PARIS, (AP) – The Airbus A380 took off on its first passenger flight Monday, just months before the world’s largest airliner is set to begin carrying paying customers with Singapore Airlines.
During the seven-hour flight, which left from Toulouse, in southwest France, 474 Airbus employees aboard the plane will be putting the superjumbo’s seating, kitchens and cabin systems such as air conditioning and in-flight entertainment through their paces, Airbus said.
Up to 30 Airbus cabin experts and equipment manufacturers are on the plane, with two test pilots at the controls.
Yet to be certified for commercial service, the A380 is entering the final stages of its test program with 1,900 hours of flying time already logged by its team of test pilots. The first finished plane is due to be delivered to Singapore by the end of the year.
Airbus also appointed a new head of the A380 program Monday, as the aircraft maker and its parent company, European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., continue to assess new delays to the superjumbo that sparked a crisis of confidence earlier this year among customers and investors.
Mario Heinen, the former head of the single-aisle A320 program, is to replace A380 chief Charles Champion, who will stay on in an advisory role, Airbus said.
Christian Streiff, who replaced ousted Airbus CEO Gustav Humbert in July, is due to report back to shareholders by the end of September on the extent of the A380 delivery delays — previously estimated at about six months.