I hope everybody has landed safely (where they are supposed to be) following a weekend of disappointed passengers, cold walkarounds, endless contaminated runway calculations and flying holding patterns.
I’ve been asked by loads of passengers, what is it that ‘actually’ collapses airports like LHR and LGW? I’ve jumped upon the team of commercial pilots here at Flight Level 500 to gather an inside track…
Initially it’s the necessity to de-ice. Aeroplanes only fly because of the shape of their wing. Ice contamination just isn’t acceptable! De-ice fluid is fired all over the wing by an elephant looking machine, however, there aren’t endless numbers of these machines so queues develop causing delays.
Stands – With queues for de-icing, aircraft are on stands for longer, there are only a finite number of stands at an airport so this holds up inbound traffic.
Runway clearing – Ever landed on snow? Slush? Ice? It is of course possible, up to a point, but in commercial aviation safety is a significantly higher priority than haste! So the runways are cleared of snow and ice periodically. How long do you think it takes to clear a 4km piece of Tarmac that’s much wider than a motorway?
Thanks to the FL500 pilots for teaching us why we shouldn’t always be so frustrated as passengers! They’re only looking out for us! There are a few more reasons the snow holds us up that I haven’t added above. Does anyone know what they could be? Please comment…. Next week – fog!