TWO WEEKS after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) officially certified Manchester Airport as ‘A380 ready’, Emirates became the first airline there to provide a service with the aircraft.
When the CAA Aerodrome Standards Division gave their approval, Manchester joined a select group of only 17 global airports to be certified – and is the first regional airport in the world with a regular A380 service.
Manchester Airport has invested more than £10 million upgrading the airfield for the Emirates super-jumbo. This includes a new aircraft stand with state-of-the-art equipment – including a docking system which guides the pilot onto the stand and into the correct position to link to the A380’s unique double air-bridge. Construction work took place over 18 months prior to the aircraft’s arrival.
Manchester Airport’s Managing Director, Andrew Cornish, said: “It’s a proud day and we’re naturally pleased that Emirates has chosen Manchester to be the first regional airport in the world to welcome an A380 aircraft. A lot of hard work and planning has gone into the arrival from many people across the business. We’re pleased that, as an aerodrome, we can accept the newest type of aircraft flying today, and that Emirates has recognised Manchester as a world class airport.”
The airport has also created new pre-boarding lounge to accommodate the 517 passengers the new Emirates A380 can accommodate at any one time. The airline has been flying from Manchester to Dubai for almost 20 years and now has a double daily service to the Gulf state.
The CAA approval follows almost ten years of work, with most changes occurring out on the airfield due to the sheer size of the Airbus giant. Taxiways have been widened, realigned and reinforced at junctions and turns, while perimeter fences and over 50 airfield signs have been moved so A380s can pass safely.
The airport has also invested in two new fire-fighting vehicles. One of these boasts a turntable system with a 98ft (30m) ladder which can be extended over inflated emergency exit chutes, giving firefighters access to any level of an aircraft. This makes Manchester a ‘Category 10’ airport, so it can now accept not only the A380, but other ‘Code F’ planes such as large freighter aircraft.