Airbus has finished building the Airbus A380, having delivered the last jet of the program yesterday. The aircraft was the largest passenger plane to be made to date, but will it go down in the history books as such, or might we see a similarly large aircraft in the future?
Many assume that the Airbus A380 is a big as a passenger plane will ever get. After all, its size appeared to be the main contributor to its early demise. However, this may not be the case after all, following comments recently made by the Emirates CEO.
Room for a new A380 sized aircraft?
Tim Clark is the President of Emirates and remains a huge fan of the Airbus A380. He is tipped to retire from aviation, a decision that was pushed back due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that his days as a decision-maker on aircraft orders are likely numbered.
While Clark wouldn’t be responsible for placing an order for large aircraft in the future, it seems he believes that there is a place for such a plane, commenting as much to aviation writer and Airbus A380 expert Andreas Spaeth.
EXCLUSIVE Moving statement from @emirates President Sir Tim Clark on the occasion of yesterday‘s last #A380 delivery. He envisages a new sustainable aircraft the same size in the future #avgeek pic.twitter.com/LxXXJxAcEI
— Andreas Spaeth (@SpaethFlies) December 17, 2021
Not possible to build bigger
Interestingly, Simple Flying caught up with Spaeth at November’s Future Flying Forum and discussed some of the challenges of building such a large aircraft. Spaeth commented,
“I asked [Jürgen Thomas (called the father of the A380)] early on “Will there ever be a bigger aircraft than the A380.” [He said] the A380 is physically the end of the line for conventional aircraft with a tube for a fuselage and wings on it… Sheer physics [mean] it cannot be extended much more”
What about a blended wing?
Spaeth suggested that a blended wing design could be a contender for creating such a size of aircraft again, as the space in the center offers an excellent place to store hydrogen. He remarked,
“If we see a bigger aircraft beyond the A320 size that runs on hydrogen the flying wing would be a good contender because aerodynamically its the best way to use the space you have in the structure to put hydrogen tanks and not lose too much cabin space, which you would with a conventional aircraft.”
Of course, such an aircraft would still likely be an incredibly long way off. No commercial jets have yet been released running on Hydrogen or Electricity. British Airways’ CEO suggested that such technologies will likely take 30 years before they are ready. Additionally, a full-sized flying wing aircraft has not yet been flown, though Delft University and KLM have flown a scale model of a concept design.
Do you think we’ll ever see another aircraft as large as the Airbus A380? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!