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America on Monday (19 March) welcomed the Airbus A380 nearly 40 years, and 1,500 aircraft, after the first flight of the Boeing 747. A380 development aircraft MSN7 flew into a snowy JFK, New York, with some 500 passengers on board (some sleeping as our picture shows) as part of the commercial route requirements. On the other side of the continent A380 test aircraft MSN1 landed at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to play its role in the airport compatibility trials, performed on the spot with the assistance of Qantas Airways.
Operating out of the Lufthansa base in Frankfurt, MSN7, which is fitted with a full cabin interior, will then fly from New York to Chicago O'Hare and back to JFK on 20 March, before returning to Frankfurt on 21 March. The aircraft will then visit Hong Kong (24 March), and return to the US on tour to Washington on 25 March, and return. On its way back from Frankfurt to Toulouse, it will make a stopover in Munich on 28 March. The objective of the commercial route proving exercise, always jointly performed with an airline ” in this instance Lufthansa ” is to fine-tune the aircraft's interior systems under realistic operational conditions on a number of scheduled flights, in preparation for its entry into service later this year.
During the route proving exercise, the A380 will be flown by Airbus test pilots, and experienced and trained Lufthansa pilots. With around 500 guests on board on each of the long distance flights, in-flight service will be provided by a full Lufthansa cabin crew.
"After having brought the A380 to many airports in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and also Africa, we are proud that, on the occasion of the commercial route proving, we are now able to present the A380 to the American people," said executive vice president and head of the A380 Programme, Mario Heinen. "Both JFK and LAX, as well as Chicago O'Hare International and Washington Dulles International Airport, are key future destinations for the A380. Following this, they can confirm their readiness to receive the aircraft when customers will begin flying it there very soon."
First delivery to lead operator Singapore Airlines is scheduled for October 2007. The aircraft received joint European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Type Certification in December 2006. Firm orders and commitments stand at 166 aircraft for 15 customers.
Just prior to these important programme milestones Boeing mixed it somewhat by announcing an order for six of the new Dash 8 Jumbo freighter taking the total orders for the 747 past the 1,500 mark. Originally 500 was thought to be a good programme target.