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Does the Airbus A380 have the best efficiency for future long distance air travel?

Photo courtesy Airbus

Mercer University School of Engineering Professional Practices, Dr. Davis J. Dunlop

Statistics of the A380

The plane is 239.5 feet long, 79 feet tall, and has a wing span of 261.8 feet. The Airbus A380 has two passenger decks that can hold a maximum of 840 passengers when configured to a single economy class. The plane is usually configured to have a first class, a business class, and an economy class. With this configuration the plane can hold 555 passengers.

Statistics cont.
Engines: Four 302 to 374kN (68,000 to 84,000 pounds of thrust) Rolls Royce Trent 900 or 363kN (81,500 pounds of thrust) Engine Alliance (General Electric-Pratt & Whitney) GP-7200 turbofans. Special dampeners reduce the noise produced by the engines. Wings: They are Manufactured in one length, which decreases component weight. Creep forming reduces the amount of stress on the wings. They are sculpted with a cross-section that changes shape from one side to the other which promotes maximum efficiency. With the four engines the plane has a maximum cruising speed of M 0.88 while the long range cruising speed is M 0.85. The plane has a range of 8,000 nautical miles.

Courtesy Johan

Statistics cont.
Fuselage: Roughly 25 percent of the fuselage is constructed of light weight materials, including titanium and carbon-fiber, which allow for the plane to be lighter than if it were constructed out of the typical steel. The Airbus A380 has a maximum take off capacity of 1,234,600 pounds and operates empty at 610,700 pounds. The preferred altitude for maximum efficiency is 43,000 feet above sea level. The Airbus A380 provides a 15 to 20 percent decrease in per-passenger operating costs. Also the plane has numerous backup systems which allow for minimal mechanical failure.

Courtesy Airbus

Airbus A380 Promotional Video

Efficiency of the plane

Since the Airbus A380 can carry 555 passengers in its three-class configuration, it burns 17 percent less fuel per passenger than a Boeing 747 (used in comparison with the A380), which can only carry 416 passengers. The engines used for the Airbus A380 are high-efficiency engines, which use updated technology to better fuel efficiency and minimize effects on the environment. The special dampeners used on the engines reduce the output noise of the engines to about half that of other jumbo jets. Production of the Airbus is also very efficient. Airbus uses new, cleaner technologies that have less impact on the environment.

Courtesy Flug Revue

Airbus A380 vs. Boeing 747

Airbus A380 Boeing 747

Length Height Weight: Empty Weight: Maximum takeoff Crew Passengers (three-class configuration) Seating configuration Range

261 10
239 6 79 610,700 pounds 1,234,600 pounds 2 555 Two decks, two aisles per deck 8,000 nm

211 5
231 10 63 8 393,263 pounds 875,000 pounds 2 416 Two decks, two aisles on the main deck 7,260 nm

Airbus A380 vs. Boeing 747 cont.

Airbus A380 Boeing 747

Service ceiling
Top cruising speed Long-distance cruising speed

43,000 feet
Mach 0.88 Mach 0.85

41,000 feet
Mach 0.92 Mach 0.85


4 Rolls-Royce Trent 900 turbofans (initially 70,000 pounds of thrust; cleared at 80,000 pounds of thrust) or 4 Engine Alliance GP7200 turbofans (approximately 82,000 pounds of thrust)

4 Pratt & Whitney PW4062 turbofans (63,300 pounds of thrust) or 4 Rolls-Royce RB211-524 H2-T (59,500 pounds of thrust) or General Electric CF680C2B5F (62,000 pounds of thrust)

Social Impact
The Airbus A380 not only carries more passengers, but it also uses cleaner technology which helps reduce the amount of emissions. By burning 17 percent less fuel per passenger, the Airbus A380 has a smaller impact on the environment. With more people on a single plane, we will be able to reduce the number of airplanes in the sky, thus decreasing air pollution and air traffic congestion. With only minor renovations, airports will be able to accept the Airbus A380, making it a perfect substitute for the out dated Boeing 747. Not only is the A380 more efficient than the 747, it also provides more comfort to passengers. The quieter engines allow for a quieter cabin which passengers can benefit from.


Public Review: Pros

The Airbus A380 is a great aircraft for today's interconnected world. Having the Airbus A380 available when the "Open Skies" agreement goes into effect next year between the US and Europe will make it possible for millions of people to safely cross the Atlantic in a modern, spacious and comfortable Airbus A380 at very competitive fares. In response to number 2, bear in mind that most Boeing's are more than 20+ years old, and are fairly outdated. the Airbus's however, tend to be easier to maintain, with more modern functions, and from what i have heard, much more reliable. granted, i do love Boeing, but when was the last time you heard of an airbus crash due to a technical or mechanical failure? I just took the A380 from Sydney to Singapore in Business Class and I must say it was one of the best flights ever! Super quiet, quick take-off and landing, more spacious than ever before, fresh air all along, continuously running water in the bathrooms (No more juggling the tab with one hand!!), no signs of the usual fatigue and the best service you can expect from Singapore Airlines! Love this bird, looking forward to flying back to Sydney with it in 2 weeks!

Public Review: Cons

If it ain't Boeing, I'm not going! You say 'The rest of us will enjoy the big thrill of flying on such a titanic vessel.' No way! It takes way too long to board and deplane from a much smaller airliner. I can't imagine ever voluntarily flying on this monster. Ten across seating over the ocean? Just say no... And does anyone really think that the airlines will opt in the long term for giving coach passengers more room, over shoving in a couple of extra seats? This is a demonstrator flight, showing what could be--not what will be after the bean counters get a hold of it. The plane looks great, however I noticed an awful lot of flex on the wings when it lands. I wonder how that will play out in the stress factor?

So what
With all of the information presented, it is clear to me that the Airbus A380 is the best plane for long distance traveling. With the planes technology and seating capacity, it is able to reduce the percent of fuel burned per passenger. This leads to a decrease in emissions which are harmful to the environment. The Airbus A380 truly is Greener. Cleaner. Quieter. Smarter. (quote from Airbus).

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