Airbus A380 is a big plane and a big pain in the behind

The Airbus A380 has been in service for over 16 months and a total of 13 of these monsters have been delivered to airlines around the world.

One of those airlines is Qantas, who use the plane on their Sydney-Los Angeles route.

Of course, a plane this big offers some major logistical challenges to designers, but the airports they visit get their fair share of hassles too.

Los Angeles airport has had to make special arrangements for the superjumbo, including shutting down service roads and halting other aircraft on taxiways when the plane is being positioned. The wingspan of the A380 is so big that it actually intrudes on the safety zone on either side of the tarmac.

When the A380 is ready for takeoff, air traffic controllers make sure their tower is fully staffed, and the plane receives priority over any other traffic. The plane is so big, that when it prepares to take off in bad weather, the tower tries to let it get airborne as soon as possible to prevent its jumbo size from blocking radio transmissions from airport towers.

Still, despite the hassles, the plane is a blessing for an airport suffering from the global decline in air traffic – LAX has lost 650 flights a day, and since airports make money off planes and passengers, having a superjumbo visit your airport is a sure way to make up for some of those losses.

(Via: LA Times Online)

Airbus A380 to become the new Air Force One?

Airbus, the European aircraft manufacturer and largest competitor to Boeing, is reportedly working on an offer to provide the President with their A380 super jumbo to replace the outdated fleet of VC-25’s currently being used.

Of course, the whole thing is probably a great way to generate some PR for Airbus, as I don’t think there is a chance in hell that the United States would fly our president around the world in a European built plane (not that there is anything wrong with the A380!).

There are other reasons why I don’t think President Obama would ever pick Airbus to replace Air Force One – Boeing has its headquarters in his home state of Illinois.

Still, the article does point out several reasons why the A380 would be a great choice for the new presidential carrier – emissions are about 25% lower than the 747, despite being a whopping 50% larger. It also produces 50% less cabin noise.

Still, if the new administration is seriously looking to spend $700 Million for these 2 new planes, they’d better do it soon, before you know it, there won’t be any cash left to spend on luxury items like this. Lets just hope that they are not looking at the A380 sardine can version recently purchased by this French Airline.

The press claim this A380 would become the new “Air Obama” but failed to realize that the Air Force won’t be needing the new jet till 2017, long after Obama ends his one or two terms. By then, the current Air Force One fleet will be 30 years old.

Escaping down an airplane slide: Handy tips

Sliding down an airplane slide looks a bit to me like sliding down one of those inflatable slide rides you see at a fair, amusement park or a carnival. Apparently, it’s not the easiest way to depart an airplane, even if it’s a more common occurrence than one thinks. According the this article, every 11 days in the U.S. people yell, “Whee!” or “Bombs away!” or “@#$%##$!” as they swing onto the inflated rubber for a ride to the ground. I jazzed it up with the dialog, but those are the statistics reported by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2000.

If the accident rate of the carnival rides was the same as an airplane slide, I’d say that ride would be shut down–or maybe kids and adolescents are just better at sliding than adults. When airplanes are tested, escape drills are part of the process. When the Airbus A 380 was tested, 33 out of 873 people got hurt. Only one person actually broke something–an arm. The others got a slide burn. If you’ve ever had someone drag you across a carpet with your skin making contact, you’ll know what that’s like.

To prevent injuries, know what to do in case you have a trip down an inflatable airplane slide in your future. Here are the tips in summary, although, for some reason, I’ve ended up with more numbered points and added some embellishment. For more detailed instructions, read the article.

1. Figure out your escape route when you first sit down. Exactly how many rows are you away from an exit?

2. Read the emergency card, even if you’ve flown five billion times.

3. Leave the luggage behind.

4. Help others get the airplane door open if they are in a panic and fumbling.

5. If you can’t get out one exit, look for another

6. Jump onto the slide, don’t try to sit down. Yell, “Whee!” for extra fun. (I added that just in case jumping makes you nervous. The whee might distract you.)

7. Cross your hands over your chest and put your heels up to avoid “unintentional cartwheels” as Amanda Ripley, the article’s author writes. She says this also helps control the impact when you meet the ground.

8. Women should not fly wearing spiked heels and pantyhose. Pantyhose can melt right on you. Gad!

9. When you reach the ground, hustle out of the way so there’s not some pile up at the bottom and someones foot doesn’t whack you in the head.

10 tips for smarter flying