But from everything I've read (am I'm no industry expert on the business side) it was a dick-swinging contest from the get-go. Boeing saw that a full-on new spec 4-engine plane was not going to pay itself back; if Airbus execs saw it, they didn't let it change their path.
"Build it and they will come," was perhaps the irrational source of motive for pressing on from the beginning. I don't recall the market (at the time the project was greenlit) clamoring for a bigger, more efficient, more pax friendly quad-jet. It's almost as if Airbus managed to upsell this beast to the carriers that did choose to purchase the ones they have.
The shifting winds of route topology from hub-n-spoke to point-to-point were already brewing, and the stair-step jumps in the ETOPS allowances for twins had obviously not yet reached its limit ... but still, they went for it.
Well, I hope the ones that are built, and those yet to be built, will run for decades more because they are mighty beasts to behold; that much is true. I know the international departure slots out of LAX and when I remember and the sky is clear I step out on my deck and get to watch them on initial climb-out (it's usually Emirates, but sometimes there are others). They look like freight trains in the sky and are really quiet, but the four engines together make a unique drone that will pull me outside even when I'm not even planning to take a peek.
Farewell, A380; we barely knew thee.
I agree that the shift in the market to point-to-point was becoming apparent during A380 development.
A major reason for the 747s popularity was it's range.
With much more efficient engines coming along, smaller twin engine aircraft could cover most routes, and do so cheaper, so the A380 wasn't really needed anymore.
But I reckon the project was too far along, with too much buy in and investment by European countries and partners, to pull the plug.
Boeing foresaw this and focused on smaller, more efficient models instead. This sure saved them a lot of money and engineering resources.
It's a shame for aviation enthusiasts though, it sure is a fascinating plane.
The 787 development was so poorly planned and executed that it cost Boeing $28 billion in additional unplanned expenditure. And they've kicked that can down the road by booking that as 'deferred costs', an accounting sleight of hand that lets them pretend they haven't spent each dollar until they have earned it on a sale.
Neither company of the duopoly came out of that rivalry looking good.
But at least Airbus has accounted for all the A380 dev costs, no-one has to face that 10 years hence.
Airbus had it's own fair share of development troubles with the A380 though, including the infamous cabling issue due to different software versions between France and Germany, and accompanying years of delays.
I also highly doubt that the A380 has broken even.
Building these beasts that are modern airplanes is just tough. I am fascinated with the whole supply chain topic though.
Maybe John Hart-Smith of Douglas...
it's a good read on outsourcing, profits and management.
> I also highly doubt that the A380 has broken even.
That's not what it's saying, but that A380 dev is written off, while Boeing still has it on the books somewhere to make an appearance in the future.
The crazy thing is that this has been the primary business model in the automotive industry for decades at this point and it (generally) works exactly as advertised. If I had to posit why the benefits failed to materialize fot Boeing, it's that the Aerospace industry's approach to and competence with supplier development and quality control is sorely lacking in comparison to that of the automotive sector.
It took decades for the major OEMs to get a handle on the mechanations of the tiered supplier system and they were also operating in a sector where production volumes are measured in the hundreds of thousands. It's far easier to absorb the cost of a "learning moment" when you can spread the cost of a new iniection mold made to the right spec over 100,000+ units. There are also far more opportunities for "learning moments" to appear when you're making hundreds of parts a day versus one a month. Not only can you play catch up without incurring too much of a cost penalty if a whole days production is scrapped, you can gather far more data to help you refine your process (statistical process control).
If you want a good reason military aerospace is a mess and NaSA couldn't build a replacement for the space shuttle, that's a big big reason.
I don't think so. The article you linked says only that they need to be in compliance with WTO rules. There is nothing about no government support at all.
According to recent media reports in Germany Airbus and its subcontractors got a 1 billion loan for developing the plane. Paying back them is coupled to the commercial success of the product. Because of the premature end of the product the companies will probably never have to pay the loans completely. Exact figures are not public yet.
And that bet made a lot of sense before 2008. The number of slots mostly wasn't growing, but number of passengers on airports was going really fast, with no serious economist predicting it would stop soon.
What Airbus didn't explain was how the airports wouldn't invest in more slots, but would invest in the huge runway clearances required by their plane.
Not to mention increased terminal capacity for the sheer number of passengers disembarking all at once.
A layover in the US almost always translates to me missing my connecting flight when I go in or out of this country.
No matter what airport I go through.
Anywhere else on the planet you would pass through a metal detector to get upstairs to the departure lounge and get on your plane.
This is why if you are travelling to Europe from NZ (as I will be on Monday) Singapore/Hong Kong/Shanghai/Tokyo are better candidates for transfers than LAX/SFO
In Fiji they have a band that plays songs for you as you stand in the customs line, can you imagine that in Seattle?
We flew from Toronto to SF, had a 7 hour layover. It was grand. We even went downtown and back with plenty of time. Her one sister flew in from Vancouver—also no problems.
Her other relatives flew in from Victoria, and got stuck in customs at SFO for over 3 hours when their layover was scheduled to be just over an hour. They had to rely on the graciousness of the airline to get them on another flight. They had to take a 4 am flight to Honolulu which had a 4-5 hour layover then connect to Kona. The Iron Man race was the next day that we went to see. They didn't get to sleep for 30+ hours. I mean, there are worse cases where you'll have to endure that kind of stuff. Calfornia->Hawaii is a pretty good place for it to happen. But still.
We were through US customs at YYZ in about 20 minutes.
On another hand we took the Victoria -> Seattle Clipper ferry and US Customs in the Seattle port just sort of hand-waved us through.
Less than two hours for an international-domestic transfer is crazy at ANY airport, USian or otherwise.
If only they knew when those flights were arriving so they could schedule customs and immigration staff to handle the traffic /s
Both of these flights were originally scheduled to land around 8am. They landed around 5am so they had 2 CBP officers on shift to handle a 767 and a 777's worth of people. That mess ate up the entire gain of arriving early.
They would have known about the early arrival not too much earlier than the departure time (order of hours, not days), which isn't really enough time to shift people's work schedules.
Took me a few seconds to get this...:)
But the in-airport issues we used to experiment are mostly gone after the airports are privatized. It's amazing how the airlines are able to do people's checkin faster after some structural problems on the airport management are solved.
Plus besides the exterior space needed for the gate the interior space for handling so many people loading and offloading is the equivalent to two or more planes.
Even Boeing recently went to folding wing tips to fit their newest super efficient designs into existing gate setups.
I am not sure if Boeing had it developed and never used it, or no one ordered it so they never developed it.
Theyre in the middle of building what I think was the first 777x. We saw it in the Everett factory last Friday.
Delta/AA/B6/UA fly virtually hourly shuttle flights from NYC to BOS, DC, ORD, LAX because business travellers want choice of departure and arrival - not because they don't have bigger planes.
Taking 10 daily flights and turning it into 5 isn't optimal from a passenger perspective on business routes where it means I have 2 hours to kill because my meeting is timed wrong.
It also means if my meeting ends early, I have a chance on hopping on an earlier flight.
A high frequency mainline flight + a low frequency regional leg = You can get a short/optimal connection time with at least one of those mainline flight choices.
But if both flights are low frequency, you wind up with a lot of connections hitting unappealing layover times that drive business to the competitor with a shorter layover.
 Hopefully in 2050 we'll have rediscovered how to build railways in the USA and actually have HSR from NYC to BOS making this example a bad one.
It's disheartening both that Gov Newsom wants to kill it and how ecstatic people are about that. The 'can't do' culture is very strong in the US.
Operating planes designed for spanning the globe (777, 787, 350, etc) over shorter distances (<4,000 miles) just to get the extra seats becomes much less economical due to the weight of those planes and the wasted space on cargo capacity that can't be filled on the shorter routes.
Even Heathrow and Frankfurt, with famously strong opposition against new runways, have managed to get new runways approved but not to extend hours into the night.
Surely it's not the people that live there but the wealth and political clout of said people.
Personally I don't mind the sound of aircraft or trains.
SFO has given up on building another runway, which means the only way to grow is with larger airplanes. Some other large US airports are also likely to reach maximum movements in the next decade, and I imagine the same is true globally.
And then on top of that California appears to be backing away from HSR. The biggest cost (legally, politically, financially) for HSR was land acquisition, the same reason SFO canned plans for an additional runway, and the same reason it's not feasible to expand metropolitan highways. Because traffic will only get worse, making OAK and SJC increasingly less attractive to those living on the peninsula, I'm guessing that SFO will see more A380 service than less.
Not that it would make any difference for A380 viability, but it's understandable why Airbus, Emirates, and some others held fast to the promise of the A380 for so long.
A week ago HN user Xixi linked to an article, https://leehamnews.com/2015/12/11/bjorns-corner-twins-or-qua..., arguing that the 4-engined A380 is actually more fuel efficient and less costly to maintain than comparable 2-engined aircraft like the 777 because 2-engined aircraft need overpowered engines. According to this argument what really killed the A380 was exactly what Emirates was upset about: no manufacturer was willing to sell an engine upgrade, so the A380 would be stuck with older generation engines while both contemporary and new model aircraft benefit from newer engines. I guess the engine manufacturers' calculus is largely concerned with volume, but it's also a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy.
After reading that article I wasn't surprised when, perusing the Wikipedia pages for the new A220 (Bombardier CS300), Embraer E-Jet E2, Russian Irku MC-21, and Mitsubishi Regional Jet, I discovered that all the new planes at the small end of the market--a market that both Boeing and Airbus turned away from just a few years ago--are sporting a variant of Pratt & Whitney's new geared turbofan. It seems like in today's environment it's the engine that makes or breaks the plane.
Killing the hen, even at a loss at face cost, was something Airbus had to do to even out the playing field.
Emirates makes heavy use of the A380 because they are geographically forced to operate on a hub-n-spoke model. The same is true for other heavy A380 users such as Qantas, Singapore, and Korean Air. All of them fly primarily out of a small number of hubs. They simply can't do point-to-point. There are also lots of A380's flying between major cities across the Pacific, such as LAX and Seoul, Honolulu and Tokyo, etc. where there's enough demand to fill an A380 every day.
But other aircraft like B777-200LR, B787-9, A340 and A350 also have a similar (or even greater) range, so it will be more economical to use these smaller twinjets unless there's a lot of demand. Even if there is enough demand, it might make more business sense to offer four flights a week instead of two.
There is a huge market for the plane.
The plane came too early. Build now with lighter materials, better engines and in the long version (the wings are designed for a much longer version, this also makes it heavy for the short version).
Is there a demand for such flights from Chicago to NYC? No.
But Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing, Deli, Mumbai via hubs such as Moscow, Istanbul or Addis there is.
So unfortunately the truth is, that there is a market, but the plane come too early. In fact, the Airbus CEO said exactly this in an interview.
If there was a huge market for the plane, then airlines would have been lining up to buy them. A huge market would be the 787, which started production in 2011 and has delivered 789 of them on 1421 orders.
- Needs other engines
- Needs to be lighter
- Needs to be bigger. The wings are build for the long version.
The question is, how much does it cost to bring one (price sensitive) customer to the hub? The A380 was the right idea based on size, but too early and failed on price.
On Airbus side the second biggest airliner is the A350-1000: very light, top notch engines -> 170 orders so far, very underwhelming, and the project of a bigger A350-2000 has been postponed due to a lack of interest. On Boeing side the 777-9 (not yet flying) has even more modern engines, a super light wing, and besides Emirates nobody is buying it...
The order book has depth, but lack breadth. I've often heard the critical size for a widebody is at least 400 sales to 20 airlines. 400 sales to achieve economy of scales, and 20 airlines to have a healthy secondary market. The 777X is not far from the 400 sales, but has some ways to go to find 20 customers. The A330NEO is in a similar but reversed situation: 278 orders for 15 customers (including a couple of lessors). The breadth is nearly there, but not the depth.
I with there was a Sim-Airline game.
This is much more slick:
But none come close to the complexity of the real thing, and the models are unrealistic/can fairly easily be "hacked" (print money by giving away flights but charging $1000 for meals, etc).
Same thing for airport simulators.
I named Asian centers. Shanghai has 20 Million people. The Yangtze Delta is an aggregation of probably around 200 Million people. So I named big population centers in Asia.
The big airlines in Singapore and Hongkong have declined a lot. They are missing the hinterland, they can't serve as hubs for China anymore.
The same will be happening in UAE. Etihad airlines has problems already.
So what are the future hubs for Asia<>Europe and Asia<> Africa?
1. Moscow. Aeroflot is most of the time the cheapest airline from China to Europe.
2. Istanbul and Turkish Airlines. I think no other airlines serves more countries, the new airport in Istanbul aims to be the biggest in the world in the final stage.
3. Addis Abeba and Ethiopian airlines. Addis will be the future hub of Africa (Ethiopia has more than 100MM People). At the same time they will hurt the UAE airlines a lot. Also see: https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/ethiopi...
Now, I never claimed that there are now A380 flights. But this would be the market, had the plane be build 10 years later and in the stretched version. Not for a flight Moscow to Frankfurt. Not for a flight Addis to Entebbe. But definitely for Shanghai to Moscow. Guangzhou to Addis. Etc. etc. Bring customers from big centers to the Hub. The Hub must have
- good geo-location
- government backing
- enough local customers (e.g. Moscow vs. Dubai)
I fly a lot between Asia, Africa and Europe (All three alliances Gold Elite :-) ). I think I know what I am talking about.
Which is why you find most A380s in Dubai, London and on long haul routes like LAX and SYD.
EVA flies 2 77W back-to-back on LAX-TPE within half an hour.
Istanbul doesn't even have a single A380 gate. None of the airlines you mentioned ever flew an A380 either.
I disagree. Since it is the wrong solution for the problem.
> Which is why you find most A380s in Dubai, London
I am not surprised that it did not work for this airlines.
"Istanbul doesn't even have a single A380 gate."
Not sure what you mean with this. I was talking about the new airport and the airport is prepared for the A380, see link. Again, the A380 is the right solutions in size, it is just wrong in cost performance because it came 10 years too early.
I see a problem with your assesment right there in your assumption that large hubs will still be a thing in the future. It's becoming more and more obvious that this won't be the case.
And please, don't be allured to Aeroflot due to the cheap flights, it's not an experience worth having.
Fair bonus miles
Super cheap dog transportation
One of the most modern fleets
Very cheap tickets.
Not sure why your experience was so bad. By the way, the stock performance reflects my points. They must be doing something right and they pay dividends.
Those heading to East Asia tend to fly over northern Russia, well away from Ukraine
Here are planes avoiding Ukraine
International flight paths over Russia are a large source of money for the country, Russia isn't going to shoot down any airlines.
If a plane were shot down over Siberia, planes would reroute away from Siberia, meaning Russia loses overfly money.
Unless the scenario is that Russia comes out and says "we'll shoot down non-Russian airlines", in which case Russian airlines are no longer allowed to fly to other countries, and Russia is cut off from the rest of the world, and we go back to routing via Iran or Alaska (perhaps non-stop). It's an extra 1300 miles from London to Tokyo via those routes, 1200 miles to Beijing, 1000 to Shanghai, and only 600 miles to Hong Kong / Chengdu
It'd be annoying, but not even as bad as when it was the USSR.
Russia meanwhile would collapse economically.
The real problem is that the A380 is falling behind other modern aircraft on its operating costs.
Being able to carry an extra 100-150 pax is nice, but when each seat costs 20-30% more per mile in fuel compared to a 777X or an A350, then most airlines will choose the more fuel-efficient models.
(I'm guessing it may be as simple as there's 4 engines instead of 2?)
There's a saying in aviation that goes something like "it takes a lot of fuel to fly a lot of fuel". Even over the course of a single flight, the fuel consumption rate goes down significantly as that fuel gets consumed. You can fit more stuff in a bigger plane, but it takes more fuel to fly the 100,000th pound than it does to fly the 100th pound, so you only want the larger capacities if you know that you are going to consistently utilize them.
- A380 is heavier, per seat, than newer aircraft designs which are making use of advanced composites, new technologies that reduce the weight of wiring, etc.
- A380's engines are older models which are less efficient than the latest-generation engines fitted to the 777X and A350
- Aircraft with 4 engines have higher operating costs than 2. Additional fuel burn, maintenance expenses, etc.
Obviously some of this could be improved if Airbus were to have developed an upgraded version of the A380 (and Rolls-Royce it's engines). There was talk of both a new-engine A380neo and a stretched A380-900 at one point. But clearly, the market was judged to be too small to justify the substantial development costs.
I have read that the Boeing 747 sits at some local maxima in design space, and to get larger, the Airbus A380 compromised by having a higher wing loading. This would reduce fuel efficiency a bit.
Very few situations will call for a new A380.
Most of the traffic growth is being eaten by the smaller planes that are getting quite a bit bigger: 50 regional seaters are being replaced by 100 seaters, A319/A320 are being replaced by A320/A321, etc. Meanwhile the bigger planes are getting smaller: 747 being downsized to 777-300ER, A350-900 or even 787-9.
This trend is really clear in the aviation business. The 757 and 767 really killed four or three engine engine trans-Atlantic (the single most important international route system), while the 787 killed four engines across the pacific.
The smallest plane, with the most reasonable CASM (cost per available seat mile) at the highest frequency wins.
Case in point with JAL (not sure if they fly the routes you talked about but it's as good as an example):
231 aircrafts, not a single Airbus.
the a380s are almost only used for long range flights with 1 or 2 flights a day: sydney-dubai-heathrow, singapore-london, singapore-frankfurt-new york etc.
For that flights, a huge airplane makes sense.
No A380s on this route. There are 32 flights each way, 28 from Heathrow.
BA/AA operate 12 daily flights LHR-JFK, pretty much one ever 90 minutes during the day, it's pretty much a turn up and go service. Virgin/Delta do another 8 flights, again turn-up and go.
That frequency attracts the people on flexible tickets. Those on the cheapest flights they find on skyscanner will probably take the norweigan 787s from Gatwick.
That market for flexibility doesn't exist between say London and Singapore (I suspect most are transferring at least at one end), but there's plenty of passengers looking to travel, and so you get 4 of the 7 flights over 3 carriers are on A380s.
Assuming you have a flexible ticket, which the overwhelming majority of passengers don't.
Tried asking BA/AA to move to an earlier flight on a non-flex ticket? "Computer says no, unless you pay $lots"
Sure, if you're flying on the "cheapest flight on skyscanner" then you don't get the flexibility, but that's why they don't fly 6 A380s rather than 12 smaller planes, they want the £6k tickets to choose BA/AA rather than VS/DL. The £600 return tickets at the back will fly whoever's cheapest.
That's a sweeping claim.
Pick a highly-discounted business class fare LON-NYC-LON for dates well in advance which books into I fare bucket.
I close the ILX1C1S6 fare, out 25 Dec 2019, back 1 Jan 2020. (The base fare is GBP1271 r/t...)
Either do a dummy booking at BA.com, or go to ExpertFlyer and the fare rules. Find the 'PENALTIES' section:
TICKET IS NON-REFUNDABLE.
CHANGES NOT PERMITTED.
"Almost all" then, especially when you factor in corporate deals
At BA.com I've just looked up LON-NYC-LON out 6 Mar back 13 Mar (so just over two weeks from now), and I'm seeing the same complete lack of flex:
Your ticket conditions
Changes to your ticket
No changes permitted. No upgrades permitted
There are no refunds except for any government & airport taxes
BA ran an empty flight from Heathrow to Cardiff for a while to keep a slot at Heathrow.
Long range versions of single-aisle planes also change the dynamics a bit, putting less focus on hubs.
Make it even a bit longer, and takeoff performance will tank so much, that you will need even longer runways
Note one of the early SQ 380s is now operated by Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly.
I wouldn't count of the first two's demise being indicative of secondary value of all aircrafts of the type.
You can't beat the laws of physics. I've read somewhere that the Boeing 747 sat in some kind of design configuration sweet spot. The A380 achieved a larger size by taking on a higher wing loading than what was ideal.
Could one be setup to only do LAX<-->SFO on constant rotation?
In an emergency, yes. But they can't take off with two engines. And if they are cruising with only two engines they go a lot slower.
> Could one be setup to only do LAX<-->SFO on constant rotation?
Yes, but it would be foolish. The plane was designed for long-haul flights, and it would be ridiculously un-economical on a short route.
If you take off two engines, you have to redesign the wings. If you’re redesigning the wings, you might as well do the whole aircraft.
Implication being that the fuselage is a fraction of the cost of an airplane design.
SFO hasa their passsenger data online with Tableau-BI like tools...
Trying to determine passenger counts per week between SFO and [biggest destination] and see what if you just had an A380 ONLY doing that route back and forth, with low cost tickets if you can fly 500 people there each flight.
RyanAir for SFO, so to speak.
The greatest passenger jet in history.
I remember when the A380 was starting to get some public media attention and there were these great sounding potential-perks of these new super jumbos: an on-board gym! a library! a creche! perhaps even an on-board casino!
In hindsight it was perhaps inevitable that all that extra space would just mean more people packed in just as tight as they are on smaller planes.
While I am sure its very nice up in first class, my A380 experience has been as soul-destroying and uncomfortable as any other plane.
This is probably going to sound like the pinnacle of first world problems, but: it's overrated. The main differences between business and first were getting actual bedding and having more attendants per passenger. And three types of champagne, because obviously just one isn't enough. The food was slightly better than in business but nothing outstanding.
There's a huge step up from economy to business since you get the lie-flat seats you can actually sleep comfortably in and good food/alcohol. Beyond that, you're mainly paying for exclusivity and status.
The 747 can be OK but not if it's a decades old one in need of renovation/retirement. Lufthansa had a few really old ones operating between Frankfurt and Boston until quite recently. The difference with the A330 I had on the same route. But I'd take Lufthansa on a 747 over their partner United on pretty much anything. The last few times I made a point of booking such that I was on a Lufthansa operated plane both ways.
I'm guessing that the limiting factor for the airbus was that it needed specialized infrastructure at airports and that most smaller airports just never got around to bothering with that; thus limiting where you can fly with them. This was always a risk and probably became more of a burden when it became clear it wasn't selling well.
That's not true at all, the cabin noise in the A380 is so much quieter than in older planes. It's night and day.
If you want to see what it's like, I posted some pics:
In contrast, while the 787 is good, the cabin is louder and the air quality isn’t on par with the 380. Even if this is deemed a failure, the 380 spurred the industry to do more, made Boeing do more for the 787, and eventually led to the development of the A-350 which is my favorite plane to fly right now.
All in all, the 380 gave Airbus swagger and the license to seriously compete with Boeing. Costs be damned.
Update: light punctuation edits
The A350 & A380 (and all current Airbus airliners) use bleed air from the engines, just like all other airliners bar the 787.
The reason that people feel better after long flights on more modern aircraft like the A380, A350 and 787 than they do on older aircraft is due to lower cabin altitude and thus higher cabin humidity, which is largely down to the use of more composites in the construction, which can handle the higher humidity without corrosion problems. This better cabin environment is possible with bleed air or with electric compressors.
As an aside, the 787 also offers some protection from "fume events" (leakage of combustion byproducts or oil fumes from the engine into the cabin) since it doesn't use bleed air. However, there's still oil in the electric compressors so there's still some (much diminished) risk of fume events.
Before we worked out the issue (the risk of which really should be communicated by airlines) she was sicks for weeks after flying. And although unlikely, she once was caught in a fume event and couldn't work for months. Others on the plane were badly affected too. This is serious stuff and the 787 is great progress.
is that why the cabin of airplanes smell like jet fuel for the first few minutes of rake-off?
The fuel smell at the beginning of the flight might just be happening because the engines and/or APU are ingesting the exhaust of the aircraft in front of you while on the taxiway, and some of that exhaust smell ends up in the bleed air that eventually enters the cabin.
A380 is relatively quiet but air quality isn't really comparable with the Dreamliner.
Back in 2016 I found an offer I could not stop myself from booking: NCE-LHR-LAX-HNL for 345EUR roundtrip. It was 36 hours per bound, but for 10 days in Hawaii from Europe I was ready to bear with that.
Well, that LHR-LAX leg was gonna be my longest flight ever and I was worried about my state on arrival, but it was easily the most comfortable leg of the whole trip vs A319, A321 and B777 of the other legs, even being significantly shorter.
I have been keep an eye on Scott's Cheap Flights (https://scottscheapflights.com/), haven't seen anything so spectacular!
Our seats were just in front of lavatory but I had absolutely zero complaints (no smell, no nothing). Did not mind the foot traffic (peaky after meals) due to location but I can see how that could bother others.
A lot of the praise for the 787 is I think the effect of a huge marketing push from Boeing.
1. Landing slot price per passenger is low. Congested airports are the economic reason for A380 to exist.
2. A380 is runway-friendly large aircraft due to its wheel load distribution and low load per wheel. Airfield pavement maintenance cost is 30-40 percent of the airfield maintenance. If the weight based pricing is changed to match actual runway damage, A380 will do really well.
3. Relative to 747-400, significantly better fuel efficiency.
Economically A380 starts to make sense again in 10-20 years after the traffic volumes in Asia skyrocket. When the demand exceeds the slots available, the value of existing A380s starts to increase.
Remeber, a hub and spoke trip means 2-3x the landings and relies on extremely congested airports. So, point to point has significantly shifted what gets congested. Things may look different in 25 years, but that’s a long time.
All estimates point to the future where there will be multiple mega-airports with more than 100 million passengers in Asia.
Large Aircraft are great economically, as long as they can be kept full. But, this tends to be limited as only a tiny fraction of routes can support such beasts.
IATA estimates point to several new 100m airports in 10-15 years.
Now, sure with continued growth eventually you need larger aircraft. But, while demand might pick up they have plenty of time to design a successor especially as they can simply look at 747-800 sales numbers.
What has actually happened is that hubs became more numerous and smaller. A major airline might have 6 hubs instead of 2. And most long distance trips are done with 2 legs instead of 3.
Remember, mini hubs are near major destinations so people are very likely to be starting or stopping at one, Combined with different airlines 1 hops vs 2 or 3 is common, but more so 2 hops vs 3 or 4.
Shame, best economy class by far. 10 across on a 777 is tortue as is 9 on the new sardineliners.
The second arguments seems like support for the first one, not an alternative explanation.
I hope that current companies (Lufthansa, Airfrance, Qantas) will keep it for a long time. It is always a pleasure to fly in it. And superior to the 787 in my opinion.
On economy long-hauls, I appreciate every config I've been on; they're roomy and the effective cabin altitude is very comfortable, so it makes flying easier.
That said, I think aviation needs to invest again in supersonic flight. I wouldn't care so much about comfort if I could take my 18-hour flight and bring it down to 10. I don't know the economics of it, but flying on a smaller, faster, higher-altitude aircraft would be more comfortable. Planes haven't really gotten faster since the dawn of the jet age.
That's what they're doing: https://www.theverge.com/2018/11/13/18089300/supersonic-jet-...
At least at maximum fully loaded range, the fuel per seat is going to be very close. The problem starts when you're unable to fill the plane.
They're iconic but then so was the Concorde - being iconic is not a substitute for being commercially viable.
When it does that, it does it beautifully. I took a New York to Dubai flight that was top notch, even in coach in the middle aisle. That said, there's no way that plane could realistically make most domestic flights or even medium demand international ones.
When these aircraft were conceived, all industry momentum was pointed toward superhubs, and all of the superhubs were capacity constrained. Landing and takeoff slots were constrained and airports were moving to auction models to sell the slots. Terminal space was becoming more and more expensive. These planes weren't more efficient because they could move more people, they were more efficient because they didn't cost as much to land and take off and load and unload. The reality of the matter is that Boeing and Airbus didn't incorrectly forecast the decline of hub and spoke models, they incorrectly forecasted the decline of superhubs.
I wish trains were lower priced. I'd much rather, say, fly to Paris then take a train to Brussels rather than take a technically shorter flight that might get delayed, or I might miss if the customs line is long.
But my choices are often expensive direct flight, cheaper hub and spoke flight - plane+train is often more expensive :(
Of course there are still very busy destinations, for example Los Angeles - New York, New York - London, but that's not enough air traffic so they don't need as many A380 as we would think.
Panam invested heavily in the 747 back in the day, and they minted money by offering relatively reasonably priced international long haul flights. But when gas prices and terrorism spiked, diminishing demand, they had these huge gas guzzling planes that they couldn't fill up.
The A380 is really impressive, and it works well (now) on several specific routes. But it's clear that the industry is moving towards fuel efficient, more reasonably sized planes like the 787 and the A350 that are efficient on both long and short haul flights.
Also, the C-17 isn't a very good comparison because it was designed with the expectation that it would sacrifice capacity and economy for performance. When it was developed in the 90s it was very obvious that getting as many tanks as possible to France as quickly as possible (the job the C-5 was designed for) was rapidly becoming less important than the ability to utilize smaller runways in less developed nations.
Ironically, the group most at risk with this decision is Boeing. The A380 has been a total albatross and a anchor around the neck of Airbus. If Airbus hadn't been sinking in cash left and right to the A380 program, when Boeing had it's issue with the 787, Airbus could have really punished them in the market. Instead, Airbus went with a slightly warmed over A330, until the market forced them to the A350, which still wasn't as revolutionary as what the 787 brought to bear, once it finally got over it's development hurdles.
So good application of the Sunk cost fallacy here by the new Airbus leadership, and a message to Boeing that the new leadership at Airbus isn't going to be constrained by the decisions of the past.
Fun dramatic video.
* Planes That Changed the World 3of3 Airbus A380 720p HDTV x264 AAC MVGroup org - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZsiAISEq7s
Concorde, while a commercial failure, was a good example:
- first commercial aircraft to have fly-by-wire
- carbon brakes
- anti skid (the first electronic system as far as I know)
- center of gravity adjustment through fuel pumping (no need to trim the aicraft hence less drag)
So lots of money thrown out of the window, sure, but they'll use what they've learned...