Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Exploring Belfast City Airport // Part Two

Rainbow behind Flybe plane parked on apron at Belfast City Airport

September was a good month for rainbows in and around Belfast. The afternoon I visited the Belfast City Airport was no exception.

It’s difficult to beat the magic of the journey hold luggage takes between the check-in desk and the aeroplane. Some of the technology around the airport is craftily simple.

Parking alignment indicator at stands at Belfast City Airport

As planes taxi in across the apron to their stand, how do they know when they’re lined up straight? There are a set of lights underneath the stand number. When the plane is correctly aligned, from the captain’s (left hand) seat in the cockpit, the two lines will be green. Veer to one side, and they’ll turn red.

Parking alignment indicator at stands at Belfast City Airport

The airport’s three yellow fire tenders are due for replacement in the next year or so. They serve the wider harbour estate, so don’t be surprised if you see them responding to an emergency in the local area.

Fire tender at Belfast City Airport

I’m not sure why – it is a fire station after all – but I was quite surprised to see a fireman’s pole! It’s still the fastest method of getting downstairs from the mess to the vehicles. There’s a cushion on the ground to protect your ankles when you reach the bottom

Looking up fireman's pole at Belfast City Airport fire stationLooking down fireman's pole in Belfast City Airport fire station

Air Traffic Control lives above the fire station, with a clear view of the airport stands and the up the runway towards Ikea and beyond.

View from Air Traffic Control tower at Belfast City Airport

The relatively low volume of aircraft movements means that flights can be tracked on paper strips.

Air Traffic Control at Belfast City AirportAir Traffic Control at Belfast City Airport

Belfast City Airport is like a village, with a couple of big thoroughfares that visitors walk along, and a whole series of hidden short cuts and narrow back alleys that the locals use to go about their business. Touring the airport gave me a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes activity that keeps the airport running. Thanks again to the staff at the airport for offering the tour.

Empty corridor leading to the gates at Belfast City Airport

There’s little doubt that between the announcements of carriers moving out and in, the plans for runway extension, the public enquiry and the inevitable love/hate relationship between local residents and the airport, Belfast City Airport will continue to be in the news.


Malcolm Redfellow said...

Two nice posts on BHD.

All that remains inexplicable is why my bag is always (a) the one that gets mangled and (b) the one that comes off last. Invariably. Across two continents.

The last time I flew into BHD there was a film-crew on the apron at Stansted. It's the only time I've witnessed baggage loading by hand and not by chuck.

In passing, the complimentary bus link to Sydenham station works, works well, is worth the asking-for. Even if it does suggest the whole BHD effort is one step up from Toytown.

Filippa Sartini said...

That rainbow is rockin' in the background of that airport. It's kind of like fireworks before takeoff... or a greeting during landing. It fires up the wanderlust for exploration, bringing up the urge to fly toward the other end of the rainbow.