A380 Facts and Figures

 • The Airbus A380 is the world's biggest jet airliner and the first to have two decks along its full length. It accommodates 525 passengers in a standard configuration, almost 100 more than the rival Boeing 747, the next biggest.

• Conceived in the late 1980s as a response to the 747 jumbo jet, the A380 was the European corporation's first attempt to break into the ultra-large commercial aircraft sector dominated by Boeing. Airbus staked its future on the concept of bigger is better, gambling that airlines would want to fly as many passengers as possible on a smaller amount of larger aircraft to major airports, before they spread out to their final destinations. This is known as "hub and spoke". By contrast, Boeing has gone the other way with "point to point", betting that airlines will use smaller aircraft flying direct to passengers final destinations.

• Named the Airbus A3XX during its early development, the aircraft soon become known as the super-jumbo, a label which has stuck despite Airbus's efforts to promote it as the "gentle giant" because of its relatively green characteristics.  

 • Airbus promotes the A380 as using 2.9 litres of fuel per passenger per 100 kilometres, against the current airline fleet average of 5 litres, but these figures are argued by rival manufacturers.

• The four-engined A380 uses two suppliers for engines - Trent 900s made by Rolls-Royce and GP7000s from Engine Alliance, a joint venture between GE and Pratt & Whitney. Both manufacturers developed their existing gas turbine technology to create engines for the A380. Designers had to produce an engine which could produce enough air to get such a massive aircraft off the ground, meet demanding noise limits yet still have a frugal fuel consumption to maximise range and cut costs while satisfying environmentalists.

Production and delivery of the A380 was beset by problems and it arrived into service years late. As well as hold-ups caused by new materials and technologies being developed, other complications included contractors using different versions of the same piece of software that led to them working in different measurements. The announcement of the delays led to a near 30pc drop in the share price of Airbus's parent company EADS.

• The first A380 went into service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007, followed by Emirates in July the following year, then Qantas two months later. So far 234 A380s have been ordered, with 38 delivered.


 A380 specification:

Length: 239ft
Height: 79ft
Wingspan: 262ft
Passengers: 525 in three-cabin layout
Maximum takeoff weight: 1,239,000lb
Range: 8,200 nautical miles
Thrust: 4 x 70,000lb gas turbines


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