Airbus reached two major test milestones in the A380 programme this week.

In Hamburg, Germany, Airbus successfully completed the first extensive ground cabin tests in a fully-equipped A380. During five hours of testing, 474 passengers and 20 crew members simulated a 15 hour flight, during which they tried all cabin systems, such as the In-flight Entertainment System, the water and waste system and the air conditioning system.

Passengers on board the aircraft were given individual tasks to perform at certain intervals in order to simulate a maximum stress on certain cabin systems. Some passengers brought laptop computers to test the performance of the in-seat power supply.

The test included all cabin management related processes. In collaboration with Airbus cabin trainers, a cabin crew from Lufthansa ran all cabin operations in the A380 from boarding to safety instructions, galley and trolley lift operations, and full meal service. The test passengers included Airbus employees and specialists from cabin system suppliers.

Another major milestone was reached in Dresden, Germany, where fatigue tests on the A380 reached 10,000 flight cycles. The test examines the A380’s structural behavior by simulating structural stresses over a very condensed period of time. The tests are performed in purpose built hangar equipped with hydraulic cylinders to simulate structural load. The tests in Dresden started in September 2005 and will continue to run to 2008 to simulate 47,500 flights in total, including short and long-haul missions.

“These two major milestones are underlining the excellent progress of our A380 test programme," said Charles Champion, Airbus COO and Head of the A380 programme. “The result of the cabin test has shown that all systems were running smoothly. The feedback from our passengers was excellent. They enjoyed the wider seats and the unprecedented feeling of space, as well as the quietness of the cabin environment. Also the tests in Dresden are on a very good track. 10,000 flight cycles is already twice as much as we need for certification.”

The A380 is the most modern airliner in the world and is designed to carry an average of 555 passengers over distances up to 8,000 nm/ 15,000 km. To-date, 159 A380s have been ordered by 16 customers. The first A380 is due to be delivered to first operator Singapore Airlines before the end of the year.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.