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New manual goes behind the scenes at Heathrow

Heathrow Airport Manual Designing, building and operating the world's busiest international airport
29 April 2014
Robert Wicks
1st May

The manual in the cockpit of an A380 (Nick Wood) and the view from the ATC Tower (HAL). Below: baggage arriving on a carousel at T5 (Nick Wood)

Over 70 million passengers pass through Heathrow every year - more than the entire population of the UK - and the precise choreography involved in getting this volume of passengers and their bags into the air has been revealed for the first time in the new Heathrow Airport Manual published by Haynes.

The size of a small city and with more than 76,000 employees, the manual is full of facts and figures that reveal the inner workings of an international transport hub that never stands still.

With some 1,400 flights taking off and landing every day from the airport’s two runways - that’s one every 45 seconds - Heathrow is one of the most complex operating environments anywhere in the world with 82 airlines and 161 supporting organisations working around the clock to keep things moving.

It is not just Heathrow’s passenger figures that are astounding - as every flight requires a huge amount of preparation. More than 35,000 individual items have to be stocked onto an Airbus A380 before it departs – everything from toilet rolls to teaspoons.

In the Heathrow Airport Manual, author Robert Wicks has examined every element of the airport from runway construction and maintenance, to the complex airspace around London and how the airport deals with emergencies. Most importantly, the book reflects on the role Heathrow has played in the nation’s success over the past 70 years and the importance of global connections to the UK’s future.

Written with the full co-operation of Heathrow, NATS and the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the manual is the first of its kind and provides unprecedented insight and access to every aspect of the airport.

Originally from South Africa but now living in Berkshire, Robert Wicks is a regular traveller at 36,000ft. He said:

“I’ve been flying to and from Heathrow for many years and have always been intrigued by how the airport operates, so I decided I should take on the challenge to find out.

“The complexity of the operation, the dedication of the staff and the hive of activity going on behind the scenes have blown me away and I feel privileged to have had a rare behind the scenes view of how it all comes together.”

Colin Matthews, Heathrow CEO, says:

“For seventy years, Heathrow has played an important role in connecting the UK with the world. We’re delighted to have a manual that documents the work that the 76,000 people at Heathrow do every day to deliver a smooth journey for passengers and the importance of a hub airport in directly connecting the UK to future international success.”

From humble beginnings when air travel was a novelty for a select few, the airport now sits at the heart of an international transportation crossroads and has developed into an integral part of the global travel chain for both passengers and cargo.

With more than 250 colour photographs and technical illustrations, the Heathrow Airport Manual brings together the challenges of daily operations at the world’s busiest international airport.

About the author

Robert Wicks is the author of four books in the acclaimed Haynes adventure motorcycling series. In addition to his love of two wheels, he has always had a passion for aviation and his career regularly sees him at 36,000ft as an airline passenger. An avid photographer with an enquiring mind he has successfully managed to get under the skin of Heathrow to provide unparalleled insight into daily operations at one of the world’s great airports. Robert works in sports marketing and lives in Berkshire, England.

The information on this page is supplied courtesy of Haynes Publishing, please credit accordingly if you intend to use it. For more information or to request a review copy please contact Spirit PR on 0117 944 1415 or email Haynes PR

Haynes Manuals is the world's leading publisher of illustrated workshop car and motorcycle manuals, as well as producing manuals on a wide range of DIY, leisure and lifestyle subjects. These will continue to include motoring and motorsport related subjects. Sparkford, Yeovil, Somerset BA22 7JJ. Telephone: 01963 440635 Fax: 01963 440001 E-mail: