View Full Version : Heathrow 09L closures

Captain Windsock
6th Jan 2003, 21:11
Today, Mon 6th, Heathrow closed 09L several times. Loads of delays, go arounds and late runway switching. From their book of excuses came a couple of crackers. Any guesses? Answers maybe tomorrow.

6th Jan 2003, 21:33
I would be interested to hear. Some people I know missed their connection to Melbourne and were told the southbound shuttles were delayed because of snow. A quick look at the metar showed CAVOK!!!!??

6th Jan 2003, 21:49
Single Runways Ops due to De-Icing of the runways or something of that nature as far as the Flt Ops Dept that I work in were told.

6th Jan 2003, 22:06
Better than Paris CDG these last couple of days!!!!!!!!!!!

7th Jan 2003, 01:12
The correct answer would be that a fox on the runway had been hit by an aircraft with the result that the runway had to be closed to facilitate removal of the debris.

This, of course, only relates to a closure around 9 p.m. last night.

Paul A.

Anthony Carn
7th Jan 2003, 07:29
Captain WindsockFrom their book of excuses came a couple of crackers.
IMHO, based upon my experience of, shall we say, 1000nm radius of LHR, they are by far the best operators/controllers of an airfield I've operated into, at least in the last two decades, anyway. I've never had any experience of them making excuses for anything.


7th Jan 2003, 07:29
Saturday afternoon, there were several erratic changes to landings & t/offs at LHR, swapping from 09R and 09L then single runway ops for about 30 mins during the afternoon.

2x Runway inspection vehicles parked at each end of the runway with yellow flashing lights going ten to the dozen

What was going on?

7th Jan 2003, 07:47
I've never heard anything from a book of excuses at LHR, only good controling

7th Jan 2003, 08:56
From their book of excuses came a couple of crackers

There are reasons as to why you sometimes get various "information" about things that have happened. For example, if an aircraft had crashed on the runway and everybody had died, we aren't going to lay that one on you over the RT!! More than likely we will say "Runway x is closed due to an incident". In addition, these situations are often fluid and so what is true one minute is often no longer the case the next minute and so the reasons change. Tag on to that the fact that if a runway is closed for a while and then re-opens suddenly it may not be possible to make all the aircraft in the queue magically disappear hence leading to even more "excuses".

But believe me, we give you all the information we are able to over the RT, but I suggest if you want to know what the misfortune is on the closed runway then ask your company!

And remember, sometimes even we don't know when we are getting the tarmac released back to us! :)

Fright Level
7th Jan 2003, 10:02
At 1500, LHR went single runway ops to de-ice the runways. At around 1600 with 09L in use, there was an RTO that closed the only runway. Loads of long hauls were low on fuel as holding was not forecast and approx 15-25 mins. Diversion talk was rife on the co freqs. 09R was reopened asap.

A long haul 744 landed on the newly opened 09R but with LHR not being his base, missed the correct exit and stopped on the runway. More go arounds followed no doubt with tightening peckers as the fuel gauges dropped to minimums.

An interesting afternoon professionally handled by our ATC colleagues as usual. Well done guys.

7th Jan 2003, 10:16
"Loads of long hauls were low on fuel as holding was not forecast and approx 15-25 mins. Diversion talk was rife on the co freqs. 09R was reopened asap."

Why on earth should a maximum of 5 minutes extra holding cause such distress?

Yellow Snow
7th Jan 2003, 10:41
On Saturday and Yesterday afternoon the forecast was for icey/snow conditions so the airfield authority had to de-ice/pre-ice the runways and turn-offs. This involves closing one runway at a time and the airfield ops boys and girls getting the work done while we go single runway ops on the other runway. Packing and gapping to help out approach and the inbounds.
When the 321? aborted 09L the runway was inspected and it was just very fortunate that 09R de-icing work was nearing completion otherwise we would've been closed. The delays from the single ops continued to domino throughout the afternoon and were compounded by a false fire-alarm in the tower in the evening that stopped all deps and start-ups for about 15 minutes as per our SOP.

No big conspiricy here just the most effecient safe and expeditious flow of aircraft that we can given the constraints that were put on us.

As for Crackers from their book of excuses:confused: I can only assume you mean your company flight ops; because if you ask me or most of my fellow ATCOs on the RT you'll only get the
truth, workload permitting and as long as it doesn't involve anything to do with staff shortages;)

Fright Level
7th Jan 2003, 11:03
I don't know of anyone that carries LHR holding fuel on long haul flights other than if a low vis message has been sent out to the stations the night before. Over 12 hours it is quite possible to burn the contingency on any number of variables, hence the concern on the co freq yesterday. With a hold of that duration announced suddenly, it was no wonder diversions were being discussed.

The runway closure announcement even caught the ATC guys out.

Anthony Carn
7th Jan 2003, 11:14
Why on earth should a maximum of 5 minutes extra holding cause such distress?
Good question !

I wonder how many of those who did suffer distress would care to describe their pre-flight fuel calculations and reasoning in this specific case, and to what extent company policy played any part.

I've started a separate thread entitled "How much fuel do you carry ?" to avoid clogging this one. This can be found in the Tech Log forum.

A question which won't receive many/any replies, I anticipate.

7th Jan 2003, 12:44
It's no great secret! We arrived in the Ockham hold yesterday afternoon having flown from the western USA. Winds and levels had not been friendly, and we'd pretty much used our contingency fuel by the time we were approaching the hold, with an unknown number of aircraft ahead of us. We were aware of the single runway operation and, like most, I suspect, were keeping a careful eye on Gatwick 'just in case'. We'd been given an EAT that we were happy with, although it left us with little fat.

The loss of the second runway naturally changed the picture somewhat, and meant that our EAT was likely to slip into unacceptable territory. We thus set in motion, through Company, a diversion to LGW and informed LHR ATC that we would be diverting in a very few minutes if there was no change in the situation. Approach (bless their cotton socks!) told us that 9R was just about to become available if we were prepared to go for it, and we accepted. We landed still with enough fuel to divert, though it wouldn't have been a popular course of action!

The point is that you don't get yourself into a hole you can't dig yourself out of, and you set things in motion before they become imperative so that any last-minute snags can be ironed out without it becoming a panic.

PPRuNe Radar
7th Jan 2003, 13:32

I assume when you say no holding fuel for LHR is carried that you mean that over and above that which the company specifies as part of the minimum reserves. I sure hope so ;)

The UK uses the term 'No Delay Expected' as a standard phrase. This doesn't mean that you won't be held, it means that you can expect holding to be less than 20 minutes before you will be permitted to commence an approach. The controllers can give an indication of the likely holding time on request.

When delays are expected to be 20 minutes or more, you will be issued with an Expected Appproach Time (EAT).

The UK CAA recommend that these factors are taken into account when planning trip fuel. They also recommend that commanders who expect to arrive with little more than their company minimums establish the weather conditions at destination and alternate plus the delay status. As stated by Digitalis above, that then gives the commander the chance to make an early decision on his intentions without a mad panic at the end. Of course, the unexpected can always happen which changes everything (exactly what EDDNR stated happened), however plans can only be made on the best information available at the time. ATC are always a flexible part of the operation, it's our job. Just let us know as SOON as you can. None of us wants to see something like the Avianca crash in NYC happen here in the UK, trust me.

Further information is in the UK Aeronautical Information Circular 36/1998 (Pink 170)

You can read it here (http://www.ais.org.uk/aes/pubs/aip/pdf/aic/4P170.PDF) though you will have to register for the AIS site if you haven't already.


Fright Level
7th Jan 2003, 14:46
PR, of course, yes, I was talking about fuel over and above minimum reserves which I always regard as unusable fuel in my planning.

7th Jan 2003, 22:42
Where would we be without this forum ?

Did loop-the-loops over Berkshire mid afternoon on Monday for 45 minutes on an incoming West Coast flight without any explanation, when no holding was forecast, then waited for almost an hour, again without any explanation, at the boarding gate of a connecting European flight and when the aircraft doors finally closed the skipper told us there was a further 50 minute delay due to only one runway being operational.

Oh, for some information, and not just 'ex post facto' via the information super-highway, in this age of information...

Thanks to all well informed 'informants', BTW !

8th Jan 2003, 11:31
Shortly after the runway juggling, I believe the tower was evacuated for an alarm. That led to another hours delay before push/start on my domestic departure from international stand.