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The world's largest commercial aeroplane, the Airbus A380-800, will be discontinued in 2021. The 'double-decker' aircraft has a special place in the minds of aviation enthusiasts and the official news of it being discontinued came as a hard blow. The Airbus A380 does not operate in India, but is a popular long-distance air-travel choice in almost every continent.
The European aircraft manufacturer had to discontinue the A380 after Emirates, the Dubai-based airlines and the largest operator of the plane, reduced orders for it from 162 units to 123. This, in addition to the lack of order backlog (outstanding orders) with other major airlines, left the company with no other option.
Introduced in October 2007 (first flown by Singapore Airlines), Airbus has delivered 234 A380-800 units till January 2019 while 17 others are awaiting delivery. Currently, 232 A380s are flying under 14 major airlines. Watch the iconic introduction ceremony of the A380 from the archives:
Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, shared, "The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today's announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will, of course, continue to fully support the A380 operators."
On the other hand, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive of Emirates Airlines stated, "Emirates has been a loyal supporter of the A380 since its very inception. While we are disappointed about giving up our order, and sad that the programme could not be continued, we accept that this is the reality. For us, the Airbus A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and crew. It is a differentiator for Emirates. We have shown how people can truly fly better on the A380, and Emirates has set the standards for that by introducing customer experiences that are unique to it such as our Shower Spas and Onboard Lounge."
For the aircraft geeks, the Airbus A380 initially came in both passenger (A380-800) and cargo (A380F) formats. Engine choices included the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 or the Engine Alliance GP7000. With seating capacities ranging from 523 to 853 passengers, the Airbus A380 promises a flying range of 15,200km — check out the longest flight routes in the world.
The gigantic aircraft has a wingspan of 80m, even though the ideal width is 90m. The engineers had to bring down the wingspan due to various airport limitations. The flight has a maximum takeoff weight of around 575 tonnes; or the weight of about five blue whales.
Prices for the Boeing 747-rival start from 428 million US dollars or just around Rs 3063 crore (before taxes).
Thoughts On Airbus A380 Being Discontinued
The world's aviation history has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous legendary aircraft including the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde, Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird and many more. The Airbus A380 will find a special place on the list of iconic aircraft that revolutionised global aviation and will probably go down in the timeline with no worthy successor to replace it.