We were wondering how they were going to change those light bulbs. Now we know. Can the high-wire walkers do anything about the Customs delays down on the ground, as well?
Heathrow will be hiring a team of high wire walkers to change the light bulbs that sit 120 feet-high along the ceiling of Terminal Five, after complaints from passengers.
The major bulb replacement task is expected to take nearly four months and cost several million pounds, according to an email sent to staff from Vicki O’Brien, head of Heathrow customer service at British Airways, the news website Exaro reports .
Sixty per cent of the 120,000 light bulbs at Terminal Five have blown yet not a single one has been changed since 2008, faced with “no viable way to replace them”, according to O’Brien.
Various ways of replacing them have been investigated, including gondolas and high-level cherry pickers, none of which were deemed “practical or safe”.
Following months of discussion, the airport has finally found a “safe and robust way to replace all of the light bulbs” using ‘Cirque du Soleil-style’ high-level rope work done by a specialist company.
The airport plans to re-lamp the entire ceiling of the departures concourse with environmentally-friendly LED (light emitting diodes) bulbs that will last up to five years, according to a spokesman for Heathrow.
“Contingency lighting has been used on the concourse while a viable and safe solution of replacing the lights was being agreed,” he said.
The airport is also planning to replace the terminal’s “task lights”, following complaints from staff saying the work lights are not bright enough for viewing documents on their desks.
Heathrow’s Terminal Five currently houses the world’s largest controlled-lighting system, featuring 2,600 sensors designed to automatically switch off when no motion is detected.
Terminal Five’s opening in 2008 was overshadowed by baggage check-in problems, with 34 flights cancelled.
Earlier this year, however, it was named best airport terminal building in the World Airport Awards, organised by Skytrax, an aviation research organisation.
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Photo credit: Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron watches passengers pass through immigration control during a visit to Terminal 5, at Heathrow Airport, west of London October 10, 2011. Richard Pohle / Reuters