March 2005 
Volume 03, Issue 10 
Industry Wrap

Landing the Big Bird

Airports worldwide working to take A380

Landing the Big Bird As Airbus prepares for initial flights of the A380, airports worldwide, including several in the United States, are readying for the arrival of the massive aircraft.

According to Aviation Week & Space Technology magazine, about 20 hubs around Europe, North America and the Pacific Rim will be ready to handle Airbus A380s by mid-2006, or no later than 2007.

That list includes airports in Bangkok, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, New York, London, Los Angeles, Montreal, Paris and Tokyo, as well as Auckland, New Zealand, and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, an Airbus official told Aviation Week. And another 40 are expected to follow by the end of the decade.

The A380, which will carry up to 555 passengers in a typical three-class cabin configuration, is 35 percent bigger than the Boeing 747-400. According to Aviation Week, although the A380 represents a big increase in terms of seat numbers, its jump in size relative to its contemporaries is not as large as that of the first 747, which entered service in 1970.


Aviation Week said that A380 program leaders, civil aviation authorities and airport managers have undertaken early planning to maintain smooth operations.

Among the work in progress at airports: a 575-million euros ($730 million) project at Heathrow Airport in London, as part of a major expansion program, and an estimated $200-million upgrade at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Also, the airport in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will undergo a $2.5-billion expansion. This program will be complemented by the all-new Jebel Ali Airport City, a project that will cover 54 square miles (140 square kilometers) and will feature a surrounding city that will house commercial and residential premises.

However, U.S. airports from Seattle to Atlanta said accommodating the A380 in anything other than an emergency would require costly major construction, according to an Associated Press report. Runways would need widening and terminals would need upgrades to load and unload the double- decker plane quickly. Even with those improvements, airports still might need to curtail other airport traffic to let the big jet pass.


What's more, some airport officials say they just aren't seeing the demand for the A380 that would warrant such cost and inconvenience.

"Let's do a cost/benefit analysis: Are you really going to spend millions of dollars (when) you might have two of them a day fly in?" aviation analyst Mike Boyd told the Associated Press.

The A380 isn't much longer than the 747-400. But the A380's wingspan of 261 feet (80 meters) is 50 feet (15 meters) wider than the 747 and is broader than many runways and taxiways were built to accommodate.

According to the Associated Press, the Federal Aviation Administration said four U.S. airports—San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami and New York's JFK—are formally working with regulators on plans to accept the new plane for passengers. Another two—Anchorage, Alaska, and Memphis, Tenn.—are working with the FAA to take the cargo version.

The Associated Press reported that Airbus said it's talked with many other U.S. airports and anticipates several more will be able to land the plane on a regular basis by 2011.



Front Page
Contact Us | Site Map| Site Terms | Privacy | Copyright
Copyright© Boeing. All rights reserved.