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!
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.
The First Officer is noting down the ATIS weather report:
Turning to base for approach to runway 05C:
Overflying the city center and the Nile:
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:
Short final to runway 05C:
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.