This was an unusual morning at London Airport, due to poor conditions caused by Storm Eunice. The landing of the TAP flight, which was scheduled for 11.05, did not occur, and the plane had to divert to Paris. the pictures are wonderful
Alfredo Mendonca begins “The captain is primarily responsible for the safety of the passengers, from the beginning to the end of the journey.” According to the president of the Portuguese Airline Pilots Association, two types of safety should always be considered: ssecuritywhich consists of protecting passengers in situations such as terrorism,Effectwhich includes the safety of the flight itself – at which point a series of criteria must be followed before takeoff.
The pilot explains that “in the course of preparation, it is necessary to ensure the weight of the aircraft depending on the weather conditions and the destination.” In addition, there must be “more than enough” fuel to handle any kind of complications that may arise during the flight, whether it be a deviation from the course or being in the air, which in turn should be about 30 minutes and 1,500 feet . In the case of this morning, which included flight TAP TP1354, with connection between Lisbon and London, Alfredo Mendonça ensured that the tank was full enough for a longer trip. “He came down to try to land, but could not stand the strong gale winds,” which prompted the commander to wait until he realized that the most appropriate alternative was to head to Paris. Aviation professionals call this maneuver “Borrego”.
The rules require that “everything is calculated in advance”, and this includes “accurate” forecasting of weather conditions, “especially when it comes to 12-hour flights, while in London about 3”. “The closer to the event, the better,” he concludes. The alternate destination is also included in the itinerary made in advance. This way, if a pilot loses communications in the air and is unable to land, the teams on the ground already know what will happen next.
“It’s one of the things we can’t avoid.”
Inside the plane is the so-called pilot who does not fly, the commander, who decides what steps to follow. “It is mandatory by law, unless the president of the republic is on board,” Alfredo Mendonca jokes. The co-pilot, or pilot pilot, is the one who drives the car. Air traffic control does not allow them to be alone in the air, but the responsible person must inform any and all changes they intend to make.
Similar to what happens during Storm Eunice, if the aircraft is unable to land and exceeds the hold, which will be fuel dependent, the alternative is to follow the pre-set route for these situations, but the captain can still request a more direct route. “If you are in distress, it has been declared an emergency and you have to move on.”
And what about the passengers? Information about the weather and what will happen is then sent. In a situation where a person is terrified, “the cabin crew are trained to comfort you,” and he adds, “since the 9/11 pilots closed and locked the door, they couldn’t get out to comfort anyone.”
Serious problems don’t usually appear, but once you make landfall, changing lanes “creates a snowball effect.” “Passengers sometimes have to wait two or three days and need bigger hotels and planes,” something that happens a lot in Funchal because of bad weather. It is also common in the height of winter with thick fog.
In the end the question arises: can they avoid it? The APPLA chief says no, “weather is one of the things we cannot avoid,” but “there are many solutions and they must be analyzed case by case.” On the other hand, it is considered that “there are aircraft that are more capable than others” and that they can, for example, land without seeing. ‘The same plane must have her automatic landing device, a hardware approach system that provides guidance when approaching the runway. require more money? Admittedly, yes, but for a pilot “nothing could be more expensive than everyone’s safety.”
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