Airbus Introduces Potential A380 Superjumbo Upgrades

By Robert Wall Features Dow Jones Newswires

Airbus SE (AIR.FR) Sunday introduced potential upgrades to its A380 superjumbo to reduce fuel burn as it struggles to secure sales for the airplane.

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Airbus said the A380 study would feature enhancements to cut the double-decker's fuel consumption by around 4%. The changes would include adjustments to the plane's wing and the addition of large winglets, the structures at the end of the wing that can improve aerodynamic performance.

Earlier this year, Airbus unveiled changes to the cabin, including packing in more seats, to help convince airlines to buy the plane. Those have so far failed to spur orders. Airbus said the wing and cabin changes would cut the per-seat operating costs of an A380 by 13% compared with the configurations now in service.

Airbus said the superjumbo wouldn't have a heavier takeoff weight.

Airbus earlier had considered more ambitious upgrade plans for the A380. It considered putting new, more efficient engines on the plane, but has scrapped the push, for now, amid lack of demand.

Airlines have been leery about committing to the A380, concerned about making money on the massive plane that seats more than 500 passengers and has a price tag of $436.9 million. Airbus has sold only 317 planes.

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A lack of orders last year forced Airbus to announce plans to cut production of the A380 to one plane a month starting next year. Airbus officials this month signaled they may have to cut output even further.

Write to Robert Wall at robert.wall@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 18, 2017 11:06 ET (15:06 GMT)