The A380 super-jumbo passenger jet, due to be officially
unveiled next week, was wheeled out of its hangar in
southwestern France for the first time.
The white prototype, one of four that will make test
flights later this year, will remain in the open for 48
hours before returning inside the hangar at Blagnac near
the city of Toulouse, informed sources said.
The plane, designed by the European consortium Airbus,
will be officially unveiled on January 18 at Blagnac
about two months before its maiden flight, Airbus
executives have said.
The A380 is set to break a 30-year monopoly that US
aircraft maker Boeing has held in the market for big
passenger airplanes with its 747 jumbo.
French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister
Tony Blair, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and
European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso were
expected to attend the unveiling.
Representatives of all airlines that have ordered the
A380, which is set to become the world's biggest
commercial airliner, carrying up more than 550
passengers, were also on the guest list.
Airbus is 80-percent owned by the European Aeronautic
Defence and Space Company, and the rest of aircraft
maker's capital is owned by British defence contractor
Airbus and Boeing are currently locked in a bitter
dispute. Boeing contends that Airbus benefits from
government subsidies that violate international trade
The European Union for its part maintains that Boeing
has received illegal subsidies in the form of major
contracts from US defense and space agencies.