Emirates completes first A380 heavy check

Emirates A380 A6-EDA goes through its 3C heavy check in Dubai. (Emirates)
Emirates A380 A6-EDA goes through its 3C heavy check in Dubai. (Emirates)

When Emirates’ first Airbus A380 was towed into the airline’s Dubai engineering hangar for its first heavy maintenance check in early June, the aircraft had clocked up some impressive numbers.

Since it was delivered to Emirates in July 2008, A6-EDA had flown about 20 million kilometres, conducted 3,000 takeoffs and transported roughly 1.2 million passengers before its first 3C-Check.

During the 55-day check, engineers stripped away 1,600 parts including cabin interiors such as seats and galleys, and removed the four engines each weighing 6.7 tonnes for a thorough inspection and major overhaul.

Emirates vice president of base engineering Colin Disspain says the harsh climate of the airline’s Dubai hub, with its fierce heat and sandy conditions, highlighted the importance of the 3C-Check.

“Here in Dubai, we operate aircraft under some of the world’s toughest conditions,” Disspain said in a statement on Friday.

“This requires Emirates to increase maintenance standards to our specific situation. For example, parts often need to be exchanged instead of just cleaned in order to achieve our high level of quality and precision.

“The aircraft has been fully overhauled during its 3C-Check. We return it in a pristine condition, just as it originally left the factory. It’s like having a brand new A380 again.”

A6-EDA returned to service on July 31, operating flight EK434 from Dubai to Auckland via Brisbane.

All interiors such as seats, showers, bars, toilets and galleys were removed. (Emirates)
All interiors such as seats, showers, bars, toilets and galleys were removed. (Emirates)

There were 55 Airbus A380s in the Emirates fleet, with scores more on order. The carrier is the world’s largest operator of the double-decker aircraft and currently flies the A380 to 31 destinations on five continents.

The airline said its A380 fleet had carried 27.5 million revenue passengers and made about 68,800 trips spanning 405 million kilometres since A6-EDA entered the fleet about six and a half years ago and flew the inaugural route from Dubai to New York City’s JFK Airport.

Emirates president Tim Clark said recently the airline planned to retire its A380s after the aircraft reached 12 to 15 years in service.

“When Emirates is done with it in 12-15 years, we’ll put them in the desert. We’ll cut them up,” Clark told the Leeham News and Comment website on October 19.

“For me, we buy those airplanes for the life that’s prescribed for them in the business model. Once that’s over, it’s over, so we have no worries about getting rid of them.”

Emirates has released a vide of the heavy maintenance check, which can be found here.

The heavy check was conducted at Emirates' purpose-built A380  engineering facility in Dubai. (Emirates)
The heavy check was conducted at Emirates’ purpose-built A380 engineering facility in Dubai. (Emirates)

Comments

  1. rHHastings says

    If, “aircraft has been fully overhauled during its 3C-Check. We return it in a pristine condition, just as it originally left the factory. It’s like having a brand new A380 again.”

    Then why will Emirates,

    “retire its A380s after the aircraft reached 12 to 15 years in service?”

  2. Hcam says

    Probably due to the fact that in 12-15 years the A380 will no longer be able to compete with newer more economical aircraft that will undoubtably be brought into service between now and then.

    A good plan as we don’t need to look far to see the disadvantage of an ageing fuel thirsty fleet of aircraft…QF and the old 74’s and 76’s.

  3. Emu in the Desert says

    All aircraft have a useful life and as they out live that useful life the cost of keeping them airworthy becomes prohibitive …… Juts ask QANTAS !

  4. Le bon vivant says

    I think other airlines will keep them for more than 12 -15 years. How many A380 operators out there will take the same approach as EK. This approach is almost saying after +- 12 years every airline will scrap their a380 and replace it with a new one. This could be too much to ask for operators like Air France and Qantas.
    So it is a must for airbus come up with a neo to keep the cycle attractive.
    Eventually the 777-9x and the airbus a350-1100 ( yet to come stretch of the a350-100) will enter service and will be able to carry 420 -450 pax. These aircraft may lead some a380 operators to opt out of the type.

  5. Scott says

    Probably not a bad strategy, 3000 cycles in 6 years is aproximately 1.5 cycles per day and these aircraft will have served them well in the 12 – 15 year timeframe and possibly be experiencing the sort of fatigue a heavy jet would experience at about that time.

    Its also true that with Carbon Composites, there could be lighter and cheaper aircraft to take the load or even replace the A380, history shows many great aircraft came along at the wrong time and did not go on to live the long lives that may have been expected. As a large Alluminium and composite aircraft the A380 may find itself replaced by a composite and alluminium aircraft of lifting body design as we move away from the traditional tail at the back, alliminium tube design. Thats one possibility for any early demise of the A380

  6. GAGA says

    @HCAM and Emu – Where is the “fact” information you have to show there will be: “newer more economical aircraft that will undoubtably be brought into service between now and then”?

    As the article says, this aircraft is already over 6 years old. That gives it less than 6 years before it reaches your claimed replacement age.

    It takes about 6-9 years between the initial proposal of a new airliner design and when it actually enters revenue service. So this A380 replacement should already be on the drawing board. Where is it?

    As for Qantas, their remaining 767 and 747s are barely over this 12-15 year age. The remaining batch of 767s came off the production line 1999-2000. Their 6 747-400ERs only came into service 2002-2003 so are only just reaching 12 years now.

    “Just ask QANTAS”? Why ask them? They obviously think the useful life of a aircraft is more than 12-15 years or they wouldn’t be keeping them. The same goes for many other airlines who collectively still operate several hundered 767 and 747s.
    Why not Ask Boeing or Airbus? I’m sure they will tell you the useful life of their aircraft is over 20 years. Heck, Delta only retired their DC9s this year and they were well over 30 years old.

  7. Hcam says

    @GAGA.

    Boeing 787’s and soon to enter service A350’s fact enough? Besides that I don’t need to supply facts for an opinion of mine do I? I believe without doubt in the space of 12-15 years there will be technological advances in aircraft production which will provide more economical aircraft to our airlines.

    It’s not “my” claimed replacement age either, it’s Emirates’ business model, I believe that it’s probably a good plan! No one is suggesting that after 12-15 years the A380 will fall to peices?! Of course it could probably keep going for decades to come, but at what price up against more fuel efficient types.

    I’d be more than happy to see the 747’s dominating the skies and hear the roar of a 76 more often but not if its going to disadvantage a great airline!