Review by Marlon Carter
Air France A380
Although the A380 has been in service for a few years now, it is still a rare occasion to see or to fly onboard this aircraft. Air France has been operating the A380 for just over 4 years now and in this unique video program, viewers will be given the best seat in the house onboard the A380 from Paris to Tokyo. This cockpit program provides a rare (and perhaps the only) opportunity to experience the A380 in significant detail.
To begin our 11 hour journey to Tokyo, we join the Captain/Fleet Manager as he checks in for the flight. In preparation for our departure, he makes his way to the crew room where he logs onto the Air France Praslin program to review the relevant information about our flight.
After this review, we join the rest of our crew where the dispatch release is reviewed by all 3 pilots. Making our way to the aircraft, the First Officer takes the viewers on an external walk around of the A380. The walk around was very extensive and it afforded the opportunity to see just how massive this aircraft truly is. Some of the intriguing facts you will discover about the A380 is that the size of the Elevators are approximately the size of the wings you would normally see on the A320!
As the walk around comes to an end, it is quite clear why this aircraft can easily draw attention to itself due to its size and complexity.
After all cockpit preparations and briefings have been completed, we taxi to runway 9R using only 2 of 4 engines. During this time, the viewers will be able to see the tail and nose gear cameras in action as the Captain maneuvers the A380 through the maze of taxiways from our gate to our departure runway. While the takeoff was uneventful, it offered fantastic views of the cockpit and terrain below.
During the cruise portion of our flight, there were many opportunities to learn about the A380 and procedures associated with long haul flights. Some of the highlights I enjoyed the most were the presentations on the performance checks which were done to ensure that all of the systems of the aircraft were operating correctly. This soon led to a full review of each system of the aircraft on the System Display which was quite intriguing.
As an example of some of the interesting things you will learn about the A380, the fuel system allows you to transfer fuel from the elevators to other parts of the aircraft to ensure that an AFT center of gravity is maintained for proper fuel consumption and performance.
Other highlights were presentations that focused on the Exterior Cameras, Side Screens (used for Documents and Data-link), Overhead panel, Heads up Guidance System and my personal favorite, the Multi-Function Display used for the FMS. All of these presentations were by no means a general overview, each aspect of the A380 was covered very thoroughly and the Captain also demonstrates how many of these systems function and how they are programmed!
After the first round of presentations was completed, the Captain takes his required rest while the A380 makes its way to Tokyo. After a beautiful morning sunrise from the cockpit, the crew makes their final preparations for landing at Narita. The approach and landing was uneventful but it did give us many camera perspectives of the approach and this added to the overall experience.
While at Narita, we take a short break before embarking on our return trip to Paris. During this “intermission” we enjoy a few minutes of A380 action at Narita that captures the Air France A380 departing and landing.
In the segment that follows, we rejoin the flight crew as they make their final preparations for departure back to Paris. As with our previous departure from Paris, the take-off was smooth and uneventful but nonetheless, there were many highlights worth mentioning during our return flight. For example, during the cruise phase of our flight the cockpit presentations continue with a closer look at the FMS and how information is entered into the system.
In addition to presentations on the aircraft, there were also presentations that focused on the flight crew themselves. One of the presentations focused on our captain and his career at Air France which was quite remarkable to say the least. In addition to outlining his career, the captain also discusses the rigorous training that is involved with learning to fly the A380. Another interesting presentation focused on the Purser and her role onboard the aircraft. In addition to her role, you will also learn about the training and requirements that are necessary in order to qualify for the position.
After all of these presentations were completed, it was very difficult to believe that some 11 hours has past and it was now time for our landing in Paris. The landing by the First Officer was spot on and the replays offered interesting views of the approach. After a few parting words, the Captain bids the viewers farewell thus ending this 5 hour program.
By far, this one of the best offerings from Just Planes and I can hardly think of anyone who would not enjoy this program. It is the most in-depth look at the A380 in an airline environment to date and it is a program not to be missed!
With 7 cameras, replays, scenic views and numerous presentations, this program will easily make its way the top of your list of all-time favorite aviation video documentaries. Thank you Just Planes for 5 hours of nonstop entertainment and an even bigger thanks to Air France for opening their doors to aviation enthusiast around the world to admire the first class service you provide!