Commercial Aviation: Potential Safety and Capacity Issues	 
Associated with the Introduction of the New A380 Aircraft	 
(20-APR-07, GAO-07-483).					 
                                                                 
Airbus S.A.S. (Airbus), a European aircraft manufacturer, is	 
introducing a new aircraft designated as the A380, which is	 
expected to enter service in late 2007. The A380 will be the	 
largest passenger aircraft in the world, with a wingspan of about
262 feet, a tail fin reaching 80 feet high, and a maximum takeoff
weight of 1.2 million pounds. The A380 has a double deck and	 
could seat up to 853 passengers. GAO was asked to examine the	 
impact of the A380 on U.S. airports. In May 2006, GAO issued a	 
report that estimated the costs of infrastructure changes at U.S.
airports to accommodate the A380. This report discusses (1) the  
safety issues associated with introducing the A380 at U.S.	 
airports, (2) the potential impact of A380 operations on the	 
capacity of U.S. airports, and (3) how selected foreign airports 
are preparing to accommodate the A380. To address these issues,  
GAO reviewed studies on operational and safety issues related to 
the A380 and conducted site visits to the 18 U.S. airports and 11
Asian, Canadian, and European airports preparing to receive the  
A380. GAO provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and 
Airbus a copy of the draft report for review. Both generally	 
agreed with the report's findings. FAA and Airbus also provided  
technical clarifications, which were incorporated as appropriate.
-------------------------Indexing Terms------------------------- 
REPORTNUM:   GAO-07-483 					        
    ACCNO:   A68526						        
  TITLE:     Commercial Aviation: Potential Safety and Capacity Issues
Associated with the Introduction of the New A380 Aircraft	 
     DATE:   04/20/2007 
  SUBJECT:   Aircraft						 
	     Airlines						 
	     Airports						 
	     Commercial aviation				 
	     Product evaluation 				 
	     Safety regulation					 
	     Safety standards					 
	     Standards						 
	     Transportation safety				 
	     Airbus A380 Aircraft				 
	     Boeing 747-400 Aircraft				 

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GAO-07-483

   

     * [1]Results in Brief
     * [2]Background
     * [3]A380 Poses a Number of Potential Safety Challenges at Airpor

          * [4]A380 Offers Some Safety Enhancements But Its Size Presents P

               * [5]U.S. Airports Typically Not Designed to Handle A380-sized
                 Ai
               * [6]A380 Produces Greater Wake Turbulence Than Other Aircraft
               * [7]Greater Number of Passengers to Evacuate from A380
                 Compared
               * [8]Size of A380 Could also Pose Airport Fire and Rescue
                 Challen

     * [9]A380's Impact on Capacity at U.S. Airports Is Uncertain

          * [10]A380 Designed to Provide Some Capacity Benefits
          * [11]Airports' Planned Operating Restrictions, Increased Flight S
          * [12]Operating Restrictions on the A380 at U.S. Airports Could Ad

               * [13]Separation Requirements for A380 Could Adversely Impact
                 Airs
               * [14]A380 Could also Create Gate and Terminal Disruptions

     * [15]Foreign Airports Have Taken Different Approaches to Prepare

          * [16]Adopting Alternative Standards to Accommodate New Large Airc
          * [17]Making Significant Investment in Infrastructure Changes
          * [18]Designing Airports That Allow for New Large Aircraft

     * [19]Concluding Observations
     * [20]Agency Comments and Our Evaluation

          * [21]Asian Airports

               * [22]Canadian Airports
               * [23]European Airports

     * [24]GAO's Mission
     * [25]Obtaining Copies of GAO Reports and Testimony

          * [26]Order by Mail or Phone

     * [27]To Report Fraud, Waste, and Abuse in Federal Programs
     * [28]Congressional Relations
     * [29]Public Affairs

Report to Congressional Requesters

United States Government Accountability Office

GAO

April 2007

COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Potential Safety and Capacity Issues Associated with the Introduction of
the New A380 Aircraft

GAO-07-483

Contents

Letter 1

Results in Brief 3
Background 5
A380 Poses a Number of Potential Safety Challenges at Airports 11
A380's Impact on Capacity at U.S. Airports Is Uncertain 21
Foreign Airports Have Taken Different Approaches to Prepare for the A380
28
Concluding Observations 33
Agency Comments and Our Evaluation 34
Appendix I Objectives, Scope, and Methodology 36
Appendix II Foreign Airport Summaries 40
Appendix III Comments by Airbus 62

Tables

Table 1: FAA Airplane Design Groups 10
Table 2: Aviation Experts Interviewed by GAO 37
Table 3: United States Airports Visited by GAO 38
Table 4: Asian, Canadian, and European Airports Visited by GAO 39
Table 5 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport 40
Table 6: Beijing Capital International Airport 42
Table 7: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport 44
Table 8: Hong Kong International Airport 46
Table 9: Singapore Changi International Airport 48
Table 10: Tokyo Narita International Airport 50
Table 11: Montreal Trudeau International Airport 52
Table 12: Toronto Pearson International Airport 54
Table 13: Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport 56
Table 14: London Heathrow International Airport 58
Table 15: Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport 60

Figures

Figure 1: Inaugural Airbus A380 Visit to Singapore Changi Airport 2
Figure 2: Comparison of the Boeing 747-400, Airbus A380, and Boeing 747-8
8
Figure 3: Illustration of the Effects of Wake Turbulence 15
Figure 4: Illustration of On-approach Landing Separation Distances for
Aircraft Trailing an A380 and Heavy Aircraft 17
Figure 5: Fire Fighting Vehicle with Penetrating Nozzle 20
Figure 6: The Taxilane Object Free Area Requirement for the A380 27
Figure 7: Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou, China 32

Abbreviations

AACG A380 Airports Compatibility Group
DOT Department of Transportation
EASA European Aviation Safety Agency
FAA Federal Aviation Administration
ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization
NAS National Academy of Sciences

This is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright
protection in the United States. It may be reproduced and distributed in
its entirety without further permission from GAO. However, because this
work may contain copyrighted images or other material, permission from the
copyright holder may be necessary if you wish to reproduce this material
separately.

United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548

April 20, 2007

The Honorable John L. Mica
Ranking Member
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
House of Representatives

The Honorable Thomas E. Petri
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Aviation
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
House of Representatives

Airbus S.A.S. (Airbus), a European aircraft manufacturer, is introducing a
new large aircraft designated as the A380. When the A380 enters
service--which is currently expected in late 2007--it will be the largest
passenger aircraft in the world, with a wingspan of about 262 feet, a tail
fin reaching 80 feet high, and a maximum takeoff weight of 1.2 million
pounds.^1 The A380 has a double deck and could seat up to 853 passengers,
depending on the cabin configuration.^2 In comparison, the largest
passenger aircraft currently in operation, the Boeing 747-400, can seat up
to 660 passengers. While the A380 will be the first of this new category
of large passenger aircraft, it will not be the last. For instance, Boeing
received orders in December 2006 for its 747-8 passenger aircraft, which
will be in the same category as the A380, and is expected to enter service
in late 2010.^3123Airbus S.A.S. (Airbus), a European aircraft
manufacturer, is introducing a new large aircraft designated as the A380.
When the A380 enters service--which is currently expected in late 2007--it
will be the largest passenger aircraft in the world, with a wingspan of
about 262 feet, a tail fin reaching 80 feet high, and a maximum takeoff
weight of 1.2 million pounds. The A380 has a double deck and could seat up
to 853 passengers, depending on the cabin configuration. In comparison,
the largest passenger aircraft currently in operation, the Boeing 747-400,
can seat up to 660 passengers. While the A380 will be the first of this
new category of large passenger aircraft, it will not be the last. For
instance, Boeing received orders in December 2006 for its 747-8 passenger
aircraft, which will be in the same category as the A380, and is expected
to enter service in late 2010.

^1The freight version of the aircraft, the A380F, has been delayed and the
first delivery is to be determined.

^2The A380 has a typical seating capacity for 555 passengers, but is
certified for a maximum of 853 passengers. According to Airbus, the
seating capacity for the A380s currently on order range from about 480 to
650.

^3The freight version of the 747-8 is expected to be delivered in the
third quarter of 2009; the passenger version of the 747-8 is scheduled for
delivery beginning in 2010.

Figure 1: Inaugural Airbus A380 Visit to Singapore Changi Airport

As of March 2007, Airbus has orders from 14 customers for 156 A380
passenger aircraft.^4 Air carriers plan to operate the A380 at select
airports throughout the world, including certain U.S. airports. As a
result, the A380 must comply with standards set by individual countries
from around the world. The International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO) promulgates international standards and recommended practices,
among other things, in an effort to harmonize global aviation standards.
In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is
responsible for regulating the safety of civil aviation and also
establishes the standards and recommendations for the design and
development of civil airports.

You asked us to assess the impact of the Airbus A380 on U.S. airports. In
May 2006, we issued a report that estimated the costs of infrastructure
changes that U.S. airports plan to make to accommodate the A380.^5 This
report discusses (1) the safety issues associated with the introduction of
the A380 at U.S. airports, (2) the potential impact of A380 operations on
the capacity of U.S. airports, and (3) how selected foreign airports are
preparing to accommodate the A380. To address these issues, we reviewed
FAA and ICAO guidance and standards. We also reviewed studies on
operational issues related to the A380 and on aircraft fire and rescue
equipment and tactics, A380 emergency evacuations, pavement strength
issues for the A380's weight, and other safety-related issues. We also
analyzed capacity impact studies for some U.S. airports that anticipate
receiving the new aircraft. We interviewed FAA, ICAO, Airbus, and aviation
trade association officials. In addition, we conducted semi-structured
interviews with 17 aviation experts, identified by the National Academy of
Sciences, to obtain their views on the impact of the A380 on airport
operations and capacity, and potential safety issues.^6 We conducted site
visits to the 18 U.S. airports that are making infrastructure improvements
to accommodate the A380 and 11 Asian, Canadian, and European airports that
will be receiving the A380. During these site visits, we interviewed
airport officials, including airport management, air traffic controllers,
and fire and rescue personnel, and toured the airport facilities. This
study built upon the work performed for the May 2006 report and therefore
we performed our work from May 2005 to March 2007 in accordance with
generally accepted auditing standards. Additional details on our scope and
methodology can be found in appendix I.

^4Fourteen customers have firm orders for 156 A380 passenger aircraft. No
U.S. air carrier has ordered the A380 aircraft. However, International
Lease Finance Corporation, a U.S. company, ordered 10 A380 passenger
aircraft and plans to lease these aircraft to air carriers across the
world.

Results in Brief

The A380 will be the first of a new category of large passenger aircraft
introduced in the coming years. The size of these aircraft poses a number
of potential safety challenges for U.S. airports. Most U.S. airports were
not designed to receive aircraft the size of the A380 and therefore the
width of their runways and taxiways do not meet FAA safety standards for
such aircraft. As a result, airports expecting A380 service may need to
modify their infrastructure or impose operating restrictions, such as
restrictions on runway or taxiway use, on the A380 and other aircraft to
maintain an acceptable level of safety. Increased separation between the
A380 and other aircraft during landing and departure is also required
because research indicated that the air turbulence created by the A380's
wake is stronger than the largest aircraft in use today. The A380 is
equipped with some safety enhancements, such as internal and exterior
materials designed to reduce flammability. However, it will still pose
challenges for fire and rescue officials due to its large size, upper
deck, fuel capacity, and number of passengers. Some fire and rescue
officials at the airports we visited were confident in their ability to
respond to an A380 incident. However, several of them identified
additional equipment, personnel, or training needs that would improve
their ability to respond to emergencies involving large aircraft, such as
the A380. Similar concerns were raised for the Boeing 747 aircraft when it
was introduced to the market, and these potential safety challenges would
likely be present for other similarly-sized aircraft introduced in the
future. FAA, ICAO, Airbus, and airports have taken several steps to
mitigate these safety challenges.

^5GAO, Commercial Aviation: Costs and Major Factors Influencing
Infrastructure Changes at U.S. Airports to Accommodate the New A380
Aircraft, [30]GAO-06-571  (Washington, D.C.: May 19, 2006).

^6The aviation experts we interviewed were not selected randomly.
Therefore, their views and opinions cannot be generalized to the larger
population of experts and aviation officials.

The impact of A380 operations on capacity is uncertain and depends on
multiple factors. Airport capacity is generally measured by the maximum
number of takeoffs and landings. The A380 was designed, in part, to help
alleviate capacity constraints faced by many large airports in the United
States and around the world as passenger and cargo air traffic continues
to increase. According to Airbus, the A380 will accomplish this by
accommodating about 35 percent more passengers and 50 percent more cargo
volume on the freighter aircraft per flight than aircraft currently in
use. Thus, the A380 could reduce the number of flights required to carry
the same number of passengers or the same amount of freight. However,
potential operating restrictions and the increased separation requirements
imposed to ensure the safety of the A380 and other aircraft at airports
and during flight could reduce the number of flights that airports can
accommodate. Furthermore, gate availability, restricted use of gates
adjacent to A380 gates, and potential congestion issues could reduce gate
utilization and flexibility at some airports--which could also lead to
fewer flights at an airport. The extent to which possible operating
restrictions, increased separation, and gate utilization impact airport
capacity would depend on the time of day, the number of A380 operations,
and the volume of overall airport traffic. Many airport officials and
aviation experts stated that as long as the number of A380 flights per day
remains low, the impact of the A380 on airport capacity should not be
significant, but would likely increase as the number of A380 flights
increases.

Selected foreign airports we visited have taken different approaches than
U.S. airports in preparing for the introduction of the A380. These
differences reflect the age of the airports, the expected level of A380
traffic at the airports, and the anticipated economic benefits of the A380
flights. Foreign approaches include adopting alternative airport design
standards to accommodate new large aircraft, making significant
investments in existing infrastructure, and designing airports that allow
for new large aircraft. For example, airport officials at London Heathrow
airport indicated that their investment to accommodate the A380 was about
$885 million, which is a little less than the combined investment of all
18 of the U.S. airports expecting to receive the A380. The different
levels of investment made by U.S. and foreign airports reflect the varying
levels of expected A380 traffic--that is, most of the foreign airports we
visited expect higher levels of A380 traffic compared to U.S. airports. As
a result, foreign airports, in particular European airports, are investing
more in terminal and gate improvements to accommodate the A380 than U.S.
airports. Another foreign approach is designing airports that allow for
new large aircraft. For example, seven of the eight Asian and Canadian
airports we visited were designed for future expansion or were built to
allow new large aircraft, such as the A380. As a result, these airports
will not have to impose operating restrictions on the A380 to the extent
of U.S. airports. In general, by implementing these different approaches,
officials from the foreign airports we visited do not anticipate that the
introduction of the A380 will result in delays or disruptions at their
airports, despite the expected high level of A380 traffic.

We provided a draft of this report to the Department of Transportation and
Airbus North America Holdings, Inc. (Airbus) for review and comment. FAA
officials generally agreed with the report's findings. Airbus generally
agreed that GAO correctly identified potential safety and capacity issues
for the introduction of the A380 into service. However, regarding our
discussion on capacity issues, Airbus expressed concern that we
overemphasized the operational constraints imposed on or by the A380 and
should include information on passenger throughput, noting that we use
only one definition of capacity. Therefore, we provided more balance
regarding the potential benefits that new large aircraft, such as the
A380, could provide to help alleviate capacity constrained U.S. airports
and additional information on the A380's potential impact on passenger
throughput on the basis of Airbus' comments. FAA and Airbus also provided
technical clarifications, which were incorporated as appropriate.

Background

FAA, airports, and aircraft manufacturers have worked to meet the demands
of continued growth in passenger and cargo traffic in different ways. FAA
has worked to improve the capacity and efficiency of the national airspace
system to accommodate a greater number and variety of aircraft by, for
example, improving air traffic management systems and implementing
domestic reduced vertical separation minimums.^7 FAA is also currently
working on the transformation of the nation's current air traffic control
system to the next generation air transportation system--a system intended
to accommodate the expected growth in air traffic.^8 However, the full
implementation of the next generation air transportation system is years
away. To accommodate increased traffic, airports have expanded the number
of available runways and gates to service additional aircraft and in some
cases new airports have been built. However, airports cannot always
accommodate increased air traffic by expanding their infrastructure for a
variety of reasons, including the lack of physical space to build
additional runways or terminals. Aircraft manufacturers have developed
larger and more efficient aircraft to meet growing passenger and freight
demand. For example, Boeing introduced the first wide-body aircraft in
1969, the 747-100, which significantly changed the aviation market and was
much larger than currently operated aircraft. According to Airbus, the
747-100 had roughly two and a half times more seating capacity than the
largest aircraft operating at the time.^9 Since then, other wide-bodied
aircraft have been introduced to accommodate the increasing emphasis and
demand placed on international service.

The Airbus A380 represents another generational change in aircraft size
and seating capacity. Specifically, the A380 is much larger than other
aircraft, with a wingspan of about 262 feet, a tail fin reaching almost 80
feet high, a maximum takeoff weight in excess of 1.2 million pounds, and
seating between 555 and 853 passengers. In comparison, the largest
commercial aircraft in use today, the Boeing 747-400, has a wingspan of
211 feet, a tail fin about 64 feet high, a maximum takeoff weight of
875,000 pounds, and can seat between 416 and 660 passengers.^10

7Domestic reduced vertical separation minimums permit air traffic
controllers to reduce minimum vertical separation from 2,000 feet to 1,000
feet at altitudes between 29,000 and 41,000 feet for aircraft that are
equipped with dual altimeter systems and autopilots. Theoretically, by
reducing the vertical separation minimums, the airspace system could
accommodate more aircraft at any given time.

^8For more information about the next generation air transportation
system, see GAO, Next Generation Air Transportation System: Preliminary
Analysis of Progress and Challenges Associated with the Transformation of
the National Airspace System, [31]GAO-06-915T  (Washington, D.C.: July 25,
2006).

^9In 1970, the increase in maximum passenger capacity from the Boeing
707-320B (189 passengers) to the Boeing 747-100 (452 passengers) was about
139 percent.

Although the A380 will be the first in the new category of large passenger
aircraft, it will likely not be the last. In December 2006, Boeing
announced that it received orders for its 747-8 passenger aircraft. The
Boeing 747-8 is anticipated to have a wingspan of about 225 feet, a tail
fin about 64 feet high, a maximum takeoff weight of about 970,000 pounds,
and typically seats 467 passengers in a 3-class configuration. These
dimensions place this aircraft in the same category as the A380. (Figure 2
shows the dimensions of the Boeing 747-400, Airbus A380, and Boeing 747-8
aircraft.) Airbus anticipates there will be a continued demand for larger
aircraft that can connect busy and congested hubs in the future. According
to its analysis, Airbus estimated that new large passenger and freight
aircraft would make up about 10 percent of the overall fleet from 2004 to
2023. In contrast, Boeing, while conceding the demand for a small number
of very large aircraft, projects a greater demand for smaller-sized
aircraft, such as the Boeing 787, which can provide point-to-point
service, especially in long distance markets.^11

10The 747-400 typically seats 416 passengers in a 3-class cabin
configuration but certified to seat a maximum of 660 passengers. In
addition, a newer version of the Boeing 747-400 aircraft was approved with
a maximum takeoff weight of 910,000 pounds through a design change.

^11The 787-8 Dreamliner will carry 210 to 250 passengers on routes of
7,650 to 8,200 nautical miles; the 787-9 Dreamliner will carry 250 to 290
passengers on routes of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles; and the 787-3
Dreamliner will accommodate 290 to 330 passengers and optimized for routes
of 2,500 to 3,050 nautical miles.

Figure 2: Comparison of the Boeing 747-400, Airbus A380, and Boeing 747-8

The air carriers that have ordered the A380 plan to operate at airports
throughout the world, including certain U.S. airports. As a result, the
A380 must comply with aviation standards set by individual countries from
around the world. ICAO is the international body that seeks to harmonize
global aviation standards so that worldwide civil aviation can benefit
from a seamless air transportation network. Its members or contracting
states, including the United States, are not legally bound to act in
accordance with the ICAO standards and recommended practices.^12 Rather,
contracting states decide whether to transform the standards and
recommended practices into national laws or regulations. In some cases,
contracting states deviate from the ICAO standards and recommended
practices, or do not implement them at all.^13 Although ICAO has no
enforcement powers and only establishes standards and recommended
practices, air carriers that use airports that do not comply with them may
be subject to increased insurance costs. The A380 falls under ICAO's
design standards for the largest aircraft (Code F), which require at least
60-meter-wide runways (about 200 feet) and 25-meter-wide taxiways (about
82 feet). In addition, ICAO has also established varying in-flight,
landing, and takeoff separation standards for the different classes of
aircraft.

^12ICAO has a sovereign body, consisting of 189 contracting states
(members). Each contracting state is entitled to one vote, and decisions
are determined by a majority of the votes cast.

^13Contracting states are obligated to notify ICAO of differences if they
choose not to implement the ICAO standards.

In the United States, FAA, an agency of the Department of Transportation
(DOT), is responsible for regulating the safety of civil aviation and also
establishes the standards and recommendations for the design and
development of civil airports. FAA's role as a regulator is to foster
aviation safety by overseeing manufacturers and operators to enforce full
compliance with safety requirements. To this end, FAA must certify any new
aircraft design before that aircraft can be registered in the U.S. for
operations by domestic airlines. This design certification is the
foundation for many other FAA approvals, including operational approvals.
When domestic aircraft manufacturers request approval of a new aircraft
design, FAA uses the type certification process to ensure that the design
complies with applicable requirements or airworthiness standards. Type
validation is the type certification process that FAA uses for foreign or
imported products, such as the A380, to ensure that the design complies
with applicable FAA standards. The A380 was validated by FAA and issued a
type certificate in December 2006. Also, in March 2007, Airbus completed a
series of airline route proving and airport compatibility flights, which
were designed to demonstrate the A380's ability to operate at airports
around the world. As part of these flights, the A380 visited four U.S.
airports, including New York John F. Kennedy, Chicago O'Hare, Los Angeles,
and Washington Dulles International Airports.

FAA also establishes standards and recommendations for airport planning
and design. Due to the size of the A380, it is subject to the FAA's design
standards for the largest aircraft (Airplane Design Group VI standards).
To be in compliance with these design standards, airports are required to
have 200-foot-wide runways, 100-foot-wide taxiways, and appropriate
separation distances.^14 Table 1 shows the wing span criteria for the
airplane design groups and examples of aircraft that fall into each
category. These design standards group aircraft by wingspan and set ranges
for which the aircraft that fall within each group could operate without
limitations. According to FAA standards, the A380 could operate at U.S.
airports built to Design Group VI standards without the imposition of
operating restrictions to the airport or aircraft. However, most U.S.
airports that anticipate receiving A380 service are not built to Design
Group VI standards. When airports do not or cannot meet the required FAA
design standards to accommodate certain aircraft, airport officials can
apply for Modifications to Standards through FAA. This would allow certain
aircraft to be operated at airports under certain conditions as long as
the airport can provide an acceptable level of safety comparable to that
of an airport meeting Design Group VI standards. The use of Modifications
to Standards is a process to provide U.S. airports flexibility when the
required design group standards cannot be met to accommodate certain
operations, as long as an acceptable level of safety can be maintained.

^14FAA Advisory Circular, Airport Design 150/5300-13. According to FAA,
these design standards are required for new federally-funded construction
or reconstruction projects at U.S. airports.

Table 1: FAA Airplane Design Groups

Design group Wingspan       Examples of aircraft type                      
I            < 49 feet      Cessna 152-210, Beechcraft A36                 
II           49 - 79 feet   Saab 2000, EMB-120, Saab 340, Canadair RJ-100  
III          79 - 118 feet  Boeing 737, MD-80, Airbus A320                 
IV           118 - 171 feet Boeing 757, Boeing 767, Airbus A300            
V            171 - 214 feet Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777, MD-11, Airbus A340 
VI           214 - 262 feet Airbus A380 (in production), Boeing 747-8      
                               (planned)                                      

Source: FAA.

After reviewing the design specifications of the A380, FAA issued interim
guidance in 2003 that allows the A380 to operate at airports with runways
and taxiways that do not fully meet Design Group VI standards.^15 In order
to avoid costly or impractical changes to upgrade runways and taxiway
systems to Design Group VI and be approved for A380 operations under the
interim guidance, FAA must approve an airport's request for Modifications
to Standards when the standards are not met. These modifications may
include A380-specific operational restrictions or special operating
procedures to ensure that existing non-standard infrastructure is
providing an acceptable level of safety.

^15Engineering Brief 65 allows A380 operations on existing 150-foot-wide
runways at airports by converting them to 200-foot-wide runways by adding
25 feet of pavement on each side at a lesser strength than required under
Design Group VI standards and widening runway shoulders. Engineering Brief
63A allows the A380 aircraft to operate at airports with 75-foot-wide
taxiways, if shoulders are widened and operating restrictions may need to
be imposed.

A380 Poses a Number of Potential Safety Challenges at Airports

The A380 will be the first of a new category of large passenger aircraft
introduced into the national airspace system in the coming years. The size
of the aircraft poses a number of potential safety challenges for
airports. Most U.S. airports were not designed to receive aircraft the
size of the A380 and therefore, the width of their runways and taxiways do
not meet FAA safety standards. As a result, airports expecting A380
service need to modify their infrastructure or impose operating
restrictions on the A380 and other aircraft to assure that safety is
maintained. In addition, research data suggests that the wake turbulence
created by the A380 is stronger than any aircraft in use today and would
require greater separation from other aircraft during landing and takeoff.
Although the A380 is equipped with some safety enhancements, such as new
internal and exterior materials designed to reduce flammability and an
external taxiing camera system to enhance pilot vision on the ground, the
A380 poses safety challenges for fire and rescue officials due to its
larger size, upper deck, fuel capacity, and the number of passengers. The
fire and rescue officials at the airports we visited were confident in
their ability to respond to an A380 incident, but almost all of them
identified some equipment, personnel, or training needs that would improve
their ability to respond to emergencies involving the A380. Similar
concerns were raised for the Boeing 747 aircraft when it was introduced to
the market, and these potential safety challenges would likely be present
for other similarly-sized aircraft introduced in the future. FAA, ICAO,
Airbus, and airports have taken a number of steps to mitigate potential
safety challenges posed by the A380.

A380 Offers Some Safety Enhancements But Its Size Presents Potential Safety
Challenges for Airports

The A380 offers air carriers and airports several safety enhancements over
existing aircraft. For example, it has a cockpit with the latest advanced
displays and avionics, and is equipped with an external taxiing camera
system to assist flight crews in keeping the aircraft in the center of
taxiways when moving on the airfield.^16 The cockpit was also designed to
be much lower to the ground than other large aircraft to provide the
flight crew better visibility. Other technical advances include the
aircraft's new external and internal materials that are designed to reduce
flammability. A new material called Glare that is highly resistant to
fatigue, is used in the external panels for the upper fuselage and
provides a longer period of time preventing fire from penetrating into the
passenger cabin--about 15 minutes compared to about a minute for standard
aircraft aluminum. In addition, thermal acoustic insulation blankets,
designed to extend the time before an external fire penetrates the
fuselage, will be used inside the A380.^17 Combined, these materials could
provide additional time for evacuation by delaying the entry of fire into
the cabin. The interior materials used in the A380 will also have
decreased flammability properties and the aircraft will be equipped with
enhanced fire and smoke detection systems.

^16Airbus refers to this camera system as the "external and taxiing camera
system" or ETACS.

However, the size of the A380 also presents several potential safety
challenges. These challenges include accommodating the A380 at airports
that were not designed for aircraft as large as the A380, ensuring that
the air turbulence caused by the A380 does not impact the flight of other
aircraft, evacuating large numbers of passengers from the A380, and
ensuring that airports have the necessary fire and rescue capabilities
available.^18 These issues would likely be present for other
similarly-sized aircraft that may be introduced in the future. FAA, ICAO,
Airbus, and airports have taken several steps to mitigate these
challenges.

  U.S. Airports Typically Not Designed to Handle A380-sized Aircraft

The size of the A380 presents a safety challenge because most U.S.
airports were not built to accommodate such large aircraft. FAA's design
standards are intended to ensure the safety of the aircraft and passengers
at the airport. For example, FAA's Design Group VI standards, which are
applicable for the largest aircraft, including the A380, require that
airports have 200-foot-wide runways. According to FAA officials, this
standard helps ensure that pilots can safely operate large aircraft like
the A380. Although the design standards do not govern aircraft operations,
aircraft operators must seek FAA's approval for certain aircraft to use
facilities and infrastructure that do not meet standards and demonstrate
to FAA that an acceptable level of safety is maintained.^19 A few
airports, such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Denver, and Washington Dulles
International Airports, meet some design standards for A380-sized
aircraft; however, no U.S. airport is completely built to those standards.

^17Thermal acoustic insulation is a fiberglass-type material used
throughout the fuselage of commercial aircraft for reducing cabin noise
from external sources and for maintaining comfortable cabin temperatures.
FAA will begin requiring this improved insulation on all newly produced
aircraft beginning in September 2009.

^18Aircraft create turbulence that forms behind them as they pass through
the air.

To address this issue, airports have made or are making infrastructure
changes to safely accommodate the A380. In May 2006, we reported that 18
U.S. airports were making preparations to receive the A380 and estimated
that it would cost about $927 million to upgrade their infrastructure.^20
About 83 percent of the costs reported by airports were identified for
runway or taxiway projects. Most projects widened existing runways or
taxiways and, in some cases, relocated taxiways to increase separation.
The remaining costs were for changes at gates, terminals, or support
services. Although these changes to airport infrastructure were driven by
the introduction of the A380, they will also benefit current aircraft and
other new large aircraft that may be introduced in the future. Further,
officials at some airports told us that the economic benefits from having
A380 service at their airport will outweigh the costs associated with the
infrastructure changes needed to accommodate the aircraft.

To safely accommodate the A380, many of the U.S. airports we visited that
expect to receive this aircraft have requested Modifications to Standards
from FAA.^21 The use of Modifications to Standards is an established
process to provide U.S. airports flexibility when the required design
group standards cannot be met to accommodate certain operations as long as
an acceptable level of safety can be maintained. For example, if the
separation between a runway and a taxiway at an airport is less than the
established standards, a Modification to Standards can be granted by FAA
for not meeting the current standards when federal funds are being used
for a planned improvement to that runway or taxiway and FAA determines
that it is operationally safe. According to FAA, the use of Modifications
to Standards at airports does not compromise safety. This process has been
used by U.S. airports that do not fully meet the design standards for
certain sized aircraft. However, FAA officials said the Modification to
Standards process being applied to the A380 is seldom used because this
process generally is not used to limit operations of a particular aircraft
at an airport.^22

19To illustrate, FAA officials said that some Design Group VI category
aircraft, such as the freighter Antanov 225 and military C-5A aircraft,
operate on some 150-foot-wide runways in the U.S. today. However, airports
that occasionally accommodate these aircraft and are not compliant with
Design Group VI standards must request procedural waivers from FAA. FAA is
still in the process of conducting an operational evaluation for the A380,
expected to be completed by June 2007, and has not determined all
operational restrictions.

^20GAO, Commercial Aviation: Costs and Major Factors Influencing
Infrastructure Changes at U.S. Airports to Accommodate the New A380
Aircraft,  [32]GAO-06-571 (Washington, D.C.: May 19, 2006).

^21Modification to Standards means any change to FAA standards, other than
dimensional standards for runway safety areas, applicable to an airport
design, construction, or equipment procurement project that results in
lower costs, greater efficiency, or is necessary to accommodate an unusual
local condition on a specific project, when adopted on a case-by-case
basis.

Of the 18 U.S. airports we visited, 11 have applied for Modifications to
Standards that would allow them to operate the A380. Of the remaining
seven airports, officials indicated they were unsure if such modifications
will be needed and will decide whether to request Modifications to
Standards after FAA decides whether an A380 can safely operate on a
150-foot-wide runway or whether a 200-foot-wide runway will be required.
According to FAA officials, a decision on runway width is expected in late
summer of 2007.^23

Finally, the airports also anticipate implementing some type of operating
restrictions in order to safely accommodate the A380. Specifically, all 18
U.S. airports we visited anticipated imposing some type of operating
restrictions on the A380 or on other aircraft that operate around the
A380. The anticipated operating restrictions would generally affect runway
and taxiway use. For example, officials at San Francisco Airport plan to
restrict the movement of certain aircraft from using sections of parallel
taxiways when an A380 is taxiing to and from the terminal because the
taxiways are not far enough apart to meet the standards for taxiway
separation required to safely operate the A380. FAA officials noted,
however, that FAA is still conducting an operational evaluation for the
A380, and therefore has not determined what, if any, operational
restrictions for the A380 will be required. Thus, airports' planned
operating restrictions are subject to change when FAA completes its
operational evaluation, which is expected this summer. FAA officials said
that, FAA will perform an operational evaluation similar to the evaluation
used for the A380 for the Boeing 747-8 and other large aircraft when they
enter service.

^22FAA officials said the Modification to Standards process is not
generally used to govern operations of a particular aircraft at an
airport. Rather, the process is generally used for the justification of an
investment of federal funds in construction projects for facilities that
do not fully meet design standards for an aircraft design group and not
necessarily issued for a particular aircraft.

^23As discussed later in the report, the European regulatory counterpart
to FAA has certified the A380 to operate on 150-foot-wide (45 meters)
runways.

  A380 Produces Greater Wake Turbulence Than Other Aircraft

The wake turbulence of the A380 and other large aircraft can create safety
issues if appropriate wake turbulence separations are not applied. Wake
turbulence is created behind aircraft and the strength of the turbulence
is dependent on the wingspan, the weight of the aircraft, and its speed.
In general, the bigger the aircraft, the greater the wake created. Wake
turbulence can affect following aircraft during landing, takeoff, and
in-flight. Figure 3 illustrates how wake turbulence is created by an
aircraft and the direction it travels. FAA and ICAO have adopted standards
for keeping aircraft separated from each other during landing, takeoff,
and in-flight to avoid the adverse effects of wake turbulence.

Figure 3: Illustration of the Effects of Wake Turbulence

Note: Flight tests have shown that the wake vortices from larger aircraft
extend downward at a rate of several hundred feet per minute, slowing in
descent and diminishing in strength with time and distance.

ICAO and FAA have studied whether the A380 needs greater separation than
current standards require and determined that the A380 produces stronger
wake turbulence than any aircraft in use today. On the basis of this data,
ICAO issued new guidance on the separation required between the A380 and
other aircraft during landing, takeoff, and in-flight in October 2006.
ICAO officials acknowledged that the guidance could be more conservative
than the final standards, noting that the initial flight separation
standard for the Boeing 747-400 aircraft was also set conservatively, but
later reduced. The separations for the A380 could be changed in the future
on the basis of operational experience of the aircraft. However, while
this guidance is in effect, there will be somewhat longer intervals for
departures following an A380 than currently exist and greater distances
between aircraft following an A380 during landings. Figure 4 illustrates
the interim flight separation standards for the A380 compared to other
heavy category aircraft, such as the Boeing 747-400 aircraft.^24

24"Heavy" is an aircraft category used by air traffic officials when
applying wake turbulence separations. The heavy category represents
aircraft that weigh more than 299,800 pounds (136,000 kilograms).

Figure 4: Illustration of On-approach Landing Separation Distances for
Aircraft Trailing an A380 and Heavy Aircraft

Note: Heavy, medium, and light are aircraft categories used by air traffic
officials when applying wake turbulence separations. The heavy category
represents aircraft that weigh more than 299,800 pounds (136,000
kilograms); medium for aircraft that weigh more than 15,430 pounds (7,000
kilograms) but less than or equal to 299,800 pounds; and light for
aircraft that weigh less than or equal to 15,430 pounds.

One nautical mile is equal to 1.15 miles.

  Greater Number of Passengers to Evacuate from A380 Compared to Other Aircraft

Another potential safety challenge is the large number of passengers to
evacuate from an A380 during an emergency. The A380's maximum seating
configuration can accommodate up to 853 passengers--193 more than carried
by the maximum seating configuration of the Boeing 747-400. To obtain type
certification, aircraft manufacturers must demonstrate that the aircraft
can be evacuated within 90 seconds.^25 In March 2006, Airbus conducted the
emergency evacuation demonstration for the A380. During the demonstration,
853 passengers and 20 crew members were successfully evacuated from the
aircraft within 78 seconds. Airbus officials credited the design of the
A380 for the successful evacuation demonstration.

A related concern of FAA officials, airport fire and rescue officials, and
some experts with whom we spoke is how to handle the large numbers of
people around the aircraft after evacuation is complete. In particular,
some fire and rescue officials were concerned about their ability to
control the crowd and how to treat injured people on-site prior to being
moved to nearby hospitals. To address these concerns, airport fire and
rescue officials are reexamining their equipment needs and emergency plans
for treating a greater number of passengers. FAA guidance states that an
airport's emergency plans should, to the extent practical, provide for
medical services, including transportation and medical assistance, for the
maximum number of people that can be carried on the largest aircraft that
an airport reasonably can be expected to serve.^26 However, in most cases,
airport fire and rescue officials said that they plan for reasonable
worst-case scenarios in which about 50 percent of the passengers can be
treated for injuries on the largest aircraft operated at the airport.

  Size of A380 Could also Pose Airport Fire and Rescue Challenges

The advent of the A380 also may introduce a number of new fire and rescue
safety issues for airports. For example:

^2514 CFR Sec. 25.803.

^26FAA Advisory Circular, Airport Emergency Plan 150/5200-31A.

           o The A380 can hold almost 82,000 gallons of fuel, compared to
           about 57,300 gallons carried by the Boeing 747-400. While an A380
           or a 747-400 may not be fueled to maximum capacity, the
           proportional increase in fuel that could be on the A380 compared
           to that of a 747-400 means that fire fighters will need additional
           water and extinguishing agent to contain and extinguish a fire.
           Although the A380 will have Glare material, designed to increase
           the amount of time it takes before a fire can enter the cabin, it
           will not be installed on the underside of the aircraft where a
           fire caused by leaking fuel is most likely to occur, according to
           a FAA official. Thus, assuring that airports have sufficient
           extinguishing agent is important.
           o Airports may not have the necessary equipment to access the
           upper deck of the A380 for fire fighting or evacuation purposes.
           Most fire and rescue officials at the airports we visited
           indicated that they do not have the equipment to access the upper
           deck of the A380 for fire fighting or evacuation purposes.
           Although the height to the upper deck door of the A380 is
           essentially the same as that of the 747, according to a FAA
           official, the need to invest in such equipment now becomes more
           critical for the A380 because more passengers are seated on the
           upper deck of the A380.
           o The A380 was designed with 16 evacuation slides and the longest
           slide, on the upper deck, will extend out about 50 feet from the
           aircraft. This increased number of slides could improve passenger
           evacuation, but according to some fire and rescue officials we
           interviewed, the number and position of the A380's slides could
           also impede the fire and rescue vehicles' access to the aircraft
           and making it more difficult to suppress the fire.

           Several airport fire and rescue officials with whom we spoke were
           confident they could respond to an A380 incident with their
           current resources. However, most stated that they were evaluating
           personnel, equipment, and training needs to ensure that the
           airport was adequately prepared for the A380. Fire and rescue
           officials from several airports stated that the introduction of
           A380-sized aircraft will only increase their needs for additional
           personnel and equipment. For example, officials from some airports
           told us that they are planning to add a vehicle with a penetrating
           nozzle with a higher reach that can inject fire extinguishing
           agent into the upper deck of the A380. Figure 5 shows a fire
           fighting vehicle with a penetrating nozzle fully extended and
           elevated to its maximum height of 50 feet.

Figure 5: Fire Fighting Vehicle with Penetrating Nozzle

To help address these safety concerns, FAA has begun evaluating the need
to update its airport fire and rescue safety guidance for new large
aircraft, such as the A380. Officials from FAA's Technical Center said
that the guidance needs to be updated to reflect the A380's vertical
height, high numbers of passengers, second passenger deck, and increased
fuel loads.^27 FAA is also researching the need to increase the amount of
water and extinguishing agent needed to respond to an A380 incident. In
addition, FAA is studying the quantity of fire-suppressing agents needed
to combat fires on new large aircraft and double-deck aircraft--taking
into account the vertical dimension of the A380. However, FAA officials
noted that most of the airports expecting to receive A380 flights
currently exceed the vehicle and extinguishing agent requirements
applicable to the aircraft and therefore would likely already meet new
standards. FAA researchers are also helping to develop a penetrating
nozzle on a 65-foot boom that would provide greater extension and a higher
reach to inject fire extinguishing agent into the upper deck of the A380.

^27FAA performs firefighting research at the FAA William J. Hughes
Technical Center (Technical Center) to improve the effectiveness or better
use current firefighting equipment to provide an increase in passenger
survivability under the extreme conditions of a post-crash fire.

A380's Impact on Capacity at U.S. Airports Is Uncertain

The impact of the A380 on the capacity of U.S. airports is uncertain and
would depend on multiple factors. Airport capacity is generally measured
by the maximum number of takeoffs and landings that can occur within a
given period of time. The A380 could increase passenger capacity at
airports because it can carry more passengers than current aircraft and
fewer flights could be used to accommodate air traffic growth. However,
potential operating restrictions and the increased flight separation
requirements could adversely impact capacity by limiting the number of
flights that airports can handle. Further, the effects of gate
restrictions, such as the number of gates available for A380 use and
restricted use of gates adjacent to the A380, and terminal congestion from
the increased number of passengers will need to be evaluated and could
cause delays to the A380 and other aircraft. The extent of disruptions and
delays caused by possible operating restrictions, increased separation
requirements, and gate restrictions would depend on the time of day, the
number of A380 operations, and the volume of overall traffic. Many airport
officials stated that as long as the number of A380 operations per day
remains low, the impact of the A380 on airport capacity--even with
operating restrictions, increased separation requirements, and gate
restrictions--should not be significant; however, as the number of A380
operations increases, the potential for an adverse impact also grows.

A380 Designed to Provide Some Capacity Benefits

The A380 was created, in part, to help alleviate airport capacity
constraints caused by the continued growth in passenger and cargo air
traffic. Air traffic in the U.S. increased by 35 percent from 1991 to
2001. Despite the low passenger travel following the events of September
11, 2001, FAA forecasts this growth to continue--estimating that air
traffic will triple over the next 20 years. The current and projected
growth in air traffic will also include new classes of aircraft, such as
the A380. This greater diversity of aircraft--in terms of size, speed, and
operating requirements--will add to the demands placed on the national
airspace system and airports.

Historically, airlines have addressed increased passenger demand by simply
adding more flights and airports by expanding infrastructure. However,
these are not viable options when airport runway infrastructure cannot be
expanded and the volume of landings and departures at an airport exceeds
the limits to operate efficiently. For example, in August 2006, FAA
proposed a rule to limit the number of flights at New York's LaGuardia
Airport to reduce the level of congestion and delays. To offset the limit
on flights, the rule encourages the use of larger aircraft at the airport
to accommodate increased passenger demand. By using larger aircraft, the
airport could accommodate more passengers with fewer or with the existing
number of daily flights. Similarly, London's Heathrow airport plans to
increase its passenger capacity without increasing the number of daily
flights by expecting as many as one of every 10 flights to be an A380 by
2020.

According to Airbus, the A380 will help alleviate capacity constraints by
accommodating more passengers and freight on each flight than any other
aircraft in use today. Airbus officials estimate that the A380 can carry
at least 35 percent more passengers and the A380 freighter will carry 50
percent more cargo volume per flight than other aircraft currently in use.
In addition, the A380 can fly up to 8,000 nautical miles non-stop,
enabling airlines to carry more passengers for greater distances than the
current largest aircraft. Thus, the A380 could transport more people or
freight greater distances with the same number--and possibly
fewer--aircraft than are used currently. At congested airports, when A380
aircraft are used, airlines could meet anticipated growth in air travel
without having to schedule additional flights.

In addition to alleviating capacity constraints, Airbus and airport
officials told us that the potentially greater number of passengers on
each A380 compared to currently used aircraft could translate into
economic benefits for the airports and local communities that would
receive them. Specifically, airport expansion to accommodate anticipated
growth in air travel, including the larger volume of passengers that the
A380 could bring to an airport, could contribute to an area's economic
growth.^28 According to Airbus and some airport officials, if airports
received more passengers, airports will benefit from greater parking
revenues, passenger facility charges, retail and restaurant sales, and
other services. In addition, if A380 service increases the number of
passengers flowing in and out of the airport, that increase could
translate into more job opportunities at the airport and in the community.
Studies have indicated that economic benefits can accrue to local
economies as a result of activity at airports through expansion projects,
directly and indirectly, in terms of additional jobs or increased salaries
and wages. Therefore, the economic impact of A380 service on local
communities near airports could be substantial, but it is not certain
because the degree to which passenger volume would increase is uncertain.
Furthermore, any economic benefits realized by airports and local
communities as a result of airport improvements to enhance capacity,
including accommodating A380 service, may represent transfers of economic
activity from one airport or community to another.^29

28Simply providing more seats on an aircraft does not necessarily equate
to more passengers being carried. However, if more passengers travel on
the routes that A380s will be used than can be accommodated with current
capacity, or if the introduction of the A380 leads to lower airfares, then
airports receiving A380 service might also see an increase in the number
of passengers.

Airports' Planned Operating Restrictions, Increased Flight Separation
Requirements, and Gate Limitations Could Offset Some Capacity Benefits

Airports' planned operating restrictions and separation requirements
resulting from A380 ground and flight operations, as well as the reduction
in gate utilization and flexibility could offset some of the capacity
gains anticipated as a result of the aircraft at U.S. airports.^30
Potential operating restrictions and the increased separation requirements
imposed to ensure the safety of the A380 and other aircraft at airports
and during flight could result in a reduction in the number of flights
that airports can accommodate. Furthermore, gate availability, restricted
use of gates adjacent to A380 gates, and potential congestion issues could
reduce gate utilization and flexibility at some airports--which could also
lead to fewer flights at an airport. According to most of the airport
officials and experts we interviewed, the extent to which operating
restrictions, increased separation requirements, and gate utilization
would impact capacity would depend on the volume of A380 traffic, the time
of day, and the volume of overall air traffic.

^29Economic transfers can represent real benefits for airports making the
improvements, but from a national perspective they may not represent net
benefits because some economic activity may be simply transferred from
other airports.

^30Any restrictions and requirements that limit potential capacity gains
will also limit the economic benefits to the airports and local
communities.

Operating Restrictions on the A380 at U.S. Airports Could Adversely Impact
Capacity

Most U.S. airports we visited that expect to receive the A380 are not
designed for aircraft of this size and, therefore may need to implement
operating restrictions to safely accommodate the A380. These restrictions
can come in many forms--from restricting the A380 to certain runways and
taxiways to stopping the movement of other aircraft when the A380 is in
close proximity. In addition some airports have designated specific routes
for the A380 to use when landing and taxiing. These specific routes are
needed because the wingspan of the A380 prevents the aircraft from passing
various objects on the airfield, such as buildings, without violating the
spacing requirements established by FAA. Therefore, airports expecting
large aircraft service like the A380 will have to evaluate taxi routes to
ensure required distances from other objects are maintained--which is a
normal procedure for airports that receive larger aircraft.

The effect of these operating restrictions have not been determined, but a
potential impact is that airports may not be able to handle as many
landings and departures in a given time period. For example, at one
airport, airport officials said landings and departures could not be
performed on one runway while an A380 is taxiing to or from the runway for
about two miles on the adjacent taxiway. According to the air traffic
controllers, this would disallow use of that runway for about three
minutes. Even delays of a few minutes at an airport could increase the
operating costs of air carriers. For example, FAA officials from FAA's
Technical Center estimated that one minute of delay would cost an air
carrier at San Francisco airport about $57, or about $3,400 per hour.
Similarly, the A380 may need to follow a designated route to and from the
runway--and not necessarily the most efficient route--potentially delaying
other aircraft that may need to wait for the A380 to complete its
maneuvers. As a result, fewer aircraft could be able to access runways to
land and depart in a given period. Most experts and air traffic
controllers said the cumulative effect of these restrictions could reduce
the number of flights at a busy airport because delays exacerbate airport
congestion and make the job of managing air traffic more difficult. In the
long-term, airports could work with airlines to schedule A380 aircraft
during off-peak times to lessen this effect. However, airlines may be
reluctant to schedule these flights during off-peak hours because it might
be contrary to their international flight time slots to which A380s will
likely be largely used. Regardless, even if schedules were adjusted to
account for the operating restrictions, the additional time associated
with the restrictions could result in the airport being unable to
accommodate as many flights as it could if not for the A380 operating at
the airport.

According to many airport officials and aviation experts with whom we
spoke, the extent of disruptions and delays caused by the operating
restrictions would depend on the time of day, the number of A380
operations, and the volume of overall traffic. Many airport officials and
experts we interviewed stated that as long as the number of A380 flights
per day remains low, the impact of the operating restrictions should not
be significant; however, as the number of A380 flights increases, the
potential impact would also grow.

  Separation Requirements for A380 Could Adversely Impact Airspace and Airport
  Capacity

The increased separation requirements for the A380 could adversely impact
airspace and airport capacity. Under ICAO's current guidance, separation
distances are based on the size of the aircraft following an A380, with
lighter aircraft requiring a greater separation. To illustrate the
increased separation requirements for the A380 on approach for landing,
there must be a 6 nautical-mile separation between a heavy category
aircraft, such as a 747-400, trailing an A380. In comparison, a heavy
aircraft trailing another heavy aircraft needs to be separated by 4
nautical miles. The cumulative effect of this extra separation could
adversely impact airspace capacity by reducing the number of flights that
could be accommodated in the airspace during a given time frame, according
to most of the experts we interviewed. In addition, the additional
separation between the A380 and other aircraft during takeoff and landing
can reduce the number of arrivals and departures at an airport, which
could also negatively impact airport capacity. Airbus officials, however,
noted that such reductions in the number of arrivals and departures will
be countered by the potential increase in the number of passengers per
A380 flight--that is, the number of airplane operations may decrease, but
the number of passengers arriving and departing from the airport may
increase.

Most of the experts we interviewed generally agreed that the increased
flight separations required for the A380 could have a significant impact
on airport capacity, but noted the magnitude of the impact would depend on
timing of flights and volume of A380 traffic. Most airport officials at
the airports we visited indicated that they expected few A380 flights and
therefore, did not anticipate that the additional separation or ground
traffic issues would have a significant impact. FAA's analysis of capacity
at a few airports expecting to receive the A380 supports these views.^31
For example, using ICAO's current separation standards--which increase
separation by the size of the aircraft following an A380--FAA projected
that A380 operations at the San Francisco airport in 2015 would add no
increase in delays given the few A380s expected. However, given the larger
number of expected A380s at New York's JFK airport, A380 operations would
increase the total annual delay about 2 percent in 2015 over the expected
total annual delay without A380 service. In addition, FAA projected that
as the number of A380 flights increase by 2025, an increase of about 1
percent in the total annual delay can be expected at San Francisco airport
and almost 2 percent at New York's JFK airport over the expected hours of
total annual delay without A380 service. The projected cost to airlines in
2025 for A380-related delays at San Francisco airport would be $11.6
million and $59.2 million at JFK airport.^32 According to Airbus
officials, however, the analysis does not reflect potential cost savings
to airlines due to the reduction in the number of arrivals and departures
and as previously noted the potential increase in the number of passengers
per A380 flight. Without an integrated analysis that includes passenger
throughput, we are unable to determine the net effect.

^31This analysis was conducted at FAA's Technical Center, which performs
capacity studies for airports. These studies consider a variety of
factors, such as the actual traffic at the airport, airlines' projections
of future flights, and airport improvements such as new runways.

  A380 Could also Create Gate and Terminal Disruptions

The size of the A380 may also impact gate utilization in several ways.
First, the A380 will need to use gates with at least two passenger loading
bridges. The A380--similar to the 747-400--will be limited to using
specific gates because not all gates have two bridges. Similarly, many
terminal areas at U.S. airports where traffic bottlenecks and congestion
are common will not have the necessary clearances for an A380 to operate
on taxilanes between or beside other aircraft (see fig. 6). Thus, the A380
will be limited to certain gates. Second, the size of the A380 could
restrict the size of the aircraft at the adjacent gate, or close the gate
entirely. Third, loading and unloading passengers and baggage on an A380
could take longer because of the increased number of passengers on the
aircraft. As a result, the A380 could tie up a gate longer than other
aircraft, reducing the number of aircraft that could be served by the gate
in a given period. According to most of the experts with whom we spoke
said these gate issues can reduce flexibility in airport operations and
lead to delays. However, Airbus officials noted that the interior cabin
design of the A380 and the use of two bridges should allow turnaround
times of about 90 minutes--which is similar to the turnaround time of the
747-400.

^32The studies evaluated the potential impact of new large aircraft at San
Francisco and New York JFK airports in 2006, 2015, and 2025 with and
without the introduction of the A380, and projected that A380 traffic
would increase delays by 2025. The assumptions used in the capacity
studies included the anticipation that necessary infrastructure
improvements would be in place by 2006, air traffic demand including fleet
mix are established before and after the introduction of the A380, and
operational procedure restrictions needed were identified. In addition,
the anticipated A380 flights used for the two airports were nine daily
flights in 2015 and 16 in 2025 for San Francisco; and 14 daily flights in
2015 and 52 in 2025 for JFK.

Figure 6: The Taxilane Object Free Area Requirement for the A380

The increased passenger load carried by an A380 could strain current
airport terminal facilities and operations, such as check-in, baggage
claim, and customs and immigration services. For example, most experts we
interviewed said that a surge in passengers created by an A380 going
through airport check-in procedures could not only delay the A380
passengers but also passengers of other flights. In addition, the amount
of baggage from an A380 flight to load or unload could lead to delays for
passengers and other aircraft waiting at the gate. One expert noted that
the delays caused by the new security procedures introduced in the summer
of 2006--which resulted in an increase in checked baggage for a period of
time--illustrates how surges in the amount of baggage loaded and unloaded
can lead to delays and congestion. However, airport officials generally
had no concerns with the A380's impact on airport terminal facilities and
operations. Additionally, a few experts told us that the A380's
incremental increase in passengers and baggage over that of a 747-400
would have little impact on terminal operations, especially at airports
that will only receive a few A380 flights per day.

As mentioned earlier, the next generation air transportation system is
being designed to accommodate as much as 3 times the current air traffic,
including the introduction of new large aircraft such as the A380. The
planning underway involves so-called "curb-to-curb" initiatives that are
designed, in part, to address the potential capacity and gate disruption
issues discussed above. Since the planning and implementation phases of
the next generation system remain in the early stages, however, it is
currently unclear the extent to which the initiatives will effectively
mitigate those potential issues.

Foreign Airports Have Taken Different Approaches to Prepare for the A380

Selected foreign airports we visited have taken different approaches to
prepare for the introduction of the A380. These differences reflect the
age and the expected level of A380 traffic at the airports--and, in some
cases, the anticipated economic benefits of the A380 flights. The
different approaches include adopting alternative airport design standards
to accommodate new large aircraft, making significant investment in
existing infrastructure, and designing airports that allow for new large
aircraft. By implementing these approaches, officials from the foreign
airports we visited do not anticipate that the introduction of the A380
will result in delays or disruptions at their airports, despite higher
levels of expected A380 traffic compared to most U.S. airports because
these airports will not have to impose operating restrictions on the A380
to the extent of U.S. airports.

Adopting Alternative Standards to Accommodate New Large Aircraft

The A380 Airport Compatibility Group (AACG), which includes four European
aviation authorities, agreed to adopt adaptations of the ICAO standards
for A380 operations at existing airports that do not currently meet the
requirements.^33 For example, ICAO standards require runway width to be no
less than 60 meters (about 200 feet) and taxiway width 25 meters (about 82
feet), but the AACG decided widths of 45 meters (about 150 feet) for
runways and 23 meters (about 75 feet) for taxiways would be adequate to
safely operate the aircraft. Officials of European civil aviation
authorities said the AACG decision was based on runway-to-taxiway
centerline deviation studies that have found that large aircraft do not
deviate significantly from the centerline. In addition, the AACG decision
was influenced by the anticipation that the A380 would be certified by the
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to operate on 45-meter
runways--which occurred in December 2006.^34 In contrast, the FAA type
certificate does not include approval to operate on 150-foot-wide runways
and evaluations of these operations have not been completed. According to
FAA, the decision about runway width is an operational concern, rather
than a certification issue. FAA is currently evaluating the use of
narrower runways (less than 200 feet).^35 FAA expects to complete its
evaluations and issue a decision in summer 2007.

^33The A380 Airport Compatibility Group (AACG) is an informal group,
consisting of a number of European aviation authorities (France, Germany,
the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands), airport and industry
representatives. It was formed to agree to and promote a common position
among the group members regarding the application of ICAO requirements,
with respect to the A380 for infrastructure and operations at existing
major European airports that currently do not meet the requirements.
Australia has also adopted the AACG standards.

Making Significant Investment in Infrastructure Changes

Like most U.S. airports, the older foreign airports we visited were not
designed to accommodate aircraft as large as the A380. However, unlike the
U.S. airports, these foreign airports made significant investments in
infrastructure changes and improvements in anticipation of future growth
and the need to modernize, which included accommodating new large aircraft
such as the A380.^36 For example:

           o Airport officials at London Heathrow airport indicated about
           $885 million would be related to accommodating the A380.
           Heathrow's investments related to the A380 included widening and
           strengthening its two runway's shoulders and upgrading runway
           lighting, demolition and redevelopment of a portion of an existing
           terminal to add four A380 gates and allow more space for the
           aircraft, and development of a new terminal to provide five A380
           gates by 2008 and 14 by 2011.
           o At the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, about $132 million is
           being spent to prepare for the A380. The investment includes
           widening and strengthening two runways at the airport and building
           a new satellite terminal complex specifically to accommodate the
           A380. Initially, nine gates with upper deck access and two remote
           parking positions are available, but airport officials expect the
           number of A380 gates to increase to about 30 by 2018.
           o At the Beijing Capital airport, A380-related improvements have
           been included in the $3 billion renovation projects--particularly
           to prepare for the 2008 Olympic Games--that include building a new
           terminal to handle the anticipated increase in future demand, a
           new 3,800-meter-long, 60-meter-wide runway to accommodate the
           A380, new facilities and cargo areas, and additional landing
           areas.
           o At the Amsterdam Schiphol airport, a new 60-meter-wide,
           3,800-meter-long runway and associated taxiways were built that
           meet international standards, and the terminal was expanded at a
           cost of over $440 million and $213 million, respectively, to
           expand capacity and maintain its competitive position as an
           international hub. The new, longer runway and terminal expansion
           projects were initiated to enhance overall capacity of the airport
           and to accommodate new large aircraft, such as the A380. The
           terminal will have four gates ready for the A380 in 2007.

           In contrast, all the 18 U.S. airports expecting to receive the
           A380 plan to invest about $927 million in total on A380
           infrastructure changes--which is only slightly more than the
           investments being made at Heathrow. The most a single U.S. airport
           is investing in infrastructure changes to accommodate the A380 is
           $151 million. The level of planned investments reflects the
           expected level of A380 traffic. Specifically, the foreign airports
           we visited are expecting more A380 traffic, in part, because they
           will serve as hub airports for international travel or serve as
           hubs for airlines that have purchased the A380. For example, JFK
           expects about 16 A380 arrivals and departures per day in
           2015--possibly the most daily A380 flights at any U.S. airport.
           However, Heathrow airport officials expect that by 2020, one of
           every 10 aircraft arriving and departing will be an A380, or about
           130 arrivals and departures per day. Similarly, officials at the
           Paris Charles de Gaulle airport estimate that at least 10 percent
           of all passengers arriving at the airport will be aboard an A380
           by 2020.

           In addition to the level of investment, U.S. and foreign airports
           differ in the type of investments. Foreign airports, in particular
           European airports, are investing more in terminal and gate
           improvements to accommodate the A380 than U.S. airports. For
           example, London Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle, and Amsterdam
           Schiphol airports have undertaken major terminal and gate
           improvement projects to accommodate the A380. In contrast, the
           majority of investments reported by U.S. airports (83 percent)
           were for runway and taxiway projects to accommodate the A380.^37
           This difference likely reflects that all Asian airports meet ICAO
           standards, including runway and taxiway width, for new large
           aircraft, such as the A380, and that the AACG determined that
           European airports could use more narrow runway and taxiway widths
           for the A380, which negated the need to widen the runways or
           taxiways.

           Seven of the eight Asian and Canadian airports we visited were
           designed for future expansion or were built to allow new large
           aircraft, such as the A380.^38 Five airports--Singapore Changi,
           Hong Kong, Tokyo Narita, Montreal Trudeau, and Toronto
           Pearson--were not designed specifically for the A380, but rather
           were built to accommodate the arrival of new large aircraft in the
           future and either complied with or needed only minimal
           modifications to comply with international standards applicable to
           new large aircraft. For example, at the Singapore Changi and
           Toronto Pearson airports, the runways were wide enough to
           accommodate the A380, but the shoulders needed to be modified to
           comply with ICAO requirements. Taken as a whole, these airports
           will not have to impose operating restrictions on the A380 except
           for a few instances, but not to the extent as U.S. airports.

           Two Asian airports in Bangkok, Thailand and Guangzhou, China, were
           built in compliance with the international standards for new large
           aircraft.^39 According to airport officials, these two airports
           were built because of the economic activity they were expected to
           generate for their region and their countries. Moreover, these
           officials stated that to remain competitive, the airports had to
           be able to receive new large aircraft, and in particular the A380
           because it represents the next generation of aircraft. Because
           these two Asian airports in Bangkok and Guangzhou were built to
           comply with international standards for new large aircraft, they
           will not need to restrict A380 operations or the movement of other
           aircraft as they move around the airfields to and from terminals.
           Figure 7 shows a picture of the Baiyun International Airport in
           Guangzhou, China.

^34EASA, the European regulatory counterpart to FAA, develops common
safety and environmental standards for European Member States in civil
aviation. It monitors the implementation of standards in the Member States
and provides the necessary technical expertise, training and research.

^35If Airbus successfully completes its flight demonstration, the A380
will receive FAA Flight Standards approval to operate on 150-foot-wide
runways (45 meters). If Airbus does not successfully demonstrate the
A380's capability, FAA will require that airports expecting to receive the
A380 meet the Design Group VI standard of 200-foot-wide runways and
100-foot-wide taxiways. If an airport does not meet the taxiway standard,
airport officials can apply for Modifications to Standards through FAA.
For FAA to approve a modification, the airport must demonstrate that they
can provide an acceptable level of safety to the standard on a
case-by-case basis.

^36See appendix II for summaries of the foreign airports' A380 plans and
operations.

^37For more information on the costs of infrastructure changes at U.S.
airports to accommodate the A380, see GAO, Commercial Aviation: Costs and
Major Factors Influencing Infrastructure Changes at U.S. Airports to
Accommodate the New A380 Aircraft, [41]GAO-06-571 (Washington, D.C.: May
19, 2006).

^38The seven airports include Guangzhou Baiyun, Singapore Changi, Hong
Kong, Tokyo Narita, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Toronto Pearson, and Montreal
Trudeau. The remaining airport, Beijing Capital, was not built to
accommodate the future arrival of new large aircraft and required
significant improvements to the airfield to comply with the required
standards, such as reconstructing one of its runways to accommodate the
A380.

^39The Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport is the only airport that fully
complies with the required international standards for new large aircraft.
The Guangzhou Baiyun airport is fully compliant with the requirements for
one side of the airfield that will be used for A380 operations, while the
other noncompliant side will not be used for the A380.

           Figure 7: Baiyun International Airport, Guangzhou, China

           In comparison, most of the 18 U.S. airports expecting to receive
           the A380 and the three European airports we visited were not built
           to comply with international standards for new large aircraft,
           such as the A380. As a result, officials from the U.S. airports
           told us that they anticipated imposing operating restrictions on
           the A380 or aircraft operating in proximity to the A380 to ensure
           safety. As discussed previously, European airports have adopted
           alternative standards and only one of these airports we visited
           plans to impose some operating restrictions.
		   
		   Concluding Observations

           Many large airports in the U.S. and around the world are facing
           capacity constraints as passenger and cargo traffic continues to
           grow. The A380 was designed, in part, to help alleviate these
           capacity constraints. However, the impact of its arrival on
           airport capacity in the United States is uncertain. The exact
           impact will likely vary by geographic regions of the U.S. and will
           depend on a range of factors, including the volume of A380
           traffic, timing of these aircrafts' operations, and the operating
           restrictions imposed on the aircraft and those aircraft operating
           around it. Although many U.S. airports are facing capacity
           constraints, the decisions by airport officials to make the
           necessary infrastructure changes to accommodate the aircraft were
           not solely driven by potential capacity gains. Rather, officials
           at some airports told us that they want to receive the A380 to
           help their airport's competitive position. They are expecting that
           the economic benefits from having A380 service at their airport
           will outweigh the costs associated with the infrastructure changes
           needed to accommodate the aircraft.

           While the impact of operating restrictions on airport capacity is
           not clear, FAA and industry experts generally agreed that the A380
           will add another element of complexity to airport operations and
           airspace management. This could limit A380 operations to
           designated gates, taxiways, or runways at many airports. This will
           reduce air traffic controllers' flexibility in making routing
           decisions for the A380 and other aircraft. Further exacerbating
           this situation is the current and projected growth in air traffic
           as well as the rollout of new classes of aircraft that could have
           their own operating and infrastructure requirements. Optimizing
           the use of airspace and airport facilities to the growth in air
           traffic and new classes of aircraft, including the A380, will be
           challenging.

           To address some of these challenges, airports expecting to receive
           the A380 are making infrastructure changes to accommodate it that
           involve retrofitting or expanding existing infrastructure, such as
           runways and taxiways. As we have previously reported, the airports
           estimated that these changes will be costly and were driven by the
           introduction of the A380, but they will also benefit current
           aircraft and other new large aircraft that may be introduced in
           the future. If recent history is a guide, the evolution of
           aircraft will not stop with the A380 as evident with Boeing's
           decision to go forward with its own new large aircraft, the 747-8.
           Thus, to help mitigate future difficulties, federal policymakers,
           airport officials, and other stakeholders are considering the
           introduction of the A380 and other new classes of aircraft as they
           move forward with airport development throughout the nation as
           well as the development of the next generation air transportation
           system.
		   
		   Agency Comments and Our Evaluation

           We provided a draft of this report to the Department of
           Transportation for review and comment. FAA officials generally
           agreed with the report's findings. FAA officials also provided
           technical clarifications via e-mail, which were incorporated as
           appropriate.

           In addition, we provided a draft of this report to Airbus North
           America Holdings, Inc. (Airbus) for review and comment. Airbus
           provided written comments, which are reprinted in appendix III. In
           its letter, Airbus states that we correctly identified potential
           safety and capacity issues associated with the introduction of the
           A380. However, regarding our discussion on capacity issues, Airbus
           expresses concern that we overemphasized the operational
           constraints imposed on or by the A380. We interviewed a range of
           aviation experts and examined a variety of studies and analyses to
           understand any potential impact, both positive and negative, the
           A380 could have on capacity. Although the report does describe the
           potential operational constraints associated with the introduction
           of the A380, we believe the report provides a balanced discussion
           regarding the potential benefits that new large aircraft, such as
           the A380, could provide to help alleviate capacity constrained
           U.S. airports as well as the potential capacity reduction due to
           operating restrictions, increased separation, and gate utilization
           issues associated with A380 operations. Airbus also suggests that
           our capacity discussion should include information on passenger
           throughput, noting that we use one definition of capacity--that
           is, the maximum number of aircraft takeoffs and landings (aircraft
           movements) that can occur during a given period. We acknowledge
           that we defined capacity by aircraft movements and agree that
           passenger throughput is another measure of capacity. We chose to
           use aircraft movements as the definition of capacity for this
           report because FAA uses the maximum number of aircraft movements
           to express airport capacity. The report includes information on
           the potential impact of the A380 on passenger
           throughput--specifically, that the A380 could accommodate more
           passengers and freight on each flight than any other aircraft in
           use today. However, we added additional information on the A380's
           potential impact on passenger throughput on the basis of Airbus'
           comments. Airbus also provided technical comments, which were
           incorporated, as appropriate.

           As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the
           contents of this report earlier, we plan no further distribution
           until 10 days from the report date. At that time, we will send
           copies to appropriate congressional committees, the Secretary of
           Transportation, and representatives of Airbus. We will also make
           copies available at no charge on the GAO Web site at
           http://www.gao.gov .

           If you have any questions about this report, please contact me at
           (202) 512-2834 or by e-mail at [email protected] . Contact
           points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public
           Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. Individuals
           making key contributions to this report were Nikki Clowers,
           Assistant Director; Vashun Cole; and Frank Taliaferro.

           Sincerely yours,

           Gerald L. Dillingham, Ph.D.
		   Director, Physical Infrastructure
           Issues
		   
		   Appendix I: Objectives, Scope, and Methodology

           We were asked to review and identify the impact of the Airbus A380
           on U.S. airports. In May 2006, we issued a report that estimated
           the costs of infrastructure changes that U.S. airports plan to
           make to accommodate the A380.^1 This report discusses (1) the
           safety issues associated with the introduction of the A380, and
           how U.S. airports are addressing them, (2) the potential impact of
           A380 operations on the capacity of U.S. airports, and (3) how
           selected foreign airports are addressing these safety and capacity
           issues.

           To address these issues, we reviewed published studies on
           operational issues related to the A380 and on aircraft fire and
           rescue equipment and tactics, A380 emergency evacuations, pavement
           strength issues for the A380's weight, and other safety-related
           issues. We also reviewed FAA's design standards and attended FAA
           briefings on its type validation and type certification processes.
           For our May 2006 report, we analyzed the A380-related requests for
           Modifications to Standards made by the U.S. airports we visited
           and summarized FAA decisions regarding the infrastructure and
           operational impacts to the airports. We also discussed--with FAA
           and airport officials--the effect that Modifications to Standards
           would have on airports' infrastructure. For this report, we
           discussed with FAA officials the safety considerations of
           Modification to Standards, but did not analyze the extent that
           Modifications to Standards are used at all U.S. airports. We also
           examined FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center's (Technical
           Center) analysis of the impact of new large aircraft operations at
           Memphis International, New York John F. Kennedy International, and
           San Francisco International Airports. We analyzed the Technical
           Center's methodology in preparing these analyses and the results
           of these analyses and met with FAA officials to discuss the
           analyses. We determined that the Technical Center's analyses were
           sufficiently reliable for our purposes. We also examined the
           International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) guidance and
           standards for airport design and aircraft separation.

           We interviewed officials from FAA and representatives from ICAO,
           Airbus, and aviation trade association to discuss safety and
           capacity issues associated with the arrival of the A380. In
           addition, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 17 aviation
           experts to obtain their views on the impact of the A380 on airport
           operations and capacity and potential safety issues. We contracted
           with the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to identify
           individuals who are experts in the fields of safety, capacity,
           infrastructure, and certification. We developed an interview guide
           that asked for the expert's views on a series of questions on
           safety and capacity issues related to the introduction of the A380
           and pre-tested this guide with two experts to ensure that the
           questions sufficiently addressed the issues and were not biased,
           misleading, or confusing. We incorporated feedback from our
           pretests into the interview guide, and then used the guide for our
           interviews. After conducting the interviews, we analyzed the
           experts' responses to our questions to identify major themes. The
           aviation experts we interviewed were not selected randomly and
           their views and opinions cannot be generalized to the larger
           population of experts and aviation officials. See table 2 for the
           aviation experts we interviewed.
		   
^1GAO, Commercial Aviation: Costs and Major Factors Influencing
Infrastructure Changes at U.S. Airports to Accommodate the New A380
Aircraft, [42]GAO-06-571  (Washington, D.C.: May 19, 2006).

           Table 2: Aviation Experts Interviewed by GAO
		   
Expert          Title and affiliated organization                          

Kristin Allen   Facilities, Operations and Maintenance Manager, San        
                   Francisco International Airport                            
Randy Babbitt   Chairman and CEO, Eclat Consulting                         
Kevin Bleach    Manager of Aviation Technical Services, Port Authority New 
                   York and New Jersey                                        
Tony Broderick  Consultant, Airbus North America Holdings, Inc.            
Dan Cohen-Nir   Programs Director, Airbus North America Holdings, Inc.     
Frank Frisbie   Vice President, Apptis                                     
George Greene   Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Wake            
                   Turbulence, NASA                                           
John Hansman    Professor, MIT                                             
John Hayhurst   Vice President (retired), Boeing Air Traffic Management    
Steve Lang      Manager of Planning, Control, and Integration, Air Traffic 
                   Services, FAA                                              
Dick McAdoo     Atlantic Southeast Airlines (retired)                      
Tom McSweeny    Director, International Safety and Regulatory Affairs,     
                   Boeing Commercial Airplanes                                
Amedeo Odoni    Professor, MIT                                             
Clint Oster     Professor, Indiana University                              
Marc Schoen     Manager, Airport Technology, Boeing Commercial Airplanes   
John Sullivan   Professor, Purdue University                               
Ray Valeika     Senior Vice President, Delta Airlines (retired)            

           Source: GAO.

           We conducted site visits to the 18 U.S. airports that are making
           infrastructure improvements to accommodate the A380. (Table 3
           shows the U.S. airports that we visited.) We conducted these site
           visits from September 2005 to February 2006. During these site
           visits, we interviewed airport officials, including airport
           management, air traffic controllers, and fire and rescue
           personnel, and toured the airport facilities to identify safety
           and capacity challenges associated with the arrival of the A380 at
           their airport and efforts they were undertaking to mitigate these
           challenges. To ensure the accuracy of information summarized in
           the report, we verified the information we collected with
           officials from the 18 airports in the fall of 2006.

           Table 3: United States Airports Visited by GAO
		   
Airport name                                    Location 
                  
Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport     Anchorage, Alaska          
Fort Worth Alliance Airport                     Fort Worth, Texas          
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International        Atlanta, Georgia           
Airport                                                                    
Chicago O'Hare International Airport            Chicago, Illinois          
Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport         Fort Worth, Texas          
Denver International Airport                    Denver, Colorado           
Indianapolis International Airport              Indianapolis, Indiana      
Los Angeles International Airport               Los Angeles, California    
Louisville International Airport                Louisville, Kentucky       
Memphis International Airport                   Memphis, Tennessee         
Miami International Airport                     Miami, Florida             
New York John F. Kennedy International Airport  New York, New York         
Ontario International Airport                   Ontario, California        
Orlando International Airport                   Orlando, Florida           
Philadelphia International Airport              Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 
San Francisco International Airport             San Francisco, California  
Tampa International Airport                     Tampa, Florida             
Washington Dulles International Airport         Dulles, Virginia           

           Source: GAO.

           We also conducted site visits to 11 Asian, Canadian, and European
           airports that will be receiving the A380. (Table 4 shows the
           foreign airports we visited.) We conducted these site visits from
           February 2006 to November 2006. We selected these high-capacity
           airports based on the expected level of A380 operations or the
           presence of airlines that have ordered the A380 aircraft and
           intend on using these airports as a hub for their operations.
           During these site visits, we interviewed airport officials,
           including airport management, air traffic controllers, and fire
           and rescue personnel, and toured the airport facilities to
           identify the safety and capacity challenges associated with the
           arrival of the A380 and the efforts being undertaken to mitigate
           these challenges. We summarized the information obtained for this
           report and sought verification from the 11 airports in the winter
           of 2006.

           Table 4: Asian, Canadian, and European Airports Visited by GAO
		   
Airport name                                     Location                  
Asian airports
                                                             
Suvarnabhumi Airport                             Bangkok, Thailand         
Capital Airport                                  Beijing, China            
Baiyun Airport                                   Guangzhou, China          
Hong Kong Airport                                Hong Kong, China          
Narita Airport                                   Tokyo, Japan              
Changi Airport                                   Singapore                 
Canadian airports                                                          
Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International    Montreal, Quebec          
Airport                                                                    
Toronto Pearson International Airport            Toronto, Ontario          
European airports                                                          
Amsterdam Schiphol Airport                       Amsterdam, Netherlands    
London Heathrow Airport                          Middlesex, United Kingdom 
Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport                  Paris, France             

           Source: GAO.

           We performed our work from May 2005 to March 2007 in accordance
           with generally accepted government auditing standards.
		   
		   Appendix II: Foreign Airport Summaries

           To determine how foreign airports were addressing the potential
           safety and capacity issues associated with the introduction of the
           A380, we visited 11 foreign airports. The following are summaries
           of the information airports' provided on operations and their A380
           plans.
		   
		   Asian Airports

           Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, currently the
           operating hub for Thai Airways, opened in 2006 and was built as an
           ICAO Code F airport that could handle 45 million passengers and
           three million tons of cargo per year at a cost of about $3.9
           billion.^1 The airport is one of the largest in Asia, with a
           terminal slightly larger than that of Hong Kong airport. The final
           phase of construction, expected to begin in about 2015, will add a
           fourth runway and another terminal to increase the capacity to 100
           million passengers per year. A maintenance facility has also been
           built at the airport that can house up to three A380s in one
           hangar at the same time. Officials of the Thai Department of Civil
           Aviation do not expect that the A380 would cause delays at their
           airport. A380 flight operations will begin with Qantas and United
           Arab Emirates airlines service in early 2008. Thai Airways ordered
           six A380 aircraft and will begin service in 2009 or 2010 after it
           takes its first delivery from Airbus. Table 5 provides
           A380-related issues at Suvarnabhumi airport.

           Table 5 Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport
		   
		   						Asian Airports
						
						Airport facilities  
																			   
						Expected start of A380 service      Early 2008.                            
						(month/year):                                                              
						Number of A380 landings and         Initially: Anticipates 12 per day.     
						departures each day (initial year                                          
						and 5th year of service):                                                  
						5th year: 12 per day (possibly                                             
						more).                                                                     
						Carriers expected to bring A380 to  Singapore Airlines, Air France, and    
						airport (year of arrival):          Qantas (2008), Emirates and Lufthansa  
															   (2008 or 2009), and Thai Airways (2009 
															   or 2010).                              
						Expected level of A380 passenger    Passenger: Not available.              
						and cargo operations:                                                      
						Cargo: Not available.                                                      
						Airfield design standards (runway   Airfield is ICAO Code F compliant.     
						and taxiway width and separations):                                        
						Airport baggage claim, terminal     None. Passenger waiting rooms could    
						seating, and customs and            become crowded and baggage facilities  
						immigration spatial concerns:       in the new airport were built to       
															   receive new large aircraft such as the 
															   A380.                                  
						Terminal gates A380-ready:          Five A380 gates with one upper and two 
															   lower boarding bridges.                
						Deviations from ICAO Code F         None.                                  
						standards:                                                                 
						Operating restrictions used for the None.                                  
						A380:                                                                      
						Possible impact of A380 operations  None.                                  
						on ground operations (special                                              
						designated routing issues):                                                
						Potential effect of ground          None.                                  
						operational restrictions on                                                
						capacity (airport assessment):                                             
						Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire    Meets ICAO ARFF requirements for       
						Fighting (ARFF) capability (in      A380-sized aircraft.                   
						terms of equipment, personnel, and                                         
						training):                                                                 

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Suvarnabhumi
           airport officials.

^1ICAO Code F is the international acceptable standards for aircraft with
wingspans over 214 feet such as the Airbus A380 and the proposed Boeing
747-8.
		   
           Beijing Capital International Airport has been upgraded with
           several renovations since it opened in 1958, and in 2005 it
           handled about 41 million passengers and about 782,000 tons of
           cargo. Airport officials said that in anticipation of the
           increasing aviation demands due to the economic development of the
           Beijing area as well as the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, Beijing
           Capital airport officials have begun a $3 billion airport
           expansion plan to double the existing capacity. When completed,
           the airport will be able to handle 60 million passengers, 1.8
           million tons of cargo, and about 500,000 flights per year.
           A380-related improvements have been incorporated in the renovation
           projects, which include building a new terminal to handle the
           anticipated increase in future demand, a new 3,800-meter-long,
           60-meter-wide runway to accommodate the A380, new facilities and
           cargo areas, and additional landing areas. In addition, major
           terminal and gate improvement projects have been undertaken to
           accommodate the A380. China Southern Airlines is the only Chinese
           A380 customer. However, in addition to China Southern Airlines,
           Air France, and Lufthansa Airlines have expressed their intent to
           operate the A380 at the Beijing airport. Table 6 provides
           A380-related issues at Beijing airport.

           Table 6: Beijing Capital International Airport

Airport facilities   
                                                      
Expected start of A380 service    Uncertain.                               
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and       Initially: Not available.                
departures each day (initial year                                          
and 5th year of service):         5th year: Not available.                 

Carriers expected to bring A380   China Southern Airlines, Air France, and 
to airport (year of arrival):     Lufthansa Airlines.                      
Expected level of A380 passenger  Passenger: Not available.                
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                     Cargo: Not available.                    
Airfield design standards (runway Improvements are being made to some      
and taxiway width and             areas of the airfield to comply with     
separations):                     ICAO Code F standards; however, no plans 
                                     to restructure the entire airport to     
                                     meet Code F requirements.                
Airport baggage claim, terminal   None. Passenger waiting rooms and        
seating, and customs and          baggage facilities expanded to enhance   
immigration spatial concerns:     new large aircraft operations.           

Terminal gates A380-ready:        Once modifications are completed in the  
                                     existing terminal areas, both existing   
                                     terminals and a new terminal can have a  
                                     total of 12 A380 gates if necessary.     

Deviations from ICAO Code F       None.                                    
standards:                                                                 

Operating restrictions used for   None.                                    
the A380:                                                                  

Possible impact of A380           None.                                    
operations on ground operations                                            
(special designated routing                                                
issues):                                                                   

Potential effect of ground        ICAO separations standards for the A380  
operational restrictions on       due to wake turbulence could slow        
capacity (airport assessment):    landing and departures and reduce the    
                                     number of flights allowed to land and    
                                     depart during peak hours.                
Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire  Plans to upgrade capability to meet ICAO 
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in    ARFF requirements for A380-sized         
terms of equipment, personnel,    aircraft.                                
and training):                                                             

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Beijing airport
           officials.

           Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport, currently the operating
           hub for China Southern airlines, opened in 2004. It cost roughly
           $2.39 billion, is one of the three large hub airports on the
           Chinese mainland, and is the busiest airport in south China. In
           2005, the airport handled 23.5 million passengers and 750,000 tons
           of cargo. The airport was the first in China designed and built
           with the hub concept and a capacity to accommodate a projected
           annual growth of 27 million passengers and 1.4 million tons of
           cargo through 2010. China Southern Airlines is the only Chinese
           A380 customer and has already considered replacing an existing
           nonstop route from Guangzhou to Los Angeles using an A380. The
           airport has one runway and will have one gate ready for the A380
           in 2008 and plans to add additional A380 gates as needed in future
           planned concourses. Airport officials said A380-related
           improvements exist in a $2.22 billion expansion plan that includes
           the construction of an additional runway, terminal, and cargo
           facilities. The facilities will be increased as the expansion
           plans are completed with a capacity to accommodate 80 million
           passengers and 2.5 million tons of cargo annually. Table 7
           provides A380-related issues at Baiyun airport.

           Table 7: Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service  Fall 2008.                                 
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and     Initially: Not available.                  
departures each day (initial                                               
year and 5th year of service):  5th year: Not available.                   

Carriers expected to bring A380 China Southern Airlines (2008).            
to airport (year of arrival):                                              

Expected level of A380          Passenger: Not available.                  
passenger and cargo operations:                                            
                                   Cargo: Not available.                      

Airfield design standards       The airfield is partially ICAO Code F      
(runway and taxiway width and   compliant.                                 
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal None. Passenger waiting rooms and baggage  
seating, and customs and        facilities were designed to accommodate    
immigration spatial concerns:   A380 passenger loads.                      

Terminal gates A380-ready:      One A380-capable gate that will be         
                                   available and equipped with two passenger  
                                   boarding bridges, another gate will be     
                                   used to handle an A380 flight, and plan to 
                                   add two A380 gates equipped with three     
                                   passenger boarding bridges.                

Deviations from ICAO Code F     None.                                      
standards:                                                                 

Operating restrictions used for The West Runway was built to ICAO Code E   
the A380:                       standards and will not be used for A380    
                                   operations.                                

Possible impact of A380         None.                                      
operations on ground operations                                            
(special designated routing                                                
issues):                                                                   

Potential effect of ground      None.                                      
operational restrictions on                                                
capacity (airport assessment):                                             

Current Aircraft Rescue and     Meets ICAO ARFF requirements for           
Fire Fighting (ARFF) capability A380-sized aircraft.                       
(in terms of equipment,                                                    
personnel, and training):                                                  

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Baiyun airport
           officials.

           Hong Kong International Airport is the busiest airport for freight
           (by weight) in the world, handling about 3.6 million tons of
           freight in 2006. The airport also handled about 44.5 million
           passengers in 2006. The airport was built on a landfill in the
           Hong Kong bay and began operations in 1998. The airport has
           additional expansion plans to increase passenger capacity to 80
           million per year by 2025. However, in order to achieve that
           capacity the airport authority is planning to conduct engineering
           and environmental feasibility studies on the construction of a
           third runway for the airport. The airport authority had spent
           approximately $15 million in airport enhancement works for the
           operation of A380 passenger flights and was certified as an ICAO
           Code F airport in July 2006. The airport is an operating hub for
           DHL freight, and FedEx and UPS also operate at the airport. No
           airline based in Hong Kong has purchased the A380, but airport
           officials expect to accommodate foreign carriers' A380 flights.
           The airport serves about 80 foreign airlines and about 70 percent
           of the flights to Hong Kong are wide-body jets. Singapore Airlines
           will likely be the first to bring an A380 into Hong Kong. Table 8
           provides A380-related issues at Hong Kong airport.

           Table 8: Hong Kong International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service       Early to mid 2008.                    
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and          Initially: Anticipates four flights   
departures each day (initial year    per day.                              
and 5th year of service):                                                  
                                        5th year: 10 flights per day          
                                        (possibly more).                      

Carriers expected to bring A380 to   Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa, Qantas 
airport (year of arrival):           Airlines, United Arab Emirates,       
                                        Virgin Atlantic and Air France.       

Expected level of A380 passenger and Passenger: Not available.             
cargo operations:                                                          
                                        Cargo: Not available.                 

Airfield design standards (runway    Airfield is generally ICAO Code F     
and taxiway width and separations):  compliant.                            

Airport baggage claim, terminal      None. Passenger waiting rooms and     
seating, and customs and immigration baggage facilities can accommodate    
spatial concerns:                    the A380 and other new large          
                                        aircraft.                             

Terminal gates A380-ready:           Two A380 gates (each with one upper   
                                        and one lower deck bridge) with the   
                                        ability to expand up to a total of    
                                        five A380 gates.                      

Deviations from ICAO Code F          No deviations from ICAO Code F        
standards:                           standards for the operation of A380.  

Operating restrictions used for the  Stop-hold positions have been placed  
A380:                                further back from runway centerline.  

Possible impact of A380 operations   No significant delay on operations on 
on ground operations (special        the taxiways and apron is expected.   
designated routing issues):                                                

Potential effect of ground           ICAO separation from the A380 due to  
operational restrictions on capacity wake turbulence would reduce the      
(airport assessment):                arrival and departure rates.          

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire     Meets ICAO ARFF requirements for      
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in terms A380-sized aircraft.                  
of equipment, personnel, and                                               
training):                                                                 

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Hong Kong
           airport officials.

           Singapore Changi International Airport has undergone several
           expansions since the airport opened in 1981. In 2006, the airport
           handled over 35 million passengers and almost two million tons of
           cargo. Changi airport is the operating hub for Singapore Airlines,
           which is the launch customer for the Airbus A380. Singapore
           Airlines will begin receiving its A380 deliveries in the fall of
           2007 and plans to begin flight operations in January 2008 with
           flights to London Heathrow and San Francisco airports. Lufthansa,
           Qantas, Korean Air, and Virgin Atlantic airlines could begin
           flights to Singapore by 2010. The airport authority has spent
           about $43 million on improvements such as widening runway
           shoulders, and runway-taxiway and taxiway-taxiway intersections,
           installing upper deck loading bridges, and expanding the seating
           areas to handle A380 passenger loads. The airport has two parallel
           runways and will have 11 gates ready for the A380 in 2007--a total
           of 19 gates will be available in 2008. Changi airport will also
           have a maintenance facility with hangars that can fully enclose
           two A380 aircraft and a third A380 compatible hangar under
           construction. In 2008, a new terminal (Terminal 3) will open for
           operations and will enable the airport to accommodate 64 million
           passengers per year and add 8 more gates for the A380. Table 9
           provides A380-related issues at Changi airport.

           Table 9: Singapore Changi International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service     Uncertain.                              
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and        Initially: Uncertain.                   
departures each day (initial year                                          
and 5th year of service):          5th year: Uncertain.                    

Carriers expected to bring A380 to Singapore Airlines (2007), Emirates and 
airport (year of arrival):         Qantas Airlines.                        

Expected level of A380 passenger   Passenger: Not available.               
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                      Cargo: Not available.                   

Airfield design standards (runway  Airfield is ICAO Code F compliant.      
and taxiway width and                                                      
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal    None. Passenger waiting rooms and       
seating, and customs and           baggage facilities expanded in          
immigration spatial concerns:      Terminals 1 and 2, and Terminal 3 will  
                                      open in 2008 based on new large         
                                      aircraft operations.                    

Terminal gates A380-ready:         All 19 gates that are A380-ready will   
                                      have one upper and two lower bridges.   

Deviations from ICAO Code F        None.                                   
standards:                                                                 

Operating restrictions used for    None.                                   
the A380:                                                                  

Possible impact of A380 operations None.                                   
on ground operations (special                                              
designated routing issues):                                                

Potential effect of ground         ICAO separation standards from the A380 
operational restrictions on        due to wake turbulence could slow       
capacity (airport assessment):     landing and departures and reduce the   
                                      number of flights allowed to land and   
                                      depart during peak hours.               

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire   Meets ICAO ARFF requirements for        
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in     A380-sized aircraft.                    
terms of equipment, personnel, and                                         
training):                                                                 

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Changi airport
           officials.

           Tokyo Narita International Airport, which opened in 1978, handles
           the majority of international passenger traffic in Japan and in
           2005 handled over 31 million passengers and more than 2.3 million
           tons of cargo. In terms of the number of international passengers,
           it is ranked eighth in the world and second highest in the world
           in terms of the volume of international cargo. To date, six
           airlines--Lufthansa, Air France, Qantas, Virgin Atlantic,
           Singapore Airlines, and Korean Airlines--have announced plans to
           operate A380s at the airport. No Japanese air carrier has any
           immediate plans to purchase the A380. The airport has one runway
           and will have ten gates ready for the A380. Airport officials said
           existing facilities are used to accommodating very large passenger
           loads arriving at the same time on a daily basis. In fact, large
           aircraft, such as the 747-200, 747-400, and 777-200, currently
           make up about 75 percent of the traffic at Narita airport. The
           officials said the nominal increase in passenger loads on A380
           flights will not have a significant impact on the efficiency of
           the airport's internal operations. Table 10 provides A380-related
           issues at Narita airport.

           Table 10: Tokyo Narita International Airport

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Narita airport
           officials.
		   
		   Canadian Airports

Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service   First half 2008.                          
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and      Initially: Not available.                 
departures each day (initial                                               
year and 5th year of service):   5th year: Not available.                  

Carriers expected to bring A380  Singapore Airlines, Korean Airlines,      
to airport (year of arrival):    Lufthansa, Air France, Virgin Atlantic    
                                    Airways and Qantas Airways.               

Expected level of A380 passenger Passenger: Not available.                 
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                    Cargo: Not available.                     

Airfield design standards        Airfield is ICAO Code F compliant.        
(runway and taxiway width and                                              
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal  Minimal. Plan to use adjacent seating     
seating, and customs and         areas near A380 gates to handle the       
immigration spatial concerns:    increase in passenger loads for the A380  
                                    flights, and baggage claim facilities     
                                    will be reviewed for possible expansion.  

Terminal gates A380-ready:       Ten gates will be capable of              
                                    accommodating the A380 initially with one 
                                    upper deck and one lower deck boarding    
                                    bridges.                                  

Deviations from ICAO Code F      None.                                     
standards:                                                                 

Operating restrictions used for  Runway B will be used for A380            
the A380:                        operations. Taxiway separation issues     
                                    exist and will require restrictions to    
                                    prohibit two A380 operating on the        
                                    parallel taxiways.                        

Possible impact of A380          None.                                     
operations on ground operations                                            
(special designated routing                                                
issues):                                                                   

Potential effect of ground       None.                                     
operational restrictions on                                                
capacity (airport assessment):                                             

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire The airport has the resources to meet     
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in   ICAO ARFF requirements for A380-sized     
terms of equipment, personnel,   aircraft.                                 
and training):                                                             

           Montreal Trudeau International Airport, first opened in 1941, is
           the third busiest airport in Canada in terms of passenger traffic
           (after Toronto Pearson and Vancouver airports) and served about 11
           million passengers in 2005. The airport is undergoing a major $716
           million expansion and modernization plan designed to double
           terminal capacity to handle 25 million passengers per year and
           enhance the level of passenger service. The first A380 arrival is
           expected during the summer of 2009 with an Air France flight on
           its daily Paris to Montreal route. Montreal Trudeau, which serves
           as the main operating hub for Air France, is expected to be the
           only airport in Canada with a daily A380 flight. Airport officials
           said that no major investments were needed because runway width
           and clearances between runways and taxiways comply with ICAO Code
           F requirements. The airport has three runways and one gate that
           will be available to accommodate the A380 in 2007. The runways are
           62 meters wide, but vary in length and have non-paved, grass
           shoulders. Airport officials stated that two of the runways do not
           meet the necessary length requirement for A380 departures, but
           could be occasionally used for landings. Table 11 provides
           A380-related issues at Trudeau airport.

           Table 11: Montreal Trudeau International Airport

Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service    Summer 2009.                             
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and       Initially: Two daily (summer only).      
departures each day (initial year                                          
and 5th year of service):         5th year: Not available.                 

Carriers expected to bring A380   Air France.                              
to airport (year of arrival):                                              

Expected level of A380 passenger  Passenger: Not available.                
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                     Cargo: Not available.                    
Airfield design standards (runway Airfield is ICAO Code F compliant.       
and taxiway width and                                                      
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal   None. Plan to use the seating area of    
seating, and customs and          the adjacent gate to the A380 gate to    
immigration spatial concerns:     handle the increase in passenger load    
                                     for A380 flights.                        

Terminal gates A380-ready:        One gate is available that can           
                                     accommodate the A380 and will use one    
                                     upper and one main deck boarding bridge. 

Deviations from ICAO Code F       Non-paved runway and taxiway shoulders   
standards:                        and taxiway widths of 23 meters          
                                     compliant with ICAO Code E standards.    

Operating restrictions used for   Runway 10/28 must be inoperable until    
the A380:                         the A380 taxis from Runway 6L/24R to     
                                     terminal area. Runways 6R/24L and 10/28  
                                     could be used for A380 landings but not  
                                     for departures unless weight             
                                     restrictions were imposed.               

Possible impact of A380           None.                                    
operations on ground operations                                            
(special designated routing                                                
issues):                                                                   

Potential effect of ground        None. Will schedule A380 flights during  
operational restrictions on       non-peak hours.                          
capacity (airport assessment):                                             

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire  Due to limited expected traffic, the     
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in    airport does not meet ICAO ARFF          
terms of equipment, personnel,    requirements for A380-sized aircraft.    
and training):                                                             

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Trudeau airport
           officials.

           Toronto Pearson International Airport, first opened in 1939, is
           Canada's busiest airport and handled almost 30 million passengers,
           410,000 tons of cargo, and about 410,000 flights in 2005. Four
           carriers operate at Pearson that has purchased the A380, but none
           have indicated intent to operate their A380s at the airport. The
           airport is nearing completion of a $3.7 billion Airport
           Development Program to address improvements in groundside,
           terminal and airside infrastructure. Airport officials said the
           investments in airport infrastructure were meant to replace and
           expand their capacity to receive more passengers and freight and
           were not directed exclusively to accommodating the A380 because
           they did not expect many A380s at the airport. However, about
           $37.3 million of the improvement costs can be attributed directly
           to accommodating the A380 and future new large aircraft for
           airfield and terminal modifications. The airport currently has two
           runways and will have four gates ready for the A380 in 2007. The
           runways are 60 meters wide, but have non-paved, grass shoulders
           that may have to be paved to protect against jet blast. Airport
           officials stated they took A380 needs into account when designing
           the new Terminal 1, which opened in April 2004. Table 12 provides
           A380-related issues at Pearson airport.

           Table 12: Toronto Pearson International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service    Unknown.                                 
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and       Initially: Not available.                
departures each day (initial year                                          
and 5th year of service):         5th year: Not available.                 

Carriers expected to bring A380   None.                                    
to airport (year of arrival):                                              

Expected level of A380 passenger  Passenger: Not available.                
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                     Cargo: Not available.                    

Airfield design standards (runway Airfield is ICAO Code F compliant.       
and taxiway width and                                                      
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal   None.                                    
seating, and customs and                                                   
immigration spatial concerns:                                              

Terminal gates A380-ready:        Four A380 gates are available with one   
                                     upper and one lower deck boarding        
                                     bridge.                                  

Deviations from ICAO Code F       None.                                    
standards:                                                                 

Operating restrictions used for   None anticipated, but will use           
the A380:                         procedural restrictions for the A380     
                                     when it is on the runways or taxiways if 
                                     needed.                                  

Possible impact of A380           None.                                    
operations on ground operations                                            
(special designated routing                                                
issues):                                                                   

Potential effect of ground        ICAO separation standards could slow     
operational restrictions on       landings and departures and reduce the   
capacity (airport assessment):    total number of flights during peak      
                                     hours. Airport officials noted that they 
                                     would not allow A380 flights to          
                                     adversely impact capacity.               

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire  The airport has the resources to meet    
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in    ICAO ARFF requirements for A380-sized    
terms of equipment, personnel,    aircraft.                                
and training):                                                             

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Pearson airport
           officials.
		   
		   European Airports

           Amsterdam Schiphol Airport is one of four major European hubs for
           passenger and freight air traffic. It is the third busiest
           European airport for cargo traffic with over 1.4 million tons
           transported and fourth in passenger traffic with over 44 million
           passengers in 2005--much of which is due to the trans-shipment of
           cargo and connecting passenger traffic. The airport will not be a
           hub for A380 traffic but will accommodate significant A380
           passenger transfers to other planes bound to other destinations.
           A380 flight operations could begin in February 2008 with flights
           from Malaysian Airlines. Schiphol began planning for airport
           improvements related to new large aircraft in 1996. The new Code F
           runway and associated taxiways cost over $440 million and the
           expansion of the terminal cost over $213 million. The airport has
           one runway that is compliant with ICAO Code F but will also use
           the other four 45-meter runways and associated 23-meter taxiways
           in accord with a European agreement that Code E infrastructure
           could be used for the A380. Airport officials said A380s will be
           operated on the runways and taxiways not designed to Code F
           standards under waivers approved by the Netherlands Civil Aviation
           Authority. The airport will also have two gates ready for the A380
           in 2007 and another two after 2008. Schiphol officials indicated
           that they would not need many additional A380 gates in the future
           when A380 flights increase because large aircraft gate occupancy
           and turnaround time present no issues. Table 13 provides
           A380-related issues at Schiphol airport.

           Table 13: Amsterdam Schiphol International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service        Summer schedule 2008.                
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and           Initially: Anticipates four per day. 
departures each day (initial year and                                      
5th year of service):                 5th year: Anticipates 10 per day.    

Carriers expected to bring A380 to    Malaysian Airlines (2008).           
airport (year of arrival):                                                 

Expected level of A380 passenger and  Passenger: 2008 (two daily landings  
cargo operations:                     and departures) and 2015 (8-10 daily 
                                         landings and departures).            
                                                                              
                                         Cargo: Not available.                

Airfield design standards (runway and Airfield is ICAO Code E compliant.   
taxiway width and separations):                                            

Airport baggage claim, terminal       None. No concerns with seating and   
seating, and customs and immigration  customs, but baggage systems were    
spatial concerns:                     expanded.                            

Terminal gates A380-ready:            Two gates will be ready for the A380 
                                         in 2007 with two boarding bridges.   

Deviations from ICAO Code F           Noncompliant runways and taxiways    
standards:                            will be operated under waivers.      

Operating restrictions used for the   Use of one taxiway bridge may be     
A380:                                 limited.                             

Possible impact of A380 operations on All standard taxi routes are         
ground operations (special designated compliant with A380 operations.      
routing issues):                                                           

Potential effect of ground            ICAO separation standards could slow 
operational restrictions on capacity  landings and departures and reduce   
(airport assessment):                 the total number of flights during   
                                         peak hours.                          

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire      Capability meets ICAO ARFF           
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in terms  requirements for A380-sized          
of equipment, personnel, and          aircraft.                            
training):                                                                 

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Schiphol airport
           officials.

           London Heathrow International Airport is the world's busiest
           airport in terms of international flights. The airport is an
           important hub with the largest number of passengers of any
           European airport in 2005--almost 68 million--and handled about 1.4
           million tons of cargo. The airport has reached its capacity for
           flights but would like to increase passenger capacity to 90
           million by 2020 and 95 million by 2030. The first A380 flight will
           likely be Singapore Airlines in early 2008. Airport officials said
           they made significant investments of about $885 million in airport
           improvements to expand their capacity to receive more passengers.
           Most of the spending was used to build new terminals and gates to
           accommodate the A380, but also included widening and strengthening
           its two runway's shoulders and upgrading runway lighting, and
           improvements to existing terminals to provide A380 gates. The
           airport will use two 50-meter-wide, parallel runways that are not
           Code F compliant for width and will use a waiver approved by the
           United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority. The airport will have 12
           gates ready for the A380 by 2008, but Heathrow officials
           anticipate that they will need about 35 A380 gates by 2015. In
           addition, they eventually expect that one of every ten aircraft
           arriving and departing (130 arrivals and departures) will be an
           A380 by 2020. Table 14 provides A380-related issues at Heathrow
           airport.

           Table 14: London Heathrow International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service    February 2008                            
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and       Initially: Anticipates 16 per day.       
departures each day (initial year                                          
and 5th year of service):         5th year: Anticipates 30 per day.        

Carriers expected to bring A380   Singapore Airlines (2008), Emirates      
to airport (year of arrival):     (2008), Qantas Airlines (2008), United   
                                     Arab Emirates (2008), Malaysia           
                                     Airlines(2009) Thai Airways.             

Expected level of A380 passenger  Passenger: Not available.                
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                     Cargo: Not available.                    

Airfield design standards (runway Airfield is ICAO Code E compliant.       
and taxiway width and                                                      
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal   None. Terminal seating was expanded, and 
seating, and customs and          new baggage systems were installed to    
immigration spatial concerns:     accommodate new large aircraft           
                                     operations.                              

Terminal gates A380-ready:        12 A380 gates will be available in 2008  
                                     with one lower and one upper boarding    
                                     bridges.                                 

Deviations from ICAO Code F       Runway width and taxiway-to-object free  
standards:                        zone separations are noncompliant.       

Operating restrictions used for   A380 routes defined and runway holds     
the A380:                         reconfigured to provide ICAO Code F      
                                     compliant routes.                        

Possible impact of A380           No additional impact anticipated above   
operations on ground operations   what could be expected from existing     
(special designated routing       B747 traffic.                            
issues):                                                                   

Potential effect of ground        ICAO separation standards could slow     
operational restrictions on       landings and departures and reduce the   
capacity (airport assessment):    total number of flights during peak      
                                     hours.                                   

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire  Meets ICAO ARFF requirements for         
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in    A380-sized aircraft.                     
terms of equipment, personnel,                                             
and training):                                                             

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Heathrow airport
           officials.

           Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport handled about 53.7
           million passengers and over two million tons of cargo in 2005. The
           initial A380 flights from France to North America will be to the
           New York JFK and Montreal Trudeau airports beginning in 2009.
           United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and China Southern airlines could
           begin flights to Paris in 2008 and 2009, and will be an A380
           operating hub for KLM-Air France. Over $132 million has been
           invested for infrastructure upgrades to accommodate the A380, such
           as widening taxiway bridges to allow A380 access to all terminals.
           The investment also included widening and strengthening two
           runways at the airport and building a new satellite terminal
           complex specifically for A380s. The airport has four runways that
           will be used for A380 operations. Two of the runways are 60 meters
           wide and comply with ICAO Code F width, but their
           2,700-meter-lengths will likely be too short for departures. The
           two 4,200-meter-long, 45-meter-wide runways can be used for
           departures and landings but will have to be operated under waivers
           approved by the French Civil Aviation Authority. Nine gates will
           be ready for the A380 in 2008 and will be increased up to 30 by
           2018. Airport officials estimated that at least 10 percent of all
           passengers arriving at the airport will be aboard an A380 by 2020.
           Table 15 provides A380-related issues at Charles de Gaulle
           airport.

           Table 15: Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport
		   
Airport facilities                                                         

Expected start of A380 service     Summer 2008                             
(month/year):                                                              

Number of A380 landings and        Initially: Anticipates eight per day.   
departures each day (initial year                                          
and 5th year of service):          5th year: Not available.                

Carriers expected to bring A380 to Emirates (2008), Singapore Airlines     
airport (year of arrival):         (2009), China Southern (2009), Air      
                                      France (2009), Korean Air (2010), Thai  
                                      Airways (2010), Malaysian Airlines      
                                      (after 2010).                           

Expected level of A380 passenger   Passenger: Not available.               
and cargo operations:                                                      
                                      Cargo: Not available.                   

Airfield design standards (runway  Airfield is ICAO Code E compliant.      
and taxiway width and                                                      
separations):                                                              

Airport baggage claim, terminal    None. Passenger waiting rooms and       
seating, and customs and           baggage facilities will be crowded, but 
immigration spatial concerns:      sufficient.                             
Terminal gates A380-ready:         Nine gates will be ready for the A380   
                                      in 2008 with most having two boarding   
                                      bridges, but some will have three       
                                      boarding bridges.                       

Deviations from ICAO Code F        Runway and taxiway width, obstacle free 
standards:                         zones and stop-hold positions on        
                                      taxiways leading to runways are less    
                                      than ICAO standards.                    

Operating restrictions used for    The A380 will be restricted to using    
the A380:                          two taxiing routes from each terminal   
                                      to each runway.                         

Possible impact of A380 operations None.                                   
on ground operations (special                                              
designated routing issues):                                                

Potential effect of ground         ICAO separation standards could slow    
operational restrictions on        landings and departures and reduce the  
capacity (airport assessment):     total number of flights during peak     
                                      hours.                                  

Current Aircraft Rescue and Fire   Meets ICAO ARFF requirements for        
Fighting (ARFF) capability (in     A380-sized aircraft.                    
terms of equipment, personnel, and                                         
training):                                                                 

           Source: GAO analysis of information obtained from Charles de
           Gaulle airport officials.
		   
		   Appendix III: Comments by Airbus
		   
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(540129)

www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-483 .

To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.

For more information, contact Gerald L. Dillingham at (202) 512-2834 or
[email protected]

Highlights of [44]GAO-07-483 , a report to congressional requesters

April 2007

COMMERCIAL AVIATION

Potential Safety and Capacity Issues Associated with the Introduction of
the New A380 Aircraft

Airbus S.A.S. (Airbus), a European aircraft manufacturer, is introducing a
new aircraft designated as the A380, which is expected to enter service in
late 2007. The A380 will be the largest passenger aircraft in the world,
with a wingspan of about 262 feet, a tail fin reaching 80 feet high, and a
maximum takeoff weight of 1.2 million pounds. The A380 has a double deck
and could seat up to 853 passengers.

GAO was asked to examine the impact of the A380 on U.S. airports. In May
2006, GAO issued a report that estimated the costs of infrastructure
changes at U.S. airports to accommodate the A380. This report discusses
(1) the safety issues associated with introducing the A380 at U.S.
airports, (2) the potential impact of A380 operations on the capacity of
U.S. airports, and (3) how selected foreign airports are preparing to
accommodate the A380. To address these issues, GAO reviewed studies on
operational and safety issues related to the A380 and conducted site
visits to the 18 U.S. airports and 11 Asian, Canadian, and European
airports preparing to receive the A380.

GAO provided the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Airbus a copy
of the draft report for review. Both generally agreed with the report's
findings. FAA and Airbus also provided technical clarifications, which
were incorporated as appropriate.

The A380 will be the first of a new category of large passenger aircraft
introduced into the national airspace system in the coming years. The size
of the A380 poses some potential safety challenges for U.S. airports. As a
result, airports expecting A380 service may need to modify their
infrastructure or impose operating restrictions, such as restrictions on
runway use, on the A380 and other aircraft to ensure an acceptable level
of safety. In addition, increased separation between the A380 and other
aircraft during landing and departure is also required because research
data indicate that the air turbulence created by the A380's wake is
stronger than the largest aircraft in use today. The A380 also poses
challenges for fire and rescue officials due to its larger size, upper
deck, fuel capacity, and the number of passengers. FAA, Airbus, airports,
and other organizations have taken several steps to mitigate these safety
challenges. For example, the A380 is equipped with some safety
enhancements, such as materials designed to reduce flammability and an
external camera taxiing system to enhance pilot vision on the ground.

The impact of A380 operations on capacity is uncertain. The A380 was
designed, in part, to help alleviate capacity constraints faced by many
large airports in the United States and around the world by accommodating
more passengers and freight on each flight than any aircraft currently in
use. However, potential operating restrictions and the increased
separation requirements imposed to ensure the safety of the A380 and other
aircraft at airports and during flight could reduce the number of flights
that airports can accommodate. The extent to which possible operating
restrictions, increased separation, and gate utilization impact capacity
would depend on the time of day, the number of A380 operations, and the
volume of overall airport traffic.

Selected foreign airports that GAO visited have taken different approaches
than U.S. airports in preparing for the introduction of the A380. These
differences reflect the expected level of A380 traffic at the
airports--and in some cases, the anticipated economic benefits of the A380
flights. The different approaches include adopting alternative airport
design standards, making significant investment in existing
infrastructure, and designing airports that allow for new large aircraft.
By implementing these approaches, officials from the foreign airports that
GAO visited do not anticipate that the introduction of the A380 will
result in delays or disruptions at their airports, despite higher levels
of expected A380 traffic compared to most U.S. airports.

Inaugural Airbus A380 Visit to Singapore Changi Airport

References

Visible links
  30. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-571
  31. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-915T
  32. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-571
  41. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-571
  42. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-06-571
  44. http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-07-483
*** End of document. ***