UK rethinks A380 wake separation from heavy jets

By David Kaminski-Morrow

UK authorities are to revise certain Airbus A380 wake vortex separation standards after concluding that further examination of operational issues is needed.

The revision concentrates on separation between pairs of A380s and situations in which an A380 is in-trail to another 'heavy' category aircraft.

ICAO last year set out minimum radar and non-radar separation recommendations for the type - subsequently adopted by the UK Civil Aviation Authority - but these did not include a specific requirement for in-trail A380s.

In a newly-issued supplementary instruction, however, the CAA has set a 4nm interval for successive A380s, and for A380s trailing 'heavy' jets.

"After further detailed consideration, it has been decided to take a more cautious approach to facilitate an assessment of any A380 wake vortex issues over a period of time, based upon operational experience with the aircraft in busy UK terminal airspace environments," it states.

A spokesman for the CAA says: "It's a short-term thing which we'll review in summer. It's not necessarily evidence-based - if it doesn't need to be there, we'll put it back."

When an A380 precedes another aircraft in a surveillance environment, the minimum separations for 'heavy', 'medium', 'small' and 'light' trailing aircraft respectively remain at 6nm, 7nm, 7nm and 8nm.

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