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


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.


10 Airports You Need to Visit

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Colombia, Eastern Europe, France, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, North Korea, Portugal, South America, Turkey, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2015


The world is full of such a variety of airports and each has its own appeal to spotters. I’ve put together this list of airports which every spotter should try to visit at some time to help enrich their aviation interests and make the most of their hobby.


1. Everett Paine Field

Paine Field Spotting

Home of Boeing’s widebodie production lines and the world’s largest building – currently responsible for producing 747s, 777s, 787s and the occasional 767. Once aircraft have been completed they are taken to the paint assembly building, and then placed outside whilst final preparations are made.

Aircraft undertake testing regularly once complete, so you’ll always see something of interest using the airport’s single main runway.

Aircraft that have been completed are sometimes placed in storage at the airport – seen recently with some early 787s and 747-8s. You may also be lucky to see the first Boeing 727 aircraft, which is preserved at the airport, along with a De Havilland Comet 4 and some other historic aircraft.

Head to the Future of Flight centre for a grandstand view over the airport. Here’s a post about spotting at Paine Field.


2. Pyongyang

Pyongyang Line-Up

It’s not the busiest, and some might be a little sensitive about the way North Korea is run, but purely from an enthusiast’s point of view this is a very interesting place. Air Koryo, the national carrier, still flies classic Russian types such as the Tu-134, Tu-154, Tu-204, IL-62 and IL-18.

Pyongyang airport recently opened its brand new terminal, which looks much more akin to those found in the West. But to be able to experience the aircraft here you’ll need to take part in an organised tour, such as those on offer with Juche Travel Service.


3. London City

London City Airport Morning Ramp

The British capital is served by many airports, but London City is by far one of the world’s more unusual. Built on a former dock at the heart of the city, it makes for a challenging and restricted environment to operate large airliners in. Yet every day aircraft arrive from across Europe, and even New York. Its location among the skyscrapers of London’s financial district means the short runway requires a steep approach angle and only certified aircraft are permitted to operate there.

It’s easy to watch aircraft come and go here from the docks opposite the runway, or under the approach paths at either end.

Here’s a post about London City Behind The Scenes.


4. Los Angeles International


With California’s amazing climate, endless sunshine, and an incredible mix of aircraft, LAX should be on anyone’s list of must-visit airports.

Los Angeles has four runways and nine passenger terminals. Each major US airline has a decent presence here, as well as large airliners from across the globe, and leisure airlines from Mexico, Hawaii and the Caribbean. On the south side of the airport, cargo airliners and biz jets complete the lineup.

Head to Imperial Hill or the In ‘n’ Out Burger restaurant for the best views. Here’s a post about spotting at Los Angeles.


5. Frankfurt Main

Frankfurt Terminal 2 Visitors Terrace

Germany’s busiest airport, and one of the main gateways to Europe. Like LAX, its mix is mouthwatering to the enthusiast, comprising all main European carriers, low-cost airlines, leisure carriers, cargo, regional, and long-haul traffic.

Spotting is not as good here as in days gone by, but the airport still provides two official locations – at Terminal 2 and alongside runway 18 – and there are some other good spots to watch aircraft.


6. Toulouse Blagnac

A350 © Airbus S.A.S 2013 Photo by H. Goussé

Europe’s busiest aircraft manufacturing airport. Most Airbus A319, A320, A330, A340 and A380 aircraft are constructed here, as well as ATR turboprops. Regular airline traffic isn’t much to write home about, but who cares when you’ve got airliners destined for all corners of the globe undergoing completion and flight testing in the southern France sun?

There are various places to watch aircraft around the airport perimeter, and an official viewing deck at the terminal. Plus, you can arrange tours of the Airbus plant, and visit historic aircraft at the on-site museum.


7. Funchal

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Thomas Klein (Own work (own photography)) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

When space is limited, sometimes the only option is to build your airport runway on stilts. That’s exactly what heppend at Funchal, on the Portuguese island of Madeira in the Atlantic Ocean. When demand from leisure airlines grew, the runway was extended out from the cliff-side that it occupies to allow larger aircraft to be handled. The position of this airport also means aircraft take an interesting approach path before landing, often in crosswind conditions.

Spotters can position themselves on the hillside above the runway for some excellent photographs and videos.


8. Phoenix Deer Valley

Phoenix Deer Valley

Unlike other airports on this list, Deer Valley isn’t on the route map of lots of scheduled airlines or a place to see the latest Dreamliners and Airbus A380s. Yet it is one of the busiest airports in the world. In particular, it is actually the busiest airport in the world for biz jet movements, according to recent statistics.

So if you’re looking for something different, or like to log and photograph Citations, Global Expresses and Gulfstreams, this is the place to head to.

The Arizona airport has two runways and is in the north east of the city. You can watch movements from the official observation deck on top of the terminal building, which even pipes in ATC broadcasts.


9. Bogota


Probably the most interesting of South America’s main airports. Bogota, in Colombia, is a hub for Aviana, LAN Colombia, Copa Airlines and VivaColombia. This is great in itself, but the airport is also one of the last bastions for some older jets, like Boeing 727s of AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas, and F-28s and DC-3s of the Colombian Government.

The airport also has a nice collection of preserved aircraft on the military side of the airport.

Spotting is possible inside the terminal, or from the end of the runways if you have a car.


10. Istanbul Ataturk

Istanbul Spotting

Europe’s latest up-and-coming airport thanks mainly to the explosive growth of Turkish Airlines, which is trying to emulate what Middle East carriers are doing in connecting east and west. As such, this main base for the airline (it also operates from nearby Sabiha Gokcen Airport) sees a constant stream of the carrier’s red tails coming and going.

Traffic comprises a good mix of European and long-haul flights, with the vast majority naturally made up of Turkish Airlines and AtlasJet. The draw for enthusiasts is the growing fleet of the national airline, and the opportunity for photography in the warm climate. A good mix of cargo carriers can also be seen.

There are a number of places to spot from round the perimeter, as well as the excellent FlyInn shopping mall which is great for viewing and photographing aircraft from the cafe balcony. There is also a nice aviation museum on the southern boundary.


World Airports Spotting Guides

World Airports Spotting Guide

My upcoming book, World Airports Spotting Guides covers over 300 of the world’s airports, including details on what you can see there, and where to spot from. Many of the guides also include the best spotting hotels and aviation museum attractions. Find out more and pre-order the book here:

Avianca’s first Central America ATR 72 delivered

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Colombia, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 18-08-2014


Avianca ATR 72-600

Avianca has taken delivery of the first Central America-based ATR 72-600 aircraft.

The aircraft is TG-TRC, and will be operated by Inter Regional from Guatemala City on behalf of Avianca, on regional and domestic operations. It wears full Avianca colours.

Avianca has another 14 ATR 72-600s on order.

Avianca ATR72

10 Boeing 707s you can go inside today

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Colombia, Iran, Israel, Middle East, North America, South Africa, South America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 19-04-2014


It seems the days of being able to fly on a Boeing 707 are finally over, with Saha Air in Iran grounding their fleet in favour of modern types. So the next best thing is to at least get inside one of the classic jets.

Here are 12 Boeing 707s around the world that are open to the public*

55-3139 KC-135 Stratotanker USAF
Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA
A former US Air Force tanker, 55-3139 is now preserved and occasionally open to the public to explore the interior.

KC-135 55-3139

55-3139 (c) Chris Kennedy


008 – 4X-JYD 707-131
Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim AFB, Israel
Originally flown by TWA, this Israeli Air Force museum is preserved and often very dusty!

4X-JYD (c) Pieter v Marion

4X-JYD (c) Pieter v Marion


Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach, Australia
This aircraft was part of the original QANTAS order for Boeing 707s. It was restored to flying condition from storage at Southend, UK, and ferried around the world to this amazing museum in Australia.


VH-XBA (c) Qantas Founders Museum


G-APFJ 707-436 BOAC (forward fuselage only)
National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland
This aircraft was preserved in one piece at the RAF Cosford museum, but sadly scrapped in 2006. The forward fuselage is now open to the public at the National Museum of Flight near Edinburgh.


(c) Kim Traynor


58-6970 C-137B Air Force One
Museum of Flight, Seattle Boeing Field, WA
Air Force One during the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon is now preserved at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.


Air Force One in Seattle (c) Matt Falcus


62-6000 VC-137C Air Force One
National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
The aircraft used on the day of John F Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas 50 years ago, and on which President Lyndon B Johnson was sworn in.

707 62-6000

Air Force One 62-6000


EP-IRJ 707-321B Air Restaurant
nr Tehran Mehrabad Airport, Iran
Originally a Pan Am machine, this aircraft is now open as a restaurant close to Tehran Mehrabad Airport.

Inside EP-IRJ near Tehran (c) Sam Chui

Inside EP-IRJ near Tehran (c) Sam Chui/


AF-621 707-344C South African Air Force (forward fuselage only)
South African Air Force Museum, Waterkloof AFB, South Africa
Forward section of former Air France and South African Air Force 707 is open to the public at the Waterkloof museum.

707 AF-621

(c) Warrant Officer Class II Alan Taylor


72-7000 VC-137C Air Force One
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA
The aircraft used by President Ronald Reagan is now lovingly restored at his final resting place and Presidential Library. See how the aircraft looked when in use as Air Force One.

707 Reagan Library

707 at the Reagan Presidential Library


HK-749 720-030B Avianca
Parque Saltire Magico, Bogota, Colombia
A former Lufthansa and Avianca aircraft is now in the large Saltire Park in Bogota, along with a Boeing 727, and often open to the public.

HK-749 (c) Renato Krause

HK-749 (c) Renato Krause

* Opening times are subject to the individual organisations displaying these aircraft.

VivaColombia to start Bogota base

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Colombia, South America | Posted on 03-01-2014


VivaColombiaVivaColombia will establish its second base in 2014 at Bogota Airport.

It will begin Airbus A320 operations from the capital to Bucaramanga, Cucuta, Monteria, Pereira, San Andres, Santa Marta.

The airline will also operate international routes from Bogota to Panamá City Tocumen Int’l and Lima. Medellín José Maria Córdova.

A start date is not yet known for the new base.

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


(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

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

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

Best airports to see active Boeing 727s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Iran, Malaysia, Mexico, Middle East, North America, Saudi Arabia, South America, Thailand, USA | Posted on 15-02-2013


Fedex 727-233The Boeing 727 is becoming quite a rare aircraft to see in action these days. Thankfully there are still a number stored and preserved around the world.

Most of the active examples are flown in cargo configuration, with only a few examples still flying passengers (see my Last Chance to Fly ebook for a list of airlines still flying 727s and other rare airliners).

So where can you catch Boeing 727s in action? Here’s a list of some of the airports which have a number of 727s based or visiting regularly.

Memphis, TN – The main super hub for FedEx Express, which is the world’s largest operator of Boeing 727 aircraft. All of its -100 models are gone, but around 40 -200s are still flying and can be seen overnight at Memphis.

Detroit Willow Run, MI – Primarily a cargo airport, Willow Run is home to Kalitta Charters and its fleet of 727-200s.

Florida – A number of 727s operate out of Opa Locka in Florida, including a private example, and also out of Orlando International and Miami International airports.

Bogota – One of the world’s busiest airports for Boeing 727 flights. Local cargo operators AeroSucre and Lineas Aereas Suramericanas operate a mixed fleet of -100s and -200s from the airport every day.

Lineas Aereas Suramericanas 727s

Airlines such as Rio Linhas Aereas and Total Linhas Aereas operate a number of Boeing 727-200 cargo aircraft from airports throughout the country, with bases in Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Rio de Janeiro.


Kuala Lumpur Subang
Formerly the main airport at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Subang is now a secondary airport used for cargo flights and aircraft receiving maintenance. It is also home to Transmile Air Services. Its fleet of Boeing 727-200 freighters can be seen every day, and photographed from a number of locations around the airport.


Tehran Mehrabad
The domestic airport in Iran is where you can catch the last passenger Boeing 727-200s on a daily basis, with both Iran Air and Iran Aseman Airlines operating the type for the time being. These operated to destinations such as Mashad, Kish Island, and Dubai.

Iran Aseman 727

One of the best places to catch Boeing 727s in action, the airlines Cargojet Airways, and Purolator operate throughout Canada. Their main bases, and thus the best places to catch their 727s, are Hamilton, ON, and Kelowna, BC respectively.

Mexico City
Mexico’s Police and Government both operate a number of Boeing 727-200s on official duties from the country’s main airport. Their flights are irregular, but not uncommon.

Saudi Arabia
Boeing 727-100s and -200s still operate in Saudi Arabia, with private and government examples, plus those operated for DHL out of Jeddah and Riyadh. Spotting is not easy in Saudi Arabia, however.

There are many more airports that both receive aircraft from the airlines listed above, and have their own based examples. Some that spring to mind at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Lasham and Southend in the UK, and Cochabamba in Bolivia, where passenger examples still flew until recently.

The chance to photograph a Boeing 727 is quite rare now, so why not post the pictures you’ve managed to take recently for us all to enjoy? And why not comment below if you’ve seen a 727 recently, telling us where you saw it.

Cartagena Airport, Colombia Spotting Guide

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Colombia, South America, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 28-07-2009


I recently flew to Cartagena in Colombia for a short trip away from Bogota. We flew on AeroRepublica EMB-190 and had a great experience – although the flight was a little bumpy going out, with the afternoon thunderstorms brewing around the coast.

Cartagena is a lovely old walled city, full of Caribbean charm, colourful buildings, endless vistas of the sea, sunsets, and great wining and dining experiences. But you’re here for the aircraft, so I’ll carry on.

The terminal at Cartagena Airport is very modern. And sadly it does not knowingly cater for the spotter at all. When arriving or departing, passengers funnel through a walkway which leads between the aircraft and the terminal. If you’re in the departure lounge, your view out of the window is of this walkway and its slatted wall. In order to see aircraft, you have to wait until they move, and with binoculars focussed on a gap, hope the registration passes by.

Nevertheless, once you walk to/from the aircraft, you do get a chance to see what’s on the smallish ramp. This usually includes MD-80s and F100s of Avianca, EMB-190s of AeroRepublica, 737-700s and DHC-8s of AIRES, and the odd US airline such as Spirit. Movements are fairly quiet – maybe 4 per hour at peak times.

Cartagena does play host to a number of biz jets each day, however. They park either to the side of the airliner ramp, or on the ramp on the opposite side of the runway. Also, there are a number of Air Force and Navy aircraft in residence, including Casa CN235s.

Around the terminal there are no obvious views of the aircraft, apart from on the road passing the end of the runway, where you’ll see aircraft just as they depart or land. I wouldn’t venture much around looking for holes in the fence, as there ‘s a strong military presence, and the housing area is quite poor around the airport.

AeroRepublica HK-4506 at Cartagena

AeroRepublica HK-4506 at Cartagena

AIRES 737-700s fly from Bogota

AIRES 737-700s fly from Bogota

These two biz jets were in Cartagena in July 2009

These two biz jets were in Cartagena in July 2009

Cartagena Airport from above

Cartagena Airport from above