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Vienna Operations in the A380 by Captain Giorgio La Pira!

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Hello everyone, and welcome on-board!

I am very excited to be part of the team and about Gaya’s future, especially on how I can make you guys feel a little bit closer to the real aviation world that I live in. We are in the process of creating some exclusive content that will show you a side of the operation that you have probably never though about, from the eyes of an avid simmer, but also a real-life Airbus A380 Captain.

Before I start, let me give you a quick introduction about who I am. Some of you might know me already from the Virtual Aviation world, as I have been around for the last 19 years, since year 2001. I have collaborated with many development teams as well as with virtual networks like IVAO for the better part of my virtual aviation career, so I might have come across some of you in the past for sure!

In real life, I am currently flying the Airbus A380 as a Captain for one of the Middle East carriers, where I have been for the last 7 years… 🙂 Previously I was flying the A320 Family for a Charter company in the South of Italy first, and then for a large orange Low Cost Carrier. I also spent almost 3 years instructing and examining on the A320 Family in Full Flight Simulators, as a Type Rating Instructor and then as a Type Rating Examiner. 

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I have joined Gaya as a Technical Advisor and I will also be collaborating on the Social Media, Support and Content Creation side of things. I will try to share with you some of my real life experiences, but as we want this process to be a very interactive one, feel free to ask and suggest! We will be listening to your feedback and we will try to cover different subjects as we create more and more content!

We have just released our brand new product, Vienna-LOWW! Besides it being a major European HUB and a state of the art add-on, developed with the latest technologies… we believe that we have reached a level of immersion second to none. Therefore, as I speak a little bit about how we operate the huge Airbus A380 into LOWW, you will be able to perfectly follow me through and replicate it in the sim, using our newest product, available on both P3D and X-Plane.

[LINK TO LOWW PURCHASE PAGE]

Once of the most amazing things about the Airbus A380 is the size of it, especially the wingspan (almost 80 meters long). In fact, the current A380-800 version is actually wider than it is longer!

Its size creates a lot of challenges for us pilots when it comes to moving the airplane around, especially in airports that have an older layout and that were not designed when aeroplanes this size could fly. To put it into context, the A380 is considered a Code F airplane, which is a category that includes only 3 aeroplanes, the A380, the C5 Galaxy and the AN-225 Mryia. 

[Aerial View of London Gatwick EGKK - Compare the size of the A380 to the rest of airplanes]

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A typical day for us, operating the A380 into Vienna, could have us landing on Runway 34, off an ILS approach. As I mentioned before, taxiing the “whale” as we call it, is not always an easy task and both the manufacturer and the operators know it. They provide us with two invaluable tools to make our life easier, and they are:

  • Color Coded Charts 
  • The ETACS (Enhanced Taxi Aid Camera System) and the OANS (Onboard Airport Navigation System)

The charts allow us to taxi onto our stand, which in Vienna is normally D27: by using colours we know which runways/taxiways/stands are compliant with the A380 size (green) and don’t have restrictions, which ones can be used with limitations (yellow) and which ones can not be used at all (red). It’s quite graphical and easy to use, and we spend a good part of our arrival and departure briefings talking about how to get to our parking once we land, and how to get to the departure runway after engine start, both times using this special charts. 

As you can see in the pictures below, for each yellow runway/taxiway/stand, there is a special instructions page that describes what are the conditions that allow us to operate on that restricted yellow area. It’s most of the time related to the airplane weight, use of inboard or outboard engines only, or even to what airplane is on the adjacent taxiway so that we don’t clip anybody’s wing! 

[Vienna Color Coded Charts specifically designed for the A380]

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[Vienna A380 Limitations Page]

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The ETACS and the OANS are also great tools, as they show us on a moving map where the airplane is in real time, as well as a very useful camera system that will help you steer the airplane and not hit anything while doing it.

[OANS on the left screen, ETACS on the right one]

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As you can see on the Vienna Limitations page above, when we are parked on D27, D26 must be free of all aircraft, and D28 must be limited to an airplane the size of an A320. So we are basically blocking 3 stands at any given time in LOWW, and that is why some airports don’t like having the A380 on the ground. 

An interesting thing about operating into Vienna, is that we normally takeoff from runway 29, for which the standard pushback is from D27, onto taxiway L facing East. The issue with that is normally related to the fact the A380 engines are so big, that they are particularly sensitive to tailwinds, especially during engine start. More often than not, with strong westerly winds, we find ourselves having to ask for a non-standard pushback facing West, to then come back around doing a U turn onto M taxiway, and make our way to the holding point of runway 29. 

As you can see on the limitations, Vienna is a tight place for us: due to the narrow size of the taxiways, we need to keep our outer engines (1 and 4) at idle, try to use as little power as possible on the inner ones (2 and 3), and use the On Board Camera (ETACS) as much as we can. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is for both pilots to be alert and vigilant during the ground operations of the A380. Our engines are very powerful, and inappropriate use of the thrust could also lead to injuries or damages to whatever is behind the aeroplane at any given time.

[Captain view of the flightdeck on the ground]

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One last interesting thing that you might like to know, is how we apply the power for takeoff on an airplane as wide as the mighty A380. There are 3 different scenarios and procedures:

  1. Normal TakeOff: we place the 4 engines at 25% Thrust, wait for them to stabilise, and then advance the levers to FLEX or TOGA power.
  2. Tailwind/Crosswind Takeoff Technique: advance the 4 levers to 25%, then when stabilised we move them to 50% until 20 Knots, and then to FLEX or TOGA.
  3. Narrow Runway Operations Technique: 25% on all engines, once stabilised we set the inner engines only to FLEX or TOGA until 40 knots, when we also advance the outer engines to their take off power position.

This different techniques protect the engine from ingesting any FOD (Foreign Object Damage), as well as making sure that they get a sufficient amount of air so that they don’t stall during the initial part of the takeoff roll.

Long story short, yes, the A380 is a magnificent aircraft… by far the best and most comfortable airplane I have ever flown… but it is a tricky machine to move around and a lot of things need to be considered. Most of us A380 operators will commonly say: “It’s a great airplane, once you get it away from the ground!”😄😅🤣

[My baby, parked after a flight to London Heathrow]

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Are you ready for the challenge? Here is the weather report from the last time I operated into Vienna in October.

METAR LOWW 291450Z 30032G48KT 9999 FEW050 12/00 Q0999 NOSIG WS ALL RUNWAYS=

This will challenge you to a nice Crosswind landing on 34, as well as to some of the other complications that go with operating into windy days like this, which are quite common in Vienna! 

Visit our website for more information about our newest release, and don’t hesitate to ask us any question that you might have!

Get our latest LOWW release!

P3D-  https://orbxdirect.com/product/gaya-loww-xp11

XP11- https://orbxdirect.com/product/gaya-loww 

Bundle-  https://orbxdirect.com/bundle/vienna-launch-bundle

Receive a 25% bundle discount if you purchase both versions in the same transaction before 14 April 2020 9pm UTC

 

 

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Wow Gio! Sounds insane and challenging at the same time. Iv'e got to try this procedure sometime myself. Too bad the closest aircraft in this size I can practice with on P3D is the 747. Long live gate D29! 😄

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Thanks @Giorgio La Pira, this is quite an informative post. I enjoyed reading it! I like the fact that there are special charts made for just for the A380 when operating at Vienna and other airports I assume 🙂

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Very interesting. Always good to get the inside view from real world pilots who remember their flight sim roots!! Fascinating aircraft. Have flown three times with it on Emirates to Dubai from Gatwick. A terrific aircraft from a passenger perspective. Looking forward to more reports and maybe some real world training tips on how to improve our Flight sim experience. 
 

Keep up the good work Gaya

 

Keith Giannoni

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Hey everyone! I hope you are enjoying LOWW! :)

Thanks a lot for the kind words everyone, and to the ones that have contacted me by PM, thanks a lot for the amazing response! :) I will keep working on some nice and exclusive content for you guys! 

On 4/11/2020 at 10:41 PM, Max said:

Thanks @Giorgio La Pira, this is quite an informative post. I enjoyed reading it! I like the fact that there are special charts made for just for the A380 when operating at Vienna and other airports I assume 🙂

Yes we do! For every single destination, alternate and en route alternate that the company allows us to land this thing on! :) Flight Ops Department does a great job keeping them updated!

On 4/13/2020 at 5:03 PM, KG1000 said:

Very interesting. Always good to get the inside view from real world pilots who remember their flight sim roots!! Fascinating aircraft. Have flown three times with it on Emirates to Dubai from Gatwick. A terrific aircraft from a passenger perspective. Looking forward to more reports and maybe some real world training tips on how to improve our Flight sim experience. 
 

Keep up the good work Gaya

 

Keith Giannoni

Hey Keith! Thanks a lot man! chances are I have flown you in the past in real life? hahaha anything specific you would like to know about? Thanks for your message!

 

Gio

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