The first of four Engine Alliance GP7200 engines has been installed on the fifth A380 test aircraft, MSN009, at the Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France. Once all four engines are installed in March the aircraft will join the flight test programme as part of the certification campaign by mid-2006.

The four GP7200 engines from American manufacturer Engine Alliance, a joint venture between General Electric Co. and Pratt & Whitney, arrived in Toulouse from Middletown, Connecticut in the United States in September ‘05 and the first has since been fitted with heavy test instrumentation to allow the measurement of some 1,000 parameters during flight test.

The GP7200 engine will produce a 70,000 lbs (311 kilo Newton) power thrust on the A380 passenger version, against a 76,500 lbs (340kN) power thrust on the A380 freighter. A380 customers are offered a choice between the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 and the Engine Alliance GP7200 engine. Among the A380 customers who have chosen the Engine Alliance engines are Air France, Emirates, FedEx, ILFC and Korean Air.

To-date, three Rolls Royce powered A380 have taken to the air and have accumulated around 245 flights and 880-flight hours, yielded good results.

The first two aircraft have been successfully carrying out trials including aerodynamics, low speed and flight vibration tests. Cold weather trials are due to take place in Canada shortly, where the aircraft has to prove full functionality under extreme weather conditions of up to minus 40 degrees Celsius. The high altitude campaign successfully took place in Colombia earlier this month while the hot weather campaign will begin in the summer.

Meanwhile, the third A380, MSN002, has been flown to Hamburg, Germany, to be fitted out with the full cabin. It will be joined by a fourth aircraft which will also undergo cabin and noise tests, as well as performing the Early Long Flights and later the Route Proving, together with further airport compatibility checks.

The full A380 test programme represents more than 2,500 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.