MANILA (AFP) — Airbus' extra-large A380 jetliner flew into the Philippines on a test flight Thursday to show it can be flown to existing runways in Asia, company officials said.
The A380 flew from Melbourne to the Manila international airport, landing smoothly with room to spare and taxiing to a parking area without a hitch despite its larger size.
"The landing had no troubles at all, absolutely no problem," said test pilot Peter Chandler at a press conference afterward.
Airbus senior marketing manager Julian Manhes said this was part of test flights by the A380 to show it could land and could "fit in today's airport infrastructure," with no need for any adjustments to accommodate the aircraft.
The Airbus A380 is the largest commercial jetliner and can accommodate as much as 850 passengers depending on the lay-out selected by the customer.
The company already has 165 orders and 20 commitments from 15 airlines for the new A380 and the first delivery, to Singapore Airlines, will take place next week, said Singapore Airbus manager Anthony Philips.
Despite delivery delays, company officials said there was still a strong demand for the plane with Airbus vice-president for sales Jean-Francois Laval forecasting "a second wave of orders," once the plane actually enters service.
Manhes said the larger size of the plane was necessary to meet an expected doubling in air traffic in the next 15 years, driven largely by growth in demand from the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific.
This will require larger aircraft because eventually, airports will not be able to accommodate more frequent flights, he added.
Manhes said Airbus was forecasting that there would be a demand for 1,600 large-size jetliners in the next 20 years and that the company was expecting to get 50 percent of this.
Airbus officials declined to comment on the rival Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which reportedly is also encountering delays, except to say that it was not comparable to an Airbus A380 because it was a smaller plane.
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