Thursday, November 9

Jumbo Trouble

Popular Mechanics looks at the Airbus A380 and wonders if it will ever get off the ground.
Will the A380 be the next Concorde—an engineering breakthrough with little chance of breaking even? Certainly, the problem the jetliner was supposed to help solve—airport gridlock—still exists. The world's major hubs already operate at full capacity during peak hours, and traffic is expected to increase 4 percent annually, from 4.2 billion passengers in 2005 to 7 billion passengers in 2020. Building new airports or significantly expanding existing ones, though, is a practical and political nightmare.

The Airbus solution: Increase capacity with a plane that carries up to 900 passengers—nearly twice as many as the 747. "It is this big monster," says Hans Weber, president of Tecop International, a San Diego-based aviation consulting firm. "And Airbus has struggled with the nightmare of making something this big economically efficient."


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