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

IMG_6513

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

IMG_6532

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

IMG_6602

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.

See the new Qatar A380 first class interior

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Qatar, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 06-03-2014

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Qatar A380 First ClassQatar Airways have revealed the interior of their soon to be delivered Airbus A380s. Their first aircraft has recently been seen in testing.

With a customised interior meeting the high demand specifications of Qatar Airways, the airline´s new A380s will undoubtedly be the talk of aviation enthusiasts and passengers alike when the first aircraft enters service this year, the first of 13 such aircraft on order.

The new First Class A380 seat, revealed by Mr. Al Baker at a ceremony attended by the Mayor of Berlin, Mr Klaus Wowereit as Guest of Honour, features a 90-inch seat pitch, transforming into a fully flat bed, together with an expansive choice of entertainment options displayed on individual 26-inch television screens.

A380 Qatar maiden flight

Mr. Akbar Al Baker said: “It is a landmark moment to see this fantastic new First Class A380 seat displayed here at ITB Berlin, the perfect event at which to announce such important innovations to our global audience. Operating on the Doha to London Heathrow route, this cabin will offer a new level of comfort for passengers travelling to the United Kingdom, who will also benefit from our Premium Terminal in Doha and the new Qatar Airways Premium Lounge in London Heathrow Terminal 4.

The arrival this year of the airline´s first A380 marks a significant milestone for the airline, whose future home, Hamad International Airport (HIA), has been specially designed to cater to the aircraft, with six contact gates designed with specifications required for the superjumbo. In addition, the maintenance hangar at HIA – which will be the largest in the world – is able to accommodate two A380s simultaneously.

In addition to the 13 A380 aircraft the airline currently has on order, Qatar Airways is also set this year to welcome the first of 80 A350 aircraft, the world’s newest aircraft, as Airbus’s launch customer.

The A380 will enter service between Doha and London Heathrow this summer.

ATR 72-600 orders at Singapore Airshow

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Thailand | Posted on 13-02-2014

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ATR 72-600 Bangkok AirwaysATR have had a good Singapore Airshow, with a number of significant orders for their ATR 72-600 regional turboprop announced.

Bangkok Airways have placed an order for eight aircraft (six firm and two options). The airline has been operating ATR aircraft for two decades and currently operates a fleet of eight ATR 72-500s. The first new ATR 72-600s will be delivered later this year, allowing Bangkok Airways to start renewing its fleet and to offer all the new comfort and cabin features of the ATR-600s to its customers.

Secondly, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) announced they have purchased 40 ATR 72-600s (20 firm and 20 options) to add to its leasing business. This is the first time DAE has ventured into regional aircraft, and expects high interest from customers around the world for the type. Khalifa AlDaboos, Managing Director of DAE, declared: “ATRs are today operated by some 190 carriers all over the world, and this is clearly providing us with many potential opportunities to place this new fleet of regional aircraft”

A380 ban lifted in India

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Asia, Dubai, Germany, India, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Singapore, Western Europe | Posted on 28-01-2014

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Filton A380In a move that is likely to see airlines such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines reviewing their operations to India, the government there has agreed to lift a ban on Airbus A380 flights to the country.

The ban was put in place to protect national carrier Air India from predatory carriers stealing passengers and market share to the country. It was also in part because of a lack of infrastructure to handle the huge superjumbo.

Now, however, A380s will be allowed to fly to the country’s four biggest airports: Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Mumbai.

Both Emirates and Singapore Airlines have now said they will review their operations to India with a view to introducing A380 services. Lufthansa, which currently operates Boeing 747-8s to India said it would also not rule out the possibility of flying its A380s to the country.

 

airberlin and Etihad A320 revealed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airline News, Germany, Middle East, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 14-01-2014

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airberlin and Etihad livery A320airberlin and Etihad Airways today unveiled an Airbus A320 aircraft in specially designed joint livery, symbolising the close ties between the two airlines and marking the launch of a new Moving Forward media campaign.

Following the implementation of joint codesharing across the networks both airlines will strengthen the commercial partnership in 2014.

The developments in the commercial partnership are set to further increase the number of passengers who fly on the airberlin and Etihad Airways network, which currently serves 228 destinations in 84 countries.

The A320 aircraft was revealed in Berlin and will enter service with airberlin, so photographers keep your eyes out!

Top 5 spotting airports in January

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Africa, Australasia, Eastern Europe, Greece, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, New Zealand, North America, South Africa, USA | Posted on 31-12-2013

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January – typically a cold month for those in Europe and the USA; a month where people try to make new starts and pursue the resolutions they made at the end of the last year.

The weather doesn’t have to be a hindrance for your spotting. Here are five suggestions of places to spot in January.

 

Los Angeles International
One of the greatest airports in America. Los Angeles boasts sunshine and warmer temperatures than most of the country at this time of the year, and the sunlight is always great for photography. Head to one of the locations around the perimeter and snap some heavies landing.

Skiathos Airport

Johannesburg O R Tambo
South Africa’s principal airport is great at this time of year – warm, sunny and with lots of daylight. The airport is a hub for South African Airways, and a focal point for many African operators. You can also see a number of older aircraft operating here.

Skiathos
Dubbed the St. Maarten of Europe, the Greek island of Skiathos is an amazing place for the aircraft spotter and photographer. With average temperatures in the low teens, it is much more pleasant than the rest of Europe, and always popular with charter airlines.

Abu Dhabi
Always hot at this time of year, Abu Dhabi is an up-and-coming alternative to Dubai. Hub for Etihad Airways, the airport has a new Premier Inn with views of aircraft movements, making a much cheaper alternative to Dubai’s Sheraton Deira.

NZ Warbirds DC-3 Dakota Ardmore

Auckland
Catch up with aviation in New Zealand at its principal gateway and home hub of Air New Zealand. Auckland has a pleasant climate at this time of year, and offers some great local aviation attractions in addition to the airlines it serves, such as Ardmore Airport and its classic aircraft.

 
Whatever you get up to with your spotting in January, remember to comment on which airports you’ve been to and send us your tips and photographs from around the world!