Wake of Airbus A380 Might Mean More Spacing

 - January 16, 2007, 8:15 AM

The horizontal wake-turbulence avoidance distance currently required when a lighter aircraft is behind a heavier aircraft might have to be doubled when flying behind the new Airbus A380, according to preliminary recommendations by the International Civil Aviation Organization. Although final recommendations are not expected to be made before early next year, ICAO is calling for minimum spacing of 10 nm between a landing A380 and a following aircraft, twice the current FAA requirement. For aircraft flying behind an A380 on the same route and at the same altitude, ICAO is recommending that the minimum distance be tripled to 15 nm. The interim guideline also recommends an additional wait time of one minute–on top of today’s typical two minutes–for smaller aircraft waiting to take off behind an A380. Minimim spacing was increased several years ago for smaller aircraft behind landing 757s following the Dec. 15, 1993 fatal crash of an IAI Westwind that lost control on final approach behind a 757. The NTSB attributed the accident to an “encounter with wake vortices from the 757.”