15 May 2007

Airbus A380 - weighty issues

Airbus A380
Airbus rolled out their first commercial A380 from the paint shop (well, huge hanger actually) in Hamburg last week, all decked out in the livery of their launch customer, Singapore Airlines.

They issued some stats:
Approximately 792 gallons (3,600 litres) of paint was used for the livery. Some 100 painters worked over four shifts polishing the 3,100m2 surface area of the aircraft fuselage by hand, and the painting process took 21 days.
It got me thinking. How much does almost 800 gallons of paint weigh when it is dry? It must be a lot. And we know how concerned Airbus has been over the weight issue. How do they factor it in to the the calculations when, presumably, different liveries weigh different amounts? (depending how subtle they are!) And those differences for a paint job on such a large scale, must be significant...

Thinking about it reminded me of the time when, after the Paris crash, BA & Air France had to fit Kevlar linings around the fuel tanks in Concorde. I remember doing a story about how they were compensating for the extra weight.

British Airways - and I can't find my notes here, so I'm sure someone will correct the detail if I'm wrong - did a redesign of the cabin for the re-launch of services, which included replacing all the seats with new ones commissioned from Recaro (I think). Their significant design feature was that they were all lighter than the old ones, offsetting the weight of the new tanks.

When I phoned Air France and asked them how they were going to deal with the weight problem I could 'hear' the disdainful Gallic shrug at the other end, "but of course, we are just not selling the last four seats!"

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