The A380 is the biggest commercial passenger aircraft flying today. But it is not the biggest freighter, as…
The A380 is the biggest commercial passenger aircraft flying today. But it is not the biggest freighter, as a cargo version was never built. One was planned initially and even received orders, but Airbus never built it. This article explores the project, its customers, and why it was canceled.
The A380 Freighter
Airbus announced its intention to develop a high capacity aircraft at the Farnborough Airshow in 1990. It would take on Boeing dominance of the market, promising a 15% lower operating cost than the Boeing 747.
The project was originally known as the A3XX. After consideration of several options (including one based on two A340 fuselages combined), a two-deck aircraft was chosen and became known as the A380.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Airbus proposed a passenger version and a freighter version, the A380 and the A380F. The freighter version would have used the same fuselage, wings (with additional internal strengthening), and engines as the passenger version. Capacity would have been up to 150 tonnes, and it would offer a range of 10,400 kilometers.
This would have made it the largest commercial cargo plane on offer, apart from the one-off giant Antonov An-225 aircraft. For comparison, the new 747-8F carries 137.7 tonnes with a range of 7,630 nautical miles.
Orders from four airlines
Since its launch in 2001, there were orders placed for 27 A380F aircraft from the following airlines.
Emirates – 2 aircraft
– 2 aircraft FedEx Express – 10 aircraft (and options for 10 more)
– 10 aircraft (and options for 10 more) UPS – 10 aircraft (and options for 10 more)
– 10 aircraft (and options for 10 more) ILFC (International Lease Finance Corporation) – 5 aircraft
Emirates and ILFC confirmed their orders in 2001, FedEx in 2002, and UPS did not until 2005.
Canceling the freighter orders
None of these orders though even came to be. With delays in the production of the A380, Airbus prioritized the passenger version over the freighter. The delivery dates for freighters kept being delayed, and ultimately all airlines…
Read full article