Cutting it Very Very Close (or: Most Efficient Airport in the World)

Let me begin this post with a small disclaimer.  I am not a pilot nor am I in any way involved with aviation.

Today, while browsing around a bit on google maps, I noticed this rather interesting situation (or major disaster) developing at the north-eastern end of runway 22L (see here):


If you look closely you will notice two aircrafts on final approach to the same runway separated by roughly 500 meters.  I reckon the average speed on final approach is in the region of 130 knots = 240 km/h = 66 m/s.  At 66 m/s it would take 7 1/2 seconds to travel 500 meters.  In other words, CPH might very well be the most efficient airport in the world if they are able to handle a landing every 10 seconds on a single runway.

In reality I do believe ATC (air traffic control) tries to separate approaching planes by at least 3 nautical miles (that’s about 5 1/2 km) when they line them up for approach (also known as the string of pearls).  If I am right about the 3 nautical miles (it might actually be 5) that would lead to a landing roughly every 1 1/2 minute or so (or a tad more than 2 minutes if it is 5 nautical miles).

I guess this is merely an illusion caused by the way Google stitch their satellite images together and it is in fact exactly the same aircraft, but the result is really rather amusing I think.

Here is the real thing:

View Larger Map

I just included the image above in case Google change their satellite imagery.

Update 2014-10-16

As can be seen, the Google Maps images have actually changed, so this little “gem” is no longer there.