Airbus is to inspect its A380 and A340-600 development aircraft after they complete flights today in volcanic ash above Europe. The manufacturer says it using the previously-scheduled development test flights to monitor engine performance and assess any damage sustained as a result of flying through the ash.

The flights involve A380 MSN004, powered by Engine Alliance GP7200 engines, and A340-600 MSN360, which is equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent 500s. The aircraft departed from Toulouse at 14.25 and 14.50 local time, respectively.

"During the flights, Airbus' experimental flight test crew will observe aircraft and engine behaviours in the ash cloud and a thorough post flight aircraft and engine inspection will be performed after landing," says Airbus.

"The A380 is planned to fly within French airspace and the A340-600 in French and German airspace as per normal procedures. Airbus will share the findings from these flights with the relevant airworthiness authorities and engine manufacturers as soon as possible."

Tom Enders, Airbus CEO, says: "We are fully committed to work in close coordination with the aeronautical community and provide all technical assistance we can. Obviously, the entire industry wants to find a solution as soon as possible and see aircraft flying again in the European skies."

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news