Airbus upgrades world's biggest passenger jet

Airbus upgrades world's biggest passenger jet”

PARIS Airbus is preparing to roll out a novel A380 wingtip design to rally support for the world's largest passenger jet by improving its fuel efficiency, according to a prototype seen on Saturday.

The new cabin layout, based on the "cabin enablers" presented at AIX, allows up to 80 more seats through the use of redesigned stairs, a combined crew-rest compartment, sidewall stowage removal, a new nine-abreast seat configuration in premium economy and 11-abreast in economy.

A Reuters photographer got up close to the roughly three-meter-high split wingtip which has been installed on an A380 belonging to the Air and Space Museum at Le Bourget airport, where the Paris Airshow opens on Monday.

The planemaker hopes the change will revive weak sales of the double-decker jet. Added to an optimised A380 maintenance programme and the enhanced cabin features first shown at Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in April, the overall benefit is a 13% cost per seat reduction versus today's A380, the European manufacturer said.

Sales chief John Leahy said the plane would offer "better economics and improved operational performance".

An A380 over Sydney.

The A380plus features longer maintenance check intervals, a reduced six-year check downtime and systems improvements created to reduce maintenance costs and increase aircraft availability. That will allow airlines to carry the up to 80 more passengers over the same range (8,200 nm) as the existing aircraft or increase the range by 300 nm for ultra-long-haul missions.

The enhancements, announced on the eve of the Paris Air Show, come as the Airbus weighs lowering production rates for the A380 below one-a-month from 2018 if it fails to secure orders this year.

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