Major Airlines Operating A380 “Ghost Flights”

Major Airlines Operating A380 "Ghost Flights"

The COVID-19 pandemic has grounded vast numbers of aircraft worldwide, most significantly – the A380. At a time when almost all of these aircraft are grounded, many have been surprised to see A380’s appearing in the skies of Asia and the Middle East.

Etihad Airways

In order to keep both their pilots and planes at an operational status, Etihad Airways has kept all their A380’s flying. Throughout June and July, all 10 of the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s A380’s have flown for at least 20-30 minutes.

Registration Flight Time Date Takeoff Time Landing Time
A6-APA 0:27 15th June 10:45 local 11:12
A6-APB 0:21 16th June 11:44 12:05
A6-APC 0:26 17th June 11:50 12:15
A6-APD 0:29 18th June 11:35 12:04
A6-APE 0:21 12th June 15:44 16:04
A6-APF 0:30 13th June 16:24 16:54
A6-APG 0:18 12th June 17:54 18:12
A6-APH 0:39 6th July 09:22 10:00
A6-API 0:21 19th June 11:25 11:46
A6-APJ 0:31 14th June 11:11 11:42
Source: FlightRadar24 Data

Prior to these “Ghost Flights,” Etihad’s A380s (except A6-APH) had not flown since between 18th-25th March; coinciding with Etihad grounding all of their A380’s from regular service.

A6-APE operating flight EY9101 on 12th June

Asiana Airlines

Seoul-based Asiana Airlines has also been operating Airbus A380 “Ghost Flights”. In a similar fashion to Etihad, Asiana has taken 4/6 of their A380’s for 20-30 minute single circuits around Seoul Incheon Airport.

Additionally, HL7625 flew 26 flights around Incheon airport to ensure all A380 pilots had time at the controls. Like the other A380’s, Asiana have used this aircraft to complete single circuits between 6th-8th May.

Asiana A380 Ghost Flight
Example of a standard single circuit, completed by HL7634 in 21 minutes

Speaking to Bloomberg, an Asiana spokesperson said these flights were a necessity. The closest alternative for their Seoul-based A380 pilots is a trip to Thailand, where fellow Star Alliance member Thai Airways has a full-sized simulator. By the end of this program most of Asiana’s A380 pilots had flown the A380 at least once, but a further 135 pilots missed out.

See also  DSMC does not disclose customer data to the US Government
Registration Flight Time Date Takeoff Time Landing Time
HL7634 0:21 29th June 9:14 local 9:36
HL7635 0:34 10th June 11:41 12:15
HL7640 0:32 10th June 09:49 10:21
HL7641 0:22 8th June 09:31 09:53
Note: HL7625 has not been included, as it has completed numerous flights already outlined
Asiana Airlines Airbus A380

All pilots had their licenses extended by the Korean Office of Civil Aviation, regardless if they flew or not. The same privilege was also granted to ANA A380 pilots by the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau.

Asiana A380 Ghost Flight
A longer training flight, completed by HL7640 in 32 minutes

“Ghost Flights”

As airlines eagerly anticipate the return to regular service, for some it is absolutely necessary to keep their A380’s actively operating. Whilst some major carriers, such as Qantas and Lufthansa, are mothballing their A380’s for years to come, others are keeping these aircraft fit to fly.

By operating these short flights, A380 pilots can maintain appropriate operational proficiency and not risk losing certification. From a maintenance point of view, flying the aircraft ensures that operational defects are detected and prevents wear-and-tear from storage.

Article Sources: Flightradar24 and Bloomberg

You May Also Like

About the Author: Sarah Gracie

"Reader. Hardcore music fanatic. Hipster-friendly writer. Explorer. Tv practitioner."

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.