Story lead photo source Airbus-a (n.d.)
By: David M. Edwards
Today Airbus Industries announced the production of the A380 Superjumbo aircraft will be discontinued.
The Airbus A380 is the largest passenger airliner ever produced, with a seating capacity exceeding 853 seats (Avakian, 2017).
While not unexpected or shocking, this decision by Airbus is a devastating knockout blow to a historical lineage of aviation and global commerce that is felt at the deepest roots.
The Boeing 747, has been in decline and the production of the newest version, the Boeing 747-8, has been on the ropes in recent years.
Ultimately, the safety, stability, over-water range and room of a four-engine passenger airline aircraft will become extinct, based on the current global market climate and the marketing decisions of global airlines.
CNN Reports: “It’s a painful decision,” Airbus CEO Tom Enders said during a conference call with analysts. “We’ve invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources and a lot of sweat into this aircraft.””But obviously we need to be realistic,” he added. “With the decision of Emirates to reduce orders, our order backlog is not sufficient to sustain production.” The decision could hit as many as 3,500 jobs at the manufacturer, whose operations span four major European countries, over the next three years. Four million parts, 30 countries: How an Airbus A380 comes together. The A380 was developed at a cost of $25 billion and first took to the skies 14 years ago. But the giant bet that airlines would need a plane that can carry up to 853 passengers between major airport hubs didn’t pay off” (Mullen and Riley, 2019).
“Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement “The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s” (Mullen and Riley, 2019).
The historical orders for the A380 were never up to the forecast and projections required to become sustainably profitable and to fully recover the immensely, full-in, development enterprise investments and costs Airbus gambled.
Moreover, the initial construction and building of the A380 was similar to that of a modern-day enterprise building of the Egyptian pyramids.
The orders for the A380 have been dried up (Jolly, 2019).
Perhaps there is a glimmer of hope that new efficient engines certainly could replace the aging engines at absolute minimal modification cost of changing out the current standard A380 engines with more powerful and fuel-efficient ones.
Another issue with the A380 was its gigantic wingspan. Major international terminal (e.g. KLAX, KJFK, KMIA, etc.) required significant and costly modifications to the taxiways and the passenger boarding jetways to accommodate the A380.
I would think and hope modern fuel-efficient engines, modern cockpit avionics and folding wing-tips would resurrect the superjumbo aircraft market, utilizing the modification route of product design.
Production costs of course would have to be optimized and have a mechanism of constant oversight and evolution, to make the operation fiscally viable.
Airlines would been to be full-in and on-board with the fundamental concept that mass air-travel in the twenty-first century is achievable. Airlines should want to promote mass transit for travel, global commerce as well as the for the long-term and sustainable stability and fruitfulness for all their airlines vested stakeholders. Not selling enough seat to fill up an A380 is not an acceptable excuse. The customers and the market determine the demand not the airlines. There are countless ways to fill up the seats of Airbus A380 that are profitable. However, the airline industry doesn’t seem to be driven toward mass transit in the 21st century, as evidence by today’s decision by Airbus.
Altogether, this news is not unexpected. The vision from the Jetson’s cartoon where George Jetson jumps out of his space needle home into a flying car to fly to work are decades old and not even conceivable in the current global climate. The controlled flight of man was invented by Wilber and Orville Wright on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (United States of America). On February 14, 2019 a major blow to mass air transport was delivered.
The recent advances of commercial passenger space flight by SpaceX, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic provide some viable hope that a meaningful technological evolution, and/or revolution, is on the horizon.