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Extract from an article in today's Guardian:

Executives said the A380, which cost between £140m and £157m each compared with the £84m for Boeing's new Dreamliner jet, would create 26,000 jobs in Britain and sustain a further 100,000 among suppliers. It is being built at 16 Airbus factories in Germany, France and Spain as well as in the UK.

Described by Mr Forgeard as a "cathedral", the new Toulouse plant covers the equivalent of 24 football pitches and its roof weighs four times more than the Eiffel Tower. It has been built within two years at a cost of £240m. Entire sections of the plane, including wings from Broughton, are brought by ship and then by barges up the river Garonne from Pauillac in the heart of the Claret region around Bordeaux before doing the last 155 miles in a huge, six-truck convoy travelling over three nights...

Airbus's US rival, Boeing, believes there will not be great demand for huge aircraft over the next decade and has put its faith in a new, much smaller 7E7 Dreamliner. But Airbus is pinning its hopes on the "big is beautiful" theory, leading to a US-European battle for dominance of the skies.

Airbus said it was in talks with half a dozen global airlines about buying the A380. China Eastern, already an Airbus customer, is said to be targeted, while executives made plain they wanted to dent Boeing's traditional virtual monopoly in Japan.

Mr Champion said Airbus hoped to sell 750 of the new planes into a market worth £185bn over 20 years. Airbus has 129 firm orders for the A380, with 52 options, and the new plane, which will normally have 555 seats but can carry up to 800 passengers, is due to enter service in early 2006 with Singapore Airlines.

Airbus executives have pledged to find one new customer a year as production of the plane ramps up to four a month. But, amid a sustained campaign by Boeing there have been concerns Airbus's sales campaign is faltering and it will never recoup its £6bn investment.

· The A380 will be the only twin-deck, four-aisle airliner when it goes in service in 2006

· It claims to offer about a third more seating than rivals. It will normally have a capacity of 555 passengers in three classes but can carry up to 800

· Airbus says fuel burn will be about 13% lower than its closest rival and comparable with the best small, modern turbo-diesel cars

· It has a range of up to 9,300 miles

· Airbus says it will generate half the noise of competitors at takeoff

· Additional floor space allows wider seats and aisles, and space for shops and amenities


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It has just been announced that the first test flight of the A380 is to take place on Wednesday. The weather forecast must be good!


I'll see if I can get some photos/video. Although, I imagine there will be others doing the same...

Interesting story in The Telegraph on Saturday raising concerns about safety and the A380

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I thought I might just add a few aviation snippets from here in Oz. They'll be mostly - if not all - military aviation:

- The Royal Australian Navy's 723 SQN has taken delivery of 3 x Agusta A109E POWER helicopters, under a leasing agreement with Agusta and Raytheon Australia. Raytheon will provide a 'wet lease' arrangement, providing all maintenance for the aircraft. 723 SQN crews will fly the aircraft in a variety of roles, but under contractual restrictions they will not conduct any deck landings to RAN vessels. 723 SQN is the primary aircrew training squadron within the RAN. Pilots and Observers come from their basics courses, conducted by the RAAF, and pass through 723 SQN for their rotary wing conversion before going to either Seahawk, Seasprite, or Sea King helicopters. The A109s will be used as a transition from the AS350BA Squirrel helicopter for those crews awaiting posting to one of the front-line squadrons. Primary duties will be advanced training and transport.

- The Federal Government has decided to continue on with the SH-2G(A) Super Seasprite project, against the recommendations of the Defence Department. The Super Seasprite uses refurbished airframes fitted out with state-of-the-art avionics and tactical systems, but the systems integration of all the new electronics has been causing problems. The main concern has been the Integrated Tactical Avionics System (ITAS), which has not performed satisfactorily. Flight testing has resumed in the US, but the airframes at Nowra are not expected to commence squadron flying until 2010; even then, they are expected to be in the Interim Training Helicopter (ITH) configuration rather than the Full Capability Helicopter (FCH).

- The Shark 02 Board of Inquiry has released its findings into the loss of Sea King 02 during disaster relief operations at Nias in 2005. The primary cause of the accident was an improperly fitted bolt within the main rotor flight control system, which came loose causing a loss of control. The BOI was critical of pressures placed upon maintenance personnel. A number of ADF personnel face disciplinary action or discharge. About 80% of the BOI's recommendations will have been put in place by the end of the year.

- The investigation into the loss of a Black Hawk helicopter from HMAS KANIMBLA is continuing. The aircraft crashed onto the deck during special ops training exercises off Fiji. Immediately after the crash, the aircraft rolled overboard and sunk. Two personnel were killed in the accident. Various theories for the loss have been raised in light of the witness testimony but at this time the most likely explanation is that the aircraft was flown too fast during the landing, leading to a condition knows as a vortex ring state.

- After some 20 years, the famous Qantas "flying kangaroo" logo is changing - but it's not like you'd notice. The logo has been slightly altered so that on the new Airbus airframes the 'legs' of the kangaroo pass forward of the tailplane rather than pass through it, as was the case with the previous iteration.

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