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Last Updated: Wednesday April 27 2005 13:07 GMT

Giant plane completes test flight

The Airbus A380 is the world's biggest passenger plane
The world's largest passenger plane, the Airbus A380, has completed its test flight and safely returned to base.

The double-decker plane took off from Toulouse in southern France, with 50,000 spectators cheering it on.

There were six people on board and 20 tonnes of test equipment on the five-hour flight. The crew flew the massive plane over the Bay of Biscay.

"Everything is absolutely perfect. The speed on take-off was exactly as we had expected," the test pilot said.

Biggest plane in the skies

There is likely to be over a year of flight-testing and other checks before regular passengers can jump on board.

At the moment, the Boeing 747 is the biggest passenger plane in the skies, but the A380 will overtake it.

Just how big is it?
There should be lots of room inside the plane
The A380 is the length of eight London buses
70 cars could be parked on its wings
It is 15m wider, 4m taller and 2m longer than a 747
If every seat on board was economy class there would be room for 853 passengers. A 747 has room for 568.

Only the Russian Antonov An-225 transport plane is bigger than the A380 but that does not carry passengers.

The plane has been designed and built in a number of European countries, with the wings, which measure almost 80m from tip to tip, made in Wales.

The engines on the plane have to be very powerful to get it off the ground. The power they generate is same as 3,500 car engines.

Comparison of Boeing 747 and Airbus A380
Typical 416 (max 524)
Cruising speed:
0.855 Mach (564.3mph)
Flight range:

13,450km (8358 miles)
Typical 555 (max 840)
Cruising speed:
0.85 Mach (561mph)
Flight range:

15,000km (9321 miles)

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