Comac ARJ21 to enter service in February 2016

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 04-09-2015

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Comac ARJ21

By Peng Chen (Flickr: China ARJ-21) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The long-delayed Comac ARJ21 regional jet is to finally enter service in February 2016, eight years after its first flight.

Chengdu Airlines will be the first operator of the type, taking delivery of two examples later this year. They will undertake pilot training, before entering service on domestic regional flights from its home base. The airline, which is owned by Comac, will eventually take 30 of the smaller ARJ21-700 variants.

To date there are orders for 342 ARJ21-700s from carriers mainly situated in China and the Far East. The larget ARJ21-900 is still on hold, with no orders.

Despite this entry into service of the first two aircraft, Comac does not anticipate beginning the production until later in 2016 when the relevant certification has been received. It has also abandoned plans to have the aircraft certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after ongoing delays.

The Comac ARJ21 very much resembles the Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 717 in my eyes, and has similarities to the Bombardier CRJ. The ARJ21-700 model can carry up to 90 passengers and has a range of 2,000 miles in the ER version, making it ideal for covering the Chinese regional market.

The two aircraft expected to enter service with Chengdu Airlines are B-010L and B-938L (c/n 105 and 106 respectively). B-1110L (c/n 104) has also been part of the testing process.

 

Estonian Air moving into Swedish domestic market

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Estonia, Miscellaneous Spotting, Sweden, Western Europe | Posted on 28-08-2015

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Estonian Air CRJ900 at Stockholm Arlanda

Estonian Air has announced plans to move into the Swedish domestic market by announcing two new routes.

The airline will commence services from the winter timetable this year, starting on 25 October, on the following routes:4

  • Stockholm Arlanda – Arvidsjaur
  • Arvidsjaur – Gallivare

Both flights will operate 11x weekly and act as an extension of each other (ie Stockholm – Arvidsjaur – Gallivare). They will be operated by Estonian’s CRJ900 aircraft equipment.

The airline also operates from Tallinn to Stockholm Arlanda with the CRJ900.

 

First Finnair A350 rolled out

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Finland, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 27-08-2015

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Finnair A350

The first fully painted Airbus A350 for Finnair has rolled out of the paint shop at Toulouse and here’s the picture.

The aircraft is OH-LWA, and is one of 19 on order with the airline. The first delivery is due in September, with flights commencing in October.

See our Airbus A350 Routes Page for more information.

 

Bristol Airport Aviation Fair

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 19-08-2015

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Bristol Airport Aviation Fair

Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, Bristol Airport Spotting are hosting another Aviation Fair in partnership with Bristol Airport on Sunday 20th September 2015 between 10.30am and 4.30pm in aid of the airport charity of the year which this year is Children’s Hospice South West.

The event will take place within the Bristol Room which is located in the airport administration building. There will be free car parking.

Entry to the event is £1.50, and you will find a large amount of exhibitors coming along. Visitors to the fair this year can expect to see Bristol Aero Collection, miniature Bristol Airport project, IPMS Avon model club, T7 Models, Fly2Help aviation charity, Aviation Postcard Man, Bristol Airport Police and South West Aviation Photographers to name but a few.

The Bristol Room has great views across the apron of aircraft departing, arriving and taxiing just a short distance from the windows, ample seating will be available to sit and watch the activity.

For more information and directions to the event please visit – http://www.bristolairportspotting.co.uk/bas-events/aviation-fair-2015/

Register your interest in attending the fair by joining the event on Facebook

LATAM to become one airline brand

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 06-08-2015

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LATAM logo

LATAM Airlines Group – the combined company that runs TAM Brasil and the various LAN airlines is to merge under one brand from 2016, it has been announced.

In a statement today, the company said:

LATAM Airlines Group has decided to take another step forward to unify our brands under one name: “LATAM”.

With the new brand, we will continue the legacy of leadership that started decades ago with LAN, TAM and their respective affiliate carriers. Both brands contributed for many years to the growth and development of the region, and today more than ever, we are committed to the future of Latin America and connecting it to the world. The new brand allows us to offer a better, consistent service throughout our network, which in turn strengthens our position in the region.

“LATAM” will bring together all the passenger and cargo airline operations of the LATAM Airlines Group carriers: LAN Airlines and its affiliates in Peru, Argentina, Colombia and Ecuador; in addition to TAM Linhas Aéreas S.A., and its subsidiary TAM Air Transport Mercosur S.A. (TAM Airlines (Paraguay), and the cargo carriers comprised of LAN CARGO, LAN CARGO Colombia, ABSA (TAM Cargo) and Mas Air. The new brand will not impact the registered names of any of the above mentioned companies.”

Lan Chile A320t

TAM 777

The first aircraft in the new livery will appear in the first half of 2016. In the meantime, the logo here is the first sign of the new branding.

 

World Airports Spotting Book – One Week To Go

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Book Reviews, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Equipment Reviews | Posted on 05-08-2015

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WorldAirports-Ad1

Since I announced the sneak peak at my upcoming World Airports Spotting Guides book last month, the response has been fantastic.

We’ve had lots of pre-orders for the book, and lots of comments of support from eager spotters who are looking forward to getting their hands on the book.

 

Pre-Order Now. Free Gift!

If you read the original post, you’ll notice that I hinted that it would be worth your while pre-ordering, rather than waiting for the book to be released before getting your copy.

The reason for this is that everyone who orders in advance will receive a free gift from me. Yes, that’s right. A new digital product being developed here at Airport Spotting Blog that will go on sale later in the year will be given free of charge to everyone who pre-orders World Airports Spotting Guides! The only way to get it after launch date will be to buy it.

But that’s not all…

Everyone who pre-orders will also be in with a chance of winning a 1/400 scale model from GeminiJets! The lucky winner will be drawn at random and awarded this brand new airliner model.

So there’s every reason to order your copy straight away!

Pre-orders for World Airports Spotting Guides will close one week from the day of this post, on 12th August.

 

What’s it all about?

In case this is new to you, World Airports Spotting Guides is a brand new book written and researched for aircraft spotters full of useful and practical information on where to spot at airports around the world. Specifically it includes:

  • Over 300 airports
  • Detailed spotting locations
  • Maps of many of the airports
  • Spotting hotel suggestions and details of views
  • Museums and other attractions located at airports

The world airports spotting book features airports both small and large, from mega hubs to regional gateways, from desert boneyards to cargo airports. I’ve deliberately picked the most interesting places to pursue your hobby.

 

If you’ve read any of my previous books you’ll know that the quality and research is great and you’ll be able to use this for both pre-trip planning and whilst on the go.

So don’t delay… pre-order World Airports Spotting Guides today. The next time I write about this, the book will be released and the bonus offers will be gone!

WorldAirports-Ad2

St. Helena Airport Takes Shape

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 24-07-2015

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StHelenaAirportRunway

The brand new international airport on the island of St. Helena in the south Atlantic Ocean is finally taking shape almost four years since the contract was signed to herald its development.

The British Overseas Territory – one of the most remote islands on earth – has always relied on the sea for communication and transport to the outside world. But with the regular passenger-carrying vessel, the RMS St. Helena, due to be retired next year, the need for an airport became a priority.

St. Helena Airport is now taking shape, with the final concrete poured onto the runway and work now beginning on lighting, navaids and other infrastructure.

Following this, calibration work will be carried out.

It is expected that St. Helena Airport will see its first scheduled flights in Easter 2016. Carriers confirmed so far are Comair, with a Boeing 737 link to Johannesburg, and Atlantic Star Airlines, which is a new carrier planning to operate a Boeing 757 to the island from the UK.StHelenaAirport

Recently the airport unveiled its new logo, and announced that its official IATA identification code would be HLE, and ICAO code FHSH.

The single runway is 1,950m long and has necessitated the infill of a gorge in order to provide enough flat space for its construction. This length will allow Airbus A320 and Boeing 737/757 aircraft, plus the military C-130 Hercules to fly in. But it would preclude any Category D aircraft, such as the Boeing 767.

 

New Let L-410NG aircraft rolled out

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 17-07-2015

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Let410NG

It’s the most successful aircraft to have been developed in the Czech Republic, and it’s still going strong. The Let L-410 first flew in 1969 and since then over 1,100 have been produced.

Now, a completely upgraded version has been produced and is about to start the certification process before an anticipated first delivery in 2017.

The L-410 NG model, which is a substantially upgraded turboprop commuter, inheriting the best of L-410UVP-E20 aircraft, and offering significantly improved characteristics. The aircraft is equipped with advanced avionics and build by modern production technologies.

Thanks to the new wing structure, with integral fuel tank and increased fuel capacity, the L 410 NG has a significantly longer maximum range (2500 km) and endurance (10 hours). The all-metal, high-wing twin turboprop can transport 19 passengers and thanks to its increased maximum payload (2154 kg/4749 lb) and larger front luggage compartment increasing the total luggage compartments volume to 2,98 m3/105,24 cu.ft, the aircraft  can carry up to 400 kg more luggage/cargo. The L 410 NG aircraft is powered by new more powerful GE H85 engines with maximum take-off power 850 HP  and AV-725 propellers. The new engine gearbox enables significant external and internal noise reduction due to lower maximum propeller speed reduced from 2080 to 1950 RPM. Thanks to engine power increase maximal cruise speed will rise to 417 km/hr TAS. The state of art  Glass Cockpit Technology with  the latest avionics from Garmin (G3000) provides the highest level of flight safety and comfort for the crew. L 410 NG with the most spacious fuselage in its category (passenger cabin volume 17,9m3/632 cu.ft) will also offer completely modernized passenger cabin interior and passenger seats with the highest standard of comfort and providing similarly as the  L 410 UVP-E20 model maximum versatility and opportunity to use the aircraft in number of versions for a number of various types of operation. Service life of the aircraft will be also significantly increased (30 000 FH and/or cycles  as minimum).

Let410NG2

The first flight of the prototype is expected shortly from its Kunovice base.

The best aviation podcasts to listen to

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Equipment Reviews, Websites | Posted on 08-07-2015

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AviationPodcasts

I’ve been getting more into podcasts lately as a way to keep up with what’s happening on different topics of interest, including a number of aviation themed examples.

Podcasts are great for listening to whilst on the go, or whilst working at your desk, and often provide news, interviews and interesting topics of discussion.

Here are the best aviation podcasts to listen to at the moment:

 

1. Airplane Geeks Podcast
Link: www.airplanegeeks.com

One of the original and best. Max and the team record a weekly podcast in the USA which includes discussion on the latest civil and military news stories, and then also involves a guest with an aviation background. The podcast usually includes sections from Pieter Johnson and the Plane Crazy Down Under guys (see below), adding an international perspective to the show.

2. Xtended
Link: aviation-xtended.co.uk

Xtended is run by Pieter Johnson, a UK aviation podcaster who is a regular on the Airplane Geeks Podcast. Xtended is billed as Europe’s premier aerospace internet radio programme, and each episode features a range of guest interviews on a variety of aviation topics, from military to civil, general and classic aviation. You’ll often hear from authors about their new books, and lots of people who work in and have a passion for aviation.

3. Airline Pilot Guy
Link: airlinepilotguy.com

Jeff Nielsen, or Capt. Jeff, who is an airline pilot with lots of experience of flying. He publishes his podcast every week and talks about aviation stories that have caught his attention, or that he can shed some light on. It’s informative and great to hear things from the “other side of the cockpit door.”

4. Plane Crazy Down Under
Link: www.planecrazydownunder.com

This is a very entertaining podcast from, as the name suggests, a bunch of guys in Australia. They usually publish a show every month or so, and their goal is to highlight aviation in the Australasia/Pacific region, talking about airlines, military operators, airports, as well as airshows and other events. Each episode is 60-120 minutes in length, and usually includes an interview.

5. Airspeed
Link: airspeedonline.com

Airspeed is an all-round aviation themed podcast run by Stephen Tupper, a lawyer, private pilot, and Civil Air Patrol major. It usually has guests to talk on a particular topic. and appears at least once per week. Well worth a listen.

 

If you have an aviation podcast or video blog, why not leave a comment below with a link and description!

It’s Heathrow! UK Airports Commission publishes recommendation

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-07-2015

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Heathrow R3 south west option

The UK Airports Commission, led by Sir Howard Davies, has given its recommendation that Heathrow be the London airport that gets an extra runway, it has been announced.

The Commission was given the task in 2012 of settling the decades-long argument over where extra capacity should be considered in the south east of England. The two primary airports in the region – Gatwick and Heathrow – are both close to capacity, with Gatwick being the busiest single-runway airport in the world.

However, Heathrow is the busiest hub in the country and has the most need for a new runway (its third), according to the report. It said that, whilst Gatwick’s proposal was plausible, not expanding Heathrow would put the UK at risk of losing out to continental Europe.

Airports at Frankfurt, Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle are already way ahead in runway capacity and are attracting growth from airlines.

Whilst this is only the recommendation, the government will make a decision in 2016 on any expansion.

Davies said: “Heathrow … provides the greatest benefits for business passengers, freight operators and the broader economy,” adding “Further delay will be increasingly costly and will be seen nationally and internationally as a sign that the UK is unwilling or unable to take the steps needed to maintain its position as a well-connected, open trading economy,”

Heathrow has estimated that building could start in 2020 and the new runway would be ready in 2025, but that could be held up by the government’s decision and tough planning laws.