Giant Airbus set for maiden flight

26th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

TOULOUSE, France, April 25 (AFP) - The new Airbus A380, the largest commercial airliner ever built, is expected to make its long-awaited first test flight on Wednesday from its production facility here, the company said Monday.

TOULOUSE, France, April 25 (AFP) - The new Airbus A380, the largest commercial airliner ever built, is expected to make its long-awaited first test flight on Wednesday from its production facility here, the company said Monday.  

The A380, a twin-deck behemoth capable of carrying up to 800 people, is due to be flown by two veteran French test pilots, Claude Lelaie and Jacques Rosay, backed up by a team of four navigators.  

On the ground some 30 engineers will monitor the flight, which could last from one to five hours depending on the weather and on assessments by the on-board crew.  

More than 60,000 people, including 12,000 Airbus employees, are expected to witness the A380's maiden voyage, which will take it out over the Atlantic Ocean and back to its 3,500-meter (yards) run-way, according to Airbus program director Charles Champion.  

But the company stressed that barring last-minute technical problems, the flight will only take place if visibility is perfect and if the wind is not violent.   Airbus officials have also sought to minimize ceremonial aspects of the event. Company chairman and chief executive Noel Forgeard recently told journalists that it will be "a technical rather than a media event."  

Nonetheless 500 places have been set aside for journalists from around the world to witness the take-off and landing.  

The new aircraft, which makes extensive use of electronic flight systems and composite materials, is set to be the first serious challenger to the 747 jumbo jet produced by Boeing of the United States.  

The European consortium's first fully operational A380 has been undergoing ground tests since early April.  

Airbus said the plane that is due to fly on Wednesday will have Rolls-Royce engines. Clients are able to choose between Rolls-Royce and power units made by the US consortium Engine Alliance, which brings together General Electric and Pratt and Whitney.  

The first plane to fly will have no passenger seats, but will instead be packed with electronic equipment to test all aspects of its performance, Airbus said.  

Thanks to an intensive testing process involving several aircraft, the consortium is hoping to achieve flight certification for the new craft within a year, allowing the first commercial flights to take place in 2006.  

The key hurdles will be certification by the US Federal Aviation Authority and its European Union equivalent, the European Air Safety Agency.  

Singapore Airlines is due to take delivery of the first planes to come into service.  

The first production aircraft, which is the one that will be flying on Wednesday, was shown to the press on January 18 at the main Toulouse plant, in south-western France.   Airbus Industrie is 80 percent owned by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and 20 percent by BAE Systems of Britain.  

The maiden flight has been postponed several times. Airbus had initially wanted it to take place at the end of March or early April, then in early April it said it would happen in the second half of the month.

 

© AFP

Subject: French News

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