back to article Airbus to build plane that's even uglier than the A380

The A380 may be able to haul hundreds of people across oceans and continents in considerable comfort, but aerosexuals* find it hard to love on aesthetic grounds. And now Airbus has signalled it intends to make even uglier planes next year. You'll need to be a very dedicated aviation enthusiast to see the new ugly birds, …

  1. wolfetone Silver badge

    It looks a bit interesting, but it's got nothing on the sexualness of the Antonov An-225. It's a very manly looking plane.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - sexiest plane EVER.

      1. Esme

        I disagree - the Me262 has never been beaten in the looks department, IMHO

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Black Helicopters

          Spitfire FTW, IMHO

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            The A380 is not ugly!

            I used to see them often near Hounslow. They have the proportions of a Fisher Price toy, and seem to just float in mid air.

            1. Simon Harris Silver badge

              Re: The A380 is not ugly!

              "They have the proportions of a Fisher Price toy, and seem to just float in mid air."

              Presumably in much the same way that bricks don't ?

              1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: The A380 is not ugly!

                > Presumably in much the same way that bricks don't ?

                Bricks do float. Just for a very, very brief time period and in an averagely-downward direction..

                1. Gary Bickford

                  Re: The A380 is not ugly!

                  Bricks can fly, it all depends the the size of the engine!

              2. oldcoder

                Re: The A380 is not ugly!

                Liked the Air Force museum at Dayton...

                I took my wife by to see some fantastic aircraft, and got her positioned at the B36 single tire feature (the tire was on its side).

                She asked me where the tire was - and I said "Behind you". Still didn't see the tire... Until she saw the placard well around to her right.

                She had thought the tire was a curved wall, and the almost 7' width of the tire prevented her from seeing it... She was all of 5' 1.

                Too bad it is counted as a minor display, but it is the largest tire ever made for an aircraft (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_B-36_Peacemaker)

              3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: The A380 is not ugly!

                "Presumably in much the same way that bricks don't ?"

                The A380 is quieter than a non-floating brick. It's spooky to watch them.

                Compared to everything else coming out of Heathrow they're like a hole in the wall of sound.

              4. This post has been deleted by its author

              5. Potemkine Silver badge

                Re: The A380 is not ugly!

                Presumably in much the same way that bricks don't ?

                Bricks fly if enough thrust is provided, look at F-4 for instance.

              6. This post has been deleted by its author

            2. Steve 114

              Re: The A380 is not ugly!

              Floaty McFloatface?

            3. Graham Triggs

              Re: The A380 is not ugly!

              I agree that the A380 isn't "ugly". In reality, everything follows the lines of most planes today. It just looks unfeasibly large.

              Other than the sheer size, the one thing that really stands out is the positioning and size of the cockpit windows - which looks so out of proportion in comparison to other planes.

              It's a little odd, but mostly I'm just impressed by it's sheer size. I'm far more excited about seeing one, than any other plane. And if anything, it's made the 747 look ugly - because really, that always was a rather ugly plane, but you forgave it for it's sheer size compared to everything else.

              Although the best way to see an A380 is when it is just starting it's final approach over London - is it a normal plane that is scarily close, or a very big plane that is still far away?

          2. Bowlers

            Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

            The TSR2 did it for me. I was in the RAF when the labour goverment cancelled it, changed my voting habits for decades afterwards.

            1. Steve 114

              Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

              Got the TSR2 tie. But colleagues who'd worked closer on it got given the tie with the red diagonal through it. Must be a collectible now. Today chaps won't even wear ties - truly the end of an era.

              1. James Hughes 1

                Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

                FFS, best looking plane ever is clearly the DH Mosquito. Are you all blind?

                1. Pete4000uk

                  Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

                  Concorde. She was the queen of the sky

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

                    Indeed, Concorde was a beauty. (I was employed across the way from YYZ when Corcorde took her final tour. She took off in a very short distance away from us and rattled our office windows but left bittersweet smiles on everyone's face.)

                  2. aqk
                    Coat

                    Re: Ugly, beautyful or fallacious

                    Queen of the sky?- the Concorde fallacy.

                    1. jumpyjoe

                      Re: Ugly, beautyful or fallacious

                      For me the most beautiful aeroplane will always be the Hawker Hunter.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Hunter

                2. bazza Silver badge

                  Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

                  "FFS, best looking plane ever is clearly the DH Mosquito. Are you all blind?"

                  Yes, thank you, that. Definitely the DH Mosquito.

                  Closely followed by Concorde, Spitfire, A12/SR71, EE Lightning. And inexplicably the Sunderland Flying Boat does things for me too.

                  Though nothing shows true mastery of air quite so explicitly as an F117. Making something that clearly shouldn't fly fly was really impressive, especially for the comparatively tiny amount of money they spent doing it.

                  1. Esme

                    Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

                    If we're talking flying boats, then I'm sorry, but the Catalina beats the Sunderland hands down in looks.

                    But the prop-powered aircraft I love most, I'd hesitate to call beautiful - the Handley Page HP42. I just want one. Sigh...

                3. Grumble
                  Facepalm

                  Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.

                  Yeah, but the vertical stabiliser always looked like a bit of an afterthought.

                4. Triggerfish

                  Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.@James Hughes 1

                  Have an upvote for mentioning the wooden wonder.

                  1. aqk
                    Alien

                    Re: Ugly, beautyful or purposeful.@James Hughes 1

                    You mean the Spruce Goose? Built by the guy that also designed Jane Russell's bra? This impressed him so much, he refused to cut his fingernails anymore!

          3. Chemical Bob

            Re: ME262, Spitfire

            P51

        2. TimeMaster T
          Coat

          well ...

          The ME262 does have a nice set of nacelles.

          1. RegGuy1

            The ME262 does have a nice set of nacelles.

            I bet he says that to all the girls.

      2. K Silver badge

        I'm torn between..

        I do love the XB-70, looks like somebody stole the blue print from Thunderbirds..

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_XB-70_Valkyrie

        I'm doing a US road trip with the missus later this year, and I'm trying to find some excuse to stop over in Ohio to see it lol..

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. JLV Silver badge

            Re: I'm torn between..

            Might I also recommend the Museum of Flight and/or the factory tour @ Boeing when in Seattle?

            (no great stress if one gets the wrong exit either)

            1. John 104

              Re: I'm torn between..

              And hit Paul Allens museum while you are at it.

              Haven't been to Evergreen in OR for a while, but they had a stellar display collection last time I was there.

              Oh, and F4 Phantom FTW for modern.

              P40 for old school. Not the best performer but just so cool looking.

              1. bob, mon!
                Trollface

                "Oh, and F4 Phantom FTW for modern."

                "The triumph of thrust over aerodynamics."

                1. zen1

                  Re: "Oh, and F4 Phantom FTW for modern."

                  Thrust over aerodynamics prize has to go to the f-104...

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: "Thrust over aerodynamics prize has to go to the f-104..."

                    104s are gorgeous. Regarding their aerodynamics, my pop was a test pilot at Lockheed during the F-104 program and told me that none of the pilots ever referred to is as a "missile with a man in it". He did hear it described as having "the glide ratio of an anvil strapped to a manhole cover", though, and did not have fond memories of the only time he flew it as a glider, flamed out and refusing to restart.

                    Living near Seattle, I see Boeing's beluga-like modified 747 on occasion. I don't doubt that a similarly modified A380 will be at least as ugly.

                  2. Gary Bickford

                    Re: "Oh, and F4 Phantom FTW for modern."

                    F-104 Starfighter - I recall that the only "airplane" with a worse glide ratio was the Space Shuttle. Was it 1:3? I recall that they used starfighters with wheels down as escorts on early landings of the shuttle. It was the only plane that could fly both fast enough and badly enough to stay with it.

        2. Ol'Peculier

          Re: I'm torn between..

          Damn it... I have friends in Cincinnati who I stayed with a couple of years ago, Dayton is only about 50 miles from there. In fact, I drove past it coming down from Chicago.

        3. PhilipN Silver badge

          XB-70

          Blimey! How do you "drop" bombs at Mach 3+ ?

          1. lglethal Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: XB-70

            <quote>Blimey! How do you "drop" bombs at Mach 3+ ?</quote>

            Very, very carefully...

            1. aqk
              Mushroom

              Re: XB-70

              Let me correct that for you-

              Very, very quickly...

          2. Chemical Bob

            Re: XB-70

            "Blimey! How do you "drop" bombs at Mach 3+ ?"

            quickly

          3. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: XB-70

            "Blimey! How do you "drop" bombs at Mach 3+ ?"

            You can't. They hit the slipstream and get forced back into the bomb bay.

            SR71s were originally designed as bombers and redesignated to observation planes when this phenomenon was discovered. By that point ICBMs had made supersonic strike bombers unnecessary so no R&D was put into solving the problem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_SR-71_Blackbird#SR-71

          4. dmacleo

            Re: XB-70

            very speedily...

          5. This post has been deleted by its author

          6. ravenviz

            Re: XB-70

            You shoot them out backwards at Mach 3!

        4. Mark 85 Silver badge

          @K - Re: I'm torn between..

          See the SR-71 also then... as well as everything else. The museum is well worth the trip.

        5. zen1

          Re: I'm torn between..

          Whenever I visit my relatives in Dayton, I ALWAYS stop by Wright-Patt, to see the xb-70. I'm torn between it and the SR-71, but I remember sitting on the front tire of the 70, when they still parked it outside. Man that was humbling! Not as big as the Antonov but still a large aircraft, and I struggle to imagine that thing flying at speed and can't imagine what it would be like to fly in such an amazing plane.

      3. The First Dave Silver badge

        "Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - sexiest plane EVER."

        Not a patch on a Vulcan at full scream.

        1. BoldMan

          I give you the English Electric Lightning... sex with wings!!! :)

          1. Not That Andrew

            Re: English Electric Lightning

            English Electric Lightning? Surely you mean brick with wings?

            It's one of my favourite aircraft, but it's a testament to the principle that with enough power you can make anything fly.

          2. The First Dave Silver badge

            "EE Lightning"

            So sexy, it clearly already has a bun in the oven.

          3. Potemkine Silver badge

            "English Electric Lightning."

            One of the ugliest plane ever.

        2. Chemical Bob

          Re: Not a patch on a Vulcan at full scream.

          I know you're talking about the airplane but I still got a mental picture of Spock with a ghost pepper up his exit ramp.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Happy

            Re: Not a patch on a Vulcan at full scream.

            "I know you're talking about the airplane but I still got a mental picture of Spock with a ghost pepper up his exit ramp."

            The fact you wrote "airplane" instead of "aeroplane" tells me why you thought that :-)

        3. el_oscuro

          SR-71

          Saw one of those bad boys up close in Palmdale when I was 6. Prettiest. Plane. Ever. I think the flared cobra shape helped reduce the radar cross section to that of a small bird.

          1. circuitguy

            Re: SR-71

            SR-71 nose was more for stabilization and some lift at extreme altitude. at 3+mach speeds at 80k+ ft, air density varies a lot quicker, the nose helps "lift" and spread the shock wave created from re-entering denser air, think of it like boat breaking thru short high waves......

      4. Vic

        Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - sexiest plane EVER.

        Bit shit for carrying large cargo loads, though...

        Vic.

      5. Tigra 07 Silver badge

        RE: allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        "Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird - sexiest plane EVER."

        Didn't the X-Men have one of those?

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Bah. The manliest plane is the XP-82 "Twin Mustang". Perfect for rugged individuals who come in pairs.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meanwhile....

    The heads of various low cost airlines are salivating at the thought of packing 1000+ plebs into one of these and sending them off on their holidays.

    Standing room only, no windows or loos. What is there not to like about it?

    Only needs three crew and one runway slot at each end. V. cheap to operate.

    Only need one flight a day to the costas.

    1. Sampler

      Re: Meanwhile....

      If you could safely sedate people without side effects/complications I always thought that would be the best way to fly long haul.

      Turn up at airport, check bags in, get put to sleep, wake up in receivers lounge, customs, bag collection (which've been unloaded before you wake).

      Goodbye queues, waiting to sit down, sitting down for hours, more queues - plus, not much worry on terrorists if everyone's asleep, cut down cost of cabin crew, stack people in three/four high strapped into beds.

      Certainly make my return trips home to the UK from Australia better than spending a day flying and queuing...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Need enough cabin crew to shove self-loading-cargo out the doors

        Anecdotally that's what stops Ryanair from squeezing a few more seats in: They'd then need another trolley-dolly to help hurl SLC out in an emergency. Remove those pesky safety requirements and you can stack them like firewood...

      2. Haku

        Re: Meanwhile....

        Sampler, have you recently been watching The Fifth Element?

        Multipass!

      3. JetSetJim Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: Meanwhile....

        > Turn up at airport, check bags in, get put to sleep, wake up in receivers lounge, customs, bag collection (which've been unloaded before you wake).

        Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

        1. MrXavia

          Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

          I wouldn't trust the TSA any time, they have somehow managed to ensure every suitcase can be opened without needing to break it by enforcing special keys!

          You cannot buy a decent hard case without a TSA lock, so if your travelling to anywhere that isn't the USA, expect your bag to be rummaged through and anything even partially valuable stolen.

          I have hard cases over 10 years old, they are very tough, I've seen evidence that someone tried to get in, but never has anyone opened them... The few times security wanted to look inside, they asked me to come open them...

          1. toughluck

            Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

            I flew to the US (FRA-EWR, EWR-DEN and DEN-FRA) last November and out just before Thanksgiving. It was during the elevated terrorism alert just after the attacks in Paris.

            It was my first flight to the USA.

            Either people working for TSA are meticulous and pedantic to a fault and managed to pack my bag exactly as I did, or they have not opened my bag. And I haven't even locked the bag in any way -- just tied a shoelace between the two zippers so that they don't accidentally open, but nothing else.

            Am I missing something?

            1. lglethal Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

              Its the good ol' "If he needs a lock on his case, he must be a terrorist! So we better check it out to make sure there's nothing inside! For evidence of course. *cough* What's that? No lock on that suitcase, nah, cant have anything valuable in it, leave it alone."

            2. Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip

              Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

              @ Toughluck. You were probably only missing having something dodgy looking in your bag. Just like hand luggage, check in baggage is X rayed and only opened and checked manually if the X ray check suggest further investigation is required. Often its the delay caused by manual checking that results in bags not making it on to the flight and only turning up days later. So if you want hassle free travel don't pack anything unusual in your check in bags, and always put a change of clothes and anything else essential in you hand luggage.

              1. toughluck

                Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

                @Message From A Self-Destructing Turnip: Really? I was led to believe that TSA are checking each and every bag for the fun of it; because they love inconveniencing people; because they are pervy and looking for stuff to get off on or because they are jerks in general.

                And you mean to tell me they're normal people that are just doing their jobs?

                Unthinkable!!!!111ELEVENTYONE

              2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

                Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

                > and always put a change of clothes and anything else essential in you hand luggage.

                Even in the old pre-9/11 days I did that (well, clean underwear, spare contact lenses & fluids and spare medication).

                As well as a couple of good novels.

              3. Alan Brown Silver badge

                Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

                "Just like hand luggage, check in baggage is X rayed and only opened and checked manually if the X ray check suggest further investigation is required"

                Anecdotes from people within airports suggest that xrays showing "interesting" (and expensive) electronics are most likely to be targetted for "inspection".

                More worryingly, TSA agents are routinely being busted for stealing from luggage AND SMUGGLING THE STOLEN GOODS OUT. Here's a big hint: If security allows that to happen then it's probably just as easy to smuggle things in.

              4. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Would you trust TSA (and other counterparts) while you're asleep?

            A bit of epoxy in the TSA lock would stop that.

            Then they'd destroy the case just because they could.

      4. sandman

        Re: Meanwhile....

        Hmmm, I've often sedated myself FOR the flight (particularly when some airlines used to provide free booze non-stop) but would like to be awake to ensure I got to the right destination. It's bad enough when your baggage ends up in Banff...

        1. Ol'Peculier

          Re: Meanwhile....

          (particularly when some airlines used to provide free booze non-stop)

          Some still do, I was on a BA flight to Montreal last year when we cleaned them out of gin. Had to revert to Jack Daniels, the hardship!

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: Meanwhile....

            > Had to revert to Jack Daniels,

            Eww. As a wise man once said, the reason it's called sippin' whiskey is that only a fool would take more than a sip..

            (My favourite tipple [other than red wine] is Chapter 7 from The English Whisky Company. Really, really nice).

      5. Dan McIntyre

        Re: Meanwhile....

        Would also make my fear of flying irrelevant. I would be able to see more of the world.

      6. macjules Silver badge

        Re: Meanwhile....

        Not forgetting that Michael O'Leary could then achieve his RyanAir dream of stacking passengers on top of each other like a woodpile.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    The A380 isn't ugly

    NFT

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: The A380 isn't ugly

      A 380 turning flying low on approach around LHR is a pretty awesome site. I think large aircraft are more about spectacular than prettiness. Airbus 380 in flight is spectacular, hundreds of tons of metal at 200 knots, 2000 feet above the ground, masses of energy and engineering premier league awesomeness. I stop what I'm doing and watch them.

      Though I think I'd stop and watch if I saw this Beluga thing too.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: The A380 isn't ugly

        Toulouse is the place to go to see Beluga's, always a couple of them around when you land.

        It's also where I saw my first A380 and I must agree with you it really is quite spectacular to see them take off or land: enormous but graceful.

        1. TeeCee Gold badge

          Re: The A380 isn't ugly

          Just as spectacular from the inside as well. I was upper deck, over the wing when I got on in Dubai and I recall looking out across an aluminium peninsular and thinking: "Bloody hell! Is that really one of our engines all the way over there?".

          Some hours later, waking up to sunlight, it was like being in a cathedral in the sky. The word "enormous" seemed inadequate.

          Rating: 10/10 - would fly on bloody huge plane again.

          1. bazza Silver badge

            Re: The A380 isn't ugly

            @TeeCee,

            "Just as spectacular from the inside as well. I was upper deck, over the wing when I got on in Dubai and I recall looking out across an aluminium peninsular and thinking: "Bloody hell! Is that really one of our engines all the way over there?"."

            In a way this is going to guarantee that the A380 will be a long term commercial success for Airbus. Airlines such as Emirates are operating them, making good money, and have built up a very loyal customer base on the back of the A380's pleasantness (and probably the A350 will too, which is reportedly just as quiet).

            My reasoning is this. If you're Emirates, and you've worked out that a lot of your profit is coming from A380 operations, and your current fleet is getting too old, what you going to do? Boeing have nothing anywhere near big enough to replace it, and laying on extra flights of smaller aircraft is not going to be as cost effective (landing costs, staff costs, maintenance costs, etc). So it'd be another A380.

            We'll know for sure if Airbus ever say that the production line is closing; that might spur a lot of last minute orders all of a sudden as airlines evaluate what the replacement for their A380s might otherwise be.

            1. anothercynic Silver badge

              Re: The A380 isn't ugly

              That's why Emirates is trying to persuade Airbus to look at an A380 NEO.

          2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: The A380 isn't ugly

            Rating: 10/10 - would fly on bloody huge plane again.

            Just don't pick the BA versions. Economy seats that make church pews seem confortable, only 2 hours into a 10 hour flight and my backside was already numb. Crappy fixed headrests that don't give you any neck support, but get in the way of the pillow anyway. And then you arrive at immigration with 400 grumpy jetlagged people in front of you. Give me small point-to-point planes over giant hub&spoke whales any time.

        2. david bates

          Re: The A380 isn't ugly

          Or Broughton...

          You see them coming over Chester humping wings about the place. Its quite awe inspiring.

          1. pPPPP

            Re: The A380 isn't ugly

            Agree they are pleasant places to be inside. They're a lot quieter than older aircraft, at least when you're inside one, especially upstairs. Not so sure about outside: I'm a few miles from Heathrow and they're still quite loud.

  4. lglethal Silver badge
    Holmes

    Turn one into a passenger aircraft

    Having the whole front section of the aircraft just lift up would certainly make getting off the aircraft a s*ite lot easier! No need for one at a time disembarking then!

    1. Muscleguy Silver badge

      Re: Turn one into a passenger aircraft

      Except the narrow aisles between the seats would still be there, wouldn’t they?

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Turn one into a passenger aircraft

      "Having the whole front section of the aircraft just lift up "

      Would be a bit of a problem if that section happened to be pressurised - and somewhat of a problem in flight if it wasn't although the passengers would be quiet at any rate. (Clue: It isn't)

      The AN225 is the only aircraft with a huge _pressurised_ cargo bay and if you could perfect a rapid pod (un)loader for it, it might fit the bill :)

      1. dmacleo

        Re: Turn one into a passenger aircraft

        C5 bay is pressurized and air conditioned. it can be used to transport troops although (iirc) not used for that often.

  5. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Re: aerosexuals

    Didn't know that, thank you El Reg! One of my friends is a planespotter and he works for Airbus at Hamburg Finkenwerder, so, once again thanks! ^-^

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: aerosexuals

      Before I read the footnote I assumed that this referred to members of the mile high club.

      1. Pedigree-Pete
        Pint

        Re: aerosexuals

        Shirley should be "aerophile" like Anglophile and Francophile but definitely NOT like paedophile. PP

        icon 'cause it's Fridayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.

  6. Unep Eurobats

    A380 ugly?

    Heresy to aerosexuals, I'm sure, but they're all just big tubes with wings, right? On the ground the A380s are clearly much bigger, but in the air they're fairly indistinguishable from any large passenger plane that isn't a 747.

    They are significantly quieter than some, though. And the more capacious they get the less need there is for a third runway at Heathrow. (Disclaimer: blatant NIMBY.)

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: A380 ugly?

      Sadly the carriers (well most of them) want to operate smaller aircraft more frequently. gone are the days of one flight per day to popular destinations. 3,4 or even 5 are the norm. These all require airport space. viz,

      runway slots

      Apron space

      Gate/airbridge/bussing

      Checkin desks

      Departure holding areas

      etc

      etc

      with larger aircraft (up to a point) then a two runway EGLL would work. Perhaps they could try using the same runway for two A319/737's to take off at the same time. One from the very end, and one from halfway down.

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Facepalm

        Re: A380 ugly?

        There is a very obvious problem with Boeing's "Hub and spoke is sooo over" strategy that led to the 787.

        You try working out how many flights are required to go point-to-point from everywhere to everywhere else. There's a very good reason why commercial aviation went hub and spoke in the first place (even when all planes were small ones).

        Apparently Boeing still wonder why the 380 sells, having done all the research to prove that big aircraft were dead before Airbus even started the 380 project. All this shows is that you can prove black is white in a business case........

        1. ssharwood

          Re: A380 ugly?

          I gather the the thing that really ticks Boeing off about the 380 is that the 777 has it covered on seat capacity. Yes the 380 can do more high yield seats - Biz class - but the 777's operating costs are lower and its ETOPS rating means there are almost no routes it can't match. SYD-LAX is flown by 777s every day.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: A380 ugly?

            "the 777's operating costs are lower and its ETOPS rating means there are almost no routes it can't match."

            There's not much money to be made in PAX transport, which is why so many non-state airlines have gone titsup in the last couple of decades and had to be bailed out.

            By the time you load all the passengers into a 777 there's not a lot of load capacity (mass, not space) left for revenue cargo when you're running long haul flights. It's essentially a passenger-optimised aircraft - big but can't carry much mass.

            On the other hand an A380 has slightly less space available under the floor but it can carry more revenue cargo mass than a 777 on shorthaul duty over a greater distance than a longhaul 777 can - and air transport cargo is charged per kilo, not per container so this trick is profitable. The Higher ops costs are offset by more PAX income _and_ more cargo revenue.

            (Apparently BA have tweaked their A380s to carry even more cargo mass. Probably something to do with those nasty lightweight seats)

            The A380 has a couple of other tricks up its design sleeve - the wing seems oversized for the body because it is. Fuselage plugs can be dropped in whenever there's a demand for a -900 model, or the loading capacity can be used for a freighter if there's ever demand for such an item in future (with cheap fuel and lots of end-of-passenger-life aircraft being sold off at knockdown prices there's not much demand but it wouldn't take much of an uptick in oil pricing to change that equation, given the fuel consumption of the older planes).

            Conversion to NEO was pretty much thought about from the outset and it's one of the few aircraft which have standardised interfaces on the wing pylon, meaning you can hang certfied engines form any maker without substantially rewiring the system (not that you would run RR + EA engines on the same wing or aircraft, but it's supposedly possible)

            The end result _should_ be (best laid plans of mice&men and all that) that if there's enough demand to justify making a -900, or a freighter or NEO engines then it can happen fairly quickly.

            I can't see Airbus shutting down the line even if production dipped to a half dozen airframes per year. It makes enough from the smaller ones to keep its halo project going. (State subsidy disputes are all about marketing. Boeing and Airbus are both about equally in the trough so any "victory" tends to be phyrric)

    2. Simon Sharwood, Reg APAC Editor (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: A380 ugly?

      I've lived under the flightpath for 16R in Sydney for 10 years now and never tire of seeing aircraft go past. The A380 looks like a 6-year-old's lumpen plasticine failure. It's nicely quiet on landing but rather strident on takeoff. The few 747s still in use are far louder. The 777 is splendidly quiet. The more new-gen aircraft come into service the easier it is to live here.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: A380 ugly?

        @Simon Sharwood, Is the noise not more about the number of engines, type and generation than the plane. Some sound competition in that field too, luckily. A bit fugly but not ugly.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: A380 ugly?

          @Lars,

          "Is the noise not more about the number of engines, type and generation than the plane."

          I'll try and beat Simon to it!

          On take off noise is all about engines.

          On landing it's also significantly about the sound the air makes through the speed brakes, flaps, etc. as the aircraft tries to slow down. It'd still be bloody noisy even if the engines were off.

          A lot of work has gone into quietening down airframes in landing configuration (flaps down, slats out, gear out) to help this, as well as making quiet engines.

          1. ssharwood

            Re: A380 ugly?

            Agreed. A 737 with winglets is noisier on descent than a 747 or 380. I'm about 4km from the runway so have literally tens of thousands of experiences in this regard.

    3. hplasm Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: A380 ugly?

      That 'Beluga' pic would look better with a number '2' on the tails- and a dark green with yellow piping paintjob.

      Mine has the keys to Fab 1 in it...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Question

    Do any other large aircraft manufacturers need to transport bulky parts around on special planes, or is this uniquely an Airbus thing?

    1. ZiggyZiggy
      Go

      Re: Question

      Boeing 747 Dreamlifter

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Question

      Check out the Super-Guppy and the Boeing DreamLifter.

    3. captain veg

      Re: Question

      Airbus is an international consortium with various bits being constructed in various different European countries (e.g. wings at Filton). Makes you wonder how they put the Belugas together in the first place.

      -A.

    4. MonkeyCee Silver badge

      Re: Question

      My understanding is that a many of the huge Antonov's are used for shipping wings and engines around the place.

      That and various other things that are big, expensive and not suitable to be stuck on a boat.

      1. Mooseman Bronze badge

        Re: Question

        I remember watching a generator being loaded on to an Antonov when I worked for DHL - a team of forklifts and the onboard crane hauling it in slowly. We took bets on whether the thing would get off the runway; full throttle and ALL of the runway later it sort of staggered in to the air. Brilliant.

  8. Bruce Hoult

    Love the A380

    "carriers (well most of them) want to operate smaller aircraft more frequently. gone are the days of one flight per day to popular destinations"

    I'm not so sure about that.

    Here's a shot of the departures board in Auckland airport last Saturday while I was waiting to board EK413: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Ci4oS5CUUAAOQU3.jpg

    Not one, but three A380 flights departing from the same far-flung small city to Dubai within a 45 minute period, one each via Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane.

    My flight was, I guess, about 90% - 95% full on both the Auckland to Sydney and Sydney to Dubai legs.

    I don't dispute that the A380 is ugly, but there is nothing else that I'd be prepared to spend a total of about 18 hours in. The economy class seats are the biggest and most comfortable in the sky. The competitors (and alternative Emirates flights too) B777s have the most cramped seats in the sky -- Boeing designed it for 3-3-3 seating but the airlines forced them to squeeze in 3-4-3. As a result, 777 seating is WORSE than what you have in B737 or A320 for puddle jumper flights.

    Note: I haven't yet encountered a B787. I believe the environmental conditions are similar to the A380 -- quieter, slower decompresion and recompression, and higher humidity than previous planes. I don't know about the seats.

    1. Dale 3

      Re: Love the A380

      Virgin now operate the B787 London to South Africa, and the environmental conditions are just as you say, significantly quieter inside, higher humidity and generally a more comfortable atmosphere. Also, the onboard entertainment screens are vastly improved - more of an Ipad experience than what used to be reminiscent of watching a VHS tape on EP. (You still have to fast forward through Richard Branson's tedious waffle at the start of every programme.)

    2. Chris Miller

      @Bruce

      It's mainly Emirates that try to squeeze 3-4-3 into a 777, most carriers stick with 3-3-3. ANZ have a great facility whereby you can book a block of 3 economy seats and turn them into a Skycouch. Cheaper and better than Premium Economy on most airlines.

      1. Bruce Hoult

        Re: @Bruce

        "It's mainly Emirates that try to squeeze 3-4-3 into a 777, most carriers stick with 3-3-3."

        That seems to be contradicted by ...

        http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Air_New_Zealand/Air_New_Zealand_Boeing_777-200_NL.php

        ... and ...

        http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Air_New_Zealand/Air_New_Zealand_Boeing_777-300.php

        ... both of which show 3-4-3 in Air NZ 777-200ER and 777-300 with 17.1 width and 32-33 pitch.

        True, the older 777-200ER V1 shows 3-3-3, with 17.8 width. I don't believe any of those remain in service?

        By contrast, Emirates A380 has 18.0 seat width in economy in 3-class config. For comparison A320/321 I've flown recently include Jetstar (17.8 or 17.9) and Aeroflot (18.0).

        1. Vic

          Re: @Bruce

          That seems to be contradicted by ...

          http://www.seatguru.com/airlines/Air_New_Zealand/Air_New_Zealand_Boeing_777-200_NL.php

          Although slightly old now, there's an interesting diagram of the Delta seat layout available. I suspect other airlines will be quick to copy that.

          Vic.

      2. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: @Bruce

        SkyCouch is only available on outside rows. ANZ runs 3-4-3, but with narrower aisles. Their seating doesn't feel cramped, but it is not quite in Emirates comfort terrain. ANZ beats many airlines in service though.

      3. Z80

        Re: @Bruce

        KLM and Air France do 3-4-3 on 777s.

    3. Allonymous Coward

      Re: Love the A380

      > 777 seating is WORSE than what you have in B737 or A320 for puddle jumper flights

      Having recently flown a 737 across the Tasman to connect with two 777 legs to Manchester via Singapore, I have to say I found the 737 seating to be far worse.

      Perhaps this was down to the difference between Virgin Australia (who I will never fly with again) and Singapore Airlines though.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Love the A380

      "and higher humidity than previous planes."

      Apparently, you can thank the carbon fibre body for the higher humidity. And the higher ambient pressure too. Both are results of not using aluminium. Carbon fibre is stronger so supports the higher pressure and not susceptible to corrosion from the humid air so no need to dehumidify to such uncomfortable levels.

  9. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    Hyper Beluga

    It would be interesting if Airbus did a Beluga design based on an Airbus 380 - how large a cargo could you get in such a plane?

    1. ashdav

      Re: Hyper Beluga

      You could get the wings of the A380 in it for a start.

      However the main restriction to a plane this size is the runways of the Airbus factories.

      Hamburg and Toulouse handle the A380 already and most are in open countryside so could be extended.

      The fly in the ointment is Broughton where the runway is bounded by a main road at one end and a railway at the other. It's also quite narrow.

      These planes, although big, don't carry much weight so only need 2 engines.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Hyper Beluga

        "The fly in the ointment is Broughton where the runway is bounded by a main road at one end and a railway at the other. It's also quite narrow."

        It's entirely possible to have a runway with a railway crossing. Broughton isn't exactly busy and trains don't run every 5 minutes on that line.

        http://www.amusingplanet.com/2013/08/gisborne-airport-runway-with-railway.html

        Yes, I've landed and taken off from there.

        As for width: It's wide enough to do the job - and it can be widened.

        1. ashdav

          Re: Hyper Beluga

          @Alan Brown

          Agree with your comments.

          The only way that I can see Broughton being extended is to the north as it's flat farm land there and the terrain to the south is rising (it's a real buzz sitting in Wood Lane when a Beluga comes in from the south!).

  10. Darth.0

    I'm not an animal...

    I'm an Airbus.

  11. A K Stiles

    380 v 777

    I had the fortune to spend some time last year travelling between the UK and AUS via Dubai with Emirates.

    Some of the legs were on A380s and some were on 777s - far and away happier with the Airbus than the Boeing - Even the cabin crew seemed happier on the airbus, although that's only from my observation, not a first hand account.

  12. Colin Ritchie
    Windows

    Impressive

    I think land based planes may have finally beaten boatplanes for fugliness:

    http://i638.photobucket.com/albums/uu102/Doctor_Spock/Ekranoplane.jpg

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Impressive

      An Ekronoplane isn't really an aircraft since it can't "fly" above the "ground effect" limit.

      A novel idea, but with typical USSR "styling" :-)

      1. Colin Ritchie
        Windows

        Re: Impressive

        Indeed, it is classified as a ship by the International Maritime Organisation due to its maximum flying height being about 4 metres above water. A boatplane not a flying boat. The wings give a ground effect similar to a hovercraft but by a different method.

  13. Edwin

    A340?

    I wonder why A330 based - the A340 has a higher MTOW, which I think would be handy for freight...

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: A340?

      Perhaps they simply don't need all that weight lifting capacity.

      The A340 was simply an A330 with two extra engines and a longer fuselage. The A330 originally had exactly the same wing as the A340 (maybe still does), complete with hard points for the pylons for the A340's extra engines.

      This proved very useful when it came to turning the A330 into an in flight refuelling tanker for air forces. There was already somewhere to bolt the in-flight refuelling hose reels (for the non-boom variant). That made the conversion incredibly cheap and low risk.

  14. Bad Beaver

    Love ’em

    I have the privilege to see the Beluga almost every day and I never grow tired of it. Very impressive aircraft.

  15. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    A minor matter of zoology

    Beluga whales are far from ungainly, they are actually very graceful in motion, if not quite as acrobatic as dolphins (their distant cousins). Their vocalizations earned them the name "sea canaries"

    Regarding the sexiest plane ever? People have proposed some great contenders (XB70, TSR2, SR71, Vulcan, Spitfire and Me262 are all in the super-model category), but I do have a particular soft spot for the Wooden Wonder: the De Havilland Mosquito.

    1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: A minor matter of zoology

      The DH88 Comet racer was also a pretty good-looking aircraft. In fact pretty much all the de Havilland's of the inter-war years had a definite elegance about them. I'd nominate the DH88 Drafon Rapide as the best looking airliner of all time.

      And yes, Beluga Whales are indeed beautiful animals.

    2. aqk
      Pint

      Re: A minor matter of fish zoology

      Have you no affection for the Super Guppy?

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aero_Spacelines_Super_Guppy

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    See these fly inline with the m56 on it's flight path around Chester and into North Wales Hawarden Airport to collect wings from Broughton all the time, still a marvel to watch.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But can you talk to God on one?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdH2DGSXjss

    Listen to these two defending their right to private jets so they don't have to spend time on a "long tube filled with demons". Imagine how many demons you can fit on one of these!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: But can you talk to God on one?

      of course you can talk to whatever $DEITY you please. Whether he/she/they/it will listen, let alone answer is quite another matter

    2. Darth.0

      Re: But can you talk to God on one?

      >"long tube filled with demons"<

      I exorcise the demons in my long tube on the regular.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: But can you talk to God on one?

      "Listen to these two defending their right to private jets"

      Oh my, oh my! And these people not only belive what they say but manage convince people to donate to them too? I think I'm in the wrong business. Mind you, the one in the maroon shirt did admit they are in "show business". And they have actual conversations with god? With real words and stuff? As I understand it from conversations with real vicars/priests, the Catholic and Anglican version of god seem to "answer" by instilling a feeling or emotion to help guide. Not actual words like "do you like this plane". FFS!!! Maybe he was channelling Mr Learjet?

  18. Alistair Silver badge
    Pint

    Urph. in YYZ

    One of our approach lanes clears a Wendy's parking lot at just under 80'.

    Sunny days that Wendy's does spectacular business.

    I regularly run past that spot coming home from office. I've stopped quite a few times to sit and oogle the craft as the come in.

    A380 coming in over that spot is .... just ..... staggering, and apparently for more than a few folks outright terrifying.

    I was there when the russian giant came in -- that sucker *screams* even on landing.

    Would love to see one of these land here, but sadly that is not likely to ever happen.

    Its friday. Of a long weekend. Its a gorgeous day out there. And I will be partaking of deckbeer later today. Have one.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Urph. in YYZ

      "A380 coming in over that spot is .... just ..... staggering, and apparently for more than a few folks outright terrifying."

      Go sit at the end of the runway at Avarua.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSFJR9BkGEk

      skip to 2:50 for the fun part. It was more impressive when ANZ used 747-400s there. (you can count the rivets as they go over)

  19. W4YBO

    Stick a long pitot tube on the nose, and call it the Narwhal.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whales

    Sounds like aerosexuals have their subgenre preferences too...

  21. JLV Silver badge

    "Un bel avion est un avion qui vole bien" - Marcel Dassault

    Up until recently, I'd gone with Dassault's blurb that a beautiful plane makes for a good plane.

    Aesthetic abominations like the F117 have destroyed that faith however. In real life that thing looks like a low-budget prop for a bad scifi movie. Mind you, it did get retired rather quickly so maybe there is some truth left to this saying.

  22. AirbusUK

    Beluga Fans in Uproar Shocker

    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. If the Beluga could read, it would be really upset that you’ve called it ugly. As it happens it is far more capable in areas other than literacy.

    Look at the Beluga as the stork that brings the newborn. It works hard shuttling between Airbus’ European installations collecting wings, fuselage sections and tails which results in the “birth” of new aircraft. Note that storks may not be pretty to us, but then they probably think we’re a bit odd too.

    And it has quite a fan base too. Just this morning I was in Broughton in the UK (where Airbus makes its wings) chaperoning a TV crew filming the Beluga landing. They weren't there for that, but they just couldn't resist. Photos don’t do it justice.

    The new Beluga XL is due to start being built in 2017 and should enter service in 2019. It’s just as well, as Airbus has around 10 years’ worth of orders to fulfil and moving all those components around is going to take something sturdy and reliable. Beluga’s real beauty is the way it sustains all those jobs in Europe and beyond with an efficient transport network.

    As for the A380, it’s a magnificent sight watching this behemoth coming in to land, and if you get the chance to walk around the outside of one when it’s on the ground, you’ll see how awesome it really is.

    And having been on one UK-US last weekend, the effortless take off, quiet, smooth flight and the cavernous interior make it the vehicle of choice for long-haul passengers (aerosexuals included) all around the world. Who cares what it looks like? No wine is spilt. What’s not to like?

    Anyway, just had the Beluga on the phone. Someone has read your article to it and it still loves you, even if that love is unrequited….

    1. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Beluga Fans in Uproar Shocker

      While the French/British/German "popular" rhetoric sometimes sounds more than silly the industrial cooperation between Britain and the French and the Germans, the Concorde and Airbus, are fine examples of what can be achieved in the EU. The same with anything "space". Brexit is not a solution to anything of value. While the French and the Germans could do it alone the British will not, not alone. Perhaps with some more cooperation with the French some part of the submarines for Australia could have been built by the British. (perhaps there is something).

      PS. was there ever anything about that huge affair in the Reg. Or was it too French.

      And for those of you who love to sail a dingy have a look at this.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0s2-Ens_OH8

      Just kidding.

    2. ssharwood

      Re: Beluga Fans in Uproar Shocker

      Awoooga! Awoooga! PR alert!

      1. AirbusUK

        Re: Beluga Fans in Uproar Shocker

        Correct. Thank you for confirming that I am doing my job!

        1. Vic

          Re: Beluga Fans in Uproar Shocker

          Thank you for confirming that I am doing my job!

          You'd do it better if you arranged a few facility tours. There are quite a few plane geeks on here...

          Vic.

  23. Richard Scratcher

    Inspirational Rescue

    Paint it green with red engines, write a 2 on it and get a bloke called Virgil to fly it.

  24. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Angel

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IbAy2SFgII

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Air museums? Pah

    Go to the Udvar-Hazy center by IAD airport (Washington DC/Northern Virginia).

    1. It's free (parking is ~$15, but there is a free shuttle bus from the airport, which takes about 15 minutes)

    2. It has an SR-71A. Ooh!

    3. It has a space shuttle. Aah!

    4. It has the Enola Gay. OK, you had me at #1.

    And to think, this is the *extension* museum. Downtown in DC proper they have an embarrassment of riches: the Apollo 11 module, Russian SS-20 missiles, a Wright Flyer. It's an aerospace orgy.

  26. Andrew Peake

    The current Beluga flies over our house on its way in and out of the BAe factory in Broughton most days.

    I think it's a beautiful piece of engineering. Unfortunately I never have enough time to go and get a decent camera to take a picture.

  27. JJKing Silver badge

    It's ugly, it's bloated and it's French. Need I say more.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At least it's not called Depardieu.

  28. aqk
    WTF?

    Airbus got tired of their old Super Guppy?

    So they are going to jump from a pregnant guppy to a beluga?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aero_Spacelines_Super_Guppy

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Guppy

    Looks like a jet-powered guppy.

    The guppy had huge turboprop engines but was shaped that way to carry large long heavy round things.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Eagle v's Foxbat

    The one 12 rounder that we never saw! Hit the Deck and Burn baby Burn then watch the VCR rise to to the ceiling at supersonic....TopTrumps was always fun when these two meet.

  31. LisaJK

    A380 NOT ugly

    The A380 has one of the most beautifully curved wings of any airliner viewed directly from the front or rear.

    Admittedly the rest of the aircraft looks a bit disproportioned compared to the size of the cockpit windows, however, it is an aerial bus and is no uglier than any other airliner.

    In saying that it is ugly (when comparing with e.g. Spitfire, Blackbird, or whatever), is like saying that a bus is ugly compared to a Ferrari.

  32. WereWoof

    I give you the de Havilland Dragon Rapide. Absolutely gorgeous. Or for a jet, Vickers VC10.

  33. Milton Silver badge

    A380: not so ugly, and with hidden strengths

    The A380 isn't sleek, I grant you, but that's because the wing is bigger than it needs to be for the current model: it was sized for the expected lengthened version with fuselage inserts fore and aft of the wings. (I don't think they've built any of those yet?)

    Its future is in doubt, of course, as the industry shakes out the 'point-to-point' vs 'hub' approaches, and obviously the A380 is designed for hub. But one should bear in mind one obvious strength—it is a very comfortable plane to fly in, and passengers show a marked preference even over the excellent B777—and one less obvious asset: its size makes it exceptionally resilient in turbulence.

    When the A380 was being (controversially) designed, no one realised, so far as I'm aware, that climate change was rapidly spawning increased episodes and severity of turbulence. The smaller aircraft feel turbulence more, and are at greater risk from it.

    The A380 isn't immune, of course, but the dawning realisation that increased turbulence poses new threats may yet move the market back toward big aircraft. This would be a remarkable example of serendipity giving a plane a new lease of life.

  34. UncleZoot

    The author of this piece is very misinformed.

    Airbus didn't build the A300-600ST, a company working for them in Toulouse did. SOGERMA a assembly company that also does the aircraft interiors for Airbus did the assembly.

    I worked in the facility when the assembly was taking place.

  35. ssh_proxy

    A10 Warthog and SR71

    A10 Warthog and SR71 are for me the two most beautiful planes.

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