My Brush With a News Item

I talked to the Airbus Industries A380 (actually a A388 apparently) today while at work as an air traffic controller.

We don’t normally generate paper flight progress strips on aircraft anymore at high altitudes since URET was installed at the air traffic control centers, but I got one as a souvenir.

(Note the high quality of the printout as well – the horizontal breaks in the printing are really there! It’s thermal paper by the way.)

Air traffic controllers are required to call the aircraft “Super” in all radio communications, to differentiate it because the wake turbulence vortices it generates are even greater than aircraft in the “heavy” category, such as the Boeing B747. Not surprisingly FAA controllers are still using “interim” procedures for the A380 aircraft because the FAA has yet to formalize procedures for handling the A380 over a year after ICAO made recommendations on its handling.

The Airbus A380 is the world’s largest passenger plane, and made the trip to Minneapolis as part of a sales tour across the United States.

The pilot had a very strong accent (go figure) and I had some difficulty understanding him. I was surprised that they hadn’t chosen a flight crew that spoke clearer English on their U.S. tour.

However the really amazing thing was that the beacon backward slash that shows where the aircraft is our radar screens was actually changed by the FAA to reflect the larger size of the A380 aircraft.

I’m kidding. They didn’t really change the size of the beacon slash at all. 😉

It really just looked like any other aircraft I’ve ever worked on radar. Except that the pilot had a foreign accent…

More nice photos courtesy of a friend who saw the plane itself are in the photo gallery.

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