The second A380 (MSN004) has successfully taken to the air today at 10:49 a.m, joining the first A380 (MSN001) in the flight test campaign which started on 27th April. Since its first flight, MSN001 has successfully completed more than 100 flights and over 350 flight hours.

The maiden flight of the second aircraft, equipped with four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, is taking place above the region west of Toulouse and over the South West of France. The flight crew comprises experiment test-pilots Peter Chandler, and Richard Monnoyer, as well as the test flight engineer Pascal Verneau, and flight test engineers Didier Ronceray and Robert Lignee.

MSN004 is equipped with a heavy test instrumentation and is joining the first A380 in the flight test campaign, which includes environmental trials, where it will prove full functionality of engines, systems and materials under extreme weather conditions and altitude. The hot and high campaigns and cold weather trials will take place in the first half of next year. During these latter trials, the aircraft will be exposed to up to minus 40 degrees, while assuring full functionality. electromagnetic interference (EMI) tests will also be undertaken in the first half of next year, to ascertain the resistance of the aircraft to electromagnetic fields.

Charles Champion, Chief Operating Officer and Head of the A380 Programme, says: "The tests are going better than we expected and we can already say with certitude that we will deliver a great aircraft, which will live up to the expectations of the airlines and bring a step change to air transport. I am certain that the second test aircraft will continue to show that the A380 combines technological innovation with extraordinary quality and reliability."

With 105 flights and 366 flight hours, the first A380 (MSN001) is yielding very good results, and is in fact ahead of the test programme schedule. Already accomplished tests, including aerodynamics, low speed and flight vibration tests, show very good conformity with the data collected on flight simulators in preparation of the test flights. Thanks to the precision of test results, early autoland tests could start on the 17th flight, only one month after first flight.

A380 number one is now scheduled to visit Frankfurt for a first airport compatibility test at the end of this month.

In total five A380 aircraft will be involved in the flight test programme. MSN001 is mainly used for loads identification and development of flight control. MSN004 will be flying performance tests. Two additional aircraft will be equipped with full cabin installations and will undergo cabin and noise tests, as well as performing the Early Long Flights and later the Route Proving, together with further airport compatibility checks. A fifth aircraft will be used for the trials linked to the Engine Alliance GP7200 engine. The full A380 test programme represents more than 2500 flight hours.

Upon completion of the certification process the world's largest commercial airliner will be delivered to the first operator Singapore Airlines in late 2006. The A380 is already a proven success story, with 159 orders from 16 customers.

Airbus is a joint EADS company with BAE Systems.