Jenkin Lecture 2012

Flight-testing the A380 - from first flight to certification

The Airbus being tested on a flooded runwayThe 25th Jenkin Lecture, given by Frank Chapman (Experimental Test Pilot of Airbus) in 2012, on “Flight-testing the A380 - from first flight to certification”, gave a superb insight into the work of the test pilot as well as the extent of the tests that modern airliners have to go through to achieve certification.

Frank Chapman highlighted: “To date the A380 is the largest Airbus built. It can carry up to 850 passengers, and takes off at weights of up to 565 tonnes. The first flight, in 2005, had a fairly modest programme, but in practice had to be even more modest, when a warning light came on at 10,000 ft, indicating that an undercarriage door hadn’t shut properly. But that was easily corrected, and hundreds more flights were made before the aircraft was certified as fit for airline use. Many of them had to be done in exotic locations to get the specified nasty conditions, e.g. in Iceland for high cross-winds for take-off and landing, the Canadian Arctic for very low temperatures and Abu Dhabi for very high ones”.

He said: “One of the more spectacular tests was to bring the aircraft safely to rest after an aborted take-off, with no help from reversed engine thrust. Most of the kinetic energy has to be absorbed by the brakes and tyres of the landing gear, which get so hot that they catch fire. This is accepted, but the rest of the aircraft mustn’t catch fire too. It didn’t!

To read a full account of Frank Chapman's Jenkin Lecture visit: