The world’s largest passenger plane flew into Heathrow airport as British Airways became the first UK airline to add the aircraft to its fleet.
Partly built and designed in the UK and powered by Rolls-Royce engines, the double-decker Airbus A380 will carry 469 passengers at a speed of up to 587mph.
The plane was handed over to BA at the French company Airbus’ headquarters in Toulouse and flown to London where it was greeted by hundreds of flag-waving staff.
BA chief executive Keith Williams said: “The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board.”
It stands at 24 metres high, is 72 metres long and compared to the Boeing 747 jumbo jet it has wings that are 50% bigger, has 50% more floor space and is 50% quieter on take-off.
The superjumbo has a range of 9,500 miles, is covered in three layers of paint weighing about 500kg and contains so much wiring that if it was laid out end to end, it would stretch from Edinburgh to London.
Business and Energy Minister Michael Fallon said: “I am proud that around 40% of this iconic aircraft is made in the UK by a range of aerospace manufacturers of all sizes – from our large global companies through to small enterprises.
“With its Rolls-Royce Trent engines and state-of-the-art wings, the A380 slashes travel emissions while boosting efficiency.”
BA has already received two Boeing 787 Dreamliners and by 2016 will have a total of 12 superjumbos in its fleet.
But the huge aircrafts are already in wide use across the globe, with more than 100 deliveries having been made to world airlines including Air France, Emirates and Qantas.
The Airbus A380’s first commercial long-haul flight for BA to Los Angeles in September will come almost five years after Singapore Airlines became the first carrier to operate the plane.
Prices start from £621 return and go up to £3,799 for a first class ticket.