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Airbus unveils more spacious, fuel efficient A380plus plane

19 June 2017

"The A380plus is an efficient way to offer even better economics and improved operational performance at the same time", Airbus sales chief John Leahy said in a statement.

Airbus has unveiled plans for an enhanced version of its A380 superjumbo aircraft.

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These winglets are some 4.7 m in height (3.5 m above the wing and 1.2 m below the wing). The A380-plus, if firmly launched, will feature new winglets and some wing refinements that, the manufacturer expects, will lead to a fuel-burn reduction of up to 4%. It is created to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag.

Airbus has struggled to attract new customers for its superjumbo aircraft, with 13 commercial carriers now operating the A380, and Japanese airline ANA set to take delivery of its first superjumbo in 2019. Less frequent maintenance checks will reduce maintenance costs and increase aircraft availability, Airbus said.

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The A380-plus will feature an increased maximum takeoff weight of 578 tons, compared to 575 tons for the current version. The biggest change is 11-abreast seating on the main deck in a 3-5-3 configuration.

The provisionally dubbed A380-Plus makeover would add 40-50 seats to increase the standard interior's capacity to more than 600 seats which would help airlines reduce their costs per passenger. However, airlines will now have the opportunity to opt out of having the compartments installed.

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Most notably, the forward "grand" staircase on the A380 will be abandoned in favor of a new staircase that will be located at door two. The study also involves an "optimized" A380 maintenance program and new cabin features first shown at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg last April. As the Paris Air Show begins on June 19, it will be interesting to see if any carriers place orders for the new aircraft.