What landing the world’s biggest passen-ger plane looks like – a view from the cockpit
A British Airways pilot has filmed himself landing the world’s largest passenger jet in South Africa to help demystify what can be the scariest part of a flight for nervous passengers. Captain Dave Wallsworth and his crew used dashboard and windscreen cameras to capture the Airbus A380’s final approach into Johannesburgon a sunny day in July this year. The film, published on the British Airways YouTube channel, begins with the plane around 14 minutes from landing, as the flight crew – Wallsworth and senior first officers Jeremy Goodson and Phil Gillespie – begin their approach checks. See the full unedited video below or an abridged version above. The video shows the team manoeuvre the aircraft, which has the callsign Speedbird 55K, over northern South Africa as it approaches the city’s airport. At the beginning of the short film the ground below is a patchwork of unidentifiable fields and towns, with the horizon looming in the distance. Captain Wallsworth handles the aircraft until it is 1,000 feet away from the runway, when SFO Goodwin takes over and turns the autopilot off. The video says nearly all landings are done manually. Over the course of the approach the crew adjusts the A380’s speed, “slats” and “flaps” to “change the shape of the wings” and ready the plane, which carried 469 passengers, for landing. The aircraft also intercepts the “localiser radio beam” that helps it line up with the runway. At one point, a member of the cabin crew joins the flightdeck “as it was such a beautiful morning”. With the A380 nearing Johannesburg O R Tambo International, after a little over 10 hours in the air, the crew reduce its speed to 137 knots (about 158mph) and lower all 22 wheels of its landing gear. With autopilot disabled, the runway soon becomes visible. The team then execute a “lovely landing”.