***Update on 08/05/2020 @ 01:54UTC – Inserted additional details from Saint Helena Airport***
On July 30th, a Titan Airways Boeing 757 successfully landed in Saint Helena. The aircraft is the largest passenger jet to visit the island and was an exciting day for Saint Helena Airport.
A Boeing 757 arrives in Saint Helena
Titan Airways flew the Boeing 757 as part of a repatriation mission. The flight is bringing citizens back to the UK from Saint Helena. On the way back, the aircraft made a stop in Accra, Ghana, before heading back to London Stansted (STN). On the way down, the aircraft left Stansted and made a stop in Las Palmas (LPA) before reaching Ascension Island (ASI). The next day, the plane flew to Saint Helena from ASI.
The aircraft’s arrival was a big deal for the airport. This was the largest commercial jet to land in Saint Helena. The plane came in and landed on runway 20 from the north.
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The afternoon arrival saw great weather and made for some excellent shots of the aircraft. Before coming in, the aircraft conducted a planned go-around:
The flight required a lot of planning ahead of time. Before arrival, the airport worked with Titan Airways to conduct a risk assessment, flight planning, security planning, and more.
The arrival was successful. Pilots were able to get the aircraft and its passengers on the ground safely. After arrival, the plane spent a night on the ground before heading out to London via Accra the next day.
The next morning, the aircraft got ready to head on its journey back to London via Accra.
Before departing, the crew performed some training flights, including this takeoff. The goal of these tests, per the airport, was to let the aircraft’s crew become familiar with the airport’s flying conditions before putting passengers onboard. The plane finally departed around 10:00 AM local time on July 31st.
On the inbound flight there were 51 passengers heading to Saint Helena. Alongside those passengers came some medical supplies, but there was no other specific cargo for relief purposes. Heading back to London were 94 passengers.
Compared to a traditional Boeing 757, this was a light load. The lower weight of the aircraft, stemming from the low load, likely helped the aircraft land safely in Saint Helena. Coupled with the 10km+ visibility and light wind meant that pilots had excellent arrival conditions.
Titan Airways has visited the airport before
Back in April, Titan Airways flew an all-business Airbus A318 to Saint Helena. That plane was operating a relief mission. The A318 is a much smaller aircraft than the Boeing 757-200 that flew this mission. Much like this flight, the Airbus A318 relief mission was also successful.
About Saint Helena Airport
While the arrival of a Boeing 757 at some airports would barely raise an eyebrow, an arrival in Saint Helena Airport is far from usual. The airport has a shorter runway than most other major commercial airports. This does not allow for aircraft like the Boeing 777 or Airbus A350 to arrive at the airport with a full load of passengers and cargo.
Commercially, Saint Helena sees Embraer E190 service off to South Africa on Airlink. However, the arrival of aircraft like the Boeing 757 raises some interesting possibilities for commercial flights. This flight shows that it is possible for larger aircraft to land, but with enough planning.
However, the one thing that airlines have to keep in mind is the remote location of the airport. Saint Helena Airport does not have a large number of suitable diversion points. This will likely limit the airport’s ability to attract long-haul options. One option could be for tour companies to work with airlines to create seasonal charters to bring passengers to the island.
Are you glad to see the Boeing 757 arrive in Saint Helena? Let us know in the comments!