Live from Paris: Airbus A380 in Flight

If you travel, it may be with anxiety that you ponder the future of flight whenever talk turns to the new Airbus A380. But if courtesy and mutual respect among fellow travellers facilitates boarding and the state of safety engineering science prevents the dreaded headlines, this plane will be a welcome advance in modern travel eco-efficiency. Airbus calculates that the plane will consume less than 3 litres of fuel per 100km per passenger (or get 80 miles per gallon per passenger), competitive with 1 passenger in the most economical car on the market, and 12% better than the competition in the skies.

The A380 will boast other eco-advantages, some of which were evident to visitors at the Paris Airshow:Treehugger is pleased to report that the much hyped lower hoise levels of this mega-plane can be confirmed. This reporter personally was awed to watch the monster of the skies as it performed slow turns just overhead, appearing to gently drift on the warm Paris breeze, with noise levels so low that one remarked them only as an afterthought. In proportion to the bulk of this double-decker bus, the wingspan seems quite modest. The "Blink" impression, probably subconsciously triggered by the nose profile with its Brainiac-like tall, bulging forehead is: "clever design".

Among the many innovations introduced with this model, the first Airbus A380s will be outfitted with seats of Climatex-Lifeguard. This wool-ramie fabric mixture is manufactured at Rohner mills in Switzerland in partnership with Designtex, one of the leaders in the field of sustainable textiles. Developed in a collaboration between Architect William McDonough and Chemist Michael Braungart, it meets the demanding technical requirements of airplane standards, including flame resistance and comfort which results from the dual properties of insulating and wicking moisture away from the seated guest. The company carefully screens all dyes and other chemicals used in the manufacture to ensure none are carcinogenic, toxic to reproduction, endocrine disrupting or bioaccumulative. At the end of its life, the fabric is 100% safely biodegradable. Thai Airways and Sout-African Airways have planes in their stable with the fabric today and Lufthansa has tested it. Let us hope that the customers for the A380 create demand for such innovations in the planes they buy.

If you want to be the first to fly in an A380, you will have to make your holidays with Singapore Airlines: they will get the first delivery.