Airbus A380

A380 In FlightI’m almost lost for words. Seconds ago I watched the new Airbus A380 take off. Live on BBC World. As a wannabe engineer and total gadget freak, it brought a tear to my eye to see something that appears technically impossible, but at the same time completely inevitable. The amount of time and research that has gone into simulating this machine is simply incredible, leaving me feeling idiotic sitting there with a lump in my throat wondering if it would make it off the ground.

It was interesting also to watch the unusual climb-out: the plane made an extremely flat, slow climb-out, gear and flaps down, with a very gradual increase in speed. I guess that’s the way with test flights: slow and easy.

Apparently this flight will test the standard performance envelope of the plane, meaning no super high or low speed runs, and normal turns. Later in the testing program they’ll test the boundaries of the flight envelope, including an undoubtably spectacular high-speed taxi on a deliberately flooded runway. I guess to test wet weather landing?

It’s just a pity that aerodynamics require this thing to look so similar to the ancient Boeing 747. Compare a 1970s car to a late model version, and you can physically see the technology. Although I have to say that the subtleties of the A380 reveal its pedigree. Check out the sweep of the wings and the subtle gull-wing profile. The thing looks slick.

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