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9Patch
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Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sat Oct 23, 2021 8:51 pm

Aviation Week has a new article analyzing the A380. A lot of it covers familiar ground but there are new and interesting insights. Some highlights:

...Aviation Week spoke with many insiders who shared their views and memories. Among them were Enders and former Airbus sales chief John Leahy as well as Nico Buchholz, himself a former Airbus sales executive who later ordered the aircraft for Lufthansa as its head of fleet strategy. Some still think the program could have been rescued. But the look back into its history also shows that industry doubts about the A380’s viability had begun even before first delivery.


“We all have misjudged the future of the twins, and that led to the efficiency problem of the A380,” Enders says. “I only admit this reluctantly, but Boeing has largely been right with its point-to-point argument.” He is referencing the idea that passengers, when having the choice, prefer nonstop flights over hub connections. Both Leahy and Clark disagree with the idea that the hub concept has weakened. “I don’t share the view that the days of the superhub are over at all,” Clark says.


The [CATIA] crisis was so deep that management considered the most radical moves. “We asked ourselves whether we should terminate the program,” Enders reveals. “But that would not have been right back then. Development was very far advanced, and the reputational damage would have been huge.”


Buchholz contends that it might have been possible to rescue the A380, but it would have required early, decisive and painful action. When the program was delayed bya cabin installation disaster, Airbus should have used the opportunity to modernize the aircraft with a better engine based on ongoing development programs for the 787 and later the A350. “With a better engine, the A380 would have had a longer life,” he says.

“With new engines, it would have been an unbeatable aircraft in the marketplace,” Leahy asserts. “We came close to pulling it off. Had we had the right engines, we would probably have rewritten history.”


“The fact that from the very beginning they built weight into the airplane so they could do the -900 was a program mistake,” Leahy points out. “You just don’t build extra weight into the airplane so you can stretch it. You optimize the aircraft, and then you figure out how to stretch it by taking some of the margin that you did not need. When you build in the capacity for another 100 seats from Day 1, you are going to build a heavy airplane.”

It's a good read and not behind a paywall:

https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/ ... b9c8b5f2f8
 
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American 767
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 5:22 am

Gone are the days when you would see a lot of heavy quads in major airports around the world, except maybe DXB where EK still has a large fleet of A380s. The reality is, long haul twins are the future of air travel. Safe travels everyone.
 
RJMAZ
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:07 am

9Patch wrote:
“The fact that from the very beginning they built weight into the airplane so they could do the -900 was a program mistake,” Leahy points out. “You just don’t build extra weight into the airplane so you can stretch it. You optimize the aircraft, and then you figure out how to stretch it by taking some of the margin that you did not need. When you build in the capacity for another 100 seats from Day 1, you are going to build a heavy airplane.”

This is by far the biggest mistake. It was doomed from the beginning in my opinion.

The stretch would have required a higher MTOW weight so the wing had to be designed very thick to produce the required lift inside the 80m span limit. Without the stretch the wing could have been less thick with a higher aspect ratio providing better aerodynamics and probably lower thrust engines could have been used.

Additionally if no stretch was planned the aircraft fuselage would have definitely used up the full 80m length while keeping the same seating capacity. This would have completely changed the calculations for the most optimal cross section. The result would definitely have been a 3-3 upper deck instead of a 2-4-2 upper deck. Basically like a 747-8 with a full length upper deck. This upper deck would have worked great for premium 1-1 business class cabins.

Conveniently this would have resulted in a slightly lighter aircraft and it could have potentially piggybacked the 787 engine development into the future. The A380 engines have a 4inch larger fan diameter and approximately 10% higher thrust than the 787 engines.

The optimised A380 would have had a per seat cost that no current twin aircraft could match. Unfortunately the 787 and A350 could match the unoptimised A380.
 
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Taxi645
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 8:09 am

RJMAZ wrote:
9Patch wrote:
“The fact that from the very beginning they built weight into the airplane so they could do the -900 was a program mistake,” Leahy points out. “You just don’t build extra weight into the airplane so you can stretch it. You optimize the aircraft, and then you figure out how to stretch it by taking some of the margin that you did not need. When you build in the capacity for another 100 seats from Day 1, you are going to build a heavy airplane.”

This is by far the biggest mistake. It was doomed from the beginning in my opinion.

The stretch would have required a higher MTOW weight so the wing had to be designed very thick to produce the required lift inside the 80m span limit. Without the stretch the wing could have been less thick with a higher aspect ratio providing better aerodynamics and probably lower thrust engines could have been used.


Yep, less parasitic drag from the high aspect ration wing, control surfaces and engines. Less induced drag by means of a much superior span loading. The lower weight would also have allowed less wheels on the landing gears, again making it lighter and providing more cargo space.

Airbus basically squandered the double deck efficiency left and right by building so much growth potential into the plane. Boeing is much more disciplined in this regard. They tend to limit MTOW and let efficiency and capability improvements over time let the plane become more capable. This has several advantages:

1 Each generation will be efficient.
2 This makes the sales profile over time better match the production rate profile over time. No sales rush you can't match in the beginning that suddenly collapses once you finally have got the economy of scale going.
3 This helps keeping the airliner competitive in the second part of it's program life.


Airbus will be running into the same problems with the A350 in a few years time (although obviously to a much lesser extend). Once the 2nd generation hits the market with it's increased efficiency the current high capability will lead to unnecessary range, while the competition has just sufficient capability but at lower CASM.
 
Noshow
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:02 am

-The double passenger deck layout leaves no room for cargo. I doubt anybody will go double deck again for tube and wings. However blended wing bodies might be different.
-Possibly more modern construction software will make scaling easier in the future so an early small family member will not have to carry all the weight for later growth.
-With world population and big cities growing it is a mystery to me how future passenger numbers can be carried? Onboard mid sized twins? What will cover the upper end of the market now without 747 and A380?
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 9:58 am

Taxi645 wrote:
Airbus will be running into the same problems with the A350 in a few years time (although obviously to a much lesser extend). Once the 2nd generation hits the market with it's increased efficiency the current high capability will lead to unnecessary range, while the competition has just sufficient capability but at lower CASM.


Airbus can then stretch the A350 and end the 777X for good. I don't think that's a bad place to be. Alternatively Airbus can reduce the MTOW and put engines with less thrust into the A350.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 10:40 am

I have never understood why people frame the A380 argument with regard to point to point versus serving hubs. Thats a misrepresentation to me. Hundreds of twins serve hubs every day of the year. Real" (unsubsidized) airlines fly the twins thru the hubs, along with some (limited) point to point. The twin is always more efficient than a similarly sized quad, hub or point to point, and the smaller twin also always has lower block costs. That's the bottom line, the quad can't compete on efficiency unless it is completely full, all the time, and that dilutes prices by putting too many seats in the market.

The whole argument about the airports being full was also a false narrative in my mind. There are very few airports where that is true, no enough to justify an entire aircraft program.

The A380 was a European vanity project. The senior executives who promulgated the program (at Airbus and Emirates) must have thought it was the 1970s where international airlines were ranked in prestige by how many 747s they had. These folks (STC) never realized the industry had moved on. Boeing hit a home run with the 777. Sadly, they deteriorated after that.
 
KFLLCFII
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 10:58 am

Forget efficiency, better engines, and weight discipline...It turned out that the world just didn't need the per-flight capacity and preferred frequency/options over a party barge.

You could build a thousand-seater CASM monster, but it doesn't mean it's going to make money.
 
Noshow
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 11:14 am

Asymmetric demand turned out to be a big issue to get average load factors high enough both ways to justify the ultra big aircraft.
 
ContinentalEWR
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 11:38 am

The problem for the A380 from the start was that its developers made an astoundingly wrong calculation that VLA (very large aircraft) were the solution to booming demand at the time. They weren't. Except for a small subset of airports that had slot issues (LHR, principally). The majority of airlines that ordered the A380 didn't need the plane nor did it fit into their network (AF, LH, OZ, MH, KE). By the time the A380 flew its first test flight, the writing was very much on the wall that mid-sized twin engine jets were really the future of long haul. Why? The engines themselves became far more capable, efficient, reliable, and durable. The 77W's success vs. the A346 is a clear example of this. Longer, thinner routes bypassing hubs was another factor. Reaching destinations, even far flung ones from a point of origin, on a direct, nonstop flight was always going to be the favored option over a connection. Of the ME3, only EK could really justify the A380 and built a huge business around it, but the future of EK will be twin jets too, in the post-pandemic world as the A380s age and the enormous cost of cabin refurbishments present yet another obstacle (the main reason, apart from the plane being totally out of place in its fleet, that AF ditched all of the A380s quickly).

The A380 was a vanity project to round out the line of Airbus's product offering and provide something like the 747. If only Airbus had realized back then it would come to surpass Boeing anyway in sales and market share, one wonders if it would have shelves the A380 project, which cost a boatload and never made money.
 
9Patch
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 12:21 pm

Noshow wrote:
-With world population and big cities growing it is a mystery to me how future passenger numbers can be carried?

Increased frequency?
New airports?
New routes?
 
ltbewr
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 1:04 pm

The history of the A380 will be the subject of a number of business, financial studies and books.
I would also suggest the delays of EIS also hurt their possible success.
We also have to recognize as we are going through now, rising fuel prices and that 2 vs. 4 engines means the A380 is on the wrong side. While there may be certain routes at certain time of the year when an A380 can be full, much of the time is is operating with a load more efficiently handled by smaller twins. There is also the longer term costs of fuel, massive increases in 'pollution' taxes, increased pressure on fair pay for airline staff after decades of cuts, likely to raise airfares to far less affordable levels. The Covid-19 Pandemic also will have long term affects, the cuts in fleets to survive, the slow grow back, likely less business travel replaced by 'Zoom meetings' and businesses looking to cut costs, as well as airlines maxing profits in the recovery with much higher fares with smaller aircraft just below full demand. That also hurts the A380.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 2:04 pm

Strato2 wrote:
Taxi645 wrote:
Airbus will be running into the same problems with the A350 in a few years time (although obviously to a much lesser extend). Once the 2nd generation hits the market with it's increased efficiency the current high capability will lead to unnecessary range, while the competition has just sufficient capability but at lower CASM.


Strato2 wrote:
Airbus can then stretch the A350 and end the 777X for good. I don't think that's a bad place to be.


Not compared to the 777x no, but stretching the A350-900 longer term will leave quite a big gap underneath. Not stretching the 900 will make it vulnerable to the 787 efficiency wise.

Strato2 wrote:
Alternatively Airbus can reduce the MTOW and put engines with less thrust into the A350.


You can reduce MTOW, but you can't remove much OEW that way because the capability and thus weight is already built into the airframe.


Anyway, it's about the A380, so don't want to drag this argument too far.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 2:56 pm

Many issues:
1. "Cruise ship" stairways that took up too much space. That could have added "free seats"
2. Prior weight discussion
3. Prior generation engines
4. Weight added by Catia error

I believe there was a market for the A380. It just wasn't optimized. It became a horse by committee.

Lightsaber
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 3:33 pm

9Patch wrote:
Aviation Week has a new article analyzing the A380. A lot of it covers familiar ground but there are new and interesting insights. Some highlights:

...Aviation Week spoke with many insiders who shared their views and memories. Among them were (former Airbus CEO Tom) Enders and former Airbus sales chief John Leahy as well as Nico Buchholz, himself a former Airbus sales executive who later ordered the aircraft for Lufthansa as its head of fleet strategy. Some still think the program could have been rescued. But the look back into its history also shows that industry doubts about the A380’s viability had begun even before first delivery.

We all have misjudged the future of the twins, and that led to the efficiency problem of the A380,” Enders says. “I only admit this reluctantly, but Boeing has largely been right with its point-to-point argument.” He is referencing the idea that passengers, when having the choice, prefer nonstop flights over hub connections. Both Leahy and Clark disagree with the idea that the hub concept has weakened. “I don’t share the view that the days of the superhub are over at all,” Clark says.

...

Glad that's sorted! :biggrin:

Interesting how the article uses the past tense so often, yet EK says they'll run them wll into the 2030s, something I have my doubts about.

There was greater pressure on yields, with literally hundreds of additional seats to fill on every flight. Once Lufthansa started flying the A380 across the Atlantic, the airline found that the yield on its Frankfurt-New York route fell by almost as much as unit costs.

A point many a.netters have a hard time seeing is how the bigger aircraft dilute yields. The cost per seat drops, but so does the revenue.

“The design was optimized for larger variants,” Buchholz says. Airlines knew that, of course. But some, like Lufthansa, decided right from the beginning that the -900 would have been too large. The problem with the -800—“you can’t send the upper deck somewhere else when a route does not perform as planned,” as Bucholz puts it—would only have become worse with a larger aircraft, he says. The lack of flexibility was frightening airline planners.

We're now back to the whole initial sizing effort. The father of the A380, Jurgen Thomas, said they had made the A340 too small and did not want to make that mistake again, so they made the initial A380 big enough for a freighter and a stretch too. Yet here we have LH saying the 900 was too big. Makes one wonder if Airbus was getting the right feedback from its customers back in the late 90s when they were sizing the beast, or if they let themselves run with the most optimistic scenario without accepting much feedback from outsiders.

Interesting discussion in the article about how not being able to place more than five frames in China. Seems the Chinese airlines are pretty conservative about adapting new technology, especially back then. The article suggests selling to China Southern was a mistake because it angered Air China, who saw this as undermining its stature as the flag carrier. Even without this, an insider says the market opportunity across the CN3 plus CX was no more than 50 aircraft whereas Airbus was hoping it could sell 200 which now seems pretty unrealistic.

The article ends with Leahy saying he thought his successor would close the pending deal for 36 more A380s with EK, but that didn't happen. We also have STC who is late in his career saying EK will operate A380s “well into the 2030s”. I think his successor(s) might have a different view on that.

Overall there are so many points these people being interviewed were loathe to admit a decade or two ago now being confirmed as the truth. Makes one even more reluctant to accept what vendors or airlines say in public, IMO. For instance, the notion that a fleet of 120 A380s ever was “optimal” is an absurdity, IMO, and in a decade's time I would not be at all surprised to see STC's successor say just that.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 3:46 pm

IIRC Emirates was not on the map of possible A380 customers before. Imagine Airbus without the Emirates order.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:20 pm

RJMAZ wrote:
Additionally if no stretch was planned the aircraft fuselage would have definitely used up the full 80m length while keeping the same seating capacity. This would have completely changed the calculations for the most optimal cross section. The result would definitely have been a 3-3 upper deck instead of a 2-4-2 upper deck. Basically like a 747-8 with a full length upper deck. This upper deck would have worked great for premium 1-1 business class cabins.

Conveniently this would have resulted in a slightly lighter aircraft and it could have potentially piggybacked the 787 engine development into the future. The A380 engines have a 4inch larger fan diameter and approximately 10% higher thrust than the 787 engines.

The optimised A380 would have had a per seat cost that no current twin aircraft could match. Unfortunately the 787 and A350 could match the unoptimised A380.

Pretty much my opinion as well. Amazingly http://www.icas.org/ICAS_ARCHIVE/ICAS20 ... RS/806.PDF is still online from 2006, and Matt's discussion of the 8+6 cross section ( viewtopic.php?t=776333 ) from 2016 is also online. Also I found some of my comments from last year when Jurgen Thomas's interview went online:

Revelation wrote:
https://www.icas.org/ICAS_ARCHIVE/ICAS2 ... RS/806.PDF shows all the different cross sections they tried and how they sorted them out.

They ended up with 10+8 mainly because they defined their core market as 550-650 seats with room for growth beyond 650.

They could have done 10+6 but that would have stopped at 650 seats and as Father Thomas suggests they did not want to be painted into a corner.

The chart suggests for all-Y configuration:
  • 8+6 optimal around 525 passengers, growth to 600 passengers
  • 10+6 optimal around 575 passengers, growth to 650 passengers
  • 10+8 optimal around 675 passengers, growth to 750 passengers

It seems like Father Thomas et al just went with 'bigger is better' without considering the issues associated with 'too big'.

Yet we know from the interview they ended up finding things did not scale up very well, so they knew they were paying a large price for 'bigness'.

As you suggest maybe they should have revisited their earlier decisions, but perhaps they were too far along to do that.

It seems EK operates with 610 in 2 class configuration so no one ever came close to pushing the limits of the -800, never mind the -900.

Ref: viewtopic.php?t=1445295&start=200#p22475015

That thread has a lof of interesting feedback from the Thomas interview, IMO.

I agree this somewhat smaller 8+6 or 10+6 A380 would have been able to take 787-era engines so would have gotten a free "NEO" in the mid 2010s. Boeing probably would have gone ahead with the 748, but this would have made it even less viable than it turned out to be.

Taxi645 wrote:
Boeing is much more disciplined in this regard. They tend to limit MTOW and let efficiency and capability improvements over time let the plane become more capable. This has several advantages:

1 Each generation will be efficient.
2 This makes the sales profile over time better match the production rate profile over time. No sales rush you can't match in the beginning that suddenly collapses once you finally have got the economy of scale going.
3 This helps keeping the airliner competitive in the second part of it's program life.

Not disagreeing, but A350's MTOW increases over time are IMO helping its product longevity a lot, at the same time as 787 continues to have great success in its segment of the market. Two different approaches both with great results.

SteelChair wrote:
I have never understood why people frame the A380 argument with regard to point to point versus serving hubs. Thats a misrepresentation to me. Hundreds of twins serve hubs every day of the year. Real" (unsubsidized) airlines fly the twins thru the hubs, along with some (limited) point to point. The twin is always more efficient than a similarly sized quad, hub or point to point, and the smaller twin also always has lower block costs. That's the bottom line, the quad can't compete on efficiency unless it is completely full, all the time, and that dilutes prices by putting too many seats in the market.

As above, Airbus defined A380's core market as 550-650 seats with room for growth beyond 650 till at least 800. This was only ever going to be a hub-based aircraft. LH figured out pretty quickly that this was too big for their needs, as did AF. EK made it work, but even still they only put 610 in their most dense configuration, presumably because adding more seats does not add enough revenue to make the numbers work.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 4:52 pm

American 767 wrote:
Gone are the days when you would see a lot of heavy quads in major airports around the world, except maybe DXB where EK still has a large fleet of A380s. The reality is, long haul twins are the future of air travel. Safe travels everyone.


Airbus revolutionized the widebody market with the A300. While they didn't sell tons of those and the A310s, they along with Boeing's 767 and 757 are what doomed the tri-jet widebodies. They should have saw the writing on the wall for the quad. Boeing did, after the 747-400 they started the 777 program. And as Boeing was developing the 777 here comes Airbus with their first forays into the quad widebody market with the A340. They followed that up with the A380.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 5:55 pm

They probably should have slimmed down the cross section a little. I think the main floor is 252" interior width. They could have shrunk that to 243" and had a comfortable 3-4-3. Upstairs I think that twin aisle was the right idea. I would have gone for 180" which would be 2-3-2, or 2-2-2 premium econ, or 1-2-1 spacious business class layout.
 
Noshow
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:06 pm

Assuming Airbus would have had access to the GE90-115B-product family, would some hypothetical twin A380 have had a better chance?
 
9Patch
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:11 pm

DenverTed wrote:
They probably should have slimmed down the cross section a little.

They should have gone with the A350XWB and skipped a double decker quad altogether. The 777 was selling like hotcakes and replacing the 747 on long-haul routes. The A340 was too small and hobbled by four engines. That was the gap in their product line that needed to be addressed.

In 1990, Boeing received orders for 122 747-400s and delivered 70. Ten years later, when Airbus committed to building the A380, 747 orders were down to 26 and deliveries to 25. And with few exceptions since, 747 production has continuously declined.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:17 pm

Noshow wrote:
Assuming Airbus would have had access to the GE90-115B-product family, would some hypothetical twin A380 have had a better chance?

If Airbus had access to the GE90-115B-product family, the resulting twin would have looked pretty much like 777-300ER instead of a double decker one would think, and definitely would have found a better market than A380 did, IMO.

In one interview John Leahy said GE was willing to foot the bill to put GE90 on A330 and Airbus said no, which surprised him. It probably was too much engine for that platform, but I guess we'll never know. In particular we don't know if that would not have led to a closer partnership between GE and Airbus and perhaps more interest in developing a better engine for the A380.

We do know GE was going to put GEnX on the A330-lite i.e. first attempt to do an A350, but exited the program once the airframe grew big enough to compete with the 777 line.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:37 pm

Noshow wrote:
IIRC Emirates was not on the map of possible A380 customers before. Imagine Airbus without the Emirates order.


Despite the A380s inefficiencies would some of the other hub airlines SQ, and then the likes of BA ordered more? These were the largest 744 operators who in many cases also replaced 744s with 77Ws. Not that they would have ordered 120 more to make up for EK.

Admittedly this probably doesn’t change the fact that the aircraft wasn’t particularly efficient and several carriers TG, MH, OZ, CZ didn’t need the aircraft then there is QR, and EY which leaves AF and LH of whom I would have thought LH could make it work.

So really other than EK it leaves only BA, SQ, QF, KE. Perhaps a lighter or more efficient A380 would have got a handful more operators, then the problem was for CX that it didn’t carry enough freight.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 6:46 pm

Revelation wrote:
9Patch wrote:
Aviation Week has a new article analyzing the A380. A lot of it covers familiar ground but there are new and interesting insights. Some highlights:


There was greater pressure on yields, with literally hundreds of additional seats to fill on every flight. Once Lufthansa started flying the A380 across the Atlantic, the airline found that the yield on its Frankfurt-New York route fell by almost as much as unit costs.

A point many a.netters have a hard time seeing is how the bigger aircraft dilute yields. The cost per seat drops, but so does the revenue.



It's not that there's something wrong with big... it's just that at some point it's too big. I mean, if LH couldn't make it work on FRA-NYC, it couldn't make A380s work anywhere. Boeing has delivered a lot of 77Ws, though, and unlike most of the first thirty A380s, most of those early frames are still flying.

The slot congestion at LHR and NRT wasn't really representative of the top 30 airports worldwide.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 7:23 pm

9Patch wrote:
Aviation Week has a new article analyzing the A380. A lot of it covers familiar ground but there are new and interesting insights. Some highlights:

“We all have misjudged the future of the twins, and that led to the efficiency problem of the A380,” Enders says. “I only admit this reluctantly, but Boeing has largely been right with its point-to-point argument.” He is referencing the idea that passengers, when having the choice, prefer nonstop flights over hub connections. Both Leahy and Clark disagree with the idea that the hub concept has weakened. “I don’t share the view that the days of the superhub are over at all,” Clark says.



It's not just about point to point. It's also about spoke to hub. AUS-LHR is not a point to point route for most passengers. It is a spoke to hub route. Passengers from Austin used to have to fly to at least one hub in the US to fly to a hub in Europe. Instead of flying to IAH, DFW, ORD, JFK, EWR, etc., and then getting on a 747 or A380 to a megahub in Europe. It doesn't eliminate hubs, but from secondary and tertiary cities, it cuts down connections.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 7:36 pm

MIflyer12 wrote:
It's not that there's something wrong with big... it's just that at some point it's too big. I mean, if LH couldn't make it work on FRA-NYC, it couldn't make A380s work anywhere. Boeing has delivered a lot of 77Ws, though, and unlike most of the first thirty A380s, most of those early frames are still flying.

The slot congestion at LHR and NRT wasn't really representative of the top 30 airports worldwide.


But also transatlantic to NYC is not a typical longhaul market. NYC-LON is close enough both physically and in terms of differences in time zones that there is a market for frequency for flights throughout the day. It also hurts that JFK is a horrible transfer hub for onward connections in North America. Their Star Alliance partner, United, has its NYC hub at EWR which can't handle the A380.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Sun Oct 24, 2021 8:02 pm

Related to the topic, here is the final recorded interview of R.E.G. Davies before he died 10 years ago. It's amazing how wrong his predictions of the A380 and 787 were. So far off the mark that the only reason I am posting this is because R.E.G. Davies is regarded as the greatest airline historian and market analyst that ever lived.

Part 1:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGl_7_4G5_A

Part 2 (off topic but interesting conversation about rail):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb40N_TYMfY


Random thought... had Airbus partnered with MDD to produce the MD-12 would the outcome be different? By the time the A380 entered service the MD-12 could have been refined in its second generation.
 
iflyabunch
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:06 am

lightsaber wrote:
Many issues:
1. "Cruise ship" stairways that took up too much space. That could have added "free seats"
2. Prior weight discussion
3. Prior generation engines
4. Weight added by Catia error

I believe there was a market for the A380. It just wasn't optimized. It became a horse by committee.

Lightsaber

What’s the Catia error?
edit: I know Catia is the modeling software used to design the plane
 
speedbird52
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:25 am

flyingclrs727 wrote:
9Patch wrote:
Aviation Week has a new article analyzing the A380. A lot of it covers familiar ground but there are new and interesting insights. Some highlights:

“We all have misjudged the future of the twins, and that led to the efficiency problem of the A380,” Enders says. “I only admit this reluctantly, but Boeing has largely been right with its point-to-point argument.” He is referencing the idea that passengers, when having the choice, prefer nonstop flights over hub connections. Both Leahy and Clark disagree with the idea that the hub concept has weakened. “I don’t share the view that the days of the superhub are over at all,” Clark says.



It's not just about point to point. It's also about spoke to hub. AUS-LHR is not a point to point route for most passengers. It is a spoke to hub route. Passengers from Austin used to have to fly to at least one hub in the US to fly to a hub in Europe. Instead of flying to IAH, DFW, ORD, JFK, EWR, etc., and then getting on a 747 or A380 to a megahub in Europe. It doesn't eliminate hubs, but from secondary and tertiary cities, it cuts down connections.

Tangently related: For a couple summer seasons AUS was a 744 route at BA
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:22 am

iflyabunch wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
Many issues:
1. "Cruise ship" stairways that took up too much space. That could have added "free seats"
2. Prior weight discussion
3. Prior generation engines
4. Weight added by Catia error

I believe there was a market for the A380. It just wasn't optimized. It became a horse by committee.

Lightsaber

What’s the Catia error?
edit: I know Catia is the modeling software used to design the plane


The Germans and French could not agree on a software version for the CATIA software. This necessitated conversion of files shared between the French and Germans. The conversions introduced rounding errors into the dimensions. Unfortunately after many iterations of down conversions by the French and up conversions by the Germans, the dimensions of the wiring harnesses were decreased so much that they were too short to fit in the aircraft. The designs had to be altered, but even worse many early aircraft had to be retrofitted with a different wiring harness. This decreased the value of first 20 aircraft off the production line as they had differences from each other and later standardized aircraft.
 
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flyingclrs727
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:34 am

speedbird52 wrote:
Tangently related: For a couple summer seasons AUS was a 744 route at BA


Austin turned out to be an excellent O&D route for BA.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:05 pm

9Patch wrote:
Buchholz contends that it might have been possible to rescue the A380, but it would have required early, decisive and painful action. When the program was delayed bya cabin installation disaster, Airbus should have used the opportunity to modernize the aircraft with a better engine based on ongoing development programs for the 787 and later the A350. “With a better engine, the A380 would have had a longer life,” he says.

“With new engines, it would have been an unbeatable aircraft in the marketplace,” Leahy asserts. “We came close to pulling it off. Had we had the right engines, we would probably have rewritten history.”


https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/ ... b9c8b5f2f8


I've heard Leahy saying saying this before, but Airbus had more than 10 years time to launch an A380neo. So what kept them? Very simple: it was not the answer either. Because when Airbus finally floated the idea to airlines a few years ago, only Emirates (and maybe Singapore Airlines) were willing to commit.

Buchholz' thought about delaying the original program even further is really silly IMO. It already was delayed, further delays (years!) to redesign with new engines would only have resulted in airlines losing faith in Airbus abilities to even build the aircraft, cancelling orders and giving Boeing a free passage gobbling up the niche with the 747-8i. And what were RR and EA to do with their Trent 900 and GP7200 engines and developing costs? It would have made the financial crater even bigger. But that's the problem of many sales persons, they don't care about such things..

flyPIT wrote:
Random thought... had Airbus partnered with MDD to produce the MD-12 would the outcome be different? By the time the A380 entered service the MD-12 could have been refined in its second generation.


It would probably have resulted in an aircraft which would combine the mistakes made in the A380, 787 and 737MAX programs... :duck:
 
Noshow
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:08 pm

So many airlines have retired their young A380 fleets already. They would not have bought A380neos. They went mid twin and now even single aisle twin. Only China and India could have saved the A380.
 
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Revelation
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:35 pm

iflyabunch wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
Many issues:
1. "Cruise ship" stairways that took up too much space. That could have added "free seats"
2. Prior weight discussion
3. Prior generation engines
4. Weight added by Catia error

I believe there was a market for the A380. It just wasn't optimized. It became a horse by committee.

Lightsaber

What’s the Catia error?
edit: I know Catia is the modeling software used to design the plane

Certainly the wiring problem added weight to the early birds. Splicing new runs to go to the correct places adds weight compared to bundles that go to the correct places to begin with.
 
frmrCapCadet
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:39 pm

It is more accurate to think of P2P and Hub as metaphors on the ends of a 1-10 axis. And further, any particular model of a plane can find itself at the extremes of That axis. The 380 famously did, and may still do the LHR/JFK or LHR/LAX as well as the Hub for EK. The 787/350s excel at operating anywhere along that axis. The problem for the 380 was finding enough passengers at any point along that axis.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 2:53 pm

frigatebird wrote:
Buchholz' thought about delaying the original program even further is really silly IMO. It already was delayed, further delays (years!) to redesign with new engines would only have resulted in airlines losing faith in Airbus abilities to even build the aircraft, cancelling orders and giving Boeing a free passage gobbling up the niche with the 747-8i. And what were RR and EA to do with their Trent 900 and GP7200 engines and developing costs? It would have made the financial crater even bigger. But that's the problem of many sales persons, they don't care about such things..

That's something pretty amazing about A380: even if you give yourself freedom to do it over again to tweak the timing and tweak the tech it's hard to come up with a winning solution, even if you allow costs of earlier mistakes to disappear.

If you say Team A should have used a 10+6 or 8+6 cross section you end up with a similar number of seats as a 747 variant, and the market would have favored a solution from Team B since the industry had so much invested in 747 infrastructure.

Team A used the fear factor around over-crowded airports to sell VLA super-jumbo as a concept. If A380 was the same size as 747 or within striking distance then Team A loses a big sales factor.

Also if you build a smaller, lighter frame then the industry very well could tell Team A that they need to use the existing engines such as CF6 and PW4000 since there really would be no incentive to build new engines for something that is in essence an optimized 747.

If you say A380 gets better engines earlier, then you have to consider what happens if you put that better engine tech onto a big twin earlier.

From a tech point of view I like a 8+6 or 10+6 VLA more than the 10+8 VLA we did get, but it's hard to see the engine makers decide to make an all-new engine for it nor hard to see how it would sell relative to the 744 or whatever move Boeing would do to counter it. Remember the GP engine was originally made for a 747 variant that never made it onto the market. A lighter A380 would have been more efficient than a 747, but would it have been efficient enough to make a difference in the market, or would the market just keep buying 747 family members because they already had the infrastructure in place for it?

People need to remember Airbus had really hyped the VLA concept, and early customers really bought into that hype. They had plans for infrastructure to do 48 per year so Team A bought their own hype. It's hard to see how something that is just another jumbo rather than a super-jumbo would support all that hype. Also, internally Team A had the goal of squashing the 747 monopoly and it's hard to do that with a 'me too' airplane. Sadly for them they did not realize that monopoly was dying on its own, with customers already shifting their spending to big twins.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:11 pm

Noshow wrote:
Only China and India could have saved the A380.

This article points out no airline other than EK bought the A380 in very large numbers, and estimates the market size of China to be fifty frames at best, rather than the 200 target number that Airbus had internally. It also points out that Air China was the most natural customer for it but was very conservative when it came to new tech so they ordered 747-8. Once China Southern took their five frame order, Air China used all its clout to keep it out of Beijing to defend its turf, so the A380 never was based at China's largest long haul international hub.

India has a lot of infrastructure issues. If those were magically solved perhaps there could have been more A380s in India, but chances are those would have taken away the need for EK to have so many A380s, so in the end it would not have increased the A380 order book.

Turns out while China and India have a lot of people, their air market doesn't look very different from other places. It turns out that big heavy VLAs do not make great short haul people movers. You are better off with a larger number of smaller planes that are more efficient for short routes and offer more flexibility. The US airlines learned this in the 1970s when many tried 747s on domestic runs but shortly thereafter dropped orders they had for more 747s.
 
Breathe
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:36 pm

To me the A380 is the 21st century equivalent of Concorde. A fantastic piece of engineering, but a financial basket case. I wonder if the A380 will still be around in 2034 and match Concorde's length of active service of 27 years. BA, EK and possibly LH and QF are the only airlines I could see still flying the A380, 13 years from now.
 
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Polot
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:40 pm

Breathe wrote:
BA, EK and possibly LH and QF are the only airlines I could see still flying the A380, 13 years from now.

LH has already retired the type and made it pretty clear they don’t expect to ever operate them again. Heck they reactivated A346s and 744s over the A380.
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:56 pm

Polot wrote:
Breathe wrote:
BA, EK and possibly LH and QF are the only airlines I could see still flying the A380, 13 years from now.

LH has already retired the type and made it pretty clear they don’t expect to ever operate them again. Heck they reactivated A346s and 744s over the A380.

I think with EK we will see the fleet managed to avoid the big bills to be paid for heavy checks. We've already see them parking planes and swapping landing gear around to avoid expensive rebuilds. They have no choice but take all the frames (thanks, STC!) but they can minimize expense by avoiding heavy checks. This means we'll see frames leaving like they now do at the 12 year mark but each will fly less as time goes on.
 
LH707330
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 4:16 pm

Revelation wrote:
frigatebird wrote:
Buchholz' thought about delaying the original program even further is really silly IMO. It already was delayed, further delays (years!) to redesign with new engines would only have resulted in airlines losing faith in Airbus abilities to even build the aircraft, cancelling orders and giving Boeing a free passage gobbling up the niche with the 747-8i. And what were RR and EA to do with their Trent 900 and GP7200 engines and developing costs? It would have made the financial crater even bigger. But that's the problem of many sales persons, they don't care about such things..

That's something pretty amazing about A380: even if you give yourself freedom to do it over again to tweak the timing and tweak the tech it's hard to come up with a winning solution, even if you allow costs of earlier mistakes to disappear.

If you say Team A should have used a 10+6 or 8+6 cross section you end up with a similar number of seats as a 747 variant, and the market would have favored a solution from Team B since the industry had so much invested in 747 infrastructure.

Team A used the fear factor around over-crowded airports to sell VLA super-jumbo as a concept. If A380 was the same size as 747 or within striking distance then Team A loses a big sales factor.

Also if you build a smaller, lighter frame then the industry very well could tell Team A that they need to use the existing engines such as CF6 and PW4000 since there really would be no incentive to build new engines for something that is in essence an optimized 747.

If you say A380 gets better engines earlier, then you have to consider what happens if you put that better engine tech onto a big twin earlier.

From a tech point of view I like a 8+6 or 10+6 VLA more than the 10+8 VLA we did get, but it's hard to see the engine makers decide to make an all-new engine for it nor hard to see how it would sell relative to the 744 or whatever move Boeing would do to counter it. Remember the GP engine was originally made for a 747 variant that never made it onto the market. A lighter A380 would have been more efficient than a 747, but would it have been efficient enough to make a difference in the market, or would the market just keep buying 747 family members because they already had the infrastructure in place for it?

People need to remember Airbus had really hyped the VLA concept, and early customers really bought into that hype. They had plans for infrastructure to do 48 per year so Team A bought their own hype. It's hard to see how something that is just another jumbo rather than a super-jumbo would support all that hype. Also, internally Team A had the goal of squashing the 747 monopoly and it's hard to do that with a 'me too' airplane. Sadly for them they did not realize that monopoly was dying on its own, with customers already shifting their spending to big twins.

I think in retrospect there might be a lane you could take by looking at the history of the 744+763: build an optimized 500-550-seat 10+6 sized on the A330/787 engine.

Matt's thread from 2016 points out the advantages of a double-deck layout over a single-deck twin and especially compared to a sub-optimized 748. At the same engine tech level, you'll then get better aerodynamic performance, and there's enough market for the twins to fund ongoing engine development, so you get cheap neos whenever the twins upgrade.

Looking back to circa 1985, every major platform (MD-11, 767, A300, 747) was after a higher-thrust variant of the current engine crop, which spurred the PW4000-94, CF6-80C2, and RB211-524G/H. Would the big 3 have invested as much just for the 744? Probably not, they knew the airlines would buy some combination of airframes with a single engine pool and use the economies of scale. To some extent, the 744 owes some of its success to its smaller WB cohort that helped fund the new engines.
 
9Patch
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:06 pm

flyingclrs727 wrote:
The Germans and French could not agree on a software version for the CATIA software. This necessitated conversion of files shared between the French and Germans. The conversions introduced rounding errors into the dimensions. Unfortunately after many iterations of down conversions by the French and up conversions by the Germans, the dimensions of the wiring harnesses were decreased so much that they were too short to fit in the aircraft. The designs had to be altered, but even worse many early aircraft had to be retrofitted with a different wiring harness. This decreased the value of first 20 aircraft off the production line as they had differences from each other and later standardized aircraft.


In addition to the CATIA delay the article mentions a delay caused by a 'cabin installation disaster.' Are they the same thing or was there a different cause for the subsequent delays?
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:46 pm

Revelation wrote:
iflyabunch wrote:
lightsaber wrote:
Many issues:
1. "Cruise ship" stairways that took up too much space. That could have added "free seats"
2. Prior weight discussion
3. Prior generation engines
4. Weight added by Catia error

I believe there was a market for the A380. It just wasn't optimized. It became a horse by committee.

Lightsaber

What’s the Catia error?
edit: I know Catia is the modeling software used to design the plane

Certainly the wiring problem added weight to the early birds. Splicing new runs to go to the correct places adds weight compared to bundles that go to the correct places to begin with.

A fairly unbiased view of the Catia iv/v issues.

https://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog ... ed_by.html


A big part of the A380 was simple wiring. Everything premade. But when connectors won't fit through the passage for the wiring bundle... That means cutting off connectors and then splicing on extensions, then routing, the install the connectors.

This added weight, time, and the reverse of what was promised (cheaper heavy maintenance intervals due to easy wiring replacement that due to the errors were actually more complex than prior aircraft, and heavier).

Lightsaber
 
flipdewaf
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Mon Oct 25, 2021 6:48 pm

frigatebird wrote:
9Patch wrote:
Buchholz contends that it might have been possible to rescue the A380, but it would have required early, decisive and painful action. When the program was delayed bya cabin installation disaster, Airbus should have used the opportunity to modernize the aircraft with a better engine based on ongoing development programs for the 787 and later the A350. “With a better engine, the A380 would have had a longer life,” he says.

“With new engines, it would have been an unbeatable aircraft in the marketplace,” Leahy asserts. “We came close to pulling it off. Had we had the right engines, we would probably have rewritten history.”


https://aviationweek.com/air-transport/ ... b9c8b5f2f8


I've heard Leahy saying saying this before, but Airbus had more than 10 years time to launch an A380neo. So what kept them? Very simple: it was not the answer either. Because when Airbus finally floated the idea to airlines a few years ago, only Emirates (and maybe Singapore Airlines) were willing to commit.



An engine change during development when configuration and sizing changes can be made has a much more profound effect on performance (specific range) than it does on an existing type, especially in the circumstances the A380 found itself in, I.e. constrained by wingspan and consequently suffering from the higher induced drag.

A re-engine of an existing frame with a 10 percent sac gain and you’ll get a bit more than 10 percent specific range and higher max range.

Fred


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 
iflyabunch
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Tue Oct 26, 2021 1:32 am

Thank you for the CATIA explanation, but as an engineer, I’m not so sure I understand. Both France and Germany use the SI metric system. What happened to confuse that?
 
2175301
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Tue Oct 26, 2021 4:01 am

iflyabunch wrote:
Thank you for the CATIA explanation, but as an engineer, I’m not so sure I understand. Both France and Germany use the SI metric system. What happened to confuse that?


It had nothing to do with the units of measurement used.

It had to do with the newer version was not backwards compatible with an older version. At least one of the versions could not properly read the files of the other version... and modified parameters without an obvious warning.

Similar things happen with various software versions in the USA for many things.

Key lesson is to make sure that everyone is using the same version of software; or that backwards compatibility actually exists.
 
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PolarRoute
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Tue Oct 26, 2021 4:13 am

About time we got another A380 thread, cuz avgeeks can't go without an occasional debate on this machine! The whole saga of double-deck-hype-and-then-fail is too amusing to avoid, isn't it?

I truly believe that had the A380 been more efficient, it would have made for a revolutionary means of mass transport. Think of it this way: wouldn't airlines go for the A380 over, say, B789 any day if the two planes burnt the same amount of fuel per hour?

The A380's failure doesn't lie within the size of the airplane itself; rather, it's the cost per seat advantage, or the lack thereof, it provided with its extra capacity. Simply, the inclined cost was too great for airlines to risk it and try filling all the added seats.

I do really hope OEMs take second attempt on double deck 4 hauler. It's just nice to have some characteristics around on the apron. But I guess Airbus blew any confidence for any manufacturers to build such aircraft away
 
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Tue Oct 26, 2021 7:51 am

9Patch wrote:
flyingclrs727 wrote:
The Germans and French could not agree on a software version for the CATIA software. This necessitated conversion of files shared between the French and Germans. The conversions introduced rounding errors into the dimensions. Unfortunately after many iterations of down conversions by the French and up conversions by the Germans, the dimensions of the wiring harnesses were decreased so much that they were too short to fit in the aircraft. The designs had to be altered, but even worse many early aircraft had to be retrofitted with a different wiring harness. This decreased the value of first 20 aircraft off the production line as they had differences from each other and later standardized aircraft.


In addition to the CATIA delay the article mentions a delay caused by a 'cabin installation disaster.' Are they the same thing or was there a different cause for the subsequent delays?


I recall that Airbus offered so many cabin options, about every single airline that ordered the A380 had their own specifically customized cabin. This not only made the A380 far too labor intensive to build, but also affected the resale possibilities of the aircraft.

In that regard, it was lucky for the program the second half of the production was almost entirely for EK alone. If 30 airlines had ordered 10 A380 each the financial disaster would have been bigger. Both Airbus and Boeing consequently limited the cabin options for the A350 and 787 respectively.

flipdewaf wrote:
An engine change during development when configuration and sizing changes can be made has a much more profound effect on performance (specific range) than it does on an existing type, especially in the circumstances the A380 found itself in, I.e. constrained by wingspan and consequently suffering from the higher induced drag.

A re-engine of an existing frame with a 10 percent sac gain and you’ll get a bit more than 10 percent specific range and higher max range.

Fred


No disagreement there Fred, but would airlines be willing to sit out the additional years of delay as a result? I wasn't member of A-Net then, and wasn't aware of the negativity about the A380 program on this forum then. But I do recall news articles at the time, which questioned if Airbus' ability to pull off a program like the A380 with all the delays they had.

The A350 program was different. Airbus totally redesigned the A350 because airlines wanted a totally different aircraft. So hardly any airline cancelled as a result (only Air Europe IIRC).
 
TheSonntag
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Tue Oct 26, 2021 8:25 am

I never understood why the A380 did get so bad engines. They were already outdated 4 years after delivery. Obviously the world financial crisis did not really help the plane either.

I believe from a project management and technology point of view, Airbus learned a lot from this programme, and the investments into XFW are also useful for a new production line of the A321 series.

So while the A380 as a standalone program is a failure, in the overall context it isn't. Only with the A380 Airbus really became a full scale airplane manufacturer, and with the A350, they got a gread product.
 
Noshow
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Re: Analyzing The Airbus A380’s Premature End

Tue Oct 26, 2021 8:44 am

From the outside the A380 debacle looks similar to what Boeing went through with the 787.
Airbus seems to have learned their lessons I hope Boeing will too.

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