Lufthansa Airbus A321-200 Cockpit at night

Approach to Cairo at night on an Airbus A321-200

It has been a while since I last sat in the cockpit of an Airbus A321, after flying the type for about three years at the beginning of my career. So I was more than happy to say hello to my colleagues on a dead-head flight to Cairo. We were flying as passengers to Egypt’s biggest city that is famous for its pyramids and location at the Nile River in order to be able to take over a cargo flight from Cairo to Frankfurt a day later.

Inflight entertainment IFE

The Lufthansa Airbus we were on was fully booked and passengers were able to enjoy the inflight entertainment system (IFE) on their own devices (e.g. iPad, mobile phone, laptop). I had never seen the new IFE myself and was looking forward to trying it out for the first time! Lufthansa recently relaxed regulations on many of their aircraft regarding use of mobile phones and other electronic devices – you may now use them in flight mode and you must be able to stow them in case of turbulence or if asked by the crew to do so. Once the aircraft moves you can then connect via wi-fi to the entertainment system. Using the browser of your device you can read some magazines and if you have downloaded the Lufthansa Entertainment app before the flight (you cannot download it on board) you can watch movies, tv shows or the aircraft position. The app looks extremely good, especially the map!

Lufthansa inflight entertainment system IFE application for ipad

Lufthansa inflight entertainment system IFE application for ipad - moving map

Approach to Cairo at night

Once we were over the Mediterranean Sea, the sun slowly started to set and disappear behind the horizon. As the pilots prepared for the approach to Cairo, it got dark and only the lights of the displays and switches in the cockpit illuminated the interior of the flight deck. The air traffic controllers in Cairo cleared the aircraft for a direct course towards the destination and after some coordination appointed runway 05C for landing. Here is a sequence of images taking during the descend over Cairo until the landing.

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

The First Officer is noting down the ATIS weather report:

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Turning to base for approach to runway 05C:

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Overflying the city center and the Nile:

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Good illustration of how the electronic checklist on an Airbus works! All open items are blue and will turn green once the respective condition has been fulfilled:

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Short final to runway 05C:

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

Lufthansa A321-200 night approach to Cairo

It was really fantastic to see the approach from this perspective and I am grateful to everybody involved – most of all the excellent and highly professional cabin and cockpit crew of this flight!

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Last sidenote: it was legal for me to be in the cockpit and not a safety issue.

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5 Responses to Approach to Cairo at night on an Airbus A321-200

  1. Nadege February 16, 2015 at 3:27 pm #

    It is always interesting to read your posts and seeing the dreamy photos. Thank you for taking us along on your flights! I have travelled intensely for many years and took a hiatus of 3 years. Another 3 years to go and I will be able to go back to my favorite hunting grounds.

    • Felix Gottwald February 17, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

      Thanks for the praise! All the best and safe travels in three years 🙂

  2. Mathis February 16, 2015 at 4:21 pm #

    Hi
    amazing pictures!
    Why did they land with Flaps#3 ? Isn´t the plane very heavy when it is fully booked?
    Is it a restriction or is it just the choice of the pilots if they like to land with a fast speed?

    • Felix Gottwald February 17, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

      Hi Mathis,

      the A320-family aircraft can do normal landings with Flaps 3 or Flaps Full. Flaps 3 allows for a slightly higher speed (which is good during turbulence for example) and due to the fact that the flaps are less extended, there is less drag -> this means less noise and less fuel burn. Flaps Full in turn allows for a shorter landing distance. Pilots will select the appropriate flap setting according to the circumstances. In Cairo the runway is quite long and so the pilots decided to be more economical.
      The aircraft is relatively heavy when it is fully booked (although I don’t know the actual weight on this flight). But that is neither a problem in Frankfurt for take-off nor in Cairo for landing.
      I hope that answers your questions!

      Best wishes, Felix

      • Mathis February 17, 2015 at 9:49 pm #

        thanks, very interisting!
        Viel Spaß auf deinen nächsten Umläufen mit der alten Lady MD11.
        Du hast den schönsten Job auf der Welt 😉

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