Business Travel Tech Talk London, 16 October,
Business Travel Awards Europe, 30 October, JW
3rd Annual Business Travel Intelligence Summit
ABTN was amongst a small group of carefully selected international media who flew on the Airbus A380 as it made its official passenger debut at Toulouse today. Captained by former RAF and ex-Virgin Atlantic pilot Pete Chandler, and featuring a well turned out Air France and Lufthansa cabin crew, the Rolls-Royce Trent powered aircraft shot up to 41,000 ft (12,497m) with its light load.
The flight was made possible with the aircraft”s simultaneous certification by both the European (EASA) and US (FAA) air safety authorities. The five flying prototypes have so far amassed an incident free 2,700 flying hours. This aircraft, MSN007, is eventually destined for Etihad, who have jumped the queue somewhat by also taking two further test ”planes. It is currently fitted with 519 seats in a three-class layout, and was also used, last year, for an evacuation test. When kitted out to the maximum, it saw 853 passengers and 20 crew leaving the aircraft in just 78 seconds. It uniquely has two sets of staircases, the main one at the front and another at the rear.
Speaking at Airbus” brand new aircraft delivery centre ” in itself a mini terminal that any airport would be proud of, including
glass sided air bridges linking to both the main and upper deck of the aircraft - John Leahy, chief operating officer ” customers said: ”We have had our problems over the last 12 months and failed our delivery guarantees. No passenger airline has cancelled. I promise 20 more orders before the year end.” Mr Leahy pointed out that in every other respect Airbus has met or beaten its performance obligations.
The Airbus A380 is a quantum leap in commercial aircraft design. Besides its massive size two features stand out. Firstly its quietness, half as noisy as one of the ”big twins” on take-off, and secondly the interior space. Economy class passengers are particularly well looked after on the upper deck, which features 2+4+2 seating, large floor level window boxes which double as additional table space, and 18.5” wide seats at 32” pitch. Many 747s fly with 17.5” wide seats at 29”.