British Airways and Emirates will take delivery of an improved version of the Airbus A380 from 2012 offering a slightly better payload/range performance through a modest increase in maximum take-off weight.
Although the airframer has confirmed the weight increase, which will be offered as an option from 2012, it will not disclose the actual figure until the modification passes a critical design review next month. "We'll begin offering it to customers from September, it will be a nice [increase]," says A380 product marketing chief Richard Carcaillet.
The A380-800 is currently offered with a baseline maximum take-off weight of 560t, with an increase to 569t available as an option. Airbus quotes a typical range for the 560t version of 15,200km (8,200nm).
The increased weight version, which is not a new "-800R" type variant, says Carcaillet, will be introduced with a new build standard in 2012. He adds that the performance gain came from a requirement for a couple of customers during sales campaigns against the Boeing 747-8I. BA and Emirates will be the first to receive the upgraded aircraft, in 2012.
The baseline thrust rating currently offered for the A380-800's engines is 70,000lb (312kN), with 72,000lb as an option. Carcaillet does not expect the new weight to require additional thrust, but says this will be confirmed after the critical design review.
Airbus executive vice-president Tom Williams says the weight increase will require a paperwork change for aircraft with the requisite structural capability.