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How the Airbus A380 Works

        Science | Modern

A380 Background
In the early 1990s, Airbus began to study the possibility of developing a jet with passenger capacity over 500 to directly compete with the Boeing 747. Engineering and design didn't begin until 1994, when the plane was known as the A3XX. Airbus considered a wide-body, twin-tailfin design but adopted a double-deck design instead. Eventually, the plane was designated A380, which does not keep the usual numeric sequence of other Airbus planes: The "8" was chosen because it reflects the cross-section of the plane's double-deck passenger area.

MSN001 entering the system assembly station
Photo courtesy Airbus SAS
MSN001 entering the system assembly station (June '04)

In 2000, the first orders for A380s came in, and Airbus began laying the infrastructure for manufacturing the huge planes. This included massive hangars and factories in France, Wales, Germany, Spain and England.

A section of the A380 being assembled in a hangar.
Photo courtesy Airbus SAS
A section of the A380 being assembled in a hangar.

An overhead shot of the A380 being assembled in a hangar.
Photo courtesy Airbus SAS
An overhead shot of the A380 being assembled in a hangar.

assembling the a380 in a hangar
Photo courtesy Airbus SAS
A forward section of the A380 being assembled in a hangar.

A shot of the entire A380 in an assembly hangar.
Photo courtesy Airbus SAS
A shot of the entire A380 in an assembly hangar.

The A380 project had a staff of more than 6,000 people in 2002. While work was being done at the manufacturing end, sales were also picking up, with 14 airlines ordering 154 A380s as of early 2005.

The first complete A380 was unveiled on January 18, 2005. Its maiden flight was on April 27, 2005. The first flight with a load of passengers occurred on September 5, 2006 and the second on March 19, 2007. Although Airbus initially announced that it would still be able to deliver the first plane to Singapore Airlines by the end of 2006, the company announced further delays following the first test flight and now project to deliver by October 2007.


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