Airbus A380 superjumbo wows crowds on historic US debut

LOS ANGELES, March 19, 2007 (AFP) – The giant Airbus A380 superjumbo landed on US soil for the first time Monday, dazzling large crowds gathered in Los Angeles and New York to catch a glimpse of the world’s biggest passenger plane.

The 555-seat double-decker behemoth with a wingspan the size of a football pitch descended smoothly through grey, overcast skies to touch down at Los Angeles International Airport at approximately 9:28 am (1628 GMT).

Several hundred guests invited to greet the A380’s arrival exploded with cheers and applause as the plane’s wheels kissed the runway asphalt

A few minutes earlier, another Airbus A380 carrying 500 guests flying from Frankfurt landed at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The arrival of the transatlantic test flights marked a symbolic milestone in the troubled multi-billion dollar development of the world’s biggest commercial aircraft, which has been hit by delays and several cancelled orders.

Airbus, a unit of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, designed the plane to challenge the dominance of Boeing’s jumbo 747, but so far no US carrier has placed an order for it.

Analysts say the plane’s size is ill-suited to most US airlines,