FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Airbus Unveils A380, Largest Airliner Ever

Airbus, the European airplane manufacturer, has unveiled the A380, a double-decker airliner that's the largest ever built. Already, customers have anted up $40 billion in orders, though the A380 has about a year of flight trials ahead of it before it sees commercial service.

The "superjumbo" A380 can carry up to 555 passengers (and up to 800 if most seats are configured as economy class), though some airliners are opting for fewer seats in exchange for amenities such as bars, gyms, shops, spas and sleeper cabins... effectively making it a "flying hotel" for transoceanic flights.

Despite massive cost overruns, the A380 is being hailed as the first truly innovative airliner since Boeing introduced the 747 forty years ago. The hope is that the larger plane will make long-distance flights more economical and more efficient, and will mark a turnaround for the commercial air industry, which has yet to fully recover from 9/11 and the 2001 recession.

Sources: CNN.com, Airliners.net