The British Airways Airbus A380 – Inside The Cockpit

Simple Flying has been working with British Airways to provide readers with exclusive behind the scenes access to the airline. Today we take a final look around the British Airways Airbus A380 registered as G-XLED. In case you haven’t read them yet, here is a link to Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part article.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
British Airways has 12 Airbus A380 aircraft. We got to look around G-XLED (not pictured). Photo: British Airways

Back downstairs

At the front of the cabin is a staircase leading down to the main deck at the front door. We descended this and headed into the cockpit. The Airbus A380’s cockpit is a very private space for pilots. Locked off from the rest of the cabin, they have their own toilet, as well as two private rooms containing beds and armchairs.

Passing these rooms, we got the chance to sit down in the surprisingly cozy cockpit. Heeran takes the time to give me a quick tour around the cockpit, mindful that engineers are working around me. The main difference between the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 simulator I had flown earlier in the day, is the control input. While the Boeing aircraft had a traditional yoke, the A380 has a sidestick.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
The Airbus A380’s cockpit is on a middle level between the main and upper deck. Photo: British Airways

The aircraft also has a number of different screens. In fact, I’m straight back into the engineering aspect of things when we take a look at the digital circuit breaker system. The aircraft has a number of traditional circuit breakers hidden away outside the main cabin. However, it also has a digital system for circuit breakers.

How the circuit breakers work

Say that somebody needs to work on the aileron and doesn’t want it to move in the process. They can pull the circuit breaker and tag it with their name. Every user will see that it has been tagged, and it stays put until it is removed by the person who set it.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
The electrical circuit breakers in the Airbus A380 are controlled using the cockpit’s computer system. Photo: British Airways

However, multiple people can tag the same item. That way, if one person removes their tag, the breaker remains pulled until work is complete. It also gives a complete overview of any tags that are still pulled when maintenance should be completed.

The other thing that strikes me in the cockpit is how many levers and switches are covered. This is to stop anything major from being accidentally triggered. It is much harder to claim that you accidentally raised the gear, for instance, if there is a multiple-step cage covering the lever.

Back into First

Our time with the Airbus A380 is now coming to a close leaving just enough time to explore the First cabin. Phil explains to me that on the Airbus A380, the cabin is slightly modified to take advantage of the additional width. While somebody takes apart a seat next to me, I settle into seat 4A for what may be my only experience of the current British Airways first-class seat.

British Airways, Airbus A380, Cockpit
Last but not least I finally got to experience First class, which takes full advantage of the A380’s wide main deck. Photo: British Airways

While I am relaxing, Phil explains the rest of the Britsh Airways maintenance program to me. The airline uses a couple of bases away from Heathrow for more in-depth maintenance. The main one is in Cardiff, which deals with heavy-duty jobs such as replacing the Boeing 777 cabin.

As a closing thought, he mentions that he is proud of how his team is responsible for more than just maintenance. He shares that his input was even sought on how the current cabin should be designed. After all, as the Engineering Head of Quality and Technical, he knows BA’s aircraft inside out!

Have you been fortunate enough to fly onboard British Airways’ Airbus A380? Let us know how you found it in the comments!

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