LHR27C From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 1279 posts, RR: 17 Posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 9011 times:
Some of you may remember the report I did last year of an awesome daytrip to FRA in the company of a.net member BA777. I mentioned at the end of the report that we’d definitely be daytripping again somewhere in Europe. And here we are, daytrip mk II, oddly enough to exactly the same place – FRA – on exactly the same day – April 11th – as last year. So if lots of over-detailed writing and of course the infamous technical data is what you’re after, read on, and if it’s not, well we’ve included plenty of pretty pictures to break up the monotony. Highlights of the day included:
- Running up the exit ramp of a car park marked “no pedestrians” and climbing over a fence to try and get to the perimeter path
- Getting sworn at by a German builder in a GateGourmet depot
- Me trying to ask for a baguette in German
- Getting a massage from a business class seat
- Getting a lift to the FRA terminals in a Mercedes
- Henry exchanging insults with an LH captain about the Royal Family
We decided to daytrip back to FRA for several reasons but mainly because of the allure of the LH Technik facilities. Last year we spent several hours looking around the hangars including half an hour onboard D-AIHE, one of LH’s newest A340-600s, and this year we hoped to have a look at some of the other aircraft in LH’s longhaul fleet. In this respect a daytrip to FRA is much more than just a day out spotting with some flying there and back, the access to the hangars is unique and well worth the visit in itself.
The date – April 11th – just turned out to be best for the prices. Booking in late January, we got return tickets with LH for £73 fully inclusive of taxes which isn’t bad at all considering we paid £89 for BA return last year. Going on LH would mean getting on the A300 – not your average European short haul ride – trying out a new airline in my case, and – of more debatable value – going through T1 at FRA and T2 at LHR.
Joining me and Henry (BA777) for the daytrip would be Sam (sam1987), a very good friend of mine who used to be in my school’s sixth form and is now a first year undergraduate at Leeds University, and Gurch, another great friend who at 16 has already completed his PPL and night rating at Benson with an Excel 737 captain and is now starting on IMC rating, even though the CAA won’t let him have his license till he turns 17!
On the German side we were expecting to meet up with another very good friend, Patrick Potrafke, aka legendary a.net forum moderator Sabena332. Unfortunately Patrick was kept back in Washington at the last minute to help fix a computer system problem. This meant we didn’t have a car at FRA as we were expecting, but this certainly gave us a lot of exercise as you will discover…
Enough rambling, on with the report!
The day began for Sam and I at 5:25am just outside Watford, where we had been staying the night. We caught a local bus to Watford Junction station and then took the 5:53am Green Line 724 bus direct to Heathrow. Traffic in Rickmansworth and Uxbridge was thankfully light and the bus deposited us on time at the newly renovated Central Bus Station. According to the sign inside it’s the most advanced bus and coach station on the planet, boasting the world’s first inflatable roof (?!). Inside there are cheesy “arrivals and departures” boards showing when each coach is due and where it’s “boarding” etc…
T2 check-in at 9am on a weekday morning redefines the meaning of the word “claustrophobia”. At 7am it’s hardly any better. We soon caught up with Gurch and helped him choose his seat using the LH Self Service check in machine. We thought it made sense to check in for the return flight as well to save time in Frankfurt, and the machine confirmed that an A300 had been assigned for the outbound flight and A321 back to LHR in the evening. Gurch chose left hand window seats behind the wing on the A300 and in front of the wing on the A321. The machine promptly printed out the boarding passes, how wonderful technology can be when it works!
After another five minutes Henry arrived – he had been dropped off by his dad who by coincidence was flying out to JFK on VS3, G-VBIG, 20 minutes after us. Henry had tried checking in online with LH the night before but the user interface sounds rather archaic. Unlike the self service machines, there is no seating plan. You just choose from a window seat or an aisle seat. Where you are placed on the aircraft, and on which side, is entirely pot luck. Henry had struck unlucky, being assigned a right hand seat. For a 27R departure from LHR using the Dover SID to FRA, this is great if you want to inspect the houses in Sipson village and see lots of grey English sky, but absolutely no good for seeing anything of the airport. Henz inserted his card in and after a lot of “please wait” screens the machine thrust it straight back at him, saying all of us on his group booking had already had our seats assigned. We decided it was time to get someone human to sort out our seating.
After 10 minutes of queuing we were able to explain the problems to a very helpful LH representative. We explained carefully which seats we wanted and after a lot of typing into his computer and frowning at the screen, new boarding cards were printed – with just the seats we didn’t want. He then disappeared to the other end of the check in hall and returned a further 10 minutes later with the right boarding cards…though it felt like forever waiting with the rest of the check in operating around us. Wahey! There was now not a great deal of time till boarding so we headed straight for security.
Once through security (tip – don’t take an A380 model in your hand luggage if you don’t want to get your bags thoroughly searched … ) we made our way through T2 and the Flight Connections Centre to the Europier, where windows are somewhat more prolific and seats aplenty. From here we could also inspect traffic on 27L, which this morning was all arrivals. As usual, the pier was home to the usual line up BA 744s on its south side, along with, more unusually, The Great North, SA 747-400 ZS-SBK, on 147 (usually SAA aircraft use the middle pier). Across the other side of the cul-de-sac on stand 134 was ZS-SNA, an SAA A340-600 which had operated the SA220 flight from CPT (I flew on this flight 2 years ago, when it was operated by the 747-400). LHR is, rightly or wrongly, becoming something of a 346 hotspot with VS’s every growing fleet, SA using the 346 daily on the CPT runs now, CX on the late night HKG flights and Qatar rumoured to be replacing some 330 services with the 346HGW and also Etihad with their A340-500s beginning in August.
It occurred to me that we should see our A300 arriving on the inbound FRA flight, as we had not seen any LH A300s on the way past the T2 stands that LH normally use and it was about the right time. Sure enough, about five minutes after arriving in the Europier the distinctive shape of an A300 appeared on the horizon. As it glided down for a smooth touchdown on 27L we caught the registration – D-AIAR. Listening into LHR Ground I heard it being cleared onto stand 207 – about a 10 minute walk from the Europier. After another five minutes’ photo shooting we decided it was time to head to the gate.
Our carriage has arrived! D-AIAR gliding down onto 27L at 8:25am local
G-EUOG getting loaded up on 143 ready for departure to MAD as BA458
D-AIAR on 207 taken from the Flight Connections Centre
London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) – Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF)
Airbus A300-600R D-AIAR
Tuesday April 11th 2006
Scheduled departure: 0905 Actual departure: 0931
Scheduled arrival: 1135 Actual arrival: 1133
Technical flight information…. Non existent!
I’m afraid I lost the sheet with the tech data on it! In fact, the flight crew hardly filled any of it in. Here’s the route though, which I remember was the same as last year:
That’s EGLL DVR5F DVR UL9 KONAN UL607 SPI UT180 DITEL T180 OSMAX OSMAX2E EDDF. Only slight mistake in that route picture is we landed on 25R, not 07R, so actually had a long downwind stretch north of FRA and then looped back round. Thanks to fallingrain.com for the map.
There were a fair number of passengers congregated in the gate area when we arrived, and D-AIAR was clearly visible getting loaded up outside for the return trip, the airbridge connected onto door 2L so J pax don’t get disturbed by the ruffians wandering through their cabin . The time for boarding, however, came and went, and it was only at 8:55am (scheduled departure time of 9:05am) that the first boarding was announced. LH assign boarding cards with a “zone” between 1 and 4. What zone you are allocated seemed to be entirely random. Sam and I had seats next to each other and had checked in at exactly the same time yet I had zone 1 and he zone 4. Zone 1 was announced first, so Gurch – who also had a zone 1 card - and I headed to the desk.
Ready for boarding
Onboard, I was instantly reminded that this was a widebody by the much roomier fuselage and, of course, a second aisle. A polite FA greeted us and pointed down towards the back along the left aisle. The aircraft condition was not bad, although the seats aren’t up to BA standards and the cabin, completely grey, looked a bit drab. We reached the seats to find Gurch’s already taken – great start! It was an elderly couple, and an FA explained they had been moved and would Gurch mind sitting in the exit row? Of course he didn’t – much more legroom . I took my assigned seat in the row behind the elderly couple. One big plus point of the A300 is the 2-4-2 seating arrangement LH use, it’s never very far to an aisle.
I noticed an FA hanging around so pulled out my forms, put on the usual beaming smile and gave them to her to pass on the captain. I have a 100% success rate with these although it would have to be a very stingy FA to refuse… A few minutes later Sam and Henry appeared in the last boarding group. Henry took his new exit row seat next to Gurch and Sam next to me.
Wing prior to pushback
Boarding continued until about 9:20am. A brief welcome aboard from the purser followed, promising a flight time of an hour to Frankfurt. No word from the flight deck, however, and no explanation for the delay.
Pushback clearance was received from LHR Ground with no pushback delay and the engines were started in the push to save time. Taxi clearance followed, left on Alpha and holding at ROKIT for 27R. No hanging around, the engines revved up and we taxied out of the cul-de-sac and left, in front of the Europier in which we had been sitting an hour previously. I always like taxiing past glass buildings in an aircraft and seeing the reflection, a humble reminder of the giant metallic contraption that will soon be rocketing you through the air six miles above the ground at many hundreds of miles an hour.
Engines started, awaiting taxi clearance
Taxiing out onto Alpha, in the background bmi A330 G-WWBM is just visible on tow to stand 127
Holding in front of us this morning were two BA 744s, a BA 777, AA 777 and a bmi A320. We were instructed to line up behind the BA 777 (G-VIIG operating BA185 to EWR) after it began its takeoff roll. LHR was living up to its reputation of the construction site with its own runways - this morning it seemed half the 27R holding area was being dug up. This work is to realign the northern taxiways so that they run straight across to the 27R holds instead of requiring aircraft to turn a corner and then go back on themselves. LHR’s taxiway system is, frankly, a mess. It seems the concept of straight taxiways parallel to the runways and 90 degree corners was alien to the original airport designers.
Wouldn't be LHR if they weren't digging up half the place! This is (I think) preliminary work to realign Alpha so it runs all the way down 27R
With G-VIIG getting going to EWR, we get permission to line up behind
Airport or building site?
I noticed that no flaps were set for takeoff, only slats – something you could only really get away with on an A300 for a European flight. G-VIIG was soon speeding off and we taxied round onto 27R and held as told. Takeoff clearance followed almost immediately – VIIG was probably going out to Compton, separation required after takeoff is less if the two aircraft are going in opposite directions – and the CF6s roared into life.
Rolling… Germany here we come
It was a real rocket-style takeoff, similar in style to the 757 we took to FRA last year, rapidly rotating and climbing away giving great panoramic views of T3 and T5, to those of us who had thought about this in advance and got left window seats . Climbing through 500ft we passed the Thistle Park Heathrow Hotel, where a.net user fraspotter was waiting, camera at the ready! A big thanks to Chris for the two photos from shortly after takeoff, in the second one we are beginning the left turn on the SID at about 3 miles from the 27R threshold (2 DME from the I-AA localiser in technojabble ). Sad as it sounds, it’s always great to have photos of an aircraft and know “I’m in there”.
Stab of left aileron to counter the crosswind
Typical T3 morning line-up, at least 55 aircraft visible in this photo
Remote stands to the west of the CTA. The Malaysia 747-400 in Hibiscus scheme is 9M-MPD
Cheers Chris! Taken from perimeter road opposite LHR Thistle Hotel
Chris’s photos show, alas, that the weather around London was pretty poor this morning. Nonetheless visibility was sufficient to get a good few shots as we did the standard almost 180 degree turn around LHR to the Epsom NDB and then onwards to Detling and Dover VORs. Here’s a selection; sorry - we just couldn’t decide between them! As you can see, most of the infrastructure for T5 is complete, the M25 spur road is almost done now and the car parks are going up behind the main building. Over the next two years the interior of the main terminal and T5B will be completed before the planned opening in March 2008.
T5, a truly vast building and a huge construction site
I think my best photo of the day!
Thanks to SA006 for outstanding edit of this, it’s clickable if you want to view it at larger res
Just past parallel with LHR, the engines spooled down as we had hit the altitude restriction on the Dover SID of 4000 feet until clear of the Ockham and Biggin holds for LHR arrivals above us. There was a good view of London, sprawling into the haze, with the City, Canary Wharf and the Dome just visible on the horizon. Then, with a real kick that pushed us back into our seats, the engines whirred up again and we climbed higher, through the thick cloud layer and up into blue sky at last.
South of London on the Dover SID
Shortly afterwards the seat belt signs were turned off and we continued to climb steadily to 33,000 feet. Unfortunately the white blanket of cloud below made it impossible to tell where we were. About 25 minutes after takeoff and up at cruise altitude, it began to thin out to reveal the approaching Belgian coastline.
The cabin crew now came around offering a choice of drinks and the infamous LH inflight snack – the cheese sandwich. To be precise it’s a cheese and lettuce sandwich, and not particularly tasty at all. Certainly not on the same level as BA’s All Day Deli, which isn’t always terribly thrilling itself. Nonetheless it was nice to have something to eat, since our delay checking in had meant no time to buy breakfast airside.
Cruising over the Channel
As we crossed the coast of Belgium I looked down and saw, as I expected, Ostend airport clearly visible just inside the coast and took a few photos. At this point Gurch leapt out of his seat, came down the aisle and, pointing at Ostend, said “Look guys, it’s Le Touquet!” Errr, are you sure Gurch? For the record, Le Touquet, favourite daytrip location for English PPL-holders, is about 100 miles down the coast from Ostend. Gurch is planning to fly us all there in a Cessna 182 next month, which will certainly be a different sort of daytrip! Anyway, he now assures me he has seen the error of his ways and appreciates the two airfields are 100 miles apart in different countries : ).
The cabin crew came around to collect up rubbish and then vanished from sight for the remainder of the flight. We passed over Brussels and then BRU, where looking closely I could see an A330 on the ground holding for 25R, presumably SNBA. I took a few more photos and then decided to scrutinise the LH inflight magazine.
BRU from FL330, a quieter airport than it looks these days
Half the magazine was, perhaps unsurprisingly, in German, but the section with LH news, their route network and fleet seemed to be in English. The fleet was covered in one page, without any illustrations of the aircraft, though it did at least remind me that the seating capacity on LH’s A300s is 268, which is huge for European routes. In fact, it’s substantially larger than a lot BA’s 777s which seat 220 in high J/F configuration. Looking around the rear cabin, the majority of seats were empty, including almost all the middle block. Over the next page was a lot of propaganda about the 346, and then another section of random articles in German. Enough inflight magazine.
Meanwhile, back in the exit row Henry needed some relief and decided to go for a pitstop at the rear lavatories of the aircraft. In his excitement he leapt from his seat and made rather firm contact with the overhead locker…well I suppose it woke him up properly! Thankfully for him there weren’t (too) many people around to laugh and he continued on his voyage undeterred.
We soon passed into northern Germany and began our descent, virtually undiscernibly, towards FRA. The captain came briefly over the PA system to update us on the weather in Frankfurt (now 6 C temperature, oh joy) and our ETA. However, he didn’t so much as mention the delay. I think if a flight is delayed for 25 minutes, the crew should at least acknowledge it, even if they can’t provide a full explanation.
Looking around the cabin, I noticed a number of window seats on the right hand side of the aircraft were free and suggested to Gurch that he and I move to two of these seats, meaning we would all have a window seat for landing. This turned out to be a good move – within no time the seat belt signs had been turned on and the picturesque German countryside gave way to the suburbs of Frankfurt. We were flying downwind of FRA and would then loop back round to line up for landing on 25L or 25R. On the right hand side we had a great view not only of downtown Frankfurt but FRA itself in the background.
Destination in sight! Downwind for 25R
Turning base, east of Frankfurt
FRA has a number of elaborate RNAV transitions that will route the aircraft onto the final runway approach courses – this means intercepting the localiser directly from an FMC route - and is very useful when the weather turns nasty. However, judging from the weather today and the proximity of other aircraft, I guessed we were on radar vectors. We flew about 8 miles past the airport, descending all the time, then right onto a southerly heading and then sharp right again to pick up the localiser for 25R. Flaps were extended to full and there was a loud airy sound as the gear was lowered and lock into place.
Is this the stadium where England played their first World Cup match against Paraguay?
Over the autobahn, short finals 25R
Moments from touch down, US A330 holding, not really on the centerline!
Final approach onto 25R takes you over a lot of deep forest and then past the Frankfurt suburbs before passing low over the A5 autobahn and down onto the runway. The view of central Frankfurt was great and at least two other aircraft were visible on the downwind leg flying exactly what we’d just done. Soon we swept in over the (very busy) autobahn, down past the regional apron and T2 and then onto 25R, with a US A330 holding to depart after we’d landed. Touchdown was on the firm side, the spoilers shot up and idle reverse was used, making a quick exit about half way down the runway. My third time on German soil, and all within the space of a year! As we taxied back up towards T1 the A330 roared past, CLT-bound I suspect, and just across the field an LH 737-500 was on short finals for 25L. Too bad the USAF base is closed now, it added a little bit of variety the previous year with the military traffic mixing with all the civil activity. And the LH aircraft remote parked on the ramps don’t make up for the C5s, C17s and the like that had their places until last October.
Back on German soil, welcome to Frankfurt
Parking next to an Adria CRJ
I was a bit annoyed to see we turned onto a remote stand, since this tends to pose problems with visiting the flight crew as they don’t like keeping the bus waiting. We pulled in next to an Adria CRJ and the engines whirred down. Gurch and I got up quickly and crossed over to the other side of the cabin to gather our belongings, although it turned out there was no rush as everyone was waiting at least five minutes before the door was opened. We joined the queue and when we reached the front (or rather, 2L, where the stairs were connected to) I asked the FA if it was possible to collect the forms. Usually this is the cue for a visit to the flight deck but after some calling to her colleagues one of them brought them down. I asked if we could quickly meet the captain and have a look up front, but after some debate they apologised and said it was against security regulations.
Apologies for being cynical, but we were not much impressed with the flight. It was late, without even being acknowledged, the crew didn’t seem particularly bothered about us, we were refused access to the flight deck and on examining the forms I saw the bottom half hadn’t even been completed, the FO had scrawled a note apologising, “ran out of time”. Hmmm. At least we were at FRA though and I’d had my first A300 ride, which I have to say really does make a change from your average narrowbody on a European flight.
The bus ride to T1 was, in Gurch’s words, a mini ramp tour, taking in a lot of the T1 apron. In terms of aircraft, all the usual suspects, a Turkish 737-800 taxied very close past us on the way out to 18, and we saw D-AIHE, the A340-600 Henry and I had got on last time we went to the hangars, being loaded up.
The bus eventually dropped us in some strange underground part of the terminal. It wasn’t clear where we were - after we got off the bus we found ourselves in a sort of subterranean gate area with passengers waiting for a flight to RAK. One of the staff asked Sam which flight we had come from, and from the look on her face she would have been perfectly satisfied if we’d said Vietnam Airlines! We got on an escalator, the only route available, and finally saw an “exit” sign on the floor above. Interestingly T1, or at least this part, doesn’t use split level arrivals and departures. I thought this sort of prehistoric habit of having arriving and departing passengers on the same level only survived at LHR , but obviously not! We passed through several security checkpoints and eventually realised we must be landside as the entrance to the terminal was right in front of us, though it really wasn’t clear.
Report continues in the next post...
Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward
LHR27C From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 1279 posts, RR: 17 Reply 1, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 9011 times:
Before we went out to do some photography, a bit of shopping was called for . Sam and I bought a pork baguette and soft drink, I was very impressed to see Sam asking for it in German under a high level of pressure from Henry to speak the linguo, just wait until we go to Spain (Henry loves speaking Spanish whenever possible). Sam also bought a German motoring magazine for his brother and I bought a postcard of Frankfurt and stamps to send to a really good friend who hadn’t been able to make the daytrip. The postcard was of central Frankfurt, which of course we weren’t going near, but at least we could say we flew over it.
To cut off a bit of walking time we decided to take the SkyLine to T2 and then walk from there round to the approach spot for the 25s. The SkyLine is much like the LGW North to South transit train, minus the cheesy voiceover. All went smoothly until we emerged from T2 and found ourselves on a level too high. The perimeter road which we needed to follow was on the level below, but there was no clear way of getting down to it – all the roads on our level linked up to the autobahn. We went back inside and caught the lift to the lowest floor in the hope we would be able to get out there. In fact, it ended up in some giant underground car park, a real labyrinth with four different levels. We got out at the first level and looked for a way out. After wandering around for some time we saw a sign for an exit – yay – only it took us straight back to another set of lifts. Where’s Patrick when you need him?
Desperate times call for desperate measures – the prospect of getting stuck in one of the terminals at FRA for half the day, or, even worse, an underground car park, didn’t appeal, and ignoring all the “no pedestrian” signs we walked down the car exit route and then made a mad run up the exit ramp. Mercifully, we had reached the lower level and after a hike past several other car parks found ourselves on the perimeter road.
Even this wasn’t the end of our escapades – we ended up walking into a GateGourmet depot, getting sworn at by a German builder, scrambling up a muddy embankment and climbing over a fence – but to cut a long story short we eventually reached the 25R/25L approach spot at about 2pm.
The spot is a point on the track running around the perimeter where the path rises up and there’s a pretty good view across the airfield. From a photography point of view, you need at least a 200mm lens to capture anything departing on the 25s or any touchdowns, but 25L/R short finals are much closer and also some short haul aircraft taxiing to 18 are routed around this side of the airfield on taxiway Echo, including while we were there an LH A321, LH Cityline Bae 146 and an LOT ERJ-170 (beautiful aircraft). Since the closure of the viewing terrace, this spot seems to have become the regular hangout for FRA enthusiasts, there must have been about 30 people standing along the path when we got to the spot. It is easily accessible – a footbridge crossing the autobahn links directly to it from a car park in the forest. There was nothing dreadfully exciting arriving during our period there, traffic understandably is dominated by LH, and at times it seemed easier to count which aircraft didn’t have the football nose than which did . Two Varig MD-11s arrived on 25L within the space of 15 minutes. All in all, a good spot, certainly better for photographing ground movements than just about anything at LHR (see the bottom photo).
G-CPEO (Henry’s favourite 757 – don’t ask why!) short finals 25L as BA906 from LHR
D-ALTC, special colours LTU A320
PP-VQJ short finals 25L, thanks to SA006 for the edit
The famous four. Compare the view behind us to what you get at LHR (the photo of me)
It was soon time to return to the terminals. Gurch would unfortunately not be joining us on the trip to LH Technik, since Patrick had only discovered he could not make it on the Saturday and LH require a week’s notice to change a place on a booking. Our trip back was certainly a lot quicker than getting out to the spot, we even found a staircase to the upper level which we had never noticed before to save going back into the car parks. I think we must have walked a good 5 miles, but it was worth it, the spot is nothing to compare with the incredible views from the terrace but it’s a lot better than trying to take photos through the window in McDonald’s at T2.
We dropped Gurch off at the departure point for the ramp tours and arranged to rendezvous with him in the middle of T1 at 6pm. Then, after 15 minutes’ more walking, we arrived at the LH Technik main entrance, with a giant A300 tail acting as gate guard. Our guide was waiting, it was good to meet up again having not seen him for a year.
But… before we get to the hangars, a few photos from Gurch’s ramp tour, which he seemed pretty pleased with although disappointed they couldn’t go everywhere he wanted… if that means in the middle of the runways maybe just as well .
D-AIRE ready for push
Departing 25R late afternoon
Due to some new LH security setup, we had to enter the hangar area through a different security checkpoint, which involved walking about half a mile along the perimeter road while our guide went to park his car. We then headed through security into the maintenance area. It’s pretty cool, once through security, you’re airside, nothing between you and the taxiways save for a lot of LH aircraft parked up awaiting checks/about to be returned to service.
First stop? No surprise, the 747 hangar. After checking with the engineers, we were allowed to go onboard D-ABVH, in for a C check IIRC. We climbed the typically wobbly engineering steps (would freak out a few passengers if they tried boarding with these!) and waited just inside the door. First our guide led the way down through the J and Y class cabins (very nice new business class seating!) to the very rear of the aircraft where the crew rest area is situated. We climbed a set of steps so steep it was almost a ladder and squeezed inside the rest area. Hmm, if I thought LHR T2 was claustrophobic! Last July Henry and I got in a BA 744 crew rest at LHR, and the LH version seemed pretty much identical, except the air conditioning packs were off and it was boiling hot. 2 minutes was enough, then we walked all the way back through the aircraft, up through the top deck and into the flight deck .
Not your average passenger wingview!
Running through the flightdeck features
Captains of the future?!
Our guide is specialised on the 744 and so was right at home in this flight deck. Barely had we sat down than he reached for the IRS switches on the overhead panel and set them aligning. [start technical lecture] IRU stands for inertial reference unit, most modern aircraft have 3 of them, forming an inertial navigation system, which, just to confuse, is called an inertial reference system (IRS). On the 747-400, the Flight Management System uses GPS as the primary navigation source, but combines GPS data with INS information (and other sources such as triangulating a position from VORs) to produce an accurate position calculation for the aircraft. The three IRUs supply heading, altitude, attitude, speed and acceleration data to the FMS, relying on accelerometers and integrating to calculate the aircraft’s whereabouts (I think… don’t shoot me if I’m wrong). However, they must be told before a flight where the aircraft is, and this is the process of aligning. Before the INS is aligned, the aircraft will display very little information on the Primary Flight Display and Navigation Display, because, in short, it doesn’t have a clue where it is. When the INS switches are turned to align, each IRU begins a period of aligning, lasting about 10 minutes normally (depends on the aircraft’s latitude, a countdown is shown on the ND). During this time the aircraft must not be moved. Sometime during this period, the current position in terms of latitude/longitude must be entered, usually via the FMC, a prompt is displayed on the “POS INIT” (initial position) page to enter a lat/long. There are various ways of determining the current lat/long, usually the easiest and most accurate is just to get it from the GPS (there is a readout on the FMC page) and stick it in. I can’t remember what our guide used because he said there was no GPS signal inside the hangar, but he entered a correct position and after 10 minutes the IRS was aligned and the PFD and ND began to look a bit normal! [/end technical lecture].
Upper deck F seats
Better not start the engines just now…
D-AIHA, in for a "quick change"… a very tight squeeze in this hangar for the longest commercial aircraft
After looking at various things on the 744 flightdeck, and taking lots of photos, we decided to have a quick look at some A340s, so we said a fond farewell to ABVH and walked round the corner to the A340 hangar. There were four A340-300s and one A340-600 (D-AIHA, Nurnberg, LH’s first), and as usual our guide went to ask the engineers which we could look around. The 340-600 was, unfortunately, having a “quick change”, whatever that is, and was only in for about 2 hours, due out on an evening flight. However we were allowed to get onboard D-AIGB, again, one of LH’s oldest 340-300s but better than nothing!
First we checked out the flight deck, where as usual the IRSs were unaligned, although none of us knew how to align them on an Airbus so we left them as they were. I always think Airbus flight decks are a bit more colourful than their Boeing counterparts, especially in terms of the central CRT displays, and I had a flick through the various system displays that can be called up on the lower ECAM. Users of the PSS A340 for FS take note – PSS have modelled these pages very realistically.
Very colourful flight deck. IRS unaligned.
Airbus equivalent of Boeing MCP panel… I *think* they call it the FCU (Flight Control Unit)
AIGB had arrived in that morning from ATL, and a glance through the maintenance menus on the central MCDU revealed a whole stack of reported faults (no surprise there then ). A few button clicks and, always one of my favourite things to do in an airliner cockpit, we were able to print a detailed flight report highlighting the faults. It came spooling out of a slit in the side of the pedestal.
Printing the maintenance report off the central MCDU. Flight simulator users take note - the A340 has its own slew button!
Having passed through F, the next stop was the business cabin, where Sam and I decided to test out the seats, alas, the nearest I will get to actually flying business. They were very comfortable, but the most curious thing of all was a button marked “massage”. We both pushed it and felt the seats slowly vibrate and occasionally parts of the seat would rise up and fall... a curious experience, certainly - though definitely a second rate substitute for VS’s inflight therapist or BA’s Molton Brown travel spa lounges.
First in the A340-300 (this isn’t an LH media photo, Henry took it!)
Very nice looking J seating
Who’s this intruder in the J cabin?
OK so we look a bit out of it… we are just being given a massage by the seats
They really pack them in!
We had a quick glance around the rest of the aircraft, then it was time to go as our guide needed to be at a meeting in another part of Frankfurt. His department has been relocated to a site about 10 minutes up the road from FRA. On the way out we saw D-AIAR, the A300 that flew us in that morning, sitting forlornly on the maintenance ramp. Perhaps she’d gone tech…
Spare tyres anyone?
I get a feeling of deja-vu…
Time was looking fairly short, it was 6:10pm and our flight home was due to leave at 7:35pm, so we asked if we could have a lift back. No problem . The car was a classic old Mercedes, and haring down the road to T1 squashed in the back was an experience not to be forgotten. We found Gurch waiting inside at our arranged meeting place, who’d had an interesting time on the ramp tour by the sound of things, and managed to get some good shots.
Report continues in the next post...
[Edited 2006-07-03 21:33:56]
Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward
LHR27C From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2004, 1279 posts, RR: 17 Reply 2, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 9000 times:
Since we already had our boarding passes printed, there was no need to go near a check in desk, and we went through security without too much trouble. This time, the A380 model was entrusted to Henry – but typically it didn’t set any alarms off. T1 as before seemed a bit of a labyrinth, and since we’d had a long day we decided to go straight to the gate, A24, as printed on the passes.
Kudos to FRA for the really neat “information stations” they have dotted around the terminals. You can not only check out live arrivals and departures info, but if you go to the advanced page, all aircraft registrations for flights that day are listed, together with expected gates – a nugget Henry discovered back on his last trip to FRA in December. It meant that earlier on we had a look for our homeward flight and saw it was scheduled to be A321 D-AIRH, and could also check a few of the regs of aircraft we had seen on the way in. A very similar system to SBS used at LHR, only this is accessible to the public.
Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF) – London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL)
Airbus A321-131 D-AIRP
Callsign: Lufthansa One Hotel Tango
Tuesday April 11th 2006
Scheduled departure: 1935 Actual departure: 2008
Scheduled arrival: 2010 Actual arrival: 2028
Expecting D-AIRH, we had a slight shock when we arrived at the gate to see D-AIRP sitting on the tarmac below. We had all been hoping for D-AIRX, the “Retro Jet” in vintage paint scheme, oh well there’s always next time! Whatever, it was still an A321 and five years since I’d last flown one.
We had arrived pretty early so sat by the gate and watched the airport activity as the sun went down. Not that there is much to see on this cul-de-sac, just some LH shorthaul traffic, but it was nice to have a rest after a lot of walking and a very eventful day.
Sorry, the only shot I could get
Boarding was announced on time and we went down several flights of stairs then out onto the airbridge. This time it was Gurch and Henry’s turn for the famous forms, while Sam and I went to find our seats. We had picked a row just forward of the wing, but unfortunately there was no window for this row. Instead we had to crane our cameras back to get any photos at all. The lengths we go to for these trip reports…
Almost ready for push
At 7:30pm, when most people were seated and the forms had been secured in the hands of a flight attendant, the captain welcomed us over the PA system, outlining the route to LHR, expecting to push back on time but there would be a delay in taxiing. I took this to mean there was just a big queue for departures tonight. Ground cleared us to push after an outbound LH 737, which we did, and turning round in the push I saw the reflection of our aircraft in the terminal for the second time that day . Once the tug was disconnected flaps were lowered to 1+F and we began to taxi quickly out of the cul-de-sac.
Check out the reflection
We turned right at the end and made our way down the western side of FRA on taxiway November, indicating that we would be departing off 18. In the background the approach lights of aircraft inbound onto 25R/25L were illuminating the sky like a string of pearls, while, in between arrivals, a widebody would roar off 25R on its way to some place faraway. It was mostly narrowbodies bound for 18, and we rattled down the taxiway at no mean speed. But then we turned off to the right, away from the takeoff queue, and waited – and waited. More aircraft were taxiing past us, lining up and departing, while we just held postion on the taxiway. After five minutes, explanation was in order as the captain spoke over the PA system. He indicated that we were held up by an ATC slot delay that meant we were not allowed to take off for another 20 minutes. Not a problem at Frankfurt, but something fixed by London Control, presumably to help smooth up arrivals at LHR.
Whether the captain had only been informed about this while taxiing out, I don’t know, I think if he had known at the gate he would have waited there rather than use fuel, as we sat for the prescribed 20 minutes with both engines idling, and watched the sun go down. There was an intermittent stream of departures from 18, and occasionally a departure off 25R. Finally the engines whirred, and we moved forward to line up. Lufthansa One Hotel Tango, cleared takeoff, FLEX 59 power set, off we go. Auf wierdeshein .
After departure we made the standard series of right hand turns on the SOBRA 2L departure to align ourselves in a north westerly direction. Strange to think I had flown exactly this routing, exactly a year ago, at virtually the same time, in a very similar aircraft (A319). Flying westerly means the sun took a little longer to set than usual. The flight attendants came around with the favourite cheese sandwich and choice of drink. Load factor for this factor was 53% (96/182) so they had no objection to my seatmates asking for a second cheese sandwich. Hmm… they must have been hungry!
Cruising FL320, North Germany
Settled in the cruise at FL320, I took the opportunity to have a look around the cabin. It had, as with most A32x cabins, a nice modern feel to it, although obviously less roomy than the A300 that morning. Seats were pretty comfy and leg room not bad. The flight attendants were friendly, and I have to say this flight had a much more professional feel to it than the outbound trip – not only a better quality of service but little things like more updates from the flight deck. At the far back of the cabin I found another spare left hand window seat, which actually had a window next to it! I decided to move back here for the landing.
Sunset, descending past LOGAN inbound LAM3A
There was 8/8 cloud cover (sorry, I’m revising meteorology for PPL – that means fully overcast ) from Belgium onwards, so it was very difficult to tell where we were (do LH’s A32x fleet even have drop down screens?). After about 50 minutes airborne time, the engines wound down and I was certain we had started our descent, inbound to LHR on the standard Lambourne 3A routing from the east. Ten minutes we entered the hold at Lambourne, extremely high, with at least six aircraft in the stack below and soon more above us. To most people it’s a nuisance, but for me, orbiting over north-east London in the sunset, in such close proximity to other aircraft, is almost humbling. Only at LHR do you get four holding patterns, packed with aircraft, all waiting to line up on the approach for one runway. The place is crazy.
In the hold
After a good 25 minutes in the hold the sun had finally set, and we had reached the lowest level at 7000 feet and followed the standard LAM procedure of leaving the hold heading west and then doing almost a 180 degree turn to bring us back over central London to the final approach fix for 27R. As we descended through the clouds it became clear the weather was not especially friendly, with a little turbulence and the strobe lights very clearly flashing on the end of the wings through the mist. We descended to 3000 feet, speed back to 180 knots, and turned right to pick up the localiser, then intercepted the glideslope and speed 160 knots till 4 DME. Eventually we broke through the cloud cover to a wet, rainy, dark London. Condensation poured off the wings as we swept in over West London and Hounslow. It was certainly one of the more spectacular approaches I have witnessed. A surprisingly smooth touchdown on 27R followed, given the conditions, with heavy braking and reverse. We exited quickly at A8 to let G-BNWX down, a BA 767 from ARN as BA781, closely followed by a company 757 from LIS and then a company A319 from BRU. We crossed link 13 and turned left on Bravo to taxi back round the CTA, “following the greens”. This refers to LHR’s neat night taxiway system that will automatically show an aircraft where to taxi using green lights, and block off any wrong exits with red lights. Now they are planning to go one step further and install LED taxi lights!
The purser welcomed us to London, the local time 8:30pm, making a flight time from FRA of 1 hour 20 minutes. We could have done it under an hour without the holding. There was an impressive line up of heavies queuing for 27L, and we pulled in onto – again! – 207 next to a B2383, a MU A340-300 getting ready for the overnight flight. Easy to forget some of the more unusual T2 carriers you don’t see during the day… Just as we were parking up, a BA 757 landing from GLA on 27R suffered a hydraulic failure, resulting in reduced braking action; it rolled out long, sent three aircraft into a go around and required a runway inspection before 27R was re-opened (arrivals were shifted to 27L). If only we’d been a few minutes later! Oh well, it had been a great day and it was good to be home.
Parked up on 207, B2383, a MU A340-300 nextdoor on 209 getting loaded up for departure to PVG as MU552
This time there were no problems with visiting the flight deck. Henry and I were greeted by an enthusiastic captain who ran us through the forms and passed over all the flight documentation he could let us have. It was the end of the day for the captain and FO – the A321 from this flight overnights at LHR and is taken back to FRA by a different crew first thing in the morning. “So we are going to stay with the Queen” joked the captain. He and Henry then got into a dodgy discussion about members of the royal family (!), so I asked the FO a few questions and tried, rather unsuccessfully, to get some photos of the flight deck. The captain gave me an LH World Cup themed chocolate bar . Then we went out to let Gurch and Sam into the flight deck. Four enthusiasts plus two flight crew would be pushing it a bit in the 321 flight deck…
Customs was a breeze, and we were outside T2 by 9pm. Gurch had to be picked up by his parents, but me, Henry and Sam caught the 285 to the perimeter road and went to McDonald’s to get something more to eat, an experience in itself! Then we returned to the CTA to catch buses back, and Sam and I were back safe in Watford at 11pm. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations!
Verdict? Another hugely enjoyable daytrip, as usual the visit to LH Technik being the icing on the cake. Without the visitor terrace, FRA doesn’t have quite the allure it used to. But if you’re prepared to do a bit of hiking (and in our case climb over a few fences), the 25R/25L approach spot is good. Flights with LH were pretty average, as I said, the return journey better than the outbound. 7.5/10. They don’t offer as good as a product as BA, but then they were £20 cheaper, and I’ve flown much worse.
I’d like to say a big thanks to Chris Goodwin (a.net user FRAspotter – what an appropriate username!) for getting the photos of us departing, and to Christoph Worreschk, a great friend from Germany, without whom I certainly wouldn’t have got to FRA. To Zak Economides (SA006) for his help with editing a few of the photos, the legendary LHR list where I was able to check a few regs, and to my invaluable flight crew contacts for explaining a few technical bits and pieces mentioned in here. Also to all the people who arranged our visit at LH Technik, and Patrick for telling me where the best spotting places at FRA are, and so nearly – but not quite – meeting up with us. One of these days it’ll work out, Patrick .
Lastly thanks to Henry, Gurch and Sam for going with me . Daytrip 07 will definitely not be FRA, we need a change! Probably ZRH, as that seems to be the most enthusiast friendly airport in Europe – along with AMS – which Henry keeps banging on about… (quite rightly too, he says)
But that won’t be till next April. For now, as the captain said as we left the flight deck of AIRP, “Auf Wiedersehn und bye bye!”
Sabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 5, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 7 hours ago) and read 8843 times:
Thanks a lot for posting this report today, reading it was perfect entertainment on such a football-free day.
Seriously, the report is mega detailed as always and now I am even more dissapointed that I got stuck in Washington, the LH Technik tour must have been fantastic, I always wanted to check out the new LH Business Class seats and that had been the perfect opportunity.
The airport overview pictures are simply stunning, especially the LHR overview!
A few comments:
Quoting LHR27C (Thread starter): It was a real rocket-style takeoff, similar in style to the 757 we took to FRA last year
I don't like LH very much but their A300s kick ass! I remember a flight from DUS to FRA on a Saturday morning, the load factor was around 25%. During take-off I checked my boarding pass again, destination was "Frankfurt" and not "Moon", damn, I could have sworn that I would sit in a rocket which just departed to the moon and not in a plane which just departed to FRA, so powerful was this A300 take-off.
Quoting LHR27C (Thread starter): though it did at least remind me that the seating capacity on LH’s A300s is 268
LH's timetable even shows a capacity of 280 seats for their A300s. Does anyone know which information is correct? Or does LH operate the A300 in two different configs?
Quoting LHR27C (Thread starter): Is this the stadium where England played their first World Cup match against Paraguay?
Yes, it is the Commerzbank-Arena (or better: Commerzjunk-Arena ). Currently it is just called World Cup Stadium Frankfurt, the FIFA ordered this name change for the period of the World Cup because Commerzbank is not an official FIFA sponsor.
That was because you guys didn't sit in the far rear of the plane, there is a huge difference between the first 15 or so rows and the rest. Once I sat in the second last row of a LH A321 and it was pretty uncomfortable.
One day we will manage to meet up, so much is for sure. Again, sorry that I couldn't make it, I am really dissapointed myself after seeing all these fantastic pictures, must have been real fun. Two more things regarding my IAD trip that made me almost puke: Firstly I lost the money that I paid for my non-refundable train ticket which I already bought before I flew to the States, and secondly I lost my passport after I arrived back in Germany. My mother got it delivered by the police a few days ago, the fuckwipe who found it pulled out all the pages with stamps and trew it into the Rhine river where an elderly couple found it after it floated around for two months. The police thought that I drowned in the Rhine, so they send two officers to my parents' house to ask if everything is ok with me. LOL.
Again, thanks a lot for the ultra detailed report, reading and watching was a pleasure!
Ryanair737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR: Reply 6, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 8736 times:
An incredibly detailed and interesting report Oliver; it really was a pleasure to read. I loved all of your pictures, especially the ones inside LH Technik. Seemed like you had a pretty awesome day all in all!
Once again thank you for taking the time to write it.
See you at the somewhat less exciting LPL next week!
767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1842 posts, RR: 25 Reply 7, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8617 times:
Great report! Nice pics! I flew Lufthansa a few years ago on the A343, and enjoyed their service very much. I sat in the old Business Class seats which were still very comfortable, but the new seats look great!
Alaskaqantas From New Zealand, joined Dec 2005, 901 posts, RR: 4 Reply 8, posted (7 years 5 months 2 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 8523 times:
wow... VERY detailed report! amazing pictures, WOW.
Anyways, how do you get the tour? can anyone get it etc...
I'll be looking out for more of your reports!
Can you do this with other airlines as well? thanks for any answers
to some people the sky is the limit, to aviation enthusiasts, its home!
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 5): I could have sworn that I would sit in a rocket which just departed to the moon and not in a plane which just departed to FRA, so powerful was this A300 take-off.
Lol! Yes, lightly loaded A300s or 757s unbeatable for rocket takeoff performance. Though apparently Concorde departing CWL a few years ago, empty, set a new record entirely, got to 29,000 feet in 4 minutes or something. Those were the days.
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 5): Once I sat in the second last row of a LH A321 and it was pretty uncomfortable.
Yep actually I should have mentioned that, I moved back for the landing and it was more uncomfortable.
Quoting Sabena332 (Reply 5): The police thought that I drowned in the Rhine, so they send two officers to my parents' house to ask if everything is ok with me. LOL.
Indeed . Looking forward to it, even if it is a bit less varied.
Quoting FRAspotter (Reply 13): It was my pleasure to take those photos of your LH A300 plane taking off from LHR.
Thanks . If I'm ever around LHR or wherever when you're flying out, give me a shout and I'll see if I can reciprocate the favour.
To all the people asking how we fixed this up, I'm afraid it's through a contact, not something you can just ring up LH and arrange. Sorry . SR Technics at ZRH do public tours though, check out their website for prices etc.
Lastly, just reading through I must correct one bit, where I said EY starting A340-500 scheduled service to LHR in August, actually they already have.
Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward
747LUVR From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 393 posts, RR: 0 Reply 19, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7118 times:
Great Report! How does one go about getting the tour at FRA like ya'll did? That'd be great to go situp in the cockpits and just getting up close there in the bays...is there somewhere to sign up for that or did you have "connections"? thanks, Joe
Aviacentre From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 121 posts, RR: 0 Reply 20, posted (7 years 5 months 1 week 1 day ago) and read 6779 times:
I'm not impressed Oliver -- this is what I have come to expect from you! This was an all-too fascinating report. Something like this deserves to be in a magazine nonetheless! I've especially enjoyed your report now that I've personally wondered around FRA and seen the LH Technik facilities (from the outside, of course) knowing that that's where you've had the very fortunate opportunity of touring.