To celebrate Valentine’s Day last week, Virgin Atlantic used a test flight for one of their planes to draw a giant 60-mile-wide heart in the sky over the Irish Sea. And now they’ve revealed how they did it…
As part of the entry into service for four Airbus A330-200 aircraft that the airline has recently acquired, it needed to operate a number of proving flights. This is a normal part of the certification process of bringing any new aircraft into the fleet. When a two-hour flight was scheduled for February 14th, the Flight Operations team decided to do something different. In a blog for Virgin Atlantic, they explain how they went about it.
Karl Cocoran, an Office – Navigation Services in the Aircraft Performance & Efficiency team, was tasked with planning the flight. In his normal role, he plans flights across the world using waypoints and navigational beacons, which allow aircraft to find their way safely every day, but aren’t helpful when you’re trying to draw a heart in the sky.
Karl says that the first problem was to work out where to do it – the flight was for just two hours, leaving from and returning to Gatwick. When the RAF suggested a piece of their airspace in the Irish Sea just off the coast of Land’s End, it gave Virgin Atlantic the opportunity to draw a bigger heart.
The flight departed Gatwick with Director Aircraft Operations Capitain JJ Burrows and First Officer Drew Waite in the cockpit ready to the draw the heart.
As well as testing the aircraft’s flying, there were 34 members of staff from six different departments on board checking that their work on the new aircraft was ready for entry into service. Six cabin crew were busy running through some of the equipment and a design and development engineer had to make sure that the crew were happy with the onboard safety equipment.
Find out more about this test flight on the Virgin Atlantic Ruby blog.