The eagerly awaited arrival of the Airbus A380 took place yesterday at Le Bourget on a beautiful sunny morning at 09:45 local time. The aircraft, piloted by Airbus chief test pilot Jacques Rosay, arrived from Toulouse 15min early, causing people to scramble from stands and chalets as the show early birds sought to catch their first live glimpse of the new "superjumbo".

"The landing was perfect," exclaimed Rosay as he departed the aircraft to be greeted by a media scrum. It had taken nearly an hour to park the A380, with the final phase seeing it gingerly manoeuvred into its static position right outside the Airbus chalet. As it came to a stop, Rosay waved to a packed Airbus chalet from the cockpit window to a cheer from the crowd.

"This is a success for all the company of course," says Rosay, brushing aside suggestions that the aircraft's delivery delays or the simmering trade subsidies row with Boeing had taken any of the shine off Airbus's big day. "Technically the aircraft is in excellent shape," he said, adding that the flight test programme is proceeding on plan.

The flight from Toulouse was number 22 for the A380, which has amassed 95 hours in the air, including yesterday's two-hour trip from the south of France, said Fernando Alonso, Airbus vice-president flight test. It had always been Airbus's objective to bring the aircraft to Le Bourget, but "if we had the least problem it would not have come here," he says. "It is a sign of how things are going quite well that we can afford to be here for a week."

Rosay will probably fly the A380 every day during the show with a routine similar to that of the A340-600. "But it will be very gentle, we want it to be very, very quiet and calm," he says.

Existing and potential customers are eager to be among those lucky enough to see inside the aircraft during the show, said Rosay. "Everybody is very interested in seeing the aircraft," he said. Inside it is packed with instrumentation and water ballast tanks on both passenger decks. On the top deck is a forward galley area with overhead luggage bins that will be converted into a small passenger cabin for when the flight tests move to other countries for hot and cold weather testing. For instance, the Airbus team will take the A380 to La Paz in Bolivia for hot and high testing, while it could find itself in Reykjavik in Iceland to find strong crosswinds.

After Le Bourget the A380 will resume its intense flight test programme. Later this year it is scheduled to make an appearance at November's Dubai Airshow.




Source: Flight Daily News