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New Delhi hosts world’s biggest aircraft
New Delhi, May 6, 2007 :
The world’s biggest passenger aircraft — Airbus A380 — that can seat up to 850 passengers today
cruised through Indian skies and landed in the Capital for the first time.
The A380, the world’s first double-deck passenger aircraft, landed at 10.30 am at the Indira Gandhi
International Airport at Runway 10. The aircraft, in Delhi as the part of world tour, was parked at the terminal
near the Air Traffic Control (ATC) building. The four engined airliner has been manufactured by European
Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.
For onlookers, who gathered in large numbers on roads leading to the airport, the massive jet appeared to
be hanging in the air. That is because even though it was moving at a high speed, because of its sheer size it
seemed to be moving slowly to the naked eye as compared to smaller aircrafts.
The plane, having a wingspan of 261.8 feet (79.8 m), a length of 239.5 feet (73 m) and a maximum take-off
weight of more than 5,40,000 kg (1.2 million pounds), is almost as big as a football field.
It is expected to enter commercial service with Singapore Airlines later this year. In India, private
airline Kingfisher is the only carrier that has a firm order for five A380 aircrafts. Kingfisher is due to take
delivery of the aircraft in 2011-12.
A380 can land and take off on any runway that can accommodate a Boeing 747, but airports will have to do
some modifications for its weight and wingspan. Incidentally, only three airports in India-Delhi, Mumbai and
Kochi-can accommodate to the aircraft.
The A380, created by a consortium of aerospace companies, is being seen as future of aviation, responding
to airline calls for a bigger plane to meet increasing passenger numbers flying between major hubs.
Manufacturer Airbus says that since the plane can carry more passengers over longer distances, it can ease
congestion, both in the air and on the ground. And for airports, concerned about congestion in the air as well
as airports, anything that increases the number of passengers without increasing the number of flights should be
welcome. As per the manufacturer, it has firm orders and commitments for 166 aircraft from 15 customers.
The aircraft has a maximum range of 15,000 km, sufficient to fly from Chicago to Sydney nonstop and a
cruising speed of 900 km per hour. It first flew on April 27, 2005 from Toulouse, France, and is set to
challenge the Boeing 747's long dominance of the jumbo jet market. The manufacturer is selling it in two
models-the A380-800- that can carry 555 to 853 passengers. The second model, the A380-800F, is the world's
largest freight aircraft and can carry 150 tonnes of cargo.
Due to long delays in production of the A380, two A380-800 freighter customers cancelled their orders and
several launch customers deferred delivery or considered switching their order to the competing Boeing at
significant cost to Airbus. Reportedly, the manufacturer suffered a loss of $1.01 billion in October-December as
the aircraft saw delays in production.
The A380 touch down for the first time in India is to mark the second anniversary celebrations of
Kingfisher airlines. During its India visit, it will take some VIPs on a flight over Delhi and on Tuesday it
will take off for Mumbai. The 80-feet-tall giant aircraft will be fly flying off from Mumbai on May 9.