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Airbus 'superjumbo': Timeline


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Airbus unveils the biggest commercial jet ever built. CNN's Richard Quest has a preview.
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Airbus A380
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LONDON, England -- The A380 is the product of a decade of design and construction.

Early 1990s: Airbus begins studying ideas for building an airliner capable of seating more than 500 passengers to compete against the Boeing 747, which started flying in 1970.

June 1994: Airbus begins engineering development of the plane, then known as the A3XX.

July 2000: Emirates Airlines becomes the first company to order the aircraft, saying it wants to buy seven.

December 19, 2000: Airbus officially launches the plane, calling it the A380.

January 2001: The U.S. freight company Federal Express announces the first order of the cargo version of the A380, reserving 10.

February 20, 2001: Airbus expands its plant in Hamburg, Germany to handle assembly of the interior of A380 cabins. Assembly of the plane itself is to take place in Toulouse, France.

January 23, 2002: Production starts of Airbus A380 components.

July 16, 2002: French President Jacques Chirac lays the first stone in the vast Toulouse hangar used for assembling the A380.

June 15, 2003: Emirates increases its orders to 45 A380s.

July 4, 2003: Inauguration of an Airbus plant in Broughton, Wales, where wings for the A380 are to be made.

August 19, 2003: The first glimpse of the plane being put together in the French city of Nancy, when a big piece of fuselage is unveiled.

March 25, 2004: The front and central sections of the plane are unveiled at the plant in Saint-Nazaire, France, as they are transported to Toulouse. Special measures have to be made to allow the 50-metre long convoys to pass, taking up eight metres across and 12 metres high.

May 7, 2004: French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin inaugurates the Toulouse assembly line.

January 18, 2005: Airbus officially unveils a completed A380 in the presence of Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

March 2005: Scheduled first test flight of the plane.

March 2006: Forecast start of the A380 entering commercial service with Singapore Airlines using it between London and Singapore.

2008: The first freight-configured A380s are expected to take to the air.


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