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Last Updated: Friday, 7 May 2004, 06:16 GMT 07:16 UK
The 'superjumbo' goes into production

Early advertisement for the A3XX

Dreamt up in the early 90s, production has started of the world's biggest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380 (originally A3XX)

Air France Boeing 747 Jumbo

The plane was conceived as a rival to Boeing's ageing 747 Jumbo (above), which, for 30 years, has dominated in the size stakes.

A380 mock-up in Toulouse

The A380 will typically seat 555 passengers, although only a fortunate few will enjoy the sort of luxury shown in this mock-up.

Mock-up in Toulouse, France

With twin decks running the length of the plane, there will be staircases at the front and rear.

Loading part of the aft fuselage

Sections of the plane are individually manufactured across Europe: wings in the UK; fuselage in France and Germany...

Test plane in Toulouse, France

...and tailfins in Spain. By air, sea and road they will be transported to Toulouse for final assembly.

Computer mock-up

Airbus has 129 orders for the A380 superjumbo on its books. The first is due to go into service in March 2006.

Boeing board and 7E7

Meanwhile, America's Boeing is staking its future on the new mid-size 7E7, after scrapping plans to stretch the Jumbo.

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