PICTURES & VIDEO Emirates takes delivery of its first A380, all set for inaugural

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Emirates Airline president Tim Clark says he is satisfied with Airbus's efforts to prepare the airline's first A380, ahead of the handover and service entry this week, with the aircraft coming in 1t lighter than expected.

Speaking to Flight International at the unveiling last week of a one-third scale A380 advertising model at London Heathrow, Clark said the delivery process of the airline's first A380 (MSN011) went "like clockwork".

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Delivery of the first of 58 on order is taking place today at Airbus's Hamburg plant, with service entry between Dubai and New York Kennedy set for 1 August.

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 © Airbus

After the first New York round-trip this week, the A380 will return to the USA on 3 August for a US West Coast "roadshow", during which it will visit San Francisco and Los Angeles.

With the empty weight of early A380s being almost 5t heavier than planned, Emirates has been closely monitoring the weight of its first aircraft.

"We've weighed it four times, and the last time it came in 1t lighter than before," says Clark. He explains that the "reduction" was "all to do with the way the fluids such as potable water were calculated".

Emirates, which is launch operator for the Engine Alliance GP7200-powered A380, is due to receive its first five aircraft by January next year. It was originally due to take delivery of its first A380 in October 2006 but this progressively slipped in the wake of the 2005 production problems - first to 2007 and then to 2008.

Cabin furnishing of the second aircraft is "well advanced" says Clark, and is due to be delivered in September. Its arrival will enable New York frequencies to be increased from twice a week to a daily operation in October. London Heathrow will join the network in December, and Sydney and Auckland will join the network from next February.

Clark says delivery of the next batch has been affected by the A380 "Wave 2" production delays and will now arrive later in 2009 than planned. "These had been due in April, June and August," he says, but deliveries will not now start until September.

Emirates is also taking two of the five A380 development aircraft including MSN007 (one of the Rolls-Royce Trent-powered aircraft that will be re-engined) and MSN009, the Engine Alliance GP7200-powered test aircraft.

The GP7200-powered version of the A380 was certificated in December last year. Clark says the engines have performed well so far and he has "heard a whisper from the engineering department that the engine's fuel burn is 1% ahead" although this has not yet been fully verified.


VIDEOS: View our collection of videos including interviews with Airbus' John Leahy and Emirates Airline president Tim Clark about the A380 and Fligth International deputy editor Max Kingsley-Jones is shown around the carrier's business class suite on the aircraft upper deck.....