It's been two weeks already since I started online without a instructor beside me. It's great fun and I'm loaded with sectors for November. The only destination I still have to do is Milan. Who knows, maybe in December. My first day on the line I flew with a linetraining captain. Just pure coincidence. We were doing a 4 sector day, flying back and forth between Edinburgh (EDI) and London City. (LCY) It turned out to be a great day of flying and I got a chance to do a go-around in real life, in London City! You practise those often in the sim but flying one for real is quite rare, especially on your first day on the line! But it went well and was good practise since I did my last go-around in the sim a couple of months ago.
Operating in and out of London City is slightly different than most airports due to it's characteristics. It's classified as a class 'C' airport and has a steep approach glideslope (5.5 degrees), no taxi way along the whole length of the runway, extremely busy at peak times and it's in downtown London forcing the traffic to arrive and depart below the incoming Heathrow traffic! All in all quite an interesting operation. Due to the airport layout the seperation between aircraft is extended over 'normal' airports. Inbound traffic for runway 28 is seperated by 5 miles and for runway 10, the oposite end, it's 7 miles between aircraft. In my case we were doing a night arrival into LCY's runway 28. While we were stabilised on the approach Air Traffic Control (ATC) cleared a business jet to backtrack the runway and takeoff. The business jet took it's time resulting in a our go-around. All I can say about the go-around is WOW! It's a great sensation and everything happens really quick. Luckely we anticipated the go-around. The drawback is that it's highly fuel and time consuming and it results in a bunch of paperwok to be done afterwards. But for me personally it was a great experience and the views of downtown London were amazing. I know we are spoilt by the operation into London City as it comes to great views, but this one was one for the books as well. Just beautiful.
The next item on the list was a three day tour to Madrid (MAD), a new destination for me. We set out with BA from EDI to London Heathrow and on to Madrid. The crew hotel was great and the next day we operated the early flight to and from LCY. MAD has a very nice and spacious airport layout, especially the new terminal 4 where we are parked. If I'm correct one the architects of MAD's T4 is the same guy ( Richard Rogers) who designed Heathrow's yet to be opened, 4.2 billion pounds, Terminal 5 which opens in March 2008. The only drawback is the immense distance you have to walk to get to and from your gate! It almost takes you 30 minuites by foot and underground train.
Our Spanish friends are known for their limited ATC English skills and that was apparent this time as well. As we were cleared to line-up and wait for departure a Iberia aircraft came out of the blue and lined up infront of us leaving us with no room to manoeuvre. We asked for clarification but we got a evasive answer and the Iberia aircraft took off. Welcome to Madrid.
Yesterday and today the UK was battered by a low pressure system. Besides the occasional shower the weather was fine apart from the high winds and water levels. The latter is not of great interest to us but the winds were. High up there was a jetstream pushing down across the UK. Initially it resulted in a nice tailwind of roughly 120+ knots meaning we arrived early in London. But as we all know, what goes up has to come down. Meaning we had to go back up to EDI against the jetsream about an hour later. Unfortunately for us the jetstream had picked up speed and was pushing against our nose at 134 knots resulting in a groundspeed of roughly 270 knots. Quite slow if you consider we were doing 514 knots on the way to London an hour earlier! Making up lost time was pointless but it meant some good crosswind landing practise for me that day. Low level flying was quite bumpy but in the jetstream it was quite serene. Due to some technical problems earlier that day our aircraft was delayed (safety first!) and making up time on days like this is pointless. So we arrived somewhat behing schedule which resulted in a rest day for me instead of a normal day off and one nightstop less this month. I've got a four day weekend to enjoy with my wife now!
I took a couple of photo's yesterday that you see below. They are also on my flickr page for you to enjoy! See you later...
We were heading from London City back to Edinburgh at FL280. The jetstream across the UK pushed against us with 134knots on the nose! Here seen close to MARGO near Edinburgh as we initiate our descent.
What goes up has to come down. Or you could say, one's tailwind is the other guys headwind. At FL290 near Manchester we had the jetstream almost right on our tail pushing us across the ground at 514 knots. It even went up to 519 but I was too late to capture that. A really smooth ride by the way down to London that night
In the cruise towards London at Fl290 at Mach 0.704, our standard cruise speed. Give or take 2 knots...