Skymark and Qatar Airways A380 delays

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Japan, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Qatar, USA | Posted on 23-06-2014

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A380_Skymark_take_off_maiden_flight

Japan’s Skymark Airlines has delayed delivery of its first Airbus A380 by six months. The first example will now arrive in February or March 2015, and begin flying between Tokyo Narita and New York JFK initially.

The delay is due to problems with fitting the aircraft’s interior.

This news comes after Qatar Airways announced it was also delaying its first A380 delivery due to problems with the interior installation. It will now take its first aircraft later this summer.

Arik Air coming to Dubai

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Dubai, Middle East, Nigeria | Posted on 05-06-2014

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Arik Air

Nigeria’s Arik Air will commence flights to Dubai from 28 July using Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

Outbound flights will depart from Murtala Muhammed International Airport (LOS), Lagos at 1905 (local time) arriving at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV), Abuja at 2020 (local time). The flight will then continue on to Dubai, departing Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (ABV), Abuja at 2150 (local time) finally arriving at Dubai International Airport (DXB), Dubai Terminal 1 at 0720 (local time).

The inbound flight will depart Dubai at 1030 (local time) and arrives in Abuja at 1430 (local time). The flight continues on to Lagos, leaving Abuja at 1600 (local time) and arriving in Lagos at 1715 (local time).

Dr Michael Arumemi-Ikhide, Arik Air’s Global Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“This is another exciting moment for us all at Arik Air, not only launching a new international destination, but becoming the first airline to link the capital Abuja to Dubai. The importance of Dubai as the Middle East’s commercial capital makes it imperative for Arik Air to connect the city with Lagos which is a Nigeria’s commercial capital.

Air Canada’s first Boeing 787 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, France, Heathrow, Israel, Middle East, North America, Spotting News, Switzerland, UK | Posted on 19-05-2014

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787-8 ACN #160-ZA610

Air Canada has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, registered C-GHPQ.

The aircraft, the first of Air Canada’s 37 787s on order for delivery through 2019, departed Paine Field in Everett, Wash. on its delivery flight to Toronto on 18th May.

Air Canada has announced it will use the 787 on its Toronto-Tel Aviv routes, as well as launch a new destination – Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The 787 is 20 percent more fuel efficient than similar-sized airplanes it will replace in Air Canada’s fleet.

Other routes scheduled to see Air Canada 787s include London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Zurich. See more on our Boeing 787 Routes page.

Whilst crews familiarise themselves with the aircraft, it will begin operating on the Toronto – Montreal domestic service at certain times over the next couple of months.

Etihad’s first 787 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Germany, India, Middle East, North America, Qatar, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 13-05-2014

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Etihad (ETI) 787-9 Artwork

Etihad Airways will take delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners later this year.

As part of the training programme for pilots and crews, the aircraft will operate initially on the short Abu Dhabi – Doha route from 1st – 31st December 2014.

The daily EY391/398 flight operates late at night on the 1 hour sector.

Other routes announced by Etihad for its Boeing 787s include Dusseldorf, Mumbai and Washington Dulles, all from December/January.

Find out more on our Boeing 787 Routes page.

Etihad creates ‘The Residence’ aboard A380s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 06-05-2014

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Etihad Airways is due to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 at the end of 2014.

In a first for the aviation industry, the airline has created a unique concept on board these aircraft call The Residence.

The Residence will feature a living room, double bedroom, separate ensuite shower room, and for the first time in the airline industry, a dedicated, trained Butler. Designed for up to two guests travelling together, it has been created by leading interior designers and hospitality experts who understand the discernment and sophistication expected by the private traveler. Measuring an unparalleled 125 square feet in total area, The Residence will be located on the forward upper deck of the airline’s new fleet of Airbus A380s and will be available for single or double occupancy.

Etihad A380 Residence

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller.

“This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.”

Here’s a video of the Residence:

I’m looking forward to seeing these aircraft in the skies and reading trip reports from people using The Residence. It sounds incredible.

Air Arabia starting Ras Al Khaimah flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Middle East, Oman | Posted on 21-04-2014

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(c) Air Arabia

(c) Air Arabia

Air Arabia will begin flying from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) from 6 May using Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline will take up where failed RAK Airways left off.

In February 2014, Air Arabia and the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Civil Aviation entered into a long-term strategic partnership to significantly increase the number of destinations accessible to the residents of Ras Al Khaimah and to bring more tourists within reach of the emirate. From its hub at RAK International Airport, Air Arabia will follow exactly the same value-for-money business model as it does from its primary base in Sharjah.

Two new Airbus A320 aircraft will initially be based at RAK International Airport to service regular routes to Jeddah in Saudi; Cairo in Egypt; Muscat in Oman; Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan; Dhaka in Bangladesh; and Calicut in India, which will be added shortly after launch.

 

10 Boeing 707s you can go inside today

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Colombia, Iran, Israel, Middle East, North America, South Africa, South America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 19-04-2014

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It seems the days of being able to fly on a Boeing 707 are finally over, with Saha Air in Iran grounding their fleet in favour of modern types. So the next best thing is to at least get inside one of the classic jets.

Here are 12 Boeing 707s around the world that are open to the public*

55-3139 KC-135 Stratotanker USAF
Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA
A former US Air Force tanker, 55-3139 is now preserved and occasionally open to the public to explore the interior.

KC-135 55-3139

55-3139 (c) Chris Kennedy

 

008 – 4X-JYD 707-131
Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim AFB, Israel
Originally flown by TWA, this Israeli Air Force museum is preserved and often very dusty!

4X-JYD (c) Pieter v Marion

4X-JYD (c) Pieter v Marion

 

VH-XBA 707-138B QANTAS
Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach, Australia
This aircraft was part of the original QANTAS order for Boeing 707s. It was restored to flying condition from storage at Southend, UK, and ferried around the world to this amazing museum in Australia.

VH-XBA

VH-XBA (c) Qantas Founders Museum

 

G-APFJ 707-436 BOAC (forward fuselage only)
National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland
This aircraft was preserved in one piece at the RAF Cosford museum, but sadly scrapped in 2006. The forward fuselage is now open to the public at the National Museum of Flight near Edinburgh.

707-G-APFJ

(c) Kim Traynor

 

58-6970 C-137B Air Force One
Museum of Flight, Seattle Boeing Field, WA
Air Force One during the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon is now preserved at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

58-6970

Air Force One in Seattle (c) Matt Falcus

 

62-6000 VC-137C Air Force One
National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
The aircraft used on the day of John F Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas 50 years ago, and on which President Lyndon B Johnson was sworn in.

707 62-6000

Air Force One 62-6000

 

EP-IRJ 707-321B Air Restaurant
nr Tehran Mehrabad Airport, Iran
Originally a Pan Am machine, this aircraft is now open as a restaurant close to Tehran Mehrabad Airport.

Inside EP-IRJ near Tehran (c) Sam Chui

Inside EP-IRJ near Tehran (c) Sam Chui/SamChuiPhotos.com

 

AF-621 707-344C South African Air Force (forward fuselage only)
South African Air Force Museum, Waterkloof AFB, South Africa
Forward section of former Air France and South African Air Force 707 is open to the public at the Waterkloof museum.

707 AF-621

(c) Warrant Officer Class II Alan Taylor

 

72-7000 VC-137C Air Force One
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA
The aircraft used by President Ronald Reagan is now lovingly restored at his final resting place and Presidential Library. See how the aircraft looked when in use as Air Force One.

707 Reagan Library

707 at the Reagan Presidential Library

 

HK-749 720-030B Avianca
Parque Saltire Magico, Bogota, Colombia
A former Lufthansa and Avianca aircraft is now in the large Saltire Park in Bogota, along with a Boeing 727, and often open to the public.

HK-749 (c) Renato Krause

HK-749 (c) Renato Krause

* Opening times are subject to the individual organisations displaying these aircraft.

TAAG Angola aims to develop Luanda into large hub

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Brazil, China, Dubai, France, Heathrow, Italy, Middle East, Portugal, South America, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-04-2014

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TAAG_777-3M2ERTAAG Angola Airlines is planning to turn its Luanda Airport base into a hub to link Central Africa with worldwide destinations in association with Emirates Airline.

TAAG is currently on the EU banned airline list, but it is hoped it will emerge soon and begin expanding its connections to Europe, including Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, London Heathrow, Paris CDG, and Rome Fiumicino.

Luanda will also be linked through Dubai via Emirates, who will also take on TAAG’s links to Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo.

A new airport is being built at Luanda which will be able to handle this increased traffic, and match modern standards expected at airports.

Lockheed TriStar last day of RAF operations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 25-03-2014

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Boarding ZD950Monday 24th March saw the final sortie of the Royal Air Force 216 squadron and its Lockheed L1011 TriStar aircraft.

Many of you will know that these aircraft have a civilian heritage. The TriStar was a widebody tri-jet from the 1970s which competed head-to-head with the Douglas DC-10. Although some TriStars remain in operation as VIP transports and on ad-hoc charter flying, the RAF’s fleet, which came from British Airways and Pan Am in the 1980s, were the last in regular service and I got the opportunity to join the last sortie from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.

216 squadron was originally formed 96 years ago in 1917. It found itself operating de Havilland Comets from RAF Lyneham until it was disbanded in 1975. In 1979 it reformed to operate Buccaneer aircraft for less than a year. Then in 1983 it was reformed again as a result of the Falklands War. This time it was to operate the new fleet of Lockheed TriStars as both a troop and civilian transport to the islands, and also as a refuelling platform to help other aircraft on the long journey to the South Atlantic. It was ideally suited to this role, and continued until March 2014 when the new Voyager aircraft took over.

RAF 216 squadron

The TriStar was also a significant force in the first Gulf War, as well as the conflict in Afghanistan. Again, it was vital as a troop transport and tanker, and also played a significant role in training pilots in air-to-air refuelling. Over 1,600 round trips were made by TriStars between the UK and bases in Bastion, Kabul and Kandahar.

Originally planned for retirement in 2017, the end date was recently brought forward to the end of this month as a cost-saving measure, and also because of the new Voyager aircraft coming on line.

On the trip today, our flight was to take us from Brize Norton out over the North Sea for the last refuelling exercise. Two TriStars were taking part – ZD950, which I was on, and ZD948 which was to refuel four fighter aircraft. The two aircraft flew in close formation to allow the best vantage point for those with cameras, and as you can see from the pictures here it was a spectacular view.

TriStar wing

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L1011 TriStar formation

I had missed the chance of flying a TriStar when they were more numerous in airline service, so this was a real last chance to fly the type and experience another classic airliner sadly in its final days. The aircraft still had a number of reminders of its time in airline service, from the curved bank of toilets at the rear to the rows of passenger seating down one half of the cabin. The remainder is an open space for fuel tanks and cargo, with a large cargo door having been installed during the conversion process.

L1011 cockpit

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Up in the cockpit the crew made meticulous adjustments to the controls to keep in close formation as we flew a racetrack pattern alongside the other TriStar and fighters. The Flight Engineer was tasked with monitoring both the aircraft instruments, and the green TV screen showing the aircraft flying alongside. Sadly this role will disappear in favour of a Mission Operator on the new Voyager aircraft.

L1011 tanker

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After each fighter had finished topping up its tanks, it passed underneath our aircraft and up the other side for another fantastic photo opportunity.

L1011 and Typhoon

Back at Brize Norton, passing over the crowds assembled at the end of the runway to witness the final landings, we settled onto the runway with a rattle (the loose cargo runners and largely empty cabin do nothing to muffle the noise) and taxied to our parking position, perhaps significantly alongside one of the new Voyagers, which are a variant of the Airbus A330-200.

Voyager TriStar Replacement

To top the day off, we were treated to a tour of the Air Tanker Ltd facility, which will now take over air-to-air refuelling operations and training, and also the air bridges to the Falklands and conflicts in the Middle East. ZZ337 was the aircraft in the purpose built docking bay. Having been delivered only four weeks ago, the new car smell and cleanliness was a stark contrast to the L1011. In the cockpit – essentially that of an A330 but with extra space for the Mission Operator and his camera/refuelling controls – it was explained how much of a joy it is to fly… not that any of the guys relish seeing the TriStar (and previously the VC-10) disappear when there are so many fond memories of these classics.

ZZ337

Voyager Cockpit

A330 Voyager interior

By the time this article is live, the four remaining RAF TriStars will have joined their stable mates at Bruntingthorpe Airfield near Leicester. It is deemed too costly to fund making any of them a museum piece, and so it seems likely all will be scrapped in the very near future. Of the fleet, two remain at Cambridge, one at Kemble, and now six at Bruntingthorpe.

I’d like to thank the Royal Air Force for the invitation to join this special final mission, and especially Flight Lieutenant Rachel McCulloch for running the day so smoothly.

Last operational sortie of the 216 Squadron RAF Tristar aircraft

Dubai runway closure leads to reduced frequencies and aircraft grounding

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 07-03-2014

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Dubai Airport © Dubai AirportsDubai International Airport will close one of its two runways on 1st May for heavy maintenance and resurfacing work to take place.

The closure will last for 80 days, and will mean the airport’s carriers – in particular based airline Emirates – will have to reduce frequencies and make other changes in order to cope with the restrictions in place.

Emirates has also confirmed that it will ground 20 aircraft during the period, including all of its Airbus A340-500s, some A330-200s, and some Boeing 777s.

The airline recently relocated its dedicated freight operations to the new Dubai World Central Airport.