A useful little quirk about the 747 is that it can ferry a fifth engine on the wing, for when another aircraft is stranded somewhere in the world.

enter image description here Does the A380 have the same capability? If not, how would an airline manage an aircraft needing a new engine whilst away from a maintenance base?


3 Answers 3


One of the main reasons the 747 was given the ability to ferry an engine was due to the lack of large cargo aircraft available at the time.

Don't forget the 747 was a major game changer when it came out, it was designed to replace the 707/DC-8, and was almost twice the size of these aircraft. As a result, there just wasn't anything available to transport a 747 engine by air if needed.

This was a major problem that had the potential to affect sales of the aircraft, and so they had to find a solution to this. It wasn't until the 747 began to be introduced as a cargo carrier that it was possible to transport these engines by air, in the hold of an aircraft.

With the introduction of the A380, there was no need to add engine ferry capabilities, as large cargo aircraft were common enough to transport them.

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    $\begingroup$ Manager: We need the ability to move engines not in use. Engineer: How do we carry the engines that are in use? Manager: On the wing. Engineer: put it on the wing then. Manager: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Jan 6, 2016 at 16:45

The A380 does not appear to have the capability to transport an extra engine under the wing. Higher engine reliability combined with widespread availability of air cargo transport makes this option redundant in modern jets.

In case engines are needed for an A380, they can be transported in a 747-400 Freighter* or the aircraft can be flown with three engines.

*Trent 900 can be transported in a 747-400F without disassembling. For Engine Alliance GP7000, you'll need an An-124.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd disagree with the "The aircraft can be flown with three engines" which suggests the flight would be conducted with a failed engine. That wouldn't happen: your source describes an engine failure in flight, which is a very different scenario to your suggestion that it would take off with an inoperative engine. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Jan 6, 2016 at 14:39
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    $\begingroup$ @JonStory A380 can takeoff with three engines- see mins comment above in the question. $\endgroup$
    – aeroalias
    Jan 6, 2016 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ It's physically possible, sure, and I didn't disagree with that.... but it's not acceptable procedure. It can take off on 3 engines if one fails after V1. That doesn't mean an A380 would ever deliberately take off on 3 engines in normal use. The pilot who did that, wouldn't be a pilot for very long. The A380 is designed to take off with one engine out for safety reasons if the engine fails during takeoff: but if you try to take off on 3 engines, you no longer have that safety margin if another engine fails. An A380 would never attempt a takeoff knowing one engine was inoperative. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Jan 6, 2016 at 15:18
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    $\begingroup$ @JonStory I'm not sure about the A380, but I do seem to recall Terry stating that there were approved procedures on the 747 for repositioning flights with one engine inop. I would assume that said procedures involved an empty aircraft with much lower than normal takeoff weights. Remember that the normal single engine failure on takeoff requirements are assuming MTOW. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jan 6, 2016 at 17:37
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    $\begingroup$ @JonStory Oh, yeah, agreed on that. Sorry, I missed the "normal use" part there. I assumed that the answer was referring to flying the aircraft on three engines on a non-rev ferry flight for the purposes of getting the 4th engine replaced. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Jan 6, 2016 at 17:41

747 aircraft can still have the 5th engine hardpoint installed as an option, even on the 747-8. Many foreign carriers that use the 747 still use this option if they don't have a huge spares network. Imagine the issues trying to get a GEnx engine from main MX base in Australia to London or LAX. It just makes sense to bolt the spare on another passenger flight and fly it there. The A380 doesn't have this ability.

  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to aviation.SE. We are not here to deliberate on what is "better", since that is a matter of personal opinions. $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Sep 6, 2017 at 7:52

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