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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 March 2006, 16:49 GMT 17:49 UK
A380 evacuation test is approved
The Airbus A380 on its maiden flight last year
The A380 has been testing for nearly a year
European and US air safety authorities have approved last weekend's evacuation test of the Airbus A380 super-jumbo, the aeroplane-maker has confirmed.

Approval from the European Aviation and Safety Agency and the US Federal Aviation Administration confirms the plane's maximum 853-person capacity.

During the A380's evacuation test in Germany, one man broke his leg and another 32 people had minor injuries.

To date, 159 of the twin-deck planes have been ordered by 16 airlines.

'Milestone'

Under the evacuation test, 853 volunteer "passengers" and 20 crew members left the aircraft within 78 seconds.

THE EVACUATION DRILL
853 passengers and 20 crew taking part
Lights were out in cabin
Debris was strewn across cabin
Half of exits were closed
Passengers were not told which exits were in use
Passengers had to wear their seat belts
Evacuation took 80 seconds
Drill had to feature at least 40% women, 35% people over 50

According to the set regulations, the test was performed in complete darkness, using only half of the 16 exits on the A380.

Charles Champion, head of the A380 programme at Airbus, said the approval of the test was a "major milestone" on the plane's way to gaining its certification for public use.

"This is an exceptional result and a remarkable success for Airbus," he said.

"I would like to thank all participants, the crew and all teams who worked for months on this exercise. They did a fantastic job."

Realistic passenger mix

To make the drill as realistic as possible, the volunteers represented a broad-cross section of the population in terms of age and sex.

About 40% of those taking part were women, while 35% had to be over the age of 50.

Three life-size dolls were carried on board to represent children under two years old.

The first A380s are due to go into service with Singapore Airlines at the end of this year.




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