Thursday, April 17, 2008

Belfast City Airport = Flybe iced up + emergency exercises + flightpaths over Belfast + and later opening

Belfast City Airport is struggling to keep out of the news at the moment!

Air Accidents Investigation Branch logo

The Air Accident Investigation Branch have reported on the Flybe Dash-8 that was on its way across from Edinburgh to Belfast City on the evening of 10 December 2006 carrying 71 passengers and four crew. The flight had to make an emergency descent from 16,000 feet down to 8,000 feet when cockpit instruments failed. Rather than turn back, the crew continued towards Belfast at low altitude and landed safely.

The report determined that at least one of the heaters that keep external sensors from icing up had not been switched on in time.

“The report said that one of the heaters was definitely not turned on and, ‘in all probability’ the crew had failed to turn on two others ...

The report said the crew’s pre-flight checks may not have been done properly and that they may have become distracted before take off.” BBC News report

excerpt from the AAIB report into the troubled Flybe flight

Despite having solid state back boxes, only the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) which records details about instruments and measurements was of any use to the investigators:

“by the time the order was made for the preservation of the CVR [Cockpit Voice Recorder - which held just over 26 hours], data for the incident flight had been over‑written.”

Belfast City Airport will soon be conducting one of their regular emergency simulation exercises to practice coordination of police, fire, ambulance and airport teams.

As I’ve driven into work down the Holywood Road the last few mornings, planes have been consistently coming in to land over South Belfast. I kept thinking that it would make a terrific photograph as they disappear in behind Holywood Arches Health Centre, or appear out of nowhere above Wyse Buys.

And it also reminded me that the airport had never got back to me about up-to-date (and historic) flight-path direction information. The statistics on their webpages are still two and a half months out of date. (I’ve a feeling they only update them quarterly.) And they still don’t support Ryanair’s public claim:

“The airport tells us that 80% of our flights use flightpaths over Belfast Lough, which minimises noise in residential areas”.

Table showing direction of arrivals and departures of aircraft at Belfast City Airport - Nov 2007 to Jan 2008

Nor did bmi come back with more details about their barcode check-on trial that’s starting in Belfast City Airport in May.

Combining aspects of those last two threads was today’s report on Good Morning Ulster about bmi’s call for an extension to the airport’s opening hours to allow their final flight to land later and better serve the business community who would appreciate 30–60 extra minutes in London and better connections with evening flights coming in from Europe.

Local residents were interviewed on the Ormeau Road in a lull between early morning takeoffs and the next rush of aerial activity around 9am. There was a notable absence of participation from bmi and Belfast City Airport (who had been invited).

A desire for later flights was something that the airlines were asked about in the 2004–6 public examination of the Planning Agreement. Back in January 2005, bmi outlined their position, consistent with this morning’s report about a desire to see an extension to opening hours.

excerpt from bmi's January 2005 response to Planning Agreement consultation

1 comment:

Timothy Belmont said...

You could take a photo of one of those flights coming over Belfast; they could add that to their records! :-)