Airbus A380 completes maiden flight

The world’s largest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380, has successfully completed its first test flight.

The A380 landed at Blagnac International airport in Toulouse, France at 14:23 local time, following a flight that lasted almost four hours.

During the flight, which took the aircraft around south west France, the six crew members explored the aircraft’s flight envelope. They tested the A380’s handling and made an initial evaluation of the comfort levels in both the main and upper decks.

Claude Lelaie, Senior Vice President of Airbus’ Flight Division and joint captain of the A380 described the maiden flight as “very successful”. He said: “There are, of course, a lot of things to be done, but after this first experience, we now really sense the potential of this magnificent machine. And even on the ground, as already felt during the initial ground tests, the A380 handles as easily as any other aircraft.”

The Airbus A380 took off at a weight of 421 tonnes (928,300lbs) – the highest ever of any civil airliner at take-off to date. Four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines power the A380. In addition to water ballasts, the equipment on board the A380 comprises a full set of flight-test instrumentation to record the thousands of parameters necessary to enable in-flight performance evaluation.

For the initial flight testing, the crew carried parachutes, and the A380 was fitted with two test instrumentation sets and work stations, one on the main deck and another on the upper deck.

The A380’s maiden voyage marks the beginning of a rigorous test flight campaign involving five A380’s including one for the certification of the Engine Alliance GP7200 on the A380 and some 2,500 flight hours.

Airbus said that the A380 is due to enter into airline service in the second half of 2006 with first operator Singapore Airlines.


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