Month: October 2013

Superb Visibility

I’ve had short flights to Spain the last few days, and each time I’ve been treated with amazing visibility – giving me gorgeous views from the flight deck. The jet stream that had been giving us some milder weather in late September has now moved from a northerly position to just south of UK, settling over Northern France. Unfortunately that means the weather is rather grim across the UK, whilst Spain is still enjoying warmer weather with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. Malaga was at 26°C whilst Alicante at 30°C today.

The wind speed increased to around 100kt in cruise, indicating that we were crossing the jet stream. We did anticipate some turbulence but it was smooth all the way through, to the passengers’ relief I’m sure! I always look forward to the approach into Malaga and the views are spectacular, particularly when landing on the North-Westerly facing runway. We began descent around just over a 100 miles to touchdown, after passing over the Pyrenees. The skies over Spain were clear, with very few clouds in sight. This is often the case, and even though France may be overcast, it is often clear past the Pyrenees. The descent took us past Granada in the West and Seville in the East.

As we got closer, air traffic control gave us a few shortcuts to the routing to expedite the flow of traffic since we were ahead of the queue with a few aircraft behind us and only one ahead. We normally program in the standard routing into the aircraft’s computer, or what is expected. From experience we knew that the controllers may give us a shorter routing since there wasn’t much traffic ahead, so we planned to be lower than the computed descent profile, preventing a rushed descent. As we predicted, the controllers gave us a few more shortcuts along the way, and our planning put us in good stead.

The approach initially took us south towards the coast, passing the mountainous region in the vicinity of Malaga. As we crossed the coast and went over the sea, I pointed out the Mountains in the far distance to the Captain and remarked that I hadn’t seen them with so much clarity before and that the visibility must’ve been superb. We checked on our map displays and confirmed that we were looking at the Atlas Mountains in Morocco – more than 80 miles away! We went out over the sea for about 10 miles and then the controller vectored (directed) us onto headings to line up with the runway and begin our final approach. Once we lined up with the runway, about 10 miles off the coast and the runway, we were greeted by beautiful, panoramic views of the coast with the mountainous backdrop.

Over the Mediterranean looking towards Spain.

Absolutely wonderful and gorgeous. Really.