What was all the hype about and what is Big Jet TV?
On Friday, as Storm Eunice pounded the UK with over 100 mph winds being recorded, residents across the country were advised to stay indoors. The storm delivered the strongest winds to Britain in almost 30 years, forcing the Met Office to issue two "red" weather warnings (presenting a potential risk to life) across south Wales, southwest England, as well as London and the southeast.
As a result of the storm, many people developed a new hobby: plane spotting. Over 200,000 people watched a video of planes battling the winds as they arrived at London Heathrow as the storm raged across the south of the UK.
Avgeek Jerry Dyer's Big Jet TV YouTube channel was trending on social media, hitting number two in the UK on Twitter, with one of his hallmark expressions, "bosh," coming in third. More than 230,000 people were following Dyer's livestream from a field outside the airport as he monitored a Qatar Airways A380 making two failed landings before landing for the third and final time, which was successful.
Dyer, who lives near Heathrow, does a livestream from Heathrow every Wednesday, but rushes to the airport to film every time there's bad weather. He says, “whenever there's windy conditions, stormy conditions, I'm always up at Heathrow. It's a lot more exciting to watch than aircraft just landing down and touching down and all that kind of stuff. It's the battle, isn't it? It's the forces of nature against an alloy tub with wings on it that we built and we have to control it down onto the ground in Mother Nature's winds.”
Just how challenging is it to land a plane during high winds?
Landing in high winds, while more challenging than in calm conditions, is regularly practised by pilots in the simulator. In the UK a state-of-the-art training centre located at Heathrow, with 15 full motion flight simulators which enable the regular honing of these skills. Pilots continuously monitor and assess the changing conditions on all approaches. Aircraft manufacturers will provide pilots with guidance on wind limits. When landing in high winds where the direction does not align directly with the runway, pilots use a specially trained cross-wind technique which is practiced regularly in our simulators.
What exactly is a "go around," and what obstacles does it pose?
If a pilot decides to abandon the approach and landing, this is the manoeuvre he or she will use. It entails increasing the aircraft's power, ascending away, and altering the configuration. While this manoeuvre can look spectacular at times, it is a commonly practised manoeuvre that is part of a pilot's typical repertoire.
Pilots will continuously monitor and assess conditions on all approaches. Pilots may choose to discontinue an approach or landing at any point up to the selection of reverse thrust during the landing roll.