June 08, 2007

A380 takes to our skies

IT has an 80m wingspan and can carry more than 500 people.

Airbus A380 thumbnail imageBut the world's largest passenger airliner launches into the sky with cabin noise you could expect from a cruising car. The large but quiet future of long-haul air travel was revealed yesterday when Qantas and Airbus took the first Australian passenger flight of the A380 into Sydney's skies.

Frequent flyers, Qantas staff, media and VIPs including Qantas board member General Peter Cosgrove, TV host Kerri-Anne Kennerley and pioneering female pilot Nancy Bird Walton toured the double decker behemoth as it swept low over Sydney Harbour, the Opera House and Canberra on a two-hour trip, part of an Airbus promotional tour.

Passengers were impressed with the super jumbo's quiet take-off, extra leg room and overhead clearance.

"I think the noise level on take-off is dramatically lower than you would normally experience on a 747," said Roger Thiedeman of the UK-published Airways magazine.

"Admittedly we didn't have a full load of passengers or baggage but it's good. I think the seat pitch is good, I am just a shade under 6ft and I can picture myself here on a long flight. I don't think it would be terribly uncomfortable."

The touring A380 has an Airbus cabin design, which includes first and economy seats on the bottom deck and economy and business class seats on the top, along with a small lounge. Furnishings are mostly pale. There are stairs at the front and back of the aircraft.

Airbus A380 imageBig bird: The world's largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380,
takes off on a demonstration flight from Sydney airport yesterday.
Picture: AFP

Qantas has ordered 20 of the aircraft that were originally due to start being delivered last year. The first is now due in August next year and will fly from Melbourne to LA.

Details of the cabin design for Qantas have not yet been released.

The cabin can be designed with about 550 seats, but executive general manager John Borghetti said planes would have between 450 and 500 seats to allow for the cabin design the airline wants.

Read the rest of this article's at: www.news.com.au

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