The world's largest commercial airliner, the 555 seat Airbus A380, will make its British debut when it flies into London's Heathrow Airport on 18th May 2006, to carry out airport compatibility checks in conjunction with airport operator British Airports Authority (BAA). London Heathrow is likely to be the A380's first European destination when it enters scheduled service.
The aircraft, powered by four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines, will be parking at Heathrow's new Pier 6 at Terminal 3. The 280 metre long, three-storey high pier, has aircraft stands to accommodate up to four A380s at a time and four gate-rooms which together seat 2,200 passengers. The facilities are designed to handle both very large aircraft and smaller aircraft types.
Four A380s have now flown. Two aircraft are actively involved in the intensive flight test programme which has already reached over 1,000 flight hours - one of these will be visiting Heathrow. Two others are undergoing cabin installation in Hamburg.
During its UK visit, the A380 will be carrying out ground handling and airport compatibility trials. These will help to ensure that everything is ready for the aircraft's entry into service. Airlines planning to operate the A380 at Heathrow include the first to begin scheduled service - Singapore Airlines ? for whom deliveries are scheduled before year end; as well as Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways and Virgin Atlantic. Currently firm orders for the A380 stand at 159 aircraft for 16 customers.
Airbus programmes generate around 140,000 direct and indirect jobs in the UK. At least 22,000 of these jobs result from the A380 - with the figures increasing further when taking into account UK engine manufacturing through Rolls-Royce and its supply chain - which provides the Trent 900 engine as an option on the A380. More than 400 companies throughout the UK are contributing to the A380 programme, including the two Airbus UK sites (Filton near Bristol and Broughton, North Wales).
Work valued at over £7.5 billion has been placed in the UK on the A380 programme, through Britain's responsibility for its wings, landing gear and fuel systems. Over the life of the programme this figure is set to more than double to well in excess of £15 billion (plus the Rolls-Royce engines, which are set to generate work valued at a further £11 billion over the programme life).
Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.