I had a lightning fast trip to London, for one day of testing at London City airport. We (myself and a flight test engineer) flew over to London on Friday the 14th. Saturday we did a quick pass through central London. On Sunday, we drove to visit the Shuttleworth Collection (Wikipedia entry) at Old Warden Aerodrome. The Shuttleworth Collection has a large number of old aircraft, most of which are maintained in flying condition. They have five aircraft from before WWI, including the oldest airworthy aircraft in the world, a 1909 Bleriot XI, the type of aircraft that first flew across the English Channel. Sunday was one of their occasional flying days, when they display many of their aircraft to the public. It was great to see these aircraft in the air. I took quite a few pictures, but mine aren’t as good as those posted by “Private Custard” on Flickr.

Sunday evening we met up with the manufacturer’s flight test crew in a hotel near Stansted airport, to brief the testing planned for Monday. On Monday, the weather was much nicer than expected, so we flew down to London City for the testing. London City is an airport built on top of the old King George V Dock, on the Thames river, just east of central London. The approaches into London City airport are steeper than normal, to avoid the many buildings, and to decrease noise (most airports have approach angles of –3°, but London City uses –5.5°, almost twice as steep). The steeper approach angles require the aircraft to obtain a specific approval, and the purpose of this test phase was to conduct the final testing to determine whether this aircraft type could be approved to operate into London City.

We had booked four days for the required testing, but the weather was perfect on Monday, and we had excellent cooperation from Air Traffic Control and the London City airport staff, so we were able to complete all the planned testing in one day. Drat! I was really hoping this would take several days, so we had more time in the London area. Oh well.

The winds were out of the east, so we were flying right over central London when setting up for the approach. Here we are on base leg, with Big Ben, the British parliament buildings and the London Eye visible.

Here is the view from final approach on runway 09. You can see the Canary Wharf complex of tall buildings just right of the approach path, which is one of the reasons for the steeper than normal approach angle.

This is the view from short final of runway 09. The whole paved length of the runway is about 4,950 ft long, but the runway thresholds are displaced, leaving 4,327 ft as the published landing distance.

We got done earlier than expected, so we had to come home earlier than planned. It wasn’t possible to get flights back on Tuesday on short notice, so we flew home on Wednesday.