The Airbus A380 programme has reached the milestone of 1000 flight hours during the flight test programme for the aircraft type since the first flight of MSN1 on 27th April 2005. The 1000th flight hour was achieved after MSN1 took off from the manufacturer’s home base in Toulouse, France, at 09.40 h local time for a flight over Southern France, including the testing of the flight control system in specific weather conditions with strong winds.

Currently, four A380 development aircraft have taken to the air. The first two aircraft are fitted with heavy test instrumentation and are actively involved in the flight test programme, successfully carrying out aerodynamics, low speed and flight vibration tests. The third and fourth aircraft have been flown to Hamburg for cabin installation, and both aircraft will be used for Early Long Flights and Route Proving Flights later this year.

These four aircraft are fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, while a fifth aircraft will join the flight test programme in mid-2006 with Engine Alliance GP7200 engines. Eventually, the five aircraft will fly some 2,500 flight hours, ensuring maturity ahead of first delivery.

Already during the first 1,000 flight hours, hot and high trials were successfully completed in Medellin, Colombia in January 2006, while cold weather trials in February 2006 took place in Iqaluit, Canada, where temperatures reached -30 degrees. Also, airport compatibility tests at Frankfurt, Singapore, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Dubai yielded excellent results in late 2005.

Testing will continue throughout the year in the lead up to certification. In addition to Early Long Flights and Route Proving Flights, a hot weather campaign is scheduled for mid-year in Africa.

Upon completion of the certification process, the world’s largest commercial airliner is scheduled to 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.