The British Airways Airbus A380 – Inside The Cockpit

Simple Flying has been working with British Airways to provide readers with exclusive behind the scenes access to the airline. Today we take a final look around the British Airways Airbus A380 registered as G-XLED. In case you haven’t read them yet, here is a link to Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part article.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
British Airways has 12 Airbus A380 aircraft. We got to look around G-XLED (not pictured). Photo: British Airways

Back downstairs

At the front of the cabin is a staircase leading down to the main deck at the front door. We descended this and headed into the cockpit. The Airbus A380’s cockpit is a very private space for pilots. Locked off from the rest of the cabin, they have their own toilet, as well as two private rooms containing beds and armchairs.

Passing these rooms, we got the chance to sit down in the surprisingly cozy cockpit. Heeran takes the time to give me a quick tour around the cockpit, mindful that engineers are working around me. The main difference between the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 simulator I had flown earlier in the day, is the control input. While the Boeing aircraft had a traditional yoke, the A380 has a sidestick.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
The Airbus A380’s cockpit is on a middle level between the main and upper deck. Photo: British Airways

The aircraft also has a number of different screens. In fact, I’m straight back into the engineering aspect of things when we take a look at the digital circuit breaker system. The aircraft has a number of traditional circuit breakers hidden away outside the main cabin. However, it also has a digital system for circuit breakers.


How the circuit breakers work

Say that somebody needs to work on the aileron and doesn’t want it to move in the process. They can pull the circuit breaker and tag it with their name. Every user will see that it has been tagged, and it stays put until it is removed by the person who set it.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
The electrical circuit breakers in the Airbus A380 are controlled using the cockpit’s computer system. Photo: British Airways

However, multiple people can tag the same item. That way, if one person removes their tag, the breaker remains pulled until work is complete. It also gives a complete overview of any tags that are still pulled when maintenance should be completed.


The other thing that strikes me in the cockpit is how many levers and switches are covered. This is to stop anything major from being accidentally triggered. It is much harder to claim that you accidentally raised the gear, for instance, if there is a multiple-step cage covering the lever.

Back into First

Our time with the Airbus A380 is now coming to a close leaving just enough time to explore the First cabin. Phil explains to me that on the Airbus A380, the cabin is slightly modified to take advantage of the additional width. While somebody takes apart a seat next to me, I settle into seat 4A for what may be my only experience of the current British Airways first-class seat.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
Last but not least I finally got to experience First class, which takes full advantage of the A380’s wide main deck. Photo: British Airways

While I am relaxing, Phil explains the rest of the Britsh Airways maintenance program to me. The airline uses a couple of bases away from Heathrow for more in-depth maintenance. The main one is in Cardiff, which deals with heavy-duty jobs such as replacing the Boeing 777 cabin.

As a closing thought, he mentions that he is proud of how his team is responsible for more than just maintenance. He shares that his input was even sought on how the current cabin should be designed. After all, as the Engineering Head of Quality and Technical, he knows BA’s aircraft inside out!

Have you been fortunate enough to fly onboard British Airways’ Airbus A380? Let us know how you found it in the comments!


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Two years ago we flew from LHR to LAX in Club World on an A380. The plane is massive but incredibly smooth and quiet. The seating was nice, but compared to more modern business class cabins very outdated. The IFE at my seat needed to be rebooted several times for… Read more »


Flew on G-XLED once, from LHR to MIA back in 2017. I’ve had a lovely flight!

Bob Lapshinoff

Really interesting about having elevators in A380 awesome style first time to hear that NICE!


Flew LAX – LHR on an A380 last year in World Traveler Plus (Premium Economy) which was a full section. They had not booked anyone in the economy section behind the premium economy on the second level of the plane so it was entirely empty. Between the two meals, I… Read more »


My wife and I were lucky enough to fly first to Boston after buying a last minute upgrade at the airport. A really great experience .We chose to fly to Boston instead of JFK just to fly BAs 380 a we had only flown on the Qantus one before. I… Read more »

Rhys Adams

I love the A380 and have been lucky enough to fly in Economy and extremely fortunate to fly in Fairey Class once from LAX to LHR.

It’s an amazing plane and feels very spacious whichever cabin you travel in.

Michael O'Brien

Flew a BA 380 LHR to Vancouver a couple of years ago in Economy and had a very smooth flight thanks to BA being one of the few operators to include some economy seating on the top deck in 2-4-2 which works brilliantly. Flew the return leg on a BA… Read more »

Ian Waters

I flew Economy from LHR to JNB in January 2016. Seated on the upper deck at the rear of the aircraft I found it extremely comfortable, plenty of leg room and great having plenty of space in an open top compartment between the seat and the window to place personal… Read more »

Ian Waters

I had the pleasure of flying from LHR to JNB in January 2016 on the A380 in World Traveller. Seated by the window on the Upper deck at the rear of the aircraft I was immediately impressed by the amount of room I had, especially the compartment between the window… Read more »


Yes flew the Johannesburg to Heathrow sector in an almost new BA A380 in the premium economy cabin.Seats adequate but no match for latest offerings eg Air New Zealand in B787 equipment the best so far. Also no dedicated toilet fo PE. Food & beverages OK. Aircraft outstanding!

Lord Philip Reichardt

I recently flew first class from Heathrow to Hong Kong in a BA Airbus 380. Unfortunately the video screen for my seat was broken. The crew did their best but it could not be fixed quickly so I had no in flight entertainment. Tried the Wi-Fi but it is not… Read more »


Nice I love A380

Joe DiDonato

Flew in a BA A380 from Singapore to Heathrow in 2019. I’m 68 and have flown in all kinds of aircraft, both civilian and military , from DC-3’s to Heavy’s. Having a seat in the upper deck of the A380 for around 14 hrs. Should be an uncomfortable situation. Was… Read more »

Mike Mosier

My late wife and I flew to Heathrow from O’Hare on a 380. The flight was magnificent. Smooth, fast, quiet with the friendliest, most professional crew I’ve ever encountered. We arrived early as Hurricane Michael scooted us along with a powerful tailwind. World Traveler Plus was worth the surcharge.BA is… Read more »


Flew economy class, comfort and space a bit limited. But otherwise not bad

Mike Clinton

Been a plane enthusias for 50 yrs at Heathrow Airport and would love to see around the 380

Gerry Walsh

I have always been a 747 fan but my flight to and from Vancouver out of heathrow was the smoothest most enjoyable flight I have ever been on. A most remarkable aircraft

Trevor Clark

Fantastic smooth, flew to South Africa great plane . will be missed.


Not at all impressed with the first class seat, very sparse. the seat doesn’t look anything special compared to the competition. I always fly 1st but I will give this one a miss.

Peter Dirken

Have flown A380 3 times – London to Bangkok; LAX-London and London to Johannesburg – all very smooth and stable, quiet and spacious. The A380 is awesome and it is such a shame it has been discontinued.

Ricky Roberts

I flew from Heathrow to Chicago last September.
First time on the A380.
Upper deck, I think row 71 A & C.
Love the fact that only two seats.
Was amazed how much storage room was beneath the window.
Really enjoyed the flight and attentiveness of the cabin crew.
Also first BA flight.


My British Airways’ Airbus A380 flights were comfortable with exceptional customer service. The only fault was a lack of interesting content to watch on the Entertainment system. I traveled in World Traveler (Economy).


My British Airways’ Airbus A380 flights were comfortable with exceptional customer service. The only fault was a lack of interesting content to watch on the Entertainment system. I traveled in World Traveler (Economy).

Ron Victor

I have had the privilege of being a passenger on the Airbus A380 on 2 occasions, once with Thai Airlines to Bangkok and once with Qatar Airways to Doha. On the Bangkok flight I was seating right behind the bulkhead, there was the disadvantage of have people hanging around waiting… Read more »

Narayanan S

Very informative.

Adrian peters

Not been on the b.a. a380 . And hope to avoid it at all costs ,from previous b.a. in flight service, which is NO fault of the crew, but wait, I have been on Qatar airlines, and hey you get a moisturising serviette, unnlike S itish airways. On Qatar you… Read more »