Captain Ali Al Jabri, Etihad Airways’ Chief A380 pilot explains what it means to fly the amazing aerial display.
While Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg mentally prepare themselves for an epic finale on the ground, Etihad Airways’ A380 Chief Pilot, Captain Ali Al Jabri, will be in the left-hand seat of the superjumbo (tail number A6-APC) as it skims the start line of Yas Marina Circuit at 900 feet and 210 knots, trailed by the nimble fast jets of the UAE’s air display team Fursan Al Emarat.
“It’s an honour for our flight crew to be selected to take part in the fly past alongside the UAE’s display team and be a part of the spectacular event that is the F1® race,” said Captain Al Jabri. “The weekend is a showpiece event for Abu Dhabi and provides a huge opportunity to demonstrate our aircraft to an audience of billions.
“We’ve conducted similar fly pasts in previous years, and based on the many positive comments we hear from people, we know they take it away as an abiding memory of the event.”
The Etihad Airways fly-past has become synonymous with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and this year’s event will see the airline’s stunning ‘Facets of Abu Dhabi’ livery flying over the iconic circuit to mark the beginning of the race on Sunday.
Months of planning takes place before the formation is performed ahead of the Formula 1 showpiece on race day.
The total flying time is 50 minutes from take-off to landing at Abu Dhabi International Airport and once in the air, the aircraft enter a holding pattern for about 10 minutes, during which they complete several passes over Yas Marina Circuit.
Captain Al Jabri spoke of the incredible team effort and dedication required to ensure the best possible visual experience on race day: “Safety is obviously of major importance to us when flying the aircraft so we’ve been working alongside the display team and practicing the fly past over the last few weeks.
“Many of us in the Etihad Airways crew have been involved in previous fly pasts but we couldn’t achieve it without the support of the Fursan Al Emarat display team, the military, air traffic control and the airport, so we can give people a spectacle that they will remember for years to come.”
The Etihad Airways flypast will begin at 16:46 taking place before and after the UAE National Anthem, minutes before the start of the 2016 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 27, Sunday.