Production Delays Have Not Slowed Pace Of Testing
For all the problems
reported recently concerning the Airbus A380, it's easy to forget
there are four examples of what will, eventually, be the world's
largest commercial airliner flying in the company's test program.
Those planes are racking up some serious flight hours, as well.
In fact, the flight test program is nearing its end -- as Airbus
announced this week the 555 seat Airbus A380 will start its
technical route proving exercise on November 13, to carry out
function and reliability tests at several airports around the
world. This exercise is the last of the trials required for Type
Certification, which is expected in mid December.
For the trial, the aircraft has to make over 150 flight hours on
a continuous typical airline schedule -- performing in its normal
operational environment. The aircraft will be operated by Airbus
flight crews, with the participation of Airworthiness Authority
pilots from both EASA and FAA.
The aircraft used for the trial is A380 MSN002, which is powered
by four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines.
Starting from Toulouse, France, it will be visiting ten
different airports in four trips. They include Singapore and Seoul
during the first trip (November 14-15), then Hong Kong and Narita
on November 18-19. The third trip brings the aircraft to Guangzhou
on November 22, and Beijing and Shanghai on November 23.
The fourth and final trip will take the A380 around the globe,
via both poles. It will depart Toulouse to reach Johannesburg on
November 26, and then fly over the South Pole en-route to Sydney
where it will arrive on November 28. From Sydney, it will fly
across the Pacific to Vancouver prior to returning to Toulouse via
the North Pole.
During this technical route proving exercise, the A380 will have
to demonstrate that it can be turned around as per normal airline
operations. Tests will cover, amongs other things, checks on
standard aircraft maintenance and behavior, as well as typical
airport operations and compatibility. These will include monitoring
functions such as bridge docking, cleaning and catering, refuelling
and boarding procedures.
Five development A380s have now flown. Four aircraft -- one of
which is powered by the Engine Alliance GP7200 engine -- are now
actively involved in the intensive flight test program, which has
already reached over 730 flights and 2,300 flight hours. The fifth
aircraft is undergoing cabin installation in Hamburg.
Firm orders and commitments for the A380 currently stand at 176
aircraft for 16 customers.