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. christooo

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

        Blame seating difficulties on the airline not the manufacturer, so therefore saying a 380 is more comfortable/better than a 777 is nonsense. In fact the 777 is the best maintainance friendly a/craft being designed with the help of ramp engineers for a change instead of desk bound designers. Dont know anything about the 380 but would imagine that in line with the 747, both being large aircraft there is plenty of room everywhere for both passengers and engineers.

    1. 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.

  1. Bubba Von Braun

    Also like early 787, these early production A380's are a little over weight, with fixes and patches to correct issues post production. The wing cracks comes to mind as one of these early fixes.

    Long haul congested hub to hub were always its best value argument, market just moved against them. No hub congestion when you avoid it altogether.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "these early production A380's are a little over weight"

      Exactly this. It's entirely expected that the first 6 out the door would retire early thanks to their extensive rewiring jobs and additional tweakage. They're more than just a little overweight.

      Airbus made a grave mistake freezing and then cancelling A380F rollout in favour of getting the passenger versions fixed. The freighters could have been flying and generating income for a couple of years earlier than the passenger version, but instead all the freighter customers jumped ship and went elsewhere.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They're more than just a little overweight.

        I'd also guess that the lease costs, resale value assumptions, and in-service reliability were an issue.

        But there's nothing unusual about this - it is pretty normal for "mid-life" aircraft to be worth more for their engines and transferrable high value parts than as a complete unit, with the airframe being broken up for scrap when the engines and mechanicals have gone.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge


        ... They found that even if the A380F had gone ahead, its freight-lifting capability compared to the B747F (-400F, -8F) was still not as economic. Upper passenger deck would've had to be strengthened a lot to deal with more pallets. I may be wrong, but that's what I was told was one of the issues, along with the smaller amount of LD containers that could be loaded. :-/

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So at the maintenance interval they are going to replace parts from a plane of the same age and about the same usage? How does that work? Doesn't sound particularly safe to me.

    1. wolfetone Silver badge

      If something is well maintained then it can be reused. It happens at the moment in aviation anyway.

      Things like engines, flight computers etc can be used second hand. Things like jack screws which control flight surfaces wouldn't be replaced with second hand parts. If one of those fail in flight it can be far more catastrophic than a second hand engine catching fire.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Do they had a jackscrew? I thought it was only T tail planes, Alaska 261 comes to mind for me.

        1. Packet

          Afaik, jack screws to control the elevator/horizontal stabilizer are common in big ass aircraft (like the 747)

          Learned that bit from an episode of Mayday which covered the 747 crash in Afghanistan due to one of the armoured humvees sliding back and hindering it etc

    2. Tomato42 Silver badge

      second hand parts are problematic if their provenance and usage amount is unknown; no such thing in aviation

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "second hand parts are problematic if their provenance and usage amount is unknown; no such thing in aviation"

        you would be surprised, next time you see an EASA hot air balloon ask to look in the logbook. we have idea how many hours the components have, just the fabric - and many parts are bought and sold without a form 1...

    3. Tam Lin

      No aviation parts go directly from used to another plane. Everything needs to be refurbished, updated and/or recertified by an approved vendor.

      That said, there is a very competitive broker market in currently unusable parts.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        if the aircraft is operational, surely you can just strip the parts , write a component Form1 and then sell - no need for anyone else to recertify. Or am I missing something.

        so don't have my part66 yet..

    4. Deckard_C

      Parts will be removed from the aircraft to be overhauled or repaired, but you don't want the aircraft sitting around not earning waiting for the parts to be overhauled or repaired so you need a pool of parts which have already been overhauled and repaired ready to put back on. Cheaper than brand new when you only need a overhauled part.

    5. anothercynic Silver badge

      Perfectly safe. Every part is checked and verified exhaustively. Planes that are written off (after a crash) are often parted out. If the engines are still good (which these are), they're shifted on to another plane (Dr Peters is leasing the RR plants on their bodies back to Airbus/Singapore). Landing gear will be good, as will the usual movable gear like flaps, spoilers, flaperons... the APU will also still be in excellent condition. The interiors will have been gutted by Singapore already, taking what they can (and what's theirs anyway).

      This recycling job will be good news for the airliner recyclers, because they get to document and figure out how to recycle an A380 as best as possible.

  3. Pen-y-gors Silver badge


    a mid-sized twin-aisle jet that makes the A321LR look cramped and cheap.

    So Ryanair likely to rely on A321LRs then - with a few extra rows of seats squeezed in for luck? And do they do an A321SRO version (Standing Room Only)?

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Cramped?

      Ryanair have an exclusively Boeing fleet and unlikely to change as they are going for 737 MAX 200.

      1. christooo

        Re: Cramped?

        He runs an excellent airline by having almost new aircraft all the time. 2 year guarantee , then get rid and make a profit and buy new again. Clever.

    2. flilotuk

      Re: Cramped?

      "So Ryanair likely to rely on A321LRs then - with a few extra rows of seats squeezed in for luck? And do they do an A321SRO version (Standing Room Only)?"

      Airbus have categorically stated they will never sell aircraft to Ryanair, after O'Leary's comment about "raping" Boeing re: their 737s. The potential loss of revenue from not selling to Ryanair is vastly outweighed by not having to deal with the nasty little leprechaun.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I still cannot understand why Airbus cancelled the A380 Freighter variant. Especially after the amount of work they put into that version. Yes, it was running late and they wanted the prestige from the passenger market, but not to revisit it after the passenger variant was out and flying is something I really dont get. The air cargo market is increasing massively and it does not call for smaller lighter planes. it calls for big behomths like the A380.

    Well I guess until Tom Enders is out the door, Airbus wont be spending any money on developing new aircraft (developing aircraft is expensive and that might hurt his stock options). By then no doubt Boeing will have clawed back the advantage...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Biggest isn't always the most efficient, the article hits at fuel economy and I don't think it make much use of carbon fibre...though could be wrong.

      Better to kill a loss making product and put the R&D into future products e.g. the A350.

    2. Vinyl-Junkie

      Re: I still cannot understand why Airbus cancelled the A380 Freighter variant.

      According to what I read it was down to weight to volume; you could reach MTOW with average density loading before the cargo space was more than 2/3rds full. So unless you had a market for something carrying lots of low density items it was unlikely to be viable.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      canceled because there's only a limited demand for air freighting flowers from Kenya .

      In short, the extra capacity is unusable for anything of weighty substance.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ilike the 380

    I have flown a few times in the 380 and prefer it to other aircraft. The straight walls in the lower deck give the impression of more room and it is quiet. Still no fatal accidents or hull loss incidents.

    The first time I flew it I was waiting in Darwin airport for a connecting flight to Singapore to get on an Emirates 380, when the news about QF 32 was splashed across the TV.

    1. AndyS

      Re: Ilike the 380

      > Still no fatal accidents or hull loss incidents

      Not for lack of trying though. Qantas Flight 32 - damn. Wouldn't have liked to be on that one.

      Kidding aside, it's got a very good record, and is a very comfortable plane to fly on.

    2. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Ilike the 380

      news about QF 32 was splashed across the TV

      Reminds me of Airplane (1980) where the in flight movie is showing a fiery aeroplane crash scenario

  6. Alastair MacDiarmid

    "Owner can’t find anyone to fly the thing profitably" Incorrect. They just think they can make more money by selling the parts, as nobody has done that yet there is a market for parts, and BA who are in the market for more 380's for example, are cheap bastards, something obvious to anyone who's flown on the recently.

    And pointing out the obvious, unless airports keep getting bigger and bigger there is an absolute limit to the point to point flights with smaller aircraft currently in vogue.

    Yep, I hate transferring in airports and I'd much rather fly point to point, but honestly for long haul? Give me a 380 over toothpaste tube bug smasher any day. Emirates gets my business because of the big aircraft, decent baggage allowance, and big seats. No contest.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Noticed that with BA

      Short haul flights and trying to sell me sandwiches and drinks... like Ryan air only 4 times the price, with uglier staff and because they wont use the back door slower boarding and leaving.

      Whatever people think of ryanair their only big mistakes are (a) Stansted... an awful airport, the worst in the world without doubt and (b) starting to use big international airports like Frankfurt with its huge queues and huge terminals, huge bills, long distances to get to the gate etc etc etc instead of the nice little ex military places where you rock up, pay sod all for parking your car, walk into the terminal, take 2 minutes in security and straight on the plane.

      Ryanair, if you are listening, the yanks want out of Mildenhall - buy that and forget Stansted, go back to Frankfurt Hahn, relist your Friday evening flights back from the UK to europe so us commuters can use you again,

      1. ravenviz Silver badge

        Re: Noticed that with BA

        No pleasing some people

      2. christooo

        Re: Noticed that with BA

        Should think Mildenhall, despite being in the middle of nowhere belongs to the MOD.( Ministry of Defence)

        Would be of use to TNT or one of those freighter crowds as theres plenty storage space in those airfields..

  7. NorthernCoder

    Marketspeak bingo

    "In light of this development, the concept that has now been finalised is an excellent achievement with a total revenue forecast of around 80 million USD per aircraft.”

    Damn, if they had just thrown in a "synergy" or perhaps "leverage", I would have had bingo straight away!

    1. ravenviz Silver badge

      Re: Marketspeak bingo

      Nah, they missed ROI

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the early days of aviation there were many small airports round the UK. Gradually they competed to become major regional airports else they were deemed obsolete. A few like Meir extended their lives by serving adjacent aircraft factories during the war.

    The majority of such sites are probably now housing estates. Stobart have diversified into trying to turn minor airfields into point-to-point regional airports eg Carlisle Lake District Airport - the opening of which has been delayed owing to problems recruiting/training adequate numbers of qualified staff.

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Cornwall Airport always seems to give the impression that it might die as the traffic is very volatile. For a long time they had flights to Dublin with no codeshare, which wasn't good as it meant that you'd have to chance it or go to Heathrow for a connecting flight.

      Sadly the RAF choppers have moved out -->

  9. Thoguht Silver badge

    A380 leasing as an investment

    Food for thought here for people investing in A380 leasing via the Doric Nimrod trusts or similar. The spiel once was that by the time the current leases are up, there will probably be a thriving marked in used A380's and so the residual value can be easily realised, but that is looking less and less likely as time goes on.

    1. Deckard_C

      Re: A380 leasing as an investment

      What the piece failed to mention was there 4 A380s at the end of their lease, 2 are to be parted out and 2 have been placed with another airline. So not as bad as it first sounds, but still a challange.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I's the overal experience....

    Flying has just become too unpleasent an experience, 2+hr checking, huge queues, cramped seats.... I used to fly all the time, but in the last 10 years hardly at all, it's just a horrible begining and end to a holiday.

    1. Dave 15 Silver badge

      Re: I's the overal experience....

      Stansted couple of weeks ago, the 'fast track' queue for security first thing Monday morning (as in 6am) was back to the doors of the terminal building. Over an hour

      Frankfurt yesterday morning queues over an hour except for the 'time limited' lane restricted to a few flights with boarding in the next half hour which had a half hour queue (yes, would have missed the flight but for 3 things... running, gate fairly near security and it takes time to board... I was one of the last)

      Stockholm Friday evening queues for the security all the way back down the departure hall and an hour queue.

      I wonder do they really think we believe there is really a terrorist threat? IF they did they would sort these queues out, its ALL airports (some worse than others but all have the problem) and it is simply due to not having the equipment and/or staff to cope with the numbers. IF I were a terrorist I would simply turn up and queue. Somewhere in the queue (and for Stansted this would be improved by the hard metal barriers bolted to the floor and the walls they have built) I would blow up the suitcase and rucksack I would have, apparently reasonably, with me... a mixture of explosive and nails and the carnage would be stunning.

      We do NOT need a 3rd runway at Heathrow, what we need is to spread the flight load over lots of airports all over the country, connect them all with a decent high speed rail and then we can divert when weather is bad, avoid even more of a car park on the M25, lower security times by spreading the load, generally improve.... but thats not going to happen, we will end up with some smart terrorist targeting one of the major airports and then there will be a flap and we will all have to suffer intrusive checks before we get to the airport

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I's the overal experience....

        I couldn't agree more that adding a third runway to Heathrow is madness. Where will all the extra flights go when the runways are closed due to inclement weather or an "operational issue"? Bah!

        The security scenario you describe is akin to Dalaman airport in Turkey. You rock up and everything is X-Ray scanned at the front entrance before you check in. After check in you go through security and more x-ray checks. After that there were further hand searches before being allow to the departure gate to check for contraband - lithium-ion batteries / power packs / tablet PCs etc.. etc.. Three checks for one flight!

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: I's the overal experience....

        "we will end up with some smart terrorist targeting one of the major airports "

        It's already happened in Glasgow and Moscow.

        The dickheads in power don't give a shit. Security theatre is simply an excuse to wield control.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I's the overal experience....

        There are far better of ways inflicting terror. It has always puzzled me but a chap in a white van, clip board and hiviz could cause more damage in regards fatalities and anarchy.

        Water treatment plant sites are published on water companies websites. Fibre is easy enough to find. Power storage and distribution is also easy enough to find.

        It is stupidly amazing just how much critical infrastructure is an easy target. It's shocking.

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: I's the overal experience....

          "a chap in a white van, clip board and hiviz could cause more damage in regards fatalities and anarchy."

          Terrorism is about making a showy point. You're absolutely right that a subtle approach can cause far more damage, but the intention of a terrorist is to draw as much attention as possible to the cause he or she is promoting.

          Their attacks aren't usually thought through all that well in any case. The 7/7 bombers managed to disrupt at least 5 million people, shut down public transport and got everyone moving on foot, but had they used a single car bomb as well, the entire city would have been in complete panic. It was the scenario that was running through my mind whilst (unsucessfully) telling the gf to stay put and get the hell off the streets. I'm quite sure it's the disaster scenario that was running through the minds of the police and security services as well.

  11. Toilet Duk

    Flew from UK to Hong Kong recently, much preferred the Boeing 777 UK to Dubai to the A380 Dubai to HK. It just seemed more comfortable, roomy, quieter and easier to sleep in.

  12. ChrisC

    "Boeing will soon just-about-match its capacity with the 777x"

    I'm not sure it will, if you're comparing like for like at least. From what I've read, the proposed capacity increases for the 777 are in a small part down to the fuselage stretch, but in a large part down to the assumption that cattle class will be configured in 3-4-3 form rather than the 3-3-3 typically seen on current 777s. And if you're an A380 operator with similarly little regard for the comfort levels of your cattle class passengers, then a reconfigured 380 will "comfortably" exceed the capacity of even the most densely packed 777...

    So it's all well and good Boeing and its fans promoting these larger 777 variants as "jumbo killers", but as long as this claim is based solely on the number of passengers being carried without any reference to the relative levels of comfort said passengers will be provided with, then it's a rather dubious claim to be making. In its current forms, I actually really like the 777 as a longhaul airliner, but I can't say I'd be quite so enthusiastic about getting onboard one that featured a higher density seating plan unless it was for just a short hop of up to 2-3 hours at most (or unless I was flying something other than cattle class).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have been in an 777 with 3-4-3 configuration. It's hell. So narrow, so long, so low. So little room everywhere. The restrooms are on the outside with a blank window (nice) but so small and so low - only smaller asian people fit in those small restrooms. The 777 is also quite loud and aged badly.

      The A380 is very modern and no annoying noise. And so much space even in cattle class. Only US-fanboys would say the 777 is better than the A380.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      " if you're an A380 operator with similarly little regard for the comfort levels of your cattle class passengers, then a reconfigured 380 will "comfortably" exceed the capacity of even the most densely packed 777..."

      There's one factor discouraging that for an A380 operator: Freight capacity.

      At full passenger load the A380 only has space for 7 freight pallets below decks thanks to their luggage (vs ~30 on a 777), but can carry twice the cargo mass of that same 777, for ~2000 more miles.

      Freight is more valuable than people, so it makes sense to reduce passenger density upstairs to free up pallet space below. The resulting extra cabin space is a good sales tool and you can even package some of it up as "halo" class - bump some lucky stiff into it each flight for good PR and make money hand over fist when someone is rich and silly enough to actually pay for it.

      Of course if you're an A380 operator that doesn't do much freight (BA, Air France) then using this aircraft is nonsensical and you need to run 75%+ loading to keep it profitable.

    3. Dabbb Bronze badge

      "but in a large part down to the assumption that cattle class will be configured in 3-4-3 form rather than the 3-3-3 typically seen on current 777s"

      3-4-3 is the most common seat configuration used on 777, 3-3-3 is a rarity. 777X won't change main tube diameter but will make it longer and will have composite wings with foldable up wing tips.

      1. ChrisC

        3-4-3 is the most common seat configuration used on 777, 3-3-3 is a rarity."

        Ah, I guess things now have changed for the worse here since I was last winging around the globe on triple sevens - it's now been a couple of years since my last such flight, but back then 3-3-3 still seemed to be the norm for the carriers I was using or potentially could have been using.

  13. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

    Only 2007?

    We had an office in Bavaria and around 2005/6, I recall looking up and seeing an A380 for the first time, doing circuits and bumps at the nearby airport, Oberpfaffenhofen. St Douglas Adams immediately sprang to mind, as the huge A380 hung there the way bricks don't.

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