Despite the mighty organ of the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre being perhaps the best paying national newspaper, the amount of truly lame journalism seems to increase by the day. Even the BBC bashing – the latest being an attack on The Great British Bake-Off based on a sample of four Twitter comments – is suffering as barrels are scraped all over Northcliffe House.
Boeing 787 outside Terminal 2 at Manchester Airport ((c) Boeing)
But for really lame and desperate copy, there is always air travel. I mean, all those people cooped up in a pressurised cabin for hours at a time, miles up in the sky, and someone else is driving. Yes, the scope for scaring the readers is endless, and so it was when a Thomson Airways flight from the Dominican Republic to Manchester was forced to divert to the Azores following an engine fault.
“‘They call it the Dreamliner - it was more like a nightmare’: Couple thought they would ‘drop into the Atlantic’ as holiday jet they were on plummeted 500ft-a-minute when engine stopped mid-air” gasps the headline, at which point anyone who has the most basic grasp of the subject will have either switched off or gone into inadvertent Smash advert mode. And, as the man said, there’s more.
“A British couple feared they would drop into the Atlantic Ocean when their flight home from holiday suddenly starting losing altitude at a rate of 500ft a minute. Gary Barton and his wife Caroline were on board a Thomson Airways Dreamliner jet which had to perform an emergency landing in the Azores after one of its engines stopped working”. So the flight was diverted. What’s the problem?
“Mrs Barton, 48, said: ‘We could see on our screens that our altitude was dropping about 500ft every minute. It looked like we were just dropping into the Atlantic’”. There she goes again. Mrs Barton also said “We go on holiday a lot and we fly long haul often”, so one might have thought that, had she bothered to pay attention during any previous landings, she’d think twice before making some of those comments.
Suppose, for instance, that an aircraft cruising at 35,000 feet – well within the capability of the Boeing 787 – descended into its destination airport at a rate of 500 feet a minute, the figure that so horrified Mrs Barton. It would take it an hour and ten minutes to make that descent. However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, the usual time taken for that kind of descent is 20 to 30 minutes.
The pilots on the flight deck of that 787 gave a text-book response to the problem facing them: they shut down the faulty engine, knowing that the aircraft’s single engine performance was more than capable of taking the plane to a diversion airport, descended it gently, then got it on the ground, and all the while keeping their passengers safe. The Bartons should be bloody grateful for their professionalism.
If they’re so keen on whingeing, perhaps they should try Torquay next year.