AirbusA380 HeathrowGate W445
© Mark Wagner /

With its wingtips rocking in a gusty wind, the Airbus A380 touched down on London Heathrow’s runway 27R on 18 May on its first visit to the airport, which will see more A380 movements than any other for the next decade. Commanded by test pilot Ed Strongman, the aircraft taxied to the purpose-built Pier 6 at Terminal 3. It remained at the airport overnight for airport and equipment compatibility tests.

Heathrow managing director Tony Douglas says catering vehicles, cargo and baggage loaders, fresh water tankers, de-icing rigs and other servicing vehicles had their operational interfaces with the aircraft tested at Pier 6.

No passengers were involved in the trial, but Douglas says the aircraft, using two airbridges that can fit either one to a forward door on each deck or two to the main deck, will be able to disembark a full passenger load in 15min or embark them in 40min.

Pier 6 has docking points for four A380s simultaneously. When Heathrow’s all-new Terminal 5 opens in 2008, it will have 12 A380-compatible stands.

Source: Flight International