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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2521

The Rise and Fall of the King of Stratosphere: Airbus to end the production of A 380

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London...

The unexpected announcement by Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer, on Valentine’s Day that the production of A380 passenger aircrafts would end, did break plenty of hearts across the world; they include pilots, passengers and aviation enthusiasts, who love the presence of the elegant giant in the sky or on land and are in awe of it at the first sight.

The move was something anticipated owing to the fall of orders from the major airlines, for some time. The decision by Emirates to trim down their order of the A 380 aircrafts seems to be the last straw.

By coincidence, the announcement was made in the same week that its predecessor, first Jumbo, Boeing 747, celebrated its 50 years in service. By comparison, A 380, superjumbo, has been in service for just over 12 years.

Airbus introduced its own superjumbo, A 380, in anticipation of growing passenger numbers, more long-haul flights in proportion to those numbers and of course, rising number of major hubs across the world.

Although this is not a miscalculation by the industry on its part, it is basic economics that determined the fate of the A 380, just after a decade, since it first made its maiden flight. Airbus says that the last delivery of the aircrafts would be made in 2021.

A 380, the spacious aircraft, loved by pilots, crew and passengers, could never compete with the popular smaller aircrafts on efficiency: powered by 4 giant Rolls-Royce engines, 71m long aircraft is the world’s largest passenger plane that can carry up to 800 passengers, compared with its nearest rival, 73m long Boeing 747, which can carry 660 passengers; its sheer size and the potential weight posed the challenge of powering it in order to get it airborne, which proved to be costly for the airlines.

On the other hand, Airbus could not make any profit by selling the aircrafts, despite the sale figure standing at 234.

As for the airlines, the plane must be flown at full capacity to make sustainability – and aircraft – afloat in crowded skies. Since it is easier said than done, more and more airlines are opting for smaller aircrafts in order to stay relevant in the industry.

Since four European nations are involved in its production, Germany, UK, France and Spain, the end of the production of A 380 will result in some job losses in the countries in question. The company, however, says, they will minimize the job losses by transferring the workers into other sections of the company.

Airbus says it will now focus on smaller, two-engine and fuel efficient aircrafts in line with the aspirations of the airlines. Such an approach would appease the Green lobby too, which could use A 380 as its poster to highlight the damage to the environment with the use of four gas-guzzling engines.

a 380

Despite the unceremonious end, A 380 left its mark in the sand of aviation history, exactly like Boeing 747 and Concorde did ; the former raise the capacity to a new height, whereas the latter provided the ordinary passengers with the thrill of flying at supersonic speeds.

- Asian Tribune -

The Rise and Fall of the King of Stratosphere: Airbus to end the production of A 380
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