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Today I learnt something new, but apparently the A380 has no centre wing tank, which leads me to ask, is there a specific, design reason for this? Or did Airbus just think those huge wings were big enough to hold all the fuel they'd need?

Although, I've heard rumours that the A380F if built would have had a centre tank (no idea how true this is), but this shows the engineering is possible, Airbus just chose not to go with it for the passenger version. Any reason why?

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  • $\begingroup$ Im not going to vote but this question may air on the side of "mostly opinion based" as unless an Airbus engineer speaks up or there is some document stating so it may be all speculation. $\endgroup$ – Dave Feb 28 '18 at 14:49
  • $\begingroup$ As the wings can hold all the fuel this is preferred over a center wing tank since the weight of the fuel reduces the loading on the wing. The lift force acts opposite of the force created by the weight of the fuel due to gravity. This effect reduces the forces at the wings root. $\endgroup$ – Brilsmurfffje Feb 28 '18 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ Also the A330-300 standard model doesn't have a center tank, while the -200 and A340 do. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 28 '18 at 16:04
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It simply doesn't need one. Depending on the source, the A380 has a range from 8200 NM1 to 8477 NM2. The current longest scheduled flight is AKL-DOH, which is 7848 NM3. So the current configuration is capable of flying any of the current routes.

As far as the A380F, it really wouldn't make sense to add a center tank there either. The extra fuel weight would mean less cargo capacity available.

1 Wikipedia

2 Aerospace Technology, 11/19/2013

3 Wikipedia

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    $\begingroup$ It would not affect cargo space. There's no way you can put cargo into the center wing box with all the structural elements it holds. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Feb 28 '18 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ @user71659 I was thinking weight-wise, but I was looking at diagrams and there's currently a hydraulics bay in the wing box. I don't know what it looks like in there, but a center tank might require a pretty hefty redesign and displace that forward into the forward cargo bay. I'll clarify, though. $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Feb 28 '18 at 16:30
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    $\begingroup$ Distance in square or even cubic nanometres? Cool :) $\endgroup$ – Zeus Mar 1 '18 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ @Zeus Fixed it. It was supposed to be in cubic New Mexicos $\endgroup$ – TomMcW Mar 1 '18 at 0:36
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    $\begingroup$ Note that A380 (as most large aircraft) is already weight-limited. It can't take full load for the maximum range. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Jul 5 '18 at 10:09
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The A380 simply does not have enough space left on the lower deck, which is why they moved all the fuel into the wings. That is likely the reason for the poor performance of the A380, as the wings turned clumsy and produce a lot of drag, which than again requires a large empennage.

With an A380F, where you do not have crew accomodations on the lower deck and no "luggage" to be placed there, you would have enough space. So you could install a center fuel tank and add stream lined wings, but that would mean new wings just for the A380F, which is a way pointless.

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    $\begingroup$ The wings were clumsy to fit in an 80m wingspan to fit in existing airport infrastructure. The 'not enough space' argument doesn't add up: as an engineer, you choose what space you use for what purpose. Lastly, putting in a center tank increases the bending moment on the wing roots, so I highly doubt moving fuel to a center tank would make for more aerodynamic wings. $\endgroup$ – Sanchises Jul 5 '18 at 8:56

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