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A380 Coming to IAD – But We Don’t Get To See It

 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). A380 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.


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  1. Rod

    Please update me with any fixed times you come up with for arr/dep of the A380. They certainly are making this difficult for those of us who would like to see it. –Thanks.

  2. MB

    Wish I could offer more, Rod, but all I’m getting from the airport authority is what I’ve put above, and (shockingly) my calls to Lufthansa have gone unreturned. Must be because I’ve flown them exactly once in the past ten years.

  3. Peter Browne

    Both Lufthansa and Airbus are missing a wonderful PR opportunity. Many aviation buffs would have been glad to tour or even see the 380 and would have chatted it up with friends and neighbors.

  4. Michael Nash

    A380 arrives at Dulles! It passed over my apartment on the approach to 19R at 8.16pm. That wingspan is unmistakable and very well lit up at night – could easily make out the A380 on the tail. Having also listened in on Dulles Tower a lot of airline pilots are also curious about this beast.

  5. Cpt. Sensible

    I know someone who is invited on tomorrow’s morning flight- it’s about an hour and a half tour.

    From the Metro Washington Airports site:
    “A demonstration flight is scheduled for Monday, March 26 between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. However, the organizers of this event have not made arrangements for the general public to view the aircraft. Public areas of the airport do not offer a good view of the A380 when it is parked on the airfield. Views of the take-off and landing of the demonstration flight from public areas of the airport are also limited due to the configuration of the airfield.”

  6. Steven

    Looks like there is a schedule for the A380 today…


    Thanks for providing this resource.

  7. MB

    Thanks, Steven. Unfortunately, that schedule is no longer correct (at least per my calls to IAD). Both the arrival and departure times were changed. There will NOT be a 4:20p departure today.

  8. WorkNearDulles

    The 380 Just took off and looks like it headed Northwest. The time for take off seems to be in sync with the previous schedule.

  9. love2fly

    Saw the A380 up close and personal on an employee tour early this morning at Dulles. Amazing, beautiful and more spacious than you might think. Even better was the view of the fly-by it did for those of us watching from the observation tower at the Air and Space Museum at Dulles. There was a large crowd of the public there, so it must not have been too hard to find info.

  10. MB

    Thanks for the reports, all. If anyone has pictures or links they want posted, let me know.

  11. love2fly

    I have some great photos. Let me know how to do it.

  12. MB

    Thanks, Love2fly. Check your email.

  13. George

    Saw the A380 take-off at just after 12 noon Monday from worksite adjacent Dulles. It was surprisingly quiet compared to other widebodies. It’s as big as advertised.

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