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Right after takeoff

Berlin’s «vomit inducing turn» upsets pilots

When eastern winds are present, airlines can choose a special take-off route at the new Berlin Airport. At a height of only 600 feet, the aircraft enters a sharp turn. Pilots are not amused.

Flugghafen Berlin-Brandenburg

Southern runway at the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport.

For passengers, it could be the start of a thrilling holiday. At Germany’s new Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER), which is set to open on October 31, there will be a very special departure routing during periods of eastern winds. The so-called Hoffmann turn provides for pilots to steer their aircraft into a 145-degree right turn just seconds after take-off from the southern runway – at an altitude of about 600 feet, as reported by the newspaper Tagesspiegel.

The turn is meant to avoid noise for the residents of the nearby Waltersdorf district and the communities of Eichwalde, Schulzendorf and Zeuthen. Passengers with a window seat on the right-hand side, on the other hand, will probably feel as if the wing is about to touch the runway. And that’s why it’s already being called «vomit inducing turn».

Pilots criticize intended flight path

Similar manoeuvres are also flown at other airports – for example, where pilots have to avoid a mountain. Nevertheless, there have been complaints against the route, which is officially called LULUL 1B. However, the Higher Administrative Court of Berlin-Brandenburg has already ruled against the complaints. The Federal Supervisory Authority for Air Navigation Services told the newspaper that the path is safe.

Pilots could also choose an alternative route in consultation with their airline. The alternative is called the GORIG route and involves a longer straight climb after take-off from the southern runway of BER. However, due to the shorter flight time and lower fuel consumption, the Hoffmann turn is likely to be preferred by airlines.

Hoffmann curve can upset pilots

At Vereinigung Cockpit, Germany’s pilot union, the Hoffmann turn – named after the local private pilot Marcel Hoffmann who invented it – is viewed critically. «You can fly it, of course, but it is not conducive to safety», a union spokesman told aeroTELEGRAPH. «Flying such a turn while the flaps and landing gear are still retracting does not contribute to a calm atmosphere in the cockpit.»

This is especially true when other factors such as bad weather or technical problems are added, the spokesman said. The manoeuvre could also unsettle passengers.

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