Jumbo Airbus getting cold, and more, during Iqaluit tests

The world's largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380, has been in Nunavut this week as part of the aircraft's advanced testing program.

The world's largest passenger jet, the Airbus A380, has been in Nunavut this week as part of the aircraft's advanced testing program.

It's the first time the A380 has been in North America.

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Airbus already has over 150 firm orders in place from companies that want to buy the planes. But first it has to go through the proper tests.

One of those tests is to see how it will perform in Arctic conditions.

The Airbus roared into Iqaluit on Monday, along with more than 60 staff, ready to conduct cold weather tests. Those tests will judge how well the engines and the cabin function in temperatures of -25 C or colder.

In the remote Baffin Island community the arrival of the Airbus has become an event - and the aircraft itself has become a landmark.

Since the A380's tail stands eight stories high, it instantly became one of the tallest structures in Iqaluit. And with a capacity of more than 500 passengers, it means the Airbus can comfortably hold about 10 per cent of the capital's population.

Armand Jacob, the test pilot who brought the Airbus to Iqaluit, says flying the A380 is a pleasure. "This airplane, despite its size, it's very, very easy to fly. It behaves just like a big, light airplane."

The A380, built in Toulouse, France, has already been tested for high altitudes in South America and for high temperatures in the Middle East.

The A380 also features next generation engines that performed "flawlessly," according to Jacobs, in spite of the blizzard "which was not in the [test] program."

The A380 will leave Iqaluit this weekend. But Airbus says it will return for further testing for other aircraft.

The 273-tonne jumbo jet, with a wingspan of 80 metres, is expected to go into service for Singapore Airlines late this year.