By Declan Finucane | Published October 26, 2021
An Emirates Airbus A380 like this one recently had trouble finding parking at Pearson Airport.
People driving to Pearson Airport in Mississauga—and other airports for that matter—can often be heard complaining about lack of parking, expensive parking and so forth.
But apparently they’re not the only ones around the airport with such complaints.
Turns out, the pilots who guide aircraft to their resting destination once having landed at Pearson have a complaint or two occasionally as well.
Case in point, an Emirates Airbus A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane, recently landed at Pearson after a 14-hour flight from Dubai and its pilots had trouble—umm, err—finding parking.
The culprit, as it turned out, was one simple letter. Or rather, the temporary omission of the letter “A”.
Airline experts say parking the huge Airbus A380, a double-decker jet that’s equipped to carry more than 800 passengers, but generally houses in the neighbourhood of 500-plus, is a precise job.
Given its size, the superjumbo can fly only to certain airports, Pearson among them. Even then, it’s crucial to provide a large enough gate for the aircraft to comfortably come to rest.
A little bit of confusion, and even brief tension, reared their head shortly after the Airbus touched down at the Mississauga-based airport, according to London-based aviation news outlet Simple Flying.
Emirates Flight EK241, a regular service running five times a week between Pearson and Dubai, had a brief issue partnering with airport officials to quickly get the aircraft to its proper, and suitable gate.
The pilots initially received directions to gate C34, which was unusual given that they were normally directed to a different part of the airport. They questioned the suitability of both the gate and taxiways leading to the gate.
“My paperwork shows that the taxiways in that direction are all red for us, not approved,” one of the pilots told air traffic control. “The C gate is not approved for us. We’re going to need a follow-me (and) wing walkers if you want us to park over there.”
The pilots then put on the brakes, refusing to move until airport officials could provide them with answers.
After being handed over to the Pearson Airport apron’s radio frequency, which handles traffic on the ground, pilots were told the C gate could fit the Airbus and that the full gate name, C34A, was not provided when they first landed.
The “A” in the designation indicates the gate is suitable for such large planes, as long as the adjacent gates are not being used.
As it turned out, the Airbus was directed to a different gate than usual due to a congestion of international arrivals that day at Pearson.
Pearson Airport is the second-busiest international air passenger gateway in North and South America, and the 30th-busiest airport in the world, handling 50.5 million passengers in 2019.
The Airbus A380, which made its first test flight on April 27, 2005, is discontinuing production at the end of this year due to low demand from carriers.
In November, Emirates will receive the last three A380s to be produced.