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Does the Airbus A380 superjumbo pollute a lot more than the A350?

The simple answer to the above question is YES. An analysis carried out by Qatar Airways’ engineering team compared the performance of the Airbus A380 with that of the A350 on routes from Doha to London, Guangzhou, Frankfurt, Paris, Melbourne, Sydney and New York.

While it looks like an “unfair” analysis of a more modern two-engine versus a four-engine a few years longer, it makes sense in times of pandemic as the demand for international travel remains at its lowest levels and Qatar argues that it’s not worth it to fly “empty” with the A380 only for marketing purposes, while criticizing its competitor Emirates for it.

This analysis also served as the basis for the Doha-based company to remove the A380 from the agenda for the coming months.

Who pollutes more

The engineers concluded that the A350 aircraft emitted at least 16 tonnes less carbon dioxide per hour into the atmosphere on a normal one-way flight than the A380 superjumbo on the same route. According to Qatar, this means that the A380 emits 80% more CO2 per hour than the A350 on each of these routes.

In the Melbourne and New York cases, the A380 emitted 95% more CO2 per hour than the A350, which in turn saved about 20 tons of CO2 per hour. This difference was due to the presence of air masses, which both planes used more fuel, while the A350 performed better due to its aerodynamics and engine technology.

The analyzes were carried out on the airplane that was making commercial flights, and the results are the average values ​​obtained. With this, the engineers tried to eliminate fluctuations in the number of passengers carried on the routes and to reduce the effects of different weather conditions (such as fluctuations in winds).

With that, Qatar concluded that “there is no point in returning on the A380 until passenger demand has returned to reasonable levels and that the option is to service only commercially and environmentally responsible aircraft,” the company said in a note.

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