Airbus' third A380, MSN 2, performed a successful first flight yesterday afternoon, 3rd November. The flight lasted three hours and took the aircraft over Southern France. During the flight, all systems were checked out and the whole flight envelope was cleared. The tests performed were similar to those of a serial production plane. The aircraft joins the first two A380s which, together, have already performed some 440 test flight hours in over 120 flights. These three development aircraft are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines.

The crew for this first flight comprised experimental test pilots Wolfgang Absmeier and Hugues van der Stichel, with Jean Piatek and Wolfgang Brueggemann as flight test engineers, and Bruno Bigand as test flight engineer.

While the first two A380s are equipped with heavy test instrumentation, this third A380 to take to the air only has a medium sized instrumentation. After complete checks, it will fly to Hamburg in the coming days, where it will be the first to be fitted with a full cabin. It will be used for cabin and cargo systems development and certification, for the Early Long range Flights to be performed with Airbus personnel, as well as for further airport compatibility trials. First airport trials were successfully performed on 29th October in Frankfurt.

Two more A380s are to join the test programme, MSN 7 which will be equipped with a light test instrumentation and will be used for Route Proving flights, and MSN 9 which will be equipped with Engine Alliance GP7000 engines.

Test flights are progressing well towards type certification in the last quarter of 2006, in time for first delivery to initial operator Singapore Airlines. So far, Airbus has received 159 firm orders and commitments from 16 customers, reflecting the success of the all-new double-decker on the market.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.