Expects 2500+ Total Before First Customer Plane Delivered
Airbus announced Friday
the Airbus A380 test program has reached the milestone of 1000
flight hours since the first flight of MSN1 on April 27, 2005. The
1000th flight hour was achieved after MSN1 took off from the
manufacturer’s home base in Toulouse Friday for a flight over
Southern France, including the testing of the flight control system
in strong winds.
There are currently four A380 development aircraft flying. The
first two aircraft are fitted with heavy test instrumentation, and
are active participants in the flight test program, carrying out
aerodynamics, low speed and flight vibration tests. The third and
fourth aircraft have been flown to Hamburg for cabin installation,
and both aircraft will be used for Early Long Flights and Route
Proving Flights later this year.
All four test aircraft are fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 900
engines, while a fifth aircraft slated to join the flight test
program in mid-2006 will feature Engine Alliance GP7200 engines.
Eventually, the five aircraft will fly some 2,500 flight hours
before the first customer A380 is delivered.
Milestones already under the A380's belt include successful
completion of hot and high trials, which were performed in
Medellin, Colombia in January 2006, while cold weather trials in February 2006
took place in Iqaluit, Canada -- where temperatures
reached –30 degrees.
Also, airport compatibility tests at Frankfurt, Singapore,
Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai yielded excellent results
in late 2005 -- meaning, the A380 was able to land without
collapsing the runways at those airports.
A possible setback in the program is the recent failure of an A380 wing during
load testing. The wing buckled just shy of the
required certification target of 1.5 times the wing's rated load
limit. The breech occurred as a load equivalent of 1.45 times the
rated limit was placed on the wing -- 3.3 percent shy of the
While Airbus has been silent on whether the failure might mean
modifications are required to the wing -- and if the certification
might be delayed once again should such mods be needed -- Airbus
representatives did tell Aero-News that testing will continue
throughout the year in the lead-up to certification. In addition to
the Early Long Flights and Route Proving Flights, an additional hot
weather testing campaign is scheduled for mid-2006 in Africa.
Upon completion of the certification process, the world’s
largest commercial airliner is scheduled to be delivered to the
first operator Singapore Airlines in late 2006.
Airbus currently has 159 orders for the A380, from 16