Airbus' A380 MSN004 has returned from Iqaluit, Canada, where it successfully completed the cold weather test campaign, and is now preparing to head for Asian Aerospace '06 in Singapore. The aircraft will perform daily flying displays during the show which is due to begin on 21st February.

MSN004, the second A380 to fly, spent five days in conditions of up to minus 30 degrees Celsius to prove full functionality of the systems under extreme weather conditions. Such trials included powering up the aircraft, the engines and hydraulic systems after a full 12-hour period at such low temperatures. The batteries were taken away overnight and kept in a warm area. The next morning, batteries were reinstalled onboard the aircraft for the tests. On the way back from Iqaluit, the A380 also carried out polar navigation tests.

Earlier this month, the high altitude campaign successfully took place in Medellin, Columbia, an airport at an altitude of 5,000 feet. MSN004 spent a week there carrying out engine behaviour tests at high altitude airfields.

"Certification is a continuing process," says Claude Lelaie, Senior Vice President, Flight Division. "The current routine is two flights a day on each aircraft, six days a week, in addition to the big test campaigns. We are happy with the aircraft performance during the test campaigns so far."

To date two aircraft, MSN001 and MSN004, are equipped with heavy test instrumentation. The third aircraft, MSN002, is receiving cabin installation in Hamburg. It will soon be joined by the fourth aircraft, MSN007, 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 hot weather campaign is planned to take place in Africa this summer where the aircraft will be faced with a temperature of up to 40° Celsius.

The three Rolls-Royce-powered A380s that have taken to the air have accumulated over 250 flights and close to 900 flight hours, yielding good results. The Engine Alliance GP7200-powered A380 MSN009 will join the flight test programme as part of the certification campaign by mid-2006.

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.