The first wing for the double-deck, 555 seat A380 aircraft leaves Airbus’ factory in North Wales today on the first leg of its journey to France. This milestone in aviation history is being witnessed by hundreds of A380 workers at Broughton, near Chester, as the huge wing (measuring over 45 metres along its leading edge) is driven out of the dispatch area and off on the start of its journey to Toulouse.

Loaded onto its specialised transportation ‘jig’, which sits astride a special 96-wheel powered trailer or Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV), the starboard ‘static-test’ wing travels 1.6 kilometres along a new, specially built track to the River Dee this morning. The wing, jig and MPV together weigh around 200 tonnes and the journey involves a large crew of Airbus’ transportation and handling specialists.

The first wing will be positioned on the Dee River Craft later today, ready to start the next phase of its journey - travelling 24 km along the Dee estuary to Port of Mostyn; this is expected to take place in the next few days. Together with the port wing (which will also be moved to Mostyn, later this week) both wings will leave by ship from Mostyn shortly after Easter, heading for Bordeaux, France. From Bordeaux the trip will continue by river barge to Langon; then at Langon by special road vehicles to Toulouse – where these wings will arrive at the end of April.

UK Minister of State for Industry and the Regions, the Right Honourable Jacqui Smith MP, who viewed the wing before delivery, said: “This marks the completion of a major phase of this groundbreaking project in civil air transport. These wings, indeed the entire A380 project, are a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved through teamwork and co-operation – between industry, work force, local authorities and national governments, all coming together to turn the vision of a new super-jumbo into the reality we can see here”.

Iain Gray, Managing Director and General Manager, Airbus UK and Head of A380 Wing Programme said: “Much has been achieved in such a short space of time – especially considering the complexity and enormity of the A380 project. The decision to launch the programme was only made at the very end of 2000 and the first metal was cut in factories around Europe in mid 2002. Main assembly of the first wing began only ten months ago, it was removed from the jig in November and today we see the first completed wings. That pace is being reflected across the other Airbus factories in France, Germany and Spain and in hundreds of suppliers companies both here in the UK and around the globe.

“The scale to which Airbus has now grown means that in the UK it has become one of the mainstays of the aerospace industry and as such is of real significance for the UK economy. As well as being, without doubt, the most exciting civil aircraft programme of our time, A380 is making a valuable and growing contribution to the UK economy through the boost it is providing to the country’s aerospace and manufacturing industry”.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S, China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.


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First A380 Wing
The first wing to leave the factory, the starboard “Static Test” or “ES” wing will be used for ground based structural testing of the airframe in Toulouse. (The port wing will begin its journey later this week). The wings form part of an aircraft which will be attached to hydraulic jacks on a test rig at the ‘loading pads’ covering its surface. Static testing is part of a wide programme of tests required by the certification authorities on every new model of aircraft.

A380 Key Facts
· To date, eleven customers have placed 129 firm orders for the A380.
· The 555 seat aircraft, and a freighter version, is the largest member of the Airbus family.
· Its range will be 15,000 kilometres/8,000 nautical miles.
· Maximum take off weight (MTOW) 560 tonnes
· Wingspan 79.8 metres
· First flight is due in the first quarter of 2005
· First deliveries to customers are scheduled for 2006 – the first being for Singapore Airlines.

UK Investment
Airbus UK is investing nearly £2 billion in the A380 programme; the design, manufacture and assembly of the high tech wings and the testing of the landing gear.

UK Government
In March 2000, the UK Government agreed £530 million Repayable Launch Investment for the A380 programme. The investment is repayable as part of a public-private partnership securing a return for the taxpayer along with wider economic benefits for the UK.

UK Jobs
The A380 programme directly and indirectly sustains 100,000 jobs across the UK. Over 400 UK companies have been awarded over £7.5 billion worth of work on the programme. This is set to double to £15 billion over the life of the programme. As the A380 programme builds up, the Airbus contribution to the UK’s net exports will rise from £1 billion to more than £1.5 billion per annum.

Global Partners
Hundreds of companies are partnering Airbus on the design and build of the A380 wing. These include twelve risk-sharing partners; AS&T, BAE SYSTEMS, CTRM, EADS, Fokker, GKN, Hawker de Havilland, Labinal, Mayflower, RUAG, SAAB and Shinmaywa.

Airbus UK is responsible for the design and manufacture of the high-technology wings for all Airbus models as well as overall design and supply of the fuel system. For most Airbus models the company is responsible for overall design and supply of landing gear. Employing around 12,000 people, Airbus UK is based at two sites; Broughton, North Wales being where wing component manufacturing and wing assembly takes place and Filton near Bristol where the engineering and design activity takes place along with some manufacturing work.