Saturday, July 19, 2008

The A380 Experience!

On the 8th of July, I had my first flight aboard the new Airbus A380 aircraft. The Singapore Airlines flight was from Singapore - Changi airport to Tokyo -Narita Airport. Singapore Airlines being the only operator that uses A380 at the moment, you have to be traveling to or from this part of the world (Asia) in order to Experience this.

The Super Jumbo : An A380 in the terminal 3 of the Changi Airport - Singapore

First thing that you feel could be the relative quietness of the aircraft, compared to Boeing 747-400s or Boeing 777s that Singapore airlines operate. The economy class seats that I flew onboard the A380, were very spacious and they were more like the Business Class seats that that can be found in some Airbus A330 aircrafts operated by other airlines.

Onboard A380 : Economy Class seats in the Main Deck have more space
The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine aircraft. It is designed to carry 555 to 840 passengers. This is about 35 percent more than the Boeing 747. There were many manufacturing delays in the A380 project and it appears that EADS have finally got hold of the control of project. The early manufacturing delays were said to be mostly due to problems in the cabin wiring system.

Boeing responded to the challenge posed by A380 in a different way, by moving ahead with their 787 Dreamliner project which is also currently plagued by production delays. The 787 is supposed to be a is a mid-sized, wide-body, twin engine aircraft.

The two Aircraft Manufacturers have different strategies to meet the future demand for Air Travel. Due to the size of the A380 aircraft it is capable of flying large number of people between major hub airports. Singapore Airlines already fly to London, Tokyo and to Sydney from Singapore. However Boeing have put their faith in carrying relatively less number of passengers between many smaller airports frequently.

Making the aircraft fuel efficient remains one of the key priorities common to both the programs. In this aspect Boeing has an edge due to the fact that in order for A380 to be fuel efficient it has to fill up most of its seats. Even a small number of empty seats could raise the amount of fuel consumed per passenger. This was probably the case in the flight I took.