Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Flying the Airbus A380

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the everything-should-come-with-a-bar dept.

Businesses 281

FloatsomNJetsom writes "So the largest passenger airplane in the world actually is pretty large inside — Popular Mechanics has a great article and video from their test flight on the brand new double-decker Airbus A380. This includes footage of takeoff, interviews with the pilot and test engineer, a rundown on the bar, the two staircases, and an attempt to walk down a crowded aisle from one end of the plane to the other without having to say 'excuse me.'"

cancel ×

281 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

First Air Disaster (1, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469003)

Just wait until the first air disaster, with numbers like "six hundred dead...".

I seem to recall there is also another jet in the works that will take either 900 or 1,200 passenegers. Just wait until one of those crashes on take off and you've got over a thousand dead in one swoop. Not to mention, a terrorists wet dream! Why bother shooting it into a building when you can take just the airplane itself out and wipe out enough numbers to make the average pansy cry and the average cable news programmer wet himself in excitement.

Re:First Air Disaster (5, Insightful)

jb.cancer (905806) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469079)

seems as unreasonable as saying tht we shudn't have cities, cos there are too many ppl in there. A large enough city could as well be a target for a terrorist and result in similar casuality figures (same case with disasters). it's just economical to deploy something like this monster airbus (read *mass* transport).

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

DrWho520 (655973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469891)

But you cannot take out a large city with an rpg.

Re:First Air Disaster (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469093)

Dear Mr. Fear Monger: kindly shut up.

Re:First Air Disaster (2, Informative)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469131)

520 have died in a single plane accident already [wikipedia.org] (you can hear the final moments of this planes flight on the Rammstein CD Reise Reise if you so desire), so it's not exactly unprecedented.

Re:First Air Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469199)

Indeed [wikipedia.org]

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469149)

Just wait until the first air disaster, with numbers like "six hundred dead...".

You are getting flamed for it but I think you have a point. Each aircraft has two people flying it regardless of whether it is carrying 100 or 600 people. Pilots do occasionally fuck up [abc.net.au] and when there are so many lives at stake it makes sense to dedicate more people to the job of flying the plane.

Should the flight deck be required to have three or four positions? ATC controllers often operate with a planner and a controller in parallel. Maybe there is a role for strategic and tactical control on the flight deck of the A380.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469359)

Each aircraft has two people flying it regardless of whether it is carrying 100 or 600 people. Pilots do occasionally fuck up and when there are so many lives at stake it makes sense to dedicate more people to the job of flying the plane.

The number of pilots required is based on distance, not number of passengers. In newspapers reporting the recent court case [aero-news.net] against a AA pilot who turned up to Manchester airport drunk when he was scheduled to fly to Chicago, it was reported that the plane had to be diverted to New York to comply with the FAA rules that flights longer than 8 hours carry 3 flight crew.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469371)

Should the flight deck be required to have three or four positions? ATC controllers often operate with a planner and a controller in parallel. Maybe there is a role for strategic and tactical control on the flight deck of the A380.

I wonder if it would be better to mandate that the flight deck have zero positions...

How many accidents could have been prevented by having computer-control of the flight vs how many near-accidents have actually been recovered by having a human on-board (that a computer couldn't have resolved)?

I wonder if pilots exist only to absolve the plane manufacturers of liability even at a cost of human life...

Re:First Air Disaster (4, Insightful)

stunt_penguin (906223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469547)

Computer control can work quite smoothly, and the human brain is very, very far from perfect, but when shit meets fan (or a flock of geese meets engines #1 & #2), there is no current computing substitute for 3 pounds of meat trying to figure out how to land the thing. [terrybisson.com]

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469779)

Well, that sounds nice, and maybe even sounds intuitive. However, is there really any evidence that a human can land a plane without engines any better than a computer can? Sure, the human has more incentive to try to survive, but other than evoking our sense of heroism does that really equate to more lives being saved?

Re:First Air Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469691)

How many accidents could have been prevented by having computer-control of the flight vs how many near-accidents have actually been recovered by having a human on-board (that a computer couldn't have resolved)?
I've heard the computer control argument used with nuclear reactors as well. It depends on how you design your computers. Currently, most computers are operator aids meaning that they make the operators job easier and in some cases the operator only interacts to verify manual system response or to override automatic system response in certain casualties. Moving to make a computer actually be an operator replacement is another issue altogether. You have three possibilities: 1) only an operator is flying, 2) an operator is flying with a computer which helps the operator, or 3) a computer is flying with no operator. Which case is the safest? I would argue that case 2 is probably safer than case 1, and that case 2 is also safer than case 3. Just because you have eliminated humans from directly operating your system doesn't mean than human error (in the form of programming) can't crash your airplane. In most cases the computer can do the job just fine, but the pilot can override it in more dangerous conditions. Of course, the pilot could also act with malice (or be replaced with a hijacker). So I would also argue that at some level of system robustness that an all computer system would be the safest. But that is only in an extraordinarily well tested system (that probably will never be built for transporting hundreds of people).

Re:First Air Disaster (2, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469809)

Just because you have eliminated humans from directly operating your system doesn't mean than human error (in the form of programming) can't crash your airplane. In most cases the computer can do the job just fine, but the pilot can override it in more dangerous conditions. Of course, the pilot could also act with malice (or be replaced with a hijacker). So I would also argue that at some level of system robustness that an all computer system would be the safest. But that is only in an extraordinarily well tested system (that probably will never be built for transporting hundreds of people).

I'm thinking six-sigma - the key is to make your process repeatable, and then make it better. If you don't have the first you'll NEVER have the second. Computers are VERY good for achieving repeatability.

Think about this as a programmer - which situation would you rather have:

1. A test scenario that causes failure 100% of the time.
2. A test scenario that causes failure 0.001% of the time.

You'd rather have the former - you just trace the problem and you're done - probably fixed in an hour. The latter simply means you haven't controlled all your variables and you might spend weeks figuring out what the missing variable is...

With computer control you can first test the software out on unloaded planes in all kinds of conditions. Then you can put people on-board. Once in a blue moon there might be a failure, in which case the bug gets tracked and then it NEVER happens again. There is continuous improvement. Eventually the failure rate gets so low people will be shocked when planes simply encounter air turbulence - because normally flights will involve no bumps at all.

The main problem will be liability. With computer control you can't blame the pilot, which means that the manufacturers get sued and they have deep pockets (nobody bothers suing the pilot except out of vengeance). If you grant too much legal protection from this liability then manufacturers will tend to cut corners. There needs to be a balance, because computer control won't eliminate all disasters - at least not at first. But I think they're our best chance for doing so.

The same sorts of issues apply to automating cars as well. Why have your GPS tell you which way to turn when it can just drive the car?

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469431)

Yeah and a single Air Controller has a dozen or more planes in his schedule, big deal.

Besides, most accidents happen on take off and landing, lowering the number of those (by more passengers on a single flight) must improve overall safety.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

rew (6140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469579)

lowering the number of those[takeoffs and landings] (by more passengers on a single flight) must improve overall safety.

"safety" numbers are done by the passenger-km. So when the geese hit the engines, more casualties.

More passengers on a plane don't make it safer: Every passenger has exactly one ("risky") takeoff and one landing.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

drsquare (530038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469479)

Surely with modern technology, we should moving away from pilots, not towards them. More high pilots wages just squeezes tight margins even further.

If planes aren't fully automated within the next twenty years then something has really gone wrong.

Re:First Air Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469565)

If any passenger vehicle is fully automated in the next twenty years, something has really gone wrong. Computers are great for situations they've been programmed for, and absolutely shit at situations they haven't encountered. Humans, on the other hand, perform admirably in situations that are new to them. They can, in short, adapt. Show me a computer that can adapt.

Re:First Air Disaster (2, Insightful)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469811)

Cars should be automated first, they are much more dangerous than planes. I know I'd feel much safer on the roads if my fellow simians weren't in control.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469571)

The logical conclusion of which is that fewer larger planes are safer to transport a given number of people.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

hachete (473378) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469215)

I wonder if this comment would have been made if the aircraft had been made by Boeing?

My first thought too.... (0, Troll)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469343)

My first thought when I saw the headline was: "Oh, I wonder if this is going to be a thread full of 'patriots' all bashing the Airbus".

And guess what...?

Re:My first thought too.... (0, Troll)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469459)

Bashing the A380 isn't a nationalism thing, it's a luddite thing. There are plenty of people all over the world who want us all to just freeze in the dark.

-jcr

Re:My first thought too.... (0, Troll)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469499)

Bashing the A380 isn't a nationalism thing, it's a luddite thing.

Correction, what you meant to say is:

Bashing the A380 isn't just a nationalism thing, it's also a luddite thing.

There's plenty of jingoistic bashing of the A380.

Re:My first thought too.... (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469527)

Correction, what you meant to say is:

Are you always so presumptuous?

I say what I mean.

-jcr

Re:My first thought too.... (0, Offtopic)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469667)

Are you always so presumptuous?

Calm down dude, its just slashdot shorthand, where you make your point with a minor alteration of another's point.

If you have something to say about my post, rather than the way it's presented, go ahead.

Re:First Air Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469369)

Considering his speculative 900-1200 passanger plane in the works, was Boeings, defunct-ish 800 passenger blended wing body, I think you can safely say "yes." (Market for it has been shrinking, hence Airbus taking it in the shorts and the popularity of the 787.) Now stop being an ass-clown.

Re:First Air Disaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469697)

I know someone who has over 30 years working as a major airline mechanic. His name for Airbus is Scarebus.

Re:First Air Disaster (2, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469723)

I seem to recall there is also another jet in the works that will take either 900 or 1,200 passenegers. Just wait until one of those crashes on take off and you've got over a thousand dead in one swoop.

To be fair, we'd have to crash 40 to 50 of them a year to equal the amount of Americans who die in car accidents. Freak accidents aside, you are still more likely to die driving to work (or perhaps your bathtub) than you are flying.

It is just that when planes do crash (and it has been a while since I remember the last one on the news) a lot of people end up dead all at once. It just looks bad on the news, but in reality we'd never had enough time in the day to show all the other people who died from other transportation methods.

Re:First Air Disaster (2)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469817)

"It just looks bad on the news," I think there is also a psychological effect of being powerless to control a situation, as in the case of being on an airplane. Driving to work, people can take steps to reduce their chances of being in an accident if they choose. This is not the case in a plane.

Re:First Air Disaster (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469743)

There is a high-density, single class version of the A380 planned which will top out with over a grand crew and pax.

Too big: (0, Redundant)

ZwJGR (1014973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469009)

The only snag with using these huge Airbuses, is that they are too large for many of the gates.
Either you have to build more spread-out gates, or you park the plane in the middle of the tarmac and drive a bus to it.
Either way you have to spend ages and go miles to actually get to the plane.
At Heathrow it's bad enough with small planes, you spend 45 minutes getting to the gate...
When your gate is an extra-wide one...
I can just imagine: Your flight at Gate Q587, leaves in 1 hour, you've checked in and you're at the departure lounge. Start running.

Re:Too big - simultaneous boarding on both decks (5, Informative)

wakaranai (87059) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469071)

Apparently, many airports are planning to use 3 jetway bridges for simultaneous boarding on both decks of the A380

This paper discusses A380 boarding efficiency:
http://www.math.washington.edu/~morrow/mcm/alex_ev an_harkirat.pdf [washington.edu]

Re:Too big: (-1, Flamebait)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469143)

Also the fact that it holds too many people to safely unload in an emergency. Airbus did their test of the FAA regulation and barely made it. Not only did they barely made it but they only used volunteers that passed an "agility test". This involved running across a narrow board and using a trampoline and a vaulting horse. I know when i am on an airplane i usually sit between some old granny and a snotty little kid. So imagine a group of fit volunteers, who were warned in advance of everything to do, they had it in their mind, and were given ample warning when the drill would start. They just barely made it out of the plane in time and there was STILL minor to moderate injuries, even broken bones.

Sounds like a death trap to me, ill stick with something smaller thanks.

Re:Too big: (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469169)

What you say is completely wrong.
1. The required time for evacuating an aircraft is 90 seconds. They made it in 78. This is definitely not barely.
2. The volunteers represented the typical passenger mix (except from people using wheel chairs). This is required by the FAA/EASA.
3. Minor or moderate injuries are acceptable when evacuating a burning aircraft, better a broken arm then beeing burned.

Re:Too big: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469327)

Regarding injuries while evacuating, I remember reading that even in training exercises like this some of the volunteers *still* don't follow the instructions - for instance they do things like not taking shoes with heels off, and so they end up with broken ankles...

What's up with people? Even with no pressure, no life-and-death rush, and a recent evacuation briefing, they *still* think they know better?

They better not come running to me for sympathy. Oh, wait....

Re:Too big: (-1, Flamebait)

packeteer (566398) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469337)

I consider 10 seconds off to be "barely". The volunteer's who did not pass the agility test did not take part in the actual demonstration. Once agian, the volunteers who DID take part were all warned about what to do and they were all concentrating hard on where to go and how to do it fastest. In a real situation with people panicking in the isle there is no way a plane would be unloaded that fast. A total of 32 people were injured in a best case scenario incident. Imagine what would happen with a fire on board or the plane maybe crash landed so the whole plane is tilted at an angle. A fire on board is going to kill a lot of people in 90 seconds. Withing a few seconds there could potentially be very little oxygen left. Without oxygen people will be panicking more and making more mistakes.

It's a death trap.

Re:Too big: (4, Insightful)

mikkelm (1000451) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469441)

This is complete and utter bullshit. I saw the demonstration. The people taking part were average people, not especially fit people like you make it out to be. The FAA has -strict- control over the tests and the people participating in the A380 tests were the same kind of people who'd participate in any other test of any other aircraft. You'd have to be seriously ignorant to think that the FAA would allow anything else.

78 seconds is a good time. It's better than the 90 seconds that the FAA in all their strictness mandates.

If a complete seal of approval from the FAA isn't good enough for you, then why are you using FAA testing parameters to justify your argument that the aircraft is a "death trap"?

Re:Too big: (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469445)

It's a death trap.

Good thing we have people like you to denounce every improvement in transportation technology, going all the way back to the horse!

If you weren't here to provide the pessimistic outlook, we might actually enjoy reading about another great engineering achievement.

-jcr

Re:Too big: (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469475)

1) You are a retard
2) 10 seconds on a 90 seconds time frame is not "just barely". Do the math. It is more than 10% to spare.
3) you are a moron.
4) Evacuating a 600 passanger airplane in 80 seconds is quite a feat.
5) You are an idiot
6) Your "best case scenarios" are pathetic, to say the least.

All in all, it is fair to say that not only you are retarded but also you base your trolling on idiotic baseless suggestions.

873 people in 79 seconds through 50% avail. exits (1)

MACC (21597) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469603)

873 people in 79 seconds through 50% of available emergency exits.
And in near total darkness, just the emergency lighting.

Thats not a bad feat at all.

They did the test for the projected maximum seating arrangement
that may be ordered by some asian airlines.
With the european voluteers this was a tight fit
and you would never have been able to stuff
obese americans into that seating arrangement.

G!
MACC

Re:Too big: (1)

Teun (17872) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469689)

I consider 10 seconds off to be "barely".
It's a death trap.

It seems you have never looked at the statistics of other wide body aircraft.
12 seconds off a 90 second limit is quite good!

This plane is certainly no worse than anything in use today.

Re:Too big: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469265)

Sounds like a death trap to me, ill stick with something smaller thanks.


Only set up for 540 passengers, would you rather have 750 passengers [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:Too big: (1)

jrumney (197329) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469395)

Heathrow have already modified gates for the plane, as have most other major airports where it will be flying into.

Wing Flex (0)

Enlightenment (1073994) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469021)

Did anyone else see the wings flex at landing, in the beginning of the video? I've never seen anything like that. Seems reasonable that you'd have to let them flex, though.

Re:Wing Flex (4, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469033)

I think the wings on every plane do that. If they wouldn't, they would break.

Re:Wing Flex (0, Flamebait)

ReinisFMF (893095) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469061)

I, for one, welcome ... You to get off the Internet. It needs to rest after all these years :(

Re:Wing Flex (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469095)

the wings flex noticeably on many big planes. for example on MC-11 ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/McDonnell_Douglas_MD- 11 [wikipedia.org] ) they flex quite a bit when the plane turns during the flight. might get your heart pumping if you discover this at 40,000 feet.

Re:Wing Flex (1)

Don_dumb (927108) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469135)

Sit in a window seat in an Airbus A300 and you will see the wings flex up and down, not much but enough to be clear. I would imagine all plane wings do this.
I for one would prefer a flexible wing rather than a brittle one, considering the forces involved.

In fact tall buildings need to do this as well, I seem to remember reading (I cant find a reference) that the Empire State Building can move up to 8m at the top, not sure that would help my vertigo.

Ummm...get a window seat in *any* 'plane.... (3, Funny)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469377)

Ummm...get a window seat in *any* 'plane and you'll see the wings flexing when it trundles along the runway, when it takes off, when you hit turbulance, etc.

PS: Yes - even the ones made by Boeing!

Re:Wing Flex (1)

thhamm (764787) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469185)

the whole plane is more flexible than you think. think about it that way, that the whole wheight of the aircraft is hanging on the tips of the wings. remember those planes can take quite a bit more than just 'hanging' there at 1G, they turn and pitch. the wings bending at the tips about 2-3m isn't unusual, they can take much more. if they wouldn't they would just break.

now those big airliners can't take much G force compared to fighterjets or sailplanes, and they have relatively short wingspan.
open class sailplanes like nimbus 4 [sailplanedirectory.com] are a different story. they look quite funny at takeoff. the wings are hanging through and wobbling until the airflow is enough to produce lift, then they bend and the planes takes off. quite a nice view.

Re:Wing Flex (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469225)

open class sailplanes like nimbus 4 are a different story. they look quite funny at takeoff. the wings are hanging through and wobbling until the airflow is enough to produce lift, then they bend and the planes takes off. quite a nice view.

I once had a chance to fly in one of two aircraft on a dual tow in Benalla, Australia. We did it just after dawn, using the flight which does a temperature trace. The glider on short tow pulled first and I had a fantastic view of it climbing and turning right.

If you get a chance, I can recommend doing that type of flight. They look okay on the ground, but much better in clear air. And you don't normally get close enough to see it really well.

Re:Wing Flex (3, Informative)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469281)

Ofcourse they're designed to do that. Here's the way they test 'em:

777 Wing Flex Test [youtube.com]

Re:Wing Flex (1)

jcr (53032) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469449)

I've never seen anything like that.

I have [youtube.com]

-jcr

Re:Wing Flex (2, Interesting)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469521)

It looks worrying but it's completely normal for a big airplane like this double decker monstrosity. If you ever get a chance to see the B52 landing/take-off you'll get to see the same thing happening, such much more that they have retractable "bogie wheels" on the tips of the wings.

Gotta love meaningless PR junkets... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469099)

"It took a mere 16 seconds for the largest airplane in the world to lift off runway 4L at JFK International Airport."

Well, no duh. 62% of available seating empty, less-than-average hand luggage, next-to-no checked luggage, no freight, and only enough fuel for a two hour flight plus margins.

Of course, it makes it sound great in the press, but it's hardly an indicator of the performance of the aircraft out here in the real world.

Re:Gotta love meaningless PR junkets... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469263)

Umm... its 16 seconds after they are on the RUNWAY. This has nothing to do with how long it takes for them to load baggage on to the plane and how many seats are empty. duh!

Re:Gotta love meaningless PR junkets... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469283)

Since you don't understand, allow me to spell it out for you...

* Planes with more contents weigh more

* Planes that weigh more require more time and runway length to take off than a nearly unloaded plane would

* PR junkets in near-empty planes are intended to wow the uninformed journalists with how "powerful" the aircraft feels and how it handles "like it is on rails"

Re:Gotta love meaningless PR junkets... (1)

rew (6140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469535)

The machine has a takeoff weight of 560 tons. 300 passengers less-than-max, means at 100kg/passenger (person plus luggage) 30 tons. Nah, that doesn't make the machine much lighter than normal. (maybe 350 passengers at 120kg, 50 tons?)

What DOES make it lighter than normal is that the flight only took 2 hours. So they possibly had only for about 3.5 hours of fuel on board. For a longer flight they may need for 12 or 14 hours worth of fuel. That's going to make a difference of about two hundred tons.

And to keep the 200 tons of fuel in the air for the first several hours on the longer flight is going to cost some extra fuel.

Europe rules! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469105)

The EU is the largest economy in world. Its the world leader in many sciences and technologies. Hurray for the 50-year old!
See what Europe can do while cooperating!

Re:Europe rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469505)

The EU is the largest economy in world. Its the world leader in many sciences and technologies. Hurray for the 50-year old!
See what Europe can do while cooperating!
You mean, like, oh, I dunno, pass a constitution? Or maybe choose a city for the parliament to sit?

Re:Europe rules! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469559)

He was talking about Economy and science, not politics.

Re:Europe rules! (3, Insightful)

cortana (588495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469789)

You talk as if the economy and politics have nothing to do with each other, but that is not true. We are mired in economic sclerosis because no European company is free from the greedy, interfering tendrils of the organs (can I say organs on this web site?) of the European Union. Imagine a picture of prehistoric creatures trapped in a tar pit, slowly but inexorably sinking until they suffocate, only the creatures are businesses and the tar is miles and miles and miles of red tape.

The A380 is probably going to be a financial disaster. The number of planes that Airbus needs to sell to break even just keeps going up and up--I believe it is now around 420. When UPS cancelled their order of the freighter model, the total number of orders for the A380 freight dropped to zero, meaning that more passenger models must be sold to recoup the loss... but that isn't going to happen for at least another year, meanwhile the passenger airlines need to increase their capacity now and so they making up the gap with other aircraft...

The Adam Smith institute said it best [adamsmith.org] :

When countries get together to co-operate on prestige economic projects, take cover. Concorde and the Channel Tunnel spring to mind, both excellent pieces of hardware, but financially unsuccessful. The A380 superjumbo is the latest example. Now that UPS has cancelled its order for the freight version, the A380 has no orders at all. Damian Reece in the Telegraph says that if Airbus had been a real company it would have acted earlier to put right the accelerating problems.

Then again, Airbus would never have built the A380 superjumbo in the first place if it had been a market venture, rather than the instrument of a European political elite with great power illusions.
...

Now the arguments rage over restructuring, with politicians circling like jackals with what Reece calls "a mix of toxic national jealousies and bureaucratic paralysis." The prospects seem bleak. The plane will lose billions, and taxpayers will bale out its parent company. I see no prospect at all for improving it; it's structure puts it in the political domain, not the commercial one, and I don't think anything can save it.

Re:Europe rules! (0, Flamebait)

ravenshrike (808508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469729)

Fuck up royally by doing something as stupid as not standardizing software on their great big engineering project, thereby getting the great majority of their business orders for the new 380 cancelled? Oh yeah, real smart.

With all of the hype Airbus put into it... (2, Funny)

FrankTheCrazy (694812) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469157)

I was expecting it to fly itself!

the roominess is only temporary (5, Insightful)

phayes (202222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469205)

walk down a crowded aisle from one end of the plane to the other without having to say 'excuse me.'

As it was on the first 747... The spacing on these showroom models is setup to show them off. Once the airlines start buying the real models, the spacing will be set back to the "stack em in like cordwood" norm to make as much money as possible off each airframe.

Re:the roominess is only temporary (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469301)

I would think that too much compression would increase the weight of the plane. You figure an average 200lbs/person and then another 100lbs for luggage.

At what point does the plane get too heavy to fly?

"seat map" and Weight and balance programs (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469357)

The total weight will naturally not go above the total capacity of the plane. So there will be as much row and aisle as they can pack them in, and still set off.

But what about imbalance ? You could end with one side moreheavier than the other (latterally or longitudinally).

This is where most good check in programs are linked to a little application called "Weight and balance". The seat repartition does not follow random rule. If the system see that this would put the plane out of balance it force the seating on other part of the plane, and in certain case refuse additional seat assignement on imbalanced position.

In other word total engine power (constructor specs) give the maximum weight acceptable, then W&B will make the repartition. Airline would not be authorized to fly if they did go outside those parameter, and even if they somehow did it secretly, at the first accident (minor or not) would probably lose their licence to land in many country (EU,North America for example).

Re:"seat map" and Weight and balance programs (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469423)

But what about imbalance ? You could end with one side moreheavier than the other (latterally or longitudinally).

Well... I guess they just have to make sure Americans are evenly distributed inside the plane.

Re:the roominess is only temporary (4, Informative)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469389)

If you've ever flown a long-haul international flight you may have noticed that the plane always struggles to get off the ground. That is because for every pound of luggage somebody doesn't pack, they go ahead and load freight. And if you look at a freight aircraft variation you don't get much more compressed than that...

The planes have a certified max takeoff weight, and they takeoff with almost exactly that weight on many if not most flights.

More passengers just means a little less freight - and the passengers certainly make more money.

Re:the roominess is only temporary (1)

Tomfrh (719891) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469741)

If you've ever flown a long-haul international flight you may have noticed that the plane always struggles to get off the ground. That is because for every pound of luggage somebody doesn't pack, they go ahead and load freight.

No, it's because the thing is carrying 250 tonnes of kerosene.

Re:the roominess is only temporary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469399)

You figure an average 200lbs/person

This is why the number of passengers is so dependent upon the food culture in the country of operation.
In east Asia they can easily fit 100 more passengers in a 747 than in the USA.

Re:the roominess is only temporary (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469781)

As it was on the first 747... The spacing on these showroom models is setup to show them off. Once the airlines start buying the real models, the spacing will be set back to the "stack em in like cordwood" norm to make as much money as possible off each airframe.

That depends of course entirely on the airlines.

And if you believe the wikipedia article about the A380, two of the launch partners (Singapore Airlines and Qantas) ordered aircrafts in a 485 and 501 seat configuration, respectively, which is even less than the 520 seat test model. Of course, it also depends on how many seats are dedicated to which class...

Is this even practical? (2, Interesting)

EonBlueTooL (974478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469207)

With the aviation industry the way it is are planes like this even necessary? Wouldn't speed be the most important factor when designing airplanes?
What percent of the time could plane companies actually fill an entire plane this big?
Wouldn't the fact that its a bigger plane mean that there are more things that can go wrong with it?
What kinda damage would this make if you crash it into a building?

It seems to me that building planes like this would be like buying new hardware to make your applications run better when it's the code that needs optimization. The only place I see in the market for big planes is the moving of highly profitable, degradeable goods. But I'm no part of the industry so I'm just talking out of my ass.

Re:Is this even practical? (2, Informative)

slart42 (694765) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469273)

What percent of the time could plane companies actually fill an entire plane this big?

Well, look at the takeoff schedule for Heathrow for example. I see 22 departures listed to New York today. Some of those might be dupes, as single flights are often listed with multiple flight numbers, but still it would be more then 10 flights a day. Grouping some of those using larger Airplanes would probably be more fuel and cost efficient.

Re:Is this even practical? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469321)

With the aviation industry the way it is are planes like this even necessary? Wouldn't speed be the most important factor when designing airplanes?
No. See the demise of Concorde, modern aircraft as a general rule all travel as close to the sound barrier as is feasible with a safety margin (typically 0.8 - 0.9 of the speed of sound), faster is just vastly more inefficient.

Wouldn't the fact that its a bigger plane mean that there are more things that can go wrong with it?
Not really, the two (onboard) critical failure paths are still there and not significantly more complex - most likely cause of failure pilot error and secondly failure of the engine / engine assembly.

Though it would be interesting to see if they have managed to solve the problem that the 747 and other quad engine aircraft typically suffer from. Namely that catastrophic in-board engine failure on takeoff will dump shrapnel into the out-board engine, at which point you have an aircraft that has insufficient thrust to stay in the air and cannot dump fuel fast enough to lower the weight to a safe landing weight.

Re:Is this even practical? (2, Informative)

vivtho (834049) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469383)

Actually Mach 0.8 or thereabouts is about the fastest you can fly while still being fuel efficient. Beyond that and the aircraft starts experiencing trans-sonic drag which persists until the aircraft crosses Mach 1-1.1 IIRC. To go faster than Mach 0.8, you either need more powerful engines or a more aerodynamic airframe. Bigger engines are available, but are much more expensive and fuel hogs at sub-sonic speeds, while the nature of civil aircraft means that building a faster airliner while still carrying an economical number of passengers involves too many design compromises. The Concorde and Tu-144 were the only civilian supersonic airliners. Both of them used long thin fuselages and delta wings. The delta wings meant that the aircraft had to maintain a high angle-of-attack during take-offs. Which in turn led to longer (and heavier) landing gear and (heavy) droop-snoot noses.

Re:Is this even practical? (1)

rew (6140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469613)

Wouldn't speed be the most important factor when designing airplanes?
Yes. Except that when you pass the sound barrier (or come too close) aerodynamic effects cause fuel costs to skyrocket (pardon the pun). So, Mach .89 is close to the best you can achieve.

What kinda damage would this make if you crash it into a building?
I'd think: "Total destruction".

History shows that if you crash a big plane into a skyscraper, the building is destroyed. If you crash a big plane into a large, horizontally layed out building, you make a small dent.

You don't need an A380 to fully destroy large buildings like the twin towers. You will make a slightly larger dent in a large building like the pentagon.

Re:Is this even practical? (1)

EonBlueTooL (974478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469713)

I can't believe I actually wrote that quesiton, but that's what I get for posting at 3am. Nice pun btw ;)

Re:Is this even practical? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469745)

You must be American. Have you ever traveled to Dubai, Singapore, Bombay, Hong Kong, Seoul, Tokyo or Shanghai? Have you seen how crowded some of these routes are?

The carbon stats (0)

blubadger (988507) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469229)

From an article [economist.com] in The Economist:

[F]lying a fully laden A380 is, in terms of energy, like a 14km (nine-mile) queue of traffic on the road below. And that is just one aircraft. In 20 years, Airbus reckons, 1,500 such planes will be in the air. By then, the total number of airliners is expected to have doubled, to 22,000. The super-jumbos alone would be pumping out carbon dioxide (CO2) at the same rate as 5m cars.

I haven't taken a plane for 3 or 4 years now, mainly because I'm something of a self-righteous treehugger. Then again I just can't help being awed and fascinated and inspired by this one.

The carbon stats - better than cars (1)

jeps (700879) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469627)

As long as you don't fly alone, the fuel efficiency of larger airplanes is actually better than your average car [google.com] on flights with normal load. At least on paper.

- e

Re:The carbon stats - better than cars (1)

regularstranger (1074000) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469681)

Also, the A380 is expected to be more efficient than the 747-400 used for the calculations above. But if one's goal is to reduce personal carbon footprint to an absolutely minimum amount, flying (as is driving) is out of the question.

Re:The carbon stats (1)

3.14159265 (644043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469725)

Or mainly because you didn't need or wanted to go somewhere.

Re:The carbon stats (1)

wittmania (957575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469753)

Man. Those stats are super-duper scary. I'm no scientist, but based on my computer models, if we don't ground these planes now New York will be under water by Christmas. Good thing man-made global warming is a hoax [senate.gov] , otherwise you'd have me really worried.

Re:The carbon stats (1)

mike2R (721965) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469875)

I actually followed your link and skimmed through the begining. Gave up when I saw the graph on page 4.

If the author really believes global warming is just part of a natural cycle, WHY DOES HE CUT THE TEMPERATURE GRAPH OFF AT 1900?

The only reason I can think of is that he's trying to fool the ignorant about the significance of the temperature variation over the last 1000 years, and he knows damn well that even they won't fall for it if he shows them the last 100 years.

Just another dishonest crackpot, possibly with his own agenda. There are plenty to go around on both sides of this issue.

NIH and patriotism (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469247)

For a country that prides itself on making everything bigger, there sure is a lot of not-invented-here antipathy and patriotic vitriol against the first major upsizing of passenger airplanes in a long time.

Re:NIH and patriotism (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469487)

The reason is that's a crappy miserable way to fly. Indeed in general its the opposite direction from which most common air travel is headed. With it taking several hours just to get to the air port and checked in, no one wants connecting flights. So direct flights, often to smaller airports, are more desirable. They save time, and are more comfortable. They also allow other savings such as no meals to fly and pay 10s of thousands of dollars per pound per year in fuel costs for. For some high traffic routes, and some luxury oriented carriers, they make sense. Overall, the market for these planes has been shrinking since the 777 began development. Indeed the FAA is intending to speed up this transformation with a new aviation infrastructure aimed at fascilitating more commercial traffic to ever smaller and more numerous airports.

You can call it as you like, but it's not an accident Boeing basically shelved its even more massive blended wing body, which was tremendously large and efficient for a 787 which is proving extremely popular. Sure, for the high capacity crowd they're teasing yet another varient out of the venerable 747 airframe, the demand is _there_. But it's hard enough to envision it supporting the development of a completely new monster plane, let alone two. The A380 might have some aspects which are innovative. But a new, larger aluminum tube. That's one one of them. In fact, I think the Russians _still_ own that title. (And by god those commie bastards should.)

The fact is if you're flying coach on a regular low to no frills carrier, the A380 is going to be that much more miserable an experience. Put a fucking pool, and Victoria's Secret orgy in the mock up, but if it's not there when us regular slobs buy a ticket to dream of strangling ourselves during Employee of the Month II staring Ashelee Simpson, so what?

Bullshit!!! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469541)

Where is the "patriotic vitriol" here? So far, the comments I've seen rightly point out the logistical difficulties with this aircraft, not any vitriol because it is an European airplane.

Unless you magically figured out the commenters' nationalities, I think you are way too uptight and sensitive about this. You are seeing something that isn't there.

Re:NIH and patriotism (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469879)

Your incorrectly modded comment was the first hint of nationalism I saw in this discussion. The negative comments had nothing to do with where it was made and would apply just as equally to Boeing or Lockheed given the same data.

Who is being vitriolic now?

Ben Shirt-off (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469289)

Did he say his name is Ben Shirt-off?

Incorrect caption (1)

unclocked (854664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469309)

I thought the article was about 'flying 380', and not about being a passenger. In fact, this article (video) does not even deal with being a passenger.

So the largest passenger airplane is big? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469507)

>So the largest passenger airplane in the world actually is pretty large inside

Who'd of thunk it?

How to play it? (0, Redundant)

short (66530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469555)

How can /. post about a video not playable by a Free software?

Or is there some Free player for such content?

Re:How to play it? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469631)

Come on, this is just a Flash Video. Mplayer plays this just fine using ffmpeg.

Re:How to play it? (1)

short (66530) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469679)

mplayer http://services.brightcove.com/services/viewer/fed erated/687267809 [brightcove.com]
(mplayer-1.0-0.71.rc1.lvn7.i386 from Fedora Livna)
gives me
Win32 LoadLibrary failed to load: avisynth.dll, /usr/lib/codecs/avisynth.dll, /usr/lib/win32/avisynth.dll, /usr/local/lib/win32/avisynth.dll
libavformat file format detected.
[swf @ 0x302254]Compressed SWF format not supported
LAVF_header: av_open_input_stream() failed

although I have all the MS-Windows codecs installed and various proprietary WMVs etc. it plays.

ta!3o (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469567)

Uni7ed Stat/es.

It won't look spacious ... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18469719)

when filled with Americans!

Try the super-sized veal burgers. I'm here all week.

Aeronautics/aerospace category (1)

mnemonic_ (164550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469859)

Anyone else think Slashdot needs an aeronautics or aerospace news category for all these A380, UAV, F-22 articles?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>