Airbus A380's lumbering airshow acrobatics (video)

The 525-passenger aircraft is hardly nimble, but an Airbus A380 pilot still manages to show some grace and pizzazz in a at the Farnborough air show flight.

FARNBOROUGH, England--It's not hard to imagine what a jet fighter might do at an air show--barrel rolls, steeply banked turns, that sort of thing. But most airshows don't have a 525-passenger, four-engine, double-decker passenger aircraft showing off, too.

The Farnborough International Airshow, though, is not just for tourists. It also lets those from the world's airlines and air forces to scrutinize wares before spending millions or even billions of dollars on very expensive capital equipment.

The Airbus A380 is one such potential expense. It's not often you see such an aircraft being pushed closer to its limits, given the natural conservatism of pilots and regulators, but at Farnborough, the intent is to impress.

Thus, the A380 there ascended steeply after takeoff and immediately began a series of turns and swoops that managed to put a little dash into what ordinarily would be a very lumbering flight. The flight plan doubtless was liberated by the absence of passengers, cargo, and presumably most of the 82,000 gallons of fuel the plane can carry to achieve its 9,400-mile range, but the plane still weighs more than 300 tons empty.

The pilot didn't get the plane anywhere near upside-down--as did the person flying the four-engine A400M military cargo plane. Watch the video--full screen and HD is recommended, since I didn't have a big telephoto lens on hand--to see what the plane can do.

Of course, Farnborough has more conventional airshow attractions as well. For those who want to see the fighter jet, take a look at the video of the U.S. Navy's F/A-18F.