4:53 PM

Oh my God, it's so (gasp) BIG!

The mainstream media is having an orgasm today over the size of the A380, now that it has actually dropped into LAX and JFK in a well-coordinated show. I could list quotes all day from various big-league media outlets who note pertinent facts such as these:

It may trail the historic impact of Charles Lindbergh's 1927 solo flight across the Atlantic, but the Spirit of St. Louis also did not have a wingspan wider than a football field or space for more than 500 passengers.

The latest jetliner to claim the title of world's biggest passenger aircraft completed its inaugural flight to the United States on Monday, flying on football field-length wings and a prayer that airlines will want to shell out $300 million to buy the behemoth double-decker jet.
So the A380 is here, it's big and it costs a lot of money. What the media is not really talking much about is the inherent overweight problems of this giant aircraft. According to published quotes from Emirates President Tim Clark, his airline – one of the first to place orders for the A380 – is now realizing that the operating costs of its A380 fleet will be higher than originally planned. "There are still an extra six tons of weight we can't get out of the A380. That will cost us extra money in operation for the next 10 or 15 years," Clark said. That's six tons BEFORE you add the weight of the fuel. So when you put enough fuel in to carry all that extra blubber, you certainly can't expect to see these kinds of numbers:
The jet can seat 555 passengers in a typical three-class configuration or up to 853 in a one-class economy setup. It can hold 81,890 gallons of fuel, cruise at 560 mph and fly some 8,000 nautical miles, using 1 gallon of fuel per passenger per mile.
So, let's see, 8,000 NM, 555 souls, one gallon per pax/mile. That's 649,122 pounds of Jet A for the trip. But with only 560,127 pounds on board, they'll either have to leave the fat people in the terminal, lose 50 percent of your luggage, or cut that published 8,000 mile range down significantly. And don't even think about factoring in that extra 12,000 pounds, or they'll have to leave the four pallets of stale pretzels behind too.

O.K., admittedly I went off message there a bit, but that kind of stuff just baffles me. What doesn't baffle me is why Airbus is bringing their Dog and Pony Show across the pond:
Despite the plane's impressive statistics, Airbus has yet to sell any of the planes to U.S. carriers.
So when they do pick up a few orders from U.S. carriers, there are still only a handful of fields the A380 will be welcome. Those improved airports – according to FAA – are ANC (Anchorage), DEN, DFW, JFK, LAX. MCO (Orlando) and MIA.

Every time I read a word about the A380, I have to ask myself these questions: If I were the CFO of a large air carrier, would I buy the A380? Could I make the behemoth pencil out to a profit? Could I get it to enough destinations to generate enough revenue to offset the $300 million purchase price and immense fuel bill?

No, no and, um, no.

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