Thursday, 14 February 2019

No more A380s - I'm sad! Heathrow-Perth was amazing but the Dreamliner is simply no comparison

If you're not a transport nerd, stop reading now!  My love for technology doesn't stop at computers and writing software... I'm also fascinated with trains, ships and aeroplanes too and absolutely love the Airbus A380 double-decker superjumbo in particular.

The incredible Airbus A380
When I work in our Adelaide Alpha Tracker asbestos software office with Judy & Leanne, a highlight of the journey is the A380 from Manchester or Birmingham to Dubai.  It is whisper-quiet, roomy, sophisticated and such a relaxing way to travel even in economy seats.  On the occasions I've upgraded to business it is simply awesome with comfortable lie-flat beds, superb food and a bar - yes, an actual bar - at the back of the upper deck to relax in.

At Dubai, I have to switch to a Boeing 777 on to Adelaide and it is always such a disappointment.  In comparison, it is noisy and cramped and feels nothing like the Airbus.  So, like many other frequent flyers, I'm gutted with today's news that the A380 is stopping production 14 years early.

The main competition for the superjumbo Airbus is the new Boeing 787 "Dreamliner".  I've just flown the Heathrow - Perth direct flight for the first time to spend a few days with Judy in Perth and, for sure, a 9000 mile journey is an incredible human engineering achievement but despite the 787 having special lighting, higher cabin pressure, and a special menu to help make the journey an easier one, I was struck at how it was nowhere near the experience of the A380.

So why has the A380 been a relative failure (despite passengers loving it) with only a few airlines taking it on and only Emirates placing really big orders?  The main cause is fuel efficiency.  The A380 has four engines whereas the 787 only needs two in order to travel similar distances, albeit with far fewer customers, and therefore needs less fuel (and fewer passengers) for a successful flight.

So, in a way, it's gone the way of Concorde and another of my favourites, the HSS ferries.  A technological masterpiece crippled by the cost of fuel.  The A380s in service will keep flying for many years to come but I'm sad today that an engineering marvel is coming to an end, and very sad for the Airbus workforce in the UK who build its enormous wings.

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