Airbus’ new A380 may just have been cleared by the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency to operate on 45m-wide runways (which is standard for large airports), but the International Civil Aviation Organisation says the runway width for the type should be 60m. This has upset the airports that have to invest, but it may yet upset pilots of all types. Why?Well, if you are landing by eyeball, rather than by listening to the rad alt countdown – and most pilots do a bit of both – an unsually wide runway makes you round out high, and an unusually narrow runway does the reverse. In the latter case you hit it hard because you didn’t know you were there yet, and in the wide runway case you hit it hard because you stall onto it and risk a tailscrape unless you apply late power.
Airports like London Heathrow, Singapore and Dubai that will see lots of early A380 operations are either hard at work widening to 60m or they have plans to do it. When it’s done, watch for the high roundouts. I have a suspicion it will be even more of a risk to narrowbodies that to the high-flightdeck types, but let’s just see.
Of course pilots know this, don’t they, so surely it won’t happen?
Watch this space.