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The long journey to delivery

  • Story Highlights
  • The superjumbo concept began in 1991 and manufacturing started in 2002
  • First delay is announced in 2005 followed by senior management resignations
  • Resignations, cancelled orders, job cuts and delays continue into 2007
  • Singapore Airlines receives its first delivery in October 2007
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(CNN) -- Singapore Airlines received its first A380 superjumbo on 15 October Monday, ready for the first commercial flight between Singapore and Sydney on Thursday 25 October. The wait is over. But getting to this point has been a long, and at times arduous, journey.


The wait is over: Singapore Airlines engineers watch the Singapore Airlines first Airbus A380 super jumbo touch down at the Changi International Airport in Singapore

The superjumbo concept was first conceived in 1991 when Airbus began talks with major international carriers about requirements for a super-large passenger aircraft.

Two years later in January 1993, Boeing joined the Airbus partners Aerospatiale, Daimler-Benz Aerospace Airbus, Construcciones Aeronauticas and British Aerospace in the studies.

But later that year in June 1993, the U.S. airline pulled out, opting instead to research smaller jumbos. (The culmination of this - the 787 Dreamliner - is due next year.)

Airbus formed its Large Aircraft Division in 1996. And in 2000 it launched the A3xx project, that was later to become A380.

The Airbus consortium became a single integrated company in 2001, comprising four partners from France, Germany, Spain and Great Britain.

In January 2002, work began on manufacturing key components and two years later in February 2004, the first engines were delivered by Rolls Royce to the Airbus HQ in Toulouse.

Once the first wing was completed in April 2004 in Broughton, Wales, assembly began in the giant £240-million French factory.

The first bad news arrived in December 2004 when Airbus' owner, EADS announced the A380 project was £1 billion over budget.

On April 27 2005 the A380 took its maiden flight from Toulouse to Bay of Biscay for four hours.

In June 2005 the delay annoucements began, when Airbus said it was six months behind delivery schedule.

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In March 2006 it passed its evacuation test, with 850 passengers and 20 crew members evacuating the plane in 80 seconds with half the exits blocked.

But in June 2006, it was time to announce another six-month delay. The French airline then slashed its 2007 delivery numbers from 25 to nine and announced a $2.5-billion profit warning. EADS' shares plunged by 26 percent.

In June 2006, cabin-fitting, paint shop and delivery centers in Hamburg closed down and workload transferred to Toulouse to cut transport costs.

In July 2006, Gustav Humbert, Airbus CEO resigned, along with Noel Forgeard, EADS, co-CEO. Christian Streiff stepped in to replace Humbert.

BAE agreed to sell its 20 percent stake in Airbus to EADS for $3.53 billion and on September 18 2006, Airbus announced delays for third time and said customers would get deliveries up to two years late.

In response, Emirates warned its order was 'up in the air'. And a month later it was told planes would be a further 10 months late.

In October 2006, Christian Streiff resigned as Airbus CEO and Louis Gallois took over. Virgin Atlantic deferred its order for four years to 2013.

But in October 2006 Airbus also received a fresh order from Qantas for eight more A380s - its first fresh order in 18 months.

But Fedex cancelled its order of 10 A380s on November 8 2006.

The super jumbo reached its final step to certification on November 13 2006 with the technical route proving mission. The A380 visited 10 airports, covered 127,788km and crossed both North and South Poles in 18 days and some 152 flight hours.

In December 2006, Singapore Airlines bought nine more A380s.

That month, the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines received joint European Aviation Safety Agency and FAA Type Certification.

But more bad news hit in February when Airbus announced 10,000 jobs cuts and plants up for sale. In March UPS cancelled its $3 billion order of 10 A380-800Fs.

A 12-day commercial route proving mission was performed in March 2007 in conjunction with Lufthansa, landing in JFK, ORD, IAD, HKG, FRA and MUN.


The seat auction began on August 27 2007 for seats on Singapore Airlines' first commercial flight. All donations have gone to Singapore's Community Chest, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick, Children's Hospital, Westmead and Medecins sans Frontieres.

On October 15 2007 A380 is delivered to Singapore Airlines, Toulouse. And at long, long last on October 25 2007, the first commercial flight of the Airbus A380 Super jumbo took off from Singapore to Sydney. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

reporting by Ayeesha Durgahee, CNN

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