March 27th Update: reader pictures here.
While I doubt I’d ever want to fly coach in it, the plane dork in me is pretty excited about the new Airbus A380. The biggest passenger jetliner ever built, it’s a double decker that will carry between five and six hundred passengers at a time. This week will mark its first landings in the United States, with Airbus sending an A380 to LAX and Lufthansa an A380 to JFK today. LAX expects more than just media coverage:
Expecting “thousands of onlookers to line airport fences,” [ . . . ] officials have devoted “hours to meetings about where pedestrians should stand, what streets to shut down and how to provide security and traffic control[.]”
So will those of us in DC get a chance to line the fences for a look? Well, the JFK A380 will head on to Chicago and Washington (via Frankfurt and Hong Kong, it seems). When I first heard about the Dulles landing, I was looking around for information about any public events or viewing areas at Dulles. Finding no public events planned, I took some solace in this article, which appeared to indicate a couple of daytime opportunities to see the plane land or take off. Unfortunately, that schedule seems to have changed. I called the Dulles Public Affairs office to ask about landing times, and they told me that the schedule has been changed to have the plane arrive late Sunday, and depart late Monday night, scrapping any chance of a daytime viewing. So while you might be able to catch a brief glimpse of the landing lights, any trip out to Dulles to see an A380 will almost certainly be disappointing.
I suppose seeing an A380 will be a common enough occurrence in the near future (the first delivery for regular commercial operation will be to Singapore Airlines this fall), but I’m still rather disappointed. And it’s a shame that Airbus and Lufthansa didn’t involve the National Air and Space Museum in producing some sort of public event. I would have loved to get a few shots of the latest wonder in the air from the observation deck. Ah well. I guess I’ll just have to buy a ticket someday.
Photo by albspotter.
Update: Crankyflier shows us what we missed.
Further update: I sure am getting a ton of Google/Yahoo traffic from folks looking for information about seeing the A380 at Dulles. Unfortunately, nothing’s changed – the A380 “is [still] expected to arrive at Dulles some time after 9 p.m. on Sunday, March 25 and depart some time after 9 p.m. on Monday, March 26” and Lufthansa is not planning any public event. Further, I understand that they’re parking the aircraft where there’s no clear view from any public areas at the airport (tho’ if you’re actually IN Terminal B, I’d take a walk along the gates to see what I could . . .). If you’re still looking for more A380 coverage, I’d head over to the Airliners.net Civil Aviation Forums. Or, you know, stick around here and check out some of my travel writing.
Final update, as it will soon all be in the past: Ben at USA Today appears to be on track to check out the plane at IAD tomorrow. Maybe he’ll tell us something interesting.