Flying blind! Boeing 767 pilots descend through cloud so thick that they may have to abort landing at last moment in nerve-wracking footage
- Pilots Steve Giordano and Bob Allen were flying a jet from Japan to Arkansas
- The pair were bringing an ex-Japanese Airlines Boeing 767 to long term storage
- On approach to their destination in Blytheville, the runway was covered in cloud
This is the heart-stopping moment when a pilot landing in a small airport in Arkansas flew through heavy cloud that covered the runway until moments before the aircraft touched down.
Steve Giordano was flying the Boeing 767-300 from Tokyo to Blytheville, Arkansas which is not equipped with high tech navigational equipment which helps the crew find the runway in poor weather.
Instead, Giordano and his colleague, Bob Allen, were performing a non-precision approach, which involves flying the aircraft using radio beacons on the ground to determine its location.
The non-precision system is similar to the way aircraft were forced to navigate in the post-war period.
Steve Giordano and his colleague Bob Allen were flying into Blytheville, Arkansas on board a Boeing 767-300 when they were blanketed in cloud just seconds before they were due to touch down
With less than three miles to go to the airport, Allen spotted the ground although they were still not able to see the runway
As the aircraft descends through the cloud, one pilot monitors the instruments, keeping a close eye on the jet’s speed and altitude while the other looks out for the the runway.
Wednesday’s footage, which was broadcast on Giordano’s YouTube channel Cockpit Casual, shows the wipers on the windshield working at full speed as the aircraft descends through the cloud.
In a precision approach, a beam is broadcast from the end of the runway which tells a pilot if they are on the correct course to land on the center of the airstrip.
In the non-precision approach performed by Giordano and Allen, the crew brought the aircraft down in ‘steps’, from an altitude of 2,500feet at six miles out to 2,000 feet at 3.9miles.
The next step brings the aircraft down to 740 feet at a distance of 1.4 nautical miles.
At this stage, Giordano and Allen could not see the runway and had their final decision altitude of 620ft – at just one mile from the end of the runway – rapidly approaching.
Pilot Steven Giordano (pictured) said it is likely the aircraft’s new owners will put it into long-term storage and might sell off the engines and convert the airframe into a freighter
Just as the crew had to make their decision about continuing with their landing or going around, the runway came into view
Giordano switched off the jet’s autopilot and lined up the aircraft for the runway
The aircraft landed safely on the center line of the runway, just as the crew had planned
Giordano was preparing to abort the landing, when Allen spotted the runway lights allowing the pair to continue to the airstrip.
Once the runway was in sight, Giordano switched off the aircraft’s auto pilot and altered his heading to line the jet up with the 11,000ft airstrip.
The footage shows from spotting the runway, to touching down on the center line of the tarmac, it took less than 30 seconds.
Giordano, who owns the Nomadic Aviation Group, was performing a ferry flight with Allen bringing a former Japanese Airlines B767-300 to the United States.
On the first leg of the journey, the pair crossed the Pacific, flying the 22-year-old jet from Tokyo to Great Falls in Montana. Then they brought the aircraft south to Arkansas where it was going to go into long-term storage.
Giordano said the leasing company ‘will likely sell off the engines and parts and maybe later sell the airframe to become a freighter’.
Replying to fans on Twitter, who viewed the footage, Giordano said while he was moments away from aborting the landing as they were still in ‘the soup’ of heavy cloud.
He said: ‘On a non precision approach you descend to an “MDA” (min descent altitude) and then level off until the missed approach point or RWY in sight. I just got down to MDA a little ahead of where I briefed that I wanted to but still past the final approach fix.
‘Non precision approaches don’t always center you up exactly. Some are 30 or more degrees actually – especially around mountainous terrain.’