Airbus A380

It is rather ironic, and perhaps a sign of times, that a new passenger aircraft has been launched favouring the masses, when the one favouring technology and human excellence had to be taken off the skies.

Below are the specifications for this monstrosity that shall soon be let loose upon humanity.
  • Length: 73m
  • Wingspan: 79.8m
  • Height: 24.1m
  • Typical capacity: 555
  • Max capacity: 840
  • Engines: 4
  • Cruising speed: 0.85 mach
Airbus A380, a twin-deck aircraft can carry about 555 people - more than the Boeing 747 jumbo built by Airbus' main competitor. It is already praised as "crowning achievement of a human and industrial adventure", and has been described as a "European success".

If it's big, it must be good. It is the era of super-sizing, of oversized humans, and never-before obesity rates. It is an invention with an eye towards the bottom line, never mind that the A380 is almost $2bn over budget. It is a plane that needs a new factory: 490 metres long, 250 metres wide and 46 metres tall. It is a plane that warrants changes to airports. In fact, Heathrow is already undergoing modifications to accommodate this new flying monster - a pier at Terminal 3 will be demolished to make more space for the massive wingspan of the plane.

As usual, Europeans are quick to pounce on it as a testimony to "old Europe". The launch was, for Noel Forgeard, Chief Executive Airbus, a moment to behold, and not to be modest: "Under the name Airbus, Europe has written one of its most beautiful pages of its history". Yeah, maybe there 's Hitler in the making as well somewhere.

For consumers, it maps out the future of air travel, or at least the version touted by Airbus. But amidst the backslapping corporate executives, lets not forget that without government assistance, the A380 would probably never have been built. Billions of euros have been handed over in "launch aid loans" in recent years - under generous repayment terms - to assist Airbus's development of the A380. Airbus has downplayed the cost of the project despite the fact it could run as much as 1.5bn euros over budget. "That sounds quite a lot of money until you realise you are dealing with a programme which is about 11bn euros," commercial director John Leahy told the BBC.

Maybe, just maybe it will make flights cheaper.
Think more than 500 sweaty, overweight, smelly, foul mouthed, bad tempered, harrased and dehydrated passengers around you. Think of interminable queues at baggage collection, and absolute chaos when several flights land at the same time, and you get the idea. As more and more people fly, and the number of planes in the sky increases, surely customers will want more comfort. But then, that's the mantra for Boeing's dream liner.

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