27 April, 2005: Aviation history was made this morning when the first A380, the world’s largest commercial aircraft, successfully took off on its maiden flight, leaving Blagnac International Airport in Toulouse, France at 10.29 hours local time (08.29 UTC) from runway 32L. The A380 first flight is taking place above the region west of Toulouse and South West France.
The A380’s first flight is being jointly captained by Claude Lelaie, Senior Vice President of Airbus’ Flight Division and Chief Test Pilot and Vice President Jacques Rosay. The other crew members are Fernando Alonso, Vice President Flight Division, Flight Test Engineering, who leads a team of two other flight test engineers Jacky Joye and Manfred Birnfeld, and test flight engineer Gérard
For its first flight, Airbus’ 21st century flagship, carrying the registration F-WW0W, took off at a weight of 421 tonnes / 928,300 lbs, the highest ever of any civil airliner at take-off to date. It is powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. 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 analysis. Being a true twin-aisle double-decker, the test A380 is fitted with two test instrumentation sets and working stations, one on the main deck and another on the upper deck.
Prior to taking off, the A380 had successfully completed a series of ground tests, which started in the summer of 2004 when the electrical power was put on for the first time (so-called “power-on” milestone). Since then Airbus has systematically and exhaustively tested all A380 systems, from hydraulics to electrics, and all parts of the airframe structure, including static testing and wing and fuselage load testing; a programme that has been carried out over thousands of hours at centres across France, Germany and the UK.
The first flight marks the beginning of a flight test campaign involving as many as 2,500 hours of test flights on a total of five development aircraft. This rigorous sequence of test flights will lead to the certification of the A380 by the European and US airworthiness authorities, allowing the world’s largest commercial airliner to enter into service in the second half of 2006 with first operator Singapore Airlines.
BY A CORRESPONDENT