Embraer 190 Trial Flight Lands At St Helena Airport

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Hiking up Bencoolen with to find a good spot to photograph the Embraer's arrival.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Hiking up Bencoolen with to find a good spot to photograph the Embraer’s arrival.

WELCOME EMPRESS OF LONDON CITY | Darrin Henry

Everyone expected this to be normal by now, but in November 2016 an aircraft landing on St Helena is still big news, especially today’s arrival of an Embraer passenger jet from Recife, Brazil, and the little wave of optimism it will surely bring.

The Trouble With Wind Shear

Wind shear continues to prevent a scheduled air service being able to operate at St Helena’s brand new airport. The severity of the problem was revealed during a Comair 737-800 test flight in April this year and since then investigations have been ongoing to find a workable solution.

Small jets have been able to use the airport, landing with a tail wind from the less problematic end of the runway, known as 02 (zero, two).

Today’s Embraer flight is a non-commercial trial flight, operated by Embraer Commercial Aviation. The plan is to stay for two days during which time they will carry out a series of take-off and landings.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. My dad, Pat (the original mountain goat) joining us for the hike up Bencoolen. Pausing here, half way up, to plot the rest of the climb.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
My dad, Pat (the original mountain goat) joining us for the hike up Bencoolen. Pausing here, half way up, to plot the rest of the climb.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Not looking good one and half hours before the Embraer is due to arrive. Even in the gloom, this is a good view of the amazing fill job done in Dry Gut to create a foundation for the southern end of the runway.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Not looking good one and half hours before the Embraer is due to arrive. Even in the gloom, this is a good view of the amazing fill job done in Dry Gut to create a foundation for the southern end of the runway.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Selfie at the top and hoping the weather will clear before the plane arrives.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Selfie at the top and hoping the weather will clear before the plane arrives.

In a press statement St Helena Government announced the “Embraer aircraft is one of a number of potential solutions to operating regular flights to St Helena.”

Last month another passenger jet, an AVRO RJ100, organised by Atlantic Star Airlines, carried out a successful trial flight, then laid out their proposal to provide an air service using that type of airplane.

That October trial flight had boosted spirits on the island as information about an air service in the preceding months had been sparse.

This Embraer flight is more pleasing news for islanders, raising hopes again that a practical solution to achieving scheduled flights might not be far off.

Flight Day Is Picnic Day

To capture the landing we’ve climbed to the top of a hill called Bencoolen (according to the St Helena map) not somewhere we’ve come before. It’s at the southern end of the runway, overlooking Sharks Valley.

As usual with this type of shoot we’ve arrived really early, an hour and a half ahead of the published ETA, just in case. It’s becoming a regular thing, so much so we even have a routine now – get here early, set up the cameras, get comfortable and have a picnic!

My dad has joined us today, toting his Nikon camera! What can you do?

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. First glimpse of the Embraer, approaching from the south.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
First glimpse of the Embraer, approaching from the south.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. What The Saints Did Next have a 'Nikon man' in the team today.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
What The Saints Did Next have a ‘Nikon man’ in the team today.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. The Embraer ERJ-190-100 on final approach to St Helena Airport, runway 02, southern end, with George Island visible below.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
The Embraer ERJ-190-100 on final approach to St Helena Airport, runway 02, southern end, with George Island visible below.

The weather today isn’t great. It was raining a bit when we arrived and cloud cover was low, almost obstructing our view of the airport. Could this be our first airport/flight assignment when the weather beat us? Although it’s stayed grey, luckily the rain stopped and the fog lifted.

The time whizzes by and soon it’s nearly 3.30pm and we are all standing to attention, gazing out above the horizon, straining our ears and eyes to spot the plane – we hear it before we see it.

The Jet From Brazil From London

Out of the grey sky it appears, landing lights twinkling away, an Embraer ERJ-190-100.

After all this waiting the event itself passes quickly, but we’re ready. Sharon is filming, I’m shooting stills and the Nikon man is clicking away nearby.

Video of Embraer ERJ-190-100 landing on St Helena Airport

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Side on, the Embraer ERJ-190-100 with the 'Empress of London City' logo and Union Jack livery. A little research reveals these aircraft currently operate out of London City Airport and were introduced around 2009/10 to replace the AVRO series aircraft. Once again it seems to be following the AVRO, this time into St Helena.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Side on, the Embraer ERJ-190-100 with the ‘Empress of London City’ logo and Union Jack livery. A little research reveals these aircraft currently operate out of London City Airport and were introduced around 2009/10 to replace the AVRO series aircraft. Once again it seems to be following the AVRO, this time into St Helena.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Tail wind approach for the Embraer ERJ-190-100, the 'Empress of London City' at St Helena Airport, runway 02.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Tail wind approach for the Embraer ERJ-190-100, the ‘Empress of London City’ at St Helena Airport, runway 02.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Embraer ERJ-190-100, over the Dry Gut fill at St Helena Airport, gliding smoothly to runway 02.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Embraer ERJ-190-100, over the Dry Gut fill at St Helena Airport, gliding smoothly to runway 02.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. On the ground at 15:36, Wednesday 30 November 2016 - the Embraer ERJ-190-100, makes a smooth landing at St Helena Airport.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
On the ground at 15:36, Wednesday 30 November 2016 – the Embraer ERJ-190-100, makes a smooth landing at St Helena Airport.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Shooting another key moment in St Helena's airport history.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Shooting another key moment in St Helena’s airport history.

The Embraer is soon flying right by us. In fact, from our viewpoint on top of Bencoolen we’re actually now looking down on the plane. The blue and white livery is eye-catching and I can clearly see a big Union Jack on the side, not what I had expected. Brazilian, maybe, but this is a surprise. ‘Empress Of London City’ is written near the front with a London skyline silhouette image.

(Research later revealed the Embraer aircraft operate out of London City Airport and interestingly, in 2009/10, their introduction was hailed as a new generation jet to replace the AVRO series. We had just seen the AVRO last month.)

Skimming ever so close across the top of the earth fill that makes up the landing strip run-off, the Embraer glides gracefully over the end of the runway, then touches down almost on top of the ‘zero-two’ numerals painted on the tarmac.

Wheels down at 15:36 by my camera’s time stamp.

Total flight time from Recife, 3hrs 58min (Flightradar24)

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Sharon shooting the video - make sure check it out.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Sharon shooting the video – make sure check it out.

Dear Santa…

Just like the AVRO last month, this landing looks smooth to my (untrained) eye. No evidence of the wind shear induced ‘wobble’ we all tend to look for now. The wind sock near the landing zone is not quite fully horizontal but it’s showing a steady breeze. It will be interesting to find out what the wind speed is.

So, a second successful, ‘large’ jet landing from the ‘tail wind’ end of the runway. Tomorrow they will be doing some test circuits before heading back to Recife on Friday.

It’s nearly Christmas. Let’s hope Santa’s flight might touchdown here with some good news about the results of these Embraer trial flights! Now that would be a nice present.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena. Parking at St Helena Airport after a successful flight from Recife, Brazil.

Embraer Trial Flight to St Helena.
Parking at St Helena Airport after a successful flight from Recife, Brazil.

26 thoughts on “Embraer 190 Trial Flight Lands At St Helena Airport

  1. Dear peopleware from Saint Helena island:
    You must to install a weather surveillance radar (WSR) = Doppler weather radar.
    You must to install a ILS Category 1 = instrument landing system (ILS).
    You must to bricket tiles and paint it in the headings of the runway with stripes of coral (yellow) and White colors.
    You must to paint the runway’s side with a stripe of white reflexive color with a 1 feet
    wide, for both sides of the runway long, in order to provide the pilot’s a visual reference.
    You must to install an ICAO fence in order to protect the runway from invasion.
    You must to adopt and install the RNP-AR = Required navigation performance (RNP) is a type of performance-based navigation (PBN).
    You must to install a weather station in order to collect the meteorological data for this
    airport site.
    You must read the ICAO documentation called AMPAP = Airport Management Professional Accreditation Programme.

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  2. The St. Helena Embraer 190 is now descending for Recife and not Salvador as someone guessed on another Forum .

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  3. I have been following the Embraer 190 back towards Brazil on Flight Radar 24 until it disappeared from my radar after travelling 570 km from SH , latterly at 38,000 ft and 417 kts. It took off did a LH Circuit to fly along the runway , then a near circuit of the Island, a low pass over Jamestown and away . Hope the trial was a complete success . Good job I`m retired with plenty of time to watch Flight Radar !

    Liked by 1 person

    • We did have a quick peek but don’t have the MBs to stay on – wish we could have though. Photographed it leaving today – look out for the next blog, coming soon!!! Good Embraer stuff 🙂

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  4. Currently watching the Embraer 190 flying it`s test circuits at 2800 ft and approx 184 kts on Flight Radar 24 . Hard to believe I`m watching the action from Wales ! I make it 4 circuits , including a couple of touch and goes . Hope things are going well there and regards to the Brazilian Crew and of course the Islanders . I hope they are as excited as me !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Technology is amazing eh! Was out on Horse Point at the same time watching the circuits. Front row seat, what a show. All seemed to go ok. Some video and pictures will be posting on the weekend. Stay warm in Wales 🙂 Cheers

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  5. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to up-date us with some very nice pictures , both of this flight and those previously . Like most Aviation Enthusiasts I am hoping for things to be speeded up so that the Expenditure made by the Islanders on Tourism can be recouped as speedily as possible . Perhaps those nice people at Embraer could be persuaded to fly their twin engined KC 390 Military Transport in for tests . This is similar in configuration to the Avro , only bigger .

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    • You’re welcome Roger, thanks for the comment. The feedback is really appreciated after we’ve spent so much time on the blogs. Yes, hoping things will get speeded up too. It’s extremely frustrating not knowing, not being able to plan. Having the Embraer team here after AStar the month before is such a boost.

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  6. Great pictures, thanks.
    I hope they hurry and sort out the issues. I’m camped at Sydney Airport waiting for the “go” signal. Can’t handle the take away food here much longer. I had hoped to arrive there Christmas eve.
    Best wishes.
    PB in Syd.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, brilliant. Australia’s Tom Hanks, eh! Think you had better order your Christmas turkey for that side, but hopefully it will be possible to make the flight next year – fingers crossed 🙂 Thanks for the comment Paul

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  7. Yet another piece of great reporting after considerable effort & patience. Let’s hope this flight provides data that will help to deliver a speedy, successful outcome.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well let’s hope. It’s encouraging that two airlines have now come out with aircraft to make their case. Was watching the Embraer do its circuits today, looked good. Thanks for the comment Roger. Cheers

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  8. Thanks for the pictures and story! As you say no sign of any wobble on the southern approach to land. But you could do with a mike with a windsock for your video camera!! Hope to hike up Bencoolen myself sometime soon… (when I can get a flight)

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    • Aww, sorry about the wind noise Peter, we really have to get that sorted. Next year! No noticeable wobble but our side on angle probably not the best, would love to see it from directly the other end of the runway. Bencoolen was good, somehow I think we’ll be back there again soon 🙂 Thanks for the comment

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  9. Should I display my captured snips? maybe not… my team has given you the best. Hiking up to Bencoolen was such an amazing and enjoyable walk something we always enjoy. But doing this today will demonstrate how much Saints and our island community need our purposely built New Airport to work, as I understand wind shear is a globule nature problem and our Aviation Team is working hard in order for Aircraft landing safely let hope some comfort will be given with an up-date from these test flights investigations soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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