Published on September 15, 2007
Forward stairs and rest area
An Airbus A380 twin-deck "superjumbo" paid a flying visit to Thailand this month, flying 150 passengers to Chiang Mai from Bangkok.
It was en route to the Asian Aerospace 2007 show in Hong Kong when it stopped off here to give Thai Airways International executives, their guests and aviation journalists a sneak preview. The Bangkok-Chiang Mai flights were under the command of Airbus test pilot Terry Lutz.
Delivery date for Thai Airways' six A380s is 2010 and 2011. It expects to operate them on long-haul routes to Europe including London, Frankfurt and Paris. They will ply Bangkok to Tokyo, too.
The controversial commercial airliner - the world's largest - can accommodate about 525 passengers, depending on configuration.
The A380 is powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines and has a range of 15,000 kilometres. Airlines have a choice of the Engine Alliance GP7000 jets. Alliance is a General Electric-Pratt & Whitney joint venture.
Cabin noise in the superjumbo is rated at five decibels, quieter than Boeing 747s.
The big Airbus requires shorter runways for take-off and landing and uses 17 per cent less fuel than the Boeing.
Its total area of 550 square metres is equal to three tennis courts and at 24.1 metres tall, it stands as high as a five-storey building.
The liner's twin decks are divided into three cabins allowing for first through economy classes. The maker is touting the extra legroom, wider seats and aisles and footrests in economy.
"The A380 is really quiet. Its big and spacious cabin is comfortable and secure," says Nattida Koedrith, an editor with Aerospace magazine.
"I've never flown an Airbus [before] but the A380 model is big, spacious. It can carry a lot of people," says passenger Waree Posangthong.
Cruising at 30,000 feet passengers tried out the in-flight entertainment. The Airbus offers liquid-crystal display television screens with multi-lingual movies and interactive games.
Thai Airways has yet to decide on its interior livery for the Airbus or what configuration it will fly. The word is passengers will be offered in-flight short-message services and a meeting room.
Commercial development and support vice president Pandit Chanpai is impressed with the aircraft. "I like the wider seat and footrests in economy."
Boarding the aircraft passengers are struck initially by its sheer size.
A wide staircase leads to the upper deck and is akin to ones you'd find in a big home. Two passengers with carry-on luggage can climb it side by side.
The wide-body offers airlines a choice of upper-deck social areas, bars, boutiques, duty-free shops and other amenities not found on passenger liners currently in service.
The first-class bar has seductive mood lighting and the cabin combines comfort, privacy and technology.