Airbus is to make a new variant of the A380 available next year, with a reduced 490t maximum take-off weight.

There are currently six weight variants of the type detailed in the airframer's official aircraft characteristics documentation, with take-off weights ranging from 510-569t.

Airbus has already confirmed that a heavier version - up to 575t - will also be introduced in 2013.

But during a briefing in Toulouse the airframer revealed a 490t variant which will meet QC1 engine noise criteria on departure.

The aircraft will have a range of around 5,000nm (9,260km), says Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy.

Executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams says the variant has emerged as a result of "pressure from certain customers" who are flying "more restricted" routes - notably shorter range services not originally envisaged for the type.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news