The largest ever civilian airliner, the Airbus A380, will be unveiled officially later today at Toulouse, south-west France. Built by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), it has taken over 30 years of continual development to reach this point. Various countries have been involved in Airbus over the years, including the UK, France, Germany and Spain. All the wings on Airbus aircraft have, for example, been built in the UK by BAE Systems, which owns 20% of Airbus, the rest being owned by EADS. The A380 is expected to enter into service in Spring 2006, when Singapore Airlines is scheduled to be the first operating airline.
A truly marvellous achievement for Europe and a worthy commercial rival for Boeing.
(I was fortunate enough to have visited Airbus at Toulouse some years ago, when I was involved in aircraft finance deals for several aircraft being purchased by various airline clients of the organisation I worked for. The assembly hall for the various versions then in production - A310, A320 and A340 - was pretty huge and impressive, but by the sounds of it is dwarved by the hall required for the A380.)