My latest adventure on the expert server with the flagship Emirates A380-800 took us from Dubai to Los Angeles on Emirates flight EK215. Time of day varied on some of them and they were taken in order as the flight progressed - 1 is takeoff and 10 landing.
Actual operating times on this flight, looking at FR24 and other historical data are between 15-16.5 hours (depending on route and conditions) and this journey was 16 hours and 19 minutes. Runways departing facing out from Dubai in the direction of route were all red and out of service due to weather conditions so I had to take off in the opposite direction and bring the plane round whilst laden with fuel.
Honestly and openly it took me 3 departure attempts to get this thing up and running properly, even though I normally mostly fly the longer haul 12hr + flights and have used the A380 so many times, but not for such a long haul as this. The first couple of attempts weren’t smooth enough and it was a very windy day with jittering and too much hammering of the throttle at that pitch and speed (especially after engaging NAV) but the third attempt was the keeper - learning from the first 2, in this case with the weight, winds and conditions speed was kept about 190 kts just after takeoff and I brought the plane round manually initially before hitting the NAV at about 3,500 feet. It was a smoother departure albeit very windy.
The interesting thing was that observing the set NAV route before departure on the first 2 attempts, we seemed to be heading on some magical mystery tour in an odd almost dog leg style route which would see us turning onto a completely different heading over India, and then flying on before taking another turn and then another before heading towards the Canada and the U.S. On the third and actual flight we went “as the crow flies” directly from Dubai over land and sea to Los Angeles. I was a bit confused as to what this is all about but a bit of research reveals that Emirates do indeed take this odd route depending on the wind and flying conditions in order to save fuel or be more fuel efficient and to basically go with the flow of the earth, conditions dependant. I think it’s pretty clever that this was picked up by the NAV system and can only think that an hour later on the third attempt conditions had changed again.
This is the longest haul A380 flight I’ve done so far and it definitely shows it’s age compared to the newer Dreamliner. It feels like the slightly aged bird that it actually is compared the 787 family which just take us automatically from London to Perth and back. I’m a big advocator of manual handling and grabbing the controls instead of just letting the autopilot do everything from the start. That’s why I do love the A380 on here as it’s becoming a bit dated compared to the likes of the 787 (as it is in real life) and lamentably it’s future which is now heavily in question will see the progressive end of this great aircraft in the real world.
In this case, it was well geared for the job. We had a mixture of nationalities on this flight today, amoung which were mostly American and Canadians returning home from their travels from the middle east and some Dubai nationals on business in America and this plane accommodated them all very well.