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Paris on the A380

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  • Paris on the A380

    Pictures can show 1000 words and they will be near the end, sorry about the quality, no editing software!
    From A380


    Since the information that Air France were using the A380 on the CDG-LHR-CDG route, I looked in to booking it, after asking about my Uncle decided to come with me, having seen the aircraft display at the Farnbourgh air show.
    Date: 19 June 2010
    Route: LHR-CDG (EGLL-LFPG)
    Flight: AF1981
    Type: A380-861
    Reg: F-HPJA
    1st flight on type
    Gate 6b/Stand 406

    The day of the flight arrived quickly and after a 45 minute drive to the car park , we parked and took the shuttle to Terminal 4, First impressions were very modern, having not been there for a good 5 years, they have transformed it. A stop off for breakfast at weatherspoons was made, but a quick bite to eat took over 40 minutes as the order didn’t get to the kitchen.

    After breakfast we went through to departures, I must say I found security rather lax, on the return wearing the same clothes nearly, one of us went off one end and the other at Paris, shows the randomness of the scanners sometimes or the sensitivity.

    A few minutes later we were looking over F-HBJA Air France’s first A380 at gate 6, there were many people wanting photos and a few spotters around waiting to board. Boarding started quickly and by 1200 I was settled in seat 37L. Words of warning for people who want views to get a view don’t go near the wing! Views are very limited due to its sheer size. Legroom was ok, better than the budget carriers but sill not enough for my 6’4’’ frame. I found my knees in the seat pocket all the time.

    Here’s where the delays started, departure was expected at 1250. However it seems the crew and ground staff still need to practise the counting methods. After around an hour’s delay we pushed back and headed over to 27R, being an A380 we could only go a certain way but we were rolling around 1410 est. The take off was powerful, quiet and effort less as we headed towards the channel. The camera was turned on for taxi and for about 4-5 mins after departure before the AVOD system was introduced. A drink and biscuit service followed and a short 40 minute hop in the quiet cabin before the aircraft touched down in a bit of a cross wind on runway 26L. Taxi to the gate was quick and everyone still went to get up fast as possible. I took my time and I complement Air France for letting pax have a good look around all areas including first while we waited to have a look on the flight deck, annoying though when I was next to visit the door was closed. I wasn’t best pleased but I would try on the return before departure. After a trek and a train to terminal 2E we decided to go to the check in area to get the seats for the return changed. The guy who served us was excellent and got us 81D and E. Upper deck!

    We left on the inter terminal shuttle and went to the Ibis where we would stay the night.

    For the spotters the mound is very close by, from the same station take a right and leave by the far exit under the covered walkway by the Hilton and it’s on the left of the car park, Concorde stands the other side.

    The Ibis was basic but the room was cheap, bit there was Free WiFI.

    Morning came and we ventured to Terminal 2E and gate 52 for out return. A Train later gets us to security for 2E. Security and the CDG operation with the aircraft as a whole was very effective and far better than LHR. Once through we saw our ride back to LHR.

    Date: 20 June 2010
    Flight: AF1980
    Type: A380-861
    Reg: F-HPJC
    2nd on type and 1st on reg.
    Gate:52

    Spotting was excellent from the terminal; it was parallel to the 26’s and gave decent apron views as well.

    F-HBJC would be operating on it’s first visit to LHR. Boarding was very organised and being on the upper deck meant the upper jetty.

    After a short wait at the top of the jetty we boarded. After asking a couple of the crew and some tooing and frowing , A friendly steward took me down to C class, the lounge area and down to the J area, Unfortunalty full flight deck access wasn’t possible but I got a few shots from the door which was enough and showed a 27L departure out of Paris. Only a short delay on the return and we were soon taxing round the back to the runway, with the Tail cam showing the way. At this point I will say I found the cam came on too late on the final approach, I recon it was turned on at 5 miles at the point of gear down. I would have preferred to be once we had passed 6,000ft to get better views of the city.

    After departure the crew had another 40 minutes to feed and water a full load(53 and the outbound was pretty full as well, in the short time we has another drink and biscuit or pretzels. The IFE was again on and even though this was my first time with AVOD and seat back TV’s as a whole, I personally found the system effective but at times unresponsive.

    Only one orbit in the Biggin hold today at FL70 before an approach on 27L, where I’m sure spotters and Photogs alike were ready for the arrival. Another hard crosswind landing before vacating the wrong way- obviously missed Taxiway S which is the only A380 capable Taxiway on the T4 side. After crossing with a CO 77E we docked at stand 406 to end my first trip on the Airbus A380.

    Verdict.
    What an aircraft, no exaggeration has been made about how quiet it is. I found the flap movement louder than the rest of the flight! Air France has a competitive product but I would like to experience the EK and SQ offerings before making a firm decision, but Top marks for Air France for exploiting the short haul A380 market.

    Thanks for reading
    Ben Leonard.

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    More photos below or the album can be seen at
    http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/leonardamd/A380#

    I will also be posting more when time allows
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