The all business class aircraft features just 32 flat bed seats, spread across eight rows. It’s as close as you’ll get to feeling like you’re in a private jet on a transatlantic flight while still flying commercial.
The A318 is specially configured to be able to make the transatlantic crossing. It operates nonstop from New York to London City Airport, though on the return it makes a stop in Shannon, Ireland. In Shannon passengers clear US immigration, though the primary motivation for the stop is that the runway in London City is so short, so the A318 can’t take off with enough fuel for the transatlantic journey from there.
I had the chance to take the route back when it first launched in 2009, and it was a really awesome flight.
While it’s cool from a passenger perspective, it’s arguably equally awesome from a pilot’s perspective. British Airways has just released a video showing how awesome this flight is from a pilot’s perspective, in the form of a narrated approach into London City Airport.
During its final approach into London City Airport the view from the flight deck affords unique views of several of London’s most recognised sights, including the London Eye, The Shard and Tower Bridge – previously only enjoyed by the airline’s pilots.
The video shows British Airways Captain Karen Atherton and Senior First Officer Paul Riglar at the controls of one of the airline’s specially modified A318 aircraft which enable it to perform the special steep approach required at London City Airport, one of the most challenging landings of any of the carrier’s 190 plus worldwide destinations.
Captain Karen Atherton is one of only 27 British Airways Captains qualified to carry out this challenging landing. Only very experienced Airbus pilots at the airline can apply to fly on the route, and all must pass a rigorous extra training programme, involving simulator testing and route flying, before being accepted into the fleet.
British Airways Captain Karen Atherton, said: “The views flying into London are breathtaking, and are a constant reminder of what an incredibly beautiful city it really is.
“The level of training required is demanding, and rightly so, but the flying is extremely rewarding.
“I have one of the best commutes home in the world, and it’s great to be able to share the experience with our customers with this video.”
Due to the airport’s proximity to Central London, and because of its slightly shorter runway, the A318 aircraft is specially modified to allow it to fly this approach, using spoilers on the wing to produce enough aerodynamic drag to maintain the approach speed.
Here’s the awesome video:
Ah, it makes me want to take the flight again!