The best ever A380 airline stunts

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(CNN) — When you’ve already sent a stuntwoman in flight attendant uniform up the world’s tallest building, it can be hard to think of what trick to pull next.

If you’re UAE flag-carrier Emirates, you send her to perch on top of Dubai’s Burj Khalifa again, but this time get the world’s largest passenger jet to do a fly-past.

Last August, Emirate’s video ad went viral after Nicole Smith-Ludvik ascended 828 meters to the very top of the building’s spire, dressed in skirt, heels and the airline’s instantly recognizable hat and scarf.

Now in new photos and video released this week, she’s up there again to promote Expo 2020 Dubai. With the city spread out below, a superjumbo in an Expo livery glides past her half a mile away at a speed of 145 knots or 167 mph (an A380’s cruise speed is usually 480 knots) before going on a fly-past over the Expo site.

This impressive feat of derring-do took place over two days in October 2021, and involved the A380 circuiting the Burj Khalifa 11 times at the low altitude of 2,700 feet, the exact height of the building.

Formation flying

It’s by no means the first time an Airbus A380 has been used for high-profile stunts.

The superjumbo was developed at a cost of $25 billion and, with capacity for up to 853 passengers, it’s the largest mass-produced civil airliner in history.

The double-decker craft was popular with customers but costly to run, and Airbus announced in 2019 that it would be discontinuing its production. The last ever A380 was delivered to Emirates, its biggest customer, at the end of last year.

Emirates has 115 of the mammoth planes in its fleet and it’s not shy of getting them out for a press event.

The 2019 Air Show in Dubai opened with a superjumbo flying at an altitude of just 1,000 feet in formation with 26 planes from the United Arab Emirates’ Al Fursan air display team.

That was two years after an A380 owned by the UAE’s other flag-carrier, Etihad, kicked off the action at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix by also flying alongside the Al Fursan team.

Back in 2015, a massive Emirates A380 dwarfed its flying companions as it went for a 10-minute flight over Dubai’s Palm Jumeriah islands in a holding pattern with two jetpack pilots from Jetman Dubai.

Going further back again, in 2013 Emirates and Australian flag-carrier Qantas marked an alliance between the two airlines by flying A380s from each of their fleets over Sydney Harbour, at an altitude of 1500 feet.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 31: (NO SALES, NO ADVERTISING) In this handout image provided by Qantas, A Qantas Airbus A380 and Emirates Airbus A380 fly over Sydney Harbour on March 31, 2013 in Sydney, Australia. The two Airbus A380s display is believed to be the first of its kind between two seperate airlines to fly over Sydney's Harbour which will mark the alliance between the two airlines. (Photo by James Morgan/Qantas via Getty Images)

A Qantas Airbus A380 and Emirates Airbus A380 fly over Sydney Harbour on March 31, 2013.

James Morgan/Qantas via Getty Images

It’s not just airlines that have called upon the superjumbo to promote their brand.

In 2017, Porsche got into Guinness World Records by getting a standard Porsche Cayenne car to tow a 285-tonne Air France A380 for a distance of 42 meters at Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport.

The A380 has four engines, making it less fuel-efficient than twin-engined craft — so perhaps all these publicity jaunts can seem a little wasteful.

Nevertheless, Airbus itself has more than once been playful in its choice of flight routes when debuting new craft.

Final test flight of the Airbus A380

The route taken by the last A380’s last flight test.

FlightRadar24

Most fittingly of all, for one of aviation’s most-loved planes, when the last ever A380 to be produced made its pre-delivery flight over Hamburg at the end of last year, its pilots followed a heart-shaped flight route, sending a final message to the plane’s many fans.

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