February 21, 2012

Airbus to offer higher-weight A380 from 2013

Airbus is to offer a higher-weight version of the A380, which will be available for delivery to customers early next year. The airframer will raise the maximum take-off weight to 575t, corresponding to a 6t increase on the current heaviest variant and 15t above the basic specification. It will stretch the range of the double-deck aircraft by some 150nm, said Airbus, taking its capability to around 15,500km (8,350nm) at current payloads. Airbus said the higher-weight version would be offered for introduction to service early in 2013.

The airframer's most recent aircraft characteristics document, from November last year, listed six weight variants for the passenger type. These had maximum take-off weights ranging up to 569t for the WV002 variant. Airbus said the heavier version would include a 3t increase in maximum zero-fuel weight as well as maximum landing weight, with a resulting 3t increase in payload.

Before the type entered service with Singapore Airlines in 2007, Airbus performed rejected take-off tests with the aircraft at a weight of 575t. The proposed freighter would have had a take-off weight of 590t.
Engine Alliance is to have a higher-thrust version of its GP7200 powerplant ready for service entry by early 2013, to support the higher-weight version.

The engine, designated the GP7272, will be rated at 72,000lbs (320kN), said Mary Ellen Jones, president of the General Electric-Pratt & Whitney joint venture. With 2,000lb of extra thrust over the current version of the GP7200, this engine will enable services such as Dubai-Los Angeles. Engine Alliance is offering the GP7272 to customers, although none has selected it so far.

The powerplant manufacturer has confirmed, however, that Middle Eastern operator Qatar Airways has selected the GP7200 for its 10 A380s. "We have nearly 600 orders to date, giving us a 56% market share of total engine orders for the A380 so far," said Jones. Qatar Airways joins Emirates, Air France and Korean Air, which between them have 31 A380s in operation, as well as Air Austral and Etihad Airways, as GP7200 customers. A further 14 A380s powered by GP7200s will be delivered by Airbus this year, said Jones.

She said Engine Alliance is focused on campaigns to place GP7200s with Hong Kong Airlines and Russia's Transaero, and is presenting the engine to China Eastern Airlines, which has expressed an interest in the aircraft.

 Source:  Flight Global

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