Air­bus has to drive home the point that the A380plus will give good re­turns to air­lines that are fly­ing to con­gested air­ports us­ing lim­ited land­ing slots and de­lay-prone air cor­ri­dors

SP's Airbuz - - Front Page - BY R. CHAN­DRAKANTH

NO DOUBT, THE AIR­BUS A380 is the world’s largest air­liner. Ac­cord­ing to its size, it has its share of prob­lems and the A380 pro­gramme has not been what the gi­ant Euro­pean aerospace com­pany had ordered. As of Septem­ber 2017, the A380 or­ders stood at a measly 317 with to­tal de­liv­er­ies of 216 for a pro­gramme of huge pro­por­tions. Hence, Air­bus has gone for a re-jig, so to say. At the Paris In­ter­na­tional Air­show 2017 at Le Bour­get, Air­bus show­cased a de­vel­op­ment study of the ‘A380plus’ which is ex­pected to bring about sub­stan­tial changes in terms of com­fort lev­els, new large winglets to pro­vide up to four per cent fuel burn sav­ings and 13 per cent cost re­duc­tion per seat ver­sus the cur­rent A380. And Air­bus is promis­ing an op­ti­mised A380 main­te­nance pro­gramme. It is a wait-and-watch for air­line op­er­a­tors to see how the re-jig fits into their scheme of things.

At Paris, John Leahy, the Chief Op­er­at­ing Of­fi­cer Cus­tomers, Air­bus ex­plained “The A380plus is an ef­fi­cient way to of­fer even bet­ter eco­nomics and im­proved op­er­a­tional per­for­mance at the same time. 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, pas­sen­ger­pre­ferred ex­pe­ri­ence.” NEW WINGLETS. The new winglets mea­sure ap­prox­i­mately 4,7 me­tres in height (an up­let of 3.5m, and a down­let of 1,2m). It is de­signed to im­prove aero­dy­nam­ics and re­duce drag. The op­ti­mised cabin lay­out based on the ‘cabin en­ablers’ pre­sented at Air­craft In­te­ri­ors Expo (AIX), al­lows up to 80 ad­di­tional seats with no com­pro­mise on com­fort, re­designed stairs, a com­bined crew-rest com­part­ment, side­wall stowage re­moval, a new nine-abreast seat con­fig­u­ra­tion in pre­mium econ­omy and 11-abreast in econ­omy.

The A380plus will have an in­creased max­i­mum take-off weight (MTOW) of 578 tonnes pro­vid­ing the flex­i­bil­ity of car­ry­ing up to 80 more pas­sen­gers over to­day’s range (8,200nm) or fly­ing 300nm fur­ther. The A380plus fea­tures longer main­te­nance check in­ter­vals, a re­duced six-year check down­time and sys­tems im­prove­ments, which will re­duce main­te­nance costs and in­crease air­craft avail­abil­ity. EYE­ING EMI­RATES. The ques­tion asked is why the need for a re-jig of an air­craft which is in a class by it­self. The an­swer is sim­ple – Air­bus wants to give bang for the buck to air­line op­er­a­tors and it has 18 cus­tomers on its books, the big­gest be­ing Emi­rates. The A380 has been in ser­vice for over nine years with Emi­rates which is ex­pected to take de­liv­ery of the 100th A380 on Novem­ber 3, 2017. The award-win­ning air­line op­er­ates A380 flights to 48 des­ti­na­tions across six con­ti­nents. The old­est A380 cur­rently on the in­ven­tory of Emi­rates was de­liv­ered in 2008 and is sched­uled to be re­tired from ser­vice when its fi­nan­cial lease ends in 2021.

It is re­ported that Air­bus has had se­ries of talks with Emi­rates for the A380plus; but the Dubai-based air­line is look­ing at retro­fit op­tion. Tim Clark, Pres­i­dent, Emi­rates Air­lines has said that Air­bus was try­ing to make the air­line buy more. Emi­rates has an­other 40 A380 on or­der and is try­ing to get more clar­ity on the re­vamped air­craft. Even for the retro­fit, Tim Clark has said that if re­fit­ting is go­ing to cost a bomb, then the air­line will look the other way.

An­a­lysts are say­ing that Air­bus should look be­yond Emi­rates and for that the new of­fer­ing has to be re­ally at­trac­tive in terms of pric­ing and en­hanced op­er­a­tional ef­fi­cien­cies. Air­bus has to drive home the point that the A380plus will give good re­turns to air­lines which are fly­ing routes to con­gested air­ports us­ing lim­ited land­ing slots and de­lay-prone air cor­ri­dors. There are many such cor­ri­dors across the world.

With Air­bus now com­ing up with A380plus, one needs to wait and watch how things are go­ing to play out. The A380plus crams in 80 more seats and will carry 575 pas­sen­gers in a four­class con­fig­u­ra­tion. “This looks like a last-ditch ef­fort to me,” says Richard Aboulafia, an avi­a­tion an­a­lyst with the Teal Group. “It is not con­ceiv­able that


cus­tomers who did not want a very large jet would sud­denly change their mind just be­cause of the ad­di­tion of winglets.” The an­a­lyst said “It is a bit of a mys­tery why the winglets werenot in­cluded in the orig­i­nal de­sign, given their well-doc­u­mented ben­e­fits. Any­way, now Air­bus has done it along with other changes”. DE­SCRIP­TION OF CABIN EN­ABLERS. New For­ward Stairs (NFS)– 20 more pas­sen­gers (Busi­ness, Pre­mium Econ­omy and Econ­omy Class). The NFS in­volves re­lo­ca­tion of the for­ward stair from Door 1 to Door 2, and com­bin­ing the en­trance of the NFS to the up­per deck (go­ing up), with the ad­ja­cent stair­case to the lower-deck crew-rest (go­ing down). The NFS would make room for up to 20 ad­di­tional pas­sen­gers.

Com­bined Crew-Rest Com­part­ment (CCRC) – three more pas­sen­gers (Pre­mium Econ­omy). For the CCRC, the ex­ist­ing flight-crew-rest ( be­hind the cock­pit in the mez­za­nine area at Door 1) is moved down and com­bined with the cabin crew rest on the lower deck. This in­no­va­tion frees space for three ex­tra Pre­mium-Econ­omy pas­sen­gers at the front of the main-deck.

11-abreast 3-5-3 econ­omy lay­out on the main-deck – 23 more pas­sen­gers (Econ­omy Class). Thanks to an in­no­va­tive seat­ing con­cept de­vel­oped by Air­bus and its seat­ing part­ners, Air­bus is able to main­tain an 18-inch seat-width while of­fer­ing air­lines an 11-abreast Econ­omy Class on the main-deck in a ‘3-5-3’ con­fig­u­ra­tion. This en­ables an in­crease in ca­pac­ity of 23 seats – adding sig­nif­i­cantly to the A380’s rev­enue-gen­er­at­ing po­ten­tial.

New Aft-Gal­ley Stair Mod­ule (AGSM) – 14 more pas­sen­gers plus two food trol­leys. The AGSM in­volves the re­design of the rear-stair from a spi­ral con­fig­u­ra­tion to a straight/square one. On the main-deck, this al­lows valu­able stor­age vol­ume for gal­ley mod­ules. Over­all the AGSM pro­vides space for 14 more rev­enue pas­sen­gers plus two ex­tra food trol­leys.

Up­per-deck side­wall stowage re­moval – ten more pas­sen­gers (Busi­ness Class). The op­tion to re­move the side­wall stowage on the up­per-deck in­creases the wall-to-wall cabin width at foot-rest height which makes space for up to ten more busi­ness class seats/beds when an an­gled her­ring-bone ar­range­ment is used.

Nine-abreast Pre­mium Econ­omy on the main deck – 11 more pas­sen­gers (Pre­mium Econ­omy). The A380’s gen­er­ous main-deck cross sec­tion, sig­nif­i­cantly wider than any other com­mer­cial air­liner, is al­low­ing seat man­u­fac­tur­ers to op­ti­mise their Pre­mium Econ­omy (PE) seat de­signs to cre­ate the in­dus­try’s most ef­fi­cient and com­fort­able PE lay­out pos­si­ble. This lay­out en­ables 11 more PE seats than in an eight-abreast lay­out.

With these fea­tures the A380plus should help re­vive, if one may say so, the A380 pro­gramme which has gone into a ‘ flat mode’. In fact, it is neg­a­tive if one goes by the half-year fi­nan­cials. Air­bus said that con­sid­er­ing the cur­rent or­der book­ing sit­u­a­tion, de­liv­er­ies of the A380 will be re­duced to eight in 2019. At last year’s Farn­bor­ough Air­show the com­pany said it would slow pro­duc­tion to just 12 a year by 2018, down from a rate of 27 the year be­fore. De­mand for the gi­ant four-en­gine air­craft has cer­tainly waned as air­lines seek the ef­fi­cien­cies of smaller twin-en­gine air­craft. It is quite a com­pe­ti­tion out there and air­lines are weigh­ing in all op­tions of mak­ing the right choice of air­craft, be it the sin­gle-aisle or a jumbo air­craft.


Source: Air­bus

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