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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A380: Love Is In The Air

The first fully operational Airbus A380 has arrived in Singapore.

Bring on the water salute!


You are thinking: "Not that exciting huh?"

Well, the main reason is because this is really the third time that A380 came.

(... oh no, it's that kind of post again!)

It came, like three times.

The first time usually happens when flowers bloom and birds sing sweetly in the trees.

Please be gentle!

In November 2005 the prototype A380 arrived in Singapore, six months after its first flight.

Being a non-Boeing supporter I was of course eager to see this technological behemoth that would herald a new age of giantpenisonomics in commercial aviation.

I think Airbus called it the "hubba hubba" strategy as opposed to Boeing's "boink boink" approach.

When I arrived at Changi Airport, there was already a small crowd of curious onlookers.

Amongst them are a few Singapore Airlines (SIA) flight stewardesses, who were there for a quick preview of their future "office".

One of them was particularly interested in the number of emergency exits for some reason.

"Eight doors. This side got eight doors," she said to somebody (probably another SIA girl) on her cell phone.

Now for the aircraft itself. I expected to be blown away by its sheer size and mammoth scale.

So I took one good look at the A380 itself...

*drum roll*

... and it looks like a pig.

It was, well, fatter than I expected. More pudgy than statuesque.

Compared to the very un-fat SIA girl shown in the above photo, it looked unflatteringly obese.

For the first time I got a little worried for Airbus.

After all, the huge 747 nearly bankrupted Boeing in the early 1970s.

This is a risky undertaking.

More challenging problems for overpaid financiers to solve!

Next, it's time to check the identity of the aircraft. I zoomed in on the tail section and read its registration number:


Yes, it is indeed the first A380 to take to the skies.

I just love things that start with F!

The second time the ├╝berjumbo came to Singapore was during Asian Aerospace 2006.

Not one to miss the chance of seeing the humongous flying pig in action, I rushed down (or up?) to Changi beach with my trusty 70-210mm f4.5-5.6 zoom.

This time the A380 was decorated with decals to make it look like an SIA plane.

For such a big fat aeroplane, it certainly doesn't make much noise, even when the throttle is wide open.

The A380 also impressed me with its ample rate of climb and agility.

It's not every day that you get to see a giant airliner do 45-degree turns like this.

From this angle, you can see that the A380 is very well-endowed.

Four enormous Trent 900 engines hang down from its wings, each as wide as the cabin of a Boeing 737.

Alas these previous visits to Singapore were merely brief encounters. It would take 20 months before a fully decked out A380 was delivered to the SIA.

Now we can finally take a peek beneath the covers!

Here's the economy class section in the upper deck.

Yes, it will come with new-fangled 10.6 inch LCD screens. But will the seats be more comfortable?

The newspapers report that at 19 inches, the economy seats on the A380 will be 2 inches wider than conventional seats.

However, seasoned flyers know that it's the seat pitch, which determines the leg room you get, that's more important.

Current economy class seats on SIA aircraft have a seat pitch of 32 inches.

And seat pitch on the A380?

32 inches.

Cattle class will always be cattle class.

On the upside, the A380 is a double-decker plane, so you get lots of space to roam around when you're sick of sitting.

Here is the elegant staircase that leads into the upper deck, reminiscent of those found in a cruise ship.

Notice the pink lighting?

More evidence to show that we are heading towards a Hello Kitty world.

And finally - the luxury end of the aircraft!

There will be no first class seats on the SIA A380. Instead an opulent "suite" class awaits the well-heeled traveller - equipped with a full-sized bed and dividers for privacy.

The middle two suites can even be converted into a double bed shown here.

While touring this section of the A380, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said: "I think it's something which you can offer to honeymoon couples. It very nicely done … a lot of space."

And... what do honeymoon couples do?

I mean apart from pretending to enjoy the scenery?

Yes, boys and girls - it's your ultimate fantasy fulfilled.

Instead of chartering an expensive private jet or cramming yourselves in the confines of an airliner toilet, you now have a much better alternative.

Simply plonk down S$10 000 each for the A380 suite and get ready for a comfy ride!

Oh, and don't forget to bring one of these...

That's such awesome news it makes me want to sing!

Love is in the air,
Love is in the air,
Oh oh oh oh uh uh uh uh...

*Update: Sex ban on the Airbus A380 (28 Oct 2007)

Looks like there won't be any love in the air afterall.



Zola said...

The plane is for deserving passengers. Unbeatable Creation.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Sydney we will go... Sydney we will go... tra-la-lala-lala-la-lala-lala-la!