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  • - Niner four golf, runway two seven, clear to land.

  • (triumphant music)

  • - I'm at the top of Schiphol air traffic control tower.

  • - I guess that was a VFR departure.

  • - So the one I'm actually interested is the Orange Pride.

  • - Yeah, that's the special livery of KLM.

  • - LM five eight niner, QNH, one two to one five.

  • - You have five runway, and the small little runway here.

  • - We have six in total. - Six.

  • - KLM eight two four, turn left heading two two five.

  • - So, we want to see how you guys work,

  • give us some behind the scenes stuff.

  • - Yeah, we'll do that, just follow me

  • and I'll show you around.

  • - Hey, welcome to Amsterdam, guys!

  • Right behind me, the Schiphol airport tower.

  • One of the busiest air traffic control tower.

  • Today I'm having a tour.

  • Let's check it out, guys.

  • (light music)

  • - Hi, Yost.

  • - Hi, Sam. - How are you doing?

  • - I'm really good,

  • how are you? - Wow.

  • I'm at the top of Schiphol air traffic control tower.

  • - Yeah, it's really great to have you here.

  • It's our pleasure.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - KLM five eight niner, taxi to runway two four.

  • - 360 degree views.

  • How many runways here, look at how many planes here.

  • How many runway there is?

  • - Well, Sam, we actually have six runways which we can use.

  • Normally we're only allowed to use three runways

  • at the same time because of noise abatement.

  • Averagely we do on a daily base, we do 1500 to 1600

  • departures and landings and our hourly rate

  • is about 110 to 120 aircraft.

  • - [Sam] That's a lot.

  • 110 to 120 per hour?

  • - [Yost] Yeah, yeah, it can get pretty hectic here

  • in the summer.

  • - Yeah, just to let you know, Yost is an AvGeek

  • and I'm an AvGeek, so when two AvGeeks meet

  • in the control tower, this is a playground.

  • What's a special plane today, show me.

  • - [Yost] One of the special planes is the first visit

  • of the EgyptAir 787.

  • - [Sam] Ah, EgyptAir.

  • - [Yost] Yeah, they just changed from a certain fleet

  • or the A330 on the normal line.

  • - Oh, I saw my favourite, 747, KLM, 747 taxiing out.

  • - This is the top of the airport, the tower.

  • We just renovated our tower.

  • We went up from ten working positions

  • up to the 15 we have now.

  • We build an extra level which where you're at

  • at the moment right now.

  • And at the moment we have five controllers working.

  • We have the tower controller working departures

  • and landings lighting centre.

  • In 18 left, we got assistant controller here.

  • He's doing the tow traffic.

  • This is one of the ground controllers.

  • He's doing all the pushback and taxiing traffic

  • on the north side of the airport.

  • This is the outbound planner.

  • She makes sure that everybody has a departure clearance

  • before he's going to get pushback.

  • And she makes also sure that there's enough traffic going

  • onto the departure runways and not too much, as well.

  • Here at Amsterdam we like to absorb the delay on the ground

  • at the gate because it's better for the environment.

  • And the last position here on the first level is

  • the ground controller which is responsible for

  • the traffic on the south part of the airport

  • so at the moment she's working all this traffic here

  • and she's making sure that everybody can pushback safely

  • and taxi to the departure runway and to his gate.

  • (upbeat music)

  • - I guess that was a VFR departure.

  • We have some VFR traffic on station,

  • that's police helicopters and Coast Guard Dornier.

  • They do pollution control on the North Sea

  • so he just departed Amsterdam, he's going to the west.

  • - In Amsterdam the challenge is the wind change a lot

  • so I have seen now a lot of runway change.

  • Every few hours there's a runway change.

  • Now I see the planes approaching from the north.

  • Earlier was approaching from the south and

  • it's very fast paced moving here.

  • - Sam, I'll tell you a little bit more about

  • the workflow we have here in the tower.

  • For instance, we have the KLM 589 which is the Orange Pride

  • which you will see departing in a couple of minutes.

  • KLM 589 is a departure of 18 left going to Accra today.

  • And you can see here the digital flight strip,

  • we changed from paper strips to digital fight strips

  • about half a year ago when we refurbished

  • the tower, as well.

  • All the details are on the strip, we got

  • the KLM 589 departure runway 18 left and his SID code

  • a one echo departure.

  • Also type of aircraft is triple seven.

  • - So this strip, it pass from one controller

  • to the next controller as the identification

  • of the aircraft.

  • - [Yost] Exactly.

  • Now we have great visibility today so we actually don't use

  • the strips--

  • - [Sam] So when it's clear weather, you can also visualise,

  • you can see the plane, right?

  • - [Yost] Exactly, yeah.

  • The basic work here in the towers is just on visual,

  • you do visual control.

  • There's a visual control room over here.

  • You see the delivery controller here.

  • He will tell the departure airway clearance

  • to all the pilots when they call him.

  • - [Sam] So he's the first person to talk to the Captain.

  • - [Yost] Exactly, this is the start of the flight.

  • - So the one I'm actually interested is the Orange Pride.

  • The orange and blue triple seven 300, right?

  • - Yeah, that's the special livery of KLM.

  • - There's a list of planes, he's a busy man here.

  • This is a busy position.

  • - [Yost] Yeah, at the moment we have two runways in use

  • so that means about 80 departures an hour

  • so he'll be giving 80 departure clearances this hour

  • so yeah, this is quite a busy position.

  • - That's challenging, that's a very busy position.

  • - Exactly.

  • - KLM five eight niner, QNH one two to one five,

  • information whiskey, contact ground 121.805.

  • - [Pilot On Radio] 121.805, KLM 589,

  • (speaks foreign language).

  • - KLM 589 cleared on startup and push, pull approved.

  • - [Yost] Sam, you just heard KLM 589 got his clearance

  • for pushback, so he'll be pushed back, straight backwards,

  • and then pulled out.

  • After the pull out, he will start up his engines

  • and give his call when he's ready to taxi to the runway.

  • - [Controller On Radio] KLM five eight niner, in sequence,

  • line up and wait, 18 left, echo six.

  • - [Pilot On Radio] Line up and wait, echo six, KLM 589.

  • - [Controller On Radio] KLM five eight niner, runway 18L,

  • echo six, cleared for takeoff, wind is one six zero,

  • one three maximum one niner.

  • (jet engines roaring)

  • (light upbeat music)

  • - KLM three one november, the wind is two four zero degrees,

  • two one maximum, three one on the two four seven five,

  • cleared for takeoff.

  • (jet engines roaring)

  • - Niner four golf, runway seven, cleared to land,

  • the wind is two four zero degrees,

  • two one maximum three zero.

  • - What you just saw was the outbound rush,

  • a lot of heavy departures and you can see all the gates

  • are clear now.

  • For the next hour and a half, all the inbound rush

  • will start and then we have all the gates filled up again.

  • What you see on this screen, about 80% of all passengers

  • here in Amsterdam, they don't actually leave the airport,

  • but they just only transfer from one plane to another.

  • - Yeah, I think Schiphol is one of top three busiest

  • airport in terms of movement in Europe, right?

  • - [Yost] Yeah, exactly, yeah.

  • Even in passenger wise.

  • - [Sam] In passenger wise, number three.

  • That's huge.

  • - [Yost] Yeah, it's really busy.

  • - [Sam] Huge for a small country like Netherlands.

  • - [Yost] Exactly.

  • - So 18 right, this is the Polderbaan runway,

  • it's very far, right?

  • But it's really good for spotter taking pictures, right?

  • Good access. - [Yost] Yeah, it's really

  • really good access, you can take beautiful pictures

  • down there, but most pilots they don't like to land on

  • that runway because you have 15 minute extra taxi down

  • to get here.

  • - [Sam] Right, long taxi back to the main terminal.

  • - [Yost] Exactly, yeah.

  • - [Sam] Right, you're closing down 27,

  • avoiding runway crossover with departure runway.

  • - [Yost] Exactly.

  • We like to avoid runway crossings where we can

  • because it's a potential hazard and to avoid that

  • we closed down 27 and start landing 18 right again.

  • - It's a bit complicated because here has got six runways,

  • you got to know your bearings because you got 18, 36,

  • zero nine, 27, zero six, 24.

  • 18 there are three runway, left, centre, and right,

  • so, and there's zero four and 22, so, you know,

  • because the wind, there's all runway directions can

  • be in use to battle with the crosswind.

  • - [Computer Voice] Go around two seven.

  • Go around two seven.

  • - Do you see a lot of this go around at

  • the tower every day?

  • - No, it doesn't happen a lot.

  • Normally the pilots know how to vacate

  • and they do exploit vacate the runways here

  • because we have close separation on final.

  • - [Sam] What's your separation like, 45, 60 seconds.

  • - [Yost] We're up to 80, 90 seconds.

  • - [Sam] Up to 80, 90 seconds, okay.

  • - [Yost] Yeah, for landings.

  • Departures, it's about 50 to 60 seconds between departures.

  • I really hope you enjoyed your visit here in the tower.

  • I actually have a bunch more colleagues working air traffic

  • but not only in the tower but also in radar

  • and area control, so I'd like to invite you to

  • the eastern part of the airport where our radar centre is.

  • (light upbeat music)

  • - Hi, Sam.

  • Hi, nice to meet you,

  • I'm Maggie. - Nice to meet you.

  • - Welcome to the radar control centre at Schiphol airport.

  • I'd like to show you how it works.

  • - [Sam] Let's check it out.

  • - Yes, this is where all the magic happens.

  • (overlapping controller chatter)

  • Sam, this is a radar screen and it gives you

  • a representation of the airspace that we work.

  • Have you ever seen a radar screen before?

  • - No, to be honest, I only saw flightradar24

  • on my cell phone but this is a real radar.

  • - This is a real radar and this is the Dutch airspace.

  • The Dutch airspace is worked by myself and

  • the other colleagues from the ground

  • up to 24 and a half thousand feet.

  • So as you can see on the screen, all the white targets

  • are aircraft, the labels.

  • And all the little green blips that are moving,

  • those are all aeroplanes .

  • The ones with white labels are ones we are working

  • and the ones without is traffic working with other sectors

  • so you can see it is a pretty busy airspace.

  • - [Woman In White Shirt] Niner six R five,

  • climb to flight level two seven zero

  • and proceed direct to Girming now.

  • - Let's check out, I'm really interested, I want to see

  • this one, KLM eight seven seven.

  • - Yeah, yes.

  • - What kind of aeroplane, because you can tell--

  • - Yep, everything's on here. - The speed, oh!

  • The 787. - It's a Dreamliner.

  • - Dreamliner.

  • - Yep, it's going to Bombay.

  • - EHAM to Bombay. - Yep, to Bombay.

  • - EABB. - Yes.

  • And all the details are there, so it'll be

  • the time he gets airborne. - So he's already departed.