Straight & Level 22 January 2013

End of an era as tower tumbles

Peter Bish asks us to join him in mourning the passing of his office for many years, the 38.8m (127ft) control tower at Heathrow, which has just been demolished as part of the modernisation of the airport’s Terminals 1 and 2.

The tower, along with the whole of the original Central Area, comprising Terminal 2 and the Queens Building, is being cleared to make way for the new “Heathrow East” mega terminal, now, confusedly, to be renamed Terminal 2. The current T1 faces the same fate as the old T2.

The Queens Building and what later became Terminal 2 were part of the original Frederick Gibberd red-brick buildings that were the nerve centre of the new London airport when they opened in 1955. But by the turn of the century, T2 had become cramped and unloved.

Progress, of course, but “sad news for us former Heathrow ATCOs”, says Peter, who took this shot (right) on 10 January and is co-author of Heathrow ATC: The First 50 Years.

IMG_3990.JPGPower of eight

First it was the A380 and 787

- aircraft designations that

used the number 8, which is seen as lucky by the Chinese airlines it was hoped would make up a significant proportion of customers.

Then the G250 business jet became the G280, although Gulfstream had an added incentive after finding out that, in Chinese, the pronunciation of 250 is similar to the word for stupid.

Now even the airlines are “eight” it, with British Airways making a big play of the fact that its flights to and from Chengdu – to be launched later this year – will carry the numbers BA88 and BA89. It is also offering promotional fares of £508, although its faith in the power of the magic number does not go so far as to give seats away for £8.

And there is no truth in the rumour that Willie Walsh is changing the airline’s name to British Eightways in a bid to lure Chinese passengers.

All talk

Clive Lawrence has an answer to Peter Martin’s question “What does it mean?” about a piece of management-speak from our interview with Volvo Aero executives – Yuckspeak #924 (Flight International, 8 January).

 ”My Babelfish tells me: despite not being able to change anything, they are trying to please all the people all the time,” says Clive.

He adds: “As for who speaks like this: try any politician.”

Ryan hot air

It has been dubbed the worst job in PR – by none other than Michael O’Leary, the man who is doing the recruiting. Ryanair has drawn up a shortlist of candidates to replace Stephen McNamara as head of communications for the frills-free airline.

Scathing wit, thick skin and endless energy are doubtless attributes for the “brave soul” O’Leary says he wants for the “high profile and incredibly overpaid” challenge.

Business class travel definitely not among the perks.

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