A380 on Airliners.net
December 10, 2005 12:07 PM   Subscribe

Note the champagne boxes. Lots of amazing interior and aerial photos of the new Airbus A380 are up on Airliners.net. It's a huge, huge plane. [There is more inside.]
posted by brownpau (36 comments total)
Flight deck: 1, 2
Upper deck with ballast tanks: 1, 2
Lower deck with test equipment and cargo: 1, 2, 3, 4 (note the temporary lavatories and champagne boxes)
More stuff: Test crew seating, a lovely overhead view for scale, wing droop.

Boeing has responded with plans for a 747-800 (not to be confused with the 747-800 GigaTop), to which Airbus might respond with the A383.
posted by brownpau at 12:08 PM on December 10, 2005

Also see previous thread on the A380.
posted by brownpau at 12:09 PM on December 10, 2005

that's one impressive motherfucker of a big plane! thanks!
posted by matteo at 12:15 PM on December 10, 2005

Thanks for the link. I thought this was an interesting Ask The Pilot column [salon: ad watching required] on some of the aesthetic differences between the 747 and A380:
"Air does not yield to style" is a quip once attributed to an Airbus aerodynamicist. True to his word, the company has reached the summit of ignominy with the A380 -- a colossal technological marvel and possibly the ugliest commercial jet ever made...With its abruptly sloping forehead, the A380 resembles a huge steroidal porpoise -- an A340 with a bad case of elephantiasis. The tail? Well, it's just a tail.
posted by Staggering Jack at 12:20 PM on December 10, 2005

Can't read the text on those boxes, but are you saying that the orange one is Veuve Clicquot?

Dang, that veuve (= the widow) C. dig hook us all up with that "method champagne" she invented. Kudos to her.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:21 PM on December 10, 2005

Interestingly, the A380 cabin is only 1 ft 7 in wider and 21 ft shorter than that of the Boeing 747. But two full-sized cabins does make it pretty impressive.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:30 PM on December 10, 2005

Ugh, I hate that 747-800 site (yep, run by Boeing)... ok, I want the aircraft length... do I choose "innovation", "opportunity", "versatility", or "responsibility"?
posted by rolypolyman at 12:33 PM on December 10, 2005

Wow. Plane porn. Love it.
posted by AspectRatio at 12:42 PM on December 10, 2005

What airports can even handle these things right now?

I see the biggest impact from the A380 being on the air cargo industry. By my calculations from about a year ago, you could fly direct from Shenzen to Memphis with a full load. As a hub-to-hub air cargo hauler, it could have a big impact even if major airprts never refit to take them.
posted by lodurr at 12:44 PM on December 10, 2005

What airports can even handle these things right now?

Not Midway, that's for sure.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 12:49 PM on December 10, 2005

I'd love to see it on approach to Kai Tak. From far away, like perhaps in Stanley.
posted by kcm at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2005

jesus christ it's running windoze
posted by rodney stewart at 1:06 PM on December 10, 2005

Is it just me, or does it look like the screens directly behind the sticks are displaying a windows app in this picture? Am I the only one who thinks that windows (or any other general-purpose OS) has no place in the operation of an aircraft?

On preview (damn, need to type faster)
posted by darkness at 1:08 PM on December 10, 2005

rodney stewart, this talk is right up your alley. take a read.
posted by kcm at 1:08 PM on December 10, 2005

There was once a weight concern about the A380 -- that it would literally crush the concrete -- but the number of landing gear seems to safely distribute the mass on runways built to present jumbo standards. There doesn't seem to be a concern about runway length, but runway and especially taxiway width are problematic. The wingspan is 18 inches less than the maximum FAA standard, and airports need to rebuild boarding areas to accomodate the plane. Not only are the wings wider, the FAA hasn't yet certified the aircraft for the 150' runway standard because of the width of the wheelbase. JFK had to rebuild an entire taxiway.

Even so, the plane is probably going to run up an impressive list of minor clipping incidents, from lightpoles to other planes.
posted by dhartung at 1:11 PM on December 10, 2005

My four year old worships this site.
posted by fungible at 1:15 PM on December 10, 2005

I wonder how long it will be before someone installs MS Flight Simulator on the flight deck and plays it in-flight with those fancy joysticks and pedals?
posted by loquacious at 1:16 PM on December 10, 2005

What airports can even handle these things right now?

In the US? JFK, LAX, DFW and DEN. Given that your going to see this plane flown by non-US carriers for a long time, that's enough. There are three big international airports that you want to reach -- JFK, LAX and ORD. The A380 will work fine at the first two, and both have gates built to turn 744s quickly, they can handle A380s fine. In particular, I suspect Singnapore Airlines (the launch customer, 15 firm, 10 optioned) will be flying to LAX with them in 2006, and Emirates (largest order, 41 firm) will be flying to JFK with them.

The big issue will be ORD -- ORD has enough problems with 747-400s and A340-600s. The big problem is taxiway clearance, combined with the A380s wingspan -- the 744 has a wingspan just shy of 65m, and two of them can't pass each other on taxiway A and B, nor can they cross the taxiway bridges over 190 at the same time. The A380, at just under 80m wingspan, won't be able to move on A with just about any traffic on B. A & B are the taxiways around the main terminal block, ORD cannot afford to have them jammed. Right now, you have to get 48 hour prior approval to flying anything wider than 60m (except 747s and A340 in commerical service) into the airport, and I just don't see ORD being able to waiver in the A380, except in the 12AM-4AM timeslot.

Personally, I think the A380 is going to be the next MD-11 -- big, unpopular, and quick dumped as a freighter after 200 hulls (where it will shine.) There are 30 frames under order by the US -- 10 from FedEx, 10 from UPS, and 10 from ILFC, an aircraft leasing corporation. The first 20, obviously, are freighters. The ILFC are split 5 freight, 5 pax -- the idea is that if by 2010, when they get deliveries, they'll either know if there is a sustainable market, or they'll cancel well before then.

200 frames for a plane that costs this much would be a disaster. (The 747 has sold over 1400.) Given that the first planes are almost always sold at a discount, to get the order book up, 200 frames means you lose a ton of money. This would normally result in the company going under and being bought out by Boeing, but that *will* not happen. France, Germany and the UK will keep Airbus alive, otherwise, Boeing will be the sole source of large airliners, and given the US's current ability to piss off the world, the world isn't going to buy US aircraft.

Indeed, I suspect the best thing that ever happened to the A380 (and A350) was Bush.

As to looks. Yes, it's ugly. It has to be. It could be pretty, but it wouldn't carry nearly as many pax, and the whole point of the plane is max-pax. It will have winglets, because otherwise, it would need more wingspan, and they can't afford that. It has the ugliest looking landing gear in the world, because if there were less tires, they'd break runways. It's ugly, because to make it the best plane it can be, given the design parameters, it has to be.

That doesn't bother me one bit. MD-80s aren't good looking either, but they've made a ton of money.
posted by eriko at 1:19 PM on December 10, 2005

It does indeed look like a Windows app. That said, it's clearly on a secondary screen, and probably isn't part of the avionics systems.

I read an article once about a crash program at Boeing to develop some new software for the maintenance system. The article talked in part about the fact that, because the systems were strictly separate from avionics, the same kind of reliability wasn't required. In their case, that just meant they didn't have to test quite as rigorously; they were using QNX, so OS reliability wasn't their concern so much as software failure, and the worst case was apparently that the system might need to be restarted.
posted by lodurr at 1:30 PM on December 10, 2005

[AirBus] ... has reached the summit of ignominy with the A380 -- a colossal technological marvel and possibly the ugliest commercial jet ever made

Enlightened EU organization blindly chases testosterone-addled "bigger is better" philosophy to it's questionable conclusion, American pundit complains that the result, if impressive in terms of sheer audacity, is also grotesque. Talk about a role reversal.
posted by Western Infidels at 1:45 PM on December 10, 2005

I don't think it looks ugly at all. *shrugs*
posted by delmoi at 2:16 PM on December 10, 2005

Actually eriko, LAX can't currently accomodate the A380 and it has been slow to get the ball rolling to do so.

SFO and JFK can handle the plane and Miami, Orlando, DFW are gearing up for it. There's a risk LA will be left out.
posted by donovan at 3:25 PM on December 10, 2005

Actually eriko, LAX can't currently accomodate the A380

Huh. According to the ground controller I was talking to, they had a plan in place, and the runways and taxiways were ready, but this states that they aren't.

Admittedly, terminal space is a problem. No, terminal space is a nightmare. I didn't know about the plan to relocate the southernmost runway, but I doubt it'll ever happen. LAX would be better off building the terminal row down there. They won't get that either.

Hmm, looking at Airnav, there's posted NOTAMS about the strength of the runways. I don't know if they can handle the A380 at all -- heck, the 777-300ER is borderline.

DFW is ready -- they've got 4 13,400 runways, with two being 200 feet wide, and Terminal D is open, and has four gates explicitly built to double-load the biggest planes.

I don't know enough about MIA to know how well they can handle the A380 (or any other plane.) Orlando is huge enough to handle anything just short of a shuttle (and that runway is close by.) -- 2 12,000x200 runways, wide spacing around the termina, etc.

Theoretically, ORD could handle the A380 after the runway reconfiguration, but that will take years. Oddly enough, the A380 would help O'Hare -- Customs and Immigration can handle the traffic, the problem there is the number of gates in T-5. But there's no way, not until the rebuild is done and they don't have to run planes around the loop all the time, that the A380 will fit.

SFO is problematic. Fog becomes a big factor on taxi, as well. All the runways are 200' wide, though the pairs are too close together (STL has this problem for another six-eight months, then the new runway opens.) to really use as two runways, so traffic load is a huge issue there -- you aren't moving an entire LAX operation to SFO.

DEN, with the new runway, can handle them, but the question is "who would fly one there?"
posted by eriko at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2005

Re: airports' ability to handle this albatross — anybody else notice this uh-huh quote from the airliners.net link?

Key [A380] design aims include the ability to use existing airport infrastructure with little modifications to airports...

And, when somebody waxes rhapsodic about all the on-board amenities sure to come, remind them that the original 747 was supposed to boast lounges, piano bars, massage areas, etc., etc. (at least according to Boeing and industry sources). Let's face it: the airline industry and crews, aviation and security experts simply don't want passengers circulating inside the plane en-route. And what bottom-line types ever resisted the urge to cram as many carcasses as possible into their planes?
posted by rob511 at 5:40 PM on December 10, 2005

The WhaleJet (as many like to call it) is huge.

It is so huge, the wake vorticies (a.net thread) left behind it can cause problems with smaller aircraft, from prop planes all the way up to lear jets and 737s.

Here are the stats...
-For departure, one additional minute to be added to all separations, when the A380 is the leading aircraft.
-On final approach, horizontal spacing to be no less than 10 NM between A380 and following aircraft (otherwise, 15nm during all other aspects of flight). A 747 has 6nm spacing vs the A380s 10nm, and a regular sized A/C is about 2.5nm.
-In flight, vertical spacing to be no less than 2000ft when following behind the A380.

Whats the use of having an A380 with 550 seats on it, if you cant have a plane land or take off behind it for longer than normal? You're definately not increasing the throughput of an airport, or being more efficient with the A380 vs other widebody aircraft.

Do the math, within a 30nm range, you can have three A380s land, for a net of 1650 pax, or you can have five B747-400s land for a net of 2075 pax. Whats more efficient now?
posted by SirOmega at 6:08 PM on December 10, 2005

How many dead US National Guard can you cram into one of those jobbies?
posted by Balisong at 6:19 PM on December 10, 2005

Does anyone have any idea what control is behind the glass marked DANGER in this photo, bottom center?
posted by wannalol at 6:52 PM on December 10, 2005

SirOmega, I don't think too many airports are buying these things...
posted by wilful at 9:52 PM on December 10, 2005

Didn't Howard Hughes do this sometime last century?
posted by HTuttle at 12:00 AM on December 11, 2005

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Actual commercial use passengerlayout, (after hype photographers all go away)
posted by HTuttle at 12:08 AM on December 11, 2005

SirOmega, those are preliminary safety recommendations from the ICAO issued just before the a380 went on tour to a couple busy civilian airports in the far east and Oceania, the final separations have yet to be determined.
posted by Catfry at 2:14 AM on December 11, 2005

wannalol, I think there was a thread on airliners.net about it. I believe the consensus was that it is a control that is only fitted to the 1st flying plane F-WWOW and it should, in case of emergency, be pulled and explosives will then blow out a cargo door through which the crew can escape.
posted by Catfry at 2:18 AM on December 11, 2005

jesus christ it's running windoze

This adds a whole new aspect to "Blue Screen of Death"...

I recently saw something on TV that was predicting computer assisted small aircraft that would make it more feasible to move a few passengers to many small airports rather than lots of passengers to a few big airports. It will be interesting to see which way it shakes out.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 5:03 AM on December 11, 2005

sirOmega: You're definately not increasing the throughput of an airport, or being more efficient with the A380 vs other widebody aircraft.

Do the math, within a 30nm range, you can have three A380s land, for a net of 1650 pax, or you can have five B747-400s land for a net of 2075 pax. Whats more efficient now?

OK, let's see the math then. Model the changes in throughput for a realistic mix of aircraft. Realize that there will be three a380s in a row much less often than there will be three 747s in a row; more lkely there will be a mix of aircraft types with a mix of capacities.

I'm not debating whether the A380 is economically viable as a passenger hauler (I don't really see how it is); I'm debating your mathematical assumptions. Point being, something like this does not get built without somebody doing a little math to show that it's got a good probability of being economically viable. Their numbers and assumptions may be wrong, but they're not likely to be wrong on that simplistic a level.
posted by lodurr at 7:19 AM on December 11, 2005

Its probably economically viable from a CASM perspective, however, one of the prospective positive points was that you could move more pax with the same number of ops. The ICAO findings above seem to dispel that fact. Airbus had figured the following distances and such would have been the same as a 747 - they're much bigger.
posted by SirOmega at 9:22 AM on December 11, 2005

Given SFO's foggy summers, Vancouver (YVR) may be receiving all trans-Pacific A380 flights on some days.

YVR has been rather strategic with the development of their airport.

When U-S-bound, international passengers arrive at YVR, they clear US customs and immigration in Vancouver (see option 1), then they depart Vancouver on a US domestic flight - no hassles when they arrive in America. All this without ever "officially" touching Canadian territory.

Rather smart, competitive move I think.
posted by SSinVan at 2:16 AM on December 14, 2005

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