They might sound like an old-age comedic duo, but there is nothing funny about what the Jetman Dubai grouping of Yves Rossey and Vince Reffet recently completed – a flight along an Emirates A380, which is the largest passenger aircraft in the world.
According to a press release from Emirates, the stunt began with the A380 methodically flying in two holding patterns 4,000 feet above the Dubai skyline and Palm Jumeriah, a man-made group of islands at the edge of the city.
Soon, the behemoth aircraft was astoundingly accompanied by the jet-propelled Rossey and Reffet, who after being dropped off by a helicopter, cruised around the A380 at 5,500 feet. Captured on video, the two can be seen weaving around the plane in elegant fashion.
“This display between man and machine celebrates the magic and beauty of flight, a feat which just over a hundred years ago would have seemed an impossible dream,” said Adel Al Redha, executive V.P. and COO for Emirates. “It also showcases how far human vision and ambition has, and can continue to push aviation’s boundaries.”
Michael Rudolph, head of aviation regulations and safety at Dubai’s Civil Aviation Authority, said the display caused a number of concerns because no human had ever flown that close to a large passenger aircraft. To ease concerns and mitigate the chances of an incident, a number of risk assessments and a workshop were conducted. The number of flights coming in and out of the Dubai International Airport were also restricted.
Additionally, to improve the conditions of the flight, the A380’s weight was reduced to under 386 tons, a large reduction compared to its maximum flight weight of 634 tons.
Due to its immense size, the greatest concern relating to Rossey and Reffet’s flight around the aircraft was turbulence. To reduce instability, Rossy and Reffet’s formation patterns were meticulously planned so that they wouldn’t come into contact with the A380’s wake turbulence and jet efflux.
Emirates ensured that the duo had the necessary reference points of the A380 in flight so that they would be able to perform safely. To establish the reference points, flight simulation and visual orientations revolving around the large aircraft were performed at Emirates’ Engineering Center.
A practice flight was conducted on Oct. 12 before the main event which was performed on Oct. 13.
“I come from a background of piloting commercial aircraft and it was always a dream to fly without the constraints of being inside a cockpit,” said Rossy said. “It was absolutely surreal flying alongside the biggest aircraft there is and we felt like mosquitos beside a gigantic eagle.”
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense