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.

FAA Issues Two New Airworthiness Directives

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.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Hum. I know Concorde was proving very difficult and expensive to keep going. It was an Air France incident that kicked off the final demise of that lovely aircraft that lifted my spirits every time I saw or heard it (the bang of the sonic boom as Concorde went overhead being heard every day in some of my jobs).

    And now, an Air France plane looks to kill off my other favorite aircraft, which I actually love to fly in, the A380. I do applaud the authorities who have promptly stepped in to ensure our safety on this new A380 issue. But I hope the FAA will be as assiduous in assuring our safety on any issues with US Boeing-made aircraft should any arise, as they have thankfully been with the European-made Airbus A380.

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