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Airbus A380 double-deck airliner

Double-deck jets

The Airbus A380 – new highflying comfort

A3XX interior
The A380 interior. Extreme comfort and a full range of the latest entertainment gadgets.

Airbus A3XX
The Airbus A380 double-deck passenger jet

It is estimated that world traffic volume will increase from the current annual 24 trillion kilometres (15 trillion miles) to in excess of 100 trillion kilometres (62 trillion miles) by 2050. Travel by car will drop from 53% of total transport use to 35%, with high-speed transport such as air travel increasing from 9% to more than 40%.

The increase will put further pressure on inflight tension as airlines scramble for more capacity per trip in an effort to keep operating costs down. The often cramped seating arrangements, specifically in economy class, has led to an increase in passenger violence. The Airbus company might just have the answer to more comfortable travel with their new double-deck jet, the A380.

The family of A380 aircraft, each with twin aisles and 2 levels, provides more room than any previous aircraft. Passengership-style stairs lead between the levels. The cargo compartments can be used for shops, exercise areas and sleeping rooms.

The baseline A380-100, with a capacity of 555 passengers in three classes, boasts a range of up to 14,200km (7,650nm). The stretched A380-200 is capable of transporting 656 passengers, also up to 14,200km (7,650nm). The A380-100R variant retains the 555 seat capacity, but with a range of 16,200km (8,750nm). Also under consideration is a smaller version, the A380-50R, to carry 481 passengers up to the same 16,200km (8,750nm) range as the 100R.

The freighter market, which has been growing at twice the rate of the passenger market, gets the Airbus A380-100F with a payload of 150 tonnes (330,000lbs) and a range of 10,630km (5,725nm). Combi versions feature either seven main deck pallets providing 473 seats and 37.9 tonnes (83,380lbs) of cargo with a range of 13,500km (7,270nm) or an 11-pallet layout, 421 seats, 51.3 tonnes (112,860lbs) of cargo and a range of 12,940km (6,970nm).

At the request of airlines and airport authorities, the A380 fits within an 80 x 80m (262 x 262 ft) horizontal box, to make best use of current runways, taxiways and gates. The A380 will use the same runway length as the Boeing 747, even though its fuselage is 25cm (10 in) wider. Airbus also developed a new light material called Glare, made of fibreglass and aluminium alloy, which would shave several tonnes off the weight.

Airbus aims to make the A380 the most pleasurable flying experience possible, regardless of a traveller’s size or class of ticket. A show flight took place in 2006 with service flights scheduled for 2008.