Airbus A380 touches down at London’s Heathrow Airport

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HEATHROW AIRPORT, England, May 18, 2006 (AFP) – The biggest passenger aircraft in the skies, the Airbus A380, landed at London’s Heathrow Airport on Thursday. The super-jumbo touched down at the west London airport at 1:19 pm (1219 GMT), making its British debut to test new facilities for jumbo aircraft.

The arrival of the gigantic double-decker plane, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines and with British test pilot Ed Strongman at the controls, was witnessed by a reception including British finance minister Gordon Brown.

A few hundred media, airport staff and VIPs greeted the A380 from behind large windows at the new Pier 6 in Heathrow’s Terminal 3.

The plane is to carry out compatibility tests at Pier 6, which has been built to cater for the A380 and other wide-bodied giants of the future.

Heathrow, the world’s busiest air hub run by British airports operator BAA, is likely to be the A380’s first European destination when it enters service later this year.

Before the plane landed, the managing director of BAA Heathrow Tony Douglas described Thursday’s events as “a monumental day in UK aviation history”.

Addressing a press confere