Thursday, March 30, 2006

But Will The Double-Decker Airbus Driver Make Change?

When I first heard about the introduction of a 900-passenger airliner I thought: If it crashes it will kill three times as many people as a normal plane would.

Two issues come to mind about the new double-decker Airbus A380: Safety, and getting on the damned thing.

The plane was just tested for emergency evacuation with volunteers, and emptied out in 80 seconds with a few injuries. Impressive.

But during a recent flight (on a much smaller plane) I considered the realities of a true air emergency. The flight attendants tell us to follow the aisle, which will be illuminated by tiny Christmas lights in an emergency, to the nearest exit.

Aisles on planes are tiny. If the flight attendants start serving a meal while you’re in the toilet, you’re screwed; you have to wait until the cart passes before you can get back to your seat.

I realized that it takes a hell of a long time to get off a plane even under the best of circumstances. In the dark, afraid for your life, and possibly with bodies and wreckage blocking your way, that narrow aisle will be slow-going.

So, consider that, then multiply those conditions by at least three for the Airbus A380. (No, my math equation isn’t scientific.)

I’m not trying to scare anyone, I’m just putting this new giant airborne tube in perspective.

As for boarding, you already have to arrive at the airport hours before a flight; how much earlier will you have to arrive to get on this flying colossus?

For security purposes, boarding of commercial planes typically takes place through a single door. How long will it take to board an A380? Will unaccompanied children and people with special needs have to board a day early?

And when you arrive at your destination, how long will it take to deplane?

I know, I offer a lot of questions but few answers. One solution would be to have multiple boarding gates with beefed-up security, but the physical layout of some terminals may not allow for this. And retrofitting is expensive.

As for safety, I have scant few suggestions. Ships have little boats on them for use in case of an emergency - why can’t big planes have little planes? Yeah, that’s stupid.

Or, as someone once suggested, why not make the entire plane out of the same material as the black box?

I do wish the best for this new aircraft and her passengers. And hey, the chances of hearing, “Sorry, this flight is booked,” are practically nil.


Bird said...

thank goodness i have my own wings.


Pete Bogs said...

amen to that... just don't get sucked up into one of the A380's four massive engines!

Jack K. said...

You haven't figured it out yet? This is a subversive attempt at population control. lol

I just don't want to believe that people will actually pay to fly on the damned thing. I will be careful to insure that I do not. There, that will show them.

Thanks for the info.

btw, bird, I used to work on a flight line with fighter jets. Those engine can sure as hell ruin your day if they suck you in. Please be careful. I would miss you terribly.

liberalbanana said...

Flying is annoying as hell the way it is now - I can't imagine having to be with 3 times as many people who are potentially sick/have crying children/stink as there already are on regular planes.

I think you're onto something with the small plane+big plane thing! But...who gets the priveledge of getting a seat on the little one in case of emergency? :-)

Pete Bogs said...

libana - women and children first, I guess... ;-)

Zya said...

I missed your post on the Pizza world Pete... and woe is it to be me on that one ;) I enjoyed reading it and now... I have to go back and read what I missed this month with all my travelling!

This airbus is scary... I'd pay a lot more for a SMALLER plane with *less* people that was guaranteed to be safer than I would to ride in the big thing. I wonder if they will make the flights cheaper to ride on the A380's? Or will they be more expensive for the privilege of being jammed in with more people? Hmm...

Pete Bogs said...

zya - perhaps there will be a bulk discount?

Zya said...

*token groan* :)

ffff said...

How did I miss this post?
Great info. I am not a flyer only because in Australia it is so bloody expensive to fly interstate and intrastate. Apparently it is cheaper to fly to New Zealand and sometimes London than to fly from Sydney to Perth. Ridiculous... and now Qantas is going off-shore with its maintainence crews. It was the safest airline in the world.. watch what happens.

Pete Bogs said...

ali - by coincidence, Qantas actually has the first orders of the A380 from Airbus... I think it's in one of the links I posted...

you missed this one maybe because I did two posts Thursday; this was first, but the Jill Carroll story couldn't wait...