DALLAS – Today in Aviation, British Airways (BA) put its brand new Airbus A380 ‘Superjumbo’ into service in 2013.
Operated by G-XLEA, Flight 902 departed its London Heathrow (LHR) hub just after 7:00 am local time, bound for Frankfurt (FRA). ‘Echo Alpha’ was the first example to be delivered to the airline on July 4.
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Crew Familiarization Flights
There was very little fanfare as flight 902, usually operated by one of BA’s Boeing 767-300ERs, was prepared for the flight. BA offered the same number of seats for sale (243) on the A380 as on the 767. This saw just half of the superjumbo’s 469 seats available, with passengers seated only on the jet’s lower deck, with the upper deck off limits.
The service was flown as part of the BA’s crew familiarization flights before introducing the A380 on its first long-haul service, the “Red Carpet Route to Los Angeles, on September 24.
Further pilot and cabin crew training occurred at Manston Airport (MSE) in Kent. The aircraft also visited BA’s heavy maintenance base at Cardiff Airport (CWL) and Shannon (SNN), Ireland, where it met the smallest member of the fleet, the Airbus A318.
BA became Europe’s first airline to operate both the A380 and Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner.’
Today, British Airways has 12 A380-800s in the fleet. It brought five back into service in early 2022, following the grounding of the entire fleet in March 2020 due to the global pandemic. Bucking the trend of its rivals, BA announced in June 2022 that it would bring back its entire A380 fleet by the end of the year.
Featured Image: BA put the A380 to work on short-haul flights initially to allow for crew familiarization before its long-haul launch. Photo: Heathrow Airports Limited