Our 2016 Vote Me Airside money-can’t-buy airside prize tour at Heathrow took place on Friday 23 September – with our winners treated to an incredible day! From the Control Tower to aboard an American Airlines 777, this group of lucky aviation fans took 1000s of photos so we’ve decided to share the best of them alongside a recap of the day! Enjoy!
The day began with a trip up the Heathrow Air Traffic Control Tower where the team was met by NATS’ ATC Ady Dolan who explained how the controllers keep the world’s busiest 2 runway airport running. In addition to our 5 winners, we also had special guests Daniel Goz (creator of the Dantorp Aviation channel on youTube) and Airliners.net screener Gary Claridge-King (who also helped us judge the competition).
From this unique vantage point – some 100m above the runways – our group were lucky enough to witness a host of different aircraft taking off and landing – including the new Finnair A350, a British Airways A380, and an Air Canada 787-8 Dreamliner.
Thanks to the perfect sunshine on the day the London Eye, the Shard and Wembley Stadium were visible to the east and the north of the airport, while to the west our guests could see Windsor Castle!
All aboard American Airlines new Boeing 777-300
Next stop on the tour was checking out a new Boeing 777-300 thanks to our friends at American Airlines. Once aboard, the group were able to visit the cockpit, check out AA’s new state-of-the art first class product, see the new business class seating that includes lie flat beds, and explore the crew rests.
The aircraft is part of a £3 billion investment programme the airline is undertaking that will see it take delivery of over 500 new aircraft between 2015 and 2020! We’ve covered this in more detail, here, including a look inside at the new features on board AA’s fleet.
Next stop: Heathrow Airport Fire Service
After a quick stop for lunch at Terminal 2’s Perfectionists Cafe – owned by Michelin Starred Chef Heston Blumenthal – our group was back out on the tarmac taking photos from taxi-ways near the now closed Terminal 1. A guided tour of the Heathrow Airport Fire Service station and demonstration of one of the state of the art “Panther” fire truck’s in action was next up.
The Fire Service also got out their mobile stair vehicle which they use in situations involving high buildings and A380s. While atop the stairs, our group were lucky enough to have a Qantas A380 taxi past just metres in front of them – with winner Akbarali taking the stunning photo below.
Ethiopian Airlines A350, Concorde, and the Southern Runway
The Airbus A350 is one of the quietest and cleanest aircraft ever made -as well as a new fan favourite (and one of ours in the office too) so the tour took a detour to visit Ethiopian Airlines’ own parked on stand 253! Ethiopian Airlines is only the second carrier at Heathrow using an A350 and they only began using the aircraft in August.
From there, the team had a brief stop off next to the British Airways Concorde, parked outside one of their maintenance areas. The day was rounded off by the chance to take photos from several different vantage points of aircraft landing on the Southern Runway (027L to be precise).