircraft.


Final Airbus A380 Ever Manufactured Makes First Flight

Aviation geeks around the world must have let out a collective sigh on Wednesday with news that the final Airbus A380 superjumbo jet ever to be produced departed from the manufacturer’s headquarters in Toulouse. It arrived Hamburg, where it will be painted in the livery of its airline, Emirates, before heading to a new home in Dubai. The flight marks the end of an era, and a shorter runway than Airbus anticipated when it launched its ambitious double-decker project back in 2000.

Airbus's final A380 will go to Emirates once it gets painted in Hamburg. (Photo by REMY GABALDA/AFP . [+] via Getty Images)

The first Airbus A380 entered service in October 2007, flying for Singapore Airlines. Since then, other carriers around the world have ordered the massive marvel of engineering, including Air France, ANA, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qantas, and Qatar Airways, among others. All told, nearly 250 of the aircraft have been produced in Toulouse. Notably, no U.S. airline ordered the jet.

With capacity for up to 853 passengers (though no airline shoehorned that many seats into their versions), it was heralded as ushering in a new era of aviation that would make high-traffic routes more efficient and profitable. Unfortunately, the economics proved not to work, and an imminent end to the A380 program that had already begun was only hastened by the Covid pandemic and the decision by several major carriers to ground their A380 fleets.

The plane’s death knell sounded in February 2019 with a joint statement from Airbus and Emirates, the jet’s largest customer, that the airline would reduce its existing A380 order at the time from 162 to 123 aircraft. The next-largest customers were Singapore Airlines, which took 24 A380s over the years, Lufthansa with 14, and British Airways and Qantas, with 12 each. “As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021,” Airbus announced at the time, shifting its focus to smaller, next-generation aircraft like the A350 and A330neo.

Although a substantial travel recovery will be necessary for airlines to bring their stored A380s back into service, chances are fliers will see them in the skies for the next 10-15 years as they serve out their productive lifetimes. Beyond that, though, the A380 might become a mere memory, much like the Concorde.


The final Airbus A380 superjumbo makes its first flight

AFP via Getty Images

Nearly 16 years after the world’s largest passenger airliner first took to the skies, the last ever Airbus A380 superjumbo has completed its first flight.

At lunchtime on March 17, the final A380 to be assembled took off from Airbus’ Jean-Luc Lagardere plant, a purpose-built facility at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in southern France.

Student pilot Virgile Prodault shared a video on Twitter of the craft performing a low pass and a “wing wave” — a traditional dip of the wings for a new craft to say goodbye to the airport where it was made.

Its destination on this test flight was the Airbus manufacturing plant at Hamburg-Finkenwerder Airport in Germany.

This is where the cabin will be fitted out and the aircraft painted, Airbus media relations manager Anne Galabert told CNN Travel last year. It will be wearing the livery of the customer airline, Emirates.

Putting together an A380 is a gargantuan task, with 1,500 companies involved in manufacturing all the individual parts, from rivets to bolts, to seats and engines. Four million individual parts needed to be flown, driven and shipped from 30 different countries.

The last convoy to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) took place in February 2020, with hundreds turning out in the French village of Levignac to see the wings, fuselage sections and horizontal tailplane transported by truck — just a month before the pandemic made mass gatherings impossible.

Fuselage sections came from Hamburg, Germany, and Saint-Nazaire, France the horizontal tailplane was manufactured in Cadiz, Spain and the vertical tail fin was also made in Hamburg.

Initial assembly of the final double-decker jet, serial number 272, was completed in Toulouse last September — that’s the picture at the top of this article.

Since then it’s been at station 30, where the engines will have been installed and tests carried out on electrical and hydraulic systems, on-board computers, landing gear and moving parts.

“The final tests are performed outside,” Galabert told CNN in September — with the checks including fuel gauge calibration, cabin pressurization, radios, radar, navigation systems and fuel tank sealing — and “the aircraft is then prepared for flight.”

The Airbus A380 was developed at a cost of $25 billion and, with a capacity of up to 853 passengers, it’s the largest mass-produced civil airliner in history.

The superjumbo’s first delivery was to Singapore Airlines in 2007, and since then close to 250 A380s have rolled off the line in Toulouse.

It’s now two years since Airbus announced that it would be discontinuing the airplane.

“It’s a painful decision,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in February 2019. “We’ve invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources and a lot of sweat into this aircraft.”

Airbus overestimated airlines’ appetite for the superjumbo. By the time of the 2019 announcement, it had delivered just 234 of the craft — less than half of the 600 it had predicted when the double-decker was introduced.

Airlines’ interest had shifted to lighter, more fuel-efficient craft and the pandemic has hastened the planes’ demise even further.

Airlines including Lufthansa, Qantas and Air France grounded their superjumbo last year, at a time when the sharp drop in demand for air travel meant many planes were flying close to empty.

However, A380s will be in our skies for a while yet. The MSN 272 is one of five brand-new planes still scheduled for delivery to Emirates, the jet’s biggest customer.

The airline’s president Tim Clark recently reconfirmed at a CAPA Live conference that it intends to be flying its fleet of A380s — of which there are currently around 120 — until the mid-2030s.


Airbus A380 Makes Aviation History With Maiden Flight

The world's largest passenger plane's maiden flight is a milestone for aviation and the European aircraft maker's battle with American rival Boeing Co.

BLAGNAC, France (AP) -- The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, completed its maiden flight Wednesday, a milestone for aviation and the European aircraft maker's battle with American rival Boeing Co.

The giant plane touched down to applause at 2:22 p.m (1222 GMT) after a flight of just under four hours. Nearly 30,000 spectators watched the behemoth take off and land, 101 years after the Wright brothers achieved the first controlled, sustained flight with their 274-kilogram (605-pound) aircraft.

''The first flight of a brand-new aircraft is a real milestone,'' said co-pilot Claude Lelaie. He called the A380 a ''marvelous aircraft.''

Before it landed, its front lights shining, the A380 did a slow fly-past above the airport in Blagnac, southwest France, where it had taken off at 10:29 a.m. (0829 GMT), its four engines surprisingly quiet as they hauled the double-decked, 280-metric ton (308-ton) fuselage aloft.

The white jet with a blue tail carried a crew of six and 20 metric tons (22 tons) of on-board test instruments. The crew, dressed in orange suits, waved happily when they threw open the door of the plane and descended the steps after landing.

''A new page in aviation history has been written,'' French President Jacques Chirac said. ''It is a magnficent result European industrial cooperation.''

The pilots checked the plane's basic handling characteristics while the on-board equipment recorded measurements for 150,000 separate parameters and beamed real-time data back to computers on the ground. The crew snapped souvenir photos in flight and after touching down.

They also took no chances - donning parachutes for the first flight. A handrail inside the test plane lead from the cockpit to an escape door that could have been jettisoned had the pilots lost control.

In Paris, French Cabinet ministers broke into applause when Chirac told them of the successful start to the flight. The head of competitor Boeing's French division, Yves Galland, said he had watched the televised takeoff and, just this once, ''shared the emotion of the people of Airbus.''

''The takeoff was absolutely perfect,'' chief test pilot Jacques Rosay told reporters by radio from the A380 cockpit as he flew at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) just north of the Pyrenees mountains, about an hour into the flight. ''The weather's wonderful.''

The flight capped 11 years of preparation and euro10 billion (US$13 billion) in spending.

Orville and Wilbur Wright, in contrast, spent an estimated US$1,000 (euro770 at today's rates) developing their skeletal flyer which stayed airborne for 12 seconds on its first flight the morning of Dec. 17, 1903. Their plane was built of spruce and ash covered with muslin and weighed a mere 274 kilograms (605 pounds), according to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

Including its bulky test equipment, fittings and fuel, Airbus said the A380 weighed 421 metric tons (464 tons) on take-off Wednesday - about 75 percent of its maximum authorized takeoff weight for commercial flights.

Spectators camped out by the airport to be there for what some said was Europe's biggest aviation event since the first flight of the supersonic Concorde in 1969.

The A380, with a catalogue price of US$282 million (euro216 million), represents a huge bet by Airbus that airlines will need plenty of large aircraft to transport passengers between ever-busier hub airports. So far, Airbus has booked 154 orders for the A380, which it says will carry passengers 5 percent farther than Boeing's longest-range 747 jumbo at a per-passenger cost up to one-fifth below its rival's.

But Airbus has yet to prove that it can turn a profit on its investment, a third of which came from European governments. Some analysts say signs of a boom in the market for smaller, long-range jets like Boeing's long-range 787 ''Dreamliner'' show that Airbus was wrong to focus resources on the superjumbo at the expense of its own mid-sized A350 - which enters service in 2010, two years after its Boeing rival.

Just this week, Air Canada and Air India announced a total of 82 new orders for Boeing jets - including 41 787s - taking Boeing's Dreamliner order book to 237.

But Airbus CEO Noel Forgeard played down Boeing's recent orders and the 787's development lead, saying the battle for the market in smaller planes would be fought out over 20 years, not two.

Forgeard, who steps down later this year to become joint CEO of Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., congratulated the A380 development and test-flight team for a ''fantastic collective effort'' and said the plane would enter service in the ''second half of 2006'' - about three months behind the previous schedule.

Part of the delay is down to the superjumbo's struggle with a weight problem that consumed months of engineering time and most of the program's US$1.88 billion (euro1.45 billion) cost overrun. Competitive pressure on airlines to offer plusher, heavier business-class seating tightened the squeeze.

Airbus says the A380 test-flight program is likely to take over a year and finish soon before the plane enters service for Singapore Airlines in mid-2006.


10-15 years left for the A380

While today’s flight marks the beginning of the end for the Airbus A380, as far as the manufacturer is concerned, the type is unlikely to disappear from the skies any time soon. Emirates is set to receive this aircraft in 2022 and will want to put it to good use before retiring it.

The airline previously revealed that it intends to operate the giant of the skies into the mid-2030s, and with a fleet of over 100 jets, it will take some time to replace them all. The airline is already planning to operate the A380 to 18 cities this summer, with the aim of returning the entire fleet to service by 2022.

Are you sad to see the final first flight of the Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!


Why did the Airbus A380 fail?

But the Airbus programme, long-delayed and over-budget, never really shook off predictions that it would be a white elephant of the skies.

So why did the world's largest passenger aircraft, described as a "hotel in the sky", fail after just 12 years of production?

The A380, whose wings are made at Airbus UK, was a bold challenger to US rival Boeing's dominance of the large aircraft market.

While Airbus was taking a multi-billion-dollar bet that airlines would want big aircraft in the future, Boeing was developing its smaller, nimbler (and seemingly more successful) 787 Dreamliner.

Carrying about 550 passengers - but with capacity for more - over a range of 8,000 nautical miles, the A380 was pitched at the fast-growing Asia and Middle East markets, where airlines were keen to fly more people per flight.

The A380 also boasted more than 500 sq m of usable floor space, enabling carriers to offer plush first-class suites, as well as bars, beauty salons and duty-free shops.

But after an initial surge of orders, especially from Dubai-based Emirates, demand dried up and the programme has never turned a profit.

The whole programme is thought to have cost $25bn (£19.4bn) and has been dogged by controversies over subsidies from the French and German governments.

Last year, the World Trade Organisation ruled that the EU failed to comply with requests to end state aid to the planemaker, ramping up trade tensions between the bloc and the US.

Its target was to sell 700 in total.

Ironically, the double-decker planes are popular with passengers, but airlines have come to view them as inefficient.

Some argue that the A380 is too large, making it unprofitable when too many seats go unfilled. And Willie Walsh, boss of British Airways-owner IAG, just last week suggested that the plane - while good - was too pricey.

With fuel prices rising and campaigners questioning the environmental impact of aircraft, some airlines chose to opt for smaller, but more efficient, planes produced by both Boeing and Airbus.

Some airlines preferred to wait for more details about Boeing's new family of 777s - deliveries of which start in 2020 - which has fewer seats but the same range, more payload, and two fewer engines.

Since 2005, a total of 57 firm orders for the A380 have been cancelled by airlines including Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa. A cargo version of the plane also never took off because of a lack of interest.

Not surprisingly, speculation that the aircraft could be scrapped has swirled for years, although Airbus could have continued to produce the A380 in limited numbers, experts say.

However, a decision by its biggest customer, Emirates, to downgrade an order appears to have forced Airbus's hand.


Contents

The current company is the product of consolidation in the European aerospace industry tracing back to the formation of the Airbus Industrie GIE consortium in 1970. In 2000, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) NV was established. In addition to other subsidiaries pertaining to security and space activities, EADS owned 100% of the pre-existing Eurocopter SA, established in 1992, as well as 80% of Airbus Industrie GIE. In 2001, Airbus Industrie GIE was reorganised as Airbus SAS, a simplified joint-stock company. In 2006, EADS acquired BAE Systems's remaining 20% of Airbus. [17] EADS NV was renamed Airbus Group NV and SE in 2014, and 2015, respectively. [18] [19] [20] Due to the dominance of the Airbus SAS division within Airbus Group SE, the executive committees of the parent and subsidiary companies were aligned in January 2017, but the companies were kept as separate legal entities. The holding company was given its present name in April 2017. [21]

Daimler-Benz's aerospace interests

The logos of Airbus Industrie GIE and Airbus SAS displayed a stylised turbine symbol, redolent of a jet engine, and a font similar to Helvetica Black. The logo colours were reflected in the standard Airbus aircraft livery in each period. The EADS logo between 2000 and 2010 combined the logos of the merged companies, DaimlerChrysler Aerospace AG (a four-ray star) and Aérospatiale-Matra (a curved arrow), after which these elements were removed and a new font with 3D shading was chosen. This font was retained in the logos of Airbus Group NV (2014–2015) and Airbus Group SE (2015–2017), then Airbus SE:

Civilian Edit

The Airbus product line started with the A300 in 1972, the world's first twin-aisle, twin-engined aircraft. A shorter, re-winged, re-engined variant of the A300 is known as the A310.

Building on its success, Airbus launched the A320, the first commercial jet to use a digital fly-by-wire control system. The A320 has been, and continues to be, a major commercial success. The A318 and A319 are shorter derivatives with some of the latter under construction for the corporate business jet market as Airbus Corporate Jets. A stretched version is known as the A321. The A320 family's primary competitor is the Boeing 737 family. [22]

The longer-range widebody products— the twin-jet A330 and the four-engine A340— have efficient wings, enhanced by winglets. The Airbus A340-500 has an operating range of 16,700 kilometres (9,000 nmi), the second longest range of any commercial jet after the Boeing 777-200LR (range of 17,446 km or 9,420 nautical miles). [23]

All Airbus aircraft developed since then have cockpit systems similar to the A320, making it easier to train crew. Production of the four-engine A340 was ended in 2011 due to lack of sales compared to its twin-engine counterparts, such as the Boeing 777. [24]

Airbus is studying a replacement for the A320 series, tentatively dubbed NSR, for "New Short-Range aircraft". [25] [26] Those studies indicated a maximum fuel efficiency gain of 9–10% for the NSR. Airbus however opted to enhance the existing A320 design using new winglets and working on aerodynamical improvements. [27] This "A320 Enhanced" should have a fuel efficiency improvement of around 4–5%, shifting the launch of an A320 replacement to 2017–2018.

On 24 September 2009, the COO Fabrice Bregier stated to Le Figaro that the company would need from €800 million to €1 billion over six years to develop the new aircraft generation and preserve the company technological lead from new competitors like the Chinese Comac C919, [28] scheduled to operate by 2015–2020. [29]

In July 2007, Airbus delivered its last A300 to FedEx, marking the end of the A300/A310 production line. Airbus intends to relocate Toulouse A320 final assembly activity to Hamburg, and A350/A380 production in the opposite direction as part of its Power8 organisation plan begun under ex-CEO Christian Streiff. [30]

Airbus supplied replacement parts and service for Concorde until its retirement in 2003. [31] [32]

Product list and details (date information from Airbus)
Aircraft Description Seats Max 1st flight Production ceased
A220 2 engines, single aisle, originally Bombardier CSeries 108–130 133–160 2013-09-16
A300 2 engines, twin aisle 228–254 361 1972-10-28 2007-03-27 (561 built)
A310 2 engines, twin aisle, modified A300 187 279 1982-04-03 2007-03-27 (255 built)
A318 2 engines, single aisle, shortened 6.17 m from A320 107 132 2002-01-15 2013-12-31 (80 built)
A319 2 engines, single aisle, shortened 3.77 m from A320 124 156 1995-08-25
A320 2 engines, single aisle 150 186 1987-02-22
A321 2 engines, single aisle, lengthened 6.94 m from A320 185 240 1993-03-11
A330 2 engines, twin aisle 246–300 406–440 1992-11-02
A340 4 engines, twin aisle 239–380 380–440 1991-10-25 2011-11-10 (377 built) [24]
A350 2 engines, twin aisle 270–350 475 2013-06-14
A380 4 engines, double deck, twin aisle 555 853 2005-04-27 2021 (251 built) [33]

Airbus Corporate Jets markets and modifies new aircraft for private and corporate customers. It has a model range that parallels the commercial aircraft offered by the company, ranging from the A318 Elite to the double-deck Airbus A380 Prestige. Following the entry of the 737 based Boeing Business Jet, Airbus joined the business jet market with the A319 Corporate Jet in 1997. Although the term Airbus Corporate jet was initially used only for the A319CJ, it is now often used for all models, including the VIP widebodies. As of December 2008, 121 corporate and private jets are operating, 164 aircraft have been ordered, including an A380 Prestige and 107 A320 family Corporate Jet. [34]

In September 2014, Aerion partnered with Airbus (mainly Airbus Defence) [35] to collaborate on designing the Aerion AS2, a supersonic 11-seater private business jet, hoping for a market entry in 2021. [36] Airbus was replaced with Lockheed Martin in 2017. [37]

Consumer products Edit

In June 2013, Airbus announced that it was developing a range of "smart suitcases" known as Bag2Go for air travellers, in conjunction with luggage-maker Rimowa and IT firm T-Systems. [38] [39] The cases feature a collection of built-in electronic gadgets which communicate with a smartphone app and with the IT systems of the airline, to assist the traveller and improve reliability and security of baggage handling. Gadgets include a weighing scale and a location tracker, using GPS for location tracking, RFID for identification, and a SIM card for messaging. [40] [41] Since then, similar products have been announced by other companies.

Military Edit

In the late 1990s, Airbus became increasingly interested in developing and selling to the military aviation market. It embarked on two main fields of development: aerial refuelling with the Airbus A310 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) and the Airbus A330 MRTT, and tactical airlift with the Airbus A400M Atlas.

In January 1999 Airbus established a separate company, Airbus Military SAS, to undertake development and production of a turboprop-powered tactical transport aircraft, the A400M. [42] [43] The A400M is being developed by several NATO members, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the UK, as an alternative to relying on foreign aircraft for tactical airlift capacity, such as the Ukrainian Antonov An-124 Ruslan [44] and the American C-130 Hercules. [45] [46] The A400M project has suffered several delays [47] [48] Airbus has threatened to cancel the development unless it receives state subsidies. [49] [50]

Pakistan placed an order for the Airbus A310 MRTT in 2008, which will be a conversion of an existing airframe as the base model A310 is no longer in production. [51] On 25 February 2008 Airbus won an order for three air refuelling MRTT aircraft, adapted from A330 passenger jets, from the United Arab Emirates. [52] On 1 March 2008 a consortium of Airbus and Northrop Grumman had won a $35 billion contract to build the new in-flight refuelling aircraft KC-45A, a US built version of the MRTT, for the USAF. [53] The decision drew a formal complaint from Boeing, [54] [55] and the KC-X contract was cancelled to begin bidding afresh. [56] [57]

Airbus aircraft numbering system Edit

The Airbus numbering system is an alpha numeric model number followed by a dash and a three digit number. [58]

The model number often takes the form of the letter "A" followed by a '3', a digit, then followed normally by a '0', for example A350. There are some exceptions such as: A220, A318, A319, A321 and A400M. The succeeding three digit number represents the aircraft series, the engine manufacturer and engine version number respectively. To use an A380-800 with Engine Alliance (EA) GP7200 engines as an example The code is 8 for series 800, 6 for Engine Alliance and engine version 1, thus the aircraft number is A380-861.

An additional letter is sometimes used. These include, 'C' for a combi version (passenger/freighter), 'F' for a freighter model, 'R' for the long range model, and 'X' for the enhanced model.

Engine codes Edit

Code Manufacturing company
0 General Electric (GE)
1 CFM International (GE and SNECMA, now a subsidiary of Safran)
2 Pratt & Whitney (P&W)
3 International Aero Engines (P&W, R-R, MTU, Kawasaki, Mitsubishi, and IHI) (IAE V2500 for A320ceo Family)
4 Rolls-Royce (R-R)
5 CFM International (GE and SNECMA/Safran) (CFM-I LEAP-1A for A320neo Family)
6 Engine Alliance (GE and P&W) (EA GP7200 for the A380)
7 Pratt & Whitney (P&W) (PW1100G for A320neo Family)

Orders and deliveries Edit

Aircraft Orders Deliveries In operation Unfilled
A220 630 143 143 547
A300 561 561 232
A310 255 255 57
A320ceo* 8,047 7,996 7,479 51
A320neo* 7,451 1,617 1,617 5,834
A330ceo* 1,478 1,454 1,380 24
A330neo* 331 57 56 274
A340* 377 377 223
A350* 915 406 405 509
A380 251 246 243 5
Total 20,376 13,192 11,899 7,184

Data as of 31 December 2020. [59]

Divisions Edit

Revenues by division, as of 2014: [60]

Revenues by division, as of 2018: [61]

Commercial aircraft Edit

Commercial aircraft generated 66% of total revenue for the group in 2013. [62] The product portfolio of such aircraft encompasses short range models such as the A320 family and the world's largest passenger airliner, the A380.

Airbus Transport International

Airbus Transport International is a cargo airline that operates a fleet of five Airbus Beluga aircraft. The belugas carry aircraft parts from factories to final assembly lines. In 2020, three Airbus Beluga XL aircraft which can carry two A350 wings rather than one Airbus A350 wing. These will slowly replace the five original belugas in the coming years.

Defence and space Edit

The division Airbus Defence and Space was formed in January 2014 as part of the group restructuring from the former EADS divisions Airbus Military, Astrium, and Cassidian (composed of Cassidian Electronics – develops and manufactures sensors, radars, avionics and electronic warfare systems for military and security applications, Cassidian Air Systems – develops manned and unmanned aerial systems (UAVs), mission avionics, electronic defence and warning systems and Cassidian Systems – provides global security systems such as command & control, lead system integration, TETRA and TETRAPOL communication systems for public safety, industry, transportation and defence. This line of business was the first one in the world to begin field tests with TETRA Enhanced Data Service (TEDS). [63] ). [64]

    – a Hellenic company focused in the design, development, production and services provision of airborne and surface target drone systems.

The Airbus Military division, which manufactured tanker, transport and mission aircraft Eurocopter, the world's largest helicopter supplier Astrium, provided systems for aerial, land, naval and civilian security applications including Ariane, Galileo and Cassidian. Through Cassidian, EADS was a partner in the Eurofighter consortium as well as in the missile systems provider MBDA.

Helicopters Edit

Airbus Helicopters, formerly known as Eurocopter, is a helicopter manufacturing and support company. See also: Airbus Helicopters, Inc.

Subsidiaries Edit

  • Airbus APWorks [65]
  • AirBusiness Academy [66] – (previously EADS North America) the U.S. holding company for the North American activities of Airbus Group - Cargo Airline managing the transportation of Airbus parts between different facilities. [67][68]

Joint ventures Edit

In September 2014 Airbus considered divesting Dassault and several other units to focus on aerospace. [70] They reduced their shareholding in Dassault Aviation to 10% by the end of 2016.

Governance Edit

The corporate management of the Airbus SE as of April 2019: [71]

Chief Executive Officer: Guillaume Faury

Member Title
Dominik Asam Chief Financial Officer
Thierry Baril Chief Human Resources Officer
Jean-Brice Dumont Executive Vice President Engineering
Bruno Even Chief Executive Officer Airbus Helicopters
John Harrison General Counsel
Dirk Hoke Chief Executive Officer Airbus Defence and Space
Julie Kitcher Executive Vice President Communications and Corporate Affairs
Philippe Mhun Executive Vice President Programmes and Services
Christian Scherer Chief Commercial Officer
Michael Schöllhorn Chief Operations Officer
Grazia Vittadini Chief Technology Officer

Corporate affairs Edit

The subsidiary Airbus Middle East is headquartered in the Dubai Airport Free Zone. [72] This subsidiary opened in 2006. [73]

The subsidiary Airbus Japan K.K. (エアバス・ジャパン株式会社) is headquartered in the Roppongi Hills Mori Tower in Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo. [74]

International manufacturing presence Edit

Airbus has several final assembly lines for different models and markets. These are:

    , France (A320, A330 family, A350 family and A380) , Germany (A318, A319, A320 and A321) , Spain (A400M) , China (A319 and A320). , USA — Airbus Mobile (A220, A319, A320 and A321) , Canada (A220) , Wales — wings construction [75]

Airbus, however, has a number of other plants in different European locations, reflecting its foundation as a consortium. An original solution to the problem of moving aircraft parts between the different factories and the assembly plants is the use of the Airbus Beluga, a modified cargo aircraft capable of carrying entire sections of fuselage. Boeing adopted a similar solution with 4 adapted 747-400s to transport the components of the 787. An exception to this scheme is the A380, whose fuselage and wings are too large for sections to be carried by the Beluga. Large A380 parts are brought by ship to Bordeaux, and then transported to the Toulouse assembly plant by the Itinéraire à Grand Gabarit, a specially enlarged waterway and road route. [76]

Airbus opened an assembly plant in Tianjin, People's Republic of China for its A320 series airliners in 2009. [77] [78] [79] Airbus started constructing a $350 million component manufacturing plant in Harbin, China in July 2009, which will employ 1,000 people. [80] [81] [82] Scheduled to be operated by the end of 2010, the 30,000 square metre plant will manufacture composite parts and assemble composite work-packages for the A350 XWB, A320 families and future Airbus programmes. Harbin Aircraft Industry Group Corporation, Hafei Aviation Industry Company Ltd, AviChina Industry & Technology Company and other Chinese partners hold the 80% stake of the plant while Airbus control the remaining 20%. [83]

North America is an important region to Airbus in terms of both aircraft sales and suppliers. 2,000 of the total of approximately 5,300 Airbus jetliners sold by Airbus around the world, representing every aircraft in its product line from the 107-seat A318 to the 565-passenger A380, are ordered by North American customers. According to Airbus, US contractors, supporting an estimated 120,000 jobs, earned an estimated $5.5 billion (2003) worth of business. For example, one version of the A380 has 51% American content in terms of work share value.

Plans for a Mobile, Alabama aircraft assembly plant were unveiled by Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier from the Mobile Convention Centre on 2 July 2012. The plans include a $600 million factory at the Mobile Aeroplex at Brookley for the assembly of the A220, A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. It could employ up to 1,000 full-time workers when operational. Construction began on 8 April 2013, and became operable by 2015, [84] producing up to 50 aircraft per year by 2017. [85] [86]

In February 2019, Airbus stated that production of the A380 will end in 2021 after Emirates, the biggest customer for the plane, reduced its outstanding order for 53 planes to just fourteen. [87]

Financial information Edit

Revenues by region, as of 2013: [60]

In October 2005 the British Ministry of Defence warned European politicians to stop, as it sees it, interfering in the corporate governance of EADS. The former UK Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson hinted that the UK government, a major customer for EADS, may withhold future contracts. "As a key customer, we see it as important for EADS to move in a direction that is free from political interference." [88]

On 4 April 2006, DaimlerChrysler announced its intention to reduce its shareholding from 30 % to 22.5 %. The company places a value of the stake at "approximately €2.0 billion." [89] Lagardère will reduce its holding by an identical amount. However, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations, a unit of the French government, acquired 2.25 % of EADS. At issue as a result is the fact that the German and French shareholdings are now in imbalance. [90]

On 30 August 2006, shortly after the stock price decline caused by the A380 delivery delays, more than 5 % of EADS stock has been reportedly purchased by the Russian state-owned Vneshtorgbank. [91] [92] Now its share is nearly 6 %. In December 2007, Vneshtorgbank sold EADS shares to another state-controlled bank Vneshekonombank. EADS sharers are to be delivered by Vneshekonombank to the charter capital of JSC "United Aircraft Corporation" in 2008. [93] [94]

On 3 October 2006, shortly after EADS admitted further delays in the Airbus 380 programme would cost the company 4.8 billion euros in lost earnings in 2010, EADS shares, traded on the Paris arm of Euronext, were suspended after they surpassed the 10 % loss limit. Trading resumed later in the day with the one-day loss holding at 7 %.

In 2007, Dubai Holding acquired 3.12 % of EADS stock, making the Dubai buy-out fund one of the largest institutional shareholders. [95]

In 2008, EADS had arms sales equivalent of $17.9 billion, which constituted 28 % of total revenue. [96]

In April 2013, Daimler sold its shares in EADS. [97]

As of 22 June 2018 [update] , 73.6 % of Airbus Group stock is publicly traded on six European stock exchanges, while the remaining 26.4 % is owned by a "Contractual Partnership". As at 26 April 2018, the partnership is owned by SOGEPA (11.1%), GZBV (11.1%) and SEPI (4.2%). SOGEPA is owned by the French State, GZBV is majority owned by KfW, while SEPI is a Spanish state holding company. [98]

In April 2020, Airbus announced that it has cut aircraft production by a third due to the COVID-19 outbreak. According to Guillaume Faury, the company was "bleeding cash at an unprecedented speed." The recession put its survival at stake and presented the need for deep job cuts throughout all Airbus departments. 3,000 workers in France were involved in government-assisted furlough schemes. [99]

Finances [100] 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004
Sales EUR billion 59.256 56.480 49.128 45.752 42.822 43.265 39.123 39.434 34.206 31.761
EBITDA in Mio. EUR 4.575 4.142 3.473 2.769 1.446 4.439 1.751 2.033 4.365 3.841
EBIT in Mio. EUR 2.661 2.186 1.696 1.231 (322) 2.830 52 399 2.852 2.432
Research and development costs EUR million 3.160 3.142 3.152 2.939 2.825 2.669 2.608 2.458 2.075 2.126
Consolidated net income EUR million 1.465 1.198 1.104 584 (722) 1.613 (433) 199 1.769 1.342
Earnings per share in EUR 1,85 1,46 1,27 0,68 (0,94) 1,95 (0,56) 0,12 2,11 1,50
Dividend per share in EUR 0,75 0,60 0,45 0,22 0,00 0,20 0,12 0,12 0,65 0,50
Free cash flow in EUR million (818) 3.472 958 2.707 585 2.559 3.354 2.029 2.413 1.614
New orders in EUR million 218.681 102.471 131.027 83.147 45.847 98.648 136.799 69.018 92.551 44.117
Order backlog at 31.12. in EUR million 686.734 566.463 540.978 448.493 389.067 400.248 339.532 262.810 253.235 184.288
Employees (number) 31.12. 144.061 140.405 133.115 121.691 119.506 118.349 116.493 116.805 113.210 110.662
accounted for under IFRS The fiscal year ends on 31/12.

Sales of military equipment in 2012 amounted to 15.4 billion US dollars. [101]

Airbus has committed to the "Flightpath 2050", an aviation industry plan to reduce noise, CO2, and NOx emissions. [102]

Airbus was the first aerospace business to become ISO 14001 certified, in January 2007 this is a broader certification covering the whole organisation, not just the aircraft it produces. [103]

In association with Honeywell and JetBlue Airbus has developed a biofuel to reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels, claiming that this has the potential to replace up to a third of the world's aviation fuel. Algae-based biofuel absorbs carbon dioxide during growth and does not compete with food production. This alternative may be commercially available by 2030 but algae and other vegetation-based fuels are in an early stage of development and fuel-bearing algae has been expensive to develop. [104] Airbus offers delivery flights to airlines using a 10% biofuel blend in standard engines. The fuel does not cut carbon emissions but is free of sulphur emissions and demonstrates that the fuel could be used in commercial flights in unmodified engines. [105]

In September 2020, Airbus unveiled three liquid hydrogen-fueled "ZEROe" concept aircraft that it claims could become the first commercial zero-emission aircraft, entering service by 2035. [106] [107]

Government subsidies Edit

Boeing has continually protested over "launch aid" and other forms of government aid to Airbus, while Airbus has argued that Boeing receives illegal subsidies through military and research contracts and tax breaks. [108]

In July 2004 former Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher accused Airbus of abusing a 1992 bilateral EU-US agreement providing for disciplines for large civil aircraft support from governments. Airbus is given reimbursable launch investment (RLI), called "launch aid" by the US, from European governments with the money being paid back with interest plus indefinite royalties, but only if the aircraft is a commercial success. [109] Airbus contends that this system is fully compliant with the 1992 agreement and WTO rules. The agreement allows up to 33% of the programme cost to be met through government loans which are to be fully repaid within 17 years with interest and royalties. These loans are held at a minimum interest rate equal to the cost of government borrowing plus 0.25%, which would be below market rates available to Airbus without government support. [110] Airbus claims that since the signature of the EU-US agreement in 1992, it has repaid European governments more than U.S.$6.7 billion and that this is 40% more than it has received.

Airbus argues that the military contracts awarded to Boeing, the second largest U.S. defence contractor, are in effect a form of subsidy, such as the controversy surrounding the Boeing KC-767 military contracting arrangements. The significant U.S. government support of technology development via NASA also provides significant support to Boeing, as do the large tax breaks offered to Boeing, which some people claim are in violation of the 1992 agreement and WTO rules. In its recent products such as the 787, Boeing has also been offered direct financial support from local and state governments. [111]

In January 2005 the European Union and United States trade representatives, Peter Mandelson and Robert Zoellick respectively, agreed to talks aimed at resolving the increasing tensions. [112] [113] These talks were not successful with the dispute becoming more acrimonious rather than approaching a settlement. [114]

WTO ruled in August 2010 and in May 2011 that Airbus had received improper government subsidies through loans with below market rates from several European countries. [115] In a separate ruling in February 2011, WTO found that Boeing had received local and federal aid in violation of WTO rules. [116]

Cluster bomb allegation Edit

In 2005 the Government Pension Fund of Norway recommended the exclusion of several companies producing cluster bombs or components. EADS and its sister company EADS Finance BV were among them, arguing that EADS manufactures "key components for cluster bombs". The criticism was centred around TDA, a joint venture between EADS and Thales S.A. TDA produced the mortar ammunition PR Cargo, which can be considered cluster ammunition, however this definition has since been successfully battled by EADS. EADS and its subsidiaries are now regarded as fulfilling all the conditions of the Ottawa Treaty. According to the new point of view, no product of EADS or its subsidiaries falls into the category of antipersonnel mines as defined by the Ottawa Treaty ("landmines under the Ottawa Treaty"). In April 2006, the fund declared that the basis for excluding EADS from investments related to production of cluster munitions is no longer valid, however its shareholding of MBDA means the fund still excludes EADS due to its indirect involvement in nuclear weapons production. [117]

Insider trading investigation Edit

On 2 June 2006 co-CEO Noël Forgeard and Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert resigned following the controversy caused by the June 2006 announcement that deliveries of the A380 would be delayed by a further six months. Forgeard was one of a number of executives including Jean-Paul Gut who exercised stock options in November 2005 and March 2006. He and twenty-one other executives are [ when? ] under investigation as to whether they knew about the delays in the Airbus A380 project which caused a 26 % fall in EADS shares when publicised. The French government's actions were also under investigation The state-owned bank Caisse des Dépots et Consignations (CDC) bought part of Lagardère's 7.5 % stake in EADS in April 2006, allowing that latter to partially escape the June 2006 losses. [118]

Bribery allegations Edit

South Africa Edit

In 2003 Tony Yengeni, former chief whip of South Africa's African National Congress, was convicted of fraud worth around US$5 billion relating to an arms deal with South Africa, in which Airbus (formerly EADS) were major players,. [119] It was claimed that Airbus had admitted that it had "rendered assistance" to around thirty senior officials, including defence force chief General Siphiwe Nyanda, to obtain luxury vehicles. [120] In March 2003, South Africa withdrew all charges of bribery against the former head of EADS South Africa, [121] and in September 2004, the prosecutor's office dismissed the bribery charges against Yengeni. [ citation needed ]

Saudi Arabia Edit

In August 2012 the UK's Serious Fraud Office opened a criminal investigation into an EADS subsidiary, GPT Special Project Management Ltd, regarding bribery allegations made by GPT's former programme director, Ian Foxley. Foxley alleged that luxury cars were bought for senior Saudis, and that millions of pounds sterling were paid to mysterious Cayman Islands companies, possibly to secure a £2 billion contract to renew the Saudi Arabian National Guard's military telecommunications network. [122] Foxley's allegations were supported by two other GPT employees. [123] The later agreement between Airbus and the SFO on 31 January 2020 excluded settlement of this case. [124]

British and French investigations Edit

The French National Financial Prosecutor's Office (PNF), the UK Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had been jointly investigating irregularities in Airbus marketing practices since 2016, in particular the activities of agents Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, the Philippines, Indonesia and Austria, [a] but also China, the United Arab Emirates, South Korea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Kuwait, Turkey, Russia, Mexico, Brazil, Vietnam, India, Colombia and Nepal. [124]

In July 2016, SFO opened a criminal investigation into "suspicions of fraud, bribes and corruption" after Airbus informed British authorities of a failure to disclose the role played by some intermediaries facilitating the sale of aircraft. Airbus was required to provide this information in order to benefit from export credits, which the British, French and German governments had suspended. In March 2017, the PNF subsequently opened a preliminary investigation into "suspicions of fraud and corruption in civil aviation activities" in cooperation with the SFO. [124]

The allegations included that from 2012 onwards Airbus was responsible for recruiting and remunerating intermediaries to influence the award of civil and military contracts. Payments worth hundreds of millions of euros in alleged secret commissions were made and numerous sales including in Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Philippines, Indonesia, Austria, China and Mauritius were under suspicion of bribery. [125] [ verification needed ] [126]

The investigation focussed on the Airbus, Strategy and Marketing Organization (SMO), the department responsible for negotiating sales contracts and which, La Tribune reported as having "a network and an incredible influence around the world." Directed successively by Jean-Paul Gut and Marwan Lahoud, the SMO was dissolved in 2016 under the new executive director, Thomas Enders, as part of a “clean hands” operation. [127]

In 2014, in a case referred to as the Kazakhgate affair, a search at Airbus Helicopters by French authorities found emails confirming that Airbus had agreed in principle to pay €12 million in pots of wine to the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan to facilitate the sale of helicopters. Officers from the Central Anti-Corruption Office (OCLCIFF) then searched the home of Marwan Lahoud on 8 February 2016. [b] This revealed that two Turkish intermediaries had claimed payment of commissions due in connection with the sale of 160 aircraft to China valued at US$10 billion. A message by Lahoud suggested that the commissions could reach US$250 million. The SMO was to conceal these commissions as false invoices for a fictitious Caspian pipeline project. [c]

In January 2020, French, British and American courts validated three agreements between Airbus and the PNF, [128] the UK SFO, [124] [129] and the US DoJ. [130] [131] Airbus recognised the charges and agreed to pay fines of €3.6 billion in France, €984 million in the United Kingdom and €526 million in the United States. The penalties were the highest ever issued by the French and British bodies. [132] [133] [134]

These settlements close the prosecution of Airbus regarding the Kazakhstan case but not allegations of misconduct in Saudi Arabia, China and Turkey, which Airbus denies. [135] Airbus managers may still be pursued as private individuals. [d]


A380 is 15 today: will the world’s biggest passenger plane make it to 20?

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Fifteen years ago, the world’s biggest passenger plane took off for the first time.

The double-deck Airbus A380 took off smoothly, quietly and elegantly on 27 April 2005 for a test flight from the factory in Toulouse.

It was the first journey of an aircraft that was expected to have a glittering career.

Not since Concorde and the Boeing 747 Jumbo jet had an aviation event been so hotly anticipated.

The “SuperJumbo” was supposed to transform flying. It could carry more people, more comfortably than ever before. Even while it was little more than a concept, the aviation industry was enthused with the opportunities it could offer.

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Inflight facilities from gyms to jaccuzis were envisaged. While Korean Air introduced a walk-through duty-free shop, most carriers settled for seats, seats and more seats in their specification.

The A380 entered passenger service 30 months after its maiden flight, connecting Singapore and Sydney for the launch carrier, Singapore Airlines.

Dozens of other airlines eagerly awaited deliveries of the aircraft that was supposed to change the travel experience – and extract maximum capacity from a constrained airport system.

It was no surprise that Heathrow soon became one of the leading destinations for the aircraft.

Until March 2020, there were dozens of daily departures and arrivals of the A380 from what was then Europe’s busiest airport. Emirates alone had six take-offs and six landings, extracting maximum capacity from the most sought-after slots in aviation.

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

1 /12 Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Inside the A380: the world's largest passenger plane

Emirates is the only airline that stood between Airbus and abject failure. The Dubai-based carrier is responsible for nearly half the SuperJumbo’s 242 deliveries so far. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Emirates said it would aim to fly at least some of them until 2035.

But there are growing doubts about whether the A380 will make it to the 20th anniversary of its maiden flight, let alone the 30th.

Most passengers love the plane, for its spaciousness and extra comfort. The main (lower) deck is 69cm (2ft 3in) wider than the Boeing 777, Emirates’ other plane type, yet has the same number of seats across: 10.

Some airlines use the rear of the upper deck for economy seating, eight abreast, which is widely regarded as the most civilised “cheap seats” in aviation. And that is all the more important, given the remarkably long routes that the A380 has been deployed upon: for a while, the Qantas link from Dallas-Fort Worth to Sydney was the longest on the planet, and Emirates’ Dubai to Auckland route is one of the most extreme.

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The A380 has flown billions of passenger-miles safely, notwithstanding a couple of alarming uncontained engine failures: on Qantas shortly after take-off from Singapore, destination Sydney, in 2010 and on Air France over Greenland en route between Paris and Los Angeles.

The aircraft is an undoubted technological success. But it is fundamentally a 20th-century aircraft that has not achieved the high hopes for transforming air travel in the 21st century.

FlightRadar24, the aircraft-tracking service, could find only one A380 flying anywhere in the world today. There are more than that currently being “parted out”. The A380 has no significant secondhand value: the aircraft used for the historic first commercial flight is currently being dismantled for parts in the foothills of the Pyrenees, at Lourdes in southwest France – not far from its birthplace.

What some saw as a miracle plane – a dream machine – has turned into a nightmare for its owners, whether they are the airlines themselves or leasing companies. In the post-coronavirus world, everyone expects demand for aviation to fall substantially for several years, with business travel particularly hard hit as hard-pressed companies insist executives continue with Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings rather than flying halfway around the world in the lap of aviation luxury.

Big is no longer beautiful: it is an expensive liability. Filling 500-plus seats (not to mention Etihad’s “The Residence,” comprising double bedroom, en-suite shower and living room) profitably will not be feasible on many routes. Emirates had already deployed the A380 on some implausible links, such as Glasgow to Dubai, cutting fares to fill seats.

The next chapter in aviation will be about keeping a lid on capacity. Suppressing supply means fares will rise, allowing the airlines that are on course to lose a quarter of a trillion pound collectively this year to make a bit of money. And keeping costs down involves modern “big twins” such as the Airbus A350, which will prove far more durable than its larger, older sister.

Is all hope lost? The one possible role I can see for the A380 is that an ambitious (and well-heeled) long-haul, low-cost investor emerges. Given that you can pick up a SuperJumbo for next to nothing, there may be a decade more of life in it for high-density intercontinental flying.

No-one has operated the aircraft close to its maximum certified limit of 853 passengers. If London to Hong Kong becomes a much more economy-focused route, it might just work. But I’ll be on the next Cathay Pacific A350 from Gatwick, thanks, assuming that comes back.

Sadly, the A380 has proved to be an evolutionary cul-de-sac – an expensive, heroic failure, as was Concorde. And, like the supersonic jet, while passengers will miss the SuperJumbo, the world will not.


VIDEO: Last Built Airbus A380 Performs Fly-by over Toulouse

MAMI – The last-ever produced Airbus A380 aircraft took off on its first test flight in Toulouse, marking the end of an era for the Super Jumbo.

At 12:54 PM local time (UTC +1), the Airbus A380, MSN 272, took off for its first test flight from Toulouse Blagnac Airport (TLS), France, as the aircraft (temporarily registered as F-WWSH) is being prepared for delivery to Emirates (EK), becoming its 118th double-decker.

The airline, the type’s largest customer, is currently awaiting the delivery of the final five A380s, including MSN 272. The latest delivery of the type for EK took place in mid-December 2020. According to Airbus Orders & Deliveries data, EK has 123 Airbus A380 aircraft on order, with a total of 251 A380 aircraft being delivered.

The Last Super Jumbo

While airlines such as EK, British Airways (BA), and Qantas (QF) will fly the double-decker on certain routes, this would be the last A380 ever made, as Airbus and EK announced on February 14, 2019, that the carrier would reduce its A380 backlog by 39 aircraft.

Airbus had also stated at the time that the development of its Superjumbo would end in 2021 due to a lack of substantial backlog, with no basis to continue production. The shrink in the A380’s backlog was also sped up by the pandemic.

A number of operators of the jet, including Air France (AF) and Lufthansa (LH) made the decision to retire their A380s in 2020 as a result of the ongoing uncertainty regarding international travel. In addition, Thai Airways (TG) decided to put its A380 up for sale back in December.

Photo: Alberto Cucini/Airways

16 Years of the Airbus A380

The first completed A380 rolled out of the Airbus hangar on January 18, 2005. Registered F-WWOW, the type was one of five Airbus Superjumbos used for flight testing and demonstration. Three months later, on April 27, the aircraft took to the skies for the first time, piloted by Airbus Chief Test Pilot Jacques Rosay.

Although the first Airbus A380 entered into service with Singapore Airlines (SQ) in October of 2007, the superjumbo’s development began back in 1988, in an effort to compete with the Boeing 747 and its dominance of the large aircraft long-haul market.

Since the production start of the type, affectionately known as the flying whale, close to 300 Arbus convoys have paraded through the rural town of Levignac, France, carrying parts from the company’s production facilities located in Saint-Nazaire, France, to the final assembly line.


History of the Airbus A380

The 555 seat, double deck Airbus A380 aircraft is the most ambitious civil aircraft program yet. On entering service in October 2007, the Airbus A380 was and is the world’s largest airliner, easily eclipsing Boeing’s 747.

Airbus first began studies on a very large 500 seat airliner in the early 1990s. The European manufacturer saw developing a competitor and successor to the Boeing 747 as a strategic play to end Boeing’s dominance of the very large airliner market and round out Airbus’ product line-up. Airbus began engineering development work on such an aircraft, then designated the A3XX, in June 1994. Airbus studied numerous design configurations for the A3XX and gave serious consideration to a single deck aircraft which would have seated 12 abreast and twin vertical tails. However, Airbus settled upon a twin deck configuration, largely because of the significantly lighter structure required. Key design aims include the ability to use existing airport infrastructure with little modifications to the airports, and direct operating costs per seat 15-20% less than those for the 747-400. With 49% more floor space and only 35% more seating than the previous largest aircraft, Airbus is ensuring wider seats and aisles for more passenger comfort.

A Malaysia Airlines A380 at Heathrow.

Using the most advanced technologies, the A380 is also designed to have 10-15% more range, lower fuel burn and emissions, and less noise. The A380 would feature an advanced version of the Airbus common two crew cockpit, with pull-out keyboards for the pilots, extensive use of composite materials such as GLARE, and four 320 to 347kN (72,000 to 78,000lb) class Rolls Royce Trent 900 or Engine Alliance (General Electric/Pratt and Whitney) GP-7200 turbofans now under development.

Several A380 models are planned: the basic aircraft is the 555 seat A380-800 and high gross weight A380-800, with the longer range A380-800R planned.

Future models will include the shortened, 480 seat A380-700, and the stretched, 656 seat, A380-900. (The -700, -800, and -900 designations were chosen to reflect that the A380 will enter service as a fully developed aircraft and that the basic models will not be soon replaced by more improved variants). A380 final assembly takes place in Toulouse, France, with interior fitment in Hamburg, Germany. Major A380 part assemblies are transported to Toulouse by ship, barge and road.

A380 History Time Line

Date Event
1988 A team of engineers at Airbus began work to design a ultra-high-capacity airliner (UHCA) to compete with Boeings’ 747 stranglehold of that market
September 1990 The announcement to go ahead with an ultra-high-capacity airliner (UHCA) project was made at the Farnborough airshow.
January 1993 Boeing and several Airbus related companies start a joint study into a Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT)
June 1994 Airbus announce they will be going it alone to develop their own Very Large Commercial Transport (VLCT) which they designated the A3XX
19 December 2000 The board of the newly restructured Airbus, approved €8.8-billion to go ahead with the rechristened A380 project.
23 January 2002 The design having been finalised the previous year, construction starts on the first wing box.
18 January 2005 The first of 5 test A380s was unveiled in Toulouse. Her registration was F-WWOW.
27 April 2005 The maiden flight of the A380, registration F-WWOW, took place at 10:29am, French time and lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes. This was using Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.
June 2005 Customers for the A380 were advised to expect a 6-month delay due to wiring problems.
01 December 2005 The A380 achieved its maximum design speed of mach .96 in a shallow dive.
10 January 2006 First trans-Atlantic test to José María Córdova International Airport in Colombia.
0 6 February 2006 Cold climate testing was performed at Iqaluit, Nunavut in Canada.
14 February 2006 Stress testing of the wing revealed that the wing broke at 146% of the required level instead of 150%. Further strengthening was added which increased the weight by 30Kg.
26 March 2006 In Hamburg a test with 853 passengers and 20 crew managed to evacuate a darkened A380 with half the exits blocked in 78 seconds. The requirement is for this to be achieved in under 90 seconds.
29 March 2006 Type approval for the A380 was received from both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
13 June 2006 A380 customers were advised of a further delay with a slippage of a further 6 to 7 months.
25 August 2006 A380, registration F-WWEA first flew using the Engine Alliance GP7200. Engine Alliance was a 50/50 alliance between General Electric and Pratt and Whitney.
04 September 2006 Passenger facilities and comfort testing began using 474 Airbus employees.
03 October 2006 A third delay of the A380 was advised to customers with the first delivery being slated for October 2007.
15 October 2007 The first Airbus A380, registration 9V-SKA, was delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines.
25 October 2007 The first commercial flight of the A380 took place from Singapore to Sydney. All seats were auctioned off for charity.

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