I just returned from a great trip to Brussels and Paris. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it as soon as I unpack, do laundry, go through bills and go back to work.
But, I have a question for you. Were you ever on a flight that used automated landing due to severe fog?
I experienced this for the first time on February 18th, when my American Airlines flight from New York JFK to Paris CDG was landing.
I am not an aviation expert, so I’ll just explain what I experienced and the little I have learned in the process. You are welcome to share your knowledge and experiences in the comments.
The flight was fine, and honestly, I was not even aware of the extreme fog. After all, we were flying all night, and who was I to say that we were not still in the clouds? The only clue that I had that something was awry, was the announcement that the plane was about to make a special landing and that all electronic devices, including smartphones, readers and headphones had to be fully turned off. The flight attendants confidently walked through the aisles firmly ensuring compliance with this instruction.
Although the United States has become more lenient in allowing such devices to remain on during take of and landing (provided they are in airplane mode), I have been to some airports that still require such devices be completely turned off. I asked the flight attendant if France had such a rule. He said no, this was a United States federal aviation rule. It was then that I knew something was wrong or at least different about this flight, but I still wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong. Was it the landing gear or some other problem? I didn’t necessarily feel alarmed, but I made sure my seat belt was buckled tight. It wasn’t until we were moments from touchdown did my foggy brain recognize the extreme fog surrounding the plane.
Bravo, the landing was basically seamless (Thank you, AA!!). I later did some research and learned that, in circumstances such as this, the plane is essentially put into an extreme Autopilot mode, often referred to as Autoland. (see Telegraph, What Landing a Plane in Thick Fog Looks Like written by Gavin Haines ).
This is a video from the above article:
Here’s another video example showing what landing in fog looks like:
I found this both incredibly fascinating, and perhaps, in hindsight, a bit terrifying too. Technology is amazing, isn’t it?
The thick fog continued for hours after our arrival at 6 am. In fact, the visibility was so poor that I couldn’t see anything out the window during almost the entire train ride from CDG to Brussels two hours later. I was a bit bummed because I love staring out at the countrysides from train windows.