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Pilot's perspective

SIA's flight operations chief Capt Yeap says that SIA operates its A380s with ratio of around 10 to 11 flightcrews per aircraft. He says that pilots have "transitioned easily" to the aircraft's size as many were already familiar with 747-400. Transition time is about three months, the same for other types in the fleet, he adds.

"Crews are very happy after their first circuit. The A380 is a well-designed aeroplane, the flight-control laws are very advanced and it is responsive for its size and accurate to fly," Yeap says.

A380 Cockpit

© Max Kingsley-Jones/Flightglobal



On the ground, the A380 manoeuvres like the 747 - "a gentle oversteer", he says. "The major difference is the inertia. The steering is fly-by-wire, so it is not an instinctive input like normal direct controls and takes a little bit of getting used to."

Normal procedure is to use the taxi camera, "but with experience, any competent crew will be able to taxi without it", adds Yeap.

The A380 has impressive performance once off the ground - "we can achieve optimum climbs with no problem" and it also slows down well, he adds. SIA generally cruises its A380s at M0.83-0.85, and the approach speed - for a landing weight close to the 397t maximum take-off of a 747-400 - is an impressively slow 130-135kt (240-250km/h).

The three A380 operators deploy their fleet across the globe serving destinations in North America, Australasia, the Pacific Rim and Asia. All three fly between London and Sydney - with Qantas shadowing SIA's routing via Singapore, while Emirates flies through its Dubai hub.

 

All the airports that the type serves have been well prepared for the aircraft. "With air bridges to main and upper deck passenger enplaning and deplaning is poetry in motion," says Clark.

Turnaround times range from 90-110min, depending on route and operator. For example, Emirates does 90min turns at London Heathrow between the inbound EK001 and outbound EK002, says Clark. And replenishing main and upper deck galleys using standard and special scissor-lift trucks has not been problematic. "We've never had to use the cart lifts," he adds.

 

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