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Big is beautiful
For some time, I have been watching the planes coming in from the east towards Heathrow, and it has reminded me of the fashion a few years ago to talk about the demise of the Airbus A380. I never believed it then, but what a difference now!
People flying now seemingly have had a change of heart: they do not want to be carried in a long tube with only two engines for hours and hours. Suddenly, the fashionable new way to travel is in a four-engined plane offering more space, more toilets and – for those living under the flightpath – less noise.
Since the pandemic lockdown, seasoned travellers are thinking a little more carefully about their comfort and amenities on long-haul flights, and the high proportion of A380s now back in the air shows that their preferences are being catered for with this oft-criticised airliner.
Additionally, having a choice, most thinking people will choose a four-engined plane for safety’s sake: a
one-engine failure will be a loss of 25% power, not 50%, which is quite a difference.
As a mere observer from the ground, I am very pleased with the lack of screaming noise and can enjoy the aesthetic pleasure of watching a beautiful, bird-like shape passing overhead so often.
I say well done to the Middle Eastern countries who started off this recent surge in restoring use of the beautiful A380.
Editor’s reply: The A380’s increasing reintroduction to service by the type’s operator airlines is indeed to be welcomed, but with just 130 of the superjumbos in current use (according to Cirium fleets data) this is more likely to be as a result of financial and scheduling practicality than a shift in broader airline industry fashion.
A design H2 far?
One can only be sceptical about H2 Clipper’s rather ambitious plans to haul frozen hydrogen around with its airship (Flight International, November 2022).
It is also quite a good thing – at least in my opinion – that the flights will be cargo only, and preferably with artificial intelligence, and not any humans, at the controls.
Using gaseous hydrogen for lift unfortunately evokes graphic memories of the Hindenburg disaster – one of those aerial conflagrations is enough.
San Diego, California, USA
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