In early 2001 the A380's manufacturer's weight empty (MWE) was "several tonnes above target", says executive vice-president A380 programme Charles Champion, as Airbus accommodated changes to the specification to meet customer range, payload and noise requirements.

"Two weight recovery programmes were instigated, and a series of 'Tiger Teams' were established, which incorporated multi-disciplinary experts to reach the target," says Champion.

A380 senior vice-president engineering Robert Lafontan adds that the company had set a weight saving target of 10t through new technology. "Each of the A380 design groups - the aircraft component management team - were given a weight target to achieve based on the knowledge of design, together with projected improvements in technology consistent with programme planning," he says.

Lafontan says configuration changes can significantly increase the cabin weight relative to that used for the guarantee, and three initiatives were launched with vendors - the seat, galley and in-flight entertainment system manufacturers - to see what weight reductions could be achieved.

"We had talks with the seat manufacturers about a 20% reduction in seat weight - I don't think this target will be achieved," says Champion.

"Several actions are under way to further reduce the overall performance and noise risks and to satisfy A380 customer requirements," says Lafontan. For example, Airbus is developing a noise abatement departure procedure for the flight management system, which will enable optimised profiles to be flown during the take-off and climb.

Lafontan adds that new routings between South-East Asia and Europe are being developed with IATA that will result in air distances being reduced by between 280km (150nm) and 550km.


Source: Flight International