Wednesday 2 July 2014
Emirates Airbus A380-861 A6-EEU which visited Perth today due to a medical diversion and became the first Airbus A380 to use the dual aerobridge at Perth Airport’s Terminal 1.
A6-EEU is the eighth A380 to visit Perth, but none of the earlier aircraft has used the dual aerobridge at Bay 51.
The first A380 to visit was a promotional (non-revenue) flight by Qantas’ A380 VH-OQA on 14 October 2008, every A380 since then has visited due to a medical emergency diversion. Six of these A380 diversions were from Emirates (A6-EDE, A6-EDA, A6-EEH, A6-EEO, A6-EDP and today’s A6-EEU), plus one from Qantas (VH-OQB).
A6-EEU was operating flight EK415 from Sydney to Dubai, and departed Sydney at 4:15am (Perth time). A passenger aboard the aircraft fell ill and when the A380 was about 55 kilometres SSE of Port Hedland at 8:09am, the crew declared a medical emergency and obtained clearance to divert to Perth.
A6-EEU landed on Perth Airport’s runway 21 at 9:50am and parked at Bay 51, with the dual aerobridge being used to access both decks of an A380 for the first time.
After offloading the ill passenger, A6-EEU departed Perth, taking off from runway 21 at 11:57am, arriving at Dubai at around 10:52pm (Perth time), around 2 hours 22 minutes late.
Medical Diversion Procedures
An estimated 44,000 in-flight medical emergencies occur worldwide each year.
Airlines bear the cost of medical diversions as part of the cost of doing business – it is not the passenger’s fault that they became ill, and some may not be aware that they have a health condition.
Flight Attendants are required by law to be trained in First Aid and they are the first responders. They notify the pilots that there is a medical emergency in the cabin.
On the majority of flights there will be a doctor, nurse or paramedic aboard as a passenger, so the crew will ask them to assist, or the pilots may communicate with doctors on the ground.
Airliners carry emergency medical kits, including defibrillators, intravenous fluids, medicines, bandages, and various other equipment.
The medical professional in the aircraft or on the ground, the Flight Attendant and the pilots will consult with each other on whether a medical emergency diversion is required.
If a medical emergency is declared, the airline’s operational ground staff, as well as air traffic controllers and airport emergency medical crews will then follow their procedures.
Once an in-flight medical emergency is declared, air traffic controllers give the aircraft priority in the airspace. The pilots will change course to the nearest suitable airport, based on the medical facilities near that airport, whether it can handle an aircraft of that size, and weather.
The pilots may also need to dump some fuel, in order to reduce the weight of the aircraft below the maximum landing weight (MLW) and at an appropriate time, they will commence a descent.
The airline’s operational staff will need to allow for the diverted aircraft arriving at its destination late, which may have further impacts if that aircraft is flying multiple sectors that day. They will also coordinate refuelling and any other resources needed.