NEW YORK – The latest jetliner to claim the title of world's biggest passenger aircraft completed its maiden voyage to the United States on Monday, flying on football field-length wings and a prayer that the American airline industry will want to buy the double-decker jumbo jet.
The four-engine Airbus A380 touched down at Kennedy International Airport without problems at about 12:10 p.m., to the cheers of onlookers gathered to watch the arrival. As the plane taxied, a pilot waved an American flag. A separate A380 was flying to Los Angeles time but devoid of any passengers.
The eight-hour flight is a chance for plane builder Airbus and German airline Lufthansa AG to show off the jewel of Airbus' offerings to potential American buyers and to the airports they hope to turn into flight bases for the jet. The 239-foot-long A380 can seat as many as 550 passengers, burn a gallon of gas per passenger every 80 miles and fly some 8,000 nautical miles.
Lufthansa Flight 8940 is meant to be a statement by its builder, the European consortium now called EADS Airbus, that it can accommodate vast numbers of travelers comfortably and efficiently.
"We're talking about an airplane that is representing aviation in the 21st century in terms of efficiency," said Jens Bischoff, Lufthansa's vice president for the Americas.