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Highlights

Airbus S.A.S. (Airbus), a European aircraft manufacturer, is introducing a new aircraft designated as the A380, which is expected to enter service in late 2007. The A380 will be the largest passenger aircraft in the world, with a wingspan of about 262 feet, a tail fin reaching 80 feet high, and a maximum takeoff weight of 1.2 million pounds. The A380 has a double deck and could seat up to 853 passengers. GAO was asked to examine the impact of the A380 on U.S. airports. In May 2006, GAO issued a report that estimated the costs of infrastructure changes at U.S. airports to accommodate the A380. This report discusses (1) the safety issues associated with introducing the A380 at U.S. airports, (2) the potential impact of A380 operations on the capacity of U.S. airports, and (3) how selected foreign airports are preparing to accommodate the A380. To address these issues, GAO reviewed studies on operational and safety issues related to the A380 and conducted site visits to the 18 U.S. airports and 11 Asian, Canadian, and European airports preparing to receive the A380. GAO provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Airbus a copy of the draft report for review. Both generally agreed with the report's findings. FAA and Airbus also provided technical clarifications, which were incorporated as appropriate.

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