Big bird

The Washington Times Weekly - - National -

U.S. air­ports face po­ten­tial safety chal­lenges with the ar­rival of the much-hyped, dou­ble-decker Air­bus A380, nick­named “Su­per­jumbo” and touted as the largest pas­sen­ger jet in the world.

The Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Of­fice (GAO) says in a new re­port we ob­tained that most U.S. air­ports will need to mod­ify their in­fra­struc­ture or at least im­pose op­er­at­ing re­stric­tions, in­clud­ing “re­quired” in­creased sep­a­ra­tion be­tween the A380 and other air­craft dur­ing land­ings and take­offs be­cause of the strong air tur­bu­lence cre­ated by the A380’s wake.

“The A380 also poses chal­lenges for fire and res­cue of­fi­cials due to its larger size, up­per deck, fuel ca­pac­ity and the num­ber of pas- sen­gers,” says the GAO, which con­ducted site vis­its to 18 U.S. air­ports pre­par­ing to wel­come the A380. (Of­fi­cials at Wash­ing­ton Dulles In­ter­na­tional Air­port say they will have to mod­ify load­ing ramps at the gates to ac­com­mo­date the big bird; oth­er­wise, they see no ma­jor prob­lems.)

With an econ­omy-class lay­out, the jet can seat a whop­ping 853 pas­sen­gers.

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