British Airways’ first A380 double-decker superjumbo has emerged from the largest paint hangar in the world after gaining the airline’s famous red, white and blue livery.
The double-deck A380 is the world’s largest commercial aircraft flying today, with capacity to carry 525 passengers in a comfortable three class configuration, and up to 853 in a single-class configuration that provides wider seats than its competitor. The A380 two decks offer 50% more floor surface than any other high-capacity aircraft.
At Airbus’ Hamburg hangar, 24 painters spent two weeks on eight movable platforms up to 98ft (30m) from the ground applying five coats of red, white and blue gloss paint to the huge aircraft. The work was conducted by hand using spray guns, traditional paint rollers and small paint brushes.
The specialists, who spent three years training to learn how to paint an A380, used 2,300 litres of paint to cover an area of 37,674sq ft (3,500m2). Although the total weight of the five layers of paint covering the aircraft weighs around 650kg, the paint applied is no thicker than a human hair.
One of the most challenging aspects for the Airbus team was painting the 10,000 black and white dots on the tailfin of the aircraft. Christoph Hettwer, senior manager Airbus A380 paint shop, said: “This was a difficult task – you can imagine someone had to peel off the thousands of little dots from a stencil – but now it’s finished it looks great.”
The A380 now has all of its cabins installed and will be flown to Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse, where it will begin its final stage of checks before being handed over to British Airways in July.
The superjumbo will become the largest aircraft in the British Airways fleet, with 469 seats across four cabins. The First cabin is situated at the front of the main deck and can accommodate 14 customers. Club World (business class) customers can choose to sit in one of the 44 seats on the main deck, or the 53 seats on the upper deck. British Airways’ designers have introduced a new 2:3:2 configuration on the upper deck. Those who choose to travel in one of the 55 seats in the World Traveller Plus (premium economy) cabin will sit on the upper deck, while World Traveller (economy) cabins are located on both the main and upper deck.
The aircraft’s innovative design makes it much quieter during take-off and landing and more fuel efficient than its predecessors. British Airways has ordered 12 for delivery by 2016 as part of a £5bn (US$7.7bn) investment in new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges, and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air and on the ground.