Pilots flying into one London airport stand out from the rest. This is because those in charge of aircraft landing in and out of east London transport base, London City Airport, face a particularly “demanding” challenge when touching down. The transport hub in the Royal Docks operates to 48 destinations worldwide, with 12 airlines flying out of the terminal. Yet because of the steep incline on the approach and on landing, as well as the 1,199m runway and high buildings in the area, those handling a plane need to take extra care.
The steep approach is a 5.5 degree angle, in contrast to 3.0 degrees at most other airports.
British Airways Senior Training Captain Mike Pickard has spoken exclusively to Express.co.uk about his specific credentials which allow this to happen.
He said: “London City Airport has special requirements to allow a pilot to operate into and out of.
“Once pilots have completed their conversion training, they are required to then have further simulator training for the steep approach, short take off and landing.
“The Captains then progress to aircraft training to practice landing at London City.
“Following that they then complete route training under the supervision of a Line Training Captain.
“Once this is successfully completed they can then operate as a Captain in charge.
“First Officers are trained to the same high standards as the Captains, the only aspect of this training not carried out by the “First Officers is the London City Landing training, and this is because London City is a Captains only landing.”
The qualification takes up to three months to obtain.
Meanwhile, pilots have extra training to tackle parking, due to the lack of available space.
The take off requires also requires them climb as quickly as practicable to reduce the noise level and scale above the surrounding built up areas.
As well as notching an extra qualification on his pilot’s belt, Mike said it was very rewarding.
He added: “Operating into LCY is highly satisfying for me as a pilot and a Training Captain.
“The views on a clear day are spectacular, especially when making an approach onto the easterly runway.
“As you overfly the centre of London you have a birds eye view of most of the various well-known landmarks.”
Meanwhile Alison FitzGerald, Chief Operating Officer at London City, added the extra qualification was a “badge of honour”.
She said: “Being London’s most central airport, in the heart of the Royal Docks, London City Airport has unique characteristics which make it different to any other airport in the UK.
“We work closely with airlines and manufacturers to certify the latest generation of aircraft so they are compatible with our airport, like the 120-seater Airbus A220-100.
“It means that our passengers can fly in comfort, on one of the world’s quietest, most sustainable aircraft, and enjoy some amazing views of London.”