Airbus’ Big Idea

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have got pretty tired of the whole ‘small is beautiful’ obsession this country seems to have. From the Tata Nano to Kareena Kapoor’s waist, it has increasingly begun to appear as if we simply can’t have enough of less (see, it doesn’t even make grammatical sense) Yeah, I know we are over-populated and seriously geographically challenged, but that’s no reason to deny ourselves the joys of all that is big.   Against this backdrop I can’t help but feel grateful to Airbus for coming up with the A-380, officially pronounced the largest commercial aircraft in the world. With a capacity of 525 passengers in the three class configuration, which further rises to 853 in a single class configuration (that means economy, NOT cattle class), the latest offering from the Airbus stable can’t help but create a lasting impression( I think I know how that feels..). Besides offering increased passenger comfort, the A-380 has the ability to awe simply by virtue of its size. Now I know what you guys are thinking. In an age when Al Gore gets a Nobel for saying a few nice things about global warming, the A-380 is bound to work up an environmental storm. Well, guess what? Not only does the A-380 have the lowest value of fuel burnt per seat, thereby substantially reducing overall CO 2 emissions, it is also among the quietest creatures with wings up in the air,-excluding Spiderman of course- generating 50% less noise on take-off, and nearly one-fourth less during landing, and all this while carrying 40% more passengers than its nearest competitors. And it doesn’t just make green sense-the A-380 will also allow commercial operators to increase capacity by nearly 20% at no extra cost- what that means in terms of profits, I will leave for your calculators.   Technical specifications aside, just the idea that ‘Big” is finally back in fashion comes as a big relief. Everything about Airbus’ latest offering is designed to give you a feeling of space- and lots of it. Sadly, it might be a while before the domestic junta gets a taste of the spacious charms of the A-380, as no Indian airliner has as yet begun operating it. One problem could be that most Indian airports are simply too small to accommodate the European giant. In fact, New Delhi’s T-3 Terminal is the only one in the entire country big enough to play host to the Super Jumbo (that’s actually its nick-name) With the biggest customer of the A-380 being Emirates Airlines, which has so far  placed  an order for 90 of them (??), followed by Air France, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines, the chances of this writer actually getting a first hand account of the A-380 experience are pretty slim. But worry not. If it’s a first hand experience that my readers want (in single digits though they may be), that is exactly what they will get- no matter what the cost my office has to bear.

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