On Saturday, Dublin Airport invited some aviation enthusiasts and me for a look behind the scenes of what makes an operation like this tick.
I kindly accepted the invite – so here’s my photo-journal of a look behind the scenes of some of the things that go on beyond the terminal.
Behind the Scenes at Dublin Airport
And – there’s a lot more than you might think that goes on.
Our guide is Dominick from the Fire and Rescue Department at Dublin Airport, who kindly let us around the tarmac
Firstly on our tour … where did the Pope St John Paul II land at Dublin? There’s a mark to show where he did first touch Irish soil near the 200 gates.
And a clearer shot -with thanks to Michael Kelly
Image – Michael Kelly
We’ll go on to Pope Francis later.
But for now, we headed onwards, through to the FOD section.
FOD (Foreign Objects and Debris) is an important thing that needs to be managed at any airport. The last thing you need is something like this blocking an engine, or damaging an aircraft (you’ll recall the incident that lead towards the Concorde crash was partially caused by a piece of metal that fell off another aircraft).
Therefore FOD management is important at any airfield or airport.
With FOD being a hazard, you have sweepers (both normal and magnetic ones) to keep the field and runways open.
Because – the last thing an airport wants to do is to close a runway and force diversions.
Birds can also be a cause of FOD too – especially when they decide that an engine is a good place to be drawn into. We’ll go into that later.
Our trip took us onto the main perimeter road of the airport (as it is today before the new runway sees service – hopefully by the end of 2021).
We were lucky enough to catch a Turkish Airlines Boeing 737 coming in overhead as we were parked up.
The tour took us past one of the many rivers at Dublin airport. Yes – there are actual rivers at the airport… seven to be precise (that’s one for the pub quizzes people!)
It’s also a point to stop and look at the Snow handling fleet which keep the runways and taxiways clear when snow falls.
With winter coming, the fleet is being prepared to handle operations such as deciding and ploughing in an organised fashion – again to keep the airport open and available to aircraft.
Speaking of birds, if you ever depart or arrive at Dublin airport, you’ll notice these kites in the sky.
These help scare off some of the birds into changing direction – away from aircraft.
As we all know, bird strikes are a nasty thing when they happen, and can lead to very nasty accidents – therefore the management of the land is important, with grass being cut constantly.
But if you want to scare birds… there’s always the explosive option – primarily to make noise to scare off birds
And this does work.
Whilst our tour was going on, Dublin Airport continued to function – serving its primary purpose as the gateway to Ireland.
Our journey takes us to the cargo pad, where an ASL Airlines Airbus A330P2F is awaiting delivery to Air Hong Kong to operate DHL services.
The engine was also wind-milling in the wind. A very interesting experience.
— Kevin – Economy Class & Beyond (@EconomyBeyond) September 28, 2019
Our journey continues, as we cross into a very important part of the airport – the fire station. With a 3 minute response time, it’s a fast operation to handle fires, risks and other duties that need to be carried out by the teams.
The training rig – simulating lots of different things from an prop plane to a turbofan power plane. Inside, it is configured with compartments for cargo, single aisle and wide-body too.
Both kerosene and gas fires can be set off here to put the fire team under pressure to resolve.
Near the fire station is the cargo ramp and parking area, where certain aircraft are unloaded or held.
We were given a demonstration – and boy – those fires get HOT.
— Essiejosie ✈ (@Essiejosie) September 28, 2019
The brigade team works from dousing fire from the fuselage outwards, to reduce risk to the passenger and to cool the cabin down.
Also at the fire station is one of the more sobering parts of the tour – The remembrance garden.
The cargo ramp is also where Pope Francis landed in Dublin when he visited Ireland.
There are also other aircraft parked here
We were in for a treat – as air traffic control kindly allowed our convoy of two trucks to cross the active taxiway and apron back to the terminal – allowing us to cross behind an arriving Air France Cargo Boeing 777F.
There was also a wait for an Ryanair Boeing 737 to cross too. With that, our convey crossed towards the terminal area.
We were kindly dropped off near arrivals – and for the last part of the tour, taken to the original terminal building. The building designed by Desmond FitzGerald takes its lines from Ocean Liners.
And as always – look up.
The building these days are primarily used for meetings as well as CEO offices. The Irish Meteorological agency keeps a presence on top. In addition, the tower is available as an emergency option if the main tower Dublin Airport goes offline.
And there’s one hell of a carpet.
With us in the board room, it was time for lunch kindly provided by the airport and discussion about the further runway, late night and early flying.
With the event drawing to a close, it was time to hand back security passes and hi-viz jackets, and head on our separate ways
For some, it was time to head home. For others. It was time to catch up over a coffee and unpack the day.
But it was a day not to forget.
— Dublin Airport (@DublinAirport) September 28, 2019
Amazing time today @DublinAirport on their #BehindTheScenes airfield tour. A big thank you to Siobhán, Audrey and Dominick for a very interesting visit. it was interesting to see how things run from a different perspective #avgeek pic.twitter.com/SYjVigIyad
— Michael Kelly (@Michaelkelly707) September 28, 2019
Thank you to
Economy Class and Beyond would like to extend a warm thank you to Siobhán and Audrey (from the comms team) and Dominick (from the Fire and Rescue teeam) at Dublin Airport for opening up the airport and taking us behind the scenes at an airport they’re proud to work at.
- Pope John Paul II landing plate – image, Michael Kelly. Used with permission
- Fire firghting video – Esssiejosie
- Group photos courtesy Dublin Airport Communications And PR team.
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