A380 MSN2 took off from Toulouse-Blagnac (southern France), for the fourth and last of the planned Early Long Flights this morning at 7 a.m. for a 15-hour flight. Once completed, the total distance flown by the A380 during these four flights will be equivalent to a little more than one trip around the world. All four flights were performed out of Toulouse.

The series of four "ELF" passenger flights was launched on Monday 4 September, when it started with a seven-hour flight, followed on Tuesday the 5th by a ten-hour flight. In the night of Wednesday the 6th to Thursday the 7th a night flight of 12 hours was performed, to be followed by today's 15-hour flight. All four flights went extremely smoothly, the aircraft operating as expected. Passengers - all Airbus employees - totalled 1,900. All have been asked to fully test the cabin and cabin systems so as to ensure the aircraft's maturity and excellent operational standards at entry into service.

"The flights have all gone very well and it has been a real pleasure to fly Airbus employees for their first trip on the A380," said Claude Lelaie, Head of Airbus Flight Operations. "Despite the cabins being almost totally full, what was most striking was the impression of spaciousness. Another striking feature is its outstanding quietness," he added.

Passengers were asked to fill in a questionnaire giving their impressions on cabin systems including air conditioning, lighting, acoustics, in-flight entertainment (IFE), galleys, electrics, toilets and water waste systems. Comments were globally extremely positive. The aircraft was configured in three classes in order to test different cabin layout options and seat arrangements. The flights were operated in standard airline conditions.

Average cruise speed during the flights was at 0.85 mach (850 km/h). During the flights, the aircraft also reached its cruising ceiling of 43,000 feet/13,106 meters. Overall, the four flights will have totaled 41,750 km in distance of a little more than one trip around the world. After today's flight has landed, the A380 test programme will have reached 2,000 flight hours in 616 flights since the first flight on 27 April 2005.

With 159 firm orders from a total of 16 customers, the Airbus A380 is already a proven success story and set to become the flagship commercial aircraft of the 21st Century.

Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.