When Norweigan’s Boeing 787’s were grounded due to engine issues, the international low-cost-carrier turned to the Airbus A380 as their perfect replacement aircraft (kindly supplied by wet-lease airline Hi Fly). If Norwegian was given the chance to permanently use an A380 in their fleet, would they? Which aircraft serves them best? Let’s find out.
How will we compare the aircraft?
There is only one type of Airbus A380 (unless Airbus decides to not only relaunch the A380 program but also to commit to an A380 plus design) and three types of Boeing 787s. The key difference between each of the 787s is simply range and payload capacity. Thus we will compare the largest 787, the 787-10, vs the Airbus A380.
We will not be focusing on items like comfort or the bigger windows on the 787, as although these are excellent for passengers, they don’t really contribute much to the airline’s bottom line.
Airbus A380 vs Boeing 787
At first, you might think that this is a very easy question and that one of these aircraft is a clear winner, but the real answer is a little more complex.
|Airbus A380-800||VS||Boeing 787-10|
|73.00 m||239 ft 6 in||Length||68.27 m||224 ft|
|79.80 m||261 ft 10 in||Wingspan||60.17 m||197 ft 5 in|
|845.00 m2||9,096 ft2||Wing area||347.00 m2||3,735 ft2|
|24.10 m||79 ft 1 in||Height||17.00 m||55 ft 9 in|
|334 kN||75,152 lbf||Thrust per engine||338 kN||76,000 lbf|
|1,336 kN||300,608 lbf||Total thrust||676 kN||152,000 lbf|
|548,000 kgs||1,208,000 lbs||MTOW||252,651 kgs||557,000 lbs|
|15,000 km||8,100 nm||Range||13,001 km||7,021 nm|
|525 passengers||Capacity||323 passengers|
*Information sourced from Aviator Joe
Looking at passengers, we can see that the A380 can easily carry more than any 787. With 525 in a standard configuration (and up to 800 if the aircraft is configured for all economy seats) the A380 wins hands down compared to the Boeing 787-10 with only 323 passengers.
Plus, let us not forget all the extra items that you can fit into an A380, such as first-class cabins, bar areas, and even showers.
Surprisingly, the bigger A380 also has a bigger range than the 787-10. For comparison’s sake, we should also mention the range of the other 787s:
- Boeing 787-8: 7,846 nm
- Boeing 787-9: 8,313 nm
The Boeing 787-9 has a bigger range than the A380 by around 300 nautical miles. But on paper, the A380’s range makes it a far more flexible aircraft for airlines than the Boeing 787.
The A380 has one of the best ‘fuel-burn-per-seat’ ratios in the sky today. With so many seats and passengers onboard, it’s no wonder than the cost per individual passenger is so low.
However, those four wing-mounted engines plus the sheer weight of the aircraft makes the aircraft one of the hungriest for fuel. Airlines (such as Qantas) have decided to phase out the aircraft for the Dreamliner as rising fuel prices dictate the future of the aviation industry.
Which is best?
Both aircraft have a place in the world. The A380 is designed for long-range hub to hub flights, whilst the 787 series is perfect for more bespoke direct routes away from hubs. But the 787 has been built with fuel efficiency in mind and it shows when comparing final numbers.
The A380, despite all the passenger space, is harder to make profitable than the 787 series and one of the major reasons why the aircraft is slowly being retired.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.