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“No Big Deal To Land Here”- Embraer Test Pilot Says Winds and Gusts at St Helena Airport Are Normal

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. The Embraer E190 on northern approach to runway 20, flying past the headland of King and Queen Rock.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
The Embraer E190 on northern approach to runway 20, flying past the headland of King and Queen Rock.


We have good news and more good news about St Helena Airport, which do you want first?

Brazilian aerospace company, Embraer Commercial Aviation have carried out extensive Embraer E190 St Helena flight trials at the island’s Airport and had no problem landing their passenger jet in 25 knot winds and 35 knot gusts on runway 20.

Captain (also Test Pilot and Flight Instructor), Joel Faermann, said the quality of St Helena Airport is, “amazing.”

Runway 20 (the Barn end) approach from the north, which proved problematic for Comair’s Boeing 737-800 in April 2016, was tested repeatedly by the Embraer team with low level passes, landings and full stops, and all declared, “very safe, very easy,” by Captain Faermann.

Rio de Janeiro has a more challenging runway than St Helena with strong winds and cross winds; Embraer aircraft operate more than 10 flights a day from there.

Correction from original statement: The Embraer E190 has long range capability – it could carry 96 passengers up to St Helena from Cape Town and should weather conditions prevent a landing, it has the capability to fly to Ascension Island. In order to return to the African mainland it would need to fly from an airport in Angola. It does not have the range from Cape Town to St Helena and back as orginally stated (updated info from Captain Faermann)

The Embraer E190 St Helena Flight Trial Begins

Arriving from Recife, Brazil, on Wednesday 30 November, the Embraer team of pilots and flight test engineers stayed two full days, departing on Friday 2 December. Their flight testing over St Helena Airport took place on Thursday 1 December.

On Friday before they departed, Sharon and I received a message that the Embraer boss wanted to meet us before they left, specifically to show us their aircraft and give us an interview on board.

When we met up we were chuffed to bits to discover they already followed What The Saints Did Next online and recognised us as we approached. Unfortunately St Helena Airport officials denied the Embraer team permission to take us through to see the E190, citing international regulations.  However, we did manage to conduct two interviews inside the terminal.

Considering the airport’s history, what was said was very exciting to hear, so, we’ve transcribed the interviews in full.

There is one reference to a wind condition we are unable to decipher clearly, this is noted – also, please allow for English not being Mr Faermann or Mr Mendonca’s first language as we have tried to transcribe as close as possible to the spoken word.

We have also edited a short video of the Embraer E190 flying test circuits at St Helena airport, overlaid with audio extracts from Captain Faermann’s interview.


Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Inside the terminal, interviewing Captain Joel Faermann from the Embraer team who reported positive results from their flight tests.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Inside the terminal, interviewing Captain Joel Faermann from the Embraer team who reported positive results from their flight tests.

Interview with Captain Joel Faermann, Embraer

Can I have your name please? 

My name is Joel Faermann I’m a captain and test pilot and flight instructor of Embraer.  Embraer is the Brazilian aero-nautical enterprise and we have several branches of equipment in the aero-nautical industry.  This equipment here, this plane is dedicated to our airline, it’s a family of four airplanes we call the e-jets.  Four airplanes, 170, 175, 190, 195.  This one is 190.  The capacity of seats is 96 seats with a business class or first class included but we can go up to 106 economy only.

This airplane does a long range capability with a high speed and high performance airplane, and with the latest technology we have on the market today and this airplane that we brought here is a prototype fully equipped for test flights.  That we performed in the test flights and approach here on both runways, mainly the runway 20, the runway that has some winds and gusts.

We have to understand the idea of gusts and winds because some pilots or other aero-nautical people can understand and wind shear.  Wind shear mostly depends on several factors, here the factor is mostly because of mountain wave and the mountain wave cause some of the wind gusts and variable wind.  So sometimes it’s not exactly wind shear.  We test there, now we have the engineering department and equipment inside the plane collecting the data to make a nice report to evaluate the situation and give a final report.

Meanwhile I can tell that the winds here are normal like any other island and any other places I have been [and] operated, I operate all over the world.  In Asia, in India, South America, North America, Europe, I’ve been delivering this airplane and training people and the interesting thing that during this test here, I also took advantage to start making some training with new pilots here.  Probably next year they will start flying here with Embraer, I hope, from Africa, South Africa, probably Cape Town, we’re not sure yet.  So, this is the good news that we have here.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Hope the brakes are working! - the Embraer E190 taxis to the end of runway 20 before turning around for take-off. St Helena Airport is built on top of the coastal cliffs at Prosperous Bay Plain.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Hope the brakes are working! – the Embraer E190 taxis to the end of runway 20 before turning around for take-off. St Helena Airport is built on top of the coastal cliffs at Prosperous Bay Plain.

Sounds great, I’ll go back to Wednesday when you arrived.  You arrived for the Embraer E190 St Helena flight trial on runway 02 with the tailwind, how was that and what was the tailwind speed?

The tailwind speed was around 10 knots wind but this plane can land with 15 [knot] tailwinds and the landing distance is enough because this runway pavement is concrete, very rough and scratched, it makes the brake connection very nice, even if you have light showers or rain.  So we can land with tailwind.

The other way if go runway 20 because we have some winds, yes we would expect some turbulence in 500 feet down to 300 – 200, then if the pilot correct the winds, gusts and variable wind it’s a normal test, normal drill for the pilot so there’s no big deal to land here on runway 20 with the headwind.

Of course the planes must have the capability and to land and brake and even go around if the weather’s not good, low visibility or low clouds and if they decide to go to another place, to alternate, our plane can return, can reach back to Africa for example because we have a long range capability with this airplane.

So you could come here from Cape Town and get back?

Updated statement: The Embraer E190 has long range capability – it could carry 96 passengers up to St Helena from Cape Town and should weather conditions prevent a landing, it has the capability to fly to Ascension Island. In order to return to the African mainland it would need to fly from an airport in Angola. It does not have the range from Cape Town to St Helena and back as orginally stated (updated info from Captain Faermann)

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Thursday 1 December 2016 - the Embraer E190 making one of a number of slow, low level passes over runway 20, collecting wind/weather data.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Thursday 1 December 2016 – the Embraer E190 making one of a number of slow, low level passes over runway 20, collecting wind/weather data.

Yesterday, I watched you do four circuits was it?

Yes, four circuits and approach just to evaluate the winds, the fifth we did a full stop and land.  Then I changed the crew, then we did a new take-off, then we make a touch and go landing runway 20, then we came for a full stop again then I changed the crew again, took off on runway 20 did a touch and go, then a full stop.  So it was five full stop landings four go arounds to check the environment and the winds so we can really tell you that it was nice and everything went okay.

What was the maximum wind speed?

We have some moments 25, gusts 35 knots.

Gusts 35?


What height were you with the 35?

Around 300 feet  already close to the threshold, getting close, but it’s okay not a big deal, only some light bumps and corrections.  Our airplane has some advantage because of the wing shape it gives a lot of controllability for the pilots.  Also the control column and yoke have a good grip and good response of the airplane.  Also on our airplane is some features called steep approach.  It’s a button that opens the speed brakes together when we have full flaps for landing.  Then you can make steep angles up to 5.5 degrees to approach and land if necessary because if the gusts of the wind are in low level we can fly over the gusts and land safely.  So this is another option we have from other airplanes in the market.

Yesterday you had the 35 gusts, did you continue with a landing or did that necessitate a go around?

No, we landed. We landed.  25 and gusts 35 is ok, it’s not a big deal, it’s no problem the airplane can control very well, the pilot can control manually the airplane very well.  If the pilot takes so long to control the airplane and feel that it is unsafe then he can perform a go around but in this case our plane did very well.  So there is no need to go around.

All the go arounds that we did yesterday were planned, we planned to do the go around because engineering was collecting the data so the idea is to make the go around at exactly that point that we have the gusts, then the sensors of the plane can collect other data necessary to perform our report.

After four different angles that we performed, then we did a normal 3 degree angle approach and full stop, very safe, very easy.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Prosperous Bay House on top of the hilltop, overlooking the Embraer E190 on northern approach to runway 20.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Prosperous Bay House on top of the hilltop, overlooking the Embraer E190 on northern approach to runway 20.

Was there anything at all during your tests that gave you cause for alarm during the Emraer E190 St Helena flight trials?

No, nothing at all, nothing.  Only good news I have, I observe here, I don’t understand what such a taboo, we can say like that maybe, because of course there’s some seasons you’ll have more wind, more gusts, but like any other place.  And then if it overpass the limitation or recommended crosswind of any other airplane you must evaluate the situation to land on runway 02 with tailwind.  But I would suggest the pilot to go to try.  This is a category C airport so needs training.  Train in simulator or in other places category C the pilot has flown.

So, it’s interesting that the pilot performed a nice training, like we always do, every six months or every year depending on the authority.  We have to go to simulators, in simulators we practice there, so this is normal for the pilots.  When we’re talking about wind shear, wind shear is related mostly for the thunderstorms, down draughts of water and strong winds make a big strong vertical movement, rolling.  Then we have some instruments in the airplane that can tell the pilot, caution wind shear, when you gain performance, or warning wind shear that you are losing performance.

So when you have a thunderstorm surrounding the airport in less than five miles then you can expect the wind shear alarm and also the bad effects of wind shear, and then the pilot must go around.  In this case it’s a mountain wave with variable wind and gusts and (possibly “curling” – audio unclear) wind close because of King and Queen Rock rocky mountain close to the threshold that makes those variable winds and gusts.

If the pilot is aware about that and correct promptly can land safely.

If you were to operate from this airport you would look to use runway 20?

Sure, I’m going to land on runway 20, always.  Always.

If Embraer was to operate here what would be your passenger capacity?

This aeroplane can carry 96 passengers, then the engineering department for every company must calculate how much payload they want to carry.  Because not only passengers you have the cargo and baggage of the people and the fuel to alternate.  But our airplane is capable to carry 96 passengers and depending on the alternate you can come here with a full payload, let’s say like that and then return to Africa.

With 96 [passengers]?

Yes. Yes.  And then this depends also how many cargo you have in the cargo compartment.  This then can vary. Maybe you are limited in the compartment a little bit. Because the total payload of this airplane is 13,000 kilos, and the maximum landing weight is 44,000 kilos.  With 44,000 kilos we can land safely on both runways.  With 44,000 kilos it’s including 96 passengers.  Then only the cargo compartment that will vary if you load up or not.

Brilliant news!  This plane, where is the most difficult, most challenging airport it operates at?

One of the most difficult we can say and we need the special training is in Brazil we have short runway, 1200 metres in Rio de Janeiro city and this airport is surrounded by mountains we have the Sugar Loaf mountain with the cable car in front.  That runway is a short runway, have some strong winds, cross winds and also when you take off or go round you have a mountain very close like four miles in the runway heading so when you reach 200 feet you have to immediately turn left 45 degrees to avoid the mountain.  This is one challenging place that I’m watching and operating and in Brazil everybody use the Embraer very well there as well as other airplanes like Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 in a 1,200 metres runway and it’s asphalt runway.  So this one is concrete it much better, the braking action is much better here.

So that runway in Rio would you say is more challenging than here?

Yes.  For sure.

You operate there everyday?

Yes, all the people we have some routine from Sao Paolo to Rio we have a shuttle service, more than 10 flights a day taking people there in and out.

And it’s fine? No problems?

It’s fine.  The only problem is when you have low visibility to the terrain or low clouds, then we have low ceiling limitation then this is like any airport in any other place.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Departure day - the Embraer team make their way to the terminal.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Departure day – the Embraer team make their way to the terminal.

Does your plane need any special modification to operate or is it ready to go?

It’s ready to go.  But if the company choose an option of what we call steep approach button we have more chances to make different angles if the pilot wants to try different angles because this airplane is certify to land in London City.  London City is 4.5 degrees of angle.  Then we need to use this button, steep approach to make a steep angle and land short.  In London City their runway is very short, also very challenging it’s a 1200 metres runway in the middle of the buildings.  We can do this with this airplane using this feature.  It’s an optional feature depending on each customer if they want to use or not.  But you don’t have to use that one to land here because I test with a three degree angle and working nicely.  No problem.

Is Embraer looking to provide a service for St Helena?  Is that what your visit is about?

Our visit is a demonstration and test flight for all, any other customers interested in using Embraer to operate here.  It’s an independent test and demonstration flight from the commercial department from Embraer, like a marketing demonstration.  To have anyone and to help to develop the ‘ability’ (edit) here in the airport to increase the possibility of any other company using other airplanes, other aero-nautical equipment to fly here safely.  It’s their purpose.

I asked Atlantic Star this same question.  Is this being paid for by Embraer? 

Only by Embraer.  Full costs of this demonstration flight is by Embraer.

How long have you known about St Helena and the Airport?

Around one month ago and then we started to prepare this demonstration flight.

The plane has Empress of London City on the side is it only that one plane?

Yes, only this one.  This is the prototype.  The first airplane, this plane has 12 years old and we have that skin painting like that because of the London City campaign when we were certifying the steep approach in London with that and it matches very well to come here so this is wonderful.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Next stop, Brazil. The Embraer E190 departs St Helena after a successful two day visit, climbing into the sky in front of the airport control tower.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Next stop, Brazil. The Embraer E190 departs St Helena after a successful two day visit, climbing into the sky in front of the airport control tower.

I think that’s all of it. Did you enjoy St Helena?

It was a pleasure I felt very welcome, nice people, warm people.  Nice infrastructure you have here, you have great facilities in the airport so we have to come soon and start…

…and the airport; the quality of the airport?

Amazing. Amazing.  Everything working very well, the communication.  I got communicated here 200 miles in VHF is more than normal when I was coming from Brazil.  When we come from Africa it is 300 miles when a friend of mine was coming here on week ago with a Falcon 7X.  Three hundred miles before you reach the island you can communicate with the island in VHF.  Imagine that.  I communicate at 200 miles because I was coming behind the mountain, from Brazil the route is from behind the mountain so it blocks it a little bit the signal of the VHF.  But 200 miles was great enough.

End of Embraer E190 St Helena flight trial interview with Captain Faermann.


Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Inside the terminal, interviewing Embraer Flight Test Engineer, Celso Mendonca.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Inside the terminal, interviewing Embraer Flight Test Engineer, Celso Mendonca.

Interview with Celso Mendonca – Embraer Flight Test Engineer

And your job is the…?

I’m the flight test engineer.

Tell me a little about yesterday I saw you doing the circuits, how’d it all go?

We are doing the circuits to evaluate the best operational conditions to operate the aircraft concerning flight path, angle, speeds and check the controllability, check also workload for the pilots.  Each pass we were doing evaluating and we’ll issue some comments about what we are doing.

All the passes that we have has positive comments from the pilot’s point of view regarding controllability, workload and safety, it was a successful flight yesterday.

Was there anything at all that gave you cause for concern?

No, no, nothing.  It’s not a different airport than any one with specific conditions.  So the pilot must know what he’s doing, know well the airport and as long as he’s used to doing that there is no issue at all.

The conditions you flew in yesterday the pilot told me the maximum wind speed was 25 knots?

25 knots, yes.

And gusting?

A little bit higher.  But it is a little bit stable then sometimes varying in speed and direction of the winds but it was fine.

Have you tested in worst conditions in another place?

Yeah, yeah.  That’s the first one, airplane of the series is the Embraer 190-001, during the flight test campaign we moved to cities like Punta Arenas, to test the crosswind conditions, to test still wind conditions, in strong tail winds, strong cross winds.  We had already test before if the airplane is capable of tailwind, crosswind, turbulence, a steep approach and what we are doing here is just to cross check the airfield conditions and see the airplane operating.  But you are [-transcription not clear-], worst conditions before.

Finally, if I looked at the aeroplanes, the 737 and the Embraer they look very similar, but obviously they are different.  What’s the big difference between the Embraer and 737?

The size is not pretty much different but the capacity of passengers for the 737 is higher than 190.  So it’s a little bit fat than the 190, the 190’s thinner.  For a pilot’s point of view a thinner and longer airplane is better for controllability.

So basically that’s what makes it more stable?

Yes, it’s lighter and have a long tail concerning the weight of the airplane so it’s better, more controllable.

So in your opinion operating that plane from this airport, would there be any problem?

Yeah, it’s fine.

It would be fine?

It will be fine, yeah. We had the pilots from the other company that did the approach on landing also in their experience also a very good landing.

End of Embraer E190 St Helena flight trial interview with Celso Mendonca.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials. Turning away - the Embraer E190 departs St Helena after a successful two day visit. Next stop, Brazil.

Embraer E190 St Helena Airport flight trials.
Turning away – the Embraer E190 departs St Helena after a successful two day visit. Next stop, Brazil.


  • Tchai

    January 4, 2017

    Greetings from Brazil.

    The Airport, in Rio de Janeiro, cited by the captain is Santos Dumont (ICAO: SBRJ).
    Built in 1930 on the edge of the Guanabara Bay. Santos Dumont was the first civil airport to be inaugurated in Brazil.

    The main runway, designated 02R / 20L, is 1,323 m long by 42 m wide; Having as a panorama and obstacle for landings and departures, the Sugar Loaf hill (Morro do Pão de Açucar) on one side and the Rio-Niterói bridge on the other, the airport is a postcard of Rio de Janeiro. Prepared to operate medium-sized jets, the short track receives a special porous layer treatment, which increases brake efficiency, as well as good grooving.

    Approach procedures are limited, especially when landings are being carried out at head 02R, whose final stage must be completed in visual conditions, with wind leg running over the center of Rio de Janeiro, leaving on the right side the Corcovado hill, As of the Sugar Loaf, in the base leg, with alignment on the sea at low altitude.
    It is an operation that requires good skill from the technical crew. It is not by chance that airlines segregate pilots from this route of others and require different training for them.

    When operating under low visibility conditions at head 02R, the flight can perform an R-NAV (Area Navigation) procedure, however, the MDA (Minimum Descent Altitude) is 365 m (1,200 feet) and the required visibility, Of 4,000 m. This is because the commander of the flight must perform the landing in visual conditions, seeing the hills to circulate. The low-visibility operation should improve at Santos Dumont with the adoption of the first RNP-AR (Required Navigation Performance Authorization Required) approach in Brazil, which has already been approved by the Decea (Air Space Control Department), but awaits The final release by Anac (National Civil Aviation Agency), which is still evaluating training criteria and checking safety margins.

    SBRJ video 1 youtube:

    video 2:

    video 3 (landing night)

    video 4:

    video 5:

  • Roger LEE

    December 14, 2016

    The SHG needs to communicate the success of the recent flights to the UK Government pronto .Several of the UK newspapers this morning are carrying the story that the £285 million spent on the Airport has been wasted, as it cannot be used . The Labour Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Meg Hillier presented the very critical Report .The Department for International Development has had a roasting over it .
    Here is what the SHG should do ASAP . Arrange for one of the RAF BAe 146 CMk 3`S to fly down and bring the `doubting` Committee Members to Saints. This is one of 2 aircraft converted to carry either 96 passengers or 54 passenger and freight , I`m not sure if when they were converted for Afghanistan, the longer range pannier tanks were fitted as well . If extra Pilots are needed , hire two from Cityjet who regularly fly the 146 into London City .
    The Avro 146 as well as the Embraer 190 has flown in successfully and this ought to be broadcast out loud .For extra Passengers include Journalists from the UK Press as well and me, as I thought of it first !
    Happy Christmas to all the Saints .

  • Ken Garland

    December 8, 2016

    An excellent interview, and most encouraging for the Saints.

    I don’t think anyone else has raised this, and I’m sorry if I am the one to do so, but I wonder what part the St Helena Government (and possibly the FCO in London) has played in talking down the airport? Why did SHG choose only British Airways and their contractor Comair? Why even now has SHG very gingerly put out a request for interest that has specified using only Runway 02 for the present? And is SHG behind the ban on allowing supporters favourable to the airport to go airside and look inside the successful planes?

    Alas, governors are career diplomats whose job is to administer quietly and not disturb the mandarins back home, not to have an entrepreneurial spirit to develop their charge.

    • Robert

      December 9, 2016

      Ken, in answer to your queries, BA/Comair was chosen after an air service provider procurement exercise took place in 2013/14. I assume they scored the most, although many suggest a JNB-HLE service was always (secretly) preferred. But with an Open Skies policy, that doesn’t stop anyone else coming forward and offering a service if they want…

      The new ASP procurement exercise centres on RWY02 due to the ongoing issues with RWY20. Perhaps Comair aren’t interested in providing that service due to the difficulties running a reduced capacity service on that runway?

      And as I keep saying on this forum, access to airside is entirely down to the Airport Operator – SHG has no influence on those that can go airside and therefore will need permission from the AO in the same way as everyone else. Perhaps the AO just don’t have the staff to cope with ad hoc airside visitors? They’ll need to be escorted everywhere for a start.

      I’m puzzled why SHG would want to talk down it’s airport – it should be doing the exact opposite. I haven’t seen anything specific to suggest it is talking it down. If you have, please correct me.

  • bjorn14

    December 8, 2016

    Good read. Now all HLE needs is a Airbus 319 to do tests.

  • susan Homolka

    December 7, 2016

    Hi Darrin and Sharron. Another fantastic article on the airport. Again I really enjoy your reporting style and the personal way you approach all things St Helena.It makes me feel like returning to this place that I loved so much is that much more of a reality one day.

  • December 7, 2016

    DARREN Well done om yet another well compiled report with great pictures. It really gives me great comfort to be able to receive positive first hand information form the Pilots through your blog. instead of hearing at times some negative comments from elsewhere. This is the first and only information that I have received from the comfort of my livivng room . As in the past I have appreciated all your blogs especially the Airport development and holds close to my heart and had always been positive despite some of the negativity that has been banded about in recent months. If it wasnt for your hard work and professionalism about this test flight with Embraer, all this good detailed information would most likely would not have been known. . Would also like to congratilate and thank Atlantic Star and Andrew Radfford for staying (on board in flight ) and helping to solve our wind problem and our link by Air with the ouside world.
    Would it be possible I wonder to fly diret form UK to St Helena with a stop over perhaps in Afica using Atlantic Star and Enbraer Airlines?? Good work Daren keep it up.

    • John Clifford

      December 8, 2016

      Given the lack of information coming from SHG, where their only real comment seeks to convince us that the airport is open despite the lack of aircraft evidencing the opposite, and the secrecy surrounding the airport itself, why for instance could Security not screen Darrins kit, and escort him to the Aircraft for his interview, it seems the aircrew were really keen to show off the a/c and their findings, it would have made an already excellent piece of journalism even better, and would have been a publicity coup for an airport that frankly has not had much good to report. Thank god SHG seem to have woken up and are now inviting new interest. Lets hope the East German style Security Blanket gets lifted too and they start cooperating with the press. They can be your friend if you work with them!!

  • Martin Rosling

    December 5, 2016

    Great piece of journalism. People need to know this stuff. The airport was a dream for many of us but its going to be a reality. The only question is when. Good job guys 🙂

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Martin. It feels so good to have so many questions answered and from the experts themselves. A dream for many of us, very true; will be such a thrill to witness that first passenger flight. Cheers

  • V2 Taxi partners

    December 5, 2016

    Excellent interview, it highlighted what should be reality for us shortly, V2 Taxi Partners were proud to be a part of their visit as this was the very first time they picked up and dropped of their passengers at SAINT HELENA AIRPORT, great feeling we should be having some tourist soon…….

    • December 6, 2016

      They were in safe hands! Well done Lucy. Hopefully you are going to need a regular pick-up point at the airport 🙂 Good luck V2. Cheers

  • Ben

    December 5, 2016

    Excellent! I’ll like to be informed when the first schedule flights starts flying to St. Helena, I’ll love to be part of the official inauguration flight, I’m actually on standby mode to visit St. Helena

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks for signing up to the blog Ben, I’m sure we will post whenever a flight schedule is announced. We’re all on standby now!!! Cheers

  • Guy Collins

    December 4, 2016

    Great interview and filming…wouldn’t expect anything less from you both. Nice to see progress being made.

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Guy – we try! Agree with you, the progress is so pleasing; a nice little Christmas present 🙂

  • Tony Leo

    December 4, 2016

    I have looked at much of your work and this is excellent Darrin. Congratulations and you did well despite all the hassle. No one else has those pictures taken from unusual places and it goes to show when a man knows his job. Well done……….

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Tony, very kind comment. You will know the ‘challenges’ of covering events on St Helena much better than us. The photography is always fun though, makes it worthwhile 🙂 Cheers

  • John Clifford

    December 4, 2016

    Why would airport officials refuse permission for you to visit the aircraft, especially at the Captains invitation. There is no such international regulation, there are visits to airports and aircraft all the time, Security’s job is to facilitate, even more so considering it is hardly an operational airport and you were visiting the only a/c there with its crew. Seems a few people want to keep the majority convinced it’s ‘white mans magic’ clearly nothing has changed since I left!!

    • Robert

      December 4, 2016

      It IS an operational airport John because it has an Aerodrome Certificate and with that come regulations (some international) about the security of the Airport. Having that Certificate means the Airport Operator is responsible for the safety and security of the Aerodrome. Visits to airports (airside) and aircraft require security clearances from the Airport Operator. The aircraft owner or airline cannot sanction a visit to airside – only the Airport Operator can. Perhaps they didn’t have the ability to accommodate the visit? Security’s job is to facilitate…the safety and security of aircraft, crew and the aerodrome. It is not to facilitate the media. Unfortunately it will take time for St Helena to understand that it can’t just be done ‘the way we do things on the island’. It has to be done correctly. If not, the Aerodrome Certificate will be withdrawn and the Airport will close. It isn’t a race thing, as your post implies.

      • John Clifford

        December 4, 2016

        Exactly, except thet a real operational airport also has……. you know….. aeroplanes. Having worked for many years in Airport Security I know what we do, and what we facilitate, and it includes handling of the press, it’s never just a clamp down. As usual St Helena has gone with excessive officialdom.

  • Robert

    December 4, 2016

    Great article Darrin. From the three large passenger jets that have landed at St Helena Airport, it is clear that the Embraer is the best aircraft type for the conditions so far. The B737 is new but too skittish for the conditions; the Avro coped well with the conditions (albeit on a calm day) but is old and inefficient. The Embraer is newer, more efficient and proved (through a series of approaches in less calm conditions) to be the most adaptable. Let’s hope the bidders for the new air service at the Airport choose the Embraer!

    • December 6, 2016

      The Embraer is looking like the top pick at the moment. That long range capability with 96 passengers is a clincher for me, more chance of affordable tickets. Thanks for the comment, exciting times again 🙂

      • Robert

        December 7, 2016

        Absolutely, although it should be borne in mind that the aircraft is unlikely to be capable of flying from CPT to HLE with a full load of 96 pax + baggage when you factor in the need for reserve fuel. Embaraer would need to calculate the fuel required to get to HLE from CPT, then add on reserve fuel to at the very least get to the nearest airfield (Ascension) and then add a little more on for holding/missed approach. That’s about 2500nm which equates to about 78 to 80 pax. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the runway at St Helena is too short to accommodate the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft, so again pax numbers will be less than 96.

        • December 7, 2016

          Thanks for the comment Robert. I’ve checked with Captain Faermann and he has confirmed the range he gave as CT-SHL and return was an error. Blog has been corrected to show this. Cheers.

  • Simon Henry

    December 4, 2016

    Hey “whatthesaintsdidnext” great reporting and keeping us updated on the progression of the airport. Keep up the great work guys, hope to see you both next year 🙂

    • December 6, 2016

      It should have been this year, but never mind, we will make up for it in 2017. Will be very weird when we start meeting new arrivals on PBP. Can’ wait! Thanks for the comment kiddo, take care 🙂

  • Roger LEE

    December 4, 2016

    An excellent interview with the Embraer Crew Darrin and some really interesting information and views on the Airport . Sad that Officialdom wouldn`t let you take up the kind offer of the Flight Crew to view the Aircraft , slightly insulting to the Visitors in my view .We have plenty of Jobsworths in the UK , I am surprised that they are as far South as St.Helena . You are doing a fantastic job for the St Helena Tourist Trade.with your information , blogs and pictures , please keep it up !
    I look forward to all the favourable Flight Test Reports being acted upon as soon as possible .
    Well done to Embraer as well for seeing an opportunity and organising the flights so quickly .
    Regards ,

    • December 6, 2016

      I think the crew really wanted people to see the instruments on board for collecting data during their trials. Never mind. Next time 🙂 Thanks for the comment, always nice to have feedback. Cheers.

  • Peter Lee

    December 4, 2016

    Hi Darrin. Excellent piece of reporting! I think the word the test pilot used would be “curling” – it describes how the airflow curls over downwind of high ground. Pity the jobsworths wouldn’t let you and Sharon onto the apron; an absolute load of bs about “international regulations” – they need to get a bit of a common sense perspective into their operations.

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Peter, appreciate the feedback. We are going to be experts in wind and aviation by the end of all this 🙂

  • Jean Fowler

    December 4, 2016

    What a brilliant interview Darrin, and straight to the point. Also what beautiful pics. Hope something good will come out of this in the near future. Thank you for sticking your neck out for all of us!

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Jean, lovely comment. The neck is feeling a bit exposed 🙂 Yes, near future, let’s hope, will need to dust off that suitcase again 🙂 Cheers

  • Peet Roodt

    December 4, 2016

    Well done to those pilots. Come Comair let’s go St Helena. South Africa has been waiting so long.

    • December 6, 2016

      St Helena has been waiting too 🙂 Hopefully not much longer! Thanks for the comment Peet

  • John Clifford

    December 4, 2016

    Well done for a great article. Well done to Embraer, and a message for Comair ‘Get your finger out, or get out of the way, you are blocking progress’. For SHG ‘Tine to change your airline preferences’……

    • December 6, 2016

      Cheers John, thanks for the comment 🙂

  • Paul Blake

    December 4, 2016

    Another brilliant piece Guys. At last some information from an expert source with no spin. A cynic would say ah yes but they are trying to sell their planes, but they will have data to back up their claims. Who else has that to date? I had a saying I used throughout my Career in Automotive Engineering and is true in the case of HLE- “He who has no data only expresses an opinion” At last it looks like we some and it is all Positive. This combined with Atlantic Stars trials what a few weeks it has been and surely mean we are not too far away from having regular commercial services.

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks for the comment Paul. Must admit, both the Avro and the Embraer looked incredibly stable compared to the 737 in April. Both were also seemed very happy to answer questions and share info, always a good sign. As you say, hopefully those commercial services aren’t too far away 🙂

  • Justin Crowie

    December 4, 2016

    Great interview and great news all round. Well done guys, hopefully will see you soon then.

    • December 6, 2016

      Cheers Justin – yes, be nice to see you in person again 🙂 it’s been too long. Thanks for the comment.

  • December 4, 2016

    Well done again Darrin, an excellent piece, with good and important questions posed. Congratulations to Embraer, it seems the aircraft and their pilots performed extremely well. There can be no doubt that the E190 should be considered amongst the range of suitable aircraft types for future commercial operations to Saint Helena. As Captain Faermann stated, the weather will be different on other days and at other times of the year, but these flights were clearly a great success in the conditions prevailing on the day.
    Most encouraging for the future of the airport and the long-awaited connectivity for Saints.
    Best regards, Andy.
    Atlantic Star Airlines.

    (Aside, might I suggest that the ‘missing’ word in the description of the wind was meant to be ‘swirling’, as that is most certainly what would be expected? And a bit later, perhaps it was ‘ability’ rather than ‘liability’ that it was hoped would be developed?)

    • December 6, 2016

      I wonder if the AVRO triggered this test flight?
      Yes, most encouraging. Just knowing there are now options gives us so much hope that the airport could be in use soon (for passenger flights that is).
      Thanks for the comment and transcription help 🙂 Good luck with Atlantic Star, a lot of people here still hoping you guys will be involved in connecting the island. Cheers 🙂

  • karenza777

    December 4, 2016

    blockquote, div.yahoo_quoted { margin-left: 0 !important; border-left:1px #715FFA solid !important; padding-left:1ex !important; background-color:white !important; } Hi Nobbs Hope all ok with you and Marjie. Thought you might be interested in the U tube video that is linked to this blog. I really hope that this pilot report isn’t just bluff and bravado and a sales pitch for the Embraer because it contradicts what other pilots have said.  Hmmmm! Tatts x

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    • December 6, 2016

      The Embraer team we spoke to came across as sincere, knowledgeable and open. Their test data we believe will be made available in a final report within 30 days. We watched their extensive test flights, never seen another aircraft do that many here yet, and they invited us to photograph the inside of the aircraft as it was fitted out with equipment for measuring the conditions. Airport weather instruments could probably corroborate much of the wind data. We have a good feeling 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  • Simon B

    December 4, 2016

    Great write up guys. A lot of information that needs to be put out there.

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Simon B, all good information that changes the picture completely 🙂

  • Kay McFarlane

    December 4, 2016

    Excellent interviews
    It’s looking really positive for a flight to the island which I would love to visit again

    • December 6, 2016

      Thanks Kay. It has certainly left us with a really positive feeling here 🙂


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