Pilot of the Final Air Berlin Transatlantic Flight is in Hot Water for His Landing Maneuver

oneworld member air berlin filed for bankruptcy in August after Etihad withdrew its support. The German government extended a loan guarantee (subsidy) to keep the airline flying while a sale of assets was arranged. Key pieces go to Lufthansa, leading to consolidation in the German market.

The airline itself is ceasing all operations October 28th. However the final transatlantic flight landed in Dusseldorf yesterday.

Air Berlin at New York JFK on September 29

The pilot of AB7001 from Miami made a spectacular maneuver on landing.

The plane was filmed coming down to land at the airport by plane enthusiasts, who noticed that it was too high.

“It’s too high, it’s too high,” one person can be heard gasping on the video.

The jet, carrying 200 passengers, then swoops over the runway before making a tight left curve around the terminal and heading back up into the sky.

Germany’s federal aviation authority is investigating the incident.

Air Berlin said in a statement that they support this investigation, though they won’t be around long to support it I suppose. They also say that the maneuver was authorized… sort of:

he manoeuvre had been agreed upon with the flight control centre, which gave permission for a turn to the left in the case of an aborted landing.

(Emphasis mine.)

Here’s the final Air Berlin transatlantic landing, worth a watch:

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Admittedly, I’m an amateur, but that did not appear unsafe and was absolutely beautiful. Looked like a nice tribute.

  2. That video is from the tower, right?

    Based on the laughs, applause, and general mirth from the people in the tower… sure seems like they knew this was going to happen (and anyone who’s spent any amount of time in Germany know how culturally strict they are for rule-following). Seems like a nice farewell. I suspect the pilot will at worst get a reprimand and that’ll be that.

  3. The one guy in the tower is saying: That the girl should open the microphone and they would all applaude then. Than you hear one guy saying: He is too high, he is too high. The others start to laugh. The tower seems to enjoy the maneuver and was in good mood. At the end they applaude and also say that they impressed.

  4. @WilliamC

    Except that’s never going to happen: the demand for multi-engine/widebody certified captains is massive. Every airline has staff shortages in the cockpits… and it’s only going to get worse as more boomer pilots start to retire.

    This is just a silly flyboy stunt, and based on the reaction and knowledge of the tower staff in the video, this was all planned out.

  5. It is a tradition of sorts, that pilots do a fly around in salute to the city where a service is ending. One of my most memorable flights was in the nineties, when on departure, the captain announced we would do a fly around Capetown because BA was discontinuing direct service.

    It was a clear early summer day at sunset and it was spectacular.

  6. I just wonder if the passengers knew ahead of time? Would probably be scary for some to do a go around with a sharp turn to the left. I’ve had a few go arounds where people start screaming because they’re scared with no word from the pilots.

  7. I remember my only go around vividly. We pulled up from a height of about 200 feet while landing into BOM. It was damned exciting to feel the G forces. Its only when I was down on terra firma, that I realised there might have been another plane on the runway and how close we were to being a statistic 🙂

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