Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Flying the Q400 from EGPH to EGBB.

Edinburgh Airport (EGPH) is located 5 nm from the city’s center, just off the M8 motorway.  The airport is the fifth busiest airport in the UK.   The city itself offers a lot for the tourist, given its historical sites and educational institutions.  Edinburgh is also the second largest financial center after London and the seventh most populous city in the UK. Therefore it is no surprise that EGPH is a hub for the virtual airline, Intercity Virtual.

Parked at gate 23 at EGPH

 The regional Intercity carries virtual passengers to and from the capitol of Scotland.  From EGPH, virtual passengers can reach the various other Intercity Hubs and Intercity destinations.  A quick trip across the channel to Sola Norway for example, or a quick trip to Amsterdam.  But for my last flight, a rather tame trip to Birmingham was flown.   Literally a hub to hub route with only 246 nm to be flown.

The flight plan from EGPH to EGBB prepared by Vroute Premium.


The main route from EGPH to EGBB was already stored into the box.  ATIS stated that runway 6 was in use due to the winds.  After setting runway 6 for take off, a large amount of time was spent preparing the expected landing.  Given the 7 kts winds reported from 180 at EGBB, I expected our arrival runway to be RW15.  This was plugged into the box.

GPU hooked up to the Q

I also punched up the RNAV approach to RW15 for visual reference.   Given the low cloud ceiling going into Birmingham, I expected an ILS approach.  My plan was to disconnect LNAV navigation just after hitting PEDIG.   From there, I could use the heading select to capture the ILS.    Charts were mulled over and prepared.  It must have seemed like forever to my 71 virtual passengers before pushback. Unfortunately, things happen fast when traveling in the Q.   You don’t have hours to prepare.  For many of these flights there is very little cruise time.   Hence, it is good to prepare in advance! 

Leaving the apron.

Soon, we were pushing back and firing up the Q400's turbine engines!   There is nothing like the sound of those engines firing up!  As I taxied out to the runway, various other aircraft could be observed moving about.  A Ryanair jet could be seen taking off from runway 6.  From the South Apron, a left turn was made, and then the long haul down the alpha taxi way.  This gave me time to prep the Q for take off.  5 Flaps was set, weather radar was turned on, condition lever were checked, standby hydraulics and auto-feathering activated.    

  EGPH Runway 6

Soon, we were lined up with runway 6.  The bleed flow was set to min, the taxi lights shut off, and landing lights turned on.   After being cleared, we accelerated down the runway, looking for our V rotation of 132 kts.  Once positive rate of climb was obtained, the gear was retraced.   The Q climbed at about 155 kts up to 1500 AGL.   From there I activated LNAV, and we climbed at a set 185 kts to 10,000 feet with 900 rpm.

Climb out from EGPH

Climb out brought the usual clouds, low visibility, and ice!   These are the three things you can expect when flying around the UK.   Clouds, low visibility, more clouds, more low visibility, along with more clouds.   I quickly turned on the ice-protection equipment.   The low visibility, clouds, and slight turbulence, were no issue thanks to the autopilot.  I monitored our sharp turn from RW 6 to the TLA VOR  with checklist in hand.   At 10,000 feet, the IAS was set to 210 kts, and  we cruised up to FL250.

Cruising at FL250

Upon reaching FL250 the condition levers were set to 850 rpms.   The Q cruised along at about 320 kts TAS with only a slight 13 kt wind off the right side.  I set about preparing for the approach and VNAV descent.  I set the VNAV to hit 2800 ft at 5 miles before waypoint PEDIG.  This would ensure a good height for intercepting the EGBB runway 15 ILS.  I was hoping for a manual approach but clouds would be a problem till descending to 1300 feet.   The good news was that visibility would be very good once under the clouds.

EGBB Metar:   EGBB 18009KT 9999  FEW013/// SCT023///BKN042/// 05/04 Q0981

The ND showed a TOD just after the CROFT waypoint.  Before relaxing to view the sunset off to my right, the ILS frequency and ILS heading were set.  After that, I sat back and waited for the TOD to be reached, enjoying the views.

Descending to PEDIG waypoint.

Once the TOD was reached, VNAV was activated.   This called for a major reduction in thrust.   I tried to maintain 250 kts on the way down.  After 10,000 ft, I maintained about 200 kts.   The 122 kt, V approach was already calculated for a flaps 15 approach.  The landing lights were turned on, along with standby hydraulics, auto-feather, and the other checklist goodies.   Luckily the Q did not build up any ice on the way down!

 Turning to intercept the ILS after PEDIG
Once PEDIG was reach, HDG mode was selected and the Q was guided to intercept the ILS.   The first set of flaps was activated as the Q slowed to around 150-160 kts.  The thick layer of clouds at 4000 feet had just been cleared, but there were still the scattered clouds below.

On final approach.
The ILS was intercepted with APP mode activated.  The ILS localizer and glideslope were followed down through the clouds.   This brought very poor visibility and turbulence before reaching 1200ft.   But by then, the flaps and gear had been deployed.  

Landing EGBB Runway 15
The autopilot was disconnected at around 1000 feet AGL.  Unfortunately, I came in a little too fast...  about 20-15 kts to fast.   But a last minute pull back on the thrust levers allowed for a safe landing.

 Taxing at EGBB
Once on the ground, the landing lights were shut off and the taxi lights turned on.   The T taxiway was followed.   Considering the Birmingham airport only has one runway, it is very easy to find your way around.
The was a lot of activity brewing around the northern terminal.

Diagram of Birmingham Airport (EGBB)

It is important to note that the UK2000 Extreme version of EBGG fixes an important change to the airport.
The FSX version includes the old second runway.   But the airport was completely redeveloped by the year 2000.   Thankfully the UK2000 version shows the airport as it would appear today with only runway 15-33.  Not to mention the amazing details that UK2000 version also adds!  My guess is that FTX England probably corrects the runway problem too.  But luckily I was able to implement all my UK2000 airports into the FTX scenery.

Parking at 85R

I thankfully parked the Q, set the breaks, and began to shut down the systems.   The flight had gone well and was submitted via the Intercity Virtual ACARS.   Preparing for the approach back at Edinburgh had been a good idea.  Hopefully for one of these trips there clear weather.  Then I can truly enjoy the scenery of the Britain and Scotland.   But luckily ice and turbulence had not been as much of a bother.  It was also nice to get to use both of the two UK2000 airports installed on my computer (EGBB and EBPH UK2000 extreme).    

Software used:  FSX Gold edition, ASN, REXE, FTX England, FTX Scotland, Vroute Premium, Intercity Virtual ACARS, Majestic Software Q400 Pilot edition.


  1. Love the line up and climb out shots! Very immersive..

  2. Thanks Al! I am always debating on how to best portray the flight.
    Glad you liked them.