October 15 2007 has a few minutes ago just become an important date in many history books: it will be remembered as a very important milestone for Airbus, for EADS, for Rolls Royce, for Singapore Airlines (SIA) and for commercial aviation history in general, as this date marks the first delivery of the Airbus A380 Suprejumbo to its first customer.
The Ceremony took place in Tolouse, France, with a large modell of a Singapore painted A380 above the stage, and was attended by all the major parties involved in this remarkable engineering quest: Airbus, EADS, Rolls Royce and of course Singapore Airlines. Thomas Enders, CEO of Airbus focused on their employees and has pointed out: “We are determined to put the A380 program back on track and ramp-up the deliveries in 2008 and 2009 in front of us.” He called the new Superjumbo a “Gentle Green Giant” and mentioned that following all the technical tests, the unprecedented airport and airline tests, Airbus feels priviliged to hand over this new aircraft to one of the most innovative airlines of the world: to Singapore Airlines.
Chew Choon Seng, CEO of Singapore Airlines (standing in front of beautiful Singapore Airlines Flight Attendants) has said: “We start a new chapter in the history of aviation – From today there is a new queen of the skies in air travel.” He also pointed out that SIA has been involved in the development of this new airplane since the very early days of the program, since 2000.
Mr Seng briefly explained the new cabin, which the world has been waiting for:
With a total of 471 seats it will seat 399 in economy: that will feature more legroom, and a personal 23 cm videoscreen with audio and video on demand for each seat. All economy passengers will have access to a computer poweroutlet and a USB port. The layout in economy is 2-4-2 on the upper deck, and 3-4-3 on the main deck.
The 60 business seats on the upper deck will be laid-out in a 1-2-1 formation, with each seat being 86 cm wide. The business seats convert to a fully-flat bed. When walking through the cabin a few minutes later, the CEO of Rolls Royce has pointed out that about 10-15 years ago these seats would have been the world’s premier first class experience. There is one stand-up self-serve bar in Business class.
The premier cabin is “beyond first class” as Singapore calls it. We have found out that they don’t even call it “First class” anymore, the 12 “seats” are luxurious personal suites aboard an aircraft, targeted at passengers who want more compromise between sitting and sleeping while in the air. Each First Class Suite features a full size mattress (6 foot 6 inch = 198 cm) in personal suite, that have sliding doors and pull-down windows. Mr. Seng called it “a new standard for luxury in commercial aircraft“.
Singapore’s famous onboard entertainment system, KrisWorld will be offering 100 movies, more than 180 TV programs, 700 CDs and over 22 radio channels. The same entertainment box will include a word processor and 3D games as well.
After the ceremony, the three CEO’s (Airbus, Rolls-Royce and SIA) went for a short walk on board the aircraft, where Mr. Seng proudly took the role of the “host” – as the new owner of this beautiful airplane and as the cameras followed them, we could finally see the long-awaited interior of the A380 revealed. The First Class Suites look something similar to old classy train cabins rather than airplane seats. The flight attendants will actually walk in between walls (!), not between seats. If somebody decides to work on their computer while experiencing the ultimate luxury air travel, they can connect their computer to the large screen hanging on the wall of the suite. While walking around with Mr. Seng, we could see a double bed as well (“for honeymooners” according to him – and as somebody from the sightseeing group pointed out – for extra charge – it carries a 25% premium above first class fares), there was also one suite set up for dinner with somebody from the same class (yes, you will be able to invite one of the other fellow first class travellers over for a meal). We could also take a quick look at the first class washroom, which is big enough for wheelchair access, has a full wall of mirror. The tour actually started on the upper deck with a look at the business seats, then the three men walked down the stairs to take a look at the first class suites and finally try out the economy cabin as well. A brief look at the working area of flight attendants followed where Mr. Seng showed some of the new comforting features for the crew and said “We look after the pilots and the crew“. We could not see a lounge onboard. They closed the small tour at the bottom of the staircase with raising their champagne glasses in the company of beautiful Singapore flight attendants again.
(Update: Singapore has published a few videos and animations of the cabin on their website.)
Earlier at the ceremony, Airbus presented one-of-only-380, specially branded Mont-Blanc pen to Mr. Seng to start writing the history of the A380, a beautiful gift! The symbolic pen is already in use – as the commercial history of the A380 has begun today and in only 10 days the airplane will take off for its first commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney only to enroll in scheduled services 3 days later, when a new page in this history will be written again!