Belavia Tu-154 flight video

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Belarus, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Trip Reports, Spotting Videos, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 16-06-2015

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At the end of May I was on board Belavia’s Tupolev Tu-154 EW-85748 on what was billed as the final regular scheduled service of the type in western Europe. The flight was from Geneva to Minsk, and you can read the report here.

I’ve put together this video of the flight. I hope you enjoy the sound of those engines!

The final Tupolev TU-154 scheduled flight in Europe – trip report

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Belarus, Eastern Europe, Russia and CIS, Spotting Trip Reports, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 01-06-2015

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TU154 last scheduled flight

A few days ago I made the journey to Geneva in Switzerland to join a special flight which would be a first for me, but evidently a last for Europe.

Belavia, the national airline of Belarus, are the last European carrier to operate the Tupolev TU-154 in scheduled service and had made a decision to cease flying the type on such services in favour of its modern equipment, such as the Boeing 737 and Embraer 175/195 which are much more suited to modern travelers, unlike the Russian relics that were so dominant until the early 2000s.

Whilst Belavia doesn’t usually operate its TU-154s to Geneva, or on many scheduled services for that matter, Friday 29th May had been chosen as the symbolic last flight where it would substitute the smoking tri-jet in place of the usual CRJ or EMB-175 equipment.

I checked in at 9am, with most of the passengers clearly there for the event, having booked (like me) through the specialist tour agency Merlintour, which has organised three previous trips to Belarus for oldjet fans to experience flights on old Russian equipment. Arriving at the gate in one of Geneva’s satellites, around 90% of the crowd around me waiting for boarding to be called had cameras around their necks and were chatting excitedly about the upcoming flight; a few regular passengers, clearly not expecting this, looked on bemused.

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Eventually boarding was initiated. Our aircraft was parked at a remote stand and we were taken in two buses. Once there, passengers were allowed off ten at a time in order to give an opportunity to take some photos without crowding the ramp. The captain was stood underneath the nose, looking smart (and hot; it was 28 degrees out) in his full uniform, posing for selfies with anyone who asked.

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This was a first for me. I’d never flown a TU-154, or any Russian jet, before. Our aircraft was EW-85748. It sat glistening in the sun with mountains as a backdrop. Although we all think of this classic jet as old, it was in fact built in 1994 and was younger than the Lufthansa Boeing 737-500 that taxied past as we took photos. But the technology, design and style was definitely old and, clambering aboard, the cabin felt like something from a bygone age. It was split into two sections, with old-fashioned designs on the walls, seats that didn’t look like they could withstand much, and the smell of a museum piece.

TU-154 cabin

Because it took so long to board, we missed our departure slot. We sat for over an hour, with no air conditioning and a general hum from the APU that was louder than most modern jets at full thrust. Most agreed that this was not a problem, and any extra time on board was welcome.

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We eventually taxied off under a water cannon salute by the fire service, and performed a sprightly, yet shallow, takeoff towards France. The noise was immense and the aircraft seemed to scream as she took flight. Soon we commenced a wide turn back over Lake Geneva, with those on the starboard side treated to fantastic views over Mont Blanc and the Alps. From my port-side window seat I had a classic view over the wing, which seemed more flexible in flight than it looked when on the ground.

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During the flight the aisle became crowded. Passengers wanted to mingle and chat, and to have a look at the toilets and the view from the last window, which looked out on the engines. There were also TV crews from Belarussian stations interviewing the crew and passengers. The crew performed their duties as well as can be expected considering passengers were rarely seated, but as it came to the meal and drinks service we were told fairly sternly to sit down and shut up (I paraphrase), after which everyone had the choice of chicken or beef with rice, along with some sliced cucumber and a dry bun. Hardly nouvelle cuisine, but I was famished.

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Drinks came afterwards – some kind of Russian Champagne knock-off, and brown water masquerading as coffee. We didn’t mind.

The flight took around 2 hours and 40 minutes, passing over Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Belarus. The engines whined down around 20 minutes before landing, and we made our way around the south of Minsk. The gear was deployed quite a way out, evidently to help slow the beast down. Landing was on runway 31, and was as smooth as can be, but again the engines went into a screaming frenzy as reverse thrust was deployed.

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A slow taxi past the modern terminal took us to a remote stand where, again, fire tenders were waiting to create an arch in salute to the last flight. My first and second water cannon salutes in one day! Outside, more TV crews were on the ramp to capture the moment.

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Following a brief ramp tour, Belavia’s Commercial Director, Technical Director, and the pilot from our flight, took the opportunity to present the airline’s history, and future vision, and talk about today’s flight. It was confirmed that as more new aircraft join the fleet, the three remaining TU-154s would be retired, likely by September 2016. Between now and then, they will operate only charters, such as taking mining groups to Siberia, or holidaymakers to Bulgaria.

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The flight was definitely over too quick, but a real experience. The atmosphere on board was fun and both the crews and organisers from Merlintour were completely understanding of, and prepared for, what a bunch of aviation enthusiasts would want – namely lots of opportunities for taking pictures, videos, and clambering about all over the aircraft. I think it’s great that a carrier like Belavia would embrace such an opportunity when they could simply want to talk about their new aircraft and quietly put away their old ones.

 

CSA to open Stuttgart focus city

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Czech Republic, Eastern Europe, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 26-02-2015

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CSA A320

CSA Czech Airlines is slowly emerging from its self-imposed retreat by announcing more expansion and route updates.

Earlier this month the airline announced its return to the UK with a new twice-weekly link to Liverpool from Prague starting on 4th June.

Now, it has announced the inauguration of a focus city at Stuttgart Airport which will commence in May.

A 3x weekly ATR42-500 route from Prague to Stuttgart had already been announced, starting 26th May. But now, on the same day, the airline has said it will start flights from Stuttgart to Bologna, Geneva and Marseilles (via Geneva). All routes will use the ATR42 aircraft.

Incredible arrival footage – Swiss A330 at Geneva

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Videos, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 23-11-2014

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I came across this onboard footage of a morning arrival at Geneva Airport filmed on board a Swiss A330-300 earlier this year.

If you have a few minutes to sit back and relax, it really takes in the sights and sounds of an arrival with stunning light, and the Swiss scenery passing below, before arriving at a packed ramp full of airliners from around the world.

 

Boeing 727 services return to Europe!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Azerbaijan, Eastern Europe, Spotting News, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 28-06-2014

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Photo (c) Babak T

Photo (c) Babak Taghvaee

A new Boeing 727 scheduled service is to begin in Europe, a number of years since the last was seen.

The route is to be flown by Azerbaijan Airlines, and will link Baku with Geneva, flying twice weekly (Friday and Sunday) using a specially configured aircraft with executive interior. It will seat 65 passengers in a First and Business Class layout.

The route will begin on 11th July, and it is expected that the aircraft used on the service will be 4K-8888, a 727-251 originally operated by Northwest Airlines, and now in a striking livery with immaculate interior.

Flights will be operated with the schedule as follows:

Baku – Geneva, departure 7:55am arrival 9:55am
Geneva – Baku, departure 11:15am arrival 6:55pm

But it will come at a cost. Premium fares will be charged to the mainly business clientèle using the service. Let’s hope it lasts a long time!

 

 

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.

5 Airports for Crosswind Landing Videos

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Germany, Japan, Miscellaneous Spotting, Portugal, Spotting Videos, Switzerland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 11-05-2014

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If you want to get out there and capture some stunning videos or pictures of crosswind landings, here is some inspiration from five different airports.

The key to emphasising the crosswind is to be positioned looking down the runway, either in front of or behind arriving traffic.

Birmingham, UK

Dusseldorf, Germany

Funchal, Madeira

Tokyo Narita, Japan

Zurich, Switzerland

 

Airport Spotting Guides Europe book

Airport Spotting Guides Europe

Comprehensive guide book to Europe’s best airports for spotting aircraft. Includes:

  • Maps with spotting locations marked
  • Spotting hotels
  • Airlines, runway details, radio frequencies
  • Nearby aviation attractions – museums, airfields, preserved aircraft.

Perfect for your spotting trips. Buy your copy here!

FARNAIR Europe’s first 737

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, Spotting News, Switzerland, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 18-02-2014

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Farnair 737-400FARNAIR Europe has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737-400 aircraft.

The aircraft is a high gross weight B737-400SF (MSN 28492 – ex JA737F) built in 1996 and was converted at Commercial Jet’s Miami facility, which is one of five authorized AEI Conversion Centers worldwide. This is AEI’s 2nd of an anticipated 30+ freighters to be delivered in 2014.

Guy Girard, CEO of the FARNAIR Group, said “This is the first of four aircraft we have secured, while the rest will join our fleet in the coming months.”

5 new cockpit videos from Justplanes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Ethiopia, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Norway, Spotting Equipment Reviews, Spotting Videos, Switzerland, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 05-01-2014

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Justplanes really are the best in the business when it comes to cockpit recordings, with such a wide ranging back catalogue.

JustPlanes thiopian 787

I thought I’d bring you details of a few recent additions to their collection which have caught my attention.

1. Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner
Join the world’s most advanced airliner on flights from Addis Ababa to destinations across Africa, Asia and Europe. 8 flights included.

2. Norwegian Boeing 787-800
Fly Norwegian’s 737s on routes across Scandinavia and mainland Europe, including a flight to the most Northerly airport in the world!

3. Air Canada Boeing 767-300
Fly long haul and short haul in Air Canada’s 767s, including a trip to Hawaii, and the famous landing at St. Maarten as seen from the cockpit!

Just Planes SWISS

4. Air France Boeing 777-200ER
Follow the pilots of this state-of-the-art aircraft in a flight from Paris to New York JFK. It covers everything from the moment they arrive at the airport, including planning and pre-flight, to the charts, cockpit instruments, approach, landing and all the outside cockpit views.

5. Swiss Airbus A340-300
Like the Air France 777 example above, this one follows the pilots through every aspect of their flight both on the ground and in the air, as they take an A340 from Zurich to San Francisco. Fascinating documentary and cockpit views.

 

Etihad Regional formed from stake in Darwin Airline

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airline News, Airport News, Germany, Middle East, Switzerland, Western Europe | Posted on 17-11-2013

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Etihad RegionalEtihad Airways has taken a 33.3% stake in Swiss carrier Darwin Airline, and will rebrand it as Etihad Regional in the hope of extending its brand coverage in Europe.

The move will come into effect in June 2014 and will see Darwin’s Saab 2000 fleet based in both Zurich and Berlin. Etihad will begin a new A330-200 link from its Abu Dhabi base to Zurich to coincide with the move, and provide onward connections through Darwin to a number of European cities.

This will naturally unlock worldwide onward connections through Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub for many new passengers in Europe.