First up a big apology for how long overdue this report is – this daytrip was on 11th April so I’m sorry it’s four months on – just a lot of pressure from external exams, courses and my own PPL training getting in the way. Infact it is mainly down to nagging from various people (you know who you are ) that it is here at all, so enjoy.
Photos as usual linked from both our servers, if anyone wants any bigger sizes give me or Hennerz a shout – some of them are clickable anyway to get bigger sizes. I think it will be obvious whose photos are whose, I’m not really a professional photographer!
Videos this time linked direct from flightlevel350.com, a fantastic resource for this sort of thing to anyone who hasn’t discovered it, and it makes it a bit easier for me. Please rate them!
They are linked inside the report, but to make it easier, here are the links also:
Departure from LHR 27R: http://www.flightlevel350.com/viewer.php?id=3937
Landing at FRA 07R: http://www.flightlevel350.com/viewer.php?id=3944
OK boring stuff over. Basically this is to document the daytrip myself and Henry Lidster (a.net user BA777) made to FRA in April so it is not just the BA flights by any means. We made the preparations for it back in October 2004 – we’d decided to daytrip somewhere in Europe and thought that FRA would be a good choice. The flight timings were great for us, we would get the 757 outbound and the A319 the way back, and the price, at £88.00 return, wasn’t bad either. (LH were going to charge £300 or so, not sure what was going on there…) Most important of all, FRA’s famous viewing deck was a major incentive (now unfortunately about to close), and amongst Henry’s extensive contacts is a member of LH Technik who would be able to let us into the hangars there… so FRA it was. We booked for BA904 and BA913 online, so ticketless etc, and made the necessary preparations regarding ID etc with LH Technik.
Accompanying us on the trip was Henry’s dad, partly in an “overseeing adult” capacity, partly because he is also interested in this sort of stuff.
Arguably the trip began with me heading for Oxford on the train the day before to spend the night in Witney chez Hennerz. We had a great meal out with some other friends in Oxford, and got up just before 6:00am. After getting dressed checked out the weather at LHR and FRA. Forecast for both was good, most interestingly FRA was showing south westerly winds so a possibility of landing on the 07s. LHR looked to be 27R for departure. Just before we set out the guy from LH rang to check we were coming and to sort out where to meet. Arrangements were put in place to rendezvous at 3:30pm outside T1 and then we would head together to the LH Technik facilities, just down the road.
And here we are, me on the left @ LHR, Hennerz on the right taken by himself (!) in the 757 on the way to FRA
London Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) – Frankfurt Main (FRA/EDDF)
Boeing 757-236 G-BPEK
Monday April 11th 2005
Scheduled departure: 1040 Actual departure: 1104
Scheduled arrival: 1315 Actual arrival: 1305
Seat 27A/32A, Economy
Photo © Keith Ogden
Photo © Aldo Bidini
Technical flight information
Captain and FO based @ LHR
Sorry, unable to name flight crew for security etc
Aircraft type: B757-236 Registration: G-BPEK
Passengers: 108 LHR stand: 117 FRA stand: D5
Departure runway: 27R Arrival runway: 07R Cost index: 40
Nautical mileage: 420 nm Trip wind component: -10 kts
Cruise flight level: FL330 Cruise Mach: M0.79 Cruise IAS: 280 kts
Alternate airfields: Primary alternate EDFH [rwy 03] (Frankfurt Hahn)
Other alternates: EDDK [rwy 32R] (Cologne/Bonn), EDDS [rwy 07] (Stuttgart), EDDL [rwy 23L] (Düsseldorf)
Estimated flight time: 1 hrs 10 mins Actual flight time: 1 hr 1 min
Estimated FRA arrival: 1119Z
LHR blocks off: 0938Z LHR engine start: 0940Z
LHR taxi: 0944Z LHR airborne: 1004Z
FRA actual arrival: 1105Z FRA blocks on: 1113Z
Departure taxiways: J,B,A,K Runway holding point: PLUTO
Forecast wind: 270°/5kts Takeoff flaps: 15°
Takeoff D-TO: +60° C = Takeoff EPR 1.55
TMSP takeoff setting: TO 2 (= CLB2 climb thrust derate)
STAB trim: 4.4° V1: 129 kts VR: 129 kts V2: 131 kts
Acceleration altitude: 1100ft SID: DVR5F QNH: 1030mb
Forecast wind: 030°/10 kts Landing flaps: 30°
DA: 530ft Clean speed: 200 kts
STAB Trim: 6°
VREF20 = 130 kts
VREF25 = 123 kts
VREF30 = 120 kts
Approach: Visual Landing: Manual STAR: OSMAX2E QNH: 1028mb
Arrival taxiways: A,C,B,B2,D
Aircraft and fuel weights
Ramp weight: 79 600 kg Takeoff weight: 79 200 kg ZFW: 71 380 kg
Empty operating weight: 60 842 kg Landing weight: 75 285 kg
Max landing weight: 90 000 kg Trip fuel: 3 890 kg
Alternate fuel (to EDFH): 1 391 kg Reserve fuel: 1 519 kg
Taxi fuel: 420 kg Fuel on takeoff: 7 800 kg Actual fuel burn: 4 200 kg
And the bit you’ve all been waiting for, the ATS routing!
-N0439F330 DVR5F DVR UL9 KONAN UL607 SPI UT180 DITEL T180 POBIX/N0407F230 T180 OSMAX OSMAX2E
-EET/EGTT0008 EBUR 0017 EDVV0041 EDUU0041 EDFF0047 REG/GBPEK SEL/EFHM OPR/BAW DOF/050411 RVR/200 RMK/TCAS
And here’s an explanation for it, OK 99% of you are going to just skip on, but please somebody read it to make my effort worthwhile! It may be a bit techy and boring but it’s very important.
First up we’re in a B752, and the letters after that are the coding for the aircraft’s equipment and weight category etc – basically just describing the aircraft. Then, our ETD from EGLL is 0940Z or 9:40GMT, 10:40 local. Filed true air speed is 439 knots, cruise altitude FL330 or 33,000 feet. Then the route, Dover 5 Foxtrot out to Dover, etc etc, Osmax 2 Echo into FRA. Note we have another N F thing which suggests a descent to POBIX to be level at 23,000 feet – this won’t necessarily be followed by the crew.
The plan estimates FRA – EDDF – will be reached exactly 1 hour after departure, this is just a fluke really, they don’t round to nice numbers to make it easier for the pilots! Then the main alternate – EDFH – or HHN, Frankfurt Hahn.
Then we have the EET or Estimated Enroute Time reaching the various ATC FIRs (Flight Information Regions). They all have a four letter ICAO code just like airports, so we’ve got London EGTT 8 minutes after leaving, Brussels 17 minutes, all the way to Frankfurt Control 47 minutes after departure. The reg is G-BPEK, selcal (different type of radio system) EF-HM, operator is BA (BAW in ICAO), date of flight 4th April 2005, minimum RVR (runway visual range) available 200 metres, and a remark that we’re TCAS equipped. Phew!
Here’s a picture of the route in visual form courtesy of fallingrain.com, I’ve drawn onto it what the SID and STAR are roughly like:
We set off just after 6:30, hoping to be checking in by 8:00, but although the weather was perfect, the M40 Monday morning traffic wasn’t, and we crawled past High Wycombe onto the M25. We reached LHR getting on for 8:30 and after parking in one of the short stays at T1 headed briskly for the check in. Since we only had hand luggage we could put to use BA’s self service check in – wow! It was the first time I’d seen it in action and very impressive. After putting the Exec card in there was a brief pause and then the machine displayed flights we could check in. Then maps of the seating configuration were displayed. We chose seats on the left just behind the 757’s wing for the way out and likewise on the left for the A319 returning as this should theoretically give the best views of both airports on takeoff/landing, especially if FRA was on 07s. In each case I chose an A seat on one row with Hennerz in the A of the row behind and Nigel (his dad) in the B of that row.
After choosing the seats the machine promptly produced boarding passes for both flights and we made for security. We hadn’t gone anywhere near a check in desk, magic! After passing through to international departures it was time for breakfast in a restaurant, I had some continental concoction which was really delicious.
By the time breakfast was over it was 9:30 and the flight was due to leave at 10:40. There was no gate printed on the boarding passes for 904 and as the monitors kept on indicating “Wait in lounge” we decided to make for the Europier since there was a reasonable chance we would be using a gate there and it’s about the only place in T1 where a decent attempt at photography is possible.
But the clock kept ticking, and no gate was posted on the monitors, nor did any 757s turn up at the Europier – it is increasingly used for the BA T1 longhauls now and the southern side of the pier was dominated by 744s. The only shorthaul was a 767, G-BNWW, on 141 to IST and an A319 nextdoor on 143 to HAM. Finally at 10:05 a gate appeared – gate 17, on the middle pier. Fine, so we were completely wrong . However, Hennerz had a hunch about this 10mins before the call was made so all was well! We walked quickly back past the “K” cul de sac and down the middle pier to gate 17, which corresponds to stand 117. On the stand was BA 757 G-BPEK, one of the older aircraft in BA’s fleet but a welcoming sight nonetheless, who can’t like a 757 ride? Soon the gate staff announced that flight BA904 to Frankfurt was ready for boarding. Henry and I virtually leapt to the boarding desk, and I pulled out the form for this flight from my bag. Then we walked down the airbridge. For this flight Hennerz would be responsible for requesting flight deck visits so he went in front and greeted the purser with a beaming smile, asking if we could see the Captain because of our enthusiasm etc…
G-BPEK getting loaded up on 117 to take us to FRA, sorry about the dirty window – not the last I was to encounter on this trip either! As you can see it was a gorgeous day, hardly a cloud in the sky
We walked down the step into the flight deck, something almost unique to the 757. Inside there was only the First Officer, no sign of the captain, but he was very friendly and shook hands. We talked about the takeoff derate, which would be 60 degrees C for this flight, for a techy reason they would not derate higher than 60, it’s a bit complicated to explain here but due to the fact that the thrust levers must not move forward when passing from takeoff to climb power after reaching acceleration altitude. We also discussed the SID and STAR. He was expecting the 25s for landing from the latest METAR for FRA. He explained that he has been with the 757/767 fleet on BA for two years, coming into the commercial pilot scene flying the ATR for CitiExpress before moving onto mainline. He very much likes the 757/767 job in BA as it combines mostly shorthaul with some longhaul – so the best of both worlds so to speak - as well as the ability to be typerated for two aircraft which, outside the flight deck, do not bear a lot in common!
After a while the captain appeared, and we introduced ourselves to him as well. Then, after checking we could come back at the end, we went back into the cabin where most people were seated, and found Henry’s dad in the seats as we had arranged.
I had barely sat down when a young FA came towards me : “0h there you are, I’ve been looking for you,” he said. What? In trouble already?! In fact it turned out that I had been reseated, because there was chewing gum on my seat. In all honesty I was more concerned with getting the left hand window than whether there was chewing gum stuck to my seat, but I followed him down to the very back of the cabin, almost the last row. Fortunately it was still an A seat. The load factor was not terribly high on this flight (108 passengers) so there would be no one sitting next to me in that row. However, the window, like most on this aircraft, was very dirty, so I apologise for the quality of the photos…
The familiar chime from the PA system was followed by the customary welcome aboard from the Captain, who was expecting an on time departure and explained a little about the weather enroute (not quite as good as FRA as LHR). He expected a flight time of about 1 hour 15 minutes and explained that the FO would be flying this leg.
Several minutes later, with the airbridge retracted and all doors closed, we began to push back after a Finnair A320. The tow truck was disconnected and the lovely Rolls Royces began to wind up into action . After the engines had been started we waited for a few minutes in the cul de sac, presumably an ATC, and then began to taxi out to 27R, turning round Bravo and then back onto Alpha to hold at PLUTO. Flaps were lowered to 15 degrees. It was a typical mid morning LHR scene with about six aircraft in front of us, so the First Officer informed us over the PA that he guessed about a ten minute delay in departing. Most interesting were 9K-AMA, a KU A300 and AA 777 along with all the usual European stuff and the bmi Star Alliance G-MIDW, plus another two BA 757s including G-BPED ahead of us.
AA 777 rolling on the right
G-BPED off before us
Lining up after 9K-AMA
We lined up immediately after the Kuwait, but held for several minutes at the threshold. This is for three reasons – call me sad lol, but here they are. Firstly Kuwait bound flights out of LHR almost invariably use Dover SIDs as we were also using for Frankfurt. In short this means we both follow the same routing after taking off and so for traffic separation there must be at least two minutes between aircraft on the same SID. Secondly wake turbulence issues between the aircraft, and thirdly there was a runway inspection of 27R in progress which means having to wait for the vehicle to inspect a bit of the runway before turning off – although the aircraft are normally given priority.
Looking down 27R with 9K-AMA rotating
OK, boring stuff over. After about two minutes on the threshold the RRs spooled into action and we began to race down 27R, in classic 757 style. (Incidentally, now might be a good point to watch the movie, it can be found at http://www.flightlevel350.com/viewer.php?id=3937 ). Soon we were rotating upwards and climbing away giving a great view of T3 and the ever impressive T5 construction site. The Dover SID means almost a 180 degree left turn off 27R which is fantastic for LHR overviews, as these shots show.
This shot of Hennerz’s made it to the top viewed of a.net photos for a couple of hours when it was uploaded:
Photo © Henry Lidster
As we climbed up and away on the SID we passed the southern outskirts of London and then after reaching Detling turned right to head towards Dover. Just a few months previously I had experienced all this from the flight deck of a 737, so this was never going to be as special, but I was pleased to be back with BA nonetheless and the weather was excellent for photography. Fifteen minutes after takeoff we had cleared Dover and were routing out towards Belgium and thence onwards to Germany and FRA.
Soon the crew began to come round with the ubiquitous All Day Deli, which this morning comprised a bun and biscuit, along with a choice of drinks which was tasty and quite filling, reminding me of the good value of these BA tickets (you can hardly get an FRA return with them for under £100 now with the fuel surcharges going up).
Another five minutes and we had crossed over to the continent and were at our cruise altitude of 33,000 feet. The absence of the thick layer of cloud which I’d had following the same routing with OA to Athens meant that some great photographs were possible. First OST slid by to the left, and then BRU, and here are the photos to prove – not brilliant but the best I could manage.
In addition we had a great air-to-air view of a of a bmibaby 737 heading in the same direction, though the pitiful optical zoom on my camera means I don’t have any shots of that worth sharing. We continued along our routing, over the Sprimont VOR and crossed through into German airspace. By this time the visibility and view of the ground was still very good, the cabin crew had cleared away the food and now came round with the duty free selection. This seemed a fruitless mission, as no-one paid it the slightest bit of attention.
Another chime over the PA system and the captain was back on the air. He said we were cruising about 120 miles northwest of FRA and would be shortly starting our descent. He estimated we would be on stand in about 50 minutes. This seemed quite long for a normal descent and I imagined they were expecting to have to come downwind to line up with one of the 25s. Perhaps some holding would be in order as well.
Soon the engine noise spooled down and the aircraft pitched down a touch as we started to descend, inbound on the OSMAX 2 Echo STAR. The scenery below was pretty, and typical of north western Germany. Still the weather was bright and sunny – the captain had warned it would be cloudy – and this would hopefully mean great weather for observation at the FRA terrace.
About five minutes into the descent – wham! – up went the speedbrakes, the engines spooled down some more and we began to descend much faster. Explanation was in order, though, the FO came over the PA to explain that in fact we would be landing from the opposite direction and were able to get a straight in approach from Frankfurt ATC. We’d be landing in about 20 minutes. This prompted a flurry of action amongst the cabin crew who went quickly around checking all food was cleared away, tray tables up, etc, for landing. I was pleased as well, since, sitting on the left a landing on either of the 07s would give me an excellent view.
Having passed through what little cloud layer there was, it was clear that we were now under radar vectors for what I thought at the time was an ILS intercept but later turned out to be a visual approach. With the ground growing nearer the flaps were progressively lowered and the FAs seated themselves for landing. Also audible were the loud clunks as the gear was lowered. The scenery on the approach was interesting, comprising at first charming little towns and very wooded countryside. Movie time now again – http://www.flightlevel350.com/viewer.php?id=3944
As we came lower it grew much more built up, with at least one autobahn visible, amidst the thickly wooded forests around FRA. The 757’s characteristically low approach speed – the VREF for flap 30 was 120 knots for this approach – was noticeable. Before long we were sweeping over runway 18 with an aircraft already lined up to leave after we’d passed, and then down in between the maze of taxiways for a smooth touchdown on 07R. I felt the FO definitely floated the landing, although this may have been deliberate, as after touchdown no reverse thrust was used with the result that we coasted down most of the 4000 metre 07R before exiting as this would mean less taxiing time to our stand on T2. I noticed we passed the second threshold markings for 08R. I’ve never understood this at all, but for some curious reason FRA’s 25L/07R contains (or used to contain) a second runway, inside it, designated 26L/08R. As a result there are two thresholds, two PAPIs etc. I believe this has been closed now, but it is an unusual feature, maybe something to do with the USAF base on the south side of the field.
Exiting at Foxtrot the inflight services manager welcomed us to Frankfurt, where the time was just after 1pm. I knew the trip was going to be a success as soon as I saw the plethora of aircraft on the aprons glinting under the sun, many rare for us in the UK. We taxied up Charlie which is basically the parallel taxiway between 25L/07R and 25R/07L and then round the top of 25R on Bravo, passing under a US A330 climbing out from 07L. This afternoon as far as I could tell the runway configuration was 07R solely for landings, 07L almost exclusively for takeoffs and 18 for takeoffs.
US A330 climbing out from 07L
Entering the T2 apron area
Manoeuvring onto the stand, the 777 is N777UA, the very first 777 in commercial service
We were now passing past the T2 apron with many interesting aircraft parked on the remotes, including N777UA and an Aeroflight A320. I saw my first A318, F-GUGB, on Delta 9, with an Icelandair 757 next door on Delta 8. We parked on Delta 5 and engines were shut down. The airbridge was soon connected and passengers began to disembark.
Parked up on D5
I met up again with Hennerz and we went back into the flight deck. The captain and FO had not only our forms but also a stack of flight documentation including the entire Cirrus flight plan print out, the NUBRF (this is BA weather info and NOTAMS) and the takeoff and landing card. We both took a few photos of the deck and Hennerz asked the FO (as he was the pilot flying this leg) about the use of wing and beacon lights. Then we chatted briefly with the pilots about the approach and our daytrip. They’d finished for the day, it seemed they would be overnighting in Frankfurt. They’d flown into LHR from LIN on BPEK earlier in the morning, and a different crew would be taking BPEK back to LHR, from where she would be going on to TXL. Just normal fleet utilisation!
Flight deck of G-BPEK
Report continues in the next post...