Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

A380 plus: Airbus unveils upgraded 'superjumbo' at Paris Airshow

Boeing unveiled a new model of its best-selling 737 aircraft on Monday, injecting life into a faltering civil aviation market as French President Emmanuel Macron flew in to open the world's biggest airshow in Paris.

The biggest buyer of the A380 has been Emirates, which have called on Airbus and engine maker Rolls-Royce to provide a new upgraded "neo" version.

"It is a new step for our iconic aircraft to best serve worldwide fast-growing traffic and the evolving needs of the A380 customers", says chief operating officer for customers John Leahy, adding that the A380plus will have lower maintenance costs.

Overall, the changes will lead to a 13 per cent reduction in cost per seat compared with the current A380, Airbus said.

The most striking feature of the A380 Plus externally are the scimitar type winglets, which make the wing more efficient, while inside, a range of options arise for airlines depending on how they rearrange the internal stairs and other cabin "monuments".

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The new winglets that will be used on the A380plus measure approximately 4.7 meters (about 15 feet) in height. It is created to improve aerodynamics and reduce drag.

It will have an increased maximum take-off weight and need less regular maintenance checks.

"The A380 average seat count would move from 497 to 575 in four classes, and generate significantly more revenue for airlines", the company said in a statement. Options to increase premium economy to nine-abreast on the main deck will also allow for 11 more passengers. The narrower spiral staircase at the back would also be modified.

The enhancements, announced on the eve of the Paris Air Show, come as the Airbus weighs lowering production rates for the A380 below one-a-month from 2018 if it fails to secure orders this year.

Meanwhile Airbus said the latest version would eat up to 4% less fuel thanks to its new winglets, which are meant to decrease drag.

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