The US John F. Kennedy International Airport today (19 March) welcomed the A380 as Lufthansa and European airframer Airbus completed the first ever commercial route proving exercise for the new aircraft.

The route-proving flight with 519 passengers and 26 Lufthansa flight attendants took 35 minutes to board and left Frankfurt at its scheduled departure time of 9:00am from the hub airports 25R runway.

The route proving programme assesses facilities for check-in, boarding, deboarding, fuelling, ground service equipment, catering, inflight entertainment and onboard climate.

The findings will allow ultimatelly an airline operator to draw up A380 scheduled service timetables on the basis of operational forecasts gained from route-proving.

The flights route passed over Cologne, Amsterdam, the North Sea, Manchester, Dublin, Shannon before heading out over the North Atlantic on an average latitude of 52 degrees north. It then followed the Canadian coastline before passing over Bangor and proceeding to its final destination.

Due to arrive at JFKs Terminal 1 at 12:30pm (Eastern), the aircraft landed ahead of schedule at 12:14am and even had to reduce its speed to allow awaiting US television camera teams to prepare for the arrival.

Lufthansa began its first commercial route proving exercise on March 17 with the touchdown of the A380 at Frankfurt Airport. On March 20 it is scheduled to fly from New York to Chicago will return to New York on March 21 and return the same day to Frankfurt, landing on the morning of March 21.

On Friday 23 the aircraft will depart for Hong Kong, returning on Sunday March 25 at around 15.10 where Lufthansa will attempt a two hour turnaround before the aircraft departs for Washington.

On March 27 it will return to Frankfurt where it will complete further ground tests before visiting Munich and then onwards to Toulouse.

Four Lufthansa flight captains navigated the wide-body jet together with two Airbus test pilots - the first line pilots to be qualiified to fly the A380.

Lufthansa has a total 15 A380s on order plus five options. The airline will receive its first aircraft in summer 2009 with deliveries due to be completed in 2015. Every tenth A380 manufactured will be delivered to Lufthansa making it the largest A380 operator in Europe.

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