Skip to main content

Airbus will stop making the world’s biggest passenger plane

The Airbus A380-800
Maarten Visser/Flickr

Airbus has announced it will stop making the A380, the world’s largest passenger plane. The final one will roll off the production line in 2021.

Distinctive for its double-decker design and sheer enormity, the plane has proven popular with those who fly on it, but sadly not so popular with airlines that consider it pricey and now prefer smaller, more efficient aircraft built by both Airbus and Boeing.

The European aviation giant still has orders to fill, but not enough to justify long-term production.

The massive A380

The A380 has a wingspan of 80 meters (262 feet) and is 73 meters (239 feet) long. Depending on how an airline configures it, the aircraft can carry as many as 850 passengers, though most carriers fit it with a mixture of seat types, bringing the number down to just over 500.

Its large size means buyers can fit a range of facilities inside if they wish — think bars, duty-free stores, beauty salons, and the like. Etihad Airways puts entire apartments inside some of its A380 aircraft. The Residence, as Etihad calls the luxurious space, includes a bedroom, a lounge area, and an ensuite shower room.

When it comes to the A380, there’s one thing all passengers agree on (whether they’re in a seat or a luxury suite), and that’s just how little engine noise enters the cabin. An early story about the plane even had pilots complaining that the lack of engine noise prevented them from sleeping in the crew rest area because all they could hear were “crying babies, flushing toilets, and call bells.”

Shifting market

Airbus had bet on carriers acquiring the A380 for busy routes between major hubs, but the market shifted instead toward airlines preferring smaller, more economical planes to transport passengers around the world.

The manufacturer has so far delivered 234 of the super-jumbos, considerably fewer than the 1,200 it expected to sell when the plane launched with Singapore Airlines back in 2007. UAE-based Emirates has been the biggest buyer of the A380, but it recently slashed a new order from 162 to 123 aircraft, sounding the death knell for the plane.

Around 16 airlines fly the A380, among them British Airways, Lufthansa, and Qantas. No U.S. carrier uses the aircraft, though other airlines fly the plane to airports in Los Angeles, New York City, and Miami, among other U.S. cities.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders described the decision to end production of the plane as a “painful” one, adding, “We’ve invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources, and a lot of sweat into this aircraft.”

But he said the company needed to be realistic, explaining that “with the decision of Emirates to reduce orders, our order backlog is not sufficient to sustain production.”

Fans of the giant aircraft will be pleased to know that it won’t be disappearing from the skies anytime soon, as it’s expected to keep flying for many years after production ends in two years’ time.

Editors' Recommendations

Trevor Mogg
Contributing Editor
Not so many moons ago, Trevor moved from one tea-loving island nation that drives on the left (Britain) to another (Japan)…
Digital Trends’ Tech For Change CES 2023 Awards
Digital Trends CES 2023 Tech For Change Award Winners Feature

CES is more than just a neon-drenched show-and-tell session for the world’s biggest tech manufacturers. More and more, it’s also a place where companies showcase innovations that could truly make the world a better place — and at CES 2023, this type of tech was on full display. We saw everything from accessibility-minded PS5 controllers to pedal-powered smart desks. But of all the amazing innovations on display this year, these three impressed us the most:

Samsung's Relumino Mode
Across the globe, roughly 300 million people suffer from moderate to severe vision loss, and generally speaking, most TVs don’t take that into account. So in an effort to make television more accessible and enjoyable for those millions of people suffering from impaired vision, Samsung is adding a new picture mode to many of its new TVs.
[CES 2023] Relumino Mode: Innovation for every need | Samsung
Relumino Mode, as it’s called, works by adding a bunch of different visual filters to the picture simultaneously. Outlines of people and objects on screen are highlighted, the contrast and brightness of the overall picture are cranked up, and extra sharpness is applied to everything. The resulting video would likely look strange to people with normal vision, but for folks with low vision, it should look clearer and closer to "normal" than it otherwise would.
Excitingly, since Relumino Mode is ultimately just a clever software trick, this technology could theoretically be pushed out via a software update and installed on millions of existing Samsung TVs -- not just new and recently purchased ones.

Read more
AI turned Breaking Bad into an anime — and it’s terrifying
Split image of Breaking Bad anime characters.

These days, it seems like there's nothing AI programs can't do. Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, deepfakes have done digital "face-offs" with Hollywood celebrities in films and TV shows, VFX artists can de-age actors almost instantly, and ChatGPT has learned how to write big-budget screenplays in the blink of an eye. Pretty soon, AI will probably decide who wins at the Oscars.

Within the past year, AI has also been used to generate beautiful works of art in seconds, creating a viral new trend and causing a boon for fan artists everywhere. TikTok user @cyborgism recently broke the internet by posting a clip featuring many AI-generated pictures of Breaking Bad. The theme here is that the characters are depicted as anime characters straight out of the 1980s, and the result is concerning to say the least. Depending on your viewpoint, Breaking Bad AI (my unofficial name for it) shows how technology can either threaten the integrity of original works of art or nurture artistic expression.
What if AI created Breaking Bad as a 1980s anime?
Playing over Metro Boomin's rap remix of the famous "I am the one who knocks" monologue, the video features images of the cast that range from shockingly realistic to full-on exaggerated. The clip currently has over 65,000 likes on TikTok alone, and many other users have shared their thoughts on the art. One user wrote, "Regardless of the repercussions on the entertainment industry, I can't wait for AI to be advanced enough to animate the whole show like this."

Read more
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more