and now...the rest of the story......
Below is the story of the landing of "Lebombo" as written by the Captain
(Captain Dennis Spence) who flew her on this last flight.
The aircraft empty weight was 164 000kg and we had 20 000kg fuel on board. The aircraft was TOTALLY airworthy and every component was serviceable, it even has toilet paper in all the toilets!!!!! We had a snag before start with the PMS (Performance Management Computer) so one was ordered from stores and it was fitted before we departed. Take-off weight was 183 000 kg and the V1/VR speed was 125 kts. Max thrust was 1.6 EPR but we de-rated to 1.55. We applied nearly max thrust on the brakes and it had acceleration that made the M3 drivers look like they were standing still. We rotated just after intersection Lima, some 3000 ft from the beginning of 03 Left, and climbed away with a body angle of nearly 30°. We were given vectors for Rand from the west, but because of some cloud we only became visual too late to commence the approach, so we were re-vectored and approached from the south. We joined right-hand downwind for 11 and got the gear and flap 30, landing flap out early. As there is no approach aids on 11, we plotted an ideal path using the DME at RAV. The threshold height of 11 is 5500 ft MSL at 0,7 DME RAV, so by the simple rule of 300 ft per nautical mile, we had our path plotted.
3,7 DME : 6400 ft
2.7 DME: 6100 ft
1.7 DME: 5800 ft
We did not want to touch early, because of the "lip" on the approach to 11, so we had a chalk line at 50m (150 ft) drawn across the runway to ensure that this would not happen, because of the visual illusion of such a narrow runway ( 15m wide compared to 60m wide at JNB). The distance from the nose of the aircraft to the rear of the gear is 114 ft, so we would not want to touch down before the nose was at this line. Also, the demonstrated landing distance from the flight performance manuals, and computed by the performance engineers at SAA is 3000 ft. This is using ONLY brakes and NO thrust reverse, but we must remember that this is for a new aircraft with new brakes, not one with 107 000 flying hours on it !!!! To ensure that we minimized the possibility of an over-run of 11, we then put another chalk line at 3600 ft from the end of R/W 29, so if we were not on the ground by this mark, we would go-around and have another attempt. In the Simulator we tried various scenario's using JNB 30L , NO aids, except for the 300 ft/NM plot, a 5 kt crosswind and a 5 kt tail wind, NO reverse thrust, and every time we managed to stop before intersection Lima.
Well it worked at Rand, and we did NOT scratch the paint!!!
I managed to keep it on the center line and touch down at the point we wanted - Bug speed at the weight of 178 000kg was 118 kts, but on short final with the wind at 070/08 I elected to fly it at 115 kts. When Dennis Mc Dermot, our Flight Engineer called 20 ft on the radio altimeter, I closed the thrust levers and planted it firmly onto the runway, aircraft carrier style. Well most of our energy dissipated rapidly, and by using medium auto-brakes, until I lowered the nose wheel, we managed to stop just before the intersection of 11/35. Stew just "cracked" the reversers, in case we need them, but because the engines will be removed and used again, we did not want to ingest any debris, as ALL the engines were overhanging the runway. The brake temperatures did not move higher than the mid green range.