Vietnam Airlines first Airbus A350 revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Vietnam | Posted on 09-03-2015

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A350-900_Vietnam_Airlines_roll_out_paintshop_2

The first A350 XWB for Vietnam Airlines was rolled out of the Airbus paint shop in Toulouse on Friday 6th March, featuring the airline’s updated distinctive blue and gold lotus livery.

The aircraft, which will be leased from AerCap, is now entering the advanced stage of production. This will include installation of the engines, completion of cabin furnishing, and cockpit fitting, followed by ground and flight tests. The aircraft is scheduled for delivery in the middle of the year.

A350-900_Vietnam_Airlines_roll_out_paintshop

Vietnam Airlines will become the first Asian airline to fly the A350 XWB and the second operator in the world. Vietnam Airlines will acquire 14 A350 XWBs, including ten on order from Airbus and four under lease agreements. The carrier will operate its A350 XWB fleet on premium long haul routes, beginning with services between Hanoi and Paris.

To find out where Vietnam Airlines and other A350 customers will be flying their aircraft, visit our A350 Routes Page.

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

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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.

 

Last Airbus A300B2 retired from passenger service

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Iran, Japan, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 27-02-2015

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A300B2 MahanAir (c) Mohammad Razzazan

The final example of the first model Airbus A300B2 has been retired from passenger service by Iranian carrier Mahain Air after a career spanning 34 years.

Originally delivered to Japanese airline TOA Domestic Airlines in 1981 and later joining Japan Air System, EP-MHA (c/n 160) started flying for Mahan Air in 2006 on routes around Iran and the Middle East.

Now the aircraft has been ferried to Kerman, according to ch-aviation, to join two other stablemates which were retired recently. It is expected that the aircraft will be scrapped rather than going on to serve with another airline.

It is expected that Mahan Air will also retire its ageing A300B4 fleet this year, too.

KLM’s Boeing 787 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Africa, Airline News, Asia, Bahrain, China, Ecuador, Egypt, Middle East, Netherlands, South America, Western Europe | Posted on 12-02-2015

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KLM 787-9

KLM has added some more route details for its upcoming Boeing 787 fleet, with six initial destinations.

The airline will take the stretched 787-9 model, with the first flights due to commence in October.

The routes KLM will initially fly with its Boeing 787s are:

  • Amsterdam – Abu Dhabi – Bahrain – Starts 25th October
  • Amsterdam – Cairo – Starts 30th November
  • Amsterdam – Quito – Guayaquil – Amsterdam – Starts 2nd December
  • Amsterdam – Xiamen – Starts 3rd December

 

I’m looking forward to seeing the plane in the smart blue colour scheme of KLM, and it will be delivered in the updated scheme which is currently being rolled out across the existing fleet.

Keep up to date with KLM and all other airlines’ Boeing 787 routes on our dedicated page here.

American Airlines Boeing 787 Routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Argentina, Asia, China, North America, South America, USA | Posted on 11-02-2015

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Bradley Basin Employee Shoot Patrick Summers rms275910 cns2014nef

American Airlines is the latest US airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It has now announced the initial routes which the type will operate on.

Like most airlines, American will operate its 787s initially on domestic sectors to gain crew familiarity on the type before it embarks on long haul flying. The aircraft will be based at Dallas Ft Worth Airport and fly on the following routes:

  • Dallas Ft Worth – Chicago O’Hare – Starts 7th May
  • Dallas Ft Worth – Beijing Capital – Starts 2nd June
  • Dallas Ft Worth – Buenos Aires – Starts 4th June

AA 787 interior

Customers can start booking 787 flights beginning 14th February. American will deploy the 787 to additional markets in 2015 as it takes delivery of new aircraft.

American has placed firm orders for 42 Boeing 787 aircraft, with the right to acquire an additional 58.

You can keep track of American Airlines and all other airlines’ Boeing 787 routes on our dedicated page here.

2014’s most popular Airport Spotting posts

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Eastern Europe, Germany, Ghana, Heathrow, India, Indonesia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Turkey, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 27-12-2014

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MostPopular2014

With 2014 coming to an end and lots to look forward to next year, I wanted to revisit some of our most popular articles from the past year.

These have all had the most views, shares and comments.

What has been your aviation or spotting highlight of 2014? Leave a comment below!

 

 

Spotting News

Jakarta Airport FM7 Spotting Hotel
This new spotting hotel was a welcome addition to one of the most interesting airports for spotters to visit.

Guide to aviation and spotting in India
Spotting is notoriously difficult and misunderstood in India, so I put together this guide on what to expect and where to spot in this huge country.

Sydney to close observation deck
Sad new for spotters this year when Sydney’s International Terminal observation deck closed. But all was not lost.

Heathrow opens new viewing area
Few saw this coming – Heathrow opening an official viewing area again! But there was a catch…

ex-Ghana DC-10 turned into a restaurant
A former Ghana Airways Douglas DC-10 has been converted into a restaurant next to the main international airport.

BLOC Hotel Gatwick – Spotting Hotel Review
London’s second busiest airport got a new spotting hotel. I visited this summer and reported here on the excellent views and opportunities.

9 top spotting airports to reach by budget airline
This little guide offers some inspiration on the major international airports that are great to spot at, and also easily reached by budget airlines, helping keep the cost down.

 

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Airline and Aircraft News

SunExpress expand with up to 50 Boeing 737 order
A large order for aircraft from the joint German/Turkish leisure airline SunExpress.

Farnborough Air Show Orders Summary
This year’s Farnborough Air Show brought an unprecedented number of aircraft orders from around the world. We put a summary together here.

Brazil World Cup Special Liveries
This year’s Football World Cup in Brazil brought a number of special airline liveries. See them here!

McDonnell Douglas MD-11 Farewell
The final passenger MD-11 flights took place in 2014. In this farewell piece we look at the history or the aircraft and where you can still see them flying today.

 

Singapore Seletar airport to be upgraded

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Asia, Singapore | Posted on 22-12-2014

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Seletar Airport

Singapore’s historic Seletar Airport will be upgraded in 2015 to allow it to relieve some of the pressure on the busy Changi Airport.

Built in 1928, Seletar once handled scheduled services, and has remained a base for general aviation and aircraft maintenance.

Now, the ageing passenger terminal will be demolished and replaced by a new structure capable of handling the smaller turboprop types currently operating into Changi, and acting as a regional airport. This will likely affect carriers such as Firefly and Berjaya Air, but it might also encourage more smaller regional airlines to start services to Singapore using the upgraded Seletar.

Seletar is around 13 miles from Changi and the city, and easily reached by road. It is managed by the same owners as Changi airport.

Spotting at Kuala Lumpur KLIA2

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Malaysia, Spotting Hotels, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 06-12-2014

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KLIA 2 gates

Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s dedicated low-cost terminal, KLIA2, was opened in May 2014 and is the world’s largest dedicated low-cost terminal. It can handle up to 45 million passengers per year.

All of the airport’s low-cost airline movements were moved to the terminal, leaving the original buildings to handle full service airlines and the mainline flights of Malaysia Airlines.

Paul Moiser recently visited the airport and got the low down on spotting at KLIA2.

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Getting to KLIA2

There’s an excellent train service which connects KLIA to KLIA2, and the journey time is only 3 minutes. It costs RM2 which is less than $1 / 50p.

 

Where to spot

KLIA2 has an official spotting area, just like KLIA1. Once you arrive at the KLIA2 train station take the elevator to level 3 departures and follow the signs for the smoking area and food courts. You will come across the outside viewing area next to McDonald’s.

KLIA2 terminal spotting location

There are two sides to the viewing area. Both sides only overlook nine parking gates, so you need visit each side of this level to see all of the aircraft. The larger parking area is the central bay, and aircraft parked here can’t be seen from either end of the viewing areas. Only movements taxiing in and out of this central bay can be seen from the right hand side of this level. As you enter past McDonald’s the viewing area to your right offers the best overall view as you can see movements over at KLIA, however you may need to use SBS or FlightRadar24 to identify these; although any departing traffic off the central runway (32R/14L) are readable.

The viewing area to your left as you enter only gives views of the new third runway and nine parking gates. This runway was quite active while I was there, so that’s why you have to spend time at each end.

It is possible to just stay at the main KLIA’s observation hall as you can see all movements moving about over at KLIA2, but closeup photography will not be possible.

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KLIA 2 spotting hotel

Kuala Lumpur KLIA2 has its own hotel which is reached via a covered ground-level walkway. The hotel is a Tune Hotel and I had a walk over there to check out the rooms to see what the views were like.

Tune Hotel KLIA

As the hotel was busy the only room I could be shown was room 601. From the room you can see all departures off the new runway. No parking gates could be seen and I couldn’t see anything over at KLIA. I could only see movements taxiing in/out to one side of the parking bays, so although the hotel is very cheap at £35 a night, compared to excellent Sama Sama spotting hotel you need (if it’s important to you!) to factor this point in regarding views. Going off the location I really don’t think any other rooms would offer much better than the one I was shown.

The Tune hotel was very nice and modern, and they offer free wifi in all areas. The room I was shown was a double, but they do have twins. Rooms are very small but all have a flat screen TV with air-con, but no tea/coffee making facilities etc.

 

The aircraft photos on this page are from Paul Moiser’s visit. You can find out more about KLIA2 at the official website: www.klia2.info

Lufthansa launching low-cost long-haul subsidiary

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Germany, North America, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-12-2014

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A new subsidiary will be launched by Lufthansa which will operate long-haul flights at low-cost prices.

The carrier will operate seven of Airbus A330-300s from its base at Cologne/Bonn Airport.

A name has not yet been announced for the carrier, nor a final list of routes. However, it is anticipated that it will fly to destinations in Florida, southern Africa and around the Indian Ocean.

The operation is part of Lufthansa’s plans for a “new Eurowings”, which is being reorganised. The Air Operator’s Certificate of SunExpress will be used for the long-haul carrier, along with crews trained by the Turkish operator (which is jointly owned by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines).

 

Top 8 beach spotting locations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Caribbean, Cyprus, Eastern Europe, France, North America, Sint Maarten, Spain, Thailand, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 28-11-2014

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Many of the most enjoyable spotting trips are when you can relax in the sun or take photos in a stunning locations. A lot of the world’s airports and runways back onto beaches, which turn out to be great spotting locations.

All of the locations listed here are accessible, public places.

 

1. Phuket, Thailand

By Andy Mitchell (Flickr: Transaero Airlines B747-300SR VP-BGW) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andy Mitchell (Flickr: Transaero Airlines B747-300SR VP-BGW) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thailand’s holiday island is popular with many airlines arriving from near and far, including both domestic and long-haul airliners. Probably the best location to spot at the airport is Nai Yang Beach running along the western side of the airport, which is accessed by walking around 15 minutes from the road.

Any aircraft approaching runway 09 can be easily photographed, and by finding an area of high ground you can also see over the perimeter fence and photograph aircraft on the ground easily.

 

2. Sydney, Australia

By Advanstra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Advanstra (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

One of the best spots for photography and plane spotting at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport is The Beach off General Holmes Drive, at the east side of the airport.

You can spot here from both the car park and the beach itself, with aircraft using the runways in view, especially 16R/34L which passes very close to you and can lead to some spectacular photographs.

 

3. St. Maarten, Caribbean

Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To

Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To

Not much can be written about Maho Beach that hasn’t already been said. Some of the most stunning aviation photography in recent times has been of aircraft passing incredibly low over the heads of people on this beach, on the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. This is especially fun since huge widebody airliners use the airport, and tend to land as early as possible, barely missing the perimeter fence.

The bar on the beach is known to list the arrivals due at the airport each day, meaning you can keep an eye on what’s due as you sip cocktails and soak up the sun.

 

4. Larnaca, Cyprus

Mackenzie Beach lies just off the northern perimeter of Larnaca Airport, with aircraft passing close by before landing or after takeoff. You can reach the beach off Piale Pasa, at the southern end of the city.

 

5. Lanzarote, Canary Islands

When aircraft are arriving on runway 03, the beach running around the southern portion of the airport is an ideal position to spot and photograph aircraft arriving at Lanzarote Arrecife Airport. Due to the position of the sun, this location is best in the morning for photography, and a fence can obstruct some shots of aircraft on the ground. But if you’re just watching the action it is perfect.

The location is reached along Avenida Playa Honda.

 

6. Boston Logan, MA

By James Wang from Boston, Mass, USA (British Airways 747 (Oneworld livery)) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By James Wang from Boston, Mass, USA (British Airways 747 (Oneworld livery)) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are actually two beaches at Boston Logan Airport which are good for spotting.

Constitution Beach is best for aircraft using runways 22L and 22R, and the taxiways associated with these runways. You can get some good action shots of aircraft arriving and departing. Better in the afternoon and evening for photography. This beach is close to Saratoga Street.

Meanwhile, Yirrel Beach at Coughlin Park is great for aircraft approaching runway 27, and to a lesser degree departing runway 09. This location is good all day for photography. The park and beach are off Shirley Street, with parking nearby.

 

7. Nice, France

Not the best beach for aircraft photography, however the very popular area running the length of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice offers quite interesting views of aircraft departing from the nearby airport. Aircraft need to make an immediate turn to the right following departure, following the sweep of the bay. There are few main airports situated this close to the city they serve.

 

8. New York JFK

 

Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge off Cross Bay Blvd is a well known spotting location at New York JFK, alongside Howard Beach, which is good for getting distant after-takeoff shots of heavy airliners as they make a turn.

 

Do you know of any good beach spotting locations? Leave a tip in the comments section below!