History was made last October 11 and 12 when the World's Largest Passenger Aircraft, the Airbus A380 MSN009, first landed on Philippine soil. On October 11, the aircraft touched down at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) at about 2:45 pm and remained there overnight to be serviced by airport personnel.
I went to Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), also known as Clark Airport, to see up close the most sophisticated commercial airliner today. The aircraft was expected to touchdown at 11:40 am. Hundreds of airplane spotters, aviation enthusiasts and ordinary people lined-up the field of the Clark International Airport Corp. (CIAC) headquarters to wait for the arrival of the A380 which will be parked at Bay 9 in fornt of CIAC. At about 11:50 am people shouted that they can already see the aircraft coming. The atmosphere at that time is like watching an airshow as 6 Philippine Air Force fighter planes patrolled the skies and somewhat escorted the flying giant.
The A380 seemed that she will land but just passed the length of the runway with just a hundred feet vertical clearance and treated the eager crowd to acrobatic maneuvers with left and right banks at full throttle. The wait under the heat of the midday sun proved to be worthwhile as spectators were amazed how a "giant" white metal glides through the air. The A380 made a right turn and came back to line up with the runway of DMIA. The two parallel runways at Clark (3,200 meters) is shorter than the main runway of NAIA (3,737 meters) or any other international airport runways in the region but it proved that the aircraft is suitable for Clark as it only used less than 3/4 of the entire length of the runway. Airbus Industrie claims that the A380 is suitable in any runway that currently services the Boeing 747 aircraft.
The A380 has a moniker of "gentle green giant" as it is quieter, economical for operators and more environment-friendly than its main rival the Boeing 747.
The purpose of the visit of the A380 is to conduct tests on airfield maneuvering, docking, ground handling services and fueling to determine its compatibility with various airports around the world.
I don't know when will the A380 will land again here in the Philippines. As of this day no Philippines-based carrier placed an order for the A380 and if ever other legacy carriers will use it in their Manila route our airports still needs some upgrading to accommodate the A380. The launch customer of the giant aircraft is Singapore Airlines which is due for delivery on October 22, 2007.