July 14, 2024

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Why did the world’s two largest passenger aircraft, the Boeing 747 Jumbo and the Airbus A-380, ground at almost the same time?

Why did the world’s two largest passenger aircraft, the Boeing 747 Jumbo and the Airbus A-380, ground at almost the same time?

It was December 6, 2022, when the last 747 superjumbo left the Boeing factory. Just a year earlier, in December 2021, Airbus delivered the last A-380, which at the time was the world’s largest passenger aircraft. At about the same time, two of the most iconic landmarks of commercial aviation, the largest aircraft to fly on scheduled routes, ceased production. But why, as we travel more and more and transoceanic flights become more frequent, will these “monsters” disappear from the sky?

The Boeing 747, known as the “Jumbo Jet,” is one of the most iconic aircraft in aviation history. Since its first flight in 1969, the 747 has been a mainstay of the world’s major airline fleets. Designed to carry large numbers of passengers and cargo over long distances, the 747 revolutionized commercial air travel.

From the start of production until the delivery of the last aircraft in 2023, A total of 1,574 Boeing 747s were manufactured.This issue includes: Different versions of the model, such as the 747-100, 747-200, 747-300, 747-400, and 747-8.with improvements in each in terms of capacity, fuel efficiency and technology.

Reasons for stopping production

Fuel Efficiency: With rising fuel prices and increased awareness of the environmental impact of air travel, fuel efficiency has become a priority for airlines. Newer aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, offer greater fuel efficiency per passenger and are cheaper to operate.

Changing demand: The trend in the airline industry is shifting toward direct flights between medium-sized cities rather than traditional connecting flights via large hubs. Smaller, more efficient aircraft can meet this demand better than the 747.

Maintenance and Operation: The maintenance and operation costs of four-engine aircraft such as the 747 are much higher than modern twin-engine aircraft. Reducing the number of engines on newer aircraft also reduces maintenance costs and complexity.

Airbus A380

As for the Airbus A380The largest passenger plane in the world, She made her first flight in 2005.. with Capacity to accommodate over 500 passengers in a standard three-class configuration, and up to 850 in a single-class configuration, The A380 is designed for high-density routes between major international hubs.

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Airbus A380 production ends in 2021 A total of 251 units were built.Although this number is large, This is a far cry from Airbus’ initial expectations, which had expected to sell more than 1,200 units.

Reasons for stopping production:

  • Insufficient Demand: Although the A380 was popular with passengers for its comfort and space, it failed to attract enough orders from airlines. The same trends that affected the 747, such as a preference for smaller, more efficient aircraft that could operate on direct routes, also affected the A380.
  • Operating costs: Like the 747, the A380 is expensive to operate and maintain. Its large size and need for four engines make it less attractive in a market seeking to reduce operating costs.
  • Airport infrastructure: Few airports in the world are equipped to handle the A380, limiting route options and increasing costs for airlines in terms of airport fees and logistics.

When Singapore Airlines introduced the A380 superjumbo on its first commercial flight in 2007, it was heralded as a milestone in aviation. However, the Airbus program, plagued by delays and cost overruns, has failed to live up to the negative expectations that it was dubbed the “white elephant of the sky.”

The A380 was a bold attempt to challenge Boeing’s dominance of the large aircraft market.Airbus is betting billions that airlines will want bigger planes in the future. While Boeing was developing its smaller, more flexible 787 Dreamliner. Although the A380 found an initial market in Asia and the Middle East, as airlines sought to carry more passengers on each flight, His success was short-lived. It has a capacity of 550 passengers and a range of up to 14,816 kilometers. The A380 offers luxury amenities such as first class suites, bars and beauty salons.However, after an initial wave of requests, particularly from Emirates, Demand dropped and the program was never profitable.

A380 Project At an estimated cost of $25 billionhas become the center of controversy because of Grants from the French and German governmentsIn 2018, the World Trade Organization ruled that the European Union had failed to comply with requests to withdraw state aid to Airbus, exacerbating trade tensions with the United States. Since 2007, Airbus has received 313 orders for the A380, of which 234 have been delivered, far from the target of 700 units.Despite its popularity with passengers, airlines found the A380 to be inefficient and expensive to operate, especially with so many empty seats.

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With the Rising fuel prices and environmental concernsAirlines began to favor smaller, more efficient aircraft. New models, such as the Boeing 777 family, with fewer seats but equal range, more payload and two fewer engines, became more attractive. Since 2005, 57 A380 orders have been cancelled, Including airlines such as Emirates, Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa. The cargo version of the A380 also did not find any interest. In the market.

A decline in orders, particularly from its largest customer, Emirates, eventually led Airbus to stop production of the A380. This situation reflects a major shift in the aviation industry, where efficiency and sustainability have become paramount for airlines.

The lockdown also affected Spain, leaving around 500 workers on the streets, although many indirect jobs were also lost. Around 8% of aircraft parts were manufactured in our country, but due to its technology, it employed hundreds of workers in the factories that Airbus owns in Spain.

With the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 production halted, the landscape of large-capacity passenger aircraft has changed. The largest passenger aircraft currently in operation and production are:

Boeing 777-9

The Boeing 777-9, part of the 777X family, is the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner. It seats up to 426 passengers in a two-class configuration and has a range of approximately 13,500 kilometers. The aircraft combines a modern, efficient design with advanced technologies, making it an attractive option for airlines looking to increase capacity and efficiency.

Featured Features:

  • Fuel Efficiency: Thanks to the GE9X engines and improved aerodynamics, the 777-9 delivers superior fuel efficiency.
  • Passenger capacity: Thanks to its large capacity, it is suitable for routes with high demand.
  • Advanced Technology: Includes features such as folding wings to allow operations at airports with standard gates.
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Airbus A350-1000

The Airbus A350-1000 is the largest version of the A350 family and can carry up to 440 passengers in a two-class configuration. Designed for greater efficiency and comfort, the A350-1000 is ideal for long-haul flights.

Featured Features:

  • Efficiency and sustainability: Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the A350-1000 is one of the most efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft.
  • Passenger comfort: The cabin is larger and contains innovations that improve the passenger experience, such as better pressure and humidity.
  • Composite Material Technology: Extensive use of composite materials reduces weight and improves efficiency.

Boeing 787-10

The Boeing 787-10 is the largest member of the Dreamliner family. It can accommodate up to 330 passengers in a two-class configuration and offers a range of approximately 11,910 kilometers. It is known for its efficiency and comfort.

Featured Features:

  • Fuel Efficiency: Thanks to advanced engines and aerodynamic design, the 787-10 is one of the most fuel-efficient aircraft.
  • Passenger Experience: Features include large windows, higher humidity and better pressure to reduce jet lag.
  • Operational flexibility: ideal for both long-haul routes and high passenger demand.

Conclusion

The end of production of the Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 marks the end of the era of commercial aviation, characterized by large-capacity, four-engine aircraft. Industry trends have evolved towards smaller, more efficient and versatile aircraft, capable of operating on a wider range of routes at lower operating costs. Aircraft such as the Boeing 777-9, Airbus A350-1000 and Boeing 787-10 are leading the way today, offering a combination of efficiency, capacity and comfort to meet the demands of modern airlines and passengers. These aircraft represent the future of aviation, where sustainability and operational efficiency are critical to success in a competitive and ever-changing market.