Airbus upgrades A380, the world's biggest passenger jet

Ivan Schwartz
June 19, 2017

Boeing unveiled a new member of its best-selling 737 aircraft range, injecting new life into a faltering civil aviation market as French President Emmanuel Macron flew in to open the Paris Airshow on Monday.

The new winglets measure approximately 4.7 metres in height (an uplet of 3.5 metres, and a downlet of 1.2 metres).

"We think the 737 MAX 10 is a competitor to the (MAX) 9 and that's why a lot of people are converting", said Airbus sales chief John Leahy.

These aerodynamic improvements would reduce the airliner's fuel consumption by up to 4%. "It is a new step for our iconic aircraft to best serve worldwide fast-growing traffic and the evolving needs of the A380 customers". "The A380 is well-proven as the solution to increasing congestion at large airports, and in offering a unique, passenger-preferred experience".

The new wing design adds to other modifications presented earlier this year, including new stairways and cabin rest area to fit in more seats, with Airbus dubbing the enhanced version the "A380plus".

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Together with a revised cabin layout announced in April that will accommodate 80 more passengers, overall costs per seat should be cut by 13 percent versus the current model.

The A380 superjumbo has struggled to make money for Airbus as the airline industry trend switched to smaller, twin-engine planes that still have the ability to fly long distances.

But there were indications on Sunday that Airbus and Boeing would try to pull off several surprises as they look for bragging rights at the world's largest air show.

The A380plus features longer maintenance check intervals, a reduced six-year check downtime and systems improvements created to reduce maintenance costs and increase aircraft availability. The plane will have an increased maximum take-off weight of 578 metric tons to allow for the denser format, or add 300 nautical miles of range with the existing 550-seat three-class configuration. Airbus reports that an A380 takes-off or lands somewhere in the world every two minutes.

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