Tehran after the 707

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Iran, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 16-05-2015

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For years spotters and classic airliner enthusiasts congregated in Tehran to fly on the last commercial passenger examples of the Boeing 707 still in operation.

The airline Saha Air offered the rare chance to take short trips around the country on the iconic aircraft. However, in 2013 it retired the type from active service in favour of ‘newer’ types such as the Airbus A300.

Since then spotting reports from Iran have quietened. No longer were so many people making the pilgrimage every year.

So what is there to draw you to Tehran today?

Tehran-Mehrabad_International_Airport

By Shahram Sharifi (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons

There are two airports in Tehran – Mehrabad is the domestic airport, which is the more interesting one. Imam Khomeini is the international airport, which handles most flights from other countries.

Despite the outside perception, Iran is still a friendly place and welcoming to visitors and tourists. However, like much of the Middle East the hobby of spotting, photographing and logging aircraft remains misunderstood and suspicious to authorities. So discretion is needed whenever spending time near airports in Iran.

 

Airlines

The main domestic airlines in Iran at present include Ata Airline, Atrak Air, Caspian Airlines, Iran Air, Iran Air Tours, Iran Aseman Airlines, Iranian Naft Airlines, Kish Air, Mahan Air, Meraj Airlines, Qeshm Airlines, Taban Air and Zagros Airlines.

All of these carriers serve Mehrabad Airport on the incredibly busy trunk routes to the main cities in the country.

The largest airline by aircraft fleet and passengers flown is Mahan Air, which recently took delivery of nine second-hand Airbus aircraft to renew its fleet. These included the A340-300 and -600 models. I believe these were formerly flown by Virgin Atlantic.

Iran Air is the national carrier, which splits its flying between both airports. It has ‘modernised’ its fleet with the addition of second-hand Airbus A320s in 2009, and also flies many A300s, A310s and Fokker 100s.

 

Rare Aircraft

With the Boeing 707 gone, which carriers are operating other rare aircraft? Well, unfortunately there aren’t many of note.

The most numerous aircraft types are the Fokker 100, Airbus A300-600, Airbus A320, Airbus A340-300 and ATR 72. However, rarer types in abundance include the McDonnell Douglas MD-82/83 and Airbus A310-300, which are of interest.

The most noteworthy types still in passenger operation here are the Boeing 727, which features in the fleet of Iran Aseman Airlines, the Boeing 747-200 flown by Iran Air, and the Boeing 747-300 which is flown by Mahan Air.

Iran Aseman 727

Mahan_Air_Boeing_747-400_KvW

By Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

Iran Air recently announced the retirement of its Boeing 747SP fleet (it was the last operator of scheduled services with the type), which it operated on international flights from Imam Khomeini Airport. However it is still flying occasionally on the Kuala Lumpur route and to fill in for other aircraft.

But if you are a spotter looking for rarer aircraft, the military and government in Iran still operate a few classic types from Mehrabad Airport, including the Boeing 707, 747-100 and 747-200. These can usually be seen on the southern and extreme western sides of the airport.

Plus, the Tehran Aerospace Exhibition Centre has an aviation museum a short distance from the airport with preserved 727, 737s, Fokker F-28, FH-227, Douglas C-47, Lockheed TriStar. Sometimes stored airliners can be seen on the taxiways linking the airport to the museum.

 

By Reza2475 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Reza2475 (Own work) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Resurgence of the MD-80

As Western airlines retire the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series aircraft, airlines in Iran have snapped up a number of examples – no fewer than six of the domestic airlines currently fly variants of the aircraft. I suspect that this will become one of the last strongholds for the type as it fades from existence, so could become a future place for fans of the type (and the DC-9 for that matter) to come and experience it before it’s too late.

 

By Danial Haghgoo [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Danial Haghgoo [GFDL 1.2 or GFDL 1.2], via Wikimedia Commons

What happened to Saha Air’s 707s?

Although you can’t fly them any more, Saha Air’s Boeing 707s are still in existence at Mehrabad Airport.

One, EP-SHE, crash landed at the airport in 2005. The remains of the aircraft still sits at the western end of the airport.

Another, EP-SHV is now preserved and used as a cabin trainer at the airline’s headquarters.

The rest are currently stored at the airport or in use for military and government flying.

 

Mehrad Watson - Persian Spotters

Mehrad Watson – Persian Spotters

Spotting at Tehran

Both airports have some opportunities for spotting, but this should be done very discretely without showing cameras, binoculars or poles openly.

Fath Square and the Sa’idi Expressway pass the end of runways 29L/R and is good for photographing aircraft approaching the runways.

Also, if you fly out of the airport you can expect views from the terminal building departure areas.

A good tip is to visit the Mehrabad Airport website (http://mehrabad.airport.ir/) as it shows a timetable of flights and aircraft types for each. This helps in gaining an understanding of the movements of different airlines.

First TAM A350XWB taking shape

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Brazil, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 14-05-2015

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A350_XWB_TAM_02

Airbus has posted this picture of the first A350-900 aircraft destined for TAM in Brasil taking shape on the assembly line in Toulouse.

TAM will be the fourth airline to take delivery of the type, after Qatar Airways, Finnair and Vietnam Airlines.

TAM will be the first airline in the Americas to fly the A350 XWB. Delivery of their first A350 XWB is scheduled for the end of this year. TAM has a total of 27 A350 XWB on order.

 

You can see our list of Airbus A350 routes at this page: http://www.airportspotting.com/airbus-a350-routes-page/

Catching up with the Airbus prototypes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 17-04-2015

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This is a new series of hopefully useful posts to catch up with the prototype and demonstrator aircraft produced by different aircraft manufacturers around the world.

The prototype model is the first of the type to fly, and will later be joined by other examples to help achieve flight certification.

Following this, the prototype will often either be kept for future testing and modification, delivered to an airline customer, sent to a museum or stored and ultimately scrapped.

In this first post we’ll look at the various Airbus aircraft model prototypes produced from the first A300B1 to the most recent A350XWB.

 

 

A300B1A300-F-OCAZ

F-OCAZ. Scrapped. Centre section and wing on display at Munich City Museum Von Meisterwerke, Germany. Other parts exist at Paris Le Bourget and Toulouse Blagnac.

 

A300B2A300 ZeroG

F-BUAD. Stored at Cologne/Bonn, Germany for future public display.

A300B4

Scrapped

A300B4-600

HZ-AJA. Stored at Hofuf Al-Ahsa Airport, Saudi Arabia.

A310-200

A310 N450FE

N450FE. Active with FedEx Express.

A310-300

A310 N803FD

N803FD. Active with FedEx Express.

A318

A318 A6-AAM

A6-AAM. Private, based Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

A319-100

A319 C-GBIP

C-GBIP. Active with Air Canada.

A320-100

A320_MSN0001_I4D_FLIGHT_TRIAL_01

F-WWBA. Active as testbed, Toulouse Blagnac, France.

A320-200

Scrapped

A321-100

A321 TC-ONS

TC-ONS. Active with Onur Air.

A321-200

A321-B-HTF

B-HTF. Active with Dragonair, Hong Kong.

A330-200

A330-200 CS-TOH

CS-TOH. Active with TAP Portugal.

A330-300

A330-300 B-HLJ

B-HLJ. Active with Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong. On lease to Dragonair.

A340-200

A340-200 HZ-124

HZ-124. Active with Royal Saudi Air Force, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A340-300

A340-300 F-WWAI

F-WWAI. Stored at Toulouse Blagnac, France. Will be used as future testbed with BLADE.

A340-500

A340-500 A6-ERF

A6-ERF. Stored at Ras Al Khaimah, UAE. Will be scrapped.

A340-600

A340-600 F-WWCA

F-WWCA. Stored at Lourdes Tarbes, France.

A350-900

A350_XWB_MSN1_TAKE_OFF

F-WXWB. Active at Toulouse Blagnac, France.

A380-800

A380 F-WWOW

F-WWOW. Active at Toulouse Blagnac, France.

Dreamliner Arrives at Pima Air and Space Museum

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 12-04-2015

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N787EX Pima Air and Space Museum

The Pima Air and Space Museum at Tucson, AZ, has become the second to take a Boeing 787 Dreamliner for display.

This aircraft was the second Dreamliner built, and is registered N787EX (also known as ZA002).

“This is an extremely exciting and monumental time for the museum, the Tucson community and Arizona in general,” said Scott Marchand, Executive Director of the Pima Air & Space Museum. “We are honored to be selected by The Boeing Company to be the custodian of such a significant historic next generation aircraft and to be able to display it to the public from the USA and from around the world.”

This particular 787, ZA002, is the second Boeing 787-8 to be produced. The airplane flew for the first time on December 22, 2009, joining what would become a six-airplane flight test and certification program for the 787- 8. The primary focus of ZA002 was testing systems performance. It is currently wearing ANA All Nippon Airways colours, but has never flown for the airline.

In November we reported that ZA003, N787BX, was delivered to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The Pima Air & Space Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia Road, Tucson, Exit 267 off Interstate 10. The museum is open daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas, from 9 am to 5 pm with last admission at 4 pm. Admission is $15.50 ($12.25 for Pima County Residents) for adults, $12.75 for seniors 62 and older and active military, $9.00 for youth 7-12, and free for children under 6. For general museum information, please call 520- 574-0462 or visit www.pimaair.org.

Finnair flying the A350 to Europe on familiarisation flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Frankfurt, Germany, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spain, Spotting News, Sweden, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 09-04-2015

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A350XWB Finnair

Finnair is due to be the third airline customer of the Airbus A350XWB in September, after Qatar Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

The airline has announced that it will fly the new aircraft between Helsinki and a variety of European destinations on crew familiarisation flights before it begins service on Finnair’s long-haul network.

In addition it will also fly the A350 domestically from Helsinki to Oulu and Rovaniemi as part of the familiarisation schedule.

European destinations include Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, London Heathrow, Malaga, Paris CDG, Stockholm Arlanda and Vienna.

At the time of writing the following schedule is planned:

Helsinki–Rovaniemi 05-Oct-15 AY421
Rovaniemi–Helsinki 05-Oct-15 AY428
Helsinki–Oulu 05-Oct-15 AY2369
Oulu–Helsinki 05-Oct-15 AY2370
Helsinki–London 06-Oct-15 AY831
London–Helsinki 06-Oct-15 AY840
Helsinki–Frankfurt 07-Oct-15 AY821
Frankfurt–Helsinki 07-Oct-15 AY822
Helsinki–Stockholm (Arlanda) 07-Oct-15 AY645
Stockholm (Arlanda)–Helsinki 07-Oct-15 AY650
Helsinki–Paris 08-Oct-15 AY871
Paris–Helsinki 08-Oct-15 AY890
Helsinki–Copenhagen 08-Oct-15 AY667
Copenhagen–Helsinki 08-Oct-15 AY668
Helsinki–Amsterdam 09-Oct-15 AY841
Amsterdam–Helsinki 09-Oct-15 AY842
Helsinki–Oslo 09-Oct-15 AY659
Oslo–Helsinki 09-Oct-15 AY658
Helsinki–Barcelona 10-Oct-15 AY3271
Barcelona–Helsinki 10-Oct-15 AY3270
Helsinki–Málaga 10-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Hamburg 11-Oct-15 AY851
Hamburg–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY852
Helsinki–Barcelona 11-Oct-15 AY3269
Barcelona–Helsinki 11-Oct-15 AY3272
Helsinki–Brussels 12-Oct-15 AY811
Brussels–Helsinki 12-Oct-15 AY812
Helsinki–Málaga 12-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Berlin 13-Oct-15 AY911
Berlin–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY912
Helsinki–Gothenburg 13-Oct-15 AY677
Gothenburg–Helsinki 13-Oct-15 AY674
Helsinki–Düsseldorf 14-Oct-15 AY703
Düsseldorf–Helsinki 14-Oct-15 AY704
Helsinki–Vienna 14-Oct-15 AY767
Vienna–Helsinki 14-Oct-15 AY768
Helsinki–Munich 15-Oct-15 AY803
Munich–Helsinki 15-Oct-15 AY804
Helsinki–London 15-Oct-15 AY995
London–Helsinki 15-Oct-15 AY996
Helsinki–Brussels 16-Oct-15 AY811
Brussels–Helsinki 16-Oct-15 AY812
Helsinki–London 16-Oct-15 AY995
London–Helsinki 16-Oct-15 AY996
Helsinki–Barcelona 17-Oct-15 AY3271
Barcelona–Helsinki 17-Oct-15 AY3270
Helsinki–Málaga 17-Oct-15 AY735
Málaga–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY736
Helsinki–Copenhagen 18-Oct-15 AY661
Copenhagen–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY666
Helsinki–Barcelona 18-Oct-15 AY3269
Barcelona–Helsinki 18-Oct-15 AY3272

Flights are on sale now from the Finnair website’s A350 page: http://www.finnair.com/a350

 

A350RoutesSidebar

Remember to check out our Airbus A350 Routes Page for details of Finnair’s long-haul destinations, and routes by other A350 airlines.

Air India’s 20th 787 delivered; first in Star Alliance colours

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, India, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 03-04-2015

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Air India 787-8 Star Alliance

Air India has received its 20th Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, VT-ANU, from the manufacturer’s Charleston facility.

This aircraft is the first Dreamliner to date to wear the colours of an alliance, in this case Star Alliance.

“Taking delivery of our 20th 787 Dreamliner marks an important day for Air India,” said Rohit Nandan, Chairman and Managing Director, Air India. “With this airplane we are building on the success of our other 787s, which are providing an exceptional experience to our passengers while allowing us to expand our network both within India and around the world.”

RwandAir selects A330

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 24-03-2015

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800x600_1427185224_RwandAir_A330-200_

RwandAir has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus to order two A330-200 aircraft. These will be the airline’s first wide-body jets, although it is expected to take delivery of Boeing 787s.

“As we look to introduce wide body aircraft for the first time into our fleet, with its proven economics, reliability and passenger comfort, we have found the A330 to perfectly support our plans to expand into Europe and Asia, to enhance our regional presence, to open up new routes and to grow our market share,’’ said John Mirenge, Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir.

RwandAir’s A330s will be delivered in the second half of 2016 and will be equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 772B engines.

Rwanda’s flagship carrier will deploy the new A330 aircraft on medium and long haul routes from their Kigali home base to long-haul destinations throughout Europe, the Middle-East and Asia.

Airbus Photography Contest

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 23-03-2015

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Airbus Group Photo Contest

Airbus Group is holding an amateur photography contest with the fantastic prize of a tour around their site, and your photo featured in their 2014 Annual Report.

The aim of the Contest is to discover Airbus Group through your eyes. The pictures should be related to their wide range of products and activities at the Divisions: Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space and Airbus Helicopters plus corporate entities like Airbus Group Innovations.

To find out more, including entry requirements and prize details, visit this link: http://www.airbusgroup.com/int/en/news-media/Events/Photo-contest-2015.html

Even if you don’t win, the best entries will be published on Airbus Group’s Social Media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Flickr) to promote your pictures.

Good luck!

Bombardier CSeries 300 flies

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America | Posted on 28-02-2015

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CS300 first flight

Following from our post a few days ago, we can now report that the Bombardier CSeries CS300 aircraft made its first flight on 27th February 2015.

The picture above shows C-FFDK on its maiden flight at Montreal Mirabel Airport, and the video below shows the moment she took to the skies for the first time.

Capt. Andris (Andy) Litavniks, who was the co-pilot on the historic maiden flight of the smaller CS100 model on September 16, 2013, was pilot-in-command on today’s milestone flight. Capt. Litavniks was assisted by co-pilot Christophe Marchand and flight test engineers Anthony Dunne and Mark Metivet.

“It was an absolute privilege to fly the first flight of the CS300 airliner and I’m absolutely ecstatic with how well it handled. It’s a pilot’s aircraft and handled exactly as predicted by simulation,” said Capt. Litavniks. “Pilots will find it easy to transition from the CS100 to the CS300 aircraft or vice versa, which will greatly reduce training costs for operators using both models.”

“Our CSeries aircraft program is progressing well, with results from testing as expected or better. The CS300 airliner will now join the five CS100 aircraft flight test vehicles that have amassed more than 1,000 flight test hours to date,” said Rob Dewar, Vice President, CSeries Program. “We are confident the CS100 aircraft will be certified in the second half of 2015, followed closely by entry-into-service. The CS300 airliner is expected to follow about six months later.”

bca_4668_02_27_gallery_26en

This larger variant of the new regional airliner will join the four CS100 aircraft already undergoing testing and certification ahead of an entry to service with the many airlines who have ordered it.

Congratulations to Bombardier and all of the partners involved in this significant milestone and good-looking aircraft!

Last Airbus A300B2 retired from passenger service

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Iran, Japan, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 27-02-2015

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A300B2 MahanAir (c) Mohammad Razzazan

The final example of the first model Airbus A300B2 has been retired from passenger service by Iranian carrier Mahain Air after a career spanning 34 years.

Originally delivered to Japanese airline TOA Domestic Airlines in 1981 and later joining Japan Air System, EP-MHA (c/n 160) started flying for Mahan Air in 2006 on routes around Iran and the Middle East.

Now the aircraft has been ferried to Kerman, according to ch-aviation, to join two other stablemates which were retired recently. It is expected that the aircraft will be scrapped rather than going on to serve with another airline.

It is expected that Mahan Air will also retire its ageing A300B4 fleet this year, too.