A Brief History
On January 18, 2005, Airbus, the European maker of jetliners, unveiled its flagship jetliner, the A380, the largest passenger plane ever built. How big is it? The A380 has over 40% more available floor space than a Boeing 747!
After the big jet’s unveiling at Toulouse, France, it made its first flight in April of 2005. By October 25, 2007, the A380 entered active service with Singapore Airlines and is currently used by Singapore, Lufthansa, Emirates, Air France, British Airways, Thai Airways, Korean Air, Asiana Airlines, China Southern Airways, Etihad Airways, Malaysia, and Qantas Airways. Over 240 of the monstrous jets have been built, at a cost of around a half billion dollars apiece! Of course, the A380 has a way to go before it can dream of catching the 1528 747’s that have been produced.
Normally configured for 525 passengers (3 class seating), the A380 is capable of carrying 853 passengers in coach only arrangement. With the enormous range of 8,500 (nautical) miles, this jet is used on the longest of passenger flights. Powered by 4 massive Rolls Royce jet engines, each with 70,000 pounds of thrust, the A380 cruises at 488 knots and if necessary can fly at speeds up to 551 knots. Ceiling is 43,000 feet, and the max fuel load is an amazing 84,600 US gallons! (That is over 20,000 gallons more than a 747!) Stretching 238 feet 7 inches long and with a wingspan of 261 feet 8 inches, the plane towers 79 feet high at the vertical stabilizer. (Note: These dimensions are all larger than the 747.)
So far none of these monstrous jets has crashed and no lives have been lost in accidents. The thought of something so large and carrying so many people crashing is frightening, causing one to wonder if building such a large plane is a good idea. With the stellar safety record of the 747 before it, and the perfect (no fatalities) record the A380 has rung up so far, the evidence would seem to support continuing to build and use these massive liners. Problems that have been discovered (some cracks and oil leaks) have been addressed and the design changed to prevent future problems.
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever flown on a giant airliner? If so, which variety, and please share your experience with our other readers. Personally, the size of the plane is not as important to the author as is personal space while on the plane, which has been shrinking over the years, despite people (and me!) getting larger. Feel free to comment about seat size and legroom on jet liners, and your overall airline experience in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see the official Airbus A380 page.
The featured image in this article, a photograph by BriYYZ of Air France Airbus A380-800 F-HPJB, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. This image, which was originally posted to Flickr, was uploaded to Commons using Flickr upload bot on by Dura-Ace. On that date, it was confirmed to be licensed under the terms of the license indicated.