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Singapore took delivery of its first A380-800 aircraft on 15 October at Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse, France. The second, third and fourth planes will be delivered between January, February and April 2008, respectively. They are planned to be used on Singapore to London flights.
The A380 is a massive aircraft. With a wingspan of 79.8m, 72 cars could park on each of them. The plane also measures 73m long and 24.1m high.
Four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines, each with 72,000 pounds of thrust, get the big bertha off the ground.
According to Airbus, the A380 sets "new environmental benchmarks in air-transport [with] unmatched fuel efficiency of less than three litres per passenger per 100 kilometres."
Singapore Airlines has three classes on the A380 -- economy, business and "suites".
The A380 can be configured to seat 525 passengers in a three-class configuration or a maximum of 853 in a single economy class. Singapore airlines have configured it with 471 seats in total -- 399 economy, 60 business and 12 suites.
The suites, described by the airline as a "class beyond first" exudes luxury. A self contained compartment, the suites boast leather upholstery from Poltrona Frau, a full-sized sized single bed (27-inches x 78-inches), a 23-inch LCD screen and a personal vanity mirror and suit compartment.
Suite passengers get a serious amenity kit from Salvatore Ferragamo.
Travelling with a friend? The partition in the middle suite compartments can be stowed to turn the two single beds into a double. The roof is exposed however, so intimacy may be somewhat hampered.
When your seat is in the upright position, the foot-rest also doubles as a spare seat. Friends in the same cabin class can join you for a meal.
Suite passengers are treated to a 23-inch wide screen LCD display. USB, AV and Ethernet ports are also available to connect your laptop to the on-board AV system.
The in-flight entertainment system, KrisWorld, runs in Panasonic Avionic's EX2 system. Passengers in all classes have access to 100 movies, 150 TV shows, 700 music album and 22 audio channels -- on demand.
In addition, there are 65 games including Nintendo Game Boy Advance titles.
Business class passengers have a sizable 15.4-inch wide screen display and plenty of room to work.
The screen can also be used as an external display for your laptop by using a standard composite cable.
The KrisWorld controller doubles as a phone and has a Qwerty "thumb-board" (shown).
Singapore Airlines claims to have the world's first on-board office productivity suite. By plugging a USB drive into the supplied port, passengers across all classes can edit text documents, spreadsheets and presentations using StarOffice and can also read PDF, MP3 and photo files.
Passengers in business and suite classes have two USB ports. It is possible to BYO USB drive, keyboard and mouse to edit documents with KrisWorld.
All passengers have a 110v 60Hz international power outlet to power electronic devices. Some travellers will need to bring an adaptor with them, however.
The A360 economy seats are tightly packed in, just like Boeing 747s. It's not all bad however, the A380 seats are thinner resulting in more legroom.
Each seat has a 10.6-inch LCD screen and a single composite input and USB port.
Yes that is an Ethernet port you spy. While the A380 is "Internet-ready" Singapore Airlines has yet to sign-up an ISP partner. They have previously used Connexion by Boeing to supply on-board Internet access.
Along with the LCD screens, The business class seats also come in a wide format. At 34-inches (86.3cm) wide, Singapore Airlines claims they're the largest available.
Suite passengers aren't the only ones to get a bed. Business seats recline into a flat bed and have a hard back shell.
Reading lights in economy are now discreetly placed under the LCD screen.
Tickets for the first commercial flights were sold on eBay for US$1.9 million (AU$1.4 milion) with all proceeds divided between Singapore's Community Chest, the Sydney Children's Hospital, the Children's Hospital at Westmead (Sydney) and Doctors Without Borders.
Here a representative from the Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick receives a check for AU$236,000.
The most expensive ticket was won by Julian Hayward who paid US$100,380 to make the trip to Sydney with a friend. 28 percent of the tickets purchased were by Australians, 14 percent were Singaporean.
While the A380 is the quietest large jet in its class -- confirmed by many passengers on the flight to Sydney -- It hasn't all been smooth sailing for Airbus.
The A380 has arrived 18 months behind scheduled and with a cost blow-out of 4.8 billion euros (AU$7.5 billion).
Airbus has also struggled to get orders, having secured only 189 to date. In contrast, Boeing has secured 710 orders on its new jumbo and the A380's direct competition, the mid-sized 787 Dreamliner which is also behind schedule and due to be delivered to the first customer, Japanese airline ANA, in December 2008.
Qantas will take delivery of its first A380 in August 2008, giving Singapore Airlines a 10 month headstart in Australia.
There's no hiding a plane this big -- the tail is clearly visible even when seen from Botany Rd, in the Sydney suburb of Mascot, several hundred meters away from Gate 11 where the A380 was parked.