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Airbus A380 vs Boeing 747

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2008-01-06 03:50:12     
Article by Dani Alonso

After reading some misleading articles on the net on comparisons between the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380, I decided to write with some facts about the differences between the two of them and why the Airbus is really a revolution by itself.

It is true, some articles will tell you that the length of the two planes differs only by 2 meters. That is a fact, the Airbus A380 measures 72.8 compared to the 70.7 of the Boeing. But the question is: who is really speaking about length as a revolution? Nobody. The revolution comes when we look at what happens related to the fact that the new giant is the first one in it's class with a full double deck. And I understand the 747 has a small part in the front where double deck was introduced, but in no way along all the plane.

This makes the maximum capacity for passengers to go to almost the double: the Boeing has a maximum of 568 passengers while the Airbus can host 840. And a new version that will host up to 950 persons is already being developed as many airlines where interested in the option for low cost flights. And I understand that everybody will agree here with me that this is a real revolution. We have nearly doubled the number of passengers we can transport with one single aircraft!

Again, then, the lack of information makes some people to stick to one fact forgetting all the other.

Going further in the discussion, there are many other characteristics that make the two planes different. Speaking in numbers, the height of the two planes differs in 4.7 meters. Sounds like a small thing, but implies that the Airbus is an 8-story building and the Boeing just a 6-story one. To hold all this structure in the air, the Airbus needs a wing area of 845 m2, compared to the only 541 m2 that needs the Boeing.

There are also differences inside the cabin. The Airbus is half a meter wider than the Boeing, and this allows them to place an extra column of sits inside, or simply allow more comfort with the same columns.

All this in the end gets translated in weight that you need to lift up. The operating weight in empty of the Boeing is just 181,755 Kg. If we compare with the new big giant, it gives a value of 277,000 Kg, which is about a 75% more.

Pulling all this weight up in the sky needs a lot of power, and this has produced several innovations in the engines too. With the same number of turbofans, the Airbus is able to produce a 50% more power than its little competitor. The exact number is 84,000 lb.

The only place where the two aircrafts have more or less the same numbers in only in performance. The both have a cruise speed of around 900 km/h and a maximum of 940 km/h, and they also approximately share the same range, from 14,800 km for the Airbus and 14,205 for the Boeing.

After all, my intention is not to say that the 747 is old-fashioned. This is a very old model that keeps working perfectly in the present. Apart from that, I think we need to give an applause to the guys in Airbus, because it is obvious that the new A380 is a real revolution. And it was to be, as problems with landing gears have left the passenger plane's industry unable to produce any bigger aircraft until today.

Dani Alonso

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