BA is set to become the first UK airline to add the world’s largest passenger plane – the Airbus A380 superjumbo – to its fleet.
After touching down at Heathrow, the 75m aircraft will be showcased at the carrier’s engineering base at Hatton Cross alongside another new addition to BA’s fleet – a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
The first of the delivery of 12 superjumbos ordered by BA as a part of the company’s £5bn investment in fleet modernisation, the 25m-high double-decked aircraft has an 80m wingspan and will be able to accommodate 469 passengers.
Powered by four Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, the A380 can reach a speed of nearly 945km/h and has a travel range of 15,289km. If all the wiring in the A380 is laid end to end it would stretch from Edinburgh to London.
Last week, BA received its first Boeing 747 Dreamliner, which offers 50 per cent less floor space than the superjumbo.
"The delivery of these exciting aircraft opens a new chapter in British Airways' history,” BA chief executive Keith Williams said. “We are proud to be leading the way in Europe in operating both these aircraft types. Over the next 12 months, we will take delivery of new long-haul aircraft at an average rate of one every two weeks."
The superjumbo, which is expected to serve on the route from London to Los Angeles starting in September and from London to Hong Kong a month later, is said to be 50 per cent quieter on take-off than the Dreamliner.
"Both aircraft types make major environmental advances and will contribute toward our ambitious targets for noise and carbon reduction," Williams explained.
The A380, which performed its maiden flight in 2005, has been commercially operated by Singapore Airline since 2008. Until today, more than 100 superjumbos have been delivered to worldwide airlines. Virgin Atlantic is due to take the first of six A380s in 2018.
"The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board," Williams concluded.