Transavia gets a new look

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Netherlands, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 30-01-2015

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Transavia new livery

Transavia Airlines and Transavia France have introduced a new branding and colour scheme across the company, including its aircraft livery.

It only seems a shot time since their last rebrand, but apparently it’s been ten years!

The first aircraft to wear the new, brighter look is Boeing 737-700 PH-XRX and is already flying.

Transavia new scheme

The new branding was completed by Studio Dumbar, and you can see more examples of the new look on their website. Most notably, the airline is no longer called transavia.com. It’s apparently old news to do that now.

What do you think of the new scheme? Have you see it in real life yet?

 

 

New Air Force One on its way

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 29-01-2015

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"Air Force One over Mt. Rushmore" by U.S. Air Force File Photo. - http://web.archive.org/web/20070315005902/http://www.af.mil/news/airman/0104/trans21b.html, http://www.af.mil/shared/media/photodb/photos/021126-O-9999G-024.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Air_Force_One_over_Mt._Rushmore.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Air_Force_One_over_Mt._Rushmore.jpg

Air Force One over Mt. Rushmore” by U.S. Air Force File Photo

The US Government has chosen the Boeing 747-8 for its Air Force One replacement.

The aircraft, which transports the US President and other government staff on trips all over the world, is one of the most famous aircraft in the world. In the past the fleet has consisted of various Boeing 707 variants, some of which are now preserved at different museums.

Presently, two Boeing 747 VC-25s, based on the 747-200B, operate for the president in the instantly recognisable blue, white and grey scheme.

On choosing to keep with the 747 line, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said in a statement: “The Boeing 747-8 is the only aircraft manufactured in the United States (that) when fully missionized meets the necessary capabilities established to execute the presidential support mission.”

The exact number of 747-8 aircraft which makes up the Air Force order is not yet known, but some are speculating that it could signal the end of the line for the classic ‘jumbo jet’. Production has been reduced recently to 1.3 aircraft per month as orders have slowed and few airlines are opting for the type over rival twin-jets.

It would be incredibly significant if the new presidential aircraft is the final Boeing 747 built, but we’ll have to wait and see whether this happens.

Presumably the existing Air Force One VC-25s will be retired to museums in due course.

Airbus A350 routes page

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 21-01-2015

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A350 Routes Page

A new resource we’ve recently added to the site is a list of planned Airbus A350 XWB routes that will be operated by the many different airlines who have ordered it.

The type is now in service with Qatar Airways, and will soon start flying with airlines such as Finnair and Vietnam Airlines.

Like our extremely popular Boeing 787 routes page, our new page will constantly evolve as we hear about new planned routes, training routes, and new airlines taking delivery of the type. It will hopefully be a really useful resource for those planning to see this new aircraft in service, or even to plan a route and fly on it!

You can find the Airbus A350 routes page here: www.airportspotting.com/airbus-a350-routes

242 tonne take-off weight Airbus A330 takes to the skies

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 13-01-2015

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A330_242T__First_flight_take_off_2_

Airbus has successfully flown the first A330 aircraft with the increased 242 tonne maximum take-off weight (MTOW) at Toulouse Blagnac.

Didier Evrard, Airbus Executive Vice President Head of Programmes said: “I congratulate the whole team in charge of the A330 242 tonnes weight variant for making this day happen ahead of schedule. We are on track to deliver this new higher weight variant in 2015 to launch customer Delta Air Lines, who will also be the launch customer for the A330neo.”

The A330 242 tonne MTOW is the platform for the future A330neo and is concrete example of Airbus’ incremental innovation strategy. The newest enhancement offers more capability at lower operating cost with a range extended by up to 500 nautical miles and up to two percent reduced fuel consumption while also benefiting from operational reliability of above 99 percent. The 242 tonne MTOW is capable of flying missions up to 15 hours.

What to look out for in 2015 – aviation events

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News | Posted on 31-12-2014

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Let me take this opportunity to say ‘Happy New Year’ to you all, and thanks so much for making 2014 a great year for Airport Spotting Blog.

I wondered what aviation events you are looking forward to in 2015? I have put together this list of events that you might be interested in:

January

  • Airbus A350 enters commercial service between Doha and Frankfurt with Qatar Airways.
  • First American Airlines 787 due
  • First Etihad 787 due
  • First Korean Air 787 due
  • First Qantas 787 due
  • First Scoot 787 due

February

  • 18th-22nd – Aero India
    Largest air show in India, held at Yelahanka, Bengaluru
  • First Royal Air Maroc 787 due

March

April

May

  • 19th-21st EBACE European Business Aviation Convention
    Held at Geneva Airport
  • First Vietnam Airlines 787 due
  • 29th Final scheduled TU-154 flight in Europe – Geneva to Minsk, Belavia

June

  • 11th-13th AviationExpo Europe
    A festival of aviation. Held at Kbely Airport in the Czech Republic
  • 15th-21st – Paris Air Salon
    The great biannual air show and industry event where new aircraft are displayed and many airline orders are made. Takes place at Paris Le Bourget Airport.
  • First PrivatAir 787 due

July

  • 20th-26th EAA Airventure Oshkosh
    The largest air show in the world returns to Wittman Regional Airport in Wisconsin

August

  • 25th-30th MAKS Air Show
    Held at Moscow Zhukovsky Airport.
  • First Vietnam Airlines A350 due

September

  • First Finnair A350 due
  • First Oman Air 787 due

October

  • 24th – Final Virgin Atlantic A340-300 flight
  • First KLM 787 due
  • First Transaero A380 due

November

  • 8th-12th Dubai Air Show
    Held at the new Dubai World Central airport.
  • 17th-25th NBAA Business Aviation Convention
    Held at Las Vegas Henderson Executive Airport

December

  • First Saudia 787 due

Other events include the entry into service of the new Bombardier C Series airliner, which has been delayed. It is due to fly with Korean Air and Lufthansa first.

 

Leave a comment below if you can think of any other important aviation events or have anything that you’re looking forward to!

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.

 

BrazilThemeWeek

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.

 

In praise of winter spotting

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 16-12-2014

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Spotting in the sun or on the beach is a bit obvious and easy, don’t you think? One of the greatest challenges for spotters is making the most of winter conditions at airports, such as low light and poor weather.

One of the main reasons people venture out in the winter is a lack of choice – the need to be out around airports and aircraft is greater than the drawbacks of the weather. So how do you make the most of winter conditions when you’re spotting aircraft?

1. Spotting in the winter is an opportunity to photograph and video some spectacular flying. Think crosswinds, go-arounds, aircraft positioned at unusual angles in relation to the runway. Use the opportunity of windy conditions to find a good spot for pointing your camera at aircraft just before touchdown.

By Andreas Hoppe [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Andreas Hoppe [GFDL or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Winter means snow! Use a snowy backdrop to add something unsual to your aircraft photographs. It doesn’t happen all that often, so it makes a change to frame airliners with a bit of the white stuff. It’s particularly nice when you have a crisp clear day with bright blue skies, low sun, and lots of fresh snow.

A picture I took from the Holiday Inn Ariel at Heathrow in winter

A picture I took from the Holiday Inn Ariel at Heathrow in winter

3. Spotting hotels come into their own. You don’t have to be outdoors braving the weather. Pick one of the many spotting hotels, position yourself by the window with fresh coffee and room service on order, and watch the action in warmth and safety.

Duxford

4. Make the most of museums! Winter down time is a great chance to catch up with some aviation museums. Most countries have a few great collections, big and small, and lots of historical material to absorb yourself in. Admittedly lots of museums also have aircraft outdoors, but many also have indoor collections to enjoy.

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

5. If all else fails, remember that winter in one hemisphere is summer in another. Take advantage of low airfares to make an off-season trip to somewhere warm for a few days spotting in the sun as a nice break from the cold and darkness at home.

Do you venture out in the dark months? What are your winter spotting tips? Leave a comment below.

Fly in a Spitfire!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 11-12-2014

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VS_Spitfire_T9_G-BMSB_MJ627_9G-P_(6623115903)

This is not the usual topic I cover on here, but I love featuring chances to fly on rare planes and this is certainly one of them!

A company in the UK called Into the Blue, which specialises in flying experiences, is now offering the chance to fly in a two-seat Spitfire aircraft on a 30 minute flight.

Following a change in the CAA rules, you can now fly in this aircraft – which actually saw combat in World War 2, including downing enemy aircraft. It was later converted into a two-seat aircraft, allowing these experience flights to take place. Two-seater Spitfires are incredibly rare. Supermarine did come up with the design for a two-seater version of the Spitfire, but none were ever ordered and only one was ever built. However, following several ‘unofficial’ conversions, Supermarine converted a handful of Mark IX Spitfires into two-seaters, called TR9s after the Second World War.

The aircraft is operated by Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, operating from Biggin Hill airfield to the south of London – the heart of ‘Battle of Britain Country’. You’ll be given a full pre-flight briefing, tour of the heritage hangar, Q&A session with the team, in-flight video recording, debrief, and time to hang around at the venue.

If you’re interested in finding out more, check out Into the Blue’s website here www.intotheblue.co.uk

I’m going to start saving up for this!

Airbus A350 – already a design classic?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 03-12-2014

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A350_XWB_-_formation_flight_3

The new Airbus A350XWB was recently certified by both the European and American authorities, marking a major milestone in a type that will certainly come to challenge – or even dominate – the long haul market.

The A350 was first conceived ten years ago, in 2004. Because of its similarities with the A330, which was in its prime at the time, many customers dismissed it as unnecessary. But one key early aspect of the design was in the three letters after its name – XWB – which stood for Extra Wide Body.

This would give it the widest fuselage of any twin long-haul jet, giving airlines the opportunity to add more seating – up to 10 abreast – or to offer passengers more space in the premium cabins. It was naturally a winner with the airlines that consider on-board service and comfort a high priority, with Singapore Airlines and Qatar Airways ordering as early as 2006.

1600_1399638164_A350_XWB_water_ingestion_test_Istres___2_

With three different sized variants planned by Airbus, the A350-800, -900 and -1000, there would be a capacity of between 270 and 350 passengers.

Naturally many compare the A350 to the Boeing 787, and I think it’s fair to consider this to be Airbus’ answer to its rival’s latest aircraft. It also incorporates a lot of the techniques and technology of the 787, such as:

  • Composite fuselage and wings (53% of the fuselage)
  • Brand new avionics and cockpit systems unlike most other passenger airliners
  • Improved cabin atmosphere with lower pressurisation altitude to increase comfort for passengers
  • Brand new powerplants
  • Improved aerodynamics to increase range and reduce fuel burn

But there are other aspects which make the A350 a design classic, and unique compared to the 787. First off, its cockpit follows other Airbus models to aid in crew familiarity and the latest technology. It is modelled on that of the A380, with large LCD screens and information systems.

The A350 also features a new undercarriage design to better make use of the new composite wing structure and reduce loading on ground surfaces.

The maximum range of the A350 is another key feature. Like the Boeing, Airbus wanted to offer customers the ability to fly a long distance at affordable costs, due to the lighter structure and improved aerodynamics. The -800 model will fly the furthest, reaching around 8,260 miles, with the -900 and -1000 coming in at just under 8,000 miles. There has even been a -1000LR model touted by Airbus, which would be able to fly non-stop from London to Sydney, but this has not been confirmed yet.

 

Where is the A350 built?

Airbus is building its A350s at its Toulouse Blagnac base. The first flight took place on 14 June 2013, and much of the subsequent testing has taken place from there using five aircraft.

Visitors to Toulouse will be able to see the production line on Airbus Factory Tours, and will soon start seeing a regular stream of new aircraft sat undergoing final modifications and flight testing at the airport.

 

Qatar A350

 

Who will fly the A350?

To date Airbus has received orders for 750 A350s, across all three models. This is already a real success story, with many of the world’s largest carriers opting for the type.

Qatar Airways will be the launch customer for the A350, and one of the test models has already been painted in its colours. It expects to begin flying the type on its Doha – Frankfurt route from January 2015.

A350 XWB AT HONG KONG AIRPORT - ROUTE PROVING TRIP 2

The following airlines have ordered so far:

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeroflot
  • Afriqiyah
  • Air Asia X
  • Air Caraibes
  • Air China
  • Air France
  • Asiana
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • China Airlines
  • Ethiopian Airlines
  • Etihad
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Hong Kong Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Japan Air Lines
  • Kuwait Airways
  • Libyan Airlines
  • Lufthansa
  • Qatar Airways
  • SAS
  • Singapore Airlines
  • SriLankan
  • TAM
  • TAP Portugal
  • Thai Airways
  • United Airlines
  • US Airways (American Airlines)
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Yemenia
  • + many lease companies

 

1600_1407576872_A350_XWB_sao_paulo

Further reading

Airbus recently put together some extra information on their A350 so that you can find out more about the product and its unique features.

A350 Cabin – Inspired Design – How the aircraft’s cabin differs from other aircraft.

A350 Goes Global – looking at the recent world tour of the third production model.

Bringing the Vision to life – looking back at the first flight and its test pilots.

Incredible arrival footage – Swiss A330 at Geneva

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Videos, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 23-11-2014

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I came across this onboard footage of a morning arrival at Geneva Airport filmed on board a Swiss A330-300 earlier this year.

If you have a few minutes to sit back and relax, it really takes in the sights and sounds of an arrival with stunning light, and the Swiss scenery passing below, before arriving at a packed ramp full of airliners from around the world.