Superjumbo in test flight

10/01/2019 Posted by admin

The new plane is a challenge by the European aircraft maker to Boeing 747’s long dominance of the jumbo jet market.

The new A380 took off at 6.30pm AEST from the Toulouse-Blagnac airport in southern France after a long taxi down the runway.

The head of the Airbus flight division Claude Lelaie is piloting the superjumbo.

He confirmed the plan for the takeoff late on Tuesday.

Around 50,000 officials, spectators and media gathered to watch history made as the jet took off.

The four-engine superjumbo can carry up to 840 passengers and fly 15,000 kilometres non-stop.

It is expected to touch down at the airport between one and five hours later, “depending on the weather conditions and how the plane feels to the pilots,” said Airbus program director Charles Champion.

Airbus said perfect conditions were needed for the planned flight in terms of visibility and wind.

The prototype plane does not resemble how a passenger plane would look on the inside, and is strictly a test aircraft, loaded with 20 tonnes of equipment including work stations to monitor inflight data and other parameters.

The crew includes four senior flight engineers.

Before the flight, Airbus test pilot Jacques Rosay told the BBC they are confident that it will be a success.

“But we still have some doubts,” he said.

“We have to be very careful during all the flight because, when you are looking at new things something may happen.”

Fifteen airlines have already signed contracts for 154 planes, of which 144 are firm.

Singapore Airlines was the first to order.

The prototype plane, which debuted officially at an Airbus hangar in January, is to be used for decades as the test model for changes to the A380 over the duration of the program.

Overhead, normal commercial traffic at the airport was suspended only during the 15 minutes before the A380 takeoff.

The airspace was patrolled to intercept any suspicious planes, officials said.

Airbus is owned by European firm EADS and the UK’s BAE Systems, and the A380 is seen as the future of air travel.

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