The largest jet to date to land on St. Helena

For the first time, a Boeing 757 landed on the remote South Atlantic island of St. Helena on Thursday. Titan Airways’ 757-200 came from Great Britain – and is the largest aircraft to ever stop at St. Helena. She is now on her way back.

IIn our latitudes, St. Helena is best known from history lessons – after all, it was the island to which Napoléon Bonaparte was exiled after his deposition in 1815 and where the French Emperor finally died in 1821. Otherwise, the British overseas territory in the South Atlantic is rarely taking place in our consciousness. There is a reason for this, as the island of St. Helena is one of the most isolated regions on earth.

Short track, difficult conditions

Until the only airport opened, St. Helena could only be reached by ship. The airport has been officially in operation since 2017, but can only be used to a limited extent: Frequent wind shear and unfriendly rocks make landing a tricky undertaking – especially since the number of possible alternative airports tends to zero in bad weather. In addition, the only runway is only 1,850 meters long and therefore rather unsuitable for large-scale aircraft. The only regular connection until the beginning of 2020 was an Embraer 190 operated by South African Airlink via Walvis Bay in Namibia to Johannesburg. But Airlink ceased operations at the end of March until further notice, and so St. Helena was once again cut off from the air from the outside world.

Largest jet in the Titan fleet

The most recent flight of the charter airline Titan Airways from Great Britain caused a stir. Titan already flew to St. Helena in April with an Airbus A318. Now, with the Boeing 757-200 G-ZAPX, it has even sent its currently largest aircraft to the remote island. The 20-year-old jet, formerly used by Iberia, took off from London’s Stansted Airport on July 29th. The first stopover was Gran Canaria, from where on July 30th we went to Ascension Island and finally to St. Helena. There they had already expected the arrival of the 757 and prepared accordingly: the airport fire brigade had even put new tires on their emergency vehicle.

Return flight via Accra

The fire engine was not needed, the Titan-757 landed safely on Thursday shortly after 12 noon local time as flight ZT 6892 with 51 passengers and ten crew members on board in St. Helena. The majority of the passengers were apparently islanders returning to their homeland. The plane is now on its way back: this morning it left St. Helena initially in a southerly direction, then turned north and landed in the Ghanaian capital Accra after a three and a half hour flight. The G-ZAPX should then arrive in London again at the weekend.