At Airbus in Hamburg today, the first equipped fuselage section for the 555-seat superjumbo A380 was ceremoniously unveiled. This section represents the forward part of the fuselage, which will later be united with the cockpit section. Among the roughly 3,000 guests in the new major component assembly hall (MCA Hall) located on the Airbus site extension was Ole von Beust, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. In his words of welcome, he emphasized the outstanding importance of Airbus for the aeronautics site Hamburg.

The forward fuselage section is approximately 11 metres long, has a maximum cross section of 8.4 metres and weighs ten tonnes. It is the first component from Hamburg that will later also actually be part of the first Airbus A380 to fly. The floor panels for the upper, main and lower decks are being manufactured at Elbe Flugzeugwerke in Dresden. Further important suppliers are, for example, Eurocopter (doors), Labinal (cable harnesses) and Spekon (insulation). Previously, a forward fuselage section had already been transported from Hamburg to St. Nazaire by ship. This was a structural test airframe, which had been manufactured for test purposes only.

In his speech, Gerhard Puttfarcken, Chairman of the Airbus Deutschland GmbH Executive Management Board, emphasized: "Today marks a further milestone on the route to the first flight of the A380, planned for early 2005. At all Airbus sites in Germany and the rest of Europe, A380 production is running on schedule. The same applies to the plant extension here in Hamburg, which includes the construction of new halls and state-of-the-art production facilities. We shall all achieve our goal of delivering the first Airbus A380 to its purchaser in the spring of 2006."

Along with the forward fuselage section, two days later an upper fuselage shell and a rear fuselage section will leave the Hamburg plant by water. However, the upper shell and rear fuselage section will not be used for a flying A380 but are destined for use in static and dynamic crash tests in Toulouse and Dresden. Major component assembly had started at Hamburg in August last year. Series production of four A380 aircraft per month is due to begin in the year 2008. To date, there are 129 firm orders for the A380 from eleven customers around the world.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with