The Emirates A380 and Jetman Dubai take to the skies of Dubai for an unprecedented formation flight
The Emirates A380 and the Jetman Dubai duo recently took to the skies of Dubai for an extraordinary formation flight which showcased just how far aviation has come. The formations were conducted over the Palm Jumeirah and Dubai skyline with Burj Khalifa in the background. See the stunning footage here.
While the formation flight looked effortless on film, painstaking planning and meticulous collaboration with an intense focus on safety drove all efforts.
The carefully choreographed aerial showcase involved the world’s largest passenger aircraft flying at 4,000 feet in two holding patterns. The A380 aircraft was then joined by the Jetmen Dubai duo, experienced pilots and operators of the smallest jet propelled wing, who were deployed from a helicopter that hovered above the aircraft at 5,500 feet. The duo conducted formations on both sides of the aircraft and joined to one side thereafter before breaking away.
Adel Al Redha, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer for Emirates said: “This display between man and machine celebrates the magic and beauty of flight, a feat which just over a hundred years ago would have seemed an impossible dream. It also showcases how far human vision and ambition has, and can continue to push aviation’s boundaries. A spectacular formation flight like this is unprecedented, but as with all of Emirates’ operations, every aspect was painstakingly evaluated and practiced in our simulators to address all possible contingencies. Over the last three months, Emirates and the Jetman teams worked closely to diligently plan and coordinate every detail of this project, with safety at the forefront of every decision taken. Thorough stakeholder collaboration was also key and regulators from the General Civil Aviation Authority of the UAE, Dubai Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Air Traffic Control (ATC), SkyDive Dubai and Aerovision, as well as numerous departments at Emirates were actively involved in the planning and execution of the flight formations to make this project a success. In this regard we would like to thank the entire team involved in the preparation and successful execution of this unique experience.”
Ismaeil Al Hashmi, Managing Director of Jetman Dubai said: “This demonstration of winged innovation is a perfect celebration of the values and intentions that both Jetman Dubai and Emirates share: striving for excellence and shaping perceptions. Dubai, a city that’s constantly breaking boundaries and creating history, is the ideal host for this exceptional Jetman formation flight, which once again pushes the frontiers of aviation.”
Michael Rudolph, Head of Aviation Regulations & Safety at the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority said: “From a DCAA Safety Oversight perspective, this event raised a number of challenges, as this was the very first time two humans, would fly in close formation to the largest passenger aircraft in the world. To this, a number of risk assessments where undertaken and workshopped to ensure the event would go ahead without incident. Further it was imperative to lesson, if any, the impact to commercial traffic approaching and departing from Dubai International Airport. Overall, this was achieved and even with slight schedule changes, the event went off without delay any safety concerns to any party associated to the project. DCAA is proud to be a part of aviation history.”
Yves Rossy from Jetman Dubai said: “I come from a background of piloting commercial aircraft and it was always a dream to fly without the constraints of being inside a cockpit. Vince and I are thrilled to partner with Emirates and would like to thank them for helping us turn yet another dream into reality. It was absolutely surreal flying alongside the biggest aircraft there is and we felt like mosquitos beside a gigantic eagle.”
Vince Reffet, Jetman Junior said: “This is yet another historic flight for the Jetman Dubai team and we are so happy and thankful to be part of something this incredible. We spent a long time preparing, going over every tiny detail in the quest for perfecting our first formation flight with the Emirates A380 aircraft. It is incredibly humbling to be a part of what is such a significant achievement for Dubai and the Jetman team.”
During the formation flight, the Emirates A380 flew at a weight of just 350 tonnes (the maximum weight of an A380 is 575 tonnes). As the largest passenger aircraft in the world, wake turbulence was the most significant risk to Jetman during the flight.
To mitigate the risk, the duo’s formation positions were carefully selected to avoid the areas of wake turbulence and jet efflux from the Emirates A380. During the planning stages, Emirates ensured the Jetman duo had proper visual reference points of the A380 so that both Jetmen could safely join and hold their choreographed positions. The Jetman team’s reference points were confirmed with flight simulation along with using visual orientations using actual A380 aircraft at the Emirates Engineering Centre. These helped to confirm that the proposed formations would work seamlessly from the first flight.
A practice flight was done on 12 October 2015 to ensure that the formation positions worked, and the final formation flight and filming were conducted on 13 October 2015.
To ensure precision of the Emirates and Jetman Dubai display, the Emirates pilots, Flight Operation managers, and Air Traffic Controllers worked together to discuss the smallest details of the mission at hand, taking into account air traffic, areas over flown, potential wind and weather. The Emirates A380 flew at a conservative altitude of 4,000 feet above sea level in two holding patterns that were away from the arrival and departure traffic flows of both Dubai airports (DXB and DWC). The Jetman Dubai duo launched from a helicopter well above the A380’s flying altitude and all activity was protected within a Temporary Restricted Area controlled by Dubai ATC.
Emirates is the largest operator of the A380 double-decker aircraft with 68 in its fleet and a further 72 on order. The A380 is Emirates’ flagship aircraft and has been setting benchmarks in the industry for its operational efficiencies, state of the art technological advancements and reduced noise and environmental footprint. The aircraft continues to be extremely popular with Emirates passengers with strong customer interest and demand wherever it is deployed. The Emirates A380 currently flies to 34 destinations from Dubai.