|The A380 super jumbo is designed to be able to carry on flying with only three engines [EPA]|
The double-decker Airbus A380, the world’s largest passenger plane, was built to revolutionise air travel.
The aircraft made its maiden flight in 2005, and its first commercial flight by Singapore Airlines from Singapore to Sydney, two years later.
Its wingspan is 79.75 metres and its wing area is 845 square metres, enough to park 72 medium-sized cars on each wing.
It has 50 per cent more floor space than the next biggest aircraft, the Boeing 747 jumbo and it is 24.45 metres high, about the same height as a seven storey building.
It can carry 853 passengers in an all-economy configuration, but most airlines fly around 550 passengers in first, business and economy classes.
The project to develop the aircraft was delayed 18 months in 2006 when it was discovered that wiring prepared in Hamburg, Germany, did not fit planes being assembled in Toulouse, France, due to incompatible software.
This snag in the development process cost Airbus an additional six billion dollars.
The A380 has 530 kilometres of wiring, roughly equivalent to the distance between Frankfurt and Paris.
The aircraft can be fitted with two types of engines: Rolls-Royce Trent 900 and Engine Alliance GP7000 turbofans.
The Qantas A380 of flight QF32 is powered by four Rolls-Royce trent 900 engines built in Britain.
Airbus said in June 2010 it had 234 confirmed orders for the A380 from 17 customers.
Qantas is the second biggest customer with 20 aircraft on order. Emirates is by far the biggest, with 90 aircraft on order.
There are 37 of the aircraft currently in operation. Other airlines who have taken delivery are Lufthansa and Air France.
In September 2009, a Singapore Airlines A380 was forced to turn around in mid-flight and head back to Paris after one of its four engines failed; however, the super jumbo is designed to be able to carry on flying with only three engines.