Iran planning to build its own airliner

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Iran, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 20-11-2013


Sanction-ridden Iran has announced plans to develop its own passenger aircraft which will be capable of flying domestic segments between the country’s airports.

Currently Iranian carriers are banned from purchasing new aircraft or spare parts from Western manufacturers, and are often forced to keep ageing airliners flying long past their years, or source them through various unofficial channels.

However, now Manouchehr Manteghi, the head of Iran’s aviation organization has said the country will develop the 150-seat “Iran 141″ aircraft, which it aims to have in service by 2017. The aircraft will be designed to operate sectors of around one hour, and will be operated by the country’s various airlines.

Iran is not new to aircraft manufacturing, having purchased rights to license-build Antonov AN-140 aircraft (named Iran-140), with the first example being completed in 2003.

Airlines who still fly the MD-80 series

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Eastern Europe, Iran, Italy, Middle East, North America, South America, Taiwan, USA, Venezuela, Western Europe | Posted on 09-11-2013


MD80 FATAnother aircraft I noticed that is starting to slip from the radar (SAS retired their last example last month after a long association with the type) is the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series. This stretched variant of the ubiquitous DC-9 was very popular with mainline and charter airlines from its first appearance in the 1980s.

Today only a handful of airlines are still flying the aircraft (which makes it a candidate for a future update of Last Chance to Fly!). Luckily some of these carriers are easily accessible and have the type in larger number.

I’m only looking at the older MD-80/81/82/83/87 variants here. MD-88s and -90s are a bit more common for the time being.

The main airlines still flying the aircraft are:

Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic and 1.0 Generic license.American Airlines
The airline’s MD-80 fleet was once one of the largest in the world, and is still found in decent numbers on its domestic network. However the type is steadily being replaced by modern Boeing and Airbus aircraft, so catch one while you can!

Allegiant Air
Another of the largest operators of the type, Allegiant Air flies MD-82, -83 and -87 aircraft on leisure and low cost schedules and charters across America.

The Venezuelan carrier has a number of MD-82 and -83 aircraft which it flies from its Caracas base.

Iran Air Tours
This airline flies ten MD-82s from Tehran on scheduled services. It used the aircraft to replace its older Tupolev TU-154s.

Danish Air Transport
A scheduled and charter airline flying a couple of MD-80 series aircraft from Denmark.

Meridiana MD-80Meridiana
Italy’s second-largest airline, based in Olbia, Sardinia, flies ten MD-82s, which are likely to be replaced in the near future with more modern aircraft.

Bulgarian Air Charter
This airline operates charter flights across Europe with a fleet of 13 MD-82/83 aircraft.

Far Eastern Air Transport
This troubled Taiwanese carrier recently returned to the skies and is now equipped with a fleet of eight MD-82/83 aircraft. It flies them from Taipei to destinations across the Far East.

Which airlines have you flown an MD-80 series aircraft of? When was the last time you flew one?

Best airports to see active Boeing 727s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, North America, Saudi Arabia, South America, Thailand, USA | Posted on 15-02-2013


Fedex 727-233The Boeing 727 is becoming quite a rare aircraft to see in action these days. Thankfully there are still a number stored and preserved around the world.

Most of the active examples are flown in cargo configuration, with only a few examples still flying passengers (see my Last Chance to Fly ebook for a list of airlines still flying 727s and other rare airliners).

So where can you catch Boeing 727s in action? Here’s a list of some of the airports which have a number of 727s based or visiting regularly.

Memphis, TN – The main super hub for FedEx Express, which is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 727 aircraft. All of its -100 models are gone, but around 40 -200s are still flying and can be seen overnight at Memphis.

Detroit Willow Run, MI – Primarily a cargo airport, Willow Run is home to Kalitta Charters and its fleet of 727-200s.

Florida – A number of 727s operate out of Opa Locka in Florida, including a private example, and also out of Orlando International and Miami International airports.

Bogota – One of the world’s busiest airports for Boeing 727 flights. Local cargo operators AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas operate a mixed fleet of -100s and -200s from the airport every day.

Lineas Aereas Suramericanas 727s

Airlines such as Rio Linhas Aereas and Total Linhas Aereas operate a number of Boeing 727-200 cargo aircraft from airports throughout the country, with bases in Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.


Kuala Lumpur Subang
Formerly the main airport at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Subang is now a secondary airport used for cargo flights and aircraft receiving maintenance. It is also home to Transmile Air Services. Its fleet of Boeing 727-200 freighters can be seen every day, and photographed from a number of locations around the airport.


Tehran Mehrabad
The domestic airport in Iran is where you can catch the last passenger Boeing 727-200s on a daily basis, with both Iran Air and Iran Aseman Airlines operating the type for the time being. These operated to destinations such as Mashad, Kish Island, and Dubai.

Iran Aseman 727

One of the best places to catch Boeing 727s in action, the airlines Cargojet Airways, and Purolator operate throughout Canada. Their main bases, and thus the best places to catch their 727s, are Hamilton, ON, and Kelowna, BC respectively.

Mexico City
Mexico’s Police and Government both operate a number of Boeing 727-200s on official duties from the country’s main airport. Their flights are irregular, but not uncommon.

Saudi Arabia
Boeing 727-100s and -200s still operate in Saudi Arabia, with private and government examples, plus those operated for DHL out of Jeddah and Riyadh. Spotting is not easy in Saudi Arabia, however.

There are many more airports that both receive aircraft from the airlines listed above, and have their own based examples. Some that spring to mind at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Lasham and Southend in the UK, and Cochabamba in Bolivia, where passenger examples still flew until recently.

The chance to photograph a Boeing 727 is quite rare now, so why not post the pictures you’ve managed to take recently for us all to enjoy? And why not comment below if you’ve seen a 727 recently, telling us where you saw it.

Iran – the last chance for an early A300

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Iran, Middle East, Spotting News | Posted on 03-11-2012


A300B2 MahanAir (c) Mohammad RazzazanContinuing our look at rarer passenger aircraft types still in service around the world, in this piece we look at the early Airbus A300 – namely the B2 and B4 models.

Later A300B4-600s are still relatively common around the world, however, the original B2 and B4 models are now pretty rare. In fact, there is only one country where they still operate for passenger airlines – Iran. All other flying examples now carry cargo.

Iran has become well known in recent years as a place enthusiasts can go to take flights on older types of aircraft as they are still in service due to sanctions on the country buying newer aircraft. Most notably, people travel there for the last chance to fly on a passenger Boeing 707.

But the A300B2 and B4 is also in its twilight there, flying for Iran Air and Mahan Air. So if you haven’t flown on this historic type – the first widebody twinjet, and the first aircraft developed by Airbus – then maybe this is something to add to your aviation bucket list this year.

Both airlines mainly fly these A300s on domestic and regional services from Tehran Mehrabad Airport.

Examples still in service:
EP-IBS – A300B2 c/n 080 – Iran Air
EP-MHM – A300B2K c/n 090 – Mahan Air
EP-IBT – A300B2 c/n 185 – Iran Air
EP-IBV – A300B2 c/n 187 – Iran Air
EP-IBZ – A300B2 c/n 226 – Iran Air
EP-MHP – A300B2K c/n 244 – Mahan Air
EP-IBG – A300B4 c/n 299 – Iran Air
EP-IBH – A300B4 c/n 302 – Iran Air
For more information about flying on the A300B2/B4 and many other rare types of aircraft, see our ebook Last Chance to Fly. Details below…

Last Chance to Fly EBookLast Chance to Fly 2012 – ebook
Our latest book, Last Chance to Fly, is available to buy online now. The digital version of this book lists the world’s rarest passenger aircraft types, and where to find them and fly on them.

Click here to find out more and buy a copy.

Iran Air sources more aircraft to replace older ones

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Iran, Middle East | Posted on 01-04-2012


(c) Konstantin von WedelstaedtIran has many economic sanctions imposed upon it, and as a result its airlines have difficulty in obtaining new aircraft to fly. Therefore, you find a lot of older types still flying there which date back to the early generations of jet airliners.

However, as sourcing spare parts is even difficult, these airliners can only fly so long and the airlines need to find alternative ways of replacing them.

One such way is to obtain aircraft from owners in countries through which sanctions are not in place, such as Kyrgyzstan.

This is what Iran Air has arranged. Their older Boeing 747-100, -200 and SP aircraft are in need of replacement, and a solution has been found in three former Qantas Boeing 747-338 aircraft that have recently been retired by the airline.

These aircraft will be joining the fleet from April and May this year. If the interior configuration used by Qantas is still in place, it will see an improvement in comfort since they were outfitted to match the 747-400 fleet internally.

The aircraft may be approved to fly international routes, which with the -100 and -200 aircraft had been banned by many countries on safety grounds.

If you see one in action, why not post a photo on our Facebook page?

5 Old Jet hubs not to miss

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Indonesia, Iran, Middle East, North America, North Korea, USA | Posted on 31-01-2012


licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licenseFirst and second generation jet airliners are getting rarer and rarer these days. It makes me incredibly sad, but at least for the time being we have these airports which are still great for catching old smokeys in action.


Memphis, TN
You’ve gotta love FedEx. They keep old birds flying. But they also have many new aircraft coming on line, such as the B777F which are replacing the older types.

For the time being, you can head to their Memphis, TN, base to catch quite a few classic B727 and DC/MD-10 aircraft coming and going each day. Depending on whether you consider A300-600 and A310-300 aircraft to be old or not, you can also see those. Also, as the airline is bringing in lots of second-hand B757 freighters, it’s another one I’ll leave you to decide on whether they’re an old jet or not!


Jakarta, Indonesia
Last time I visited Jakarta’s main CGK airport, it was still a hub for B727′s, B737-200′s, DC-9′s, DC-10′s and F-28′s. It was incredible, and great for filling lots of gaps in my log book from the 80′s and 90′s.

Today there are still a number of these types around, but it has dwindled significantly. More prevalent are MD-80′s and B737-300/400′s, which are becoming classics.

TU-154 flights in Iran end

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Iran, Middle East, Spotting News | Posted on 21-02-2011


This one sneaked up on me a bit. If you’d asked me where you could fly the Tupolev TU-154, I’d have probably volunteered ‘Iran’ as my first choice, given that a number are used on domestic routes there and they were relatively easy to get a flight on.
But having read this report I realise that the classic Russian three-holer is coming to the end of it’s days.
To summarize the report, the Iranian government has issued a ban on the use of TU-154 aircraft from 19th February 2011 owing to the type’s poor safety record there. In fact, 10% of all TU-154 crashes have been with Iranian carriers. So now this confines the type to some other harder-to-reach places and the likes of Iran are turning to new IR-140 aircraft (and licensed build of the AN-140) to get by its sanctions and heavy use of domestic flying. It’s a sad time for aircraft fans, but I guess it’s in the name of safety. Let’s hope that it works.
Out of interest, there’s a new book out which lists the rarer types of airliner to fly, including the TU-154, and which airlines fly them. It’s called ‘Last Chance to Fly’ by Destinworld Publishing.