Fast Company

Double-Decker Airplane Takes Flight

After six years of development and two years of delays, debate and red tape, The Airbus A380 Superjumbo (A modern-day Spruce Goose) is ready to fly commercial.

Yesterday's meeting of the European Aviation Safety Agency and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that this 555-seat double-decker behemoth of an airplane will be cleared for takeoff in 2007.

Manufactured in France, the Airbus Superjumbo met with a number of delays including wiring installation problems, and alleged insider trading. Now with months of flight tests behind it, the plane is impressing aviation experts around the world with its maximum speed of Mach 0.89, and ability to fly non-stop for 8,000 nautical miles.

The aircraft is equipped with four 70,000lb thrust engines, and to date, 149 airbuses have already been sold. As the first aircraft with double-decker double-aisle formatting, the A380 has double-aisle cabins on both the upper and lower decks, with 49% more floor space. The upper deck will provide 96 business and 103 economy class seats, along with two lounges. The main deck will accommodate 22 first class seats and 334 economy class seats, with two lounges and bar-like areas.

The Airbus cost $16 billion to develop, and aimed to rival Boeing's 747 jumbo jet as the largest most efficient aircraft available. However, Boeing is now focusing its energies on mid-sized jets, such as the 787 Dreamliner, leaving the Airbus to rule the skies for the forseeable future.

The Airbus will begin servicing Asia with Singapore Airlines next October. What's your take on the giant plane? Will you feel safer flying in 2007 if you're on the biggest plane in the world? Will the Airbus become a common means of future travel, or is it too decadent and impractical to stand the test of time?

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10 Comments

  • Tom

    Do you have any earthly idea of the unbelievable positive impact this is going to have on the environment, the economy and highway safety and who knows how many other things all at the same time? To even be willing to make such a bold move as to try to move five-hundred fifty-five people at a time, much less being ABLE, shows a kind of concern for conservation of environment, super intelligence, and picture-perfect application of available resources that I don't see as being/having matched, EVER! Do you realize the amount less of toxic output from means of travel that will be put into the air with every one of these flights, or the tremendous savings of money and clearing off of the highways that will be done when that number of people can be moved at the same time to their destinations or hook-up points to same? Even if people have to later get on regular planes after riding one of these, to fill it up even ten times is nearly six-thousand people that would otherwise be driving and clogging up the freeways, spending money on gas, and polluting the air. This is phenomenal! I love living here in America but I think France wins with this one. The record here for the amount of pollution, highway safety, and money for gas is unspeakable. Can you or will you even consider the amount of energy to be saved by doing this which would otherwise be squandered? I can't believe this could get criticism. This is probably one of the best things that's happened for travel in a long time, maybe ever.

  • Rahat

    only concern is that when is it actually going to fly. there is no need to count the chickens before they are hatched, and say this and that.

  • Mike

    Simply awful.

    No one should be subjected to this kind of cattle-class passangers-are-numbers inhuman travel.

  • Dave

    Where is the sense of adventure? The world's largest airliner! I would buy the first available ticket to Europe or Australia or whereever.

  • George

    This airplane has nothing to do with passenger comfort or convenience or even speed of travel. I, for one, will avoid this plane like the plague -- imagine how much longer your total trip time will be when you have to load/unload passengers, wait in (already) long lines at immigration & customs, wait for luggage, etc. The ground support systems aren't in place to support this flying "airbus."

  • Alex

    Hmmm... I wonder if the US are going to try & kill it like they did with the Concorde a while back?

    Today the A380 officially got its wings, but the only article about it on US news sites was about the so call blowing-up risk of the new aircraft against the upcoming FAA regulation wrt flamable tanks.

    Disinformation/propaganda starts officially today in the US?

  • Patrick Harris-Worthington

    The Airbus A380 may be cleared to fly,( with European governments footing the bill, there was no chance of it NOT being cleared) When the first airplanes with Airline colors will fly is anyone's guess. SAL has been told that it will have to wait over 18 months for it's first jets. Airbus has said it needs to divest itself of thousands of suppliers. The general chaos of their supply chain and vendor integration, leaves little doubts there will be more delays/problems.

  • Michael Hoffman

    I would like the to see the thing flying for a while before I get on. That said, would I not fly somewhere with the best price/route if I had to fly on it? I think Airbus has some problems they need to overcome with this, specifically that some of their sales might not go through due to the delays. In addition, they have a serious PR problem related to their management as well as to the wiring issues.