UK Civil Aviation Authority safety regulators will require Airbus A380 crews to use the wake classification ‘super’ when contacting air traffic control, as part of the formal procedure for maintaining appropriate airborne separation for the type.

The just-released CAA instructions follow the conclusion of an A380 wake vortex steering group study in September which recommended minimum separation distances between the A380 and various categories of trailing aircraft.

CAA requirements will broadly follow the guidelines laid down by the steering group, although they will be slightly amended to account for the UK’s using four weight categories for smaller aircraft – heavy, medium, small and light – rather than the three explored by the study.

Minimum radar separation during approach and departure will be 6nm (11km) for a trailing ‘heavy’ aircraft, 8nm for a ‘medium’ or ‘small’, and 10nm for a ‘light’ aircraft.

While the steering group concluded that the A380 itself did not need to be subjected to wake constraints while in trail, the CAA will impose a minimum 4nm separation between two A380s.

Non-radar separation for aircraft arriving behind an A380 will be kept to 3min for ‘medium’ and ‘small’ types, and 4min for ‘light’. Departure separations will be 3min for ‘medium’, ‘small’ and ‘light’, reduced to 2min for non-A380 ‘heavy’ aircraft.

These new regulations supersede the conservative ICAO interim guidelines drawn up last year before the results of the wake vortex steering group’s three-year study were disclosed.