World's Largest Airliner Lands at LAX
LOS ANGELES, Mar. 19, 2007 -- The world's largest airliner made its West Coast debut today, touching down at Los Angeles International Airport to complete its bicoastal American unveiling.
The massive Airbus A380 descended out of a dank, gray sky and made a picture-perfect landing just before 9:30 a.m. as spectators cheered from both sides of the airport.
About 15 minutes earlier, an A380 touched down on the other side of the country, at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The A380, which burns about one gallon of gas per passenger every 80 miles and can fly some 8,000 nautical miles, can seat as many as 550 passengers. Airbus has 166 orders from 15 airlines for the new plane, which has already made tests flights in Europe and to Asia.
The Los Angeles flight, operated by Australian airline Qantas, was devoid of passengers and crew, save for those in the cockpit.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus said that the plane will undergo tests at LAX, including airfield maneuvers, docking at the terminal gate and ground and gate handling exercises.
The New York flight carried 550 people, including four pilots, four Airbus crew members, 23 Lufthansa cabin crew and 519 passengers, mostly Airbus and Lufthansa employees along with some reporters.
The flight was operating just as if it were a commercial trek, with full dining and entertainment services.
Los Angeles officials fought hard to host the A380's inaugural landing, and wrote a letter to Airbus earlier this year urging executives to reconsider plans for an initial landing only in New York. Los Angeles officials contended Airbus was reneging on a promise to make the first U.S. stop in Los Angeles, which kept its word to speed up construction of new $9 million gate for the giant jet. Airbus relented just three weeks ago.
Los Angeles' airport agency ultimately plans to spend about $121 million to prepare for the A380, and has already written checks for about $50 million to improve runway and taxiway intersections. LAX, the fifth-busiest airport worldwide, is expected to be the first U.S. destination for the A380 when it enters commercial service.
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