Squeezing six tons of orange juice everyday can be too ho-hum. That is 5,443 kilogrammes of oranges. Or, the weight of 4 compact-sized car. If this seems tedious enough, imagine rustling 200,000 meals a day. Rostering flights to 316 cities in 126 countries with 4,907 pilots and 12,482 cabin attendants. Handling the world’s youngest fleet of 332 aircraft and 75.2 million annual passenger count. Add to it, 1,412,423 tons of annual cargo weight. Any Excel sheet will collapse dead with so much data. But at Turkish Airlines, the airline that flies to more countries than any other airline in the world, this is an ordinary day handled extraordinarily.
Flight Training Centre
Forgiving that odd nasty air pocket, did you know how pilots fly through the clouds in a 575,000 kg (minimum take-off weight of an Airbus380) aircraft. Flying smooth is learnt at Turkish Airlines’ 24x7 Flight Training Centre in Istanbul. Here, pilots and cabin crew train in 19 full flight simulators in 6 different types of aircraft that are in its fleet. There are four different door trainers (Airbus320, Airbus330; Boeing737, Boeing777) where practical door opening and closing trainings are imparted while other aircraft bodies’ exit doors and a pool of water is used for emergency landing and ditching practical training.
A flight simulator at Turkish Airlines’ Flight Training Centre in Istanbul.
Inside an A320 cabin, turbulence, decompression, fire in cabin or pilot incapacitation scenarios are practised. A mannequin with unbuttoned shirt sits for resuscitation trials where the crew learns the crucial ‘Shake gentry, Shout loudly’ to check response for basic life support. There is also a real fire-fighting area outside of the building where fire-fighting practice is done.
All Turkish Airlines’ pilots and cabin crew are trained at Istanbul’s Flight Training Centre.
In-flight meals with Do & Co
At 30,000 ft, the air is drier than a desert’s and the taste buds start behaving badly. That is why Turkish Airlines has partnered with Do & Co, a company with 30 catering kitchens in 10 countries on 3 continents. With no open flame and professional knives allowed onboard, food loaded on the aircraft is 70 percent already cooked. Individual dishes and side dishes are loaded separately. The cooking is finally done in an oven and the crew needs 30 minutes of preparation for heating the dish. That is why only cold refreshments can be served during 2 hours before landing. Two meals are served on transatlantic flights and you might get a snack service on some routes.
Turkish Airlines has partnered with Do&Co for inflight meal services and catering at Istanbul Airport’s Business Lounge.
The menus change on a weekly basis and differ according to flight. The departure menu is different from the menu on a return flight. At least 24-hour prior notice is required for special meals (you can even order a Bland Meal!).
Business class passengers can pre-order their main meal from a choice of up to 44 meals 48 hours before their flight via the website or airlines app.
The crew also needs to remember the cockpit food rules. The pilot and co-pilot are never served the same dishes. Just to avoid a bad food poisoning day!
Turkish Airlines has chefs on board - nearly 500 of them. These are professional chefs who have been educated at high school, university level and have work experience in restaurants. After being accepted for training at Turkish Do&Co, they undergo a 5-week training period at a simulation centre and the last week of training is set aside for first stage health training. They are the ones who add that final spring of mint on a hot plate of pilaff.
Not only bullies and drunken behaviour, the crew have to learn by rote the rules of handling pets - small parrots (not African gray parrot), canaries, cats and dogs (these are the only animals allowed in cabin) onboard. Pregnant animals or cats and dogs under 10 weeks old are not allowed on flights while pigeons are allowed only in aircraft hold area. Pitbulls and Terrier that are not allowed due to international aviation regulations and pug-nosed dogs have priority in cabin space. Cats and dogs or cats and birds are not allowed on the same plane, whether they are separated by cabins or not. Service dogs are accepted free of charge on all flights while emotional support dogs are allowed free only on flights from Istanbul to the US or from the US to Istanbul.
Dogs, cats and small singing birds are allowed in Turkish Airlines’ cabin.
New Istanbul Airport
Moving homes can be strenuous. When the first phase of the Istanbul Airport opened on October 29, 2018, the moving (Big Bang) process, from Atatürk Airport operations to Istanbul Airport, took 29 hours - Turkish Airlines transported 47,300 tons of equipment (comparable with 33 football pitches) with the help of 1,800 personnel.
In 2028: Time travel to 2028 when the new Istanbul Airport will be finally ready. The stats will blow even a mathematician’s mind: 200 million passengers, 120 take offs/landings per hour, 5.5 million tonnes cargo capacity, 566 check-in points, 143 passenger boarding bridges, 20,000 waiting chairs, 42 kilometres of baggage conveyor, parking for 40,000 cars, 665 LET (Lifts, Escalators and Travelators). All this sprawled over 1.4 million square meters, the world’s biggest terminal building under one roof.
That’s certainly much more than squeezing 6 tons of orange juice everyday!
Photo courtesy: Turkish Airlines Preeti Verma Lal is a Goa-based freelance writer/photographer. Read her columns