Airbus Cancels The Airbus A380 program
"It was partly a question of national pride. The German engineers sort of felt that there was a French solution being imposed on them. But the fact was there was a tool being used in Hamburg that was behind the times."
Usually, when building an aircraft, delays are imminent. However, when you’re building such a humongous aircraft as the Airbus A380, one delay will cause a domino effect. Delays in 2005 forced Airbus to reduce the number of delivery numbers in 2009!
To illustrate, Airbus said that at full-scale production, which would start in 2010, the company would build 45 aircraft per year. Airbus never reached that goal.
The best results were in 2012 and 2014 when the company delivered 30 Airbus A380 aircraft each year.
And the issues did not stop there.
Not Winging It
On Qantas Flight 32 from London to Sydney, the Airbus A380 carrying 469 passengers on board suffered an engine failure. These things do happen and the aircraft landed safely. Nobody was hurt. Upon inspection, a turbine disc in the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine blew up, because of a faulty stub oil pipe.
Airbus initiated engine replacements and inspections on other Airbus A380s with Rolls-Royce engines. Qantas, Singapore Airlines (SIA1) (SINGY) and Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) grounded their Super Jumbos for the time being. It seemed like the company sorted the problem out and the Airbus A380 was ready to fly again.
The European Aviation Safety Agency discovered cracks in the fittings in the Super Jumbo‘s wings. In 2012, some 20 Airbus A380 jets were affected by the issue. As a result, Airbus would need to replace the fittings so that EASA would allow the A380 to fly again.
Now, again, these things happen. However, Airbus had to pay for the repairs out of their own pocket. That amount resulted in a loss of 105 million euro. Furthermore, Airbus had to switch up production yet again.
At the core of it, these problems might not be the biggest. The fact of the matter is, the Airbus A380 consumes a lot more fuel than other aircraft. There is a reason why airlines nowadays have canceled A380 orders to switch to the more efficient Airbus A350 and Boeing 777 or Boeing 787. That reason is that it has 2 engines less than the A380, thus consuming less fuel. Consequently, reducing operating costs.
Secondly, not everyone can accommodate the behemoth of an aircraft. Airports need to invest in their infrastructure to provide passengers with a comfortable boarding process, as the double-decker has a one-of-a-kind requirement of a separate jetway. The Airbus A380 also requires special service vehicles and pushback tractors. That is why airports that wanted to welcome the Super Jumbo had to heavily invest in their infrastructure and not every airport had the wish or the demand to do so.
Thirdly, the margin of profit of the Super Jumbo is very tight. Thus, if airlines want to run it at a profit, they have to pick the routes very carefully. This is where the first reason comes in – the A380 is just not efficient enough with rising fuel prices.
As a reminder, a lot of airlines are already suffering from rising fuel prices, thus going bankrupt.
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