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Is the Airbus A380 the World's Safest Plane?

Is the Airbus A380 the World's Safest Plane?

BY HADI AHMAD Published on April 18, 2024 4 COMMENTS

Everyone knows the Airbus A380. The aircraft is a true icon, an engineering marvel no matter how many times you see or fly on it. Unfortunately, the age of four-engined aircraft is quickly fading, and various airlines have scrapped the aircraft or announced plans to phase out their Airbus A380s.

 

However, it's important to note that the superjumbo has never suffered a fatal accident in the nearly two decades of Airbus A380 operations. Why is this and does that make it the world's safest aircraft?

 



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Lack of Success

 

Comparably, the Airbus A380 is less successful in terms of sales when weighted against the iconic Boeing 747 or Airbus A350. Production ended in 2021 with only 254 examples built. The small number of A380s built assists its stellar safety record. Fewer aircraft equates to a smaller chance of accidents. 

 

At an airport with restricted capacity like London Heathrow, British Airways utilizes the Airbus A380 on popular routes. Photo: Ethan Sewell | AeroXplorer

 

It should be noted that there is no relationship between airframes produced and accident probability. Nevertheless, it's reasonable to suggest that a higher number of a particular aircraft model in service increases the chances of one being involved in an accident.

 

For example, the Boeing 737 family has been in service for nearly 60 years with over 10,000 planes manufactured. While the Boeing 737 is a safe aircraft, it has been involved in far more incidents throughout its history.

 

Another reason for the Airbus A380's clean safety record is the aircraft's usage in one day compared to narrowbody aircraft like the Airbus A320. and Boeing 737. 

 

Korean Air operates the Airbus A380 in conjunction with the Boeing 747-8i. Photo: Dohwan Kim | AeroXplorer

 

Because the Airbus A380 was built for high-capacity, long-haul operations, it will usually operate one or two flights a day. Narrowbody planes like the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 usually do short-haul flights which sees them operating as many as six flights in one day.

 



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Most accidents tend to occur during the takeoff or landing stage. With the A380s operating fewer flights a day, there are fewer chances of an accident occurring.

 

The Airbus A380s Safety Record

 

The Airbus A380 has not experienced a fatal or hull-loss incident. A hull loss is when the aircraft is extremely damaged in the incident to where it must be written off and cannot return to service. 

 

An image of VH-OQA at London Heathrow. Photo: Lachie Fuge | AeroXplorer

 

However, the plane has been involved in several accidents. One of the most well-known A380 incidents transpired in November 2010 involving Qantas Flight 32. The Airbus A380, registered VH-OQA, was climbing out of Singapore en route to Sydney when its left inboard engine suffered an uncontained failure.

 

Shrapnel from the failed engine punctured the aircraft's wing and caused a fuel tank fire. Thankfully, with the plane's built-in security features, the fire self-extinguished and the crew were able to safely return to Singapore. None of the 440 passengers or 29 crew were injured. VH-OQA was repaired and returned to service.

 

An image of the aircraft involved. Photo: Artis Terrell | AeroXplorer

 

A more recent incident involved Air France Flight 66. This took place on September 30th, 2017, and involved F-HPJE. The flight was en route from Paris to Los Angeles when the A380's rightmost engine suffered an uncontained failure over Greenland. The flight diverted to Goose Bay, Canada and none of the 497 passengers and 24 crew were harmed.

 



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Reverting to the question "Is the A380 the world's safest aircraft?", the Airbus A380 cannot be singled out for its safety. 
 

This is because the Airbus A380 is not the only plane with a fatal accident rate of zero percent. The other aircraft with this distinction include the Boeing 787, Boeing 747-8, and Airbus A220. In conclusion, while we cannot single out the A380 as the world's safest plane, we can say that it is one of the safest in the skies today.

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Hadi Ahmad
Lifelong aviation enthusiast raised in Central Illinois. 777 is the best plane BTW.

Comments (4)

Victor I feel extremely safe on the beautiful A380-800,, period.
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