On Saturday, the United Kingdom was buffeted by heavy rain and winds of up to 50mph as Storm Dennis (the second-weekend storm in a row) swept across the country. There was significant travel disruption and hundreds of flights had to be cancelled at London Heathrow Airport (LHR) so that aircraft could be given more time and space to land.
While there weren’t quite so many so-called ‘go-arounds’ as was seen during Storm Ciara that hit the week before, aircraft coming into land at LHR on Saturday faced some considerable difficulties.
Crosswind landings always look pretty scary but the “skilful” way in which the pilots of an Etihad Airways Airbus A380 managed to safely land the giant double-deck aircraft won a lot of praise when a video of the landing went viral.
Sky News described the pilots “skill” in getting the plane down in such difficult circumstances, while the Independent called the landing “extraordinary” as the plane hovered sideways over the runway.
But a leaked memo from Etihad’s own pilot training department would suggest the airline wasn’t quite so impressed with the pilot’s efforts during Storm Dennis.
“You may have seen a video this week of one of our A380s landing in a strong crosswind in London,” the memo from Etihad’s manager of flight crew training for its Boeing fleet starts off.
“Initially the landing was seen by some as a ‘masterful landing,'” the memo continues.
“This official view from the Training Department is a simple one – THIS IS NOT WHAT WE WANT TO SEE. There is a time to give an approach away in the interest of safety”
“If you see such a thing in the sim (aircraft simulator) that would be a grade 1 for both pilots… Please gentlemen, let’s teach our pilots to operate safely even that means changing the mission.” Ouch
Etihad has been contacted for comment.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.