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The Wikipedia entry for the A380 gives the maximum range at design load as 15,700 km. The equivalent entry for a Boeing 747-400 gives around 14,000 km but distances of 18,000 km have been performed in demonstrations. So I infer the ferry range for the A380 would be even higher.

Is it specified anywhere? Has a flight by an A380 in excess of 15,700 km been performed to date? Could it fly between any two suitable airports on Earth, i.e., farther than 20,038 km?

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    $\begingroup$ When going for a long haul flight and you don't need to deliver a payload other than the plain you can install extra fuel tanks for extra range. $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak May 21 '14 at 8:53
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    $\begingroup$ A lovely interactive map shows that only New Zealand is out of range of a normally-laden non-stop A380 flight starting in Europe. Perhaps an A380 with no passengers, no luggage and no cargo can manage the few extra km. $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick May 21 '14 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ @David: Yes I should have written Toulouse rather than Europe. That's where Airbus would start any ferrying. $\endgroup$ – RedGrittyBrick May 21 '14 at 18:16
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    $\begingroup$ For going between "basically any two airports on earth", I think that the 777-200LR is probably the most able $\endgroup$ – markasoftware May 22 '14 at 2:26
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger though the question is vague pls assume he means "any two suitable airports". You cannot hope for A380 to take off from some beach airport in carribean and land on aircraft carrier. $\endgroup$ – vasin1987 Oct 26 '14 at 15:32
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Q: Could it fly between any two suitable airports on Earth, i.e. further than 20038km?

A: Not likely

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ It would be better if you interpreted the images with your own words as well. $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Mar 11 '16 at 23:01
  • $\begingroup$ You could probably stretch out the range beyond what is shown on the chart by adding ferry tanks but I doubt it would make any commercial sense to do so. Designing and fitting the ferry tanks would likely cost far more than adding some fuel stops. $\endgroup$ – Peter Green Feb 2 '17 at 4:48
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    $\begingroup$ Also what's the source of the image? $\endgroup$ – Notts90 Feb 15 '17 at 21:38
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You have asked several questions. I'll try to answer them in order to clarify.

Is the ferry range specified anywhere?

From the Airbus website, we find for the Engine Alliance GP7000 engine option the ferry range is ~9,600 NM. Let's just say it's 9,500 NM.

A: 9,500 NM. Also, waiting for the right trade winds can increase you range.


Can an A380 fly between any two airports on Earth?

If you place the originating marker over Dubai, UAE, then the A380-800 can fly to any airport on Earth except a region in South Pacific Ocean. This area (a circle of around 6500 km diameter) has many small island states (French Polynesia, Cook Island, American Samoa etc.).

enter image description here
(gcmap.com)

A: Yes, probably over 99% of airports.


Has a flight by an A380 in excess of 15,700 km been performed to date?

None that I could find. The longest flight of A380 (currently) is QF 8 (with duration 16:50 hours).

We know that A380 (October 25, 20071) is much newer than 777 (June 7, 19952) and 747 (January 22, 19703). In future, there can be attempts to fly it in excess of 15,700 km.

A: No record so far.


What is the ferry range of an A380?

This was your original question. Most of the flights mentioned on the Wikipedia article you referred to were either delivery flights or for demonstration purposes. For such flights, you can have:

  1. lesser people on board
  2. lesser equipment (seats etc.) so more space to add extra fuel tanks

With the above two changes, the result would be:

  • Less people = Less weight. The aircraft will weigh less and its range can increase.
  • Less seats = Less weight. The aircraft will weigh less and its range can increase.
  • More space to add fuel tanks. The aircraft's range will increase.

In addition, A380-800 has cargo volume of 6500 cubic feet. If we have a hypothetical rubber tank which fills all this space, we can add 184,000+ L of additional fuel than the original capacity of 323,546 L. This can increase the range over 50%.

This website contains pictures of additional fuel tanks. As you can see, those are inflatable and can adjust to the space available.

A: It depends.


1: Introduction with Singapore Airlines
2: Introduction with United Airlines
3: Introduction with Pan American World Airways

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    $\begingroup$ However, I believe most commercial airplanes would use something more robust than rubber fuel tanks. And all the airplanes on that site are at the most twin-turboprop engines. I guess rubber tanks aren't too good at managing the high fuel burn rates of massive turbofans like those on the A380. See this picture of fuel tanks loaded up on a Boeing 717: cdn-www.airliners.net/aviation-photos/photos/4/8/8/0148884.jpg $\endgroup$ – shortstheory Jun 18 '14 at 15:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Federico First of all, that was a hypothetical situation. If we somehow add fuel to all of the available 6500 cubic feet, it increase fuel capacity to 56.88%. Yes, the fuel weight increases aircraft weight, but at the same time we don't have any cargo weight either. $\endgroup$ – Farhan Oct 24 '14 at 13:09
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    $\begingroup$ Q: Can an A380 fly between any two airports on Earth? But your answer only proves that an aircraft can get to 99% of airports from UAE, not from any other airport. $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Oct 24 '14 at 13:22
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    $\begingroup$ If you start with the empty weight and fill it to MTOW with fuel, you only get about 12.8% more fuel than the max capacity. At least that's what I calculated. $\endgroup$ – fooot Oct 24 '14 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ But that doesn't mean the A380 can fly from anywhere in the radius you showed, to anywhere else. You can fly UAE to 99%, sure, but start placing the starting point in LESS optimal positions and you realise that there are a LOT of airports pairs that don't work. You've chosen an optimal airport which makes it look better than it is. The A380 can probably only fly between something like 80% of airport pairs, over the whole globe $\endgroup$ – Jon Story Oct 24 '14 at 19:39
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It cannot fly between any two airports for a simple reason. Any departure from an airport that is located above 2,000m (e.g. Addis Ababa) would reduce the range due to lower fuel capacity in the tanks.

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    $\begingroup$ Could you expand on your answer a little? I'm wondering whether your meaning is that because of the high altitude there would be a takeoff weight restriction that precluded filling the tanks or whether that even with full tanks there is a fuel density factor. $\endgroup$ – Terry Aug 14 '15 at 18:22
  • $\begingroup$ This concern I've tried to capture in the qualification "suitable airports", by which I mean airports which can handle an A380. Obviously airports with no long runway, or which are too high, or which are only designed for seaplanes or helicopters would not be suitable... $\endgroup$ – Hugh Aug 14 '15 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ there is no "suitable airport" qualification in your answer. $\endgroup$ – Federico Aug 15 '15 at 6:03

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