In a bid to resuscitate sales of its struggling flagship A380,
Airbus unveiled a new version of its iconic superjumbo with a
host of upgrades on Monday at the 2017 Paris Air Show.
Airbus claims the plane — dubbed the A380plus — has been upgraded
in five main areas including fuel efficiency and passenger
Airbus hopes the new development will make the A380, which hasn’t
generated a single new order in more than a year, more
financially attractive for airlines.
“The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better
economics and improved operational performance at the same time,”
Airbus COO John Leahy said in a statement. “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 most obvious upgrade made to the A380 is the addition of
a set of split winglets that are designed to curtail the effects
of induced drag and wingtip vortices. Airbus claims the
improved aerodynamics created by the winglets will boost the
plane’s fuel economy by 4%.
In addition, Airbus increased the A380’s passenger capacity
by a whopping 80 seats to lower the plane’s unit operating costs.
Even though the A380 is certified to fly with more than 850
passengers, the plane is usually configured to fly with 497
passengers. The A380plus’s upgraded interior is expected to boost
that capacity to 575 seats.
The airplane has made this happen in a variety of manners. At the
front of the plane, the A380’s grand staircase and pilots’ rest
quarters are gone. The grand staircase has been replaced by a
tighter, space efficient version — making room for 20 additional
passengers. At the same time, pilots’ rest quarters have been
merged with the flight attendants’ crew rest facility on the