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Pilot: Amman-Baghdad Run Never Dull [View All]

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Khephra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-26-04 08:25 PM
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Pilot: Amman-Baghdad Run Never Dull
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OVER BAGHDAD, Iraq -- "Traffic! Traffic!" blares the cockpit's automated collision warning system just as the pilots of Royal Jordanian Flight 814 pull their airliner from its steep corkscrew descent and begin the final approach to Baghdad International Airport.

Two U.S. Army helicopters taking off from the airport have crossed into the path of the passenger jet. The crew banks sharply to the left, avoids the choppers and then levels off the 100-seat Fokker F-28 airliner as it settles onto the runway.


Royal Jordanian Airlines and Iraq's newly reconstituted flag carrier, Iraqi Airways, operate the only scheduled commercial service to and from Baghdad. The one-hour flights to and from Amman, Jordan, are used by foreign contractors, journalists, Iraqi civilians and others eager to avoid the highly dangerous drive along the desert highway linking the two capitals.


"When military operations are going on, they'll just close the airport to civilian traffic for days, but even when they're not, you always have to watch the Americans," says Brand, who hails from South Africa's capital, Pretoria.


To lessen the threat of being shot at, pilots have adopted a "nonstandard approach" for landings: They arrive at 15,000 feet and then descend sharply in a stomach-churning series of tight, spiraling turns that pin passengers deep in their seats. The Fokker's clamshell airbrakes at the back of the fuselage keep airspeed from rising uncontrollably during the dive.
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