Airbus Officially Launches Its Superjumbo Jet, The A380

By John S. McClenahen Redesignating its planned A3XX the A380, Airbus Industrie, the European aircraft marketing and production group, is officially going ahead with a superjumbo jet capable of seating as many as 650 passengers. With 50 firm orders and 42 options on the books, Airbus' supervisory board approved the project earlier today. The new aircraft, which is slated to enter commercial service in 2006, is expected to compete for airlines' favor against derivatives of Boeing Co.'s venerable 747 jumbo. So far, Airbus has orders from five airlines -- Air France, Emirates, Qantas, Singapore, and Virgin Atlantic -- as well as International Lease Finance Corp., Los Angeles. "We are now fully committed to delivery on all counts, and very much look forward to continuing our collaboration with those concerned, and, of course, with many newcomers in the years to come," says Noël Forgeard, Airbus' CEO. Sections of the A380 are to be manufactured in France, Germany, Spain, and the UK and delivered to Toulouse, France for assembly, engine installation, and flight tests. Cabin systems are to be installed and painting done after assembled aircraft are flown from Toulouse to an Airbus facility in Hamburg, Germany. Airbus has signed agreements with Rolls-Royce PLC and a General Electric Co.-United Technologies Corp. joint venture for development of the A380's engines.

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