The Making of Airbus A380: A Triumph of Science and Engineering

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Case Details:

Case Code : OPER056
Case Length : 13 Pages
Period : 1999-2006
Organization : Airbus, Boeing
Pub Date : 2006
Teaching Note :Not Available
Countries : France, Germany, Spain
Industry : Aircraft Manufacturing

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This case study was compiled from published sources, and is intended to be used as a basis for class discussion. It is not intended to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a management situation. Nor is it a primary information source.

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"The A380 opens a new chapter in the aerospace industry. It will bring the benefits of air travel to many more people. The A-380 is a symbol of what Europe can achieve by working together."1

- Jacques Barrot, Vice-President, EU Commission for Transport in January 2005.

"A380 is a symbol of economic strength, technological innovation, the dedication of the work force that built it and above all of a confidence that we can compete and win in the global market."2

- Tony Blair, Prime Minister of Britain.

"It is the biggest aeronautical achievement in many decades and will set new standards by which all future air travel will be now judged."3

- Steven Udvar-Hazy, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of
International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).


On April 27, 2005, the Airbus A380, the world's first double-decker aircraft, successfully completed its test flight in Toulouse, France. The flight lasted almost for four hours.

The plane took off at 10:29 am from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport and was back by 2:23 pm. The overall length of 72.7 meters, wing span of 79.8 meters, height of 24.1 meters, and weight of 544.3 tonnes, made the A380 the biggest passenger aircraft.

Commercial flights of the 555-seat aircraft were to begin in mid-2006 after 15 months of rigorous testing.

The A380 was manufactured by Airbus SAS (Airbus) to challenge the dominance of US-based aircraft manufacturer Boeing's4 model B747, in the large aircraft segment.

A380 was the first double-deck passenger airliner and it had a range5 of 8000 nautical miles (Refer to Exhibit I for the Specifications of A380).

It offered higher levels of efficiency and economy in passenger service. According to Airbus, A380 would generate only half the noise of its closest competitor - the Boeing 747.

The use of composites would enable it to burn 12% less fuel6 per seat and to incur lower operating costs of 15-20%7 per seat when compared to the Boeing 747-400. The economical rate of fuel burn ensured fewer emissions of pollutants.

The Making of Airbus A380: A Triumph of Science and Engineering - Next Page>>

1]  "Airbus A 380 Rollout: Commission Calls 'Super-Airbus' A European Success Story,", January 17, 2005.

2] "Airbus Unveils World's Biggest Passenger Jet,", January 18, 2005.

3] "ILFC Welcomes New Industry Benchmark,"

4] Boeing is the largest aircraft manufacturer and is based in the US.

5] Range is the distance an aircraft can travel before running out of fuel.

6] The A380 was expected to consume less than three liters of fuel per passenger over 100 kilometers (95 miles per imperial gallon).

7] The fuel costs accounted for 16-20% of the overall costs of an airline.


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