The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine jet airliner manufactured by European Union manufacturer Airbus. It is the world’s largest passenger airliner, and the airports at which it operates have upgraded facilities to accommodate it. It was initially named Airbus A3XX and designed to challenge Boeing’s monopoly in the large-aircraft market. The A380 made its first flight on 27 April 2005 and entered commercial service in 25 October 2007 with Singapore Airlines.
The A380’s upper deck extends along the entire length of the fuselage, with a width equivalent to a wide-body aircraft. This gives the A380-800’s cabin 550 square metres (5,920 sq ft) of usable floor space,40% more than the next largest airliner, the Boeing 747-8, and provides seating for 525 people in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 people in an all-economy class configuration. The A380-800 has a design range of 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km), serving the second and third longest non-stop scheduled flights (as of February 2017) in the world, and a cruising speed of Mach 0.85 (about 900 km/h, 560 mph or 490 kt at cruising altitude).
Initial production of the A380 was troubled by delays attributed to the 530 km (330 mi) of wiring in each aircraft. Airbus cited as underlying causes the complexity of the cabin wiring (98,000 wires and 40,000 connectors), its concurrent design and production, the high degree of customisation for each airline, and failures of configuration management and change control. The German and Spanish Airbus facilities continued to use CATIA version 4, while British and French sites migrated to version 5. This caused overall configuration management problems, at least in part because wire harnesses manufactured using aluminium rather than copper conductors necessitated special design rules including non-standard dimensions and bend radii; these were not easily transferred between versions of the software.
During repairs following the Qantas Flight 32 engine failure incident, cracks were discovered in wing fittings. As a result, the European Aviation Safety Agency issued an Airworthiness Directive in January 2012 which affected 20 A380 aircraft that had accumulated over 1,300 flights. A380s with under 1,800 flight hours were to be inspected within 6 weeks or 84 flights; aircraft with over 1,800 flight hours were to be examined within four days or 14 flights. Fittings found to be cracked were replaced. On 8 February 2012, the checks were extended to cover all 68 A380 aircraft in operation. The problem is considered to be minor and is not expected to affect operations. EADS acknowledged that the cost of repairs would be over $130 million, to be borne by Airbus. The company said the problem was traced to stress and material used for the fittings. Additionally, major airlines are seeking compensation from Airbus for revenue lost as a result of the cracks and subsequent grounding of fleets. Airbus has switched to a different type of aluminium alloy so aircraft delivered from 2014 onwards should not have this issue.
Airbus is changing about 10% of all doors, as some leak during flight. One occurrence resulted in dropped oxygen masks and an emergency landing. The switch is expected to cost over €100 million. Airbus states that safety is sufficient, as the air pressure pushes the door into the frame.