Is it possible for one single person to fly, maneuver and land an Airbus A380 by him/herself?
In general, it is perfectly possible for a single person to fly modern aircraft like A380. However, regulations require the presence of 2 pilots (PF and PNF). In other words, technically yes, legally no.
In long distance flights, the aircraft usually carries two sets of cockpit crew (4, each capable of flying the aircraft) as the flight hours may be more than the permitted flying hours.
FAA Advisory Circular 25.1523-1 deals with the minimum flight crew in transport category aircraft. According to Section 5 Certification Procedures, Subsection c, Testing (vi) Incapacitated Crew member,
Whenever the applicable operating rule requires a minimum flightcrew of at least two pilots, the certification program should include a demonstration of operations during the total incapacitation of a crewmember at any point in a given flight. It must be shown that the airplane can be operated safely and landed safely with the remaining crew at a planned or unplanned destination.
Of course it is perfectly legal to fly an A380 with one pilot. You need to observe a few details, however.
For an explanation let me first say something about certification. When you compress all legal barriers to flight into one fact, it comes down to
- Harm actively involved persons (like pilots) in less than one case per 100,000 (10$^5$) flight hours,
- Harm passively involved persons (like passengers) in less than one case per 10,000,000 (10$^7$) flight hours, and
- Harm not involved persons (like people on the ground) in less than one case per 1,000,000,000 (10$^9$) flight hours.
Now you can see where this is heading: If you don't take passengers onboard and fly the A380 as your recreational jet, you can do this with a private pilot license and all by yourself. All you need is a medical, the license and a type rating on the aircraft. And the aircraft must be airworthy, of course.
If, however, you carry others with you, you need to be 100 times more safe. This is accomplished by taking a spare pilot with you. In general, the second pilot shares the burden of flying, navigating and communicating with the first, but the aircraft has been designed to be flown by one pilot. Otherwise the second pilot would increase the risk of something going wrong - with two pilots you have twice the risk of one falling ill during the flight. Certification makes sure that one pilot by himself can fly and land the aircraft in an emergency.
Older designs needed as many as five people to fly the aircraft (first pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, radio operator), and in some not all controls could be reached from the pilot's seat. Steering those was more like sailing a ship: The pilot would command a thrust setting, and the flight engineer had to adjust the throttles (and mixture, cowl flaps, fuel valves ...). On the A380, however, all essential controls can be operated from either seat, and in total a crew of two is sufficient to comply with all regulations, including those for commercial operation.