Global traveller returns home

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The world’s largest commercial airliner, the 555-seat Airbus A380, has successfully completed a series of technical route proving missions. Technical route proving is the last of the trials required for Type Certification, which is expected in mid-December.

Returning from its final route that took it over the North Pole, the MSN002 landed in Toulouse, France yesterday at 1.30 pm local time. This final flight left Vancouver, Canada under heavy snow conditions, on Wednesday 29 November at 4.25 pm local time.

The exercise took the A380 MSN002 across the globe on an 18-day trip, stopping at ten airports in the Asia/Pacific region. During the trials, the aircraft flew approximately 69,000nm / 127,788km in some 152 flight hours, with all flights performed on schedule. The aircraft was operated by Airbus flight crews. The Airworthiness Authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration also participated in the technical route proving and flew the aircraft on four legs.

According to Airbus, a major highlight of the exercise was the Johannesburg - Sydney trip over the South Pole, where the A380 demonstrated its capability to fly ultra long-range routes at maximum payload. The A380 departed Johannesburg, South Africa, its maximum take-off weight of 555 tonnes and was the heaviest aircraft ever to take off from O.R. Tambo International Airport, located at 1,680 metres above sea level. The aircraft landed at Sydney airport after a flight of around 16 hours covering a distance of 7,296nm, circling the South Pole on the way.

The technical route proving started on November 13 with four trips which included visits to Singapore and Seoul, then to Hong Kong and Narita, Japan. On the third trip, the aircraft went to China stopping at Guangzhou, Beijing and finally Shanghai on November 23. The fourth and final journey included the round-the-world trip via both poles with stops in South Africa, Australia and Canada.

Airbus says the A380 performed as expected, demonstrating that it can be turned around as per normal airline operations. Checks were made on standard maintenance and behaviour, as well as typical airport operations and compatibility.

This included the monitoring of functions such as bridge docking, cleaning and catering, refuelling and boarding procedures. The automatic landing capability of the A380 was also successfully demonstrated during a local flight performed at Johannesburg.