The A380F becomes reality


German maintenance specialist Lufthansa Technik is working on a conversion for an Airbus A380 as part of its effort to offer temporary passenger-to-cargo modification services.

Lufthansa Technik has not identified the customer but states that it has been awarded the technical and engineering task to support the “operational change” for the double-deck type.

While the modification is intended to comply with temporary passenger-to-freight regulatory exemptions drawn up to meet demand during the coronavirus crisis, the company indicates that it will offer the conversion as a permanent solution.

“The current exemption and our solution for it can be transferred to our supplemental type certificate at a later point in time without major adjustments,” says aircraft modification base maintenance senior director Henning Jochmann.

“Anyone who opts for Lufthansa Technik’s exceptional solution now can easily switch to the permanent [supplementary type certification] solution later.”

Lufthansa Technik is working on similar certification for a number of common aircraft types to enable modification into auxiliary freighters.

Jochmann says the change involves “much more than just taking out seats”, because of the different load and safety considerations involved in placing freight in the passenger cabin.

Airbus has been offering a service to support airlines seeking to undertake such conversions on aircraft including the A350 and A330, and has been prepared to consider requests for A380 reconfiguration.

The airframer’s conversion involves removal of passenger seats and the fitting of freight pallets on seat tracks.

Lufthansa Technik’s work marks the emergence of A380s for freighter work some 13 years after a dedicated A380 freighter programme was effectively halted by a withdrawal of customer interest.

Airbus had offered the A380F alongside the passenger variant, and initially attracted orders from FedEx and UPS, as well as lessor ILFC and Middle Eastern carrier Emirates which operates freighters through its SkyCargo division.

The airframer had started cutting metal for wings and producing components for the A380F in 2005.

But interest in the aircraft, which had taken 27 orders across the four customers, began to decline sharply the following year.

Emirates – which became the largest operator, by far, of passenger A380s – cancelled its order for freighters, followed at the end of 2006 by ILFC, which switched to passenger aircraft, and FedEx which defected to the Boeing 777F.

UPS subsequently dropped out in 2007, putting the A380F development programme on hold. UPS eventually opted instead for the Boeing 747-8F, nearly a decade after cancelling its A380Fs.

While Airbus had held out for a secondary market to emerge for A380 passenger-to-freighter conversion, last year’s cancellation of the programme and the parking of several A380s in response to the coronavirus crisis has left the future of the type uncertain.

Lufthansa Technik says its A380 modification work follows inquiries from more than 40 carriers into temporary freighter modification for different fleets. It adds that it has more than 15 projects under way on different aircraft types.


mehhhh doesnt look too good. I think they should just leave the A380 alone.


It shouldve been obvious


How about those 747-8Fs? They’re very fuel efficient. I don’t think we will see the 380F be as successful as the -8F.


Well the A380s cockpit is in the way of the nose to be opened big enough, therefore the 747 can load BIGGER cargo.


Well it won’t have a cargo door so all of the speculation about the whale killing the queen can stop. The only thing stopping the a380f are the runway limitations of many airports.


Get that PPE ready…


Only reason this works is to give a purpose to the dozens if not hundreds of grounded A380s till they go back to passenger service, the A380 almost certainly doesn’t have a cargo future…


That is very true I do agree with this


It may not go back. Even the CEO of Emirates stated that the a380 has no future.


I mean Airbus very seriously considered it. Like they had orders kinda serious. They scraped the plans because the weight volume equation didn’t work out. The A380 certainly pushes the limits of what a plane designed to fit in today’s airports with relative ease can do. Sure there will always be planes like the A224 that will have bigger capacity, but the A380 is designed to carry passengers and it’s pretty much weighted out with that, and cargo is way denser…


Well ya, that’s a whole other question. I guess more what I was getting at was that this was, short of some big change like new engines or something which I certainly don’t foresee, this isn’t a long term new fleet member, but some busy work for the currently parked 380s


If FedEx and UPS and the other issues that weren’t involved I do believe we would of seen the Freighters


Ya, I know FedEx, UPS, and someone else I can’t remember were very intrigued, but the math simply doesn’t work. I got to say cargo afterlife is one place Boeing has absolutely rocked it. It really seems like all there planes were designed with cargo hauler DNA from the get go. I’d imagine somewhere in Boeing HQ they have a 787F filing cabinet right now, probably won’t be brought out for a few years yet, but I’d be willing to bet it’s gonna happen. Airbus for there credit has had some hits in the cargo market, the A300, A330F all did pretty well, but Boeing has absolutely crushed cargo…


Here is a thought - the cargo market is closely related to economy, so when the protection equipment deliveries will go down, even more cargo planes will need to be grounded


The issue with the cargo A380 is weight. While it may have a lot of capacity the plane can’t takeoff if it was full for example. The freight version of the A380 would have more capacity inside the aircraft than is could physically fly with. Hence why airbus scrapped the A380F programme and why it will never work well enough to become a normal thing.


This is a really cool idea!

Glad they are creating this aircraft to up-scale cargo flights with the current situation. I’m sure the A380 would look very nice in a cargo livery!


It certainly won’t kill the 747 Cargo aircraft. The A380 needs to carry way too much freight to be fuel efficient. Even if they do manage to get one fully loaded, the aircraft’s floor may just not be able to handle all of that weight.

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Well if this is possible that Airbus can build dors for the A380 that opens the hall one side of the A380 or build small little dors than they don’t have to load the cargo through the nose.

Not at all (well not severely). The A380F failed because the 747-8F had a couple things going for it that the whale didn’t. Number one was the nose cargo door. Due to the location of the cockpit on the upper deck of the 747 this allowed for the nose to be made into a door which allows for bigger cargo to be loaded onto the plane where as with the A380, the cockpit is in the middle of the plane so this feature is taken away. And the second, probably the biggest reason the A380F failed was its weight capacity. Sure its bigger on the outside and can hold more people but a pallet of cargo weighs more than a human person. The A380F would reach its MTOW before it could be fully loaded with cargo making it highly inefficient. The 747-8F on the other hand, can be filled with cargo and still have room for fuel. The third and final reason is that the upper deck of the A380, or any double decker for that matter, is weaker than the main deck. This means that there would be sever weight restrictions as to what can be put on the upper deck of the A380, again, making in inefficient. Here is a video for more explanation. I think this is the video I watched but I don’t remember