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Following three years of exhaustive studies, the Airbus A380 Wake Vortex Steering Group has rendered its conclusions and is now in a position to recommend more specific guidance, based on a unique and very extensive flight test programme. The Steering Group comprised representatives from the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA), Eurocontrol, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and Airbus.
The study has demonstrated that en route the A380 is very similar to the Boeing 747. In cruise and when flying in a “holding pattern”, the A380 is considered to be identical to any other aircraft, both for vertical and horizontal spacing between it and any following aircraft.
The detailed scientific work was conducted by a subgroup consisting of the majority of the leading international experts in this complex field.
It was 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.
On approach, the spacing for the following aircraft is increased compared with the existing separation rules for aircraft currently in service, by two nm for another “heavy”, by three nm for a “medium” sized aircraft, and by four nm for a “light” aircraft. However, because there are no constraints for the A380 following another aircraft, the A380 can land as close as practicable to the preceding aircraft. This can compensate for the additional spacing required for the following one.