Saturday, August 02, 2008

Airbus A380 requires new 'super' wake separation category

A380Now that the new Airbus A380 'superjumbo' aircraft has begun to fly in U.S. airspace, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has issued an Operations Bulletin to inform pilots about the new wake separation category that the world's largest airliner has ushered in, requiring separation greater than that required behind the 'heavy' category.

Operations Bulletin 2008-05 issued by ALPA on August 1, 2008, notes that A380 pilots will use the designation 'super' after their call sign while in the airport terminal area. Air traffic controllers will not be allowed to apply visual separation standards to any aircraft following an A380 and will not issue a visual approach to the pilots of any aircraft following an A380.

The FAA separation standards for aircraft following an A380 are:
  • En route: Small, large, and heavy behind an A380 - 5 miles
  • Terminal: Small, large, and heavy behind an A380 - 10, 8, and 6 miles respectively
The ALPA bulletin points out that movement of the A380 both on the ground and within the terminal area may result in significant delays.

Pilots should report wake turbulence encounters involving any aircraft by filling out a NASA ASRS form and/or via their airline's Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP).

Emirates Airline began scheduled Airbus A380 service to New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on August 1. Other airlines are expected to begin A380 service to San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), and Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) in the near future.