The world’s largest commercial airliner, the 555 seat Airbus A380, will start its technical route proving exercise on 13th November 2006 to carry out function and reliability tests at key airports around the world. This exercise is the last of the trials required for Type Certification, which is expected in mid December. For the trial, the aircraft has to make over 150 flight hours on a continuous typical airline schedule, performing in its normal operational environment. The aircraft will be operated by Airbus flight crews with the participation of Airworthiness Authority pilots from both EASA and FAA.
The aircraft used for the trial is A380 MSN002 and is powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines. Starting from Toulouse, France, it will be visiting ten different airports in four trips. They include Singapore and Seoul during the first trip (14th and 15th November), then Hong Kong and Narita on 18th and 19th November. The third trip brings the aircraft to Guangzhou (22nd November), and Beijing and Shanghai (23rd November).
The fourth and final trip will take the A380 around the globe, via both poles. It will depart Toulouse to reach Johannesburg on 26th November, and then fly over the South Pole en-route to Sydney where it will arrive on 28th November. From Sydney, it will fly across the Pacific to Vancouver (29th November) prior to returning to Toulouse via the North Pole.
During this technical route proving exercise, the A380 will have to demonstrate that it can be turned around as per normal airline operations. Tests will cover, amongst other things, checks on standard aircraft maintenance and behaviour, as well as typical airport operations and compatibility. These will include monitoring functions such as bridge docking, cleaning and catering, refuelling and boarding procedures.
Five development A380s have now flown. Four aircraft, one of which is powered by the Engine Alliance GP7200 engine, are now actively involved in the intensive flight test programme, which has already reached over 730 flights and 2,300 flight hours. The fifth aircraft is undergoing cabin installation in Hamburg. Firm orders and commitments for the A380 currently stand at 176 aircraft for 16 customers.