While the star of this year’s Asian Aerospace show came decked out in special Singapore Airlines couture for its runway display, the cavernous interior of the second A380 prototype projected a visage only an engineer can fully appreciate. But what it lacks in interior appointments it makes up for in utility, already having performed 250 hours of testing since it first took to the air on October 19.
Used to test all of the airplane’s systems, A380 S/N004 made its way to Singapore from Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, following its return from cold weather evaluations in Iqaluit, Canada. From -47 deg C wind chills, it now copes with the heat and humidity of Singapore while performing airport compatibility tests in preparation for inauguration of scheduled flights by the end of the year.
From here, Airbus flight test pilots will take the airplane back to Toulouse, then perhaps on to Abu Dhabi, then to London for more airport compatibility testing. Although painted in SIA livery, plans call for it to enter service with Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways September or October next year–10 months after the Airbus test flight team finishes certification trials. By then, the airplane will have carried out its hot weather campaign in Africa or Saudi Arabia, scheduled to start in June.