Airbus kicked off the A380’s “early long flight” (ELF) test programme this morning, when development aircraft MSN002 (F-WXXL) took off from Toulouse with 474 passengers on board.

The A380’s first take-off with a full complement of passengers occurred at 09:58 today, and is the first of four ELF flights during which the occupants - comprising Airbus employees and cabin experts - will put the cabin through its paces.

Passengers for the flight, which appeared as flight XL001, took off from Toulouse airport passenger terminal (see picture below).

A380 ELF boarding screen W445 

 A380 ELF check-in
 All images © Airbus

 A380 ELF boarding
 A380 ELF boarding 02 W445

Airbus’s experimental test pilot Frank Chapman is captaining the first ELF test with chief test pilot Jacques Rosay and chief instructor pilot Jacques Drappier alongside him.

The four ELF tests, which are round-trips from Toulouse, will take place this week and last 7h, 10h, 12h and 15h respectively. The flights will be operated as a standard airline service. One of the trips will be night flight, to cover all types of flight conditions. The shorter flights will route through France, Spain, the UK and Germany. The longer flights will be flown as far as to Norway in the north and to the Canary Islands in the south.

A380 MSN002 is the first aircraft to incorporate a fully furnished cabin, which features a three-class configuration with a total of 474 seats. Airbus says that passengers on the first flight include 20 to 30 cabin experts from Airbus and equipment manufacturers who will check the cabin systems functioning, including air conditioning, lighting, acoustics, in-flight entertainment, galleys, electrics, toilets and water waste systems.

In total, the five A380s involved in the flight test programme have accumulated almost 1,900 flight hours in 600 flights to date. Certification and first delivery to Singapore Airlines is due at the end of the year.