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    Largest passenger plane-world record set by Airbus A380

[Oct 25] Sydney Airport, Australia--The world's largest and most luxurious passenger plane completed its first commercial flight Thursday, travelling from Singapore to Sydney. With 455 passengers and 30 crew aboard, including four pilots, the Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 took off from Changi Airport and landed seven hours later in the Australian city.

(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

   The plane came into the country after a 7 1/2 hour flight from Singapore. Passengers looked tired but happy as they came out of the arrivals gate at Sydney Airport. It was a carnival atmosphere with a three-piece band playing music, media crews speaking to passengers everywhere and passengers showing off their framed certificates of flight.

   Most of the seats on the plane were made available via auction on the website eBay, with the bidders helping to raise money for charity.

   A mixture of passengers experienced the latest word in flight travel, with a ten month-old boy from Singapore joined by a 91 year-old man from the same country.

   Another of the passengers, Thomas Lee, from California, was on the world's first Boeing 747 commercial flight between New York and London in 1970.

    Those on board not only got to experience the spacious and luxury setting of the vast plane, but were also treated to a champagne brunch, along with a selection of fine wines.     

   "I have never been in anything like this in the air before in my life," said Australian Tony Elwood, who with his wife dined on marinated lobster and double boiled chicken soup before sipping on Dom Perignon Rose. "It is going to make everything else after this simply awful." Elwood paid US$50,000 for two tickets.

   The so-called superjumbo jet, filled with posh suites and double beds, runs on four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines. Flight attendants passed around champagne to flyers, some of whom shelled out thousands of dollars to be part of the craft's maiden journey.

  Seven storeys tall with wings big enough to hold 70 cars, the A380 replaces the Boeing 747 jumbo jet as the world's biggest passenger airline. It's capable of carrying 853 passengers if the plane was configured purely for economy class. However Singapore Airlines decided instead to provide 471 seats in three classes - 12 private suites, 60 business class seats, and 399 economy-class seats.

    The suites feature a leather upholstered seat, a table, a flat-screen television, laptop connections and a bed that folds up into the wall. Business class seats can be transformed into beds, while even the economy class spaces have more leg and knee room.

   The plane is valued at US$320 million. Not everyone is convinced the jet will be a success however - Standard & Poor's Equity Research analyst Shukor Yusof noted the A380 has received only 165 orders so far, compared to more than 700 for the Boeing 787.

   The majority of the seats on the two legs of this flight were sold on eBay, the global online marketplace, with all proceeds donated to charities.
   The auction raised around S$1.9 million, all of which will be split three ways, between Singapore and Sydney charities, and a global humanitarian organization:
   * One third to Singapore’s Community Chest
   * One third between the Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick, and The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, both in Sydney
   * One third to Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders. Cheques will be presented to the beneficiary organizations during events in Singapore and Sydney.

   To take a virtual tour of the aircraft, click here.
    Singapore Airlines tour of the Airbus

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