Aircraft type retirements in the USA

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 14-04-2014

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CH Aviation has reported that two aircraft types are to be retired from the fleets of two airlines in the USA.

American Airlines will retire its last Boeing 767-200 on 7 May, after flying the type for over 30 years.

737-400US_livery

Then, on 18 August this year, US Airways is to retire its last Boeing 737-400 as it further aligns its operations with parent American Airlines.

 

Find out more about the history of some of America’s most significant airlines in our new book, Airlines of the USA. Available on Amazon here

Two 787-9s unveiled in Seattle

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Australasia, Miscellaneous Spotting, New Zealand, North America, USA | Posted on 09-04-2014

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Two of the new stretched Boeing 787-9 aircraft have been unveiled in their airline colours at Seattle in the past week.

ANZ in paint Hangar before rollout

Air New Zealand’s first aircraft was unveiled on 6 April wearing a smart all black livery (similar to that seen on the airline’s Airbus A320s).

Air New Zealand Chief Flight Operations and Safety Officer Captain David Morgan, who was in Seattle for the unveiling, says it’s exciting to see the 787-9 in Air New Zealand colours for the first time.

“It’s great to see the Koru and the beautiful New Zealand fern emblazoned on this aircraft. This will soon be the first 787-9 aircraft anywhere in the world to operate commercially and I think it will instil a sense of pride in Kiwis and turn heads when it touches down at airports throughout Asia and the Pacific.”

United 787-9 Factory Rollout - April 8, 2014

Then, yesterday United Airlines’ first 787-9 was rolled out of the hanger fully painted.

Over the next several months, the aircraft will move to the next phase of completion, which includes final cabin configuration and painting. United’s 787-9 will be configured with 252 seats. United’s first 787-9 will also be one of five aircraft used by Boeing in a flight test program to certify the aircraft.

More Delta Boeing 717 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 06-04-2014

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Delta 717Delta will add Boeing 717 service to a number of destinations not previously served by the type.

From Atlanta, destinations include:
Abilene (commenced)
Augusta (commenced)
Dallas Love Field (from 31 October)
Fayetteville (commenced)
Gainesville (commenced)
Grand Rapids (commenced)
Houston Intercontinental (commenced)
Lexington (commenced)
Memphis (commenced)
Mobile (commenced)
Myrtle Beach (commenced)
Tri Cities (from 5 June)
Wichita (from 7 June)

From Detroit Wayne, destinations include:
Austin (from 2 May)
Buffalo (from 5 June)
Chicago Midway (commenced)
Green Bay (from 8 April)
Houston Intercontinental (from 9 April)
Indianapolis (from 5 June)
Kansas City (commenced)
Nashville (from 5 June)
New York JFK (from 2 September)
New York LaGuardia (from 2 September)
Philadelphia (from 8 April)
Traverse City (from 2 May)

From New York JFK, destinations include:
Boston (from 2 September)
Tampa (from 2 September)

From New York LaGuardia, destinations include:
Miami (from 2 September)
Tampa (from 2 September)

From Los Angeles, the only destination is:
Austin (from 6 June)

 

Credit to worldairlinenews.com

Kenya Airways first Boeing 787 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Kenya, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 05-04-2014

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Kenya 787 Photography - AIRPROMO FISCHER DOUG (1824358) rms261138 cnsNEF14Kenya Airways has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The aircraft, 5Y-KZA , departed Paine Field in Everett for a 7,800 nautical mile (14,456 km) nonstop flight to Kenya Airways’ home base in Nairobi at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The 787 will form the backbone of the airline’s future long-haul fleet, providing greater range, improved efficiencies and outstanding passenger comfort.

“The delivery of our first ever 787 Dreamliner not only opens a new chapter for our airline, but also for Kenya,” said Dr. Titus Naikuni, chief executive officer, Kenya Airways. “The 787 will enable Kenya Airways to explore new markets, improve its economic performance, provide passengers with revolutionary comfort, while continuing to contribute towards the sustainable development of Africa.”

Kenya Airways’ first 787 is scheduled to begin flying regionally within Africa in the coming weeks, before beginning long-haul service to Paris in early June. Currently the “Pride of Africa” serves destinations across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  To date, more than 130 Dreamliners have been delivered to 17 customers worldwide.

See our Boeing 787 Routes Page for more information on where Kenya Airways will fly its Dreamliners.

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

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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

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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

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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

First A320neo in final assembly

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 18-03-2014

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First A320neo assemblyAirbus has started final assembly of the first A320neo at its Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Toulouse (France), with the join-up of the forward and aft fuselage sections which recently arrived from St. Nazaire in France and Hamburg in Germany respectively.

Once this phase is completed, the next stage is the wing to fuselage join-up. Overall it takes about one month to complete the final assembly of an A320 Family aircraft.

The A320neo first flight will take place in Q4 2014 and first delivery in Q4 2015.

6 Stunning Pictures of Airbus A340s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 13-03-2014

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The Airbus A340 is an incredible aircraft. Here, for your viewing pleasure, are six stunning pictures of A340s in flight around the world, by some excellent aviation photographers.

Swissair A340 landing (c) Wanja Meier

Swissair A340 landing (c) Wanja Meier

 

Etihad A340-600 (c) Martin Tietz

Etihad A340-500 (c) Martin Tietz

 

Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To

Air France A340-300 landing at St Maarten. (c) Yasu To

 

Virgin Atlantic A340-600 at Sydney (c) SimonVanDerBurg

Virgin Atlantic A340-600 at Sydney (c) Simon Van Der Burg

 

Air Tahiti Nui A340-300 (c) Matt Falcus

Air Tahiti Nui A340-300 (c) Matt Falcus

Singapore Airlines A340-500 by Andrew Compolo

Singapore Airlines A340-500 (c) Andrew Compolo

Spicejet orders 42 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, India, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 12-03-2014

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SpiceJet 737 MAX8 ArtworkA large order has come from Spicejet at the India Aviation 2014 event for 42 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

This brings the total umber of Boeing aircraft operated or on order by Spicejet to 90, including the 737-800, -900ER and now the MAX variant.

“SpiceJet greatly values the ties we have built over the years with Boeing. The Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft, the mainstay of the fleet ever since SpiceJet started operations, have vindicated our choice by their endurance, reliability and cost effectiveness,” said S.L. Narayanan, Group CFO for The Sun Group. “The induction of Boeing 737 MAX will further modernize our fleet, improve customer experience, and ensure that we operate the most efficient fleet well into the future.”

First flight of the new MAX is scheduled in 2016 with deliveries to customers beginning in 2017. Already a market success, the 737 MAX has accumulated more than 1,800 orders to date and will have 8 percent lower per-seat operating costs than the future competition.

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.