London City – Part 3 – ATC – How many planes are there above us?

After a short break for Breakfast – thank you London City – we were past the morning peak and there were less planes on their stands. Geraldine from Corporate Comms joined us for the rest of the visit.

an airplane flying in the sky

BA After take off with Alitalia in foreground

a close-up of a plane

a plane with stairs going up to it

LH regional about to close the door

It was time to visit the Air Traffic Control Tower – a rare treat only possible because traffic numbers had gone down at the time.

Climbing the Spiral staircase I was warned that no pictures were possible in the room. The four men on duty were able to explain very clearly what their roles were and showed me the sheer volume of traffic around the airport, much of it heading to Heathrow, whose flight path that day was overhead LCY. Close by is the Biggin Hill airport, Northholt, Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick. They gave me a tour of the instruments they use, including the modern, electronic equivalent of the old paper strips air traffic controllers always seem to use in movies.

Clearly a hugely responsible job, there was a quiet calm which is often what you find with jobs that carry great responsibility.

However, the tower had a steel walkway which they were happy for me to access in order to obtain some excellent shots of planes leaving and arriving

a fire truck parked on the street

Fire Truck handling a spill

a plane taking off from runway

Taking off

a group of airplanes parked on a tarmac

BA aircraft for New York (distance)

a plane on the runway

BA4 lands from JFK, and turns 360 to go to its stand

As we were ready to leave the ATC team mentioned that BA4 was on its way to land and I could not resist the temptation to watch it come in from the walkway.

Having thanked the ATC team, I asked if they could fix it for no delays on my BA1 flight the next week – they said they would see what they could do!

If you want to know more about departures from London City check out their web site

Come back tomorrow for the fourth installment – Part 4 – Fire Service – A job for only the brave



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