Airbus A380 Worlds largest passenger jet makes a Vancouver stop

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

World’s largest passenger jet will visit Vancouver tomorrow

Ashley Ford

Look! Up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a . . . plane?

Tomorrow morning, Lower Mainland airplane buffs will finally get a chance to see what all the fuss is about when the Airbus A380 super-jumbo — the world’s soon-to-be largest passenger jet — arrives at Vancouver International Airport. The behemoth is flying in from Sydney, Australia, for a brief stopover as part of a round-the-world, 17-city flight test.

The massive, 560-tonne aircraft that’s capable of cruising at 1,062 km/h with more than 800 passengers, is supposed to usher in a “new century” of high-capacity air travel.

The double-decker plane is 73 metres long, 24.1 metres high with a wing span of 79.8 metres. Powered by four Roll Royce Trent 900 or General Electric-Pratt & Whitney GP-7200 turbo fans, the A380 has a service ceiling of 13,100 metres and a range of 14,800 kilometres.

Some $14 billion and 12 years in the making, the magnificent beast is still not quite ready to make its international debut with Singapore Airlines.

Unfortunately for plane spotters, the giant plane will likely not be visible from a public area of the airport and the best possible viewing spot will likely be at the Flight Path Park on Russ Baker Way at the eastern end of the south runway or on Templeton Road near the east end of the north runway.

The A380 is scheduled to touch down tomorrow at 7:30 a.m. and depart at 4:30 p.m. on its way back to its home base in Toulouse, France. Vancouver is the aircraft’s only North American stop during the test flight.

A magnificent engineering feat, the A380 has been plagued by setbacks and technical hitches that have infuriated customers, seen the firing of major Airbus executives and the loss of at least one large order.

U.S. cargo giant Fedex announced earlier this month that it had dec-ided to abandon the A380 and order 15 Boeing 777s from Airbus’s arch- rival.

The latest glitch has been installing the aircraft’s 500 kilometres of wiring.

Still, Airbus expects to receive certification for the A380 from both European and U.S. authorities on Dec. 13 and the first aircraft is set to be delivered to Singapore Airlines in October — 20 month behind schedule.

Despite its problems, there remains a great deal of faith from international airlines in the plane, including Emirates, Lufthansa, Qantas and Air France. But Emirates, which has ordered 43 aircraft, the largest individual company order, warned Airbus recently it views the delays as a “serious issue and will review its options.”

© The Vancouver Province 2006

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