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Airbus A380: The world's largest passenger plane ever



Airbus A380 cross section
Picture by Airbus Industries

Not only larger, quieter and cheaper: The new super jumbo jet A 380 leaves behind anything ever existed within the range of the past passenger planes. And Austria can be proud of one of the severest competitors of the Boeing 747 either.

The new ruler of the air makes short process with the old: Within a larger distance the airbus A380 is able to bring more passengers more comfortably to its goal, thereby needs clearly less fuel and is cheaper, more environment-friendly and quieter in the enterprise.

Airbus A380 Economy Class

With its 747-Jumbojet Boeing preserved the monopoly in the king class of the large capacity flyers for unbelievable 36 years. A piece of cake one should think – to present a young prince in order to push an old regent from the throne. But it is not as simple as it looks like, in the realm of the largest and with millions of puzzle-parts most complex machines, ever built by human beings. Boeing had already been taking risks with the building of the 747 and had to face harsh criticism in the 60's concerning megalomania: Nobody would buy such a flying elephant. As a matter of fact the jumbo jet was very successful. Until today the USA had the largest piece of the aviation cake for itself, because the competition shunned the construction costs for such a mega jet.

Airbus A380 First Class preliminary design
Picture by Airbus Industries

The development of the A380 devoured 12 billion Euros. An enormous amount, which has to be re-gained and in addition the new giant of the air must be so captivating that it practically displaces the 747. Because in this weight class the combat cry in order to write black numbers is: There can be only one! Or like Niki Lauda alludes in the interview: "Now the Americans are scared and threatened. They thought nobody would dare to do that."

Meanwhile Boeing announces that the time of the jumbo jets is over. As a result they do not reputedly improve the 747 anymore. Airbus believes in the opposite and exults: 149 sold machines (unit price 280 million Euros), even before the first A380 goes into the air for tests this year springtime, are a good start. But airbus utilized a bunch of High Tech tricks, to lighten the initially rather heavy aircraft in such a way, that the promises to the airlines could have been kept: instead of rivets laser welded seams, high pressure hydraulic systems for weight decrease and, as airbus speaker David Voskuhl explains with enthusiasm in the interview: "40 per cent of the A380 are made off light, high-firm composite materials as, Glare ' an airbus secret formula composed of aluminum and glass fibers, or carbon. To the latter the Austrians have contributed a lot with the Fischer Company."

"Altogether around the A380 orders Austrian companies have pulled off approximately the value of a billion Euros", Dr. Klaus Pseiner, boss of the Austrian research promotion company says proudly: "One can say confidently: Without us the bird would not fly!"

Airbus A380 Bar preliminary design

Despite gigantic mass – the A380 is with 79,5 m wing span, 560 tons of takeoff weight and a capacity of maximally 840 seats the largest passenger airplane of all ages and is only surpassed by the Russian transporter Antonov 225 (wing span 88 m) and the US water plane Hughes Hk-1 of 1947 (wing span 97 m to see in the motion picture "Aviator") – after a smaller number of alterations large airports should not have a problem with the super bird. Lauda: "It is faster in the air and needs less space for landing than the 747." And: "What would such a giant be useful for, if one needs five parking lots for two airplanes?" With its wings the A380 is just small enough, and it can still be a bit extended for later versions.

Compare the Size of the Airbus A380 800 with the Antonov An-225 and Boeing 747 400

After that the double-decker, which is as huge as a six-level high house, will still have space for more passengers or for a bar with fountains for air humidification, as airbus designers suggest. Or maybe as also being planned, a patient and mortuary compartment for sudden incidents as well as a prison cell for rioters.

Will Austria ever accommodate such a flying city? Niki Lauda: "AUA would never have the courage..."


The first airbus A380 should be delivered before 2006 to Singapore Airlines, purchaser of the first European super jumbo jet, which will be flying from London to Singapore. The machine will have less than 480 seats, however due to the division into three classes, they offer increased comfort. Singapore Changi Airport was already converted for around more than 50 million Euros in order to meet the new requirements.


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© A report by Tobias Micke (16-01-05) – Contact