Super Arrival: Emirates brings first scheduled A380 to Boston

As Emirates flight 237 approached Logan on the afternoon of January 26, 2017, it was evident that there was something different about this particular sector. In fact, it was an arrival that had air traffic controllers correcting themselves.

“Emirates 237 heavy…erm, correction, Emirates 237 super,” said the voice from Boston Approach after the Airbus A380 from Dubai made initial contact with the controller. A few minutes later, a Boston Tower controller had a similar exchange with the crew of the plane, which will return to DXB tonight as EK238.

These verbal stumbles were understandable. After all, Boston Logan has seen plenty of regularly-scheduled “heavy” arrivals and departures – a designation which is normally assigned to wide body aircraft like the Boeing 747 – over the years. However, this was the first time that the “super” designation, used by ATC for the very largest aircraft, had been used by a scheduled BOS arrival. And while the A380 operating in the place of the 777-300ER that normally operates this on this route is a one-off that was likely done to ensure that the recent upgrades to Logan’s Terminal E are A380-compatible, it was nevertheless an exciting event.

Fortunate Spotters Capture the Event

This wasn’t a significant media event by any means, but a number of fortunate spotters snapped pictures of the A380. The landing on Runway 22L was even caught on video by Instagram user nesam_sherovala, which allowed those of us who weren’t able to see the big bird touch down (such as myself) to enjoy the event virtually.

What it Means

I’ve said many times that I’ll always prefer the 747-400 to the A380, and today doesn’t change that. That said, this momentous arrival is exciting for the Boston aviation community, and – with British Airways scheduled to start flying the A380 on its BOS-LHR route alongside 747-400s, 777s, and 787-900s – signals the beginning of a new era at Logan.

A Super Visit: Emirates to fly single scheduled A380 to Boston in January

While British Airways is slated to be the first carrier to regularly fly the “Superjumbo” Airbus A380 to Boston, Emirates has beaten them to the punch in one respect. The Gulf carrier will have the maiden A380 flight scheduled to land at Logan.

According to Routesonline, the Gulf carrier plans to send an A380 from Dubai to Boston on January 26, 2017. This replaces the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) on EK237 and EK238.

Background

It’s worth noting that Emirates flew a similar one-off A380 flight to Chicago – a city that, like Boston, sees regularly-scheduled 77W service – during the summer of 2016. Given that the A380 usually necessitates airports to upgrade their infrastructure, the Chicago flight was mostly to check the infrastructure’s compatibility.

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The itinerary for the Emirates A380’s scheduled arrival (top) and departure (bottom).

While it’s quite possible that this Boston flight is similar in nature, it’s also possible that there’s more than meets the eye.

Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380. The carrier sends its A380s to an extensive number of destinations, including Manchester (UK), Copenhagen, and Toronto. And though each of those places have a number of international flights, they do not have any other regularly-scheduled A380s. With that in mind, it’s safe to say that Emirates doesn’t vet its A380 routes like others. Perhaps this is because it has dozens of the type, while other carriers generally have a dozen or so.

Power Motivation?

Considering Emirates’ pride in its A380 fleet, it’s quite possible that it’s simply pulling a power move. The carrier’s load factors to Boston haven’t suggested it’d be prudent to replace a 77W with an A380. However, as the world’s largest A380 operator, the motivation is understandable.

Regardless of the rationale behind this flight, it will certainly be interesting to see a scheduled superjumbo arrive at Logan for the first time next month. And – assuming BA’s scheduled launch goes as planned – it will be the first of many.