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EAA AirVenture Oshkosh RSS FeedLots more shade for AeroShell Square
By Randy Dufault, EAA AirVenture Today

Photo by Jim Koepnick
The Airbus A-380 is towed to AeroShell Square through noon on Friday.

July 28, 2009 - Oshkosh, WisconsinShade from the sun, a long sought and often rare commodity at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2009, should be more readily available, at least on AeroShell Square, after the Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger airliner, was towed today to its parking position.

According to EAA Chairman and President Tom Poberezny, the massive plane's visit here is the result of a lot of hard work and tireless effort.

"This is the result of a three-year dream and a lot of work on the part of many people," Poberezny said at a post landing news conference. "And all that hard work was proven out today with this flawless arrival."

Piloted by Claude Lelaie and Terry Lutz, both active members of the GA community, the huge craft performed an impressive display of its capabilities before entering the pattern for a landing on Wittman Regional Airport's Runway 18.

The strong crosswind from the west was very apparent as the plane visibly crabbed into the wind as it made its final approach.

However, the wind was well within A380 design limits and after a landing right on the numbers, Lelaie and Lutz had it stopped well within the 5,500-foot distance before the taxiway turn-off to AeroShell Square.

"This plane lands on the same runways as smaller aircraft like the A320," Lelaie said. "So it should have the same sort of maneuverability."

Lelaie is a veteran of a past AirVenture Oshkosh. In 1981 he traveled from France to Oshkosh with his Cri-Cri, one of the world's smallest twin-engined airplanes. At the time two 11-hp engines powered the Cri-Cri.

"It's great to be back 28 years later," he said. "And especially great to be back with this great aircraft."

The Cri-Cri again traveled here with Lelaie, this time in the belly of the A380. He did note that since its last visit, it was upgraded to two 15-hp engines. Plans are to display the small plane in the shadow of the Airbus.

Lutz, an EAA member, graduate of the U.S. Air Force Flight Test School and former Northwest Airlines A320 captain, is also an AirVenture Oshkosh veteran. He brought his personal airplane here to Oshkosh last month during a break in his Airbus test flight duties.

Commenting on the maneuverability the plane demonstrated before its landing Lutz said, "[The A380] does everything we ask it to. It has been a great pleasure to work on this program with Airbus these last three years."

Speaking about the walk-through tours that will begin Wednesday morning Lutz said, "If you have never had the opportunity to see a commercial airliner with the interior removed, you are in for a real treat."

Beyond the exposed heating and cooling system, wiring and plumbing, this test plane includes water tanks that are filled to test different weight and balance conditions, and electrical load test systems for testing power systems, along with a large amount of data collection sensors and data recording systems.

Due to the flight demonstration, the aircraft was limited to essential crew only for the short flight from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, here to Oshkosh. Three flight test engineers, Lelaie and Lutz comprised the entire manifest.

Tom Anders, chairman of Airbus and about 30 other Airbus staff flew along with the crew from Toulouse, France, to Milwaukee.

"I seldom get the opportunity to fly with my team," Anders said. "It was exciting. This is an active test aircraft and on the flight from Toulouse to Milwaukee the team was actively working on GPS upgrades and [auxiliary power unit] upgrades."

Seventeen A380s are in service now, with four different airlines. Anders indicated they hope to deliver eight or nine more by the end of the year.

The craft will be readied for free walk-through tours starting Wednesday morning. Tour hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and 9 a.m. to noon on Friday.

Another flight demonstration is planned for Friday afternoon when the A380 departs EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

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