Airbus A380 production finally getting up to speed – 30th plane delivered

The Airbus A380 launch got off to a very rocky start – delayed deliveries and a sagging economy made this mega-jumbo look pretty bleak for some time. Thankfully, Airbus seems to have found the right rhythm, because they are now on target to deliver 20 of them in 2010.

On Thursday, the European aviation consortium delivered its 30th A380 to Dubai based Emirates, making it the tenth A380 in their fleet. At $346 million each – this is no cheap plane, but that has not stopped airlines ordering 202 of them.

Despite all the fanfare over which airplane builder is better – the A380 is an amazing plane, and one that is quickly on its way to becoming a common sight at airports around the world.

Lufthansa takes delivery of its first Airbus A380 super jumbo

Earlier this week, Lufthansa Airlines took delivery of their first Airbus A380. With room for 388 passengers in coach, 98 in business class and 8 in first class, this is one massive plane. For the passengers in coach, the experience is nothing too special – with a 3-4-3 layout, there are a huge number of “middle seats”, but at least each seat has its own personal video screen.

The new plane has been named “Frankfurt Am Main” and will enter scheduled service on June 11th when it starts flying passengers between Frankfurt and Tokyo. By fall 2010, Lufthansa will have four Airbus A380’s in their fleet.

In the gallery below, you’ll see for yourself just how massive this plane is – the first class bathroom alone is larger than some puddle jumpers I’ve been on.


A380 encounters trouble – again

Everyone was eager to see the Air France A380 leave New York and head for Paris this week, but a fuel-tank issue kept it on the ground at JFK. This was the second problem the world’s largest plane had in getting off the ground since it started bouncing between New York and Paris just under a month ago.

The A380 is nothing short of hefty, accommodating 511 passengers, and it gets thirsty. So, when the airline found that fuel wasn’t moving properly between its tanks, it had to keep the beast on the tarmac. The 21 A380s in operation by four airlines have completed 8,700 flights and carried 3 million passengers.

The plane’s maiden flight was from Paris to New York on November 20, 2009. A week later, an Air France A380 had to return to New York after only 90 minutes in the air because of a technical issue that wasn’t disclosed.

Airbus A380 is a big plane and a big pain in the behind

The Airbus A380 has been in service for over 16 months and a total of 13 of these monsters have been delivered to airlines around the world.

One of those airlines is Qantas, who use the plane on their Sydney-Los Angeles route.

Of course, a plane this big offers some major logistical challenges to designers, but the airports they visit get their fair share of hassles too.

Los Angeles airport has had to make special arrangements for the superjumbo, including shutting down service roads and halting other aircraft on taxiways when the plane is being positioned. The wingspan of the A380 is so big that it actually intrudes on the safety zone on either side of the tarmac.

When the A380 is ready for takeoff, air traffic controllers make sure their tower is fully staffed, and the plane receives priority over any other traffic. The plane is so big, that when it prepares to take off in bad weather, the tower tries to let it get airborne as soon as possible to prevent its jumbo size from blocking radio transmissions from airport towers.

Still, despite the hassles, the plane is a blessing for an airport suffering from the global decline in air traffic – LAX has lost 650 flights a day, and since airports make money off planes and passengers, having a superjumbo visit your airport is a sure way to make up for some of those losses.

(Via: LA Times Online)

French Airline signs deal for 840 passenger A380 superjumbo

Airlines placing an order for new planes is normally not really newsworthy, but a memorandum of understanding signed yesterday between French airline Air Austral and Airbus for 2 A380’s is something special.

Air Austral will be the first airline to order the A380 with seating designed to its fullest capacity.

That means a whopping 840 passengers spread out between the double decks of this superjumbo. It also means the end of the dream that the A380 would only offer the finest in passenger comfort with onboard bars and casinos.

Air Austral plans to operate the 2 A380’s on their Paris-Réunion route, which they describe as “high density”.

Of course, flying a plane this big into Roland Garros airport will probably require some tweaks to the facilities, or things may become a little clogged when all 840 passengers plus crew try to make their way land side.

Air Austral actually operates a pretty impressive route network, and has scheduled flights from Réunion to Sydney, Bankok and Madagascar, to name just a few.

(Via: Airbus press release)