A further two important milestones in the A380 programme will be celebrated today at the Airbus plant in Hamburg-Finkenwerder: the topping out ceremony, which is to take place in the equipment hall and the first arrival of the special transport ship "Ville de Bordeaux" at the new ro-ro quay facilities on the Elbe.

The foundation stone for the equipment hall was officially laid on 7 May 2003. The hall will be used to fit out the passenger cabins and service compartments of all A380 aircraft according to the airlines' wishes. It is 370 m long and 102.5 m wide and has bays for four A380 aircraft. A five-storey section houses offices, workshops and various other rooms. The clearance height of the hall is 27 m. The raised roofing above the vertical tail units in the centre of each of the assembly bays is over 31 m high. The complete process for equipping the cabin of an A380 takes 20 days and production of 48 aircraft per year is planned. Delivery of the fully equipped and painted A380 aircraft to the customers will then take place in Hamburg and Toulouse.

As Gerhard Puttfarcken, Chairman of the Airbus Deutschland GmbH Executive Management Board, pointed out: "The employees have to meet the demands of an extremely high-tech workplace in the equipment hall. Being a centre of competence for equipping cabin interiors, we have many years' experience and acknowledged know-how in this area, which will also be of benefit to us for the A380. We can be rightly proud of our important role in this aircraft of the future." The installation of the entire cabin fittings includes the cabin panelling and seats as well as the entertainment and communications systems and all the associated electronics systems. The cabin concept is highly innovative and provides maximum comfort combined with cutting-edge technology. The passengers rate an aircraft first and foremost by its interior fittings. As a result, this is an important element of A380 final assembly work.

The equipment hall is the third large-scale construction project currently underway on the 140 hectare extension of the Mühlenberger Loch site. Operations are due to begin in early 2005. The construction of the Major Component Assembly (MCA) hall next to the equipment hall began in December 2001. The hall was officially opened on 21 May. The foundation stone for the first A380 paintshop was laid on 28 March 2003. The first A380 vertical tail unit will be painted here at the end of this year.

The roll-on/roll-off (ro-ro) vessel "Ville de Bordeaux" was specially built for transporting the large A380 components. Using the ro-ro method, large components are transferred directly in and out of the ships on special transport vehicles. The ship is 154 metres long and 24 metres wide and its cargo door measures 22 by 14 metres. The "Ville de Bordeaux" was launched in late February this year at the Jinling shipyards in Nanjing, China. The special transport ship will now be loaded for the first time at Airbus in Hamburg-Finkenwerder. The location of the plant directly on the Elbe fulfils the requirements for the necessary ship and sea transport in an ideal manner. Gerhard Puttfarcken: "Transportation of the components by water is now becoming plain sailing for us. For the first time at our plant, the large fuselage sections are today being loaded onto the new, specially built ship "Ville de Bordeaux", following a journey to the Cadiz site at the end of May, where the ship collected a horizontal tail unit from our Spanish colleagues."

The Hamburg plant is delivering three fuselage sections for the construction of the A380, which all have to be transported by water due to their large dimensions. The forward section behind the cockpit and the upper half of the fuselage shell above the wings will be transported together to St. Nazaire and used in further production sequences there. The 23.79 metre long rear fuselage section will be taken via Mostyn in Britain – where the wings will also be onloaded – to Pauillac near Bordeaux and transferred to a barge. The components will then be transported approximately 40 kilometres along the Garonne to Langon and subsequently a low loader will be used to take them the final 240 kilometres by road to Toulouse. The "Ville de Bordeaux" will take six days to reach Pauillac, whilst the total transport time is 11 days.

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 BAE SYSTEMS.