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A pilot's dozen: British Airways adds 12th A380 to its fleet

The last A380 in BA's original Airbus order, the giant airliner arrived last week at London's Heathrow airport. We learned how the engines are replaced.

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British Airways' newest Airbus A380 has the registration LEL.

British Airways/Stuart Bailey

Taking delivery of an Airbus A380 isn't like driving a new car home from the dealership. For one, an A380 is a lot more complicated than your average sedan and it will cost you a cool $432 million (or thereabouts). That's about £326 million, or AU$581 million. And for the biggest commercial aircraft you have a prepare a pretty massive parking space.

But that's exactly what happened last week when British Airways welcomed its newest A380 to its fleet. The last of the airline's original order of 12 aircraft (sorry, there are no baker's dozens with airplanes), it arrived at BA's home base at London's Heathrow Airport from Toulouse, France, where Airbus completes final assembly of the double-decker airliner.

Just the day before, CNET's Andrew Hoyle and I toured BA's Heathrow maintenance facility where crews were replacing a Rolls-Royce engine on an A380 already flying (BA's first A380 arrived in 2013). Click on the slideshow below for a closer look at how such a complicated job happens.

BA is one of 13 airlines currently operating the A380. From Heathrow, BA's A380s fly to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver, Hong Kong, Singapore, Johannesburg, Miami and Washington, D.C.