ASH CLOUD: No technical problems on A380, A340 tests

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Engine inspections carried out on the Airbus A380 and A340-600 sent up yesterday to assess the effects of the volcanic ash cloud did not uncover any problems.

Airbus used two previously-scheduled development test flights to fly into the ash cloud to monitor engine performance and to assess any potential damage caused by ash particles.

"The post-flight inspection showed no irregularities. We have passed the information to the engine manufacturers and the airworthiness authorities and it will be the role of the authorities to make a decision based on that," says an Airbus spokesman.

A380 MSN004, powered by Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, landed back in Toulouse at 18:00 local time yesterday after a 3hr 55min flight. A340-600 MSN360, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 500s, landed at 19.40 after flying for five hours.

The A380 operated within French airspace, while the A340-600 operated in French and German airspace.

Airbus' spokesman says that during the test flight the two aircraft "would have visited altitudes that airlines would normally visit".