With an MTOW (maximum take-off weight) in excess of 650 tonnes, or 650,000 kg, or 110 African Bull Elephants in a very big basket, the Airbus A380 is a massive presence in our skies.
As I walked to my car on Monday after our regular NSW RAC (registration and accreditation) Working Party meeting at the South Pacific Division Adventist Church administrative offices in Wahroonga, Sydney, I was greeted by the site of a Singapore Airlines A380 making its way over the Wahroonga Adventist School, in a slow but deliberate turn in order to line up its final approach to Sydney International Airport.
Whilst I knew the plane, despite its apparent slow progress was comfortable up there in the sky, the closeness of the plane to me, walking along the footpath, had me stunned at the sheer size and incongruity that this metal monstrosity was up there in the first place.
The Airbus A380 is a very large plane indeed.
It is the world’s largest passenger airliner and the only full-length double-deck jet airliner. It has a typical seating limit for 525 passengers, with a maximum certified capacity for 853 passengers. With a length of 72m and a wingspan of 80m, it’s big, real big. But it flies, despite appearing as if it shouldn’t.
As of December 2021, the global A380 fleet had completed more than 800,000 flights, over 7.3 million block hours, with no fatalities and no hull losses. (Good news indeed!) And as of December 2022, there were 237 aircraft in service with 16 operators worldwide.
Airbus planning for this plane started in 1988, and the project was then officially announced in 1990. The then-designated A3XX project was presented in 1994; Airbus launched the US$10.7 billion A380 program on 19 December 2000. The first prototype was unveiled in France on 18 January 2005, with its first flight on 27 April 2005. It then obtained its type certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on 12 December 2006.
Before 1988 there was an idea, then in 1988 a plan and by 2006 it was made real. More than eighteen years from idea to realisation. Impossibility into reality. Why? There are many reasons, many factors, but the one I want to briefly highlight today is TEAM.
Can you imagine the sheer number of people that were required to take the impossible and turn into the possible?
Can you imagine the myriad of groups, the teams, the workgroups, thinktanks and governance groups?
Can you imagine the conversations, the discussions, the robust considerations of the why, the who, the how and the what, when, where?
Unity not uniformity was key: unity in purpose and variety in activity to reach a common goal.
And that is us in NNSW Education as well.
What we are involved in has a long timeline, with eternal outcomes. Our ELCs and schools are unique in their local context, unique to their local needs, unique in their local culture BUT we are united in our purpose: to be a BRIDGE to Christ, for a world that needs Him.
So next time you see a commercial airliner in the sky, let it remind you that it is up there because of an impossible idea, made possible through shared vision, unity and effort.
Think how much more is possible in our case as we continue to add God to the equation: ‘all things are possible with Him’. (Mark 10:27)
This word of encouragement for Christian educators was written by Dean Bennetts, and distributed in The Bridge newsletter in 2023. Dean is the CEO of Adventist Education in North New South Wales, Australia.