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Airbus A380

Wide-Body, Long-Range Commercial Passenger Airliner

France | 2007

"The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner currently in service anywhere in the world."

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Developed as a direct competitor to the hugely successful Boeing 747 line, Airbus introduced their wide-body, long-range jet airline A380 series on October 25th, 2007. Origins of the aircraft lay in the early 1990s and came to fruition in June of 1994 under the project "A3XX" designation. The program then underwent various design studies before receiving the official company go-ahead in December of 2000 with the aircraft now carrying the official "A380" designation. The design was refined by 2001 with components already being worked on in early 2002. At its core, the aircraft is an international passenger/freight hauler marketed for long distance routes and under a technology-laden, fuel efficient approach when compared to the massive, 1960s-era Boeing 747 series.

The A380 netted several launch customers before the first aircraft had even flown. Production began in 2004 to which a prototype was first unveiled at Toulouse, France on January 18th, 2005. It received its first flight some months later on April 27th, 2005. The manufacturing of the aircraft consisted of a multinational logistics path that included the nations of Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and, of course, the home country of France. A total of five airframes were reserved for evaluation service and certification for the product was then achieved in December of 2006.

By this point, development costs had appropriately ballooned and production faced delays of several months which then evolved into years. The line was formally introduced with launch customer Singapore Airlines on October 25th, 2007 (as "AQ380") though delays continued into 2008. Emirates then followed as a customer in August of 2008. The 100th aircraft of the family was delivered to Malaysia Airlines on March 14th, 2013 and, to date (January 2014), some 119 A380s have been completed with production ongoing as of this writing. The complete list of operators to date includes Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas, Air France, Lufthansa, Korean Air, China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways International and British Airways.

The cockpit of the A380 utilizes dual controls for both pilots and an all-glass approach with five large, full-color multi-function displays (MFDs). Throttle controls are managed at the center console and each pilot is given side-stick controller input mimicking the configuration of a modern military fighter aircraft. The passenger section includes a two-story approach (with belly cargo level) which promotes a very deep fuselage for the aircraft when viewed externally in profile. In a three-class configuration, the A380 can haul some 555 passengers and as many as 850 in a single-class configuration.

Overall length of the airframe is equal to 239 feet with a wingspan reaching out to 262 feet and height of 80 feet. The A380 weighs in at 610,000lb and features a maximum take-off weight of 1.3 million pounds fully loaded (freighter model). Power is served through an Engine Alliance GP7270 (70,000lb thrust), Rolls-Royce Trent 970-972/B (70,000-72,000lb thrust) or Engine Alliance GP7277 (76,000lb thrust) and Rolls-Royce Trent 977/B (76,000lb thrust) turbofan engines (passenger and freighter models respectively). Maximum speed is 630 miles per hour with a cruise speed of 590 miles per hour being reported and service range is out to 9,750 miles (6,400 for freighter model). The aircraft can reach a service ceiling of 43,100 feet.

To date (January 2014), the A380 series has not been involved in any fatal crashes. A November 2010 flight from Singapore to Sidney was forced to return following an engine failure though no casualties or injuries were reported in the incident. The Rolls-Royce engines in play were then reviewed and an oil leak was found which forced other Trent engines to be reviewed and repaired. Further review unveiled cracks in the wing which forced further assessment of all active A380s.

The A380-800 is expected to be revised through an improvement initiative announced in 2010. This will result in an increased maximum take-off weight and operational range. This should become the next standardized passenger model available. The A380-900 is an enlarged variant (though since officially delayed) with more passenger seating (up to 650 in a standard configuration). The A380F represents the freighter model variant though early orders were retracted by customers due to delays and Airbus has currently shelved the model for the near future.

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June 2017 - Announced at the 2017 Paris Air Show was the A380plus, an upgraded A380 offering. This product features winglets and modified wings for a 4% reduction in fuel use. Additionally, the internals have been reworked to accommodate up to eighty more seats. While the MTOW of the aircraft has been increased to 1,274,000 tons, it retains its range capability. The A380plus is in response to the lowered demand in Jumbo Jet type aircraft, carriers moving towards more compact, nimble offerings in the current travel climate.

July 2017 - Falling market need and increased operating costs are putting the long-term future of the jumbo A380 in doubt.

September 2017 - An A380 modified with new drag-reducing, laminar-flow outer wing panels flew for the first time.

January 2018 - Airbus will continue production of A380 aircraft into the 2020s thanks to an order from Emirates Airline for 36 of the type (16 of these being option aircraft).

February 2019 - The A380 program now appears to be in jeopardy with Emirates looking to cancel some or all of its earlier A380 order now that the marketplace remains cold for oversized passenger haulers. The loss of the order could mean the A380 lines will be closed for good.

February 2019 - On February 14th, 2019, Airbus announced that it will end its struggling A380 program.

June 2019 - The A380 program is expected to end with the completion of the 274th production A380 form.

July 2019 - In response to cracking reported on outer rear spars of operational A380s, Airbus and EASA have been actively developing a new inspection program.

September 2019 - The first units of A380 passenger jet airliners have begun official retirement by air carrier Emirates.

November 2020 - Hi-Fly of Portugal is ending its operations involving the A380, focusing its efforts on the A330 series instead.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Airbus A380-800 Wide-Body, Long-Range Commercial Passenger Airliner.
4 x Engine Alliance GP7270 OR Rolls-Royce Trent 970/B turbofan engines developing between 72,000lbf to 84,000lbf of thrust each.
634 mph
1,020 kph | 551 kts
Max Speed
43,028 ft
13,115 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
9,445 miles
15,200 km | 8,207 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Airbus A380-800 Wide-Body, Long-Range Commercial Passenger Airliner.
239.5 ft
73.00 m
O/A Length
261.8 ft
(79.80 m)
O/A Width
79.1 ft
(24.10 m)
O/A Height
610,240 lb
(276,800 kg)
Empty Weight
1,234,589 lb
(560,000 kg)
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
Notable series variants as part of the Airbus A380 family line.
A380-800 - Base Passenger Hauler Model
A380-800 (Improved) - Improved A380-800 with increased MTOW and increased range.
A380-900 - Proposed (delayed) passenger model with more internal seating (650).
A380-800F - Base Freighter Model (delayed).
A380plus - Announced at Paris Air Show 2017; upgraded A380 with fuel-saving winglets; revised internals for an increase of 80 more passenger seats; MTOW increased to 1,274,000lb while retaining same range capability.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Airbus A380. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 250 Units

Contractor(s): Airbus - France
National flag of Australia National flag of China National flag of France National flag of modern Germany National flag of Iran National flag of Malaysia National flag of Portugal National flag of Singapore National flag of South Korea National flag of Thailand National flag of the United Arab Emirates National flag of the United Kingdom

[ Australia; China; France; Germany; Iran; Malaysia; Portugal; Singapore; South Korea; Thailand; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (634mph).

Graph Average of 563 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Airbus A380 Wide-Body, Long-Range Commercial Passenger Airliner appears in the following collections:
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