The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, four-engined airliner manufactured by EADS (Airbus S.A.S.) It first flew on 27 April 2005 from Toulouse in France. Commercial flights are scheduled to begin in 2007 after lengthy delays. During much of its development phase, the aircraft was known as the Airbus A3XX. The nickname Superjumbo has become associated with the A380.
The A380's upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage. This allows for a spacious cabin with 50% more floor space than the next largest airliner, the Boeing 747-400, and provides seating for 555 people in standard three-class configuration or up to 853 people in full economy class configuration. Two models of the A380 are available. The A380-800, the passenger model, is the largest passenger airliner in the world, superseding the Boeing 747. The other launch model, the A380-800F, will be one of the largest freight aircraft and will have a payload capacity exceeded only by the Antonov An-225.
The A380-800 has a maximum range of 15,000 kilometres (8,000 nmi, sufficient to fly from Chicago to Sydney nonstop), and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h or 560 MPH at cruise altitude), similar to that of the Boeing 747.
The A380 is notably in direct competition on long haul routes with the Boeing 747-8, the current new development of Boeing's largest airliner, also being developed and pre-sold at a similar time. For airlines seeking very large passenger airliners, the two have been pitched as competitors on various occasions. Following delays to the A380 program some airlines switched (or stated they are considering switching) their orders to the 747-8 instead.
By kjfitz @ 2007-01-25 10:45:59