Airbus confirms A380plus study

June 18, 2017, © Leeham Co.: Airbus today confirmed what’s been reported for the better part of two weeks: it’s studying aerodynamic and other improvements to the A380 to make it more attractive to airlines.

LNC first detailed the prospect of a new winglet and interior improvements June 12.

Airbus calls the study for an enhanced airplane the A380plus. With the aerodynamic changes, the most notable of which is the 4.7 meter high winglet, plus more seating, Airbus projects a 13% economic improvement.

New uplet and downlet

“The study includes aerodynamic improvements, in particular new, large winglets and other wing

Airbus A380plus concept at the Paris Air Show, showing the new winglet. Photo via Google.

refinements, that allow for up to 4% fuel burn savings,” Airbus said. “Added to an optimised A380 maintenance programme and the enhanced cabin features first shown at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in April, the overall benefit is a 13% cost per seat reduction versus today’s A380.”

The winglets are split into a 3.5m “uplet” and a 1.2m “downlet.”

Airbus has figured out how to add 80 more seats to the cabin configuration.

“The A380plus features longer maintenance check intervals, a reduced six-year check downtime, and systems improvements, which will reduce maintenance costs and increase aircraft availability,” Airbus said.

 

42 Comments on “Airbus confirms A380plus study

  1. The problem with the A380 is not its efficiency, per se. The problem with the A380 is its efficiency relative to its size.

    Fill it up with more seats, or at least fill the seats you already have on a consistent basis, and you have one of the most efficient birds in the sky.

    Problem with that, though, is that airlines can’t fill that many seats let alone another 80 more…

    The A380 is just a very lovely, capable bird 10-15 years before her time…

    • I suppose the limits are, can an airline persuade 600-ish passengers to fly a given route if the tickets are free? If not, then the capacity is pointless.

      Long haul travel is already pretty cheap, and one wonders what difference it’s going to make knocking another £70 off the price of a flight to anywhere. More advertising required…

      • “Long haul travel is already pretty cheap”- it doesnt look cheap when there is so much more medium haul choices on offer.
        The longest route is with Emirates from Dubai to Auckland, just over 14000km. Dont you think comfort is a major factor when you are flying 17.5 hrs ?
        The shortest routes are Bankok- Hong Kong and Beijing- Guangzhou around 2.5 hours where capacity is likely the main requirement, along with other similar intra asian cities. Could LAX -JFK be next ?

        • Well we have been hearing how the A380 is ahead of its time, I think more like the Edsel, should never had a time.

          When A350-1000 sales are weak and 777x sales are wobbly, where does that put A380?

          As noted, pack in 80 more seats and the numbers are great, until you find you now have 200 empty seats and not 120.

          • I guess the average loads would make up the difference for when they get ~97% loads when you factor in the wing improvement s and increased capacity. It means nothing though if Emirates dont want them. Emirates can keep the program alive. Thats it. It might be the last act if theres no uptake for these I feel.

  2. Whilst this is going to make the aircraft more appealing to airlines, I wonder where the capacity demand is going to come from. It’s almost like Airbus are saying to the airlines, “come on, get some ambition!”. If you can fill it up, it’s surely going to be a big revenue generator. Maybe 13% will be enough of a temptation.

    Is any of this retrofittable? Buy a cheap used one, upgrade, carve off a big piece of market share from everyone else on the same route?

    It’s a brilliant plane, and I hope that these changes don’t ruin it for the passengers.

      • …every global region saw double-digit international RPK growth in April…

        But no growth in A380 sales.

        • Every widebody has hit a brickwall in new orders in the last year or so.

          • That’s true, the A380 hits brick wall after the first sales and other than Emirates which is shaky now as well, never took off.

            A number of those early takers dropped it (Virgin), never took it up (Hong Kong), lost theirs (Sky) and it did not work for Malaysia.

      • @JohnB:
        “..every global region saw double-digit international RPK growth”

        It’s the classic but incorrect assumption of longhaul traffic growth rate is directly linear to/translate into the growth rate in avg widebody gauge/size.

        It doesn’t work that way in most cases(perhaps except for those who fly longhaul mostly/only fm LHR)….@ least not anymore ever since the airline industry liberalization trend hit the longhaul mkt in the form of much more liberal bi-laterals or even openskies backed by complete dereg in nearly every nation. Even the draconian Chinese industry reg regime is starting to allow purely private airline to start longhaul ops and thus compete directly with gov’t-owned ones.

        In a nutshell, in the longhaul mkt, number of competitors has been growing even faster than the overall global pax traffic.

        The onset of longhaul LCCs with a completely diff op model is going to fragment the int’l RPK growth further across even more airlines. Despite robust longhaul traffic growth, that bigger cake effectively gets carve up into ever smaller slices….ok for those with smaller 787/350-sized stomachs, not so for those with 380-sized stomachs.

        747 sold well partly because it was born into an era of highly regulated longhaul mkt. Most longhaul routes between any 2 nations were served by 2 airlines(typically official or defacto flag carriers) or less with frequency restrictions. Others allowed a bit more choices via limited 5th freedom rights. It was easy for airlines to plan upgauge to 747 when they knew their slice of the cake remained largely constant as the cake grew larger. 380 was born into a mkt with none of that luxury…..

      • “every global region saw double-digit international RPK growth in April, and the seasonally adjusted load factor posted a fresh all-time high.”
        But in that case, do you buy the A380 and lock in that seat count for slower months, or do you but two 777s (or A330s or 350s) and offer your customers more departure choices during peak months, and redeploy one aircraft to leisure destinations or alternate peak destinations when trading conditions change.
        Really only slot-constrained airports make sense for the A380.

    • At least some of this is retrofittable: the “new forward staircase” option would be introduced as a line-fit, but earlier this year A had not decided whether to offer it for retrofit, saying all such are driven by business-case analyses covering downtime, labour, service bulletins, and parts kit costs to be set against an operator’s perceived return on investment. The aft-galley stair module is planned for line fit in early 2019 and retrofit.
      Proposed 3+3+3 “premium-economy” seats forward of main-deck Door 2 requires an additional seat rail said to be available as line-fit and retrofit. The upper-deck cabin-width mod becomes standard from this year.

    • How could adding 80 more seats, not impact the passenger experience in a negative way?

      • Will it gives you a much better chance of getting an empty seat beside you!

        • Has that happened with 777 operators who went to 10 abreast in economy ? In practice what has more likely happened is the seat count has stayed much the same after more space was given to economy plus passengers.
          The VLA number have been slow overall because there was two competing products, the 380 and the 747-8. Remember the 777-300ER had no real competition during its run away success

  3. “Titanic” 380 Captain Enders: “Set out more deck chairs, Johnston!” LOL

  4. Can ne interested for medium weight variant taylored for the qota count at lhr : double gain on weight at a given range (lower fuel block) and possible better takeoff performance (lower thrust, lower noise)

  5. It is moving in the right direction as a half way improvement before the A380neo with RR Advance engines becomes avialable. Most airlines flying the A380 need to replace them at some time and nothing else can replace it. Hopefully will the A380+ allow for closer spacing at arrivals.

    • They can replace their A380s with smaller long range twins.

      • Seat mile cost and range are important factors, getting a double digit cost reduction for pax for the same route for the same ticket price makes wonders. The key is to keep the comfort gap between the 777 and the A380 similar not having pax migrate to the 777. The reason the A380 did not sell better was the 777-300ER. Twin Engines, large cargo hold, durable and flexible with great range. So Airbus must improve the A380 so airliners can realize the Revenue benefit. As more Airports have dedicated A380 gates it will be more A380 routes. The next step is a stretch, new RR Engines that is more durable x 2 times the GE90-115B on wing hence same Aircraft Power by the hour cost , upgraded wings, more range, Al-Li fuselage and more carbon. The timing might coincide when Emirates move to Al Maktoum International Airport with all its A380 gates ready and its time to trade in volumes of old A380’s.

        • If they can’t sell a very efficient aircraft now, putting more money into it makes it better how?

          • If they can’t sell a very efficient aircraft now, putting more money into it makes it better how?

            For one, it makes it more efficient. Which means it’ll make it a bit easier to recover the initial investment.
            And yes, it’s going to cost money, but the spend would be limited and they won’t actually launch until they have customers going for it. Until then, it’s a development study that’s being conducted as part of “normal” R&D efforts to keep the type relevant. They’ve done the same for other types before.

          • It need to be more efficient and more airports need dedicated A380 gates and luggage handling capability. So Airbus slowly is moving to update it, the question will be if the composite 787-9/-10 or A350-900 /-1000 will take the most hub pax or if the 777-9 and A380+ will rise and be dominant at those airports.

  6. It won’t sell in large numbers, but it does have a niche. Need to keep production going until RR introduce the advance. Worth €2BN to produce a NEO to add 300-400 more sales provided. But production costs must be reduced to make a profit with a low production rate of ~20/year. If Airbus can’t get production costs down, then it is over!

    Overall it won’t make a profit!

    • The A380 is a nice cover above the 777 with or without an X.

      Airbus will produce this cover even with for a very small or a red profit.

  7. Wow! I think I get the picture! Colon Blow must be the highest fiber cereal on the market!

    Announcer Leahy: Not any more! If Colon Blow isn’t good enough, we now introduce new Super Colon Blow! It would take over two and a half million bowls of your oat bran cereal to equal the fiber content of one bowl of Super Colon Blow! 🙂

  8. And now, just add a main deck cargo door and make it a combi to have a better balance between seats and (revenue) cargo 🙂

  9. There is a bit of doom and gloom in here. This plus model is probably purpose designed in consultation with Emirates. It has a niche I think. Maybe I wrote it off too soon.

  10. A very sensible move from Airbus to keep the A380 going. I think they would go for the Advance it it would be available now, but they can’t wait with improvements until then.
    If you look at the plan and the future market without any bias – well, if the trafic keeps growing as we all expect then the A380 still has its best times ahead.
    I expect a similar story as with the 747, which became a real success only after 19 years in service with the development of the -400.
    The A380 is in service for 10 years now and it will be another 5 years or so until we see the NEO flying.
    In the meantime traffic will keep growing, more airports will have more A380 gates and major airports will be seriously slot restricted.
    We will then see new customers buying the A380. The Plus will keep the A380 going in the meantime, just like the -200 or -300 did for the 747.

    • Making comparisons with the history of the 747 is perilous optimism. The market,capabilities and airfleets were very different. For starters the 747 had no competitors i.e. large twin engine craft.

  11. It all comes down to, do you put more money down the rat hole or give it up.

    This is what I call a split decision. Miner tweaks that don’t cost much and pray something changes.

    No new engines, no stretch unless it does and so far the history says it won’t..

    • Transworld,

      I Say: “Cram more cash into the Rat Hole – Billions of Dollars”! Stretch the A380 and give it bigger engines: make it into an leviathan aircraft whose likes won’t be seen for 100 years. Make the Airbus A380 be a glorious statement. And while this course of action may not be the the most financially profitable course in the near term, people will never forget the aircraft (and that’s like free advertisement forever).

      Go 4 it!

      • Compared to existing airliners of the time, the 747 was a Leviathan, the A380 not so much compared to existing or projected planes
        The 747-8 and 777-9 are longer than the A380
        if big wasnt good Boeing wouldnt have stretched its 747 and 777-300

  12. The A380 may never be a financial success, but it is one of the most commercial aircraft ever built. The A380’s size gives Airbus bragging rights forever. Long after the 747 is forgotten, the Airbus A380 will be remembered…for people always remember what and who is #1.

  13. Since airport infrastructure is expensive and airport space is limited, there is a practical business case for dense aircraft. Midway airport or LAX can’t double in size to fill the need to move more people through an 80m gate or a 36m gate, since the optimal airframe solution might be a larger wingspan or two aircraft using two gates. The A380 or new dense aircraft for 36m gates have a place in the future.

    • @Ted:
      “airport infrastructure is expensive”
      Agree, it is.

      “airport space is limited”
      It is but then again, most get longhaul types no larger than a 332/763ER yr-round outside LAX, SFO and SEA in the entire Western U.S. region. There will be a long time for them to keep adding seats per widebody before they hit the 65m gate limit(e.g. fits 779 which carry 400 seats)….let alone 80m.

      “Midway airport or LAX can’t double in size to fill the need to move more people…”
      If U think deeper:
      MDW=Isn’t that why ORD plus a few other smaller options surrounding Chicago region exist? I mean MDW is not the only portal for pax traffic to/fm that region right?

      LAX=I don’t know but those huge spaces west of TBIT upto the perimeter fence facing the Pacific appear it has enough physical real estate to @ least quadruple the current size of TBIT. To a much smaller extent, similar story if demolishing all aviation support/cargo areas south of LAX south rwys.

  14. Could work if you build a Dubai in the US and another somewhere in Asia?

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