Flight International Blog featured this great story from the first A380 visit to the US. This also explains why the JFK flight arrived 19 minutes earlier than the LAX flight. The rivalry is real.
Boeing has never knowingly oversold the rival A340's slowness in its own marketing presentations for the 747 and 777. The slowness of the A340-200/300 is indeed legendary - there's even a painting of a 747-400 in flight where the caption reads: "...and just below can be seen an A340 that is being overtaken". Imagine Airbus's unbridled glee therefore when on the first ever commercial route proving flight of the A380 to New York last week the opportunity came to settle some very high profile public relations scores.
The flight operated in collaboration with future A380 customer Lufthansa was cruising over the Atlantic at M0.85 and was about to slow down to coordinate with the LAX-bound A380 sister flight when the crew spotted one of BA's 747s plying its own lonely furrow to the New World. Never slow to acknowledge the broader irony of the encounter, the Airbus-Lufthansa flight crew accelerated to M0.87 and overtook it. The 747, not to be outdone, responded in kind and crept up to M0.87 as well.
The A380 soon had to drop back to M0.83 for the rest of the way however in an effort to co-ordinate its arrival with the LAX flight. It was still early ahead of schedule - landing at 12.10 at New York Kennedy and slightly ahead of the tandem LAX flight whose distinctly imaginative landing repertoire caused several raised eyebrows on either side of the continent.
By Aimee Turner