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20 amazing facts about the A380 superjumbo

(CNN) – Loved by passengers for its spaciousness and comfort, but disliked by the airlines due to operating costs, the Airbus A380 has already entered the sunset years, even though it debuted commercially only 14 years ago.

The final chapter was put in sharper focus this week, when Airbus delivered the last A380 ever made to its new owners, Emirates, and ended 18 years of aircraft production.

The Superjumbo was conceived at a time when larger aircraft carrying hundreds of passengers between hubs were an attractive proposition, but when it began flying, another business model ̵[ads1]1; smaller aircraft connecting smaller airports – had taken over in the aviation industry.

However, the largest passenger aircraft ever produced has gathered a following, and although a significant portion of the fleet will not survive the pandemic, the news that the aircraft has returned to the air has electrified those who specifically look for it when booking aircraft. .

Several airlines – including Emirates, British Airways and Singapore – are now offering long-haul flights on the superjumbo again.

Whether you are planning to take a flight on an A380 while you still have the chance or not, here is our selection of the 20 most interesting facts about this unique aircraft.

Bigger than ever

As the only full-length double-decker passenger aircraft ever built, the A380 is so large that in theory it could carry a maximum of 853 passengers if all seats were economy class. However, no airline has ever fitted such an A380: the highest registered capacity is 615 people in a two-class (economy + business) configuration.

2. Wires for miles

Cable for aircraft: Each A380 has more than 300 miles of cables.

Cable for aircraft: Each A380 has more than 300 miles of cables.

Gideon Mendel / Corbis / Getty Images

Each A380 contains over 300 miles of electrical cables and wires, and installing them proved so challenging that some of the initial delays in the production of the aircraft were blamed specifically on the wires. In 2009, Airbus streamlined operations by speeding up the installation of the brackets that hold up the wires – there are up to 80,000 in each aircraft.

3. Turbulent air

The size and weight of the superjumbo can cause problems for smaller aircraft that follow it closely – a phenomenon known as “wake turbulence.” In 2017, a small private plane turned in the air as it crossed paths with an A380. Recent guidelines suggest that light aircraft should wait four minutes before taking off or landing on the same runway that was just used by an A380.

4. A serious paint job

Glossy Canvas: It takes a lot of paint to decorate an A380.

Glossy Canvas: It takes a lot of paint to decorate an A380.

Etienne De Malglaive / Getty Images

It requires 950 liters of paint to cover the entire surface of 38,000 square meters on an A380. A regular coat of paint gives 1400 lbs weight to the aircraft. The process usually takes about two weeks.

5. No need to pack lightly

The load compartment of an A380 can carry up to 3000 suitcases, and two load belts – one at the front and one at the rear – can be used simultaneously to speed up the process.

6. A true globalist

Each A380 is made up of 4 million individual components, produced by 1,500 companies from 30 different countries. They all used to converge by road, air and sea to Toulouse, in the south of France, where the final plane was assembled.

Possibility of showers

Splashy function: A380 has space for showers.

Splashy function: A380 has space for showers.

Pawel Dwulit / Toronto Star / Getty Images

8. More space than a basketball court

With its full-length double-deck, the A380 offers almost 6,000 square feet of usable floor space, about 40% more than the second-largest passenger aircraft, the Boeing 747-8.

9. Loved by the Emirates

By far the largest operator of the A380 is Dubai-based Emirates, with 123 bookings, followed by Singapore Airlines with 24. A total of 14 airlines have booked and flown the A380. When Emirates canceled an order for 39 A380s in early 2019, Airbus decided to stop production of the aircraft completely by the end of 2021.

10. You can own a part of one

Drink it in: Emirates has sold from the bar from a retired A380.

Drink it in: Emirates has sold from the bar from a retired A380.

Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto / Getty Images

Although it has just received delivery of the latest A380 ever made, Emirates has already pulled the first one it bought 14 years ago and handed it over for recycling and converted into furniture. Among the items listed for pre-order at the Dubai Airshow in November were coffee tables made of wheels, watches made of wing fuel panels and the entire aircraft’s 24 meter high tail. Also in place was the aircraft’s fancy upper deck rod.

11. The secret room

With a cockpit crew of three and up to 21 flight attendants, the A380 has the largest crew of any aircraft. The galley area has enough space for five people to work at the same time, and crew members can rest in a “secret” area located on the third deck (load one at the bottom), complete with bunk beds and a private toilet.

12. Not for everyone

Munich Airport A380 tailor-made doors TEASE

Tight fit: Munich’s A380 adaptations.

With permission for Munich Airport

The A380, due to its size, cannot be operated at all airports and many had to make changes to handle the superjumbo. In Munich, special aircraft doors had to be built to accommodate the plane’s tail. Airbus says that 140 airports worldwide are compatible with the aircraft, and over 400 can accept it in case of an emergency landing.

13. The longest flight

Emirates operates the A380’s longest scheduled flight: Dubai to Auckland, 8800 miles and over 17 hours in the air. In 2019, Qantas flew one of its A380s back to base in Sydney from Dresden, Germany, after refurbishment. The plane was empty and flew for over 18 hours and around 10,000 miles.

14. The shortest flight

Singapore Airlines has announced that it will offer the new shortest A380 flight in the world: a fast jump of just 180 miles between Changi Airport in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Previously, the Emirates had this record with a flight from Dubai to Muscat, Oman, which clocked in at around 210 miles.

15. The cargo version that never was

Cargo-only: A380s canceled shipping version.

Cargo-only: A380s canceled shipping version.

AFP / Getty Images

When Airbus launched the A380 in December 2000, it offered a cargo version called the A380F, designed to compete with similar models of the Boeing 747. UPS and FedEx initially placed orders on the aircraft, but after being delayed canceled them, leading to cancellation of the A380F program itself.

16. Flappy wings

During takeoff, the A380 wings flutter so much that they bend upwards by as much as 13 feet. There are many, but not so much as planes with a higher amount of composite materials, such as the Boeing 787, whose wings can flutter as much as 25 feet.

17. Jumbo depreciation

The list price of an Airbus A380 was around $ 450 million, excluding the usual discounts. However, the current fleet value has fallen: one estimate says that a 2005 model is now worth only $ 77 million, and one as a new A380 built in 2019 only $ 276 million.

18. Two per wing

Thirsty workers: The A380 has four jet engines.

Thirsty workers: The A380 has four jet engines.

Frank Rumpenhorst / DPA / AFP / Getty Images

The aircraft’s four engines are both one of its most characteristic factors and a disadvantage, since they require more fuel than twin-engine jets. They are made by either Rolls-Royce in the UK or Engine Alliance in the US, and can lift the aircraft’s maximum take-off weight of 650 tonnes to a cruising altitude of 15 minutes.

19. No US buyers

One of the main reasons why the A380 was never a commercial success is the fact that not a single US airline has ever bought the aircraft. Major European airlines such as Air France, British Airways and Lufthansa did so, but in small numbers. By the time the A380 was available, US airlines had already moved away from jumbo jets and towards more fuel-efficient, twin-engine aircraft such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350.

20. A partial comeback

Lufthansa has decided to retire its A380 fleet.

Lufthansa has decided to retire its A380 fleet.

Thomas Lohnes / Getty Images

The pandemic hit the aviation industry hard, and the A380 harder. Lufthansa and Air France never used the A380s again after being put on the ground, and decided to retire the entire fleet instead, while Qatar sent half the fleet for permanent storage. At the back, Qantas, British Airways, Emirates, Qatar, Singapore, All Nippon and Korean Air have all announced that they are restarting the A380 service.

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