英伦广角British Vision(23):空客A380英伦首航

Despite its enormous size the Airbus A380 still manages to look graceful. The double-decker plane which can carry more than 550 passengers dwarfs all other commercial aircraft. Later today a prototype will land for the first time in the UK. En route it will fly over airbus factories. Wings are produced here in North Wales and travel by land, river and sea for assembly in France.

It will be very interesting to see the flyover. And I think the whole world of course is looking forward to it, to be honest. And we've seen the wing go down the river. It will be nice to see it coming back on the fuselage.

Until now the Boeing 747 Jumbo was the world's biggest passenger plane, but no longer. The A380 is as high as an 8-storey building, take-off thrust from the plane's four engines is the equivalent of 2,500 family cars, and without seats, the A380 can contain 10 squash courts. But the European aircraft will soon have an American rival, Boeing's 787 Dream liner. It's smaller, can fly further, and isn't restricted to large airports.

It's a new generation of aircraft that represents extraordinary technological breakthrough, reduced fuel emissions by about 20%, er, much better conditions inside the aircraft and offering both the airlines and the passengers much greater flexibility in their long-haul journeys.

The bigger A380 may offer shops, a casino or even a gym. But when it comes to holidaymakers or business people, it's good-value seats which will win the airline battle.

People like to fly in a new aircraft. They maybe like to fly when it's very large 'cause it is going to have a novelty factor. At the end of the day, people just wanna get to where they wanna get to and airlines wanna carry them at a price which they make money.

Critics of the new aircraft including environmentalist.

It might be more fuel efficient per passenger than other jets, but the benefits we'll get from the Airbus are a drop in the ocean compared to the huge climate emissions from aviation. Aviation is the fastest growing source of climate-change/ gases both in Britain and worldwide and the Airbus 380 is not going to solve that problem.

Singapore Airlines will get the first A380 by the end of the year. It may be over budget and behind schedule but fasten your seatbelts because the new king of the skies is on its way.

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