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Increased Lateral Separation Urged as A380’s Wake Flips Challenger 604

March 21, 2017 - Aviation

One of the earliest things I learned from a pilot I flew with (not my instructor when I was training),) was if it felt necessary delay my take off or extend my approach if a big jet was around because of this very thing. In the days I was flying out of Prestwick this was very important.

Calls for increased lateral separation between Airbus A380s and smaller aircraft grew louder after the behemoth airliner flipped a Challenger 604 like a toy in the skies over the Arabian Sea, severely damaging the business jet and injuring a number of passengers.

According to Flight Service Bureau, the international flight-planning organization, the Challenger encountered severe wake turbulence at about noon local time on January 7 while cruising at FL340 as the A380 passed 1,000 feet above it and slightly off track. One to two minutes later, the business jet rolled uncontrollably at least three times, causing serious injuries to some of the nine people on board.

The Challenger reportedly lost 10,000 feet of altitude before the crew recovered. They decided to briefly shut down one engine due to excessive inter turbine temperature readings before diverting to Muscat, Oman. G-force damage to the airplane caused by the upset led to a total write off, the flight planning organization reported.

Due to the severity of the upset, the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation, which is leading the investigation, has officially classified it as an accident.

Flight Services Bureau this week issued an operational bulletin highlighting the importance of following standard lateral offset procedures of at least 1 to 2 nm when a smaller airplane is flying near at A380 at high altitude.

The European Aviation Safety Agency is expected to release a safety information bulletin soon with further guidance for controllers and pilots.

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