The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine airliner manufactured by the European corporation Airbus, a subsidiary of EADS. The largest passenger airliner in the world, the A380 made its maiden flight on 27 April 2005 from Toulouse, France, and made its first commercial flight on 25 October 2007 from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines. The aircraft was known as the Airbus A3XX during much of its development phase, but the nickname Superjumbo has since become associated with it.
The A380’s upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, and its width is equivalent to that of a widebody aircraft. This allows for a cabin with 50% more floor space than the next-largest airliner, the Boeing 747-400, and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in all economy class configurations. The postponed freighter version, the A380-800F, is offered as one of the largest freight aircraft, with a payload capacity exceeded only by the Antonov An-225. The A380-800 has a design range of 15,200 km (8,200 nmi), sufficient to fly from Boston to Hong Kong for example, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 mph at cruising altitude).
The new Airbus is sold in two models. The A380-800 was originally designed to carry 555 passengers in a three-class configuration 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. The design range for the -800 model is 15,200 km (8,200 nmi). The second model, the A380-800F freighter, will carry 150 tonnes of cargo 10,400 km (5,600 nmi). 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.
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. The GP7200 has a GE90-derived core and PW4090-derived fan and low-pressure turbo-machinery. Only two of the four engines are fitted with thrust reversers.
Noise reduction was an important requirement in the A380’s design, and particularly affects engine design. 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 a key destination for the A380.
The A380 can run on mixed synthetic jet fuel with a natural-gas-derived component. A three hour test flight on 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 normal jet fuel. Sebastien Remy, head of Airbus SAS’s alternative fuel program, said the GTL used was no cleaner in CO2 terms than standard fuel but it had local air quality benefits because it contains no sulphur.