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O.R. Tambo International Airport ready for the A380
Wednesday, November 22, 2006 | 00:00

The Airbus Industry is planning to bring the aircraft to our shores as part of a route proving flight to ORTIA. The trip will also include the testing of associated airport infrastructure and ground handling services that have specifically been catered for by ORTIA, one of a handful of airports in the world that will be able to accommodate the A380.

According to ORTIA’s General Manager, Chris Hlekane, “This special flight will be an opportunity for ACSA to showcase its standing as one of the top airport management company’s in the world. Further, this momentous and historic landing will certainly mark O.R. Tambo International as being ready to receive the world’s largest commercial aircraft.”

In preparation for the landing, a comprehensive task team consisting of airport operations personnel and airport planners have been assigned to inspect the runways, taxiways and aprons to ensure that the entire process of welcoming the A380 is smooth and that ORTIA is indeed ready for the aircraft’s landing.

Hlekane comments, “We have invested R100 million in our runways and taxiways,  making our runway 60 metres wide with 7meter paved shoulders on either side of the runway. Our taxiways are 30 meters wide and include a strengthened bridge on the taxiway Hotel. Meeting these requirements form a large part of the bigger plan making ORTIA an A380 compliant airport facility.”

The bulk of the tests at ORTIA will focus on the aircraft’s avionics and the instrument landing system. These will begin once the aircraft is parked at the airport’s new Echo Apron. The Echo Apron Development Project entails the construction of aircraft stands and associated infrastructure in the area between existing apron areas. In detail, the apron consists of nine contact aircraft stands, four of which have been built to accommodate an A380 aircraft. In addition, there are three remote aircraft stands, two of which will be able to accommodate an additional A380 aircraft.

The aircraft is scheduled to park on a contact stand in order for us to test the air bridge operations both to the upper and main deck. The A380, Hlekane explains, “will be positioned on Echo 3, which will be fully operational with the air bridge having been tested and cleared for operations before the arrival of the aircraft.”

Following these and various other tests on ORTIA’s airside, the A380 is scheduled to go to SAA Technical where the Minister of Transport, Jeff Radebe along with ACSA’s CEO Monhla Hlahla is expected to be on hand to welcome the A380 crew and aircraft to South African Soil.

The aircraft is scheduled to fly in directly from Toulouse and will depart for Sydney, Australia at 10am on Monday, 27 November 2006.

Members of the public wanting to catch a glimpse of the aircraft are advised to go to the Bonaero 74 Soccer Faciltiy which can be accessed from Bonaero Drive. The informal tennis facilities have been made available for public use. 

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