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Airbus A380 Wake Vortex Guidance

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Article Information
Category: Wake Vortex Turbulence Wake Vortex Turbulence
Content source: ICAO About SKYbrary
Content control: EUROCONTROL EUROCONTROL

Background

A study on Airbus A380 wake vortex aspects was conducted by an ad-hoc group of experts including AIRBUS, FAA, EUROCONTROL and JAA/EASA under the supervision of ICAO. Based on the extensive flight test programme, the group produced the Airbus A380-800 Wake Vortex Guidance.

This guidance is supported by an unprecedented programme of flight tests with innovative aspects, such as back to back comparative testing of different aircraft, cruise wake encounter tests, and ground and airborne LIDAR wake measurements, totalling over 180 hours flight time.

Description

The following is an extract from the A380-800 Wake Vortex Guidance:

The Airbus A380-800, with a maximum take-off mass in the order of 560 000 kg, is the largest passenger aircraft ever to enter into revenue service. The aircraft is in the HEAVY wake turbulence category and ICAO Procedures for Air Navigation Services — Air Traffic Management (PANS-ATM, Doc 4444) apply. However, as vortices generated by the A380-800 are more substantial than for other aircraft in the HEAVY wake turbulence category, this guidance recommends an increase in relation to the wake turbulence separation minima published in the PANS-ATM. This is intended to ensure that aircraft operating near an A380-800 do not encounter wake vortices of a greater magnitude than are generated by other aircraft in the HEAVY wake turbulence category.

States are strongly encouraged to implement this guidance pending an amendment to the PANS-ATM:

Indication of Aircraft Type

  • For A380-800 aircraft the letter “J” should be entered into the space allocated to wake turbulence under Item 9 of the ICAO flight plan.
  • For A380-800 aircraft the expression “SUPER” should be included immediately after the aircraft call sign in the initial radiotelephony contact between such aircraft and ATS units.

Non Radar Wake Turbulence Longitudinal Separation Minima

Arriving Aircraft

The following non-radar separation minima should be applied to aircraft landing behind an A380-800 aircraft:

  • MEDIUM aircraft behind an A380-800 aircraft — 3 minutes;
  • LIGHT aircraft behind an A380-800 aircraft — 4 minutes.

Departing Aircraft

A minimum separation of 3 minutes should be applied for a LIGHT or MEDIUM aircraft and 2 minutes for a non-A380-800 HEAVY aircraft taking off behind an A380-800 aircraft when the aircraft are using:

  1. the same runway;
  2. parallel runways separated by less than 760 m (2 500 ft);
  3. crossing runways if the projected flight path of the second aircraft will cross the projected flight path of the first aircraft at the same altitude or less than 300 m (1000 ft) below;
  4. parallel runways separated by 760 m (2 500 ft) or more, if the projected flight path of the second aircraft will cross the projected flight path of the first aircraft at the same altitude or less than 300 m (1 000 ft) below.

A separation minimum of 4 minutes should be applied for a LIGHT or MEDIUM aircraft when taking off behind an A380-800 aircraft from:

  1. an intermediate part of the same runway; or
  2. an intermediate part of a parallel runway separated by less than 760 m (2 500 ft).

For more details on displaced landing threshold and opposite direction take-offs consult the complete Guidance on A380-800 Wake Vortex Aspects (30 June 2008).

Radar Wake Turbulence Separation Minima

The following wake turbulence radar separation minima should be applied to aircraft in the approach and departure phases of flight.

A380 WVT Chart
A380 Wake Vortex Turbulence Chart

The minima should be applied when:

  • an aircraft is operating directly behind an A380-800 aircraft at the same altitude or less than 300 m (1 000 ft) below; or
  • both aircraft are using the same runway, or parallel runways separated by less than 760 m; or
  • an aircraft is crossing behind an A380-800 aircraft, at the same altitude or less than 300 m (1 000 ft) below.

Further information about en-route separation minima is provided in an Airbus presentation A380 wake vortex working processes and status (see Further Reading):

Horizontal and Vertical Spacing En-route

  • En-route horizontal spacing should be the same as for other aircraft
  • Vertical separation should be the same as for other aircraft. The A380 is fully RVSM capable.
A380 Horizontal and Vertical Spacing En-route
A380 Horizontal and Vertical Spacing En-route

Related Articles

Further Reading

ICAO