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Global Airlines’ Unusual Airbus A380 Ferry Flight

The aircraft crossed the Atlantic Ocean with its landing gear down.

Global Airlines’ first A380 (Photo: Global Airlines)

Last week a very unusual flight made the headlines with a transatlantic trip consisting of two legs. An Airbus A380, brought back from long-term storage, operated in a peculiar configuration.

The Ferry Flight

The operator of the ferry flight was the Portuguese charter carrier Hi Fly. which has a history of operating Airbus A380 aircraft. This time around, it officially reported the details of the flight.

The trip started at Mojave Air and Space Port in the United States, where the aircraft had been stored and was slated to reach Glasgow Prestwick Airport in Scotland. Under normal circumstances, this would be easily reachable for a widebody aircraft like Airbus A380. The distance of approximately 4400 nautical miles (8200 km) is well within the commercial range of the type which stands at 8200 nautical miles (15200 km).

This time was different though as the aircraft required a specific type of maintenance after the storage which could not be performed on the spot. The storage facility lacked jacks to lift the aircraft and perform a test procedure of landing gear retraction/extension and free-fall extension (REFF). As a result, the ferry flight had to be split into two parts to facilitate flying with the landing gear in the down position.

Global Airlines’ Airbus A380 transatlantic ferry flight (Photo: gcmap.com)

A stop at Montréal-Mirabel International Airport for refueling was scheduled. The aircraft, registered as 9H-GLOBL, an ex-China Southern Airbus A380, departed Mojave on Tuesday, April 30 and arrived 5 hours 40 minutes later at the mid-point. From there the onward travel to Prestwick took another 7 hours and 44 minutes for a combined duration of more than 13 and a half hours of flight time. Normally such or similar flights would take around nine and a half hours, but the airspeed of an aircraft in such a configuration had to be limited.

That was likely the longest gear-down Airbus A380 on record, but similar feats were already performed on shorter flights when other carriers like Lufthansa were bringing back the type.

Global Airlines

The mentioned Global Airlines is a startup company with a business model that was sparked by retired Airbus A380-type aircraft becoming available on the market. For some, the pandemic was the catalyst, for others the fuel consumption of the four-engine aircraft. Slowly but surely many operators with smaller fleets started retiring the A380, with some going back on their word at some point.

Founded in 2021, the company is on its way to acquiring aircraft and attaining all the required certifications. The company is currently looking for its niche in the market. The British startup wants to fly the superjumbo jet between London and New York, with the first commercial flight penciled in for later this year.

Filip Kopeć


  • Filip Kopeć

    A passionate aviation enthusiast that started off his career as an aerospace engineer, but found his true calling on the commercial side of the airline business. Now as a finance guy among avgeeks and an avgeek among finance guys, he has experience working in the Revenue Divisions of three airlines. In his spare time he enjoys traveling, but admittedly sometimes is more about the journey than the destination.

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