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An Air France A380 arrives at Los Angeles International Airport in 2015.
Big, burly and a bit bulbous, Swing set assembly the Airbus A380 has never been the sleekest airliner in the skies. I’m not disputing that it’s an engineering achievement, because it certainly is. The largest commercial aircraft ever to fly, it delivers a supremely smooth and quiet ride for passengers. On my first A380 flight, five years ago, it felt like we were hovering noiselessly as the British Airways giant descended over San Francisco Bay. It took the San Mateo Bridge flashing by my window to remind me that, yes, we were actually moving.
Now playing: Watch this: On the road with an Airbus A380
It’s just that from the outside, the double-decker Airbus A380 looks like, well… a bus. Enormous? Yes, Powerful? Absolutely. Elegant? Not so much. One snarkier nickname for it is “the flying forehead.” But even so, I respect what the superjumbo represents and I’ll eagerly wish it a happy birthday. Fifteen years ago today, April 27, the A380 flew for the first time. Since then, it’s been a hit with passengers, even if its commercial success hasn’t been what Airbus originally hoped. There’s nothing like it in the sky today, and as Airbus winds down production completely by 2021, hastened by the coronavirus pandemic, there never will be again.
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