The year is 2005 and Airbus have just rolled out the A380. With a fuselage length of 73 metres and a wingspan of 80 meters, the A380 is a true SuperJumbo. It’s no lie that Airbus hoped the aircraft had a better future. With airlines such as Air France and Singapore retiring their A380’s, its no lie that the A380 has had a premature retirement. However was the aircraft such a failure?
Firstly, Airbus introduced in a new material on the SuperJumbo. This new material, Glass Laminate Aluminium Reinforced Expoxy (GLARE) is like a hybrid between conventional material and carbon composites. Airbus used this material on the upper fuselage section. While most new generation aircraft are made out of 50% Carbon composites, the A380 is made out of 20% carbon composites. That was a big step up from previous Airbus models. Using GLARE, was an industry first
While conventional wide body aircraft use the standard 3000 psi hydraulic systems. Airbus decided to leap forward and use a 5000 psi hydraulic system on the A380. While designing the SuperJumbo, Airbus knew that weight and component volume would have an overall impact on the final design of the aircraft. Airbus contracted many aerospace hydraulic suppliers and began an evaluation on the latest hydraulic system technology. The result of the evaluation was to go with a 5000 psi hydraulic system. Once the evaluation concluded, Airbus spent four months in a “plateau phase” in these four months a component specification criteria was undertaken. Ultimately Eaton was selected to design and build the hydraulic power system to the aircraft.
Another industry first, was the introduced of Integrated Modular Avionics (IMA). Previously IMA systems were only used on newer generation military aircraft. However Airbus believed that the same technology could be used on the A380. By using the IMA concept, many separate processors and line replaceable units (LRU) was replaced with the new system. The IMA concept was able to not only to be able to provide a significant weight deduction but hate maintenance cost savings too. Boeing stated that by using IMA, they was able to shave around 2,000 pounds from the 787 Dreamliners overwall weight. The A380’s IMA approach relies on eight processing modules, some tailored for specific applications, but all tied together by a common Avionics Full-Duplex Switched Ethernet (AFDX), ARINC 664 standard network.
Even though it’s sad that the A380 program didn’t work out as hoped. We can deny that the A380 was and still is an engineering masterpiece. Thank you for reading