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Airbus A380
makes first commercial flight

Please note that this is a reprint of an article that was written almost 15 years ago when I was traveling in Australia. Coincidentally, the first commercial flight of Airbus’ new A380 was arriving at the Sydney Airport and I was able to take a few photos of the event.

Original date: October 25, 2007

Today I flew into Sydney. My 14 hour flight from Los Angeles arrived at Kingsford Smith Airport at 6:00 in the morning local time. That’s pretty early if you ask me.

Coincidentally, the first commercial flight of the Airbus A380 will be landing at this same airport in less than 12 hours. As I am anxious to return to the airport to see the A380’s arrival, I first drive to my scheduled meeting, have a quick lunch and finally return to the airport at about 3:30PM, early enough to find a vantage point from which to view the super jumbo’s arrival.

A few days before, the two emails that I sent to the Sydney Airport Media Staff failed to reach the intended recipients leaving me without a press pass. So I’ll have find another way to view the arrival.

I walk around the airport looking for a suitable viewing area and finally settle on the observation deck that overlooks the expansive tarmac. When I climb the stairs to the observation deck, there are only a dozen or so onlookers. But by 5PM, the number has mushroomed to about 150; most clutching cameras to record the A380’s arrival. The crowd is very excited to witness this historic arrival.

SQ Flight 380 left Singapore’s Changi Airport at 8AM with 455 enthusiastic passengers. While this is the first revenue flight for the A380, all of the tickets were sold by auction on eBay to raise money for charity. In all, more than $1.4 million was collected and will be shared by two children’s hospitals in Australia. According to Singapore Airlines sources, the two highest priced tickets were sold to a Englishman for about $50,000 US each.

The A380 just moments after landing

The weather is cloudy and heavily overcast afternoon. We can all see four news helicopters hovering nearby Rwy 34L to record the momentous event.

From out of the clouds the A380 appears. It gently touches down 7-1/2 hours after takeoff at 5:25 PM local time and taxis nearly the full length of the runway, turning directly in front of the Observation Deck, makes a 180 onto the taxiway and then heads a short distance to Gate 55.

on the way to Gate 55

From the Observation Deck, I hurry down to the area inside the terminal that overlooks the Singapore Airlines parking gates. There I find another two hundred interested observers lined up with their nose pressed against the glass windows getting a glimpse of the behemouth!

Hundreds of interested onlookers crowd around the window to see SQ380 dock at Gate 55.

Dozens of service staff are prepared to service the giant A380 after the arrival. Singapore Airlines flies the return flight tomorrow evening at 10PM.

Regular A380 flights between Singapore and Sydney begins Sunday, October 28th, replacing a flight previously operated with a Boeing 747. The price for a round trip ticket between the two cities on the A380 is about $1000 US.

While Airbus has designed the A380 to accommodate up to 800 passengers, Singapore Airlines has outfitted this aircraft for 12 first class suites each with a lie flat bed, 22″ LCD screen, work table and power supply, 60 business class seats that can be transfored to flat beds and 15″ LCD screen and 399 economy seats with 10″ LCD screens.

The A380 is powered by four Rolls Royce engines which can fly the the 1.2 million pound aircraft at Mach .89 about 9,700 miles. Airbus claims that the A380 will deliver a 20% savings in cost of operations compared to older aircraft.


Author: Arnie Lee

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