September was a good month for rainbows in and around Belfast. The afternoon I visited the Belfast City Airport was no exception.
It’s difficult to beat the magic of the journey hold luggage takes between the check-in desk and the aeroplane. Some of the technology around the airport is craftily simple.
As planes taxi in across the apron to their stand, how do they know when they’re lined up straight? There are a set of lights underneath the stand number. When the plane is correctly aligned, from the captain’s (left hand) seat in the cockpit, the two lines will be green. Veer to one side, and they’ll turn red.
The airport’s three yellow fire tenders are due for replacement in the next year or so. They serve the wider harbour estate, so don’t be surprised if you see them responding to an emergency in the local area.
I’m not sure why – it is a fire station after all – but I was quite surprised to see a fireman’s pole! It’s still the fastest method of getting downstairs from the mess to the vehicles. There’s a cushion on the ground to protect your ankles when you reach the bottom
Air Traffic Control lives above the fire station, with a clear view of the airport stands and the up the runway towards Ikea and beyond.
The relatively low volume of aircraft movements means that flights can be tracked on paper strips.
Belfast City Airport is like a village, with a couple of big thoroughfares that visitors walk along, and a whole series of hidden short cuts and narrow back alleys that the locals use to go about their business. Touring the airport gave me a fascinating insight into the behind the scenes activity that keeps the airport running. Thanks again to the staff at the airport for offering the tour.
There’s little doubt that between the announcements of carriers moving out and in, the plans for runway extension, the public enquiry and the inevitable love/hate relationship between local residents and the airport, Belfast City Airport will continue to be in the news.