RTE Television

City in the SKY

Episode 1 - Departure

There are around a million people airborne at any one time and keeping that number of people safely aloft depends on complex global networks and astonishing technology that stretches our ingenuity to the absolute limit.

In this programme science broadcaster, Dallas Campbell and Dr. Hannah Fry explore just what it takes to keep this city in the sky safe between take-off and landing. Dallas discovers just how pilots find their way across thousands of miles of sky in the dead of night. Hannah meets up with the air traffic controllers who are responsible for the busiest airspace in the world - over Atlanta in southeast America - and reveal just what is involved in coordinating the 100,000 flights that cross the globe every day, while avoiding collisions.

What does it take to get a million people and their luggage off the ground and up in the air? From building the world's biggest passenger plane to navigating through the busiest airport on the planet, to the perils of getting airborne in the coldest city on earth, Dallas and Hannah go to extremes to get under the skin of the remarkable story of departure. You will never look at flying in the same way again.

Future episodes:

Episode 2 - Airbourne
There are around a million people airborne at any one time and keeping that number of people safely aloft depends on complex global networks and astonishing technology that stretches our ingenuity to the absolute limit. In this programme, science broadcaster Dallas Campbell and Dr Hannah Fry explore just what it takes to keep this city in the sky safe between take-off and landing. Dallas discovers how pilots find their way across thousands of miles of sky in the dead of night.

Hannah meets up with the air traffic controllers who are responsible for the busiest airspace in the world - over Atlanta in south east America - and reveal just what is involved in co-ordinating the 100,000 flights that cross the globe every day, while avoiding collisions. And it is not all about the planes themselves - whether it is the care of 64 horses that regularly fly around the globe to compete in show jumping competitions or inflight medical advice from ER doctors in Phoenix for passengers who fall ill at 35,000 feet. You will never look at your time aloft in the same way again.

Episode 3 - Arrival
There are around one million people airborne at any one time. But what goes up must come down - and bringing all those people safely back to earth depends on complex global networks and astonishing technology that stretches our ingenuity to the absolute limit. In this programme, science broadcaster Dallas Campbell and Dr Hannah Fry explore just what it takes to bring the citizens of the sky back to the ground.

Dallas has a front row seat when he is in the cockpit with one of just 26 pilots in the world qualified to land at Paro, Bhutan. Meanwhile, Hannah meets up with the air traffic controllers who, at some times of the year, deal with over 1,000 flights a day arriving at Atlanta - the busiest airport in the world. She also visits Bangor Airport in Maine where they are always on standby - there have been over 2,000 unscheduled landings in the last decade alone. With the city in the sky predicted to double in size in the next 20 years, in this last episode in the series, the team also find out what the challenges are and what the future of aviation might look like.

City in the SKY