DALLAS – Today in Aviation, the prototype Airbus A380 Superjumbo was unveiled to the world at an elaborate ceremony in Toulouse, France in 2005.
The appropriately registered F-WWOW was hidden behind a large curtain as the event got underway. Dancers put on a show, as images of Airbus’ catalog of airliners were projected across the massive hanger walls. Finally, children tugged on an array of white cords, which let down the curtain. This revealed the huge jet in all its glory, bathed in blue light.
Speaking at the event was then French President Jacques Chirac, who told the 5,000 guests that the A380 was “a veritable liner of the skies”. He said its debut “is, for all of us, a moment of emotion and pride.” The UK’s then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, claimed that the A380 “would change the way we travel.”
On April 27, F-WWOW, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, operated the type’s maiden flight. The flight lasted 3 hours and 54 minutes. Five A380s were built for the rigorous testing program, which lasted over two years.
The airframe went on to become a flying testbed for the manufacturer. Airbus used it to test the engines for the A350-1000.
Sadly, the A380 program was not as successful as Airbus had hoped. In November, the manufacturer delivered the final example to the largest operator, Emirates (EK). In total, 251 have been delivered to airlines across the globe.
Featured image: The star of the show, F-WWOW at the grand unveiling ceremony. (Photo: Xeper at the German-language Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons).