The 555-seat A380, revealed to the public at a ceremony in January and due to enter service in 2006, is the most advanced, spacious and efficient airliner yet produced. Launched in December 2000, the aircraft which Airbus sees as the flagship of the 21st century was designed in close collaboration with major airlines, airports and airworthiness authorities.
Combining the very latest technologies for materials, systems and industrial processes, the A380 meets the most stringent international certification requirements. It can carry 35 per cent more passengers than its closest rival and, with nearly 50 percent more floor space, the A380 enables airlines to deliver unparalleled comfort in every class and more open space for passengers to stretch their legs.
The A380 will provide passengers on major long-haul routes like London-Singapore and Los-Angeles-Sydney with a new way of flying.
The A380's efficiency and advanced technology result in 15-20 per cent lower seat-mile costs, while its range is 10 per cent greater than that of other large aircraft. The A380 Family starts from a baseline passenger aircraft with a capacity of 555 passengers in three classes, and a range of up to 15,000 km./8,000 nm. The freighter version, the A380F, will carry a payload of 150 tonnes (330,000 lbs) over 10,400 km./5,600nm.
With air travel expected to continue growing, the A380's ability to carry more passengers will help to ease congestion by transporting people without additional aircraft movements. Its significantly reduced noise and emissions levels will help to minimise its effects on the environment. Its new generation engines and advanced wing and undercarriage design mean the A380 will not only comply with today's noise limits but will be significantly quieter than its competitor, producing half as much noise on take-off.
The A380's high level of weight-saving composite materials helps make it a highly fuel-efficient aircraft - it burns 12 percent less fuel than its competitor, reducing exhaust emissions. Indeed, the A380 will be the first long-haul aircraft to consume less than three litres of fuel per passenger over 100 km, a rate comparable to an economical family car.
While offering all the advantages of a completely new design, the A380 will extend the benefits of Airbus family operational commonality to the very large aircraft sector. Thanks to the same cockpit layout, procedures and handling characteristics, pilots will be able to make the transition to the A380 from other Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft with minimal additional training.
Airbus designed the A380 in collaboration with some 60 major airports, ensuring airport compatibility and a smooth entry into service.
By the end of January 14 customers had announced firm orders and commitments for a total of 149 A380s, including 27 freighter versions.
As one Airbus customer put it: "The A380 is the future of flying."