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Last Updated : Jun 19, 2020 05:58 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

In pics | The story of A380, the superjumbo everyone loved

Though popular, Airbus could never make money on this $25 billion project

As the convey of A380 aircraft's outsize parts, sometimes bigger than the buildings they crawled by, went through the French village of Levignac earlier this week, it was a bittersweet moment for the residents. Many had a lump in their throats. After all, it was the last such convey of what was the world's largest passenger airliner. How did one of the most popular aircraft ever come to an abrupt end? (Image: Reuters)
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As the convey of A380 aircraft's outsize parts, sometimes bigger than the buildings they crawled by, went through the French village of Levignac earlier this week, it was a bittersweet moment for the residents. Many had a lump in their throats. After all, it was the last such convey of what was the world's largest passenger airliner. How did one of the most popular aircraft ever come to an abrupt end? (Image: Reuters)

First some history. The project was announced in 1990, but it was not before another 15 years when it first flew, in 2005. The project, which was initially budgeted at $10.7 billion, eventually cost Airbus $25 billion. It was meant to beat the dominance of rival Boeing's 747 aircraft. (Image: Pixabay)
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First some history. The project was announced in 1990, but it was not before another 15 years when it first flew, in 2005. The project, which was initially budgeted at $10.7 billion, eventually cost Airbus $25 billion. It was meant to beat the dominance of rival Boeing's 747 aircraft. (Image: Pixabay)

The A380 is a 'superjumbo' in every aspect. Imagine this, it has 40 percent more floor space than the next biggest airliner. The average economy seat, in a 10-seat configuration,  is 19-inch wide, against 17.5 inches in the 747. If all economy, the aircraft can seat 853 passengers. In the typical three-class configuration, 525 fliers and fit in. (Image Source: Reuters)
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The A380 is a 'superjumbo' in every aspect. Imagine this, it has 40 percent more floor space than the next biggest airliner. The average economy seat, in a 10-seat configuration,  is 19-inch wide, against 17.5 inches in the 747. If all economy, the aircraft can seat 853 passengers. In the typical three-class configuration, 525 fliers and fit in. (Image Source: Reuters)

How many wheels can you count? There are 22 wheels in total (two at the front), most for any aircraft. The large number was crucial as the weight was spread across. Also with 22 wheels, there was no need to reinforce pavement of runways as was earlier thought. (Image: Pixabay)
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How many wheels can you count? There are 22 wheels in total (two at the front), most for any aircraft. The large number was crucial as the weight was spread across. Also with 22 wheels, there was no need to reinforce pavement of runways as was earlier thought. (Image: Pixabay)

Singapore Airlines was the first to take delivery of A380, in October 2007. In a charity auction of seats in the first flight, passengers paid anywhere between $560 and $100,380 for a seat. Another interesting trivia - An A380 is as long as two blue whales and as tall as five giraffes. (Image: Singapore Airlines)
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Singapore Airlines was the first to take delivery of A380, in October 2007. In a charity auction of seats in the first flight, passengers paid anywhere between $560 and $100,380 for a seat. Another interesting trivia - An A380 is as long as two blue whales and as tall as five giraffes. (Image: Pixabay)

Soon after its launch, airlines marvelled at is fuel efficiency. Singapore Airlines said that the A380 burned 20 percent less fuel per seat-mile than the carrier's 747-400 fleet. By 2014, Airbus had delivered 100 superjumbo. (Image: Pixabay)
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Soon after its launch, airlines marvelled at is fuel efficiency. Singapore Airlines said that the A380 burned 20 percent less fuel per seat-mile than the carrier's 747-400 fleet. By 2014, Airbus had delivered 100 superjumbo. (Image: Pixabay)

That's a shower spa in an A380 operated by Emirates. The Dubai-based airline pushed the aircraft as the epitome of luxury and had a fairly successful run with the plane, flying over 100 million passengers. It became the larger operator of the superjumbo with a fleet of 115 A380s, with eight more to come. But earlier this year, the dream run seemed to have come to an end. (Image: Emirates)
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That's a shower spa in an A380 operated by Emirates. The Dubai-based airline pushed the aircraft as the epitome of luxury and had a fairly successful run with the plane, flying over 100 million passengers. It became the larger operator of the superjumbo with a fleet of 115 A380s, with eight more to come. But earlier this year, the dream run seemed to have come to an end. (Image: Emirates)

Airbus A380
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Emirates has announced plans to ground over 40 of its A380s, one of the many steps it has taken, faced with the disruption COVID-19 has caused. But the signs of A380's waning prowess were visible much earlier. In February last year, Emirates opted for A350 and A330neo, instead of the A380s. (Image: Reuters)

The decline of the A380 underlines the evolution of the aviation sector. The superjumbo relied on the then popular hub-and-spoke model, wherein smaller aircraft feed passengers from many cities to one centre, from where large planes fly to international destinations. Instead, airlines now prefer flying their aircraft point to point, with no need for a collection centre. (Image: Pixabay)
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The decline of the A380 underlines the evolution of the aviation sector. The superjumbo relied on the then popular hub-and-spoke model, wherein smaller aircraft feed passengers from many cities to one centre, from where large planes fly to international destinations. Instead, airlines now prefer flying their aircraft point to point, with no need for a collection centre. (Image: Pixabay)

Airbus, which was forced to sell A380 below the cost price, will deliver the last of its superjumbo in 2021. It was a short and expensive love story. (Image: Pixabay)
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Airbus, which was forced to sell A380 below the cost price, will deliver the last of its superjumbo in 2021. It was a short and expensive love story. (Image: Pixabay)

First Published on Jun 19, 2020 04:37 pm
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