The Airbus A380 successfully completed its first flight yesterday, taking the world's largest passenger aircraft one step closer to commercial service.
The A380 was taken for a test flight of just under four hours around south-westFrance, taking off and landing at Blagnac airport, nearToulouse. It is expected to fly for as many as 2,500 test hours using five developmental aircraft.
The first airline to fly the A380 will be Singapore Airlines (SIA), which ordered 10 of the aircraft in 2000, with an option on a further 15. They will operate commercially from summer 2006.
The aircraft can accommodate up to 555 seats in a three-class configuration, although SIA will fit the plane with 480 seats, including a new suite of premium class products "over and above the trademark in-flight service the airline is known for".
Emirates has made the largest order for A380 aircraft, totalling 45. The airline has hinted at plans to offer cabins with showers in first class and lie-flat seats in business.
This compares to more elaborate plans from Virgin Atlantic, which will start flying with six A380s from spring 2008, with an option to take a further six.The airline plans to operate the aircraft to JFK,Hong Kong,Sydney,Los Angeles,San Francisco andTokyo with 500 in a three-class configuration. Virgin has hinted at casinos, bars and double beds for the A380 but details have yet to be confirmed.