Norwegian 787s to Gatwick

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Spotting News, Sweden, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-04-2014

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Norwegian Air takeoffNorwegian will again fly its Boeing 787 aircraft into Gatwick this summer.

The aircraft will operate daily from Stockholm Arlanda to London Gatwick, with two flights per day on weekdays.

The flights will operate from 6th May to 24th July 2014.

 

 

 

Credit AirlineRoute.net

TAAG Angola aims to develop Luanda into large hub

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Belgium, Brazil, China, Dubai, France, Heathrow, Italy, Middle East, Portugal, South America, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-04-2014

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TAAG_777-3M2ERTAAG Angola Airlines is planning to turn its Luanda Airport base into a hub to link Central Africa with worldwide destinations in association with Emirates Airline.

TAAG is currently on the EU banned airline list, but it is hoped it will emerge soon and begin expanding its connections to Europe, including Amsterdam, Brussels, Lisbon, London Heathrow, Paris CDG, and Rome Fiumicino.

Luanda will also be linked through Dubai via Emirates, who will also take on TAAG’s links to Beijing, Rio de Janeiro, and Sao Paulo.

A new airport is being built at Luanda which will be able to handle this increased traffic, and match modern standards expected at airports.

Stobart Air and Flybe to launch London Southend partnership

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 31-03-2014

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Flybe Q400Stobart Air is the new name for Aer Arann, keeping it in line with its parent company Stobart Group.

The carrier operates franchise flights on behalf of Aer Lingus, but has now also announced a five year partnership with Flybe to operate services from London Southend Airport.

The five year agreement will initially see two 72 seat ATR 500/600 aircraft based at Stobart’s London Southend Airport, with options to extend the franchise further in the future.  The two planes, flying in Flybe livery, will serve six routes to Northern Europe and Benelux countries from 5 June 2014.  The franchise is aiming to carry over 200,000 passengers to and from London Southend Airport annually in 2015. Tickets will go on sale from 3 April via Flybe.com.

Saad Hammad (above left), Chief Executive Officer of Flybe said: “We are delighted to be extending the Flybe brand further into the South East.  Today’s news is also further evidence of our commitment to providing true regional connectivity across the UK and we look forward to unveiling a major programme of new base and route development over the coming months.”

Southend is owned by the Stobart Group and has seen impressive growth in recent years following the development of its passenger terminal, a runway extension, and the arrival of an easyJet base.

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

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.

Austin welcomes BA Dreamliner. Where to view from

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, North America, Spotting News, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 28-02-2014

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British Airways 787Austin-Bergstrom International Airport becomes the latest to add Boeing 787 Dreamliner service on 3rd March when British Airways begin a daily flight from London Heathrow.

The airport’s Family Viewing Area will provide a vantage point and refreshments for spotters and other members of the public wishing to see the first arrival of the Dreamliner. British Airways’ flight 191 is scheduled for its first landing at 5 pm. Inaugural flight BA 190 is scheduled to depart ABIA for London Heathrow at 7 pm (after the inaugural launch, British Airways’ flights are scheduled to depart Austin at 8 pm).

Austin Bergstrom Family Viewing Area

Austin Bergstrom Family Viewing Area

The Family Viewing Area is located near the airport’s east runway. Please note, while the 787 may land on the east or west runway, Gate 2, used by British Airways, faces the viewing area providing ample time to see the aircraft. To access the airport’s Family Viewing Area, take the Hwy. 71 access road past Presidential Blvd. (road to airport terminal). Take the first right past Presidential Blvd. to Golf Course Rd. Follow Golf Course Rd. to the end, where the Family Viewing Area is located.

5 Must-Visit Aviation Events for 2014

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Austria, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Spotting News, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 24-01-2014

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Farnborough Air ShowHere are five aviation events not to miss in 2014. Which will you be going to?

 

1. DC-10 Final Flight, Birmingham UK
22-24 February

The Douglas DC-10 will make its final passenger flights on a series of enthusiast trips from Birmingham Airport in the UK. There are no other airlines operating passenger variant DC-10s, so this is your last chance to fly!

Website: Biman Airlines

2. DC-3 Meet & Fly-In, Salzburg
3-7 July

To mark the 20th anniversary of the Austrian DC-3 Dakota Club, an event is being held over a few days at Salzburg Airport which will see seven DC-3s, a Li-2, and a DC-6 attend. Guests will be permitted to look around the aircraft and attend events, as well as make pleasure trips in some of the aircraft. Some 5,000 people are expected to attend.

Website: www.dc-3flyin.com

3. Farnborough Air Show
19-20 July

Always great for the airline orders and demonstrations of new aircraft, both military and civil. Farnborough is also a great day out for the general public, with hours of flying displays and lots to see on the ground. This year the show will focus on 100 years of aviation, to coincide with the anniversary of WWI.

Website: www.farnborough.com

4. EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
26 July – 3 August

For a week, Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, WI, is turned into the busiest airport in the world. Thousands of aircraft fly in to the event every year, creating the greatest air show on earth. There are also spectacular flying displays, and so much to see on the ground (suppliers, talks, static aircraft, entertainment) that you’d be hard pushed to get through it all in a week!

Website: www.airventure.org

5. NBAA, Orlando
21 – 23 October

The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) descends on Orlando Executive Airport for three days, along with hundreds of biz jets. It is always an interesting trip for the spotter hoping to make a lot of new biz jet tail numbers in a short space of time.

 

Which other events would you recommend for 2014? Which ones will you be attending?

Monarch A300 retirement enthusiast flight

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 14-01-2014

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Monarch A300I’ve been meaning to give this one a mention for a while.

Monarch Airlines are retiring their Airbus A300-605R fleet on Sunday 13th April after 23 years in the fleet (where did the time go!?). The final example is G-OJMR, which was delivered new in 1991.

Monarch have arranged for their last commercial A300 flight to be for enthusiasts on a special trip from London Gatwick to Birmingham airports, with every one of the 374 seats up for grabs at a special price of £74, including taxes.

For more details see this page: http://blog.monarch.co.uk/tickets-available-for-the-last-commercial-flight-of-monarch-airlines-airbus-a300-605r/

 

AeroMexico 787s to London in March

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Heathrow, Mexico, North America, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 13-01-2014

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AeroMexico has brought forward the date it will start using its Boeing 787s to London Heathrow to 15th March.

Originally they were due to operate from 16th April.

The aircraft will be used twice weekly from Mexico City, but is due to stop operating in late May.

Fly on the last Biman DC-10 flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Asia, Bangladesh, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 11-01-2014

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Bangladesh Biman DC10Full details of the final Biman Bangladesh DC-10 flights are now available, and tickets are for sale for enthusiasts to join in on exclusive special flights being laid on by the airline from Birmingham airport in the UK.

Tickets are available through Ian Allan – organisers of many different worldwide aviation tours. The airline has promised to lay on more flights on the same day if demand is sufficient, but I’d recommend getting your tickets ASAP just incase!

The flights will take place on Monday 24th February, with optional extra excursions to aviation museums.

You can book tickets at this link: Ian Allan Tours

 

UPDATE from Biman, 13th January

We expect seats will be onsale 14th January. Scenic flights will be 3 per day – 0900, 1200, 1500 – on 22/23/24Feb. Prices will be GBP150 for a window, GBP100 for adjacent (we wont sell other seats). On the last commercial flight (ever), 1500 on 24Feb, prices will be GBP150/200.