The Airbus A380 super-jumbo Makes First Commercial Flight to Heathrow, London ~ World Amazing Information, Facts & News

Airbus SAS's A380 superjumbo made its first commercial landing in London today, making Heathrow airport the third location to be served by the plane.

The Singapore Airlines Ltd. flight arrived in the U.K. capital at about 2:50 p.m. The A380's first customer has been flying two of the 471-seat planes between the southeast Asian city-state and Sydney since October and added the London route after taking delivery of a third.

Heathrow, Europe's busiest airport, will be the biggest A380 hub, according to Toulouse, France-based Airbus, with an estimated 90 of the double-decker aircraft operating regularly there by 2020. Other Heathrow carriers with A380s on order include Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Emirates and British Airways Plc, the biggest user of the airport.

"The A380 is an important aircraft for Heathrow," airport owner BAA Ltd. said in a statement. "Its extra capacity will allow us to make efficient use of our two busy runways. It will enable traffic growth without a corresponding increase in flights, which will benefit the airport, airlines and the environment."

BAA, a unit of Spanish builder Grupo Ferrovial SA, spent 450 million pounds ($903 million) preparing for the A380 by adding a new pier at Terminal 3 and A380-sized stands at Terminal 5, which opens to the public on March 27, together with a longer baggage-claim carousel for the extra passengers and wider taxiways for the longer wingspan.

Heathrow-Friendly Design

The A380's design itself was modified to make it compliant with Heathrow's most-stringent noise requirement, known as QC2, with the engines equipped with bigger fan blades to reduce noise upon landing and takeoff.

Singapore Airlines has 19 A380s on order, powered by Rolls- Royce Group Plc Trent engines. The carrier will be the only one flying the aircraft until summer, when Qantas and Emirates get their first planes. British Airways has ordered 12 due to be delivered from 2012.

The A380 is certified to carry 873 people, including crew, but has capacity for 525 in a standard layout -- 54 more than the Singapore Airlines planes, which include 12 "suites'' for premium passengers, with a full-length bed and sliding doors.

"Seats on both legs of the inaugural flight to London were snapped up soon after flight details were announced in late January this year,'' said Huang Cheng Eng, Singapore Airlines executive vice president for marketing and regions, in an e-mailed statement. "Forward bookings for A380 scheduled services there are strong."

Daily London Service

Singapore Airlines will fly the plane from London to Singapore daily from today. The A380 made its Heathrow debut in May 2006, when a non-commercial flight arrived to test the airport's facilities.

Airbus says the A380 burns 17 percent less fuel per seat than today's biggest jetliners and U.K. Aviation Minister Jim Fitzpatrick, at Heathrow for the landing, said by e-mail that the aircraft was ", cleaner, smarter and greener than existing commercial planes."

Still, Heathrow, located in the heavily populated suburbs of west London, has become a target of criticism from environmental campaigners, many of whom say the A380's green credentials are undermined by the extra passengers it carries.

"Cleaner aircraft are certainly needed, but they are not the solution to the rising impact of aviation emissions on our climate," said Richard Dyer, a campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "Any benefits gained by building more fuel efficient aircraft will be swamped by the rapid growth in air travel."

Source: BloomBerg

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