British Airways’ first Airbus A318, fitted with its all-business cabin, has arrived at London Gatwick ahead of final testing before being put into transatlantic service from London City.

Flightglobal travelled on the aircraft from Airbus’ Finkenwerder plant at Hamburg on its delivery flight to Gatwick today. The ferry flight included a test of the OnAir mobile connectivity system which will allow passengers to send and receive text and email messages.

British Airways is putting the 32-seat jet – already approved for 180min extended twin-engined operations – on the London City-New York JFK route at the end of September.


 © David Kaminski-Morrow

During a short delivery ceremony at Finkenwerder, Airbus’ regional sales director for Europe, Angus Robson, said the carrier becomes only the second, behind Air France, to operate the entire A320 family.

“Over the last five or six years we’ve been approached by a surprisingly large number of people to operate [A318 aircraft] from London to New York,” he says, but says only British Airways has turned the notion into a firm project.

The twin-jet’s cockpit is fitted with a ‘steep approach’ arming switch in the cockpit’s overhead panel, which configures the aircraft’s spoilers for the 5.5° City glideslope once other landing systems on the A318 are activated.


BA A318 cockpit


 © David Kaminski-Morrow

British Airways’ Airbus flight training manager Capt Simon Kinsey says the aircraft is due to undertake steep-approach testing at the Royal Air Force base at Lyneham in Wiltshire. Lyneham offers “better facilities”, says Kinsey, than the alternative options at Manston or RAF Brize Norton.

While the aircraft’s cabin interior is already complete, British Airways is keeping the precise details away from public gaze until the inaugural flight in late September.

Source: Flight International