Take a closer look

Feature photo (above) by Ron Kroetz | Flickr.com CC-BY-SD 2.0

The views of aircraft arrivals over (or should that be across?) Maho Beach, Sint Maarten are hardly a revelation anymore. Although they don’t get any less spectacular with time.

What is news (for me at least) is this video, which details the arrival of a KLM 747-406M from the cockpit side of things…



More treats from the flight deck

KLM launched a YouTube channel towards the end of last year and, while it’s seen typical service as a a platform for Christmas PR videos and destination publicity clips, the latest batch of uploads (February 2nd) includes three in-cockpit videos covering KLM flight operations.

KLM Cockpit Tales: Part 1 shows how Boeing 737-800 Captain Michiel von Dorst and F/O Ernst Rinsing employ autopilot during a short and busy hop from Amsterdam Schiphol to London Heathrow.

KLM Cockpit Tales: Part 2 joins Boeing 77-200 Captain Henk de Vries and F/O Knut Knudsen for a flight to New York JFK with a particular focus on ATC procedures for transiting the North Atlantic beyond radar range, while allowing for factors like weather and scores of other jets sharing the same strip of sky.

KLM Cockpit Tales: Part 3, ‘Big Plane, Short Runway’ (above), covers the approach and landing of KLM’s daily Boeing 747-400 service from Schiphol to Princess Juliana Airport on Sint Maarten. The clip really focuses on the approach and landing phase of the journey, which is expertly managed, clearly explained and actually hand flown by Captain Tim ten Velde and his F/O Michel Vat.

Jj04 | wikipedia CC-BY-SA 2.5
Jj04 | wikipedia CC-BY-SA 2.5

As mentioned, this six-minute piece doesn’t focus on sea-skimming tyres and tourists getting sand in their hair, as most other clips do. It’s a really enjoyable and educational piece on the cockpit operations and procedures involved in getting a 400-seat jet onto a 2,300 metre (7,546 ft) strip. As it should be.

It would be interesting to know just what kind of weight window these flights operate within, especially regarding fuel. They’d need enough to execute a go around, make subsequent attempts, and divert; all ‘plus reserves’ but without carrying more than necessary. Not forgetting, of course, loading for the 5,000 miles trans-Atlantic flight that has to be completed first (along with ground movement just to get out of Schiphol)…

That degree of attention makes each day’s arrival at St. Maarten a truly spectacular piece of aviation, from any viewpoint.

Wait – there’s way more

Each of the three clips are expertly made by Jetstream TV/Global Nomad Media, where you can follow each flight in absolute detail via fascinating full length videos.

The shorter YouTube clips are expanded into several hours of free viewing that takes you along on every stage of the three flights, from initial briefing in the KLM Crew Centre at Schiphol to landing, taxi, and touchdown at each destination. Better yet, each phase of the flight is accompanied by relevant charts so you can see the route information the pilots are using.

They form a masterfully executed treat for enthusiasts, sim pilots and aspiring airline pilots. I imagine they’d be something of a treat for active commercial pilots as well.


2 thoughts on “Take a closer look

  1. Nice! I’ve flown into St. Maarten on several occasions; the latest was just after Christmas. Holy cow was that place crowded! Couldn’t get a word in edgewise on the frequency, we actually had to hold, and to top it all off, the ramp was so busy you could walk across the airport without touching the ground. Never seen it like that before, but I guess that’s normal for the holidays down there.

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s