Paris Air Show

Airbus reveals A380plus Details

 - June 19, 2017, 4:30 AM
So-called “split” winglets on the proposed A380plus are perhaps the most obvious change, but many more updates are proposed. Airbus hasn’t committed to the program, but is talking with current and potential customers about ways to improve its widebody icon.

In a briefing held in the stripped out interior of the A380 that Airbus has on static display, the company provided additional details on its proposed A380plus, unveiled here at the Paris Air Show. The plus program aims to combine aerodynamic and weight reduction initiatives and interior retrofits to add up to 80 additional seats, increase MTOW more than three tons, and reduce block fuel consumption up to 4 percent, while dropping passenger cost per seat up to 13 percent for the jumboliner.

Calling it “a significant step change,” Frank Vermeire, head of marketing for the A380, said the program has not been green-lighted, but Airbus is “in dialog with customers” about proceeding. No orders are in hand, and there’s been “no discussion of price,” he said.

The (split) winglets are the most obvious aerodynamic improvement, and others include an outer wing “retwist”; a wing camber modification, with a 30-mm maximum height increase between Rib 18 and Rib 30; and wing-root optimization. Additionally, engines will be tweaked to provide improved specific fuel consumption.

Room for the additional seats will be wrung from more than half a dozen areas within the cabins: New rear stair configuration (14 seats); Upper Door 3 deactivation (eight seats); 11 abreast (vs. current 10 abreast) economy cabin configuration (23 seats); a combined crew rest compartment (3 seats); removal of upper deck sidewall storage (six seats); nine- abreast (vs. current eight abreast) premium economy configuration (11 seats); and a new forward stair configuration (20 seats). All but the forward stair reconfiguration would be available as retrofits, Vermeire said. A corresponding weight reduction program intends to render the additional seats weight neutral. Winglets (no provider has been selected) and other aerodynamic enhancements would not be retrofitable.

A number of A380 operators are already looking into interior retrofits to add more seats, Vermeire said, which he called “a good validation” for the plus concept. If the project moves ahead, Airbus expects the A380plus would enter service in 2020. Currently 213 A380s are in service, deployed on 120 routes by 13 operators.