9 Surprising Facts About the A380
Queen-size has long been the gentle euphemism for ladies of heft, and the moniker is often and appropriately applied to the new Airbus jumbo jet, the A380.
The airplane has been flying in commercial service for just over two years, and dozens of superlatives have been used to describe its sizable impact on aviation. The world's largest passenger airplane is setting new standards for fuel efficiency and technological innovation. All of which is to say that looks aren't everything. For the A380, that's a good thing because the double-decker Airbus resembles a whale more than a plane. Here are some surprising facts about the A380.
1. Easy on the Gas
It's big, but not a gas-guzzler. Calculated per passenger, Lufthansa's A380s get 69 miles per gallon. The airplane holds 81,890 gallons, meaning that more than a third of what the plane weighs on takeoff—560 tons—is the weight of the fuel.
2. Rolls-Royce Engines
The four Rolls-Royce engines of the A380 are the length of a Mercedes C-series sedan and four times as heavy. The internal temperature of the engine in operation is 3100 degrees.
3. Big Wings
The A380's wings are the biggest ever created, 2,775 square feet in size and fully 54 percent larger than the wings of a Boeing 747.
4. Smooth Takeoff
During takeoff, the A380’s wings practically flap, as the tips flex upwards as much as 13 feet.
5. European Made
The A380 is a pan-European product. The engines and wings are produced in England, parts of the fuselage and the tail in Germany and Spain. Airbus test engineer Fernando Alonso describes the airplane as “a symbol of Europe.” When complete, these airplane sections are shipped by land, air, and sea for final assembly in France.
6. Exclusive Airports
Twenty airports in the world are handling A380 service, meaning that they have long enough runways, wide enough taxiways, and 78,000 square feet available at the boarding gate where the plane can be parked. Airports also need special equipment to handle passengers and cargo, and sometimes even baggage conveyor belts must be lengthened since 500 to 800 passengers means a lot of luggage.
7. More Computer than Machine
The A380 is flown by two pilots. “Actually, there’s no difference between flying 30 passengers and 526,” says Harald Tschira, a Lufthansa first officer. “This airplane is very easy to control, despite its weight, and the handling characteristics are more like a short-range airplane.” The pilots can nap in a sleeping compartment located behind the cockpit on long-haul flights while a second crew provides backup.
8. 21 Attendants
Twenty-one flight attendants are assigned to the Lufthansa A380, working in five galleys and using a separate computer system dedicated to cabin activities. They have their own rest compartment with eight beds located below the galley at the rear of the airplane.
9. Seat with a View
From individual video monitors at each seat, passengers can watch the progress of the flight from cameras mounted below the cabin and on the airplane’s tail.