Comac C919 rolled out

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, China, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 02-11-2015


Comac C919

The first Comac C919 airliner has been rolled out at a ceremony in China.

The twin jet regional airliner is the first large scale airliner to be built in China, and was unveiled at the Shanghai factory that it has been developed in. It can carry up to 168 passengers in a single-class layout, with a range of up to 5,555km. It is intended to fulfill the needs of airlines operating trunk routes in China and beyond, and is a competitor for the Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Embraer E-Jet families of aircraft which dominate.

The rollout of the new aircraft, registered B-001A (c/n 101) at Comac’s facility near Shanghai Pudong, was to great fanfare and attended by politicians and journalists eager to see it.

There will be six flying prototype aircraft involved in certification, along with two grounded examples. First flight is expected in early 2016.

Orders for the C919 so far total over 500 aircraft, making it a large scale success. All of the orders are from Chinese companies, apart from an order of 20 examples from GECAS in the USA. Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Air and Sichuan Airlines are all expected to take delivery of the type.

Recently Comac announced its new ARJ-21 airliner will enter service in February 2016.


Comac ARJ21 to enter service in February 2016

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 04-09-2015


Comac ARJ21

By Peng Chen (Flickr: China ARJ-21) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The long-delayed Comac ARJ21 regional jet is to finally enter service in February 2016, eight years after its first flight.

Chengdu Airlines will be the first operator of the type, taking delivery of two examples later this year. They will undertake pilot training, before entering service on domestic regional flights from its home base. The airline, which is owned by Comac, will eventually take 30 of the smaller ARJ21-700 variants.

To date there are orders for 342 ARJ21-700s from carriers mainly situated in China and the Far East. The larget ARJ21-900 is still on hold, with no orders.

Despite this entry into service of the first two aircraft, Comac does not anticipate beginning the production until later in 2016 when the relevant certification has been received. It has also abandoned plans to have the aircraft certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after ongoing delays.

The Comac ARJ21 very much resembles the Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 717 in my eyes, and has similarities to the Bombardier CRJ. The ARJ21-700 model can carry up to 90 passengers and has a range of 2,000 miles in the ER version, making it ideal for covering the Chinese regional market.

The two aircraft expected to enter service with Chengdu Airlines are B-010L and B-938L (c/n 105 and 106 respectively). B-1110L (c/n 104) has also been part of the testing process.


Iran Air Boeing 747SP Schedule

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, India, Iran, Malaysia, Middle East | Posted on 21-08-2015


"Iran Air Boeing 747SP Wedelstaedt" by Konstantin von Wedelstaedt - Website: Licensed under GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 via Wikimedia Commons -

(c) Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Despite planning to retire the type a year ago and operating enthusiast flights, Iran Air still continues to fly the world’s last passenger-carrying Boeing 747SP aircraft.

The stubby ‘Special Performance’ variant is one of the rarer passenger aircraft still flying. So I thought I’d look at the schedules it is operating, in case you want to grab a flight before it’s too late.

0705 1200 Tehran IKA Mumbai Int’l IR810 Tue
0735 1230 Tehran IKA Mumbai Int’l IR810 Fri
1205 1655 Kuala Lumpur Int’l Tehran IKA IR815 Wed
1330 1710 Mumbai Int’l Tehran IKA IR811 Tue
1330 1820 Kuala Lumpur Int’l Tehran IKA IR815 Mon, Sat
1400 1710 Mumbai Int’l Tehran IKA IR811 Fri
1925 0625+1 Tehran IKA Beijing Capital IR800 Wed
2155 0925+1 Tehran IKA Kuala Lumpur Int’l IR814 Tue
2240 0325+1 Beijing Capital Tehran IKA IR801 Thu
2325 1055+1 Tehran IKA Kuala Lumpur Int’l IR814 Fri, Sun

At present the 747SP still appears on some services beyond 25th October, when the winter timetable starts. So it may be flying for a while yet!


Top 10 airports to number crunch at

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, China, Dubai, Eastern Europe, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Japan, Middle East, North America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 30-04-2015


If you’re the kind of spotter who likes to number crunch… that is, collect aircraft registration (or tail) numbers… then there are certain airports and spotting locations that are made for you. At these locations you’re likely to see lots of aircraft in a short period of time, and make the most numbers in your book possible.

Whilst everyone reading this will live in a different location and probably already have seen the aircraft of certain airlines, hopefully at least some of the airports will be an inspiration of how to make more inroads into filling your logbooks on future spotting trips.

If you have a particular favourite, or would like to suggest another airport, leave a comment below!


1. Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International


Atlanta Airport

Atlanta has been for many years the busiest airport in the world. Last year it handled almost 900,000 aircraft movements and, as home to Delta Air Lines, most of them were flown by its aircraft and those of its feeder partners. Southwest Airlines is also a major carrier here, along with a number of interesting international airlines.

Atlanta doesn’t offer any official viewing areas, but for most spotters here the only place to go is the Renaissance Concourse Hotel on the southern perimeter. A room (which will have a balcony) facing the airport on a higher floor will be paradise for plane spotters. It is a bit distant to photograph airliners on anything but the nearest runway, but with good binoculars and the help of flight tracking software you will log hundreds of aircraft registrations each day.


2. Dallas Fort Worth


Dallas Ft Worth

A huge airport in Texas, with seven runways and a complex of five terminals in the central area. Dallas Fort Worth is the home base of American Airlines, whose fleet of aircraft numbers almost 1,000 including that of regional partner Envoy and the former US Airways fleet. So if you need to add these aircraft to your log books, this airport is a good place to begin as movements are non-stop all day long.

The best place to watch aircraft at Dallas Fort Worth is the official Founders Plaza observation area off Highway 114. You’ll see a lot of aircraft movements from here, but with so many runways it’s hard to catch everything!

You can also do a loop on the Skylink Train monorail which passes all terminals with elevated views over many gate areas.


3. Oshkosh Wittman Regional



Oshkosh for most of the year is a quiet regional airport with various general aviation and executive aircraft movements, along with historic aircraft from the interesting EAA Museum on site. However, come here for a week at the end of July each year and you’ll encounter the world’s busiest airport as it plays host to the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh Air Show. In recent years up to 15,000 aircraft have flown into the airport over the course of the air show week, with number crunchers filling multiple notebooks and all available time trying to catch everything! One pro tip is to photograph rows of aircraft and note them down later when you have more time, as logging everything simply becomes too demanding.

Most aircraft visiting Oshkosh during the air show are light aircraft, however you will also see many interesting experimental, historic, military and airliner aircraft in attendance to sweeten the log.


4. London Heathrow


Airbus A380 at Heathrow's Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

Airbus A380 approaching Heathrow’s Myrtle Avenue Spotting Location

The busiest airport in the United Kingdom, and one of the busiest airports for international flights. Heathrow is great for its mix of airlines arriving from all over the world. Although there are a lot of European and North American carriers, plus British Airways and Virgin Atlantic aircraft, interesting carriers more than make up for it. The airport is also one of the busiest for Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft.

There are a number of places to spot around the perimeter, plus the Renaissance Hotel has great views and even does spotter packages! One of the favourite spotting locations when arrivals are from the east is Myrtle Avenue.


5. Dubai International


Dubai Airport © Dubai Airports

Having newly taken the crown of the busiest international airport in the world from Heathrow (see above), Dubai continues to offer a mouthwatering mix of aircraft from around the world. True, most movements are by the impressive Emirates Airline, with its huge fleet of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, but other types from around the Middle East and Asia are fascinating to see and often very rare to the log book.

Spotting can be tricky (and misunderstood) here, so it’s best to find a hotel with a view, such as the excellent Sheraton Deira or the Nojoum Apartments.


6. Istanbul Ataturk International


Istanbul Spotting

Turkish Airlines’ phenomenal growth over recent years has thrust Istanbul’s two airports into the major leagues. Almost 57 million passengers used the larger Ataturk airport last year, mainly on Turkish Airlines’ flights, but also on a variety of other interesting carriers from around the world. It’s also a great airport for interesting cargo movements, often using some older airliners.

There is a shopping mall alongside one of the runways at Ataturk, with a seating area as part of the food court that overlooks the runway and is close enough to see all movements. Spotters are rarely bothered as long as they buy food and drink. Then, on an evening you can retire to a room at the Radisson Blu hotel, which has rooms overlooking the runway and taxiways.


7. Beijing Capital



With almost 90 million passengers flying through last year, Beijing Capital is teetering on the verge of becoming the busiest in the world. It is certainly the busiest in Asia and China, and an obvious place to make dents into logging aircraft, particularly from the many domestic and regional airlines in China, and the airlines from around the Far East.

Although Capital is due to be superseded by a new airport in the coming years, for the time being it will keep on going, bursting at the seams.

The best place to spot is at the southern end of the airport, where there are a variety of locations just under the approach path to two of the runways. These can be walked to from the terminal, or ask a taxi driver to take you.


8. Tokyo Haneda



Haneda is the busiest airport in Japan, and home to most of the domestic aircraft fleets in the country – namely the ones you are unlikely to see anywhere else in the world… and there are lot of them! In addition to this, the airport is regaining international flights at a good rate after years of living in the shadow of nearby Narita.

The airport has three official observation decks – one on each terminal. These are the best, and easiest, places to spot from to log aircraft. However, the problem with them is that you can’t see all movements from just one deck. So you’ll have to move around a bit. The decks on Terminal 1 and 2 are probably the best.


9. Frankfurt Main


Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Frankfurt is another of Europe’s more interesting airports, and one of the busiest. Like Heathrow it has a really nice mix of international airlines flying in, as well as the fleet of Lufthansa and its partners, plus a variety of charter and low cost airlines.

Spotting at Frankfurt is possible from a few locations, but these are spread out and none is perfect for catching all movements. The observation area on Terminal 2 is good for seeing aircraft on the ground and the main runways. There is also a small viewing area alongside the departure-only runway 18, but you’ll need a taxi or car to get there.


10. Van Nuys



Van Nuys Airport is in the north of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley. It doesn’t handle any airline services at present, however it is on of the world’s busiest general aviation airports. It has two parallel runways, and last year handled over 260,000 aircraft movements. General aviation doesn’t just mean light aircraft… Van Nuys also handles a great number of executive movements, with all manner of biz jets.

The best place to spot aircraft at Van Nuys is the dedicated viewing area off Woodley Avenue at the end of Waterman Drive on the eastern side of the airport. You’ll see all runway movements from here.

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


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


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.

Scoot’s 787 routes revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, China, Hong Kong, Miscellaneous Spotting, Singapore | Posted on 11-09-2014


(c) FlyScoot

Scoot, the low cost carrier owned by Singapore Airlines, has revealed the routes to be flown by its new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The first of these aircraft, a 787-9 model, is due to arrive in November and will likely begin flying for crew familiarisation on some of the carrier’s shorter routes.

Then, from 29 March 2015 the type will enter service on routes from Singapore to Hong Kong, Perth and Sydney.

The airline has 10 787-8 and 10 787-9 aircraft on order. Additional routes to be started in April and May 2015 include Bangkok, Gold Coast, Shenyang and Tianjin.

Eventually all of the airline’s Boeing 777-200s will be replaced by the 787.


You can find out more from our Boeing 787 Routes Page.

9air takes first 737-800

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, Indonesia | Posted on 03-09-2014



9air is a new airline based in Guangzhou, China. It has taken delivery of its first aircraft – Boeing 737-800 B-1715 – in an attractive and colourful livery. The aircraft is leased from Lion Airlines.

The airline will offer low cost flights, and begin flying next month once its second aircraft has arrived. Initial routes are from Guangzhou to Shanghai, Chengdu, and Jieyang.

The airline is a subsidiary of Juneyao Airlines, and will eventually have 50 Boeing 737-800s, some of which will be the new MAX models.


Xiamen Airlines’ first 787 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 01-09-2014


787-8 XIA #201-ZA680

Hot on the heels of the first Boeing 787 delivery to Royal Jordanian, the Chinese carrier Xiamen Airlines has also received its first Dreamliner.

B-2768 was delivered from Everett Paine Field on 29th August. With this, Xiamen Airlines becomes the third Chinese airline to operate the 787. The airline will use the 787 on long-haul routes from its Fujian province base to Europe, North America and Australia.

As part of Xiamen Airlines’ 12th five-year plan ending 2015, the carrier plans to grow its fleet to 150 airplanes, including six 787s. The 787 is the most advanced airplane in commercial aviation and will help Xiamen Airlines develop more point-to-point routes globally, while also establishing the airline as an emerging force in the commercial aviation market.

From our Boeing 787 Routes page, Xiamen Airlines plans to initially operate their 787s on the following routes:

Xiamen – Amsterdam Schiphol
Xiamen – New York
Xiamen – Paris Charles de Gaulle
Xiamen – Sydney
Xiamen – Vancouver

Finnair A350 routes announced

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, Finland, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Western Europe | Posted on 16-08-2014


A350XWB Finnair

Finnair has announced an initial batch of routes that it will fly with its Airbus A350 aircraft.

The airline has opted for the A350-900 model, and will take delivery of the first of 11 aircraft on order in the middle of 2015. It has eight options for additional aircraft.

The first routes to be operated by the A350 will be from Helsinki to Bangkok, Beijing, and Shanghai. They are likely to commence in the second half of 2015.

Additionally, Hong Kong and Singapore will be added in 2016.

For Finnair, the A350 will be its flagship long haul aircraft, and these are the airline’s flagship international routes, as it has a significant presence on the Europe – Asia network.

Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo said: “Since Finnair’s founding in 1923, we have had a long history of operations using the most advanced aircraft available,” he added “As the first European operator of the A350, we are proud to carry forward this tradition on behalf of our passengers, whose safety and comfort remain our first priority.”