back to article First A380 flown in anger to be broken up for parts

On October 25th, 2007 Singapore Airlines flight SQ380 departed Changi Airport bound for Sydney, Australia, marking the first commercial flight of the Airbus A380. But the plane that made that flight won’t ever take to the air again and will instead be broken up for parts. The A380, airframe number MSN003, wasn’t Singapore …

  1. Waseem Alkurdi

    This underlines one more thing

    Nobody, it seems, likes fat, jet-fuel-sucking aircraft. Both the 747 and the A380 are next to dead.

    It really only works in tight usage scenarios (Emirates with its customer demand for long-haul lines).

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    I think it's more the case that smaller craft are now able to go as far as the larger jets, so they're cheaper for the airline. Regular Joe Bloggs, I would suggest, wouldn't mind flying on the big jets if the prices were comparable to the smaller craft.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    I'm sure I read that 747's are being converted for freight use

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    It's the hub-and-spoke model shown all its limits when it came to longer flights - too much time wasted at uncomfortable intermediate airports, baggage issues, delays, etc. etc. When available, point-to-point flights are faster and more comfortable - and now the right planes are available.

  5. A K Stiles Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    And yet the UK government seem to be headed towards yet more London-centric investment by adding a third runway to the already somewhat congested Heathrow Airport.

    Someone may have their forecasts wrong or maybe it will all come out smelling of roses for everyone. Time will tell.

    From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777 for anything 7+ hours. I can sleep in cattle class on the Airbus, no chance on the Boeing. YMMV

  6. Frederic Bloggs

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    And, certainly the last time I was able to make a direct comparison (again Emirates), the A380 was faster than the B777 as well as more comfortable.

  7. Multivac

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    United used to fly out of Birmingham, 50 minute drive from home, park up next to the airport and walk into the terminal, it saved about 2 hours on the journey compared to Heathrow. But United cancelled the service because of a lack of customers, I guess people were looking for connecting flights into Europe which Birmingham didn't have or they genuinely wanted a stop over in London. It sucks for the rest of us but that's the way it is.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    @A K Stiles

    "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777 for anything 7+ hours. I can sleep in cattle class on the Airbus, no chance on the Boeing. YMMV"

    Having flown on Singapore Airlines from Heathrow to Singapore with children, in an A380 and also in some wide bodied Boeing or other, I'd take the A380 any day. (Cattle class, by the way.)

  9. Holtsmark

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    To my understanding, two things put the brakes on the A380: ETOPS and NEO.

    New ETOPS rules (Engine Turns Or Passengers Swim), originating (who would have guessed) from the USA led to a lot of new competition that the A380 had not been designed to deal with. NEO led to savings making these competitors being cost competitive. On top of it, there are not enough airports with the infrastructure required to handle the A380 efficiently.

    An A380 NEO might change the picture.

  10. Dr_N Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    It's what they were designed for.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    of course and it can be serviced by HS2 that massive investment to get people from the midlands to London quicker, oh hang on a min wasn't it to encourage business to leave London, I'm confused now......

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    That's just depend on how the owner configures the airplane. I've flown on Emirates 777 and they were far more comfortable than other similar planes. Etihad configurations for example were less.

    My last flight to Washington with an Air France Airbus was quite uncomfortable.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "seem to be headed towards yet more London-centric investment"

    That depends on how a country is "configured". Britain and France, for example, have everything mostly concentrated nearby London and Paris.

    Others, like Germany, have more "top" cities and highly populated areas (Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin), Spain has Madrid and Barcelona, Italy Rome and Milan (plus highly touristic destinations like Venice or Florence), the US several ones.

    Whenever I fly I try to minimize stops. Whatever airline offers me a point-to-point flight is welcome.

  14. goldcd

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    Also used to fly to New York out of Bristol.

    Was awesome - flights were only a few hundred in scum-class, and you always got an empty seat next to you.

    No idea why they dropped the route...

  15. lglethal Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    "My last flight to Washington with an Air France Airbus was quite uncomfortable."

    There was your mistake - flying Air France. it doesnt matter which aircraft it is, they are all routinely awful...

  16. John Styles

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    Stop over in Birmingham... quick trip to Sparkbrook for a balti surely? How could that compare with London?

  17. John Styles

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    The government and 52% of the population have come up with a much better way to encourage business to leave London. Not to Birmingham, though.

  18. Fatman
    Thumb Up

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    <quote>(Engine Turns Or Passengers Swim)</quote>

    I gave you an upvote, just for that!!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    > the A380 was faster than the B777

    Both cruise at mach 0.85. (564 mph vs 562 mph) according to Wikipedia.

    Is there an Airbus Reality Distortion Field that I'm not aware of?

  20. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    I flew Emirates A380 and 777 back to back:

    Gatwick--A380-->Dubai--777-->Delhi

    and

    Kolkatta--777-->Dubai--A380-->Heathrow

    That was in late 2016, cattle class for all four legs. There was no equality in terms of comfort and facilities between the two aircraft. The A380 felt modern, with excellent seating and seat-back systems while the 777 experience felt like the previous generation it is.

  21. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    "New ETOPS rules, originating (who would have guessed) from the USA led to a lot of new competition that the A380 had not been designed to deal with."

    ETOPS was on the drawing board since the 767. Increases in ETOPS range were inevitable, plugging the 'holes' that twin engine aircraft couldn't operate through. Airbus had plenty of time to see that coming. Likewise, engine capabilities have improved as time goes by. Fuel consumption and reliability numbers are things that a competent designer could easily extrapolate.

  22. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    My last flight to Washington with an Air France Airbus was quite uncomfortable.

    IMHO, flying anywhere by Air France is quite uncomfortable. KLM is descending to AF levels now.

    As for CDG... [redacted][redacted] and [redacted]

    The only saving grace is that I can often change trains there.

  23. commonsense

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    Agree. I flew Singapore to Heathrow on business class on the 777, and it's terrible. The "leg hole cubby" area is not straight ahead of the seat, so you sleep or lounge at an angle, whereas on the Emirates business class 777, it's straight ahead and more cleverly configured.

    But I also agree with the other points. The A380 is smoother, quieter and therefore more comfortable, all other things considered.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-31814933 - sadly the HS2 Heathrow spur was dropped a few years back. Still think outside of London airports could have done with the investment - Heathrow and it's immediate surrounding area is a sh*thole of an airport - noisy and over-priced food on the inside and miserable passengers (especially when the fog stops all the flights)

    Back on topic - the A380 is a good plane with a limited use case. The smaller aircraft serve the airlines better in the current pre-post Brexit environments for flights out.

  25. dmacleo

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    IATA/IACO (International Air Transport Association and International Civil Aviation Organization) were supposedly to have a lot of input to ETOPS driving the FAA regs.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A380 is great, so silent inside! Scrap those noise old B747 and B777!!

    The A380 is the best plane for passengers. It's so silent inside, it's spacy lot's of space inside for big lavatories (not those tiny Boeing lavatories of "modern" B777 and B747-800). The A380 is so big, even big turbulences don't matter that much. And the start and landing doesn't shake you through at all.

    I kind of like B747, especially the B747-400 series with it old-school big interior design. The B747-800 is shit, so noisy and little space for less lavatories.

    The worst plane is the B777. Yes, it's the first plane completely designed with computer CAD. Nice for 1994. But they forgot about the passengers. Noisy, everything is so narrow and low. A small narrow but very long can. Don't fly with this crap, especially not 10+ hours!! Or you will start hate Boeing designers and the airline that still uses this old shitty plane.

  27. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    "It really only works in tight usage scenarios (Emirates with its customer demand for long-haul lines)."

    Emirates and friends make money from freight. There's more money in that than in passengers (which is why they don't fully stuff them upstairs, it makes more room in the hold.)

    A380s have considerably longer range at MTOW than 777s do, whilst carrying more than twice the cargo mass. The logistics of that frequently mean that it works out cheaper overall (ground crew, passenger facilities and refuelling at an intermediate stop) even if the overall fuel burn is higher.

    This all changes with Next Gen aircraft of course but it's always been like that - and the proliferation of smaller airliners flying point to point is predicated on aviation fuel remaining cheap, which it won't. Remember there was a price war most of the last decade in an attempt to put frackers and other tight oil producers out of business and costs are now snapping back to where they should be.

  28. HarryBl

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    And much quieter

  29. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    Also used to fly to New York out of Bristol.

    Was awesome - flights were only a few hundred in scum-class, and you always got an empty seat next to you.

    No idea why they dropped the route...

    The answer is in your post... empty seats = less profit.

  30. Updraft102 Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    More comfortable in what way?

    If it has anything to do with the seating, legroom, etc., that's the airline's doing, not the plane itself. As far as the speed, the 777 is listed as cruising at mach 0.84, while the A380 is listed at 0.85, so no real difference there.

  31. Ledswinger Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    Still think outside of London airports could have done with the investment

    What, like the Manchester Airport second runway? Or the Birmingham runway extension that can now take the A380s nobody wants to fly there?

    the A380 is a good plane with a limited use case. The smaller aircraft serve the airlines better in the current pre-post Brexit environments for flights out.

    WTF has Brexit got to do with Singapore retiring some of their A380s? The issue is that the A380 (and B747) weren't economic in the era of the wide bodied long range twin motor. With half the number of powertrain parts the twin motors will be considerably more reliable. With their smaller capacity they're less at risk of flying half empty, or topped up with passengers on £5 tickets. There's a tiny number of applications where flying a small army in one aircraft make sense, but not enough for most airlines to justify the complexity and cost of an A380, and that's got jack 5hit to do with Brexit (or the bust up with Iran, or the Love-in with Nork, or any other political event).

  32. Dabbb

    Re: A380 is great, so silent inside! Scrap those noise old B747 and B777!!

    "The worst plane is the B777"

    You can still find some 9-across 777 in operation and they are great even in Y, but you would have to pay me to get onto 10-across. Same as 787, if you fly on 8-across, as it was designed, it's a great plane, but there's only one airline that flies them in that config while others chose to go for SardineLiner 9-across configurations. Sadly customers do not seem to care about their experience and always choose cheaper one, which happens to be with more denser seating.

  33. J. Cook Bronze badge
    Go

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    "That's just depend on how the owner configures the airplane. I've flown on Emirates 777 and they were far more comfortable than other similar planes. Etihad configurations for example were less."

    THIS. US Carriers are free to add or remove legroom from the cattle class as they see fit, which is why a 737 on United is so very much tighter on legroom than, say, Southwest. (Southwest (at least when I was flying them) didn't have any seperate classes of seating, so it was all cattle car, but it was set so Tall b&$tards like myself could actually have a modicum of comfort without having bruised knees at the end of the flight from the snotty two year old in the seat in front playing 'bounce the plane'.)

  34. anothercynic Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    The A380neo is likely to happen. Emirates is betting on it. But I think Rolls has their hands full sorting out the production issues they're experiencing with the Trent 1000 on the B787-9 that's causing airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand and some others a *lot* of pain right now (hence Virgin Atlantic reviving some of their A340-200 and A340-500's), and I have yet to see Engine Alliance say they're investigating improving the engine package for a 'NEO'. There are some bits in the non-engine hardware that will be improved (like sharklets, more supercritical and laminar flow stuff on the wings...)

  35. anothercynic Silver badge

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    The issue is that the A380 (and B747) weren't economic in the era of the wide bodied long range twin motor.

    Incorrect. Singapore Airlines has just taken delivery of new A380 bodies to replace the ones that went off-lease. The reason why MSN003 and their contemporaries are being retired is because they are fat. They are the first of their kind... some things hadn't been ironed out yet. Later bodies were better, the processes had smoothed out, weight was shaved off. Why should someone like SQ fly with jets that are older, more tired, need more TLC when new jets are literally there for use.

    And the A380 *is* economic. It is always full between LHR and SIN and FRA and SIN. You cannot for the life of you get reward tickets in business or first. Emirates makes the A380 run pretty full every single flight. It's the 17 hour flights that need smaller jets that can do longer distances. The new SQ flight between SIN and EWR (Newark) will be *all* Premium Economy and Business. There won't be economy on that flight.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    @Mark85

    Do we also have to Joke Alert! every joke now? Really?

  37. Gezza

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    What amuses me most is that the expression I want to use here to point out that you’ve completely missed the joke is ‘that flew right over your head’. Ah, the things that make you chuckle.

  38. John Crisp

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    I recently did the 16 1/2 hours Dubai - Auckland on a Emirates 380 cattle class and would prefer that any day myself.

    That was straight after 8 hours Madrid-Dubai on a 380 with only a couple of hours in Dubai.

    Got off feeling fresher than I've ever done going down there.

    Same thing in reverse a few weeks later.

  39. Telboy

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    Was awesome - flights were only a few hundred in scum-class, and you always got an empty seat next to you.

    I think you'll find the empty seats to be the cause of the cancellation

  40. Telboy

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    I think the empty seats could have had something to do with cancellation

  41. Radio Wales
    Unhappy

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    > The "leg hole cubby" area is not straight ahead of the seat, so you sleep or lounge at an angle,<

    Yes I have noticed that passenger occupation space is often an overlooked detail in aircraft design.

    I wonder why that is?

  42. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    "Airbus had plenty of time to see that coming. "

    Maybe so, but meanwhile they have, according to the Wiki:

    "As of May 2018, Airbus had received 331 firm orders and delivered 226 aircraft; Emirates is the biggest A380 customer with 162 ordered of which 103 have been delivered".

    And I assume RR is not too unhappy about it either.

  43. Chz

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    I'd take a Singapore Airlines *anything* over any other airline's offering. I don't really care about the aircraft itself, I'm confident that if Singapore is flying it the experience will be less traumatic than on any other service.

  44. alexmcm

    Re: A380 is great, so silent inside! Scrap those noise old B747 and B777!!

    "Sadly customers do not seem to care about their experience and always choose cheaper one, which happens to be with more denser seating."

    It is not like we have a choice! Once you have chosen your start and destination, and the dates to travel, you are lucky if you have more than 2 airline choices. After rejecting the 'I'd never fly with them' airlines, you are usually left with 1 or 2, and they don't even tell you which plane make/type/config you will be flying on.

    The first time I know what plane I'm flying on is usually when I go to book my seat online.

  45. War Puppy

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    It's ok, England's Brexit is making businesses leave one way or another anyway.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick trip to Southall for a curry, maybe?

    Used to pop there quite regularly for lunch when I worked next to Heathrow at Stockley Park..

  47. Lars Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: "From my experience (Emirates), I'd rather fly A380 than B777"

    "My last flight to Washington with an Air France Airbus was quite uncomfortable.".

    Somebody spoke French on that flight?.

  48. Stu Mac

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    Adding a 3rd runway to Heathrow doesn't stop Gatwick doing the same or a multitude of others.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    cattle class - you lucky bastard; I only get to use goat class.

  50. Insane Reindeer
    Happy

    Re: This underlines one more thing

    "Stop over in Birmingham... quick trip to Sparkbrook for a balti surely? How could that compare with London?"

    Quite simply the funniest comment I have read on here in a very long time!

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