Friday, 10 September 2010
Two A380s at Manchester
It actually went well; I kept it light and simple, and the children were interested in the presentation which covered the Montgolfier Balloon, the Wright Flyer, the history of the Airport, and aircraft through Concorde to the A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft. I was able to link this to something we hoped to see for real later on - the daily arrival of the Emirates A380 from Dubai on only the sixth day the A380 has been used on the service. The school were later kind enough to write a letter thanking us for 'a great day out which the staff and children really enjoyed', which is gratifying.
After the presentation we took the children for a look at our Concorde in her hangar, then ventured outside to watch the arrival and departure of the aircraft adjacent to the viewing park. It was a sunny day, but very windy, and the gusty wind was almost right across the runways making for some (to me) quite 'interesting' arrivals.
At about 12:20 the A380 could be seen approaching runway 05R, and all eyes were on it. Even this giant was visibly rocking in the rough air as it neared the runway. The touchdown point of 05R is down near Mobberley, some distance from the Viewing park, but we clearly saw the aeroplane pitch nose-up to hold off prior to touchdown, saw the cloud of tyre smoke as it landed... and then were amazed to see it immediately rise into the air again and climb, before turning right towards Alderley Edge. I guess the crosswind must have gone outside limits for the aircraft just prior to touchdown, and the captain (or, more likely given the level of automatic control on the A380, the on-board systems) initated a go-around. The giant aeroplane remained visible for the several minutes it took to fly away from the airfield, turn downwind, turn base leg, and re-position on final for a second approach. This time it touched down and stayed down, and taxyed to its dedicated double-deck stand on Terminal One.
It should have left at about 14:15, but apparently it had developed a fault which may or may not have been related to that go-around. The rumour is that the touchdown was hard, and the automatic 'heavy landing' indicators illuminated on the flight deck necessitating a 'heavy landing' check by the engineers, by which time the crew were out of hours, preventing a return to Dubai that day.
That evening's Emirates Boeing 777 service arrived from Dubai and departed again on time, leaving its larger cousin still on the ground.
Tuesday's A380 arrived on time, and for a while there two of these giant airliners at Manchester. Later, Tuesday's A380 service departed back to Dubai, followed a short while afterwards by the A380 that should have left the day before.