New Calgary Airport spotting hotel being built

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Canada, North America, Spotting Hotels, Spotting News | Posted on 04-08-2014

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Delta Hotel Calgary

A new four star hotel is being constructed at Calgary International Airport which promises excellent views of the action.

The 318-bedroom Delta Hotel is close to completion and is linked directly to the airport’s terminal. Rooms will face either the aircraft ramp or the curbside – no prizes for guessing which you readers will be interested in!

The hotel was conceived by the airport as an extra source of revenue, and a part of its $1.4 billion terminal expansion. However, it will be operated by Delta Hotels and Resorts. It is the first such example for Delta, who operate 41 other hotel properties.

Calgary Airport recently opened a second runway. It handled just over 14 million passengers in 2013, with Air Canada, Air Transat and WestJet as the principal operators.

Calgary Terminal Expansion

The new Calgary Airport Hotel will open in conjunction with the new terminal development in 2015.

 

Spotting from the Toronto Sheraton Gateway Hotel

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Canada, North America, Spotting Hotels, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 24-05-2014

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One of the best spotting hotels at Toronto Pearson International Airport is the Sheraton Gateway Hotel. Dave Parker recently visited and gave the following report from his time there. The pictures are also taken by Dave from the hotel (see more here).

Toronto View from Sheraton room 846

View from room 846

There Sheraton Gateway is connected to Terminal 3 and offers views across the ramps and active runways. I requested a high room with a view and was contacted by the hotel offering a club upgrade for C$30.  This guaranteed top floor and free Internet, breakfast and evening snacks. I was duly given room 846 and was not disappointed. The views were fantastic across the ramps, and with traffic landing on left and right runways towards he hotel nothing could be missed with either optics or SBS. Although Terminal 1 is not viewable, most aircraft taxi in front of Terminal 3 in transit to and from the runways.  For the photographer, the views through glass are not perfect. There is a tint and you have to search out a sweet spot for best clarity. I have updated my phanfare site so you can view a collection of photos there to get a feel for what is possible.

On the whole I would say is one of the best hotels for views at Toronto. I did check the layout and it looks like rooms in the 827-837 and 843-853 would give similar views and presumably floors 6 and 7, although I suspect level 6 might have some terminal structure blocking some of the views. I do recommend the Club floor as there is 24hr access to the lounge with Starbucks Coffee and soft drinks on tap. Evening nibbles were also good.

Toronto Air Canada A320 C-FPWE

I stayed two nights (Saturday & Sunday). Activity was fairly constant although after a while repeats creep in. You will not get all of the Air Canada fleet as it tends to be slow to move between bases. That is especially true for the Express/Jazz fleets. You will, however, see a reasonable percentage of the A319s, A320s, E190s and E170s. Beech1900. DHC8-100/200 and DHC-400s, CRJ and CRJ700 all repeated regularly with no new ones noted after midday on the second day. Sunday was very good for Westjet, Sunwing and Canjet presumably due to weekend IT schedules.

Sheraton Gateway Toronto Airport

A selection of US Airlines can be seen mainly using smaller equipment (Delta CRJs, American E170, CRJ7, USAir E170, CRJs, United E170, DHC-8). On the International front, the highlight is the Hainan 787. Others include SATA A310, LOT 787, Cubana A320 (LY-), TACA A320, Caribbean/Air Jamaica B738s, Korean B772s and the usual European heavies.

Visit the Sheraton Gateway Hotel website here: www.sheratongatewaytorontoairport.com

Air Canada’s first Boeing 787 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, France, Heathrow, Israel, Middle East, North America, Spotting News, Switzerland, UK | Posted on 19-05-2014

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787-8 ACN #160-ZA610

Air Canada has taken delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft, registered C-GHPQ.

The aircraft, the first of Air Canada’s 37 787s on order for delivery through 2019, departed Paine Field in Everett, Wash. on its delivery flight to Toronto on 18th May.

Air Canada has announced it will use the 787 on its Toronto-Tel Aviv routes, as well as launch a new destination – Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. The 787 is 20 percent more fuel efficient than similar-sized airplanes it will replace in Air Canada’s fleet.

Other routes scheduled to see Air Canada 787s include London Heathrow, Paris CDG and Zurich. See more on our Boeing 787 Routes page.

Whilst crews familiarise themselves with the aircraft, it will begin operating on the Toronto – Montreal domestic service at certain times over the next couple of months.

Air Canada 787s to Paris

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 13-05-2014

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Air Canada 787

Air Canada will introduce its new Boeing 787-8s to its Toronto – Paris CDG route.

Flights will replace the existing Boeing 767-300 service on AC880/881 from 1st December 2014.

Check out our Boeing 787 Routes page for more information.

Where to still see DC-10s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Bolivia, Canada, Netherlands, North America, South America, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 21-02-2014

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This month sees the final passenger flights to be operated by a Douglas DC-10, with Biman Bangladesh operating a number of enthusiast flights from Birmingham, UK, ahead of the retirement of their last example.

The DC-10 first flew in August 1970, and despite a few early setbacks including some notable crashes, it went on to be a very successful airliner used both for long and medium haul flying.

In recent years the number of operators has been dwindling, and with Biman retiring their last example it leaves only cargo and military operators operating the type. So where can you still see the DC-10? Here’s a handy list.

 

FedEx DC-10 at San Jose (c) Dylan Ashe. Creative Commons

FedEx DC-10 at San Jose (c) Dylan Ashe. Creative Commons

FedEx Express
Along with the US Air Force, FedEx are the largest operator of DC-10s today. With around 60 in service at the time of writing, they have all been converted to MD-10 configuration, which converts them to a two-man, glass cockpit to match their more modern MD-11 fleet. FedEx’s main hub is at Memphis, TN, and you can see their MD-10s flying many domestic and trans-continental freight routes. However, the airline is retiring its fleet at an alarming pace as it introduces more fuel efficient aircraft.

 

USAF KC-10

USAF KC-10

US Air Force
Also with around 60 DC-10s in service at the time of writing, the US Air Force uses the military KC-10A derivative. These are used as refuelling tankers and transport aircraft, supporting the air force in conflicts and war zones around the world. They are primarily based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ, and Travis AFB, CA. The US Air Force initially said the KC-10 would operate until 2043, but it is thought the fleet will be retired much earlier than that as part of cost cutting measures.

 

Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 (c) Sebastian Barheier. Creative Commons

Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 (c) Sebastian Barheier. Creative Commons

Royal Netherlands Air Force
Continuing with the military variant, the RNAF owns three KDC-10 tanker/transport aircraft, which are based at Eindhoven Airport in support of peacekeeping operations around the world.

 

TAB Cargo DC-10

TAB Cargo DC-10

TAB Cargo
This Bolivian cargo operator has three DC-10s in its flee, one of which is an ex-FedEx MD-10. It operates cargo flights around South America and to Miami.

 

Kelowna Purolator DC-10 (c) Matthew Capina

Kelowna Purolator DC-10 (c) Matthew Capina

Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter / Purolator Canada
The Canadian cargo operator has four DC-10s operating usually from its Kelowna and Hamilton bases, although two aircraft have been in storage recently.

 

Omega Air DC-10 (c) Phil Vabre

Omega Air DC-10 (c) Phil Vabre

Omega Air
Another tanker operator, Omega Air has a lot of DC-10s on its books, but most are in storage or in the process of being scrapped. The active ones are used to support military refuelling operations, and can thus be found operating all over on missions, including with foreign air forces.

 

10 Tanker DC-10 (c) Alan Radecki. Creative Commons.

10 Tanker DC-10 (c) Alan Radecki. Creative Commons.

10 Tanker Air Carrier
One of the more spectacular DC-10 operations are these converted aerial firefighting aircraft. Using two former passenger examples, these huge aircraft now fight wild fires and are capable of dumping 12,000 US gallons at at time. The aircraft are painted white and red, with 910 and 911 fleet numbers.

 

 

DC-10 Project Orbis

DC-10 Project Orbis

Project Orbis
Finally, another unusual operator of two DC-10s is Project Orbis – a non-profit organisation whose mission is to perform eye operations around the world to prevent blindness and eye diseases. These two Flying Eye Hospital aircraft are equipped with hospital equipment, operating theatres, and teaching facilities. Their N220AU aircraft was the second DC-10 built, and since then an MD-10, N330AU, has been donated by FedEx.

Solar Cargo
A Venezuelan cargo carrier with bases in Caracas and Valencia. They have a single DC-10 in a smart livery which flies throughout Latin America on scheduled and charter flights.

 

In addition to these active DC-10s, stored and retired aircraft can be seen at a number of the bigger storage airports around the US, including Davis-Monthan, AZ, Marana, AZ, Mojave, CA, Roswell, NM, Sanford, FL and Victorville, CA.

Greatest Flights – Buffalo Airways DC-3 ‘sked’

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, Greatest Flights, North America | Posted on 20-01-2014

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Buffalo Airways DC-3Thanks to the popular Ice Pilots NWT TV series’, Buffalo Airways and its fleet of vintage wartime and 1950s piston airliners have been brought to the attention of a great number of people around the world.

In particular, it has highlighted the airline’s daily scheduled DC-3 passenger flight, known as the ‘sked’, which is a rare and welcome chance for anyone to get a flight on this immortal aircraft type.

YZF-YHY route map

Often flown by “Buffalo” Joe McBryan himself, the sked operates between Hay River and Yellowknife. It operates on the following schedules:
Yellowknife to Hay River
Mon-Fri departs at 5:00pm
Sat no flight
Sun departs at 4:30pm

Hay River to Yellowknife
Mon-Fri departs at 7:30am
Sat departs at 8:00am
Sun no flight

Reservations can be made on 867-874-3333, or buffalo@buffaloairways.com

 

Air Canada orders up to 109 Boeing 737MAX aircraft

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America | Posted on 12-12-2013

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Air CanadaAir Canada has announced an order for up to 109 Boeing 737MAX aircraft to renew its mainline narrowbody fleet.

The agreement with Boeing, which is subject to completion of final documentation and other conditions, includes firm orders for 33 737 MAX 8 and 28 737 MAX 9 aircraft with substitution rights between them as well as for the 737 MAX 7 aircraft. It also provides for options for 18 aircraft and rights to purchase an additional 30. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2017 with 2 aircraft, 16 aircraft in 2018, 18 aircraft in 2019, 16 aircraft in 2020 and 9 aircraft in 2021, subject to deferral and acceleration rights.

Air Canada’s plan is for its total fleet including Air Canada rouge™, excluding aircraft flown by its contracted regional carriers, to grow from 192 aircraft as at September 30, 2013 to approximately 214 by the end of 2019, on a pro forma basis. Additionally, for further growth flexibility, Air Canada has 13 options and rights to purchase 10 Boeing 787 aircraft, rights to purchase 13 Boeing 777 aircraft as well as the 18 options and 30 purchase rights for Boeing MAX aircraft.

WestJet starting flights to Ireland

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, Ireland, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 18-11-2013

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Westjet 737-MAX7 ArtworkWestJet will open its first transatlantic route from next summer, linking Toronto with Dublin in Ireland.

The route will operate daily between 15 June and 4 October, with a stop in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

A Boeing 737-700 will be used on the route.

KLM brings forward MD-11 retirement

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, Dubai, Middle East, Netherlands, North America, Spotting News, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 31-10-2013

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KLM MD-11The retirement date for the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 from passenger service has been brought forward by two years as KLM looks to end operations in a year’s time.

KLM are now the only operator of the MD-11 in passenger configuration, and is currently flying it from its Amsterdam Schiphol hub to destinations such as Montreal, Toronto, San Francisco and Dubai on a seasonal basis, with four examples still in active service.

However, whilst the retirement was originally planned for 2016, it has now been brought forward to October 2014.

Final flights will be from Montreal and Toronto on 25th October 2014 (exact details not yet known).

Interestingly, the MD-11 will be retired from passenger service in the same year as its predecessor, the DC-10, despite them entering service almost 20 years apart.

I have had the pleasure of flying on MD-11s twice – first with American Airlines in 1995, and most recently on KLM’s PH-KCK in 2007. It has had mixed fortunes, with poor performance stats and a number of high profile crashes contrasted with a reputation as a solid and reliable aircraft – particularly for cargo carriers. It will be a sad day when the MD-11 is finally retired.

Find out more about rare passenger aircraft and how you can fly on them today in our ebook, Last Chance to Fly, featuring the MD-11

National Airlines – where are they now?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Bolivia, Canada, Colombia, Mexico, Miscellaneous Spotting, Nigeria, North America, South Africa, South America, USA, Venezuela | Posted on 20-10-2013

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(c) Richard VandervordThe best-know National Airlines (there was a later one in the 1990s) was founded in 1934 as a Florida based carrier operating along the Gulf Coast from bases at Jacksonville and St Petersburg. It soon relocated its operating base to Miami International, and gained prominence operating to New York and Havana.

The airline used a number of slogans and titles to attract customers away from the big players, including ‘Route of the Buccaneers’ and ‘The Airline of the Stars’.

National became the first airline in the United States to operate jet aircraft on domestic services when it leased a Pan Am Boeing 707 to fly the Miami to New York link from 10 December 1958. This was a temporary measure until the airline’s own Douglas DC-8-21s were delivered in 1960. It later replaced older piston aircraft with Boeing 727s and was soon linking the west coast.

National Airlines DC-6From 1970 widebody Boeing 747s and Douglas DC-10s joined the airline. It adopted a striking new livery, which many will remember, depicting the Sun King emblem, with bright orange and yellow cheatlines, and also began flying to Europe.

Pan American took over National Airlines in 1980, adopting its domestic network to gain a much bigger presence within the United States. It also took on National’s ‘Sundrome’ terminal at New York JFK.

All of this is in my new book, Airlines of the USA, which looks at some of America’s most important airlines past and present.

I thought it would be fun to look at the aircraft National Airlines operated and see if any of them still exist today – particularly any flying examples. Given its iconic status as a famous airline of the past, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to fly on a National jet that was still operating?

National operated the following aircraft types over the years: Boeing 727, Boeing 747-100, Convair 340/440/580, Curtiss C-46 Commando, Douglas DC-4, Douglas DC-6, Douglas DC-7, Douglas DC-8, Lockheed 10, Lockheed 18 Lodestar, Lockheed L-188 Electra, Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation, McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

National Airlines Aircraft Today
These are the aircraft still in existence today:

DC-6 N8223H todayAfrica
B727-100 N4610 Derelict, Harare Manyame AB, Zimbabwe
B727-100 N604NA – C5-GAE Active, Gambian Government, Banjul, Gambia
B727-200 N4741 – 5N-BCY Stored, Polokwane, Nigeria
DC-6B N8223H – N84AU Cockpit preserved, SAA Tehnical, Johannesburg, South Africa
DC-8-54 N108RD – 3D-ETM Stored, Luanda, Angola
L-1049H Constellation N7133C – CF-NAL Preserved as restaurant, Sao Tome International
L-1049H Constellation N7134C – CF-NAM Preserved as restaurant, Sao Tome International

Asia
B727-100 N4740 – 4K-AZ1 Stored, Baku, Azerbaijan
B727-100 N898PC – P4-JLD Active, Government of Tatarstan, Kazan, Tatarstan

CF-NAL in Sao Tome today

Australasia
B727-200 N11137 – VH-PDL Active? Pionair Australia, Sydney Bankstown, Australia
B727-200 N8416H – VH-PDX Active?, Pionair Australia, Condell Park, Australia
Convair 580 N11137 – VH-PDL Active? Pionair Australia, Sydney Bankstown, Australia
Convair 580 N8416H – VH-PDX Active?, Pionair Australia, Condell Park, Australia

Central & South America
B727-100 N4509 – EJC-161 Aviacion Del Ejercito, Preserved Bogota, Colombia
B727-100 N5607 – HK-4154 Active, Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, Bogota, Colombia
B727-100 N4622 – YV-846C Stored, Caracas, Venezuela
B727-200 N2046 – FAB-71 Stored, La Paz, Bolivia
B727-200 N8417H – TE-004 Ground Trainer, Santa Lucia AB, Mexico
Convair 580 N2046 – FAB-71 Stored, La Paz, Bolivia
Convair 580 N8417H – TE-004 Ground Trainer, Santa Lucia AB, Mexico

(c) George Trussell

USA & Canada
B727-100 N4615 – N692AF Stored, Mena, AR
B727-100 N4616 Blue Falcon Corp, El Paso, TX
B727-100 N4730 Fire Trainer, Amarillo, TX
B727-100 N5609 Sunk as reef, Key Biscayne, FL
B727-200 N64320 3D-JJM Stored, El Paso, TX
B727-200 N11151 – C-FKFZ Active, Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter, Kelowna, Canada
B727-200 N2041 – C-FTAP Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
B727-200 N2042 – C-GRLQ Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
B727-200 N8414H – N362Q Stored, Roswell, NM
B727-200 N8419H – N590X Stored, Columbus Rickenbacker, OH
Convair 580 N11151 – C-FKFZ Active, Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter, Kelowna, Canada
Convair 580 N2041 – C-FTAP Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
Convair 580 N2042 – C-GRLQ Active, Nolinor Aviation, Montreal, Canada
Convair 580 N8414H – N362Q Stored, Roswell, NM

Convair 580 N8419H – N590X Stored, Columbus Rickenbacker, OH
DC-8-31 N4901C – N90GTB Cockpit preserved at private home, Hot Springs, AR
DC-10-10 N66NA – N554FE Active, FedEx Express
DC-10-10 N68NA – N556FE Stored, Victorville, CA
DC-10-10 N69NA – N450AX Active, 10 Tanker Air Carrier (water bomber), Victorville, CA
L188 Electra N5005K – N281F Ground Trainer, Anchorage Ted Stevens International, AK
L188 Electra N5006K – N282F Stored, Detroit Willow Run, MI
L188 Electra N5013K – N286F Stored, Detroit Willow Run, MI
L188 Electra N5014K – N287F Derelict, Abbotsford, Canada

 

As you can see, former National Airlines aircraft can now be found all over the world, mainly grounded or stored. But if you head to Canada you could fly on a Convair 580 with Nolinor Aviation.

Did you ever fly with National? What are your memories of the airline and its aircraft?

 

Airlines of the USAAirlines of the USA

The new book by Matt Falcus which details the most important airlines to have come from America, from the early days of air mail through legacy carriers, cargo carriers, and modern low-cost airlines. Covers lost giants such as Braniff, Eastern, Northwest, Pan Am, and PSA.

Buy a copy here