London Guide - London Heathrow Airport ( LHR )
Located in the London Borough of Hillingdon, 14 miles ( 22 km ) west of central London is the United Kingdom's largest airport, Heathrow Airport, the world's busiest international passenger movement airport.
Originally known as the Great Western Aerodrome and privately owned and operated for aircraft assembly and testing, the airport we know today was first opened by Her Majesty The Queen in 1955.
This first terminal building is what is known today as Terminal Two, and from it's humble beginnings with just a few flights a week, has grown to massive proportions within the environs of Greater London.
Today the airport is owned and operated by B.A.A ( British Airports Authority ) and serves 90 airlines with 170 destinations catering to over 67 million passengers a year.
The airport sits on 4.69 sq miles ( 12 sq km ) of land and has five passenger terminals, one cargo terminal and is the main hub airport for British Airways, BMI Airways and Virgin Atlantic Airlines.
Surprisingly the airport only boasts two parallel runways, both of which measure over 12 feet ( 3,000 m) and span east to west.
In January 2009 United Kingdom government ministers approved the building of a third runway and sixth terminal building, but these plans are now in jeopardy after local residents won a court order against the expansion running through their village of Sipson in Middlesex, leaving the new runway and terminal plans in limbo until the British parliamentary elections in May 2010.
The airport has for years been a cause of concern to local residents within London and the surrounding counties of Middlesex and Berkshire owing to the airports location and east / west running runways, which mean incoming airliners approach the airport over the vast metropolis of London at heights of less than 83 feet ( 25 m ), giving rise to concerns about air safety and noise pollution.
Because aircraft generate more noise on take off than landing there is a preference for westerly operations during the day time, with aircraft approaching the airport from the east and departing from the west.
One runway is used exclusively for take off and the other exclusively for landings, resulting in aircraft movement every 2.5 miles ( 4.6 km ) apart or every 20 seconds, a technique used by Heathrow Airport air traffic control known as continuous descent approach.
There are strict regulations in operation regarding overnight flights during the hours of 23.30 and 07.00 hours, with certain larger aircraft banned from take off and landings completely.
Part of the runway at Terminal Four.
As well as all the usual shops,cafes and airport facilities found at all airport terminal buildings anywhere in the world, Heathrow is also served by it's own police force, armed response corps, resident press corps ( the only airport in the world to have one), resident T.V crew and prayer rooms and chaplains of all the world's major religions.
Passenger's baggage is sent to awaiting flights by way of a 20 km fully automated, computerised, underground conveyor belt system. This operation takes around forty minutes for bags to travel from the check in desk to the aircraft hold.
The airport employs over 30,000 staff and maintenance operatives, and is serviced by it's own bus and train stations.
Heathrow's terminal 5 building.
The airport's top five air routes are to
J.F.K New York, U.S.A.
Amsterdam, Schipol.The Netherlands.
The airports main passenger groups travelling into London are from the
Ireland. ( Eire)
Inside Heathrow's Terminal Four building.
TRAGEDY AT HEATHROW.
Heathrow has experienced it's fair share of minor bumps and scrapes of aircraft over the years, most of which have resulted in successful outcomes owing to the diligence and expertise of airline personnel.
However tragedy has struck the airport on 4 occasions resulting in the overall deaths of 165 people.
On the 27th of October 1965 a crash landing from an incoming flight from Edinburgh resulted in the deaths of 30 passengers and 6 crew members.
On the 8th of April 1968 an engine fire directly after take off resulted in the deaths of four passengers and one stewardess.
On the 3rd of July 1968 a cargo flight dropped a wing on approach to the runway on landing causing the deaths of six crew members and eight horses on board.
On the 18th June 1972 Heathrow witnessed it's most devastating crash when two minutes after take off a flight crash landed in a field in the nearby town of Staines killing all 118 crew and passengers.
21 st of December 1988 Pan Am flight 103 that was blown up over Lockerbie Scotland, killing all 259 passengers and crew and another 6 people on the ground, had originally taken off from Heathrow Airport 1 hour prior to the explosion.
NOTABLE EVENTS AT HEATHROW.
8 th of June 1968 James Earl Ray, the man accused of murdering peace activist Martin Luther King, was captured and arrested whilst trying to flee the country on a fake passport.
19 th of May 1972 saw two people injured after an IRA bomb exploded in Terminal One car park.
26 th of November saw the Brinks Mat Robbery, where 6,800 gold bars worth £ 26 million were stolen.
March 2002 thieves stole US$3 million from a South African Airways flight.
26th of November 2003 Concorde made it's final flight from Heathrow to Bristol.
17 th January 2008 a flight from Beijing lost all power on it's final approach to the runway, leaving pilots having to' glide' the aircraft to safety and make a crash landing on a grass verge on the side of the runway. The pilot's diligence most definately aborted what could have been London's worst ever airline disaster.
An aircraft makes it's approach into Heathrow Airport above the rooftops of the London suburbs.
Map of Heathrow's terminal buildings and car parks.
FULL NAME; London Heathrow Airport.
AIRPORT CODE; LHR.
ADDRESS; 234 Bath Road, Hayes, Middlesex, UB5 5AP.
TELEPHONE; 0844 335 1801.
Read about the world's scariest airport approaches
All images courtesy of wikimedia commons.