London City is challenging for pilots, Kohler pointed out, due to a short runway of just 1,508 meters, the fact it is surrounded by water and its location in the midst of the densely built-up area of one of the world’s biggest cities.
There are also obstacles in the flight path as well as strict noise abatement rules on approach and takeoff that require specifically modified aircraft plus specially trained pilots.
“On a normal approach, we descend at a slope of 3 degrees at 800 feet per minute and starting to descend eight miles out from touchdown,” Kohler said, noting the situation was much more condensed at LCY.
“Here we start descending only three miles out from the threshold and then have a sink rate of 1,000 to 1,200 feet a minute at an angle of 5.5 degrees.”
The magic button on the front instrument console, located right in the middle between both pilots in the cockpit of the Embraer E190 E2 jet, doesn’t really stand out.
It is labeled “Steep Approach” – and without it, one of the most challenging airports in the world could not be reached.
“If I hit the button it tells the fly-by-wire system that had a software upgrade that I want to do a steep approach, it wouldn’t be possible otherwise,” Mathias Kohler told AirlineRatings late last week in Zurich.
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