Airbus has delivered its 100th A380 VLA (very large aircraft) to Malaysia Airlines six years after the first production model entered service.
A hundred aircraft is a milestone, no matter under what prevailing international economic conditions and the French manufacturer can take pride in the fact its first entrant into the VLA class is today in service with nine international airlines and has carried about 36 million passengers in 100 000 flights.
The world’s first VLA, although not as big as the A380, is Boeing’s 747 which was first taken into service by the then Pan American Airlines in January 1970. Just over a year later 747 number 100 was flying in the livery of another American air transporter, Braniff Airlines.
Speaking at the delivery of A380 number 100 Airbus chief executive and president Fabrice Bregier pointed out the aircraft had already contributed substantially to easing of airport congestion and cutting down of carbon dioxide.
“Previous generation VLAs would have needed in the region of 140 000 flights to carry the same number of passengers as the A380 already has. Apart from cutting down on airport congestion, the saving of close to six million tonnes of carbon dioxide has benefitted the environment and generated more revenue for operators.”
Internationally the current A380 fleet completes more than 140 flights in any given 24 hour period carrying over 1,5 million people a month. Passengers can board an A380 either taking off or landing every six minutes at one of 32 international airports where it operates to date. Additionally more than 50 other airports are preparing to accommodate the A380 and answer a need for more A380 destinations.
Airbus sees in excess of 1 700 VLA aircraft being delivered over the next 20 years. Asia Pacific leads demand (45%) for the high capacity aircraft followed by the Middle East (23%) and Europe (19%).
Typically seating 525 passengers in three classes, the aircraft is capable of flying 8 500 nautical miles or 15 700 kilometres non-stop, carrying more people at lower cost and with less impact on the environment. The spacious, quiet cabin and smooth ride have made the A380 a firm favourite with passengers, resulting in higher load factors wherever it flies Bregier said.
Since 2006 the A380 has registered repeat orders by customers every year bringing the total order book to date to 262 from 20 customers.