La Reunion Island

Airbus A380 landing at Reunion Island

Test of Airport compatibility

Té / 16 November 2009

15 January 2009: the reunionnese airline Air Austral has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for the purchase of two A380s in a single-class configuration.
11 novembre 2009, after a long flight from Europe, Airbus A380 appears in the blue sky over Saint-Denis, country’s main city of Reunion Island, in the south of Indian Ocean. The plane flied around the island and landed at Roland-Garros Airport at 7:45 am. Thousands peoples were waiting for this moment with impatience. In a press release, Airbus explain the purpose of this test of Airport compatibility.

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Today, more than 90 airports around the world have already welcomed the A380. Throughout 2009 an increasing number of airports have handled scheduled A380 passenger services as the customer airline in-service fleet grows. Full airport compatibility has always been a key design driver for Airbus‘ all-new double-decker.

Since the very beginning of the A3XX concept phase in 1996 the European aircraft manufacturer has established a continuous dialogue with regulators, airports, airlines, ground handlers and trade associations. The overall objective to make this aircraft compliant with the typical airport environment has been fully met. The A380 has demonstrated that it can be integrated with ease into existing airport facilities.

As with any aircraft, the A380 is subject to local Aviation-Authority approvals. However, the greener, cleaner, quieter and smarter eco-efficient airliner has been demonstrated to be fully compatible with most of the world’s airport infrastructure and has received approval to operate on runways with a width of 45 metres (150 ft) or more (most of the world’s airports have 45m runways as standard width). In addition, the 20-wheel main landing gear arrangement results in lower runway and taxiway pavement strength requirements than other in-service or proposed aircraft. With its larger wingspan and wing area, greater lift is provided and as a result the A380 also requires less runway length to take off and to land than the former largest aircraft.

Servicing the A380 has minimal impact on current facilities because its main deck and lower deck doors and its ground servicing connection points are at a similar height to those of other large aircraft. Overall, 20 out of 22 servicing vehicles are the same as those used generally today. The majority of cabin servicing is to the main deck, however a catering vehicle offering direct access to the upper deck can be used in most situations to even further optimize catering times. Due to its higher weight, a more capable tow tractor is also recommended. These two new vehicle types, already in service for the A380 and compatible with other widebody aircraft, are available from several manufacturers.

Extensive airport compatibility tests have been backed up by in-service experience that demonstrates that despite the impressive size of the A380, passenger boarding does not take longer than for other large aircraft in its category and - considering its greater capacity - it will be markedly more efficient than its rivals.

The A380’s extra-wide main stairs allow boarding of passengers through the first two main deck doors, thus enabling swift turnarounds without any operational need for an upper deck passenger boarding bridge. However, A380 operators can benefit from the unique differentiation which upper deck access affords and many airports are offering this feature at their A380-capable gates.

Thanks to its operationally friendly design and the joint work with the ground handling community, the A380‘s turnaround time has been measured and validated at 90 minutes (as predicted) during full scale exercises with customer airlines and in commercial service. This means the A380 is fully in line with other large aircraft flying today, and because it carries 40 per cent more passengers per movement than the competition, it offers a better and more efficient use of airport resources such as gates and slots, whilst at the same time generating only half the noise on take off and landing.

An A380 can therefore replace older and smaller wide-body aircraft while providing substantial economic and environmental benefits, thereby being part of the solution to achieving sustainable air transport growth.

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