Anyone who uses air travel regularly knows what “going around” means: the aircraft is on final approach, the gear is down and flaps are set, but the runway does not get cleared in time. So, to ensure that there is no chance of a collision, Air Traffic Control gives an instruction to “go around”, and the plane climbs away from the runway, does a circuit, and makes another approach.
And this is especially prevalent at busy airports like London Heathrow, where there is inevitably a queue of aircraft on approach at most times of the day, and the slightest delay in a landing flight turning away from the runway means whoever is next in line will have to abort their landing and have another go later. This, though, has not prevented the People inflating a “go around” into an exclusive splash.
Partly this is because it’s cheap copy, but mainly it’s the presence on the approaching aircraft of Prince William and wife Kate. “Kate Middleton left terrified after narrowly avoiding air accident” screams the headline, followed by the breathless “Kate Middleton [for some reason not “Duchess of Cambridge”] was left terrified after she and Prince William narrowly missed a catastrophic air crash”.
And, as the man said, there’s more: “the captain [they knew who was Pilot Flying (PF)? Er, no] was forced to take emergency action to avoid ploughing into another aircraft on the runway”. Baloney. Modern aircraft just need a couple of switches to be flicked, and it’s not an emergency, which would mean a PAN call at the very least. And there wasn’t one of those.
As for the “circled the airport for several minutes”, well, Heathrow’s a busy place, so it would have taken a while to re-jig the queue of approaching planes to fit another one in. This supposed “incident” did not warrant an entry in the Air Accidents Investigation Branch bulletin reports (February one HERE). But it did mean the deployment of “a source” to make it look more dramatic.
And that source tells that “This really was a serious incident” (it wasn’t), “it would have been extremely worrying” (only until the PF got on the PA and explained what was going on to the passengers) and “it would have been very frightening” (bullshit). And the man from BA emphasised that it was “a perfectly standard operation with no safety implications”. So that should have been that.
Oh no it wasn’t: such is the appetite of the Fourth Estate for this kind of drivel, especially when Royalty is involved, that the story was lifted both by the Express (“Duke And Duchess Of Cambridge In Flight Scare”), and the Mail (“Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in ‘mid-air emergency’”). When it’s the Royals, it’s a story, even when there’s no story there.
Because it might tempt another punter to buy. So that’s all right, then.