This week saw an interesting reversal by the FAA.  Take a look at this story by the WSJ.  Within a week the FAA went from posting new rules about wake turbulence on the 787 and 747-8 to removing them because they were “premature”. Well, that’s interesting.

The issue of wake turbulence was a big story when the A380 first started flying.  In useful TV view, Discovery Channel offered this quick education.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__pyxPb6gMc&fs=1&hl=en_US]

Note the end of the video states the wingtip “fences” should solve the problem. Airbus managed to solve the problems.  Eurocontrol has a link worth reading on the matter here.

Boeing’s 787 and 747-8 do not have or “fences”.  Their wings end in graceful sweeps.  One can be certain that Boeing undertook every kind of test – particularly with the 747.

As pointed by the WSJ, stretching out spacing to reduce wake turbulence can cause havoc at airports – potentially slowing down operations.  At a slot airport like London’s Heathrow where many of the world’s A380s and 747s fly, slowing down operations will have serious consequences.  Efficient airports operations means getting traffic to flow quickly – slowing down things is just not on.

As one reads more about the FAA order one has to wonder how these errors crept in? To say it is an odd story is the understatement of the week.

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