Can PIPs bring the A380 what Emirates Airlines wants?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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26 April 2015, C. Leeham Co: With Emirates Airlines deciding for Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines for its 50 new A380s and admitting that it would accept that this could be for all of them if Airbus does not proceed with an A380neo, the time has come to look at how much incremental improvements can be brought on the present A380.

Our proprietary aircraft model is particularly suited for such studies as we can change any parameter and read the result off the efficiency scale. We can also play with the aircraft’s configuration and see what effect it will have. Based on Emirates’ new configuration of A380s equipped with the Trent 900 engine, we have checked what incremental improvements are doable and what would they bring.


  • Our deep analysis of 18 Dec. 2014 showed that the present A380 is the most economical aircraft one can operate if one can fill it to normal load factors.
  • Emirates COO Tim Clark complements this fact with the statement, “It is Emirates’ most profitable aircraft” in the press conference in London last week when announcing the Trent 900 deal with Rolls-Royce.
  • Clark’s statement also covers the fact the passengers prefer A380 over other aircraft if they have a choice, it operates with higher load-factors then Emirates other aircraft.
  • The A380 is a rather special design and its characteristics make Product Improvement Packages, PIPs, possible in a number of areas. We discuss which they would be and model their effect on overall performance.
  • While the sought-after 10%-13% improvement would not be in there, incremental changes can cover up to half of that with more or less plausible business cases. Airbus is right now deciding which of these they see as worthwhile and introducing them.

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