Patrick Smith ("Ask the Pilot") weighs in on Tuesday's A380-v.-Commuter Jet altercation at JFK:
The Airbus A380 is the largest commercial aircraft ever built (and the ugliest too, but that's another story). From the start, concerns over the plane's size have been about apron and taxiway space, not runway space. It requires no more runway for takeoff or landing than most other widebody jets, but presents serious challenges when it comes to maneuvering around terminals and along congested taxiways. It is only marginally longer or taller than the Boeing 747, but its wingspan is more than 60 feet wider. Many taxiways are off-limits, and A380 pilots need to be extra vigilant when operating at busy airports. The same goes for ATC ground controllers. With relatively few A380s in service, controllers are still getting familiar with their requirements.
Was the Air France crew on the correct assigned taxiway? Had they obeyed any requisite "hold short" instructions? Was the Comair plane stopped where it was supposed to be stopped? Did the controllers miss something?
One or more of those things is possible. But looking again at that video ... Regardless of who or what is to blame, perhaps the most important take-away is that old, in-one-ear-and-out-the-other dictum from the flight attendants: PLEASE REMAIN SEATED WITH YOUR SEAT BELT SECURELY FASTENED UNTIL THE SEAT BELT SIGN HAS BEEN TURNED OFF.
As an aside, I have a little dream, that someday, more nervous fliers will read Patrick Smith, and more nervous computer users will read Bruce Schneier. I think we'd have less panic in the US if that happened.