Gander airport Airbus ready

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Andrew Robinson
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Emirates official's site audit deems runway diversion worthy

Gander International Airport could play host to the world's largest passenger airliner in the event of an emergency landing.

The Airbus 380 (A380) is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine airliner that can carry 525 people in a three-class setting or more than 800 in an all-economy class configuration.

Gander International Airport has been given the thumbs up from Emirates, a major Middle Eastern airline, as a location for handling emergency landings for its fleet of Airbus 380s. The plane is the largest passenger airplane in the world, and Emirates is

Gander -

Gander International Airport could play host to the world's largest passenger airliner in the event of an emergency landing.

The Airbus 380 (A380) is a double-deck, wide-body, four-engine airliner that can carry 525 people in a three-class setting or more than 800 in an all-economy class configuration.

Emirates, the national airline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has five A380s, with 58 on order.

The airliner's chief flight operations engineer recently came to Gander to conduct a site audit and from it he deemed the Gander airport as a suitable destination for the aircraft in the event of an emergency.

"We're still on the radar with these airlines," said Brian Hicks, director of safety and airside operations for the airport. "We're still playing an important role in North Atlantic aviation."

For a large airplane such as the A380, Hicks said Emirates needs to know with certainty airports can handle its aircraft.

"When the majority of airports were designed, they weren't designed with that sort of airplane in mind, because they didn't exist," he said.

"What they're concerned with when they come here is to make sure the runways are wide enough, because they don't want the engines above the gravel and the shoulders. They just want to make sure the infrastructure is strong enough to handle the airplane."

The plane has a 260-foot wing span, while GIA's runways are 200 feet wide.

Hicks said Gander has already handled the Antonov An-225 - the largest fixed-wing airplane in the world - and was therefore well equipped for handling a plane of the A380's magnitude.

"It creates so much publicity everywhere it goes," said Hicks. "Everybody is watching it really closely, including the media, and they don't want any problems. They don't want to come to Gander and suddenly find they can't fit it here, so they're doing their due diligence."

The airline industry may be in flux with the global economic recession, but Emirates, said Hicks, is in a better position than most being based out of Dubai.

"They have a lot of money, and people are travelling more there. They want ultra-luxurious, long-range airplanes," he said.

Hicks said Emirates' A380s will be made to accommodate roughly 400 passengers, and will include a wide variety of amenities, including multiple crews to work the lengthy flights.

Since early June, 35 aircraft have diverted to Gander. Hicks said emergency landings can occur for any number of reasons - from technical troubles and poor weather to medical emergencies or security threats.

"There's anywhere up to 1,400 airplanes on a daily basis flying overhead. Usually 75 per cent of all North Atlantic aviation traffic travels within 350 miles of this airport," he said.

A number of pacific rim airliners are purchasing A380s, as are British Airways and Air France and Hicks said he is unsure whether those airliners will also conduct their own audits.

Airbus visited Gander airport during the A380's design phase and at the time found it was suitable for the A380.

Organizations: Emirates, Airbus, Antonov British Airways Air France

Geographic location: Gander, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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Recent comments

  • Mark
    July 02, 2010 - 13:34

    Emirates has no money and have had to sell 40% of the airline to Abu Dhabi. Dubai has debt of 80 billion dollars, there is no money here the tourists numbers are down business is poor, and those large orders will be cancelled.

  • Sheldon
    July 02, 2010 - 13:16

    Why to go mayor Claude Elliot! Too bad they never got the maintenance hanger we were shooting for. Maybe next year...

  • Mark
    July 01, 2010 - 20:23

    Emirates has no money and have had to sell 40% of the airline to Abu Dhabi. Dubai has debt of 80 billion dollars, there is no money here the tourists numbers are down business is poor, and those large orders will be cancelled.

  • Sheldon
    July 01, 2010 - 19:56

    Why to go mayor Claude Elliot! Too bad they never got the maintenance hanger we were shooting for. Maybe next year...