Giant Airbus safe home after maiden flight

27th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

27 April 2005, TOULOUSE-European aircraft maker Airbus's A380, the world's largest passenger plane, has landed safely after its its long-awaited maiden flight.

27 April 2005

TOULOUSE-European aircraft maker Airbus's A380, the world's largest passenger plane, has landed safely after its its long-awaited maiden flight.

Thousands of aeroplane enthusiasts turned up in southern France as the twin-deck 'super-jumbo' took to air for the first time, the BBC reported.

The flight lasted nearly four hours.

The plane was filled with about 20 tonnes of monitoring equipment.

Airbus, which is owned by European firm EADS in which Spain has a large stake and Britain's BAE Systems, sees the A380 as the future of air travel.

Arch-rival Boeing has instead chosen to focus on mid-sized short-haul aircraft.

The A380 - designed to carry more than 500 people between major airports - took off from its production site in Toulouse, southern France.

The six-strong crew took the plane out over the Bay of Biscay, before returning to base.

The crew did not be taking any chances, and wore parachutes during the flight. There also is a handrail that leads from the cockpit to an escape door.

Earlier Airbus test pilot Jacques Rosay told the BBC that: "We are confident with what has been done up to today.

"But we still have some doubts. We have to be very careful during all the flight because, as you say, when you are looking at new things, something may happen.

"But we are still very confident."

More than 50,000 people are thought to have watched the take off, which was also  broadcast live on television.

There is likely to be more than a year of flight-testing and certification-programme work before the A380 starts commercial services.

During the flight, there will be a live satellite feed of data which will be monitored by a team of experts on the ground, Airbus said.

The project, hailed as a European success story by leaders including Spanish prime minister Jose Rodriguez Zapatero has had its share of problems.

In December 2004, Airbus' main shareholder EADS, which has an 80% stake, revealed that the project was EUR 1.5 billion  over budget.

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Subject: Spanish news

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