The “Empress of the sky”

The “Empress of the sky”

“Here she comes, the empress of the skies,” exclaims the commentator as the A380 rolls and takes-off on the Dubai airport runway. Every afternoon the aircraft takes to the sky, performing steep climbs, sharp turns and low speed fly-passes with a light grace amazing in an aircraft this size.

23 November 2005


“Here she comes, the empress of the skies,” exclaims the commentator as the A380 rolls and takes-off on the Dubai airport runway. Every afternoon the aircraft takes to the sky, performing steep climbs, sharp turns and low speed fly-passes with a light grace amazing in an aircraft this size.

And every afternoon, under the blinding sun, crowds of people come out of the chalets, on the steps and on the runway, to watch the A380 demonstrate its manoeuvrability before it lands softly, closing the flight display for the day.

The A380 remains the star of the show and as the 9th edition of the Dubai Airshow draws to a close, the interest of the public does not flag. A constant stream of visitors keeps registering to visit the A380 in the morning while the aircraft is parked in front of the Airbus chalet.

For the A380 test crew in Dubai, this public interest involves a change from their normal flight test routine. Becoming an A380 ambassador however is not flight test engineer Jacky Joye’s vocation. “Being a flight engineer in the afternoon is not difficult, I do it every day. Doing PR in the morning, I’ll get used to it,” he says with a half smile.

Dubai is the first air show outside Europe featuring the A380 and visitors are rather different from those in Paris. “In Paris, visitors were VIPs, Presidents, Ministers. Here the public is more varied. There are VIPs but you also have business people, pilots, people who are interested in aviation and mostly people who are curious to see the biggest plane in the world,” explains Jacky.

“Visitors are generally amazed at the size of the aircraft,” he says. Jacky likes to give them a few striking facts such as the 250 tonnes of fuel the A380 can take - the equivalent in weight of an A340, how many people it can carry and how far.

Visitors are also surprised by the interior. They expect to see a VIP cabin and instead they see test equipment. However they can try for themselves the large staircase and ask questions from the crew who, with more than one thousand visitors in a week, have become the best PRs for Airbus!