British manufacturing helps nation’s flag carrier reach new heights
British Airways (BA) has become the tenth operator to receive an Airbus A380 after taking delivery of the first of 12 aircraft on order. BA is the first UK operator of the A380 and will start to deploy its new flagship aircraft on routes from London Heathrow to Los Angeles and Hong Kong.
After a handover ceremony at Airbus’ delivery centre in Toulouse with Keith Williams, British Airways CEO, Eric Schulz, Roll-Royce President Civil Large Engines, Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO and other senior executives, BA’s first A380 is being flown to the UK carrier’s home base at London Heathrow where the cabin is being unveiled.
British Airways’ chief executive Keith Williams said: “We’re delighted to be the first UK airline taking delivery of the A380. It is a great aircraft that has been developed with huge amounts of British engineering ingenuity and we believe it will prove very popular with our customers when it starts flying to its first destination of Los Angeles.”
“It is a very proud moment for everyone at Airbus to see our A380 in the livery of British Airways, one of the world’s most pioneering airlines. With this new flagship in their fleet, the British carrier opens a new era of long-haul flying and offers its passengers an all-new travel experience”, said Airbus President and CEO, Fabrice Brégier. “It is a special day for UK industry too, as a significant proportion of this amazing aircraft was designed and built at Airbus’ UK sites in Filton and Broughton, as well as at our many partners’ facilities across the country.”
Airbus currently has 262 firm orders for the A380, from 20 customers. Aside from its 12 firm orders, British Airways also has options for a further seven aircraft. All BA’s A380s will be powered by Derby-built Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. An A380 with Rolls-Royce engines is around 40 per cent British made, with around 20 per cent of the airframe alone being manufactured in the UK.
There are some 1,200 UK staff working directly on design and manufacturing the A380 at Filton and Broughton, with a further supply chain of 400 companies across the UK.
The A380 is capable of flying 8,500 nautical miles or 15,700 kilometres non-stop, carrying more people at lower cost and with less impact on the environment. The spacious, quiet cabin and smooth ride have made the A380 a firm favourite with both airlines and passengers, resulting in higher load factors wherever it flies. The A380 also provides vital extra passenger capacity without increasing the number of flights, and is therefore part of the solution for sustainable growth at congested airports.
To date 40 million passengers have already enjoyed the unique experience of flying on board an A380. Every five minutes, an A380 either takes off or lands at one of the 30 airports where it operates today and the network is constantly growing.
The Airbus A380 programme has generated a significant amount of value to the UK economy and will continue to do so in the future; the total sum is estimated at £15 billion over the life of the programme. In addition, the supply of Trent 900 engines from Rolls-Royce is expected to generate a further £11 billion of value to the UK economy over the life of the programme.
The programme also relies upon an extended supply chain of more than 400 companies across the UK, and helps consolidate the country’s position of having the second largest aerospace sector in the world.
The aircraft’s efficient performance and industry leading technology result in higher operational flexibility and outstanding operational economics. With a range of more than 15,000 km/8,300 nm and seat-mile costs 24 per cent lower than its closest competitor. The A380 also provides vital extra passenger capacity without increasing the number of flights, and is therefore part of the solution for sustainable growth at congested airports.