Major global aircraft manufacturer Airbus earlier this month unveiled a proposed refined version of its flagship product, the A380 Super Jumbo airliner. This proposal is designated the A380plus, and is intended to increase the aircraft’s economics and efficiency, while retaining passenger comfort.
The A380plus design incorporates various aerodynamic refinements. The most important of these are large new winglets, although there are also other refinements to the wing design. These winglets are some 4.7 m in height (3.5 m above the wing and 1.2 m below the wing). These aerodynamic improvements would reduce the airliner’s fuel consumption by up to 4%. Added to improved cabin features, already unveiled in April at the Aircraft Interiors Expo, these enhancements would reduce the aircraft’s cost per seat by 13%, compared with the current standard A380s.
“The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better economics and improved operational performance at the same time,” stated Airbus COO: customers John Leahy. “It is a new step for our iconic aircraft to best serve worldwide fast-growing traffic and the evolving needs of the A380 customers. “The A380 is well proven as the solution to increasing congestion at large airports and in offering a unique, passenger-preferred experience.”
The maximum takeoff weight of the A380plus has been increased to 578 t. This would allow it to carry up to 80 more passengers (without any reduction in passenger comfort) over the current range of 8 200 nautical miles (nm), or carry the same number of passengers as current A380s over a 300-nm-longer range. The A380plus would also benefit from systems improvements and enjoy longer intervals between maintenance checks and a shorter six-year check downtime. These will result in lower maintenance costs and improved aircraft availability.
The previously announced cabin improvements are new forward stairs, a combined crew rest compartment, eleven-abreast seating on the main deck, a new aft (rear) galley stair module, removal of the business class sidewall stowage on the upper deck, and nine-abreast premium economy seating on the main deck. A380s in service today have an average capacity of 497 passengers. These changes to the cabin would increase this to 575 passengers in four classes.
Thus, the new forward stairs – which would see the forward stairs moved from Door 1 to Door 2, and combine the entrance of these new stairs to the upper deck (going up) with the adjacent stairs to the lower deck (going down to the crew rest area) – would create space for up to 20 extra passengers. With the new combined crew rest area, the flight crew rest area would be combined with the cabin crew rest area on the lower deck; the current flight crew rest area, behind the cockpit on a mezzanine area, would be eliminated, creating room for three more premium economy class seats on the main deck.
The eleven-abreast main deck economy-class seating would be arranged in a 3-5-3 pattern, while retaining the 18-inch (45.72 cm) seat width. This would add another 23 seats. The nine-abreast premium economy seating has been made possible by the width of the A380 fuselage at main deck level and by optimised seat designs; the result is space for 11 more premium economy passengers.
The new aft galley stair module involves the replacement of a spiral staircase with a straight and square one. This creates more space for galley modules on the main deck, allowing space for two extra food trolleys. It also releases space for 14 more passenger seats. Taking away the sidewall stowage areas on the upper deck increases the wall-to-wall width of the cabin at the height of the foot rests. This, coupled with the use of a herring-bone arrangement of the seats/beds, allows for the accommodation of ten more business class passengers.
The A380 is the world’s largest airliner and so far more than 170-million passengers have flown on this aircraft. Airbus reports that an A380 takes off or lands somewhere in the world every two minutes.