Boeing finding homes for ‘terrible teen’ 787s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, North America, USA | Posted on 03-03-2015


Ethiopian 787 (c) Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Boeing is making progress on finding homes for the early Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft which have been sat in storage at its Everett Paine Field manufacturing site since the early days of the aircraft.

These particular aircraft were built shortly after the prototypes began flying, with Boeing seeking to catch up on the delays it had incurred. The aircraft were completed, and most had the basic liveries of the airlines who had ordered them applied. But then they didn’t go anywhere.

When I visited Paine Field in early 2012 there were a number of these aircraft scattered around, painted in the colours of Royal Air Maroc, ANA All Nippon Airways, Air India and others.

Since these aircraft were among the first 20 built (hence the nickname ‘terrible teens’) they also incurred vital modifications which were necessary as a result of testing on the prototypes and first delivery aircraft. Notably, there were problems with electrical fires and the strength of the wing assemblies.

All future Dreamliners were built with fixes for these problems, but for the terrible teens a process of modifications took place to make them airworthy; this in turn added extra weight to the airframe and they incurred a range penalty of around 1,000 miles.

Naturally the planned operators of these aircraft demanded newer airframes, leaving the early examples looking for a new home.

Terrible Teen 787s at Paine Field

Terrible Teen 787s at Paine Field

But now Boeing seems set to announce where they’ll be heading. Since the backlog for orders is so great, taking a terrible teen will be a way to jump the queue for any airline – especially those who don’t mind the range restrictions so much, and would prefer to pay a reduced price tag, which presumably is the case for the unwanted aircraft.

Last week it was confirmed that Air Austral would be taking two of the aircraft, to operate from Reunion Island.

Now it looks like Ethiopian Airlines will take up to eight examples.

Garuda Indonesia and Malaysia Airlines have been approached to take some of the jets, according to ch-aviation, and it seems likely Rwandair will take two of the Royal Air Maroc candidates.


Morocco Airport Spotting Highlights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airport Spotting Guide, Morocco | Posted on 04-03-2013


Morocco AircraftMorocco has become a popular and affordable place to visit, especially for Europeans. Most low cost airlines now fly there, and Ryanair recently announced it was starting bases in Fez and Marrakech.

I even travelled to Marrakech last year for an autumn holiday and loved the scenery, history and culture.

Morocco AirportsMorocco has 14 airports with regular airline service, according to Airline Route Mapper. Here’s a look at some of the highlights of these airports:

One of the most famous cities in Morocco, Casablanca is also the main industrial city. Its Mohammed V International Airport is the busiest in Morocco, with flights across Europe, West Africa, the Middle East, and North America. It is the hub airport for national carrier, Royal Air Maroc, which provides the majority of the movements.

Cargo is also represented at the airport, with airlines such as Air France Cargo, UPS, DHL Airways, Turkish Cargo and Med Airlines Maroc flying in regularly.

Casablanca’s former main airport at Anfa Airport has now had its runways and taxiways ripped up, but it is still the headquarters of Royal Air Maroc. There are still a few aircraft at the airline’s training base here, including a Lockheed Constellation, Sud Aviacion Caravelle, and Boeing 727. These are being restored for display in a museum.

Marrakech Terminal

Passengers: ~3 million. Main Airlines: Ryanair, Royal Air Maroc, Jetairfly, easyJet
Marrakech Menara Airport is a busy low-cost and holiday airline hub throughout the year. It is also a military base, and hosts an annual airshow. You can read my spotting guide to Marrakech Airport here.

Main Airlines:
Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair
The capital city of Morocco is served by Rabat-Salé Airport. It has a single terminal, and also a military base on site. Despite being the capital, it is not the busiest airport in Morocco with the only regular services being to Madrid and Paris via Iberia and Air France respectively. Ryanair will add services to the city from April and May 2013, however.

1.5 million Main Airlines: Royal Air Maroc/RAM Express, easyJet, Jetairfly
This major city in the south of Morocco has a  busy airport handling over 1.5 million passengers per year. It is to receive a new terminal building to replace its ageing example, as it expects traffic to grow.

At the moment, it is handling flights mainly from holiday and low cost carriers across Europe, with some links to the nearby Canary Islands too.

The original Inezgane Airport close to the city centre is still in use as a military air base.

650,000 Main Airlines: Air Arabia Maroc, Royal Air Maroc/RAM Express, Ryanair
Ibn Battouta Airport serves the northern port city of Tangier. It has modern facilities, and handles around 700,000 passengers per year. Traffic is a mix of holiday/low cost airlines alongside regional links to Spain and Casablanca. There are also some cargo services by Air Contractors and Med Airlines.

500,000 Main Airlines: Ryanair
This beautiful historic city has a small airport which recently gained attention from Ryanair, who will open up a base there this year, vastly increasing the number of routes. In addition to Ryanair, Fes is also served by Air Arabia Maroc, easyJet, JetairFly, Royal Air Maroc, Transavia, and Vueling.

Main Airlines: Royal Air Maroc, Ryanair, Jetairfly
A growing airport on the northeast border with Algeria, and a former World War II airfield, Oujda Angads Airport follows a similar trend to the rest of Morocco with a growth in low cost and holiday airlines. Royal Air Maroc also links it to Casablanca and a few European destinations.

Other Moroccan airports with airline service are:

Al Hoceima
Melilla (Spanish enclave)

Ryanair’s first African bases – Fez and Marrakech

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Morocco | Posted on 14-01-2013


Ryanair MarrakechNews has been popping up today that Ryanair will open its first non-European bases (if you don’t count the Canary Islands) with the addition of Fez and Marrakech in Morocco.

The airline already has extensive operations into both of these airports, and is now likely to add a few more routes and base a couple of Boeing 737-800s at each airport to offer greater frequencies.

In the case of Marrakech, Ryanair is already the dominant carrier at the airport, ahead of Royal Air Maroc and other leisure/low cost carriers. I actually flew there with Ryanair last year (trip report here).

It is speculated that the airline will begin domestic flights within Morocco at the launch of these bases later this year.

Spotting at Marrakech Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airport Spotting Guide, Morocco | Posted on 27-12-2012


Royal Air MarocAs you may have read in my earlier trip report, I passed through Marrakech, Morocco recently on holiday.

The flights were with Ryanair from London Luton. On the return, I explored a bit to see what spotting opportunities there are at the airport, and what kind of flights are on offer.

First of all, at the moment there’s a new terminal under construction to the east of the current main terminal. This, I believe, is on the site of an older, recently demolished, terminal. No doubt this will have similar views to the existing terminal once complete.

Marrakech AirportThe airport has a single runway, 10/28, and roads between the airport and the city pass close to the end of runway 28. The pavements alongside these roads are perfectly suitable for photographing aircraft just before landing.

There is also an area of waste ground at the end of runway 10 which is suitable for watching movements.

Outside the terminal building there are few opportunities to see what’s on the ground, save for a small gap to the right of the building which looks towards the runway.

Ryanair MarrakechOnce inside the terminal, the only opportunities to see aircraft are once you’ve passed through to the departure lounge. This upstairs gate area runs the length of the building, with all stands visible. You can also see the runway, and get limited views of the military base on the far side of the runway (including the preserved Fairchild C-119G Boxcar, CNA-MH).

Not visible from the terminal are the parking stands at the extreme eastern end of the ramp, where executive and general aviation aircraft park. If you are departing on runway 28, sit on the right side of the aircraft and you should see these aircraft as you taxi past.

Marrakech is mainly a tourist destination, and operators are generally low-cost and leisure airlines from countries in Europe. The main operators are easyJet, Jetairfly, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Royal Air Marco, and Ryanair. A decent number of bizjet movements also pass through.


Trip Report – Luton to Marrakech

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Morocco, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 21-10-2012


Luton Ryanair 737We didn’t have a summer holiday this year. Instead, we choose to go somewhere hot in the Autumn, and Morocco was our destination of choice.

Despite the distance from home, flying Ryanair from Luton to Marrakech was the most affordable option, so we drove down and found a cheap deal in the Long Stay car park – and as a spotter, this is one of the best. The Harrods hangar and biz jet parking area is right alongside you, and you have a view across to park  of the passenger terminal’s stands, and some of the distant biz jet parking areas.

Spotting at Luton Airport

Getting the bus to the terminal also passes (briefly) some of the other biz jet parking areas. Remember that Luton is London’s biz jet airport of choice, so there’s always something of interest to see. On this visit I saw Chinese and Hong Kong Gulfstreams, and a Kuwaiti A319CJ amongst many others.

Once checked in, we headed upstairs for some food. In the food court you have views over one of the smaller airliner aprons, and in the distance the airport’s single runway. As we ate our lunch, the afternoon departure of the El Al Boeing 767-200 taxied past.

Luton Ryanair Flight

To reach the gates Ryanair use, it’s quite a distant walk. You’ll pass all of the easyJet gates, and then reach the original part of the terminal to join the mad rush for Ryanair flights.


Today we were flying on EI-EFW, one of the more recent Boeing 737-800s the airline uses. Boarding is done by walking to the aircraft, so we headed for the rear stairs to give more chance of a window seat – and more chance to see the aircraft parked around us. From this area you can often see into the maintenance hangars at Luton.

Ryanair Sunset View

The flight from Luton to Marrakech is around 3hrs 20 mins long. Ryanair’s seating is fairly cramped, and anything you want to eat or drink must be bought. But there wasn’t anything to complain about – the views were good all the way, with a stunning sunset as we reached the African coast and descended for arrival.

It was dark when we landed at Marrakech Airport. Landing on the easterly runway required a number of tight turns just before arrival which felt a bit like the old Kai Tak airport in Hong Kong!

Just after arrival, another Ryanair aircraft departed, and an easyJet A319 arrived from Manchester, parking next to us.

Soon I’ll post a spotting report from Marrakech Airport to guide you around what the airport has to offer, and how to get the best views there.

Final leg of 787 Dream Tour announced

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Morocco, New Zealand, Spotting News | Posted on 21-05-2012


Boeing 787 Dreamliner World TourThe final leg of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner World Tour has been announced, with airports in Australia, New Zealand, Morocco and Uzbekistan on the list.

The third prototype, N787BX, has been visiting countries, airlines and press around the world over the past couple of months, promoting the new type and demonstrating its abilities.

This leg sees it visit:

  • May 24 – Sydney, Australia
  • May 29 – Auckland, New Zealand
  • May 31 – Darwin, Australia
  • June 1 – Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • June 3 – Casablanca, Morocco

I was lucky enough to get invited on board the aircraft when it visited British Airways at London Heathrow in April. You can read about that here.

To follow the Dream Tour, visit the website