It’s been a tough year for the A380 double decker. Airbus pulled the plug on hopes for future production on Valentines day, and the last remaining airliner will be delivered in early 2021. It’s the end of an era, and not necessarily one that’s good news for passengers.
As airlines shift to smaller aircraft operating point to point routes, many are ditching their A380’s ahead of schedule due to the high operating cost, and the number of seats they need to fill on each and every flight. After the latest Air Worthiness Directive (AD) from the FAA, that retirement process may accelerate even more. Up to 60% of A380 engines now require inspection, with some requiring a significant part replacement to the tune of $795,000… per engine.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration has issued two new airworthiness directive, aimed at Engine Alliance GP7200 series engines, which represent roughly 60% of all A380 engines in the sky, as reported by Sam Chui.
Engine problems with the A380 captured world attention when an Air France A380 lost its fan blades, effectively ripping the casing and essential engines components right off, with a bang on a Paris to Los Angeles flight. Social media accounts and photos of the incident amounted to cause for further inspection, and efforts to retrieve essential parts from Greenland for review were launched.
It appears the results were fruitful, because the FAA is now requiring inspection and replacement of select engines. Airlines including Air France, Emirates, Etihad, Korean and Qatar will need to take the A380’s out of service to inspect proper seals and look for any cracks which could lead to total engine failure. Select serial numbers of the engines will be require replacement of key components, which the FAA estimates to cost $750,000 per engine. That’s an expensive fix on a four engine plane.
End Of The A380 Line
At a cost of nearly $3 million for select aircraft, airlines are more eager than ever to ditch the A380 in favour of lighter and more dynamic aircraft such as the Airbus A350, or Boeing 787 Dreamliner. For mainline routes currently operated by the behemoth A380, analyst believe that the Boeing 777X will eventually become the new breadwinner. Qatar Airways has announced plans to accelerate the A380 retirement, as has Air France, and after this news, it would be likely that others are soon to follow.