Nearly 40 years after the first jumbo jet landed at the Airport on 9 February 1970, Geneva International Airport (GVA) is preparing for Thursday, 21 January 2010, when it will host the first special flight of an Airbus A380 making a one-off flight between Zurich and Geneva.
The aircraft will land at around 11:00 and take off at about 15:45. This very wide-body long-haul plane, a four-engine double-decker civil airliner, is currently the largest passenger-carrying aircraft in the world: it can carry more than 800 passengers.
The visit by this giant aircraft was approved by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA). The runway at Geneva International Airport, which is 3,900 meters long and 50 meters wide, in fact meets the aircraft manufacturer’s requirements and ICAO standards.
This exceptional first flight will make it possible to check and confirm all the measurements and examinations carried out previously. Geneva will then officially be able to accept an A380 in an emergency, thus improving the safety of aviation in the skies over Europe.
This milestone is a first step towards a future certification of Geneva International Airport (GVA) as a diversion airport for the A380. Once GVA has obtained that certification, it can then respond to requests from airlines operating such planes to neighbouring airports to divert to Geneva if there are problems at any of the airports at which they should have landed originally.
Similarly, FOCA could decide on a case-by-case basis to grant Geneva International Airport the right to host other A380s from time to time: some of GVA’s private clients, who are already accustomed to visiting the airport in wide-body planes, are in fact reported to have ordered a A380 - the latest member of the Airbus family - and could therefore ask to have it land in Geneva every now and then.
However, these prospects are still subject to a series of assessments carried out by the Confederation’s ad hoc services.
The visit by the A380, on Thursday, 21 January 2010, will above all allow aviation experts to present the environmental characteristics of this new generation of wide-body aircraft, which are reputed to be cleaner, less noisy and more fuel-efficient than their predecessors.
The event, organized jointly by Geneva International Airport, Airbus and the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG), fits in with the desire of the Geneva Airport authorities to contribute to aviation safety and the promotion of responsible environmental policies at airports.