ATC IssuesA place where pilots may enter the 'lions den' that is Air Traffic Control in complete safety and find out the answers to all those obscure topics which you always wanted to know the answer to but were afraid to ask.
Does anyone remember the last time they used the former runway 23 for landings at LHR? I can vaguely remember being there one day in 2000 when the winds were absolutely howling from the SW and I thought I remember seeing ac circle to land from the approach of 27R.
Within the hour the winds shifted back to the west (although still what I recall as a Beaufort force 8 or so) and the landings recommenced on 27R as we nipped off 27L.
Is my memory faulty here? If not, when did they finally put it into the state that it is now? How often was it used for landings? Wondered if in those conditions one was spared the usual buffet on the last mile from the hanger when landing 27R?
I did locate the date for another thread but I'm blowed if I can find it now.
23 was used quite frequently during strong SW winds and there was some surprise when it was closed. It could be a bit of a pain from an ATC point of view, especially after the ILS was decommissioned and we had to do SRAs all day! However, pilots of 707s and DC8s naturally preferred to use it when the main runways had croswinds! Pilots of other aircraft often stayed with 27L, creating interesting situations for trainee radar controllers - and some experienced ones who had never seen that configuration.
When a single aircraft was being sequenced for 27L, calculating its track distance to fit a "gap" left in the 23 stream was somewhat of a black art with the significantly different groundspeeds due to wind effect. Convincing a trainee that the "following" aircraft on 23 had to be ten miles from touchdown at the same time as the "one ahead" on 27L took some doing!
Tower controllers had problems with 27R departures as vortex effect had to be avoided with traffic on short final for 23.
23/05 eventually went the same way as all the other subsidiary runways, the Airport Operator wanting the concrete for reasons other than landing and take-off. Modern aircraft are (most of the time...) more able to cope with crosswinds than the previous generations especially old four-podders (although some side-stickers could provide some entertainment). If the landing aircraft on 23/05 were any more than 2nm apart the air holding delays became huge but for as standard separation had to be distance and not time despite ridiculously low groundspeeds 2.5 nm or more had to be used. Mandatory Wake Vortex separation 'blew away' any chance of tightening up spacing even though the preceding vortex rapidly dissipated by the time the following aircraft came in a position to encounter it. Turbulence was probably more of an issue. It was an awesome sight to see five heavies lined up on 23 and the tower controller crossing tugs on the dual taxiways. Ground movements became more of a problem when the inner taxiway outside the Deltas and Echos was developed for parking and there would be a queue of aircraft leading up to 27R with a 23 vacater trying to squeeze through to the Echos and Foxtrots. I often wondered if it would have been easier if aircraft had turn indicators so that the taxying aircraft could give way to the lander. As HD says the 27L versus the 23 was a real black art but very rewarding when it worked. Had to resort to unofficial 23 LAHSOs on a few occasions. It was also great fun on 05 providing 'back-to-back' SRAs espectially when it was a stiff CAVOK north-easterly. Towards the end of the life of 23 it was not unusual to find oneself supervising a tower-full of controllers who had never seen it in use and the experience died away before the runway was withdrawn to be just the 'outer taxiway'.
I ended up doing 23/27L arrivals cross-runway operations and it was pretty hard work. If I remember rightly, the wind was straight along 23 at about 55kts and I watched an Al Nippon 747 land and come off the runway half way along the Europier (now where taxiway Uniform is). That was also the same day that a Cathay Cargo 747 took runway 27L and nearly had a podstrike.
05 was withdrawn long before 23, I arrived in the late 80s and never saw it. It was withdrawn with Terminal 4's arrival I think. 05 was was an even remoter operation and it was usually snowing if it was needed as it obviously needed a really strong NNE wind. HD will have plenty of war stories about the 05 arrival and the 09R take-off as this was the standard mode.
The BOAC 707 G-ARWE that caught fire and an engine fell off in 1968 came back onto 05R.
Withdrawing a valuable runway just for the revenue convenience of Heathrow, at the nation's major airport, is something that, if they were up to the job, the CAA should never have allowed to happen. Exactly the same during the years that followed when Heathrow maintained the fiction that the runway existed but if you requested 23 you were told there would be a 2 hour delay while infringing parked aircraft were removed, and it never seemed to occur to anyone to have a procedure to remove such parked aircraft beforehand, when the wind was getting up in the relevant direction.
The last movement I can actually recall seeing onto 23 must have been 1988 (because I recall seeing it from the M4 when my old E-reg car was new !). It was a 747, which just looked strange coming from that direction.
For those writing about ATC when intersecting runways were in use, have you ever been to Chicago O'Hare, any day ? Six runways, all intersecting in varying combinations, and all in use simultaneously.
Yes, I've seen (and done!) 05R single runway ops with a howling northerly wind. One day a Trident opted to try 10L but the drift was so bad the crew couldn't see the runway because of the side metal pillars on the cockpit window! They were diverting all over to places with northerly runways. A foreign aircraft diverted to Birmingham after holding for over an hour and we later heard Brum had closed. A friend of mine had been flying a BA aircraft and diverted to Brum. He landed behind the foreigner, which ran out of fuel as it turned off the runway at the far end and blocked the turn-off so my buddy was stuck behind on the runway!
If I recall the usual tower response to the first call from an inbound aircraft on 05R was "Report crossing the river". That was the Thames, about 3.5 miles out. A Trident crossed the river just as a snow storm hit the north side of Heathrow. I urged him to keep the speed on, but just as he crossed the threshold everything disappeared in a white-out and he went round. "We tried our best", he said.
I cleared Speedbird 707 for take off once on 10R with traffic about a mile out on 05R. The gentleman replied that he'd rather wait until that one had landed and I said something like "It's not that one I'm worried about - it's the one 2 miles behind him!" Luckily the guy poured the coal on and everything worked fine.
Approach was fun too.. There was a trainee on South Director one day who'd never seen 05. In accordance with standard procedure the Air Man rang down for a heading for westbound departure off 10R. With lots of confidence of "I've done lots of westbound departures before" the trainee gaily said "250". The usual "two bells" from the Air Man signified that the departure was rolling so I asked the trainee if he was confident the outbound would out-climb the traffic on final approach to 05. "Oh Chr*st"... Quick bell to the Air Man got the outbound stopped on 200, thereby preventing aluminum rain (as our US friends call it) over Virginia Water.
ATC was also frustrated by the inordinate amount of time needed to bring 23 into use, but we were in the hands of the airport owners.
23 produced some great "events". An A310 landed well-down - like almost at the Block 85 and was obviously having problems stopping. It managed to reduce speed enough to lurch off to the left at the end and disappeared behind T4!!! I saw a number of aircraft "have a go" at RAF Northolt, even after 23L ILS was installed. Problem was that the closing heading to lock-on put them nicely lined up for Northolt..... and some took a bit of convincing that they were wrong.
In reply to WHBM, yes, I've been to Chicago and seen it. A colleague of mine went there in the 70s on a familiarisation trip and came back grey-haired. When he queried some of the happenings the US controllers told him the trouble with Brit controllers was that they worried too much.... 'nuff said. I showed some O'Hare controllers round London Approach... looking at the traffic patterns on the radar one of them counted the range rings and said: "Let's see, this is 100, 200 miles, right?" "Not quite - 10, 20 miles". His response was dramatic.
Used 23 quite a few times in the early 90's flying Midland 737's, sometimes used it late at night on calm days inbound with the mail from EDI for controller SRA training, always happy to oblige. I do remember taxing out one very windy morning and seeing a Springbok 747 land on 23 right beside us, very impressive.
Of course there is still a 23/05 runway available for howling SW winds but unfortunately it's up the road at Stansted. Does anyone in ATC know who many times since it shut the x-wind has been out of limits for 27L/R and aircraft have had to divert?
I showed some O'Hare controllers round London Approach... looking at the traffic patterns on the radar one of them counted the range rings and said: "Let's see, this is 100, 200 miles, right?" "Not quite - 10, 20 miles". His response was dramatic.
I was posted to LHR in '89 and 05 was still in use around then as I can remember watching it in action and working it as a tower u/t. It only went out of service when they decided to build some parking stands on what was the 05 threshold.
Sat on my desk beside me is a (the?) 05 runway designator strip, that I liberated when the runway was finally withdrawn.
Once they'd built the stands on the 05 threshold, that was the main reason it then took so long to get 23 up and running. Any aircraft and associated equipment parked on the 05 threshold stands had to be removed before 23 could be used. I recall it either being 2 or 4 hours notice required.
I don't know to whom you are referring, but this happened on a number of occasions when I was at Heathrow so it wasn't unknown. I also saw many fully valid controllers who had never seen 23..... until they arrived on watch to take over!
Over + Out I always understood that to be the case too. Apparently some working with him that day were also seeing it for the first time. I gather SRG said if he could cope with that he could cope with anything! Cheers, N
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