I ahve some doubt about the timeline. I find it unlikely that the A380 will be able to fly in 18 months . . .
No way you can build an aircraft of that size in such a short period of time . . .
Seems that not everybody is aware that the A380 is well into production. First metal cut in Jan 2002 . . . !
Here's an update from the A380 special of last weeks Flight International:
* construction of the enormous A380 FAL [Final Assembly Line] at TLS
is well underway;
* the roof of the huge 1639 x 820 ft FAL assembly hall was raised into position in February 2003;
* in June Airbus will start installing the jigs and stations into the FAL;
* the first forward and aft fuselage subassemblies are due to start final assembly in the MCA hall [Major Component Assembly] by August 2003;
* Stork [Netherlands] is close to completing delivery o fthe first full shipset of Glare fuselage panels to Airbus Deutschland, and will have its Papendrecht production facility fully operational by September 2003;
* the first Airbus UK wing rib was cut in August 2002;
* wing production work is well underway, with enormous 35m [115 ft] wing skin sections already visable on the Broughton East Factory floor;
* Australia's Hawker de Havilland will deliver the first wingtip and wing fences to Airbus UK in Septrember 2003;
* the first complete wing shipset is due to be delivered to TLS
in April 2004 from Airbus UK;
* the Trent 900 ran for the first time at Derby [UK] on 18 mar 2003, achieving certified thrust level [81,000lb] on 02 Apr and passing 88,000lb seven days later;
* the second and third engines are scheduled to fire up in June 2003;
plans to make the first run of the newly assembled PW980 APU by June 2003;
* first Goodrich delveries of the massive A380 landing gear are due later this year, flight test gears will be delivered in Q1 2004;
* the first Goodrich 150 kVA VF
[Variable Frequency] generator was delivered to Rolls-Royce in March 2003;
* first production 5000psi EDP [Engin Driven Pump-hydraulic] are scheduled to be delivered to Airbus in May 2003, having already completed over a 1000 hrs of testing;
* the first full system air-conditioning packs [4x 235kW four-stage air cycle machine] will be delivered to Airbus Hamburg by the end of 2003;
* first parts for the static test airframe will begin arriving at the FAL in April 2004;
* final assembly of the first flying prototype will start in May 2004;
* the fatigue test aircraft will be assembled at EADS Dresden in October 2004;
* power-on testing on the first flight test aircraft is set for mid to end 2004.
Jan 2000: Authorisation to offer
Mid 2000: Concept selection
Dec 2000: Programme launch
Early 2001: Critical industrial commitments
Mar 2001: First firm order [QANTAS]
2001: End of concept phase
Mid 2001: Structure/systems specification completed
Jan 2002: First metal cut
Nov 2002: Definition phase completed
End 2002 First aircraft definition
Early 2003: Main component assembly starts
May 2004 Final assembly of prototype begins
Mid 2004: Power on
Jan 2005: First flight [RR version]
Jan 2006: Type certification [RR version]
Mar 2006: First delivery [SQ]
I would expect the A380 to fly in Q1 2005. I'm pretty sure Airbus is preparing and timing to have it make a smashing flying debute at the 2005 Paris Air Show!!
Book your tickets and hotel NOW for the 2005 Aerosalon Le Bourget!
Immigration officer: "What's the purpose of your visit to the USA?" Spotter: "Shooting airliners with my Canon!"