Airbus's ultra-large airliner will be the first aircraft to have vortex hazard categorised before entry into service

Work is underway to categorise the Airbus A380 ultra-large airliner's wake vortex characteristics before entry into service. The A380 wake vortex steering group (WVSG) - of which Europe's Joint Aviation Authorities is a member - says it is trying to determine "the influence of A380 operations on air transport movements".

Advance categorisation overseen by the International Civil Aviation Organisation - also a participant in the WVSG - has not been done before. Airbus says it is "a little bit early to talk about this work", but the company is taking part in the WVSG along with Eurocontrol, ICAO, the JAA and the US Federal Aviation Administration.

The steering group was set up in mid-2003, says the JAA, but the group has not publicised its objectives until now. The WVSG explains that "this is the first occasion wake vortex issues have been addressed prior to the introduction of a new aircraft type".

"Methods developed by NASA, the FAA, the German Aerospace Centre [DLR] and Eurocontrol have been selected to investigate the influence of A380 operations on air traffic movements," it adds.

Techniques that will be used when the aircraft begins its flight test programme will include tracking wake vortex activity using lidar laser radar, says JAA assistant operations director Mike Harrison.

Harrison says that the steering group's task is to assess the A380 and report to ICAO "to enable the publishing of guidance material to contracting states prior to the entry into service of the A380". The WVSG says it expects to reach initial conclusions within "a couple of months". A longer-term ICAO objective, says Harrison, is to categorise all aircraft more precisely than the existing three wake vortex groups - light, medium and heavy.

Since July 2002 Airbus has been taking part in a European research and development programme aiming to reduce wake vortices and aerodynamic noise in future aircraft, with the first expected beneficiary the A380.

Airbus provided an A340-300 testbed aircraft for the programme, known as Awiator (Flight International, 9-15 September 2003).


Source: Flight International