Largest Passenger Aircraft Takes Off
Written By: Tony Holdich
Strident effort in airframe and engine design has led to the Airbus A380. Due into passenger carrying service in 2006, the A380 embodies the very latest technologies for materials, systems and industrial processes and with all that, compared with the B747, comes 30% greater passenger numbers and wider seats, up to 20% seat-mile cost reduction and a 10% greater range; that's the base version. Carriers will be able to order stretch or shrunk and the freight variant will lift some 150 tonnes of cargo. So that's typically 555 people at a time fuelled up to do the London/Sydney trip non-stop, in greater comfort, at 95mpg, along with departure noise lower than a B747.
Whilst bringing the A380 into service is a truly magnificent step, if total passengers used fewer flights that depart and arrive with reduced impact, the future would indeed be bright.
But passenger growth is in short and medium range travel as well and further steps are in great demand. Strident efforts in refining short and medium range airframe and engine designs, as well as refining aircraft operations - to better lift and land all aircraft sizes at greater rates with less noise - must continue.
History is showing that such efforts can lead to incremental improvements that, like the A380, can together reduce the impact that "travel lust" has on our environment. Big as it is, the A380 is just one step in many that must be taken together if we are to noticeably improve global amenity.