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The world’s biggest passenger jet made its first appearance in Sydney yesterday, with big promises from Qantas that the Airbus A380 will revolutionise in flight entertainment, computing and data transfer.

The test Airbus A380, which landed in Sydney and Melbourne yesterday after a call at Brisbane, carries more mobile computing power than your high-tech research lab with its feet firmly planted on the ground.

Apart from the aircraft computers which run all systems from navigation and controls on the pilots’ flight deck to the lights, call-button system and entertainment on its likely 500 seats, every moment of the visit to Asia and Australia is monitored by six aeronautical engineering stations, checking 300,000 parameters simultaneously.


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Digital cameras study airflow over the wings, tail and rudder as -checking out its flight limits – the 180-tonne, four-engine behemoth is taken to extreme attitudes and speeds. There are even huge resistors which simulate flight ovens and other uses of electricity from the engines during flight.

CDN questioned the big cylinders lining each side of the fuselage. “These contain Bordeaux,” said the engineer, straight-faced, pointing to the row on the right, “these Burgundy. When we’ve flown them round the world, we’ll bottle them and sell them for a profit.”

A much more entertaining concept than water that can be pumped fore and aft to simulate rapid changes in the centre of gravity during flight.

We did, notice, however, among the boxes of Thales instrument spares roped down on cargo pallets on the main deck, two dozen cases of Bollinger. These doubtless will lubricate the 85th birthday celebrations of Qantas in Brisbane tomorrow night, where the A380 will be the star. Qantas is getting 12 A380s – the first arriving in April 2007.

Of course, the fact the Qantas board in a few days will weigh a $20 billion decision on buying new, smaller planes, with the new Airbus A350 and Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner” competing, wouldn’t be a consideration.

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