Queen Elizabeth Names Virgin Atlantic’s Newest Airbus

Her Majesty The Queen today named Virgin Atlantic Airways’ latest Airbus
A340-600 “Queen of the Skies” at a ceremony at the Airbus factory in
Toulouse, France. The event was part of a British state visit to France to
celebrate the centenary of the Entente Cordiale.
Welcoming this honor Sir Richard Branson, Chairman of Virgin Atlantic,
said:
“It’s an incredible honor to have one of our aircraft named by Her
Majesty The Queen.  It is also a tremendous tribute to the hard work and
professionalism of everyone at Virgin Atlantic who help us fly the flag
for Britain all round the world.  We took delivery of our very first
Airbus A340 just over ten years ago when we had only nine aircraft in
our fleet. “Queen of the Skies” will bring our total to well over three times that number.”

Virgin Atlantic operates one of the world’s youngest fleets of aircraft.
With the addition of “Queen of the Skies” the fleet comprises of 29
aircraft, thirteen Boeing 747-400s, nine Airbus A340-300s and seven
A340-600s. The current average age of the fleet is 5 years and two months.

The new A340-600 entered service with launch customer Virgin Atlantic in
July 2002. The inaugural flight took place at the Farnborough Air Show
where the aircraft was visited by His Royal Highness Prince Andrew. The
-600 series retains the same fuselage cross section as the -300, but is
some 11.6m longer, at 75.3m making it the longest civil aircraft in the
world. The A340-600 is designed to fly up to 7250 nm with a full payload
of passengers and is configured with 311 seats in the Virgin Atlantic
three class layout. The aircraft is powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 500
engines each delivering 56,000lb of thrust. The aircraft is almost
precisely 50% British built. The engines are built by Rolls Royce in Derby
and the wings are manufactured by Airbus-UK, Broughton. Other parts and
final assembly takes place at Toulouse.

All Virgin Atlantic aircraft carry the famous “flying lady” in homage to
aviation’s golden era. The image is based on one of illustrator Alberto
Vargas’ well known “Varga Girls”, who decorated the sides of many aircraft
in the 40’s and 50’s. Virgin Atlantic’s flying lady proudly flies the
Union Jack—illustrated to appear as the lining of her cape.

Following the maritime tradition aircraft are viewed as being female and
each Virgin Atlantic aircraft carries its own name as well as its unique
registration. Virgin Atlantic has traditionally named its aircraft around
a small number of themes—the colour red, the destinations Virgin
serves, Virgin’s popular music heritage and the celebration of flight.
Examples include:

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  - African Queen
  - Ruby Tuesday
  - Cosmic Girl
  - Indian Princess
  - Atlantic Angel
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