You are on page 1of 3

Name: Daniel Bowley-Smith Reference Number: 2143825

Date: 28/03/2013

The Airbus A380, Last of the Mega Airliners? The human spirit is mankind’s greatest asset. It persistently questions and probes the fabric of our understanding in the hopes of breaking past it and discovering previously undreamed of frontiers. There is no purer example of the human spirit than man’s desire to reach for the sky. Impossible and unimaginable projects such the development of the Airbus A380 are the corner stone of and industry that itself was considered impossible until a little more than a lifetime ago. But to think that aviation is at its highest would be senseless… we’re just starting to get off the runway. One of the aspects that make the projects like the Airbus A380 not only viable but also essential is the increasingly rapid advancement of technology. One of the Airbus A380 projects main challenges was the reduction of weight on the behemoth aircraft which they found, when using standard materials, was much too heavy. The challenge was posed to manufacturing companies around the world to reduce the weight of materials used. The answer came in the form of three fibre reinforced plastic composites: Carbon-fibre, quartsfibre and glass fibre. These composites were used extensively in the construction of the wings and tail of the A380 and compromise 20% of the aircraft. They proved to be not only light and easy to repair and replace but also more impact resistant than standard aircraftgrade aluminium alloy. Not to be outdone, many new techniques were employed in order to reduce the weight of the aluminium such as laser beam welding. This technique in particular eliminated the need for many rows of rivets resulting in a lighter, stronger and more precise bond. With the combined effort of engineers all over Europe the Airbus A380 was brought below its operating weight of 277 tons. It was an outstanding achievement and proved that even the biggest commercial aircraft in the world was no match for human ingenuity and that aeronautical engineers were not shy to go bigger and better. But even with the weight massively reduced this mega-plane wasn’t going anywhere without power and a lot of it. The manufacturers who stepped up to the plate were Rolls Royce. Although the company had been designing high-end aircraft engines for decades this project was of an altogether different standard. The engines they designed needed to not only overcome the massive 50% increase in weight but also surpass it. This is to ensure that if one engine failed during flight the other three would still have enough thrust to keep the plane in the sky. In late 2000 Rolls Royce provided a solution, their custom designed aircraft engine; the Trent 900. It was the most powerful commercial aviation engine they had ever built and came in at a price of 15 million dollars each. However the price was more than worth it as the Trent 900 overcame all expectations. At peak operations the engine managed to produce up to 80 thousand pounds of force, over 30% more thrust than its Boeing 747 counterparts.

while keeping the number of passengers the same.Once again engineers proved that that could more than just show up to the party and that they were willing to tackle and take down even the biggest challenges. Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA). In fact the increase was so rapid that demand outstripped supply resulting in the overcrowded airports. thereby reducing congestion on the runway and in the terminal building. higher and faster? The answer is simple economics: supply and demand. faster and more powerful so too do they get more complex and become harder to operate. composites and plush interior more major technological breakthroughs are taking place. But as to global population grew and cost of tickets decreased. But what drives this insatiable need to fly bigger. so the number of people traveling by air increased. . releasing it in 2007. once reserved for top secret military aircraft. long queues and even longer delays we see today. are now changing the way modern commercial pilots control their aircraft. But demand grew exponentially and soon the commercial airline industry was back at square one. Once again the face of commercial airliners was changed forever. unprecedented efficiency. As we know today it was Airbus who finally decided to take the considerable risk and create the Airbus A380. Before the mid 1960’s air travel was considered a luxury that was reserved only for the most wealthy and influential people. But beneath the welds. Major airports around the world had to redesign their terminals to cope with the massive capacity of the A380. No sooner than problem presents itself does a solution is derived to counter and more than solve it. Information about what it happening in and around the aircraft is therefore more precise and easier to read as a result. leading to more informed and therefore safer decisions by the pilot. But as aeroplanes get bigger. The aim was to reduce the number of planes passing through an airport. Although the initial cost was high the result was palpable. IMA provide real-time pinpoint accurate information to the pilot through glass and led displays known as Glass Cockpits. However Boeing was content to rest on its laurels. The IMA receives its information from ultra-high speed Ethernet cables which transfer data from wingtip to cockpit at lighting speeds negating the lag found in less sophisticated aircraft. breaking a previously impenetrable barrier and creating a space for the further development of the aeronautics industry. Since then the Boeing 747 has been modified and remastered dozens of times over in order to keep up with global demand and safety measures. During long trips around the world human error is removed with the implementation of an auto-pilot super computer that can solve complex multi-dimensional equations in a matter of Nano-seconds in order to keep the aircraft on course. The first major response to this demand was the development of the iconic Boeing 747 in 1970 which carried over 400 passengers at a time. Controls and operations become further apart resulting in a slight delay that cannot be tolerated at speed in excess of 1000km/h and where the lives of over 500 people are at stake. continually redesigning their golden goose and reaping the rewards. It was a major success and changed the history of commercial airliners.

time and time again the indomitability of the human spirit is proved to the world. However we have also seen that no matter what the challenge. no matter how infinitely big the problem. What seems impossible today becomes a reality tomorrow and it our job to prove to ourselves and the rest of the world that the sky truly isn’t the limit. . Materials can always be lightened. engines can be made faster and more powerful and computers become smarter and more precise. What many perceive as the twilight of mega aeronautics is exactly the opposite.But in our rapidly expanding world with population set to hit 8 billion and above by 2020 will the Airbus A380 be enough? As we have seen in the past even monumental breakthroughs in passenger transport only have a significant effect on the aviation industry for a decade or so before demand catches up. the era of the ultra-liners. it is the light of a new dawn which heralds the coming of a new era.