Marana Pinal Airpark opens to visitors

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 29-03-2015

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Marana Pinal Airpark

There are a number of storage airports in the western United States known to aviation enthusiasts, with row upon row of retired and stored airliners parked up awaiting their fate. Largest among these are Mojave, Victorville, and Marana Pinal Airpark.

The latter, located to the north of Tucson in Arizona, is notoriously difficult to get close to for the enthusiast, with guards manning the entrance, which in itself is a long way from any views of aircraft.

In fact, the standard way for an enthusiast to see airliners parked at Marana is to hire a private aircraft and pilot to fly them from Tucson to Marana, performing a number of low approaches, or a landing and slow taxi for takeoff, snapping photographs frantically in the hope of catching everything parked there, and preferably the registrations. Then a period of research would begin to work out exactly what was seen.

However, times are hard for Marana. It urgently needs to repair its runway, and to find new income streams to keep it in business. As a result it is looking at ways to attract more people to the site, and one of the first changes has been the removal of the guard posts blocking the entrance to the former military airport.

Jim Petty is the airport’s economic development director and knows exactly the draw that Marana has on enthusiasts and the curious public who have a fascination with the huge hulks of metal glinting in the sun, some sporting airline liveries of yesteryear, whilst others appear to be factory fresh. For most enthusiasts, storage airports have been a place to catch up with missed aircraft, sometimes classic old jets rarely seen in active service anymore. However, places like Marana offer a good mix, with some aircraft temporarily stored straight from the factory as airlines face economic problems or leasing companies find it difficult to place them.

Other aircraft still have a lot of life in them, but come to Marana to await a new customer.

Whilst enthusiasts will not be given free reign of the airport under its new relaxed rules, Petty has begun offering tours of Pinal Airpark in an SUV, stopping off to take in the different areas of parked airliners, and to watch a variety of different aircraft that still use the active airport.

Marana Map

Marana’s former locked-down security stance came from its long-standing involvement with the CIA, acting as a staging post for secret operations which were closely guarded from the public eye. It was also a military training post. However, Marana is officially listed as a general aviation airfield, and as such should be accessible to the general public. And so it now is.

Jim Petty may live to regret news of this opening of Marana for tours becoming public, as enthusiasts are sure to be planning trips already. But nevertheless, this is great news and I’m sure will be very much appreciated. I will certainly be taking the opportunity if I am in the area!

Free tours are by appointment only and subject to availability. Call Jim Petty, 520-866-6545.

Emirates bolsters US network with Orlando and Seattle additions

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, North America, USA | Posted on 25-03-2015

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Emirates 777

Emirates is to increase its coverage of the United States with two new daily flights from Dubai.

For the first time, a direct link from the Middle East to Orlando International will be established when Emirates begins a daily Boeing 777-200LR service from 1st September 2015.

“This is a landmark new route for Orlando that for the first time offers our customers non-stop service to the high-growth Middle East region with convenient connections to India, China, Africa, and Southeast Asia,” said Phil Brown, Executive Director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority.

Meanwhile, from 1st July Emirates will provide a second daily flight from Dubai to Seattle/Tacoma, again operated by Boeing 777-200LR aircraft and adding significant long-haul passenger and cargo capacity to the airport.

Plane Spotting at Washington Reagan National Airport

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in North America, Spotting Videos, USA | Posted on 21-03-2015

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If you want to get an idea of what it’s like spotting at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, here’s a selection of four videos for you to enjoy showing the aircraft coming and going.

Almost 30 minutes of video is presented here!

 

Kelowna Flightcraft rebranding and shifting focus

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Canada, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 12-03-2015

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Kelowna Flightcraft

Canada’s specialist cargo operator Kelowna Flightcraft is rebranding in a bid to reestablish itself following the loss of a major contract.

The airline, which flies Boeing 727, Convair 580 and Douglas DC-10 freighters, will now be known as KF Cargo. It will also relocate one of its bases to Toronto Pearson International Airport from Hamilton.

Its aircraft will now be seen travelling to Europe more often, with a 4x weekly DC-10 flight to Brussels National starting on 17 May.

It will also fly from Vancouver to both Anchorage, AK, and Calgary, as well as between Toronto and Halifax, from July.

“We’ve lost our single source of revenue and cargo, and now the majority of the customers we want to fly for are based in Toronto,” Flightcraft spokesman Grant Stevens told Canada’s Spectator magazine. “Now we’re trying to break into a new market, so we have to be in Toronto.”

“There is a lot of cargo from Europe, Africa and South America destined for Canada, but we are concentrating on the EU market through Brussels right now. The rest we’ll worry about later,” Bryan Akerstream, Director of Business Development, said.

(Source: CH-Aviation)

Boeing finding homes for ‘terrible teen’ 787s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Asia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, North America, USA | Posted on 03-03-2015

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Ethiopian 787 (c) Konstantin von Wedelstaedt

Boeing is making progress on finding homes for the early Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft which have been sat in storage at its Everett Paine Field manufacturing site since the early days of the aircraft.

These particular aircraft were built shortly after the prototypes began flying, with Boeing seeking to catch up on the delays it had incurred. The aircraft were completed, and most had the basic liveries of the airlines who had ordered them applied. But then they didn’t go anywhere.

When I visited Paine Field in early 2012 there were a number of these aircraft scattered around, painted in the colours of Royal Air Maroc, ANA All Nippon Airways, Air India and others.

Since these aircraft were among the first 20 built (hence the nickname ‘terrible teens’) they also incurred vital modifications which were necessary as a result of testing on the prototypes and first delivery aircraft. Notably, there were problems with electrical fires and the strength of the wing assemblies.

All future Dreamliners were built with fixes for these problems, but for the terrible teens a process of modifications took place to make them airworthy; this in turn added extra weight to the airframe and they incurred a range penalty of around 1,000 miles.

Naturally the planned operators of these aircraft demanded newer airframes, leaving the early examples looking for a new home.

Terrible Teen 787s at Paine Field

Terrible Teen 787s at Paine Field

But now Boeing seems set to announce where they’ll be heading. Since the backlog for orders is so great, taking a terrible teen will be a way to jump the queue for any airline – especially those who don’t mind the range restrictions so much, and would prefer to pay a reduced price tag, which presumably is the case for the unwanted aircraft.

Last week it was confirmed that Air Austral would be taking two of the aircraft, to operate from Reunion Island.

Now it looks like Ethiopian Airlines will take up to eight examples.

Garuda Indonesia and Malaysia Airlines have been approached to take some of the jets, according to ch-aviation, and it seems likely Rwandair will take two of the Royal Air Maroc candidates.

 

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.”

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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!

Bombardier CSeries 300 maiden flight due this week

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America | Posted on 24-02-2015

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CSeries CS300

Bombardier has announced that it has received a permit to fly the prototype CSeries 300 variant this week for the first time.

So far the test programme for the new regional airliner has focussed on four of the smaller CS100 models. They have so far accumulated over 1,000 hours of test flying, and the manufacturer has said “test results are looking great.”

The CS300 has been given a window of 26-28 February to make its maiden flight, which will be at the Montreal Mirabel Airport facility used to build the aircraft.

Bombardier has said it will announce the test flight timing 48 hours in advance on the CSeries.com website, but maintains that it is subject to weather and other last minute factors.

The aircraft is expected to perform a series of handling and system calibration tests, at a wide range of altitudes and speeds.

“This is an exciting time. The first four CS100 Flight Test Vehicles (FTVs) have flown more than 1,000 hours, test results are looking great and the CS300 aircraft will perform its maiden flight in the coming days,” said Rob Dewar, Vice President, CSeries Program, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “The success of the CSeries aircraft program is testament to the dedication and hard work of our partners, suppliers and in-house teams, and it has also benefitted greatly from the involvement of our customers.”

So far the CS300 variant has orders for 180 units.

You can watch live updates of the test flight at CSeries.com and on Bombardier Aerospace’s Twitter feed.

WOW Air adding two A321s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Iceland, North America, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 24-02-2015

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Wow A321

WOW Air will add two Airbus A321s with sharklets in the coming month.

The aircraft, which will feature sharklets, will be introduced on the airline’s new flights from Reykjavik (Keflavik) to Boston Logan (from March 27th) and Baltimore-Washington (from May 8th).

“We’re very proud to be adding these new A321 aircraft to our growing fleet of aircraft,” said WOW air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen. “We are now ready to continue our rapid growth as the first true low-cost carrier offering flights across the Atlantic via Iceland.”

American Airlines Boeing 787 Routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Argentina, Asia, China, North America, South America, USA | Posted on 11-02-2015

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Bradley Basin Employee Shoot Patrick Summers rms275910 cns2014nef

American Airlines is the latest US airline to take delivery of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It has now announced the initial routes which the type will operate on.

Like most airlines, American will operate its 787s initially on domestic sectors to gain crew familiarity on the type before it embarks on long haul flying. The aircraft will be based at Dallas Ft Worth Airport and fly on the following routes:

  • Dallas Ft Worth – Chicago O’Hare – Starts 7th May
  • Dallas Ft Worth – Beijing Capital – Starts 2nd June
  • Dallas Ft Worth – Buenos Aires – Starts 4th June

AA 787 interior

Customers can start booking 787 flights beginning 14th February. American will deploy the 787 to additional markets in 2015 as it takes delivery of new aircraft.

American has placed firm orders for 42 Boeing 787 aircraft, with the right to acquire an additional 58.

You can keep track of American Airlines and all other airlines’ Boeing 787 routes on our dedicated page here.

Two Boeing 747-400s heading to museums. It’s really that old!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Australasia, Australia, North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 31-01-2015

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The first Boeing 747-400 flew in February 1989 – that’s almost 26 years ago!

Although it remained in production until 2009, the early airframes in this penultimate model in the ‘jumbo jet’ line are now starting to look a little long in the tooth. Many have already been retired, scrapped, put in long-term storage, or converted to freighters as passenger carriers look to modern twin-engine long haul replacements.

Today I heard of two Boeing 747-400 examples that are earmarked for preservation in museums. This is incredible news for aircraft enthusiasts, but very scary when I remember watching footage of the first flight and it doesn’t seem that long ago!

Photo: Paul Spijkers

Photo: Paul Spijkers

First off, Qantas is to donate VH-OJA – their first 747-400, and the record-holder for the world’s longest ever commercial non-stop flight. Named the City of Canberra, the aircraft flew non-stop from London to Sydney in August 1989 in 20 hours and 9 minutes.

VH-OJA is to be donated to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) at Illawara Regional Airport, only ten minutes flying time from Sydney for public display – something that will be a sight to behold at the small regional airport. The official handover will take place on 15th March, although the positioning flight may take place earlier.

Secondly, Delta Air Lines is rumoured to have earmarked the first ever Boeing 747-400, N661US, to be preserved at the Delta Flight Museum at Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport later this year once its current flying commitments are finished.

Photo: Paul Spijkers

Photo: Paul Spijkers

This particular aircraft undertook the initial flight testing during certification for the new type in 1989, prior to entering service with Northwest Airlines. It has flown in Delta colours since the airlines merged in 2008.

The Delta Flight Museum is already home to a number of retired types flown by the airline and Northwest, including a Boeing 757-200, 767-200, Douglas DC-9, part of a L1011 TriStar, and a Douglas DC-3.