It’s all about the interior, described by some as a breathtaking new concept.
Airbus want SIA to buy more but the company says the five new aircraft are all it’s looking for.
Singapore will take four more new Rolls-Royce powered A380s over the course of 2018, with 14 of its current fleet to be retrofitted with the updated interior by 2020.
Configured in a four-class, 471-seat layout, the new aircraft is also the first to employ a number of “cabin enablers”, according to Airbus, to allow better use of interior space.
Singapore Airlines has opted to remove the sidewall storage bins on the upper deck, permitting a staggered seat arrangement in the 78-seat business-class cabin, as well as removing the forward trolley lift to allow use of the forward cargo hold as a crew-rest area.
The six first-class suites have been relocated to the upper deck, separated by a single aisle. Airbus says this gives more room to each passenger and makes better use of space. Every suite features both a bed and a seat.
Overall, the new interior accommodates 92 seats more than the lowest configuration of Singapore Airlines current A380’s. It includes 44 premium-economy and 343 economy-class seats on the main deck.
The same enablers form part of the broader package of improvements called ‘A380plus’ – including a higher maximum take-off weight and winglets – which was unveiled at the June 2017 Paris air show.
No airline has yet opted for the airframe modifications, which remain at the development study stage.
Airbus marketing, says the company is in “mature discussions” with a number of customers over the proposed changes.
Airbus is at pains to point out the modifications to the wing “are part of a whole package” with the cabin changes delivering a seat-count efficiency improvement “which is almost of the same order” as that obtained from new engines: “The full package is what we would term as A380plus, but airlines can pick and choose what they want.”
At the Paris air show, Airbus indicated that the A380plus package, if launched, would enter service in around 2020.