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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 17:10 GMT 18:10 UK
In pictures: The A380's maiden flight
A380 takes off
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The world's biggest civilian aircraft took off on its maiden flight from Toulouse in France. For test pilots Jacques Rosay and Claude Lelaie, the Airbus A380 flight is the result of eight years of preparations.
A380 in flight
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The first A380 double-decker aircraft to take to the skies is the first serious challenger to the Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, which has dominated the skies as the largest passenger aircraft for four decades.
A380 flying
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The first Airbus A380 test flight, with the registration F-WWOW, is equipped with four massive fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, made especially for it.
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"The takeoff was absolutely perfect, the progression and the control of the plane had been exactly like that on the simulator," said chief test pilot Jacques Rosay in a live broadcast from the aircraft.
Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard
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Following the takeoff, Airbus chief executive Noel Forgeard said: "We have months and months of flight tests before we can begin our commercial service in the second half of 2006."
The A380 coming in for landing
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The A380 coming in for landing, its pilots having experienced some of the advantages of flying an aicraft made from advanced, weight-saving materials such as Glare, which weaves together thin sheets of aluminium alloy with glass fibres and epoxy.
The A380 crew celebrates a successful maiden flight
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The A380 crew was greeted by a cheering crowd, and they were equally ecstatic about the aircraft's performance. "You handle it as you handle a bicycle. It's very, very easy to fly," said chief test pilot Jacques Rosay.
A380 on the runway, soon before takeoff
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The A380, seen here soon before takeoff, is 240 feet long, 80 feet tall and has a wingspan of 260 feet.
Plane spotters gathered to witness the first A380 takeoff
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The A380 maiden flight was watched by thousands around the world via internet and television broadcasts - as well as by the international plane spotter community which had camped outside the airport for days.
Bomb squad officers secure the area outside the Airbus plant in Blagnac near Toulouse
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Security was tight ahead of the launch, with French bomb squads carrying out regular patrols.


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