Here you go, let’s take a look at two recent flights out of SFO.
An Airbus A380:
And here’s a Boeing 777, which is an older design, but it’s not yet a flying dinosaur:
Here’s why. What are the differences you see? Doesn’t the A380 look sort of stubby to you? Part of that has to do with the 80 Meter Box, which is the reason why the wingspan is 79 point-something meters. The wings were made as long as possible, so they just barely fit inside that box. The result is a design that isn’t aerodynamically efficient. Also the wings were made too big and too strong* in order to accommodate anticipated future stretched models. So that means that if the A380 never gets stretched, then it will be burdened by too short, too strong wings for its whole life. (And look at the A380’s huge tailplane in the back – that’s another sign of its stubbiness. It’s too close the wings, so it needs to be bigger and heavier, ala the even-stubbier Boeing 747SP.) Future 777s will have folding wingtips, the better to be long and thin in flight, but easier to move about the gate area. Mmmm…
Also, four engines vs. two. Well, if you want to build big big big, then four engines is the way to go, but why would you want to build so big? Well, efficiencies, but landing slots at big international airports aren’t as precious as Airbus anticipated. If you think that international flight will grow spectacularly and that the hub and spoke system will dominate, well then, yeah, it’d be nice to get as many passengers as possible into the limited number of flights you’re allowed. But that’s not the point we’re at now, so maybe Airbus built the A380 “too soon?” It’s sure looking that way. And then Airbus is stuck with four older-style engines sucking up fuel. Unless, they want to hang newer style engines off of the wings, but that change would take a long time and cost a lot of money. But then it’d still be too stubby.
It’s incredible how it is was billed as some kind of revolutionary “green” aircraft just eight years ago. Anyway, that’s the fuel-hungry dinosaur part.
Now, where are the smaller mammals? Well they’re coming, they’re the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350. Look at what you can do with them – you can more easily avoid those those big, crowded airports, right?
So we’ll just have to wait and see how things go for the A380. Maybe the world will change soon enough for the A380 to start making sense, despite its shortcomings. But until that happens, the A380 is nothing but a superjumbo jobs program, something the Euros can waste $20 billion of development money on, to put workers to work, all over Europe and in a few American states as well.
(It’s like the Concorde program all over again, spending big bucks to sell thirsty four-engined aircraft at less than cost.)
IMO, if Airbus wanted a big hub and spoke airliner, it should have built a big big twinjet, which would have fit into the 80 meter (or whatever) box more efficiently.
Boxes are efficient for watermelons, but not for jetliners – that’s how it works.
It’s halftime for the A380 and it’s down by three touchdowns.
Maybe it was just a bad idea…
*Or I should say designed too strong. The wing crack issue is there, but it doesn’t go to show how the A380 was fundamentally a bad idea for its time. It was just something that happened. My point is that the wings on the current and only A380 don’t really match the rest of the current and only A380, even leaving aside the 80 Meter Box