First Airbus A320neo completed

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 05-07-2014

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A320_NEO_REVEAL-

Airbus has rolled out the first of its new engine option (neo) A320 aircraft at its Toulouse manufacturing base.

The aircraft is MSN 6101, with the apt registration F-WNEO.

Ground tests will start soon on the aircraft, with a first flight scheduled for some time in September.

The A320neo “new engine option” incorporates many innovations, including latest generation engines and large Sharklet wing-tip devices, which together deliver 15 percent in fuel savings and a reduction of 3,600 tonnes of C02 per aircraft per year. It has a total of nearly 2,700 orders received from more than 50 customers since its launch in 2010.

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!

 

 

Best of the Web – Airport Spotting Videos – Maldives Twin Otters

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Friday Favourite, Maldives, Spotting Videos | Posted on 27-06-2014

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This video shows a day in the life of pilots flying De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters around the islands and resorts in the Maldives. Shot in the style of a time lapse, you’ll see them flying from dawn to dusk over turquoise seas and inlets, with stunning views. Enjoy!

 

Virgin Atlantic reaches 30. Announces first 787 route

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, North America, Spotting News, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 24-06-2014

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The first Virgin Atlantic service to New York (c) Steve Fitzgerald

The first Virgin Atlantic service to New York (c) Steve Fitzgerald

Richard Branson’s revolutionary airline, Virgin Atlantic, which was first conceived after he chartered an aircraft in the Caribbean to rescue the travel plans of himself and fellow passengers following a flight cancellation, is now 30 years old.

Richard was caught up in the idea of setting up a new airline arm to his Virgin empire, and soon took delivery of a Boeing 747 to start low fare flights from London Gatwick to New York on 22 June 1984. Passengers would experience staff hired for their fresh outlook on service, and flights with better entertainment and food options.

Virgin Atlantic launch press conference

It would grow to become a major player in long haul travel, both from Gatwick and Heathrow airports. It also opened Virgin Atlantic Little Red, a low-cost domestic airline, in 2013.

Fleet Upgrades

Virgin Atlantic VAA 787-9 Artwork K64012-01

Virgin operates a fleet of Airbus A340 and Boeing 747-400 aircraft, but it has been looking to upgrade with more fuel efficient aircraft.

The airline has been considering what to do about its Airbus A380 order since it deferred delivery, and will make a decision soon.

However, Virgin is due to take delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 aircraft later this year and, to coincide with its 30th anniversary, has announced that the first route of the type will be from London Heathrow to Boston Logan, starting on 28th October.

It is likely the aircraft will be used on crew familiarisation sectors before then, possibly on the Little Red network. We’ll let you know as soon as we hear.

Skymark and Qatar Airways A380 delays

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Japan, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Qatar, USA | Posted on 23-06-2014

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A380_Skymark_take_off_maiden_flight

Japan’s Skymark Airlines has delayed delivery of its first Airbus A380 by six months. The first example will now arrive in February or March 2015, and begin flying between Tokyo Narita and New York JFK initially.

The delay is due to problems with fitting the aircraft’s interior.

This news comes after Qatar Airways announced it was also delaying its first A380 delivery due to problems with the interior installation. It will now take its first aircraft later this summer.

Theme Week: Spotting at Rio de Janeiro’s airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Brazil, South America, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 20-06-2014

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BrazilThemeWeek

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil, Spotting at Sao Paulo’s airports, and Preserved Airliners in Brazil. In this post we’ll look at where to spot at Rio de Janeiro’s two airports.

Rio de Janeiro has two commercial airports: Galeão–Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport, and Santos Dumont Airport.

Rio's Airports

Galeão is a joint air base with the Brazil Air Force. It is a major international gateway to Brazil, and the country’s largest airport site. It handled over 17 million passengers in 2013.

Santos Dumont is a smaller, primarily domestic airport situated closer to the centre of the city, on reclaimed land and in sight of the famous Sugarloaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.

Spotting at Galeão Airport

The airport has two runways and two terminals; Terminal 2 was recently renovated in time for the 2014 World Cup.

Galeao

Galeão is a main hub to TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aereos. It is also served by major carriers such as:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Aeromexico
Air Canada
Air France
Alitalia
American Airlines
British Airways
Copa Airlines
Delta
Emirates
Iberia
KLM
LAN Airlines
Lufthansa
TAAG Angola
TAP Portugal
United

Galeao is also a busy cargo hub, with numerous domestic and international carriers flying in each day.

Galeao Airport Map

The main spotting location at Galeao Airport is the observation deck in the Air Cafe within Terminal 1. It is located on a higher floor and has good views over the parking areas and runway beyond, so you should see all aircraft movements from here.

An alternative observation area can be found in Terminal 2′s international concourse 1. This has similar views over the parking gates and aprons, and photography is possible.

Between terminals 1 and 2 is a link corridor which also has views across the apron. You don’t need to be a passenger to view here, and photography is possible.

If you’re looking for spotting hotels at Galeao Airport, the Luxor Aeroporto is located within the terminal complex. However, it does not have any rooms overlooking the apron. It is, however, an an easy walk to the various spotting locations.

 

Spotting at Santos Dumont Airport

Santos Dumont is Brazil’s 6th busiest airport. It has two short parallel runways, a single terminal, and an area for business aircraft. The airport operates between 6am and 11pm.

Rio's Santos Dumont Airport

Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport

Its downtown location makes it a busy business hub for executive aircraft, and also for domestic flights by airlines such as:

Avianca Brazil
Azul
Gol Transportes Aereos
TAM Airlines

SantosDumontMap

There is also a military presence at the airport, so be careful when pointing binoculars and cameras around the perimeter.

The best spotting location is within the terminal itself, where there is a large window overlooking the aircraft apron and runways in the distance. Despite there once being an observation deck, it is now obstructed by gates.

An alternative location outside the terminal is close to the southern end of the runways, on Avenida Almirante Silvio Noronha. Turn left outside the terminal and walk past the college. It takes about 20 minutes to get here, and photography is best in the afternoon.

The Ibis Santos Dumont Airport is the only spotting hotel at Santos Dumont. Some rooms, ending in 51, 53 or 55 according to Plane Spotting Hotels, have limited views over the executive ramp. It is only a short walk to the terminal, however. Hotel website.

Transfers between Galeao and Santos Dumont airports is by a shuttle bus that takes around half an hour.

Theme Week: Preserved Airliners in Brazil

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Brazil, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 19-06-2014

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 BrazilThemeWeek

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil, and Spotting at Sao Paulo’s airports. In this post we’ll look at preserved airliners in Brazil.

Back in the day, if you thought of Brazil’s airlines you thought of VARIG, VASP and Cruziero. These carriers dated back a long way, but sadly none of them weathered the financial troubles that would come their way.

But visitors to Brazil can still see a number of preserved aircraft which once belonged to these and other pioneering airlines from the country.

Aviation Museums in Brazil
The main aviation museums in Brazil which have airliners on display include:

Museu Aeroespaciale in Rio de Janeiro – Campo Dos Afonsos
Includes lots of Brazilian Air Force airliner/transports, such as Boeing 737-200, 737-300, four Douglas C-47 variants, de Havilland Dragon Rapide, Lockheed Lodestar, Vickers Viscount 700, Embraer Banderiante, plus a VARIG Lockheed L188 Electra.

TAM Museum Constellation

TAM Museum in São Carlos
A growing collection of significant historical aircraft created by the founder of TAM Airlines. It has a number of airliners on display, including a Douglas DC-3, Embraer Bandeirante, Fokker F-27, F-100, and Panair do Brasil Lockheed Constellation in immaculate condition.

Other preserved airliners
In addition to the museums, a number of other airliners are preserved around Brazil, including:

Araquara
A private owner bought and preserved a rusting VASP Boeing 737-200 on his land, and is now turning it into a cafe and children’s play area. The aircraft if PP-SFI.

Rio de Janeiro Galeao Air Base
Has a Brazilian Air Force BAe 748 preserved outside.

Sao Jose dos Campos Brazilian Aerospace Memorial
A couple of Embraer prototypes are on display amongst the military aircraft.

Sao Paulo Parque dom Pedro
A classic Douglas DC-3, PT-KUB, is on display in this downtown Sao Paulo park.

Tijucas
By the side of the road in this rural area is a NAMC YS-11 converted into a restaurant. Formerly PP-CTI.

PP-CTI NAMC YS-11 (c) Daniel R Popinga

PP-CTI NAMC YS-11. Courtesy of Flickr

Theme Week: Spotting at Sao Paulo’s Airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Brazil, South America, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 18-06-2014

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BrazilThemeWeek

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held there. The previous posts looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament, and a general overview of airlines and airports in Brazil. In this post we’ll look at the spotting opportunities at Sao Paulo’s.

Sao Paulo has two airports – Gaurulhos, which is the main international airport, and Congonhas, which is a busy domestic airport. Here is a guide to the best places to spot at the two airports.

Sao Paulo

Spotting at Guarulhos Airport

Guarulhos is the largest airport in South America, and a busy international gateway to Brazil. It is located in the north of the city and has two parallel runways and four terminal sections.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

The airport is a main hub to TAM Airlines and Gol Transportes Aereos. It is also served by major carriers such as:

Aerolineas Argentinas
Aeromexico
Air Canada
Air China
Air France
Alitalia
American Airlines
Avianca
British Airways
Cubana
Delta
Emirates
Ethiopian Airlnes
Etihad
Iberia
KLM
Qantas
Qatar Airways
Singapore Airlines
TAAG Angola
TAP Portugal
Turkish Airlines
United

GuarulhosMap

Inside the terminal there are two areas where you can see aircraft, at either ends of the building through large windows, but you will miss some movements.

The Hotel Matiz is great for spotting, as it has a terrace which is perfect for landing shots. However, sometimes this is closed, or requires to you pay for day access if you’re not a guest. It is best to e-mail the hotel a few days prior to your arrival to request access. It is situated at the westerly end of the runways.

Nearby the Matiz is an area of grass underneath the approach to runways 09L/R, which is a 30 minute walk from the terminal. You can’t park here, but it is safe to spot and photograph.

Hotel Matiz Guarulhos

Hotel Matiz Guarulhos

As for spotting hotels at Guarulhos, the Hotel Matiz mentioned above is the best option as it has great views of arrivals and a terrace. Aircraft can be read off from rooms facing the airport. Hotel website.

Access to Guarulhos is best by car, taxi or bus.  There is also a free bus transfer to Congonhas airport for Gol and TAM passengers.

 

Spotting at Congonhas Airport

Congonhas Airport Terminal

Situated 5 miles from downtown Sao Paulo, Congonhas sits atop a plateau surrounded by the urban sprawl. It is a tricky airport for pilots because of its short runways.

Congonhas has a single terminal, two runways, and is Brazil’s third busiest airport in terms of passengers, and second busiest in terms of aircraft movements. So there’s plenty to see!

It is now only a domestic airport, having lost its international flights. It is quite popular with executive aircraft. The principal airlines are:

Avianca Brazil
Azul
Brava Linhas Aereas
Gol
TAM Airlines

Congonhas Map

Avenue Washington Luiz is a good spotting location at Congonhas as it has a walkway alongside which parallels the runway. You can walk here from the terminal if you turn right. However, it can be unsafe to be here alone or for long.

Another good spot if runway 17R is in use is to continue along Avenue Washington Luiz to where it joins Avenue Bandeirantes. Aircraft will pass above you at close quarters.

800px-AeroportoCongonhas_ALS2

A good value spotting hotel at Congonhas Airport is the Ibis Hotel Congonhas. It is situated next to the terminal, and rooms on higher floors have a great view of all movements. Hotel website.

The airport is accessed by car, taxi or bus. Free shuttle buses link Guarulhos and Viracopos International for passengers.

 

Theme Week: Brazil’s Airlines and Airports Overview

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Brazil, Miscellaneous Spotting, South America | Posted on 17-06-2014

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BrazilThemeWeek

 

This post is part of a series on Brazil looking at aviation in the country to coincide with the 2014 football World Cup held in the country. The previous post looked at the special World Cup liveries worn by various airlines in the lead up to the tournament. In this post we’ll look at the main airlines and airports in Brazil.

For many years if you thought of airlines in Brazil, you would instantly think of VARIG, VASP, Rio Sul or Cruzeiro. These airlines dominated air travel in the country and it seemed inconceivable that between 1993 and 2006 all four of them would disappear amidst bankruptcies and mergers (VARIG re-emerged briefly, only to disappear into Gol).

Airlines of Brazil Today

Today air travel in Brazil is dominated by three major carriers, Azul, Gol and TAM Airlines, alongside a number of smaller regional and franchise carriers. We’ll take a look in more detail at some of these below:

Azul

Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras
Founded in 2008, Azul is based at São Paulo Campinas and Belo Horizonte-Confins airports.
Fleet: ATR 42 and 72, Embraer 175, 190 and 195. Airbus A330s and A350s on order.
Azul flies principally on domestic routes across Brazil from its main bases and focus cities. It occasionally flies international charters, and is planning to commence international scheduled service to the US in the future.

Gol B737-800 Curitiba

Gol Transportes Aéreos
Founded in 2001 with bases in Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.
Fleet: Gol has over 140 Boeing 737-700 and -800 aircraft, with 737MAX 8′s on order.
Gol flies an extensive domestic network within Brazil. It also offers international flights to countries across South America, the Caribbean, and United States.

TAM 777

TAM Airlines
Founded in 1976, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that TAM emerged as a major player in Brazilian aviation. Today it is the country’s largest airline, with bases at São Paulo-Guarulhos, Rio de Janeiro-Galeão, and Brasília International airports.
Fleet: TAM operates over 170 aircraft, including Airbus A319, A320, A321, A330-200, Boeing 767-300ER, and Boeing 777-300ER. It has 30 Airbus A350s on order.

TRIP E175

Other notable airlines of Brazil include:

ABSA Cargo, which operates Boeing 767-300 freighters from Campinas.
Avianca Brazil, an offshoot of the Colombian carrier, with over 40 aircraft operating from Sao Paulo Garulhos.
Passaredo Linhas Aereas, operating ATR 72-600s on domestic services from Dr. Leite Lopes Airport, Ribeirão Preto.
TRIP Linhas Aereas, which has a fleet of ATR 42/72 and Embraer 175/190 flying domestic and regional routes from Belo Horizonte.

 

Sao Paulo Guarulhos

Airports in Brazil

There are over 200 airports in Brazil, and most of the major urban areas have one. Not all have regular air service, with some restricted to general aviation and military flying.

The busiest airport in Brazil is São Paulo-Guarulhos International, which was the 33rd busiest in the world in 2013, and looks to have risen in the rankings in 2014. It handled 36,460,923 passengers last year.

The city’s Congonhas Airport is the country’s second busiest, closely followed by Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport.

Here’s a list of the top 20 busiest airports in Brazil in 2013, in terms of passengers handled:

Rank Airport City Passengers
1 Guarulhos International Airport São Paulo 36,460,923
2 Congonhas Airport São Paulo 17,119,530
3 Galeão International Airport Rio de Janeiro 17,115,368
4 Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek International Airport Brasília 16,489,996
5 Tancredo Neves International Airport Belo Horizonte 10,301,288
6 Viracopos International Airport Campinas 9,294,446
7 Santos Dumont Airport Rio de Janeiro 9,204,603
8 Salvador International Airport Salvador 8,589,663
9 Salgado Filho International Airport Porto Alegre 7,993,164
10 Guararapes-Gilberto Freyre International Airport Recife 6,840,276
11 Afonso Pena International Airport Curitiba 6,742,133
12 Pinto Martins International Airport Fortaleza 5,959,629
13 Hercílio Luz International Airport Florianópolis 3,872,877
14 Val de Cães International Airport Belém 3,475,611
15 Eurico de Aguiar Salles Airport Vitória 3,450,736
16 Eduardo Gomes International Airport Manaus 3,077,077
17 Santa Genoveva Airport Goiânia 3,000,592
18 Marechal Rondon Airport Cuiabá 2,981,025
19 Augusto Severo International Airport Natal 2,408,206
20 Zumbi dos Palmares International Airport Maceió 1,943,437

 

Campo de Marte Airport

Campo de Marte Airport

When looking at the number of aircraft movements (of more interest to the enthusiast than passengers, after all!), the top two remain the same. However, the third busiest is Brasilia, and fifth is São Paulo’s Campo de Marte airport which has no airline traffic at all, but is a busy general aviation and military facility.

Another airport featuring high in the ranks of movements is Jundiaí Airport which, again, is only a general aviation facility with no airline movements, but still very busy.

Where to Spot Aircraft in Brazil

Naturally the most popular airports for spotting in Brazil are the big ones with the most airliner movements. These are São Paulo’s Congonhas and Guarulhos airports, Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão and Santos Dumont airports, and Brasilia Airport. All of these airports have observation areas and a good mix of traffic.

Rio's Santos Dumont Airport

Rio’s Santos Dumont Airport

For those wanting to see the production of Embraer aircraft, the best airfield for this is Unidade Gavião Peixoto Airport to the north west of Sao Paulo. Other airfields where Embraer carries out production are São José dos Campos and Botucatu.

Greenland Express starts flying

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Denmark, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 16-06-2014

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Greenland Express

Greenland Express is a new airline hoping to revitalise air travel and tourism in the northern Danish outpost with low fares and a number of destinations.

The airline will launch services on 17 June using a Fokker 100 aircraft, flown by ACMI operator Denim Air. The aircraft is registered PH-MJP.

The airline is actually based in Aalborg, Denmark. It will offer flights on the following routes:

Aalborg – Kangerlussuaq
Aalborg – Keflavik
Aalborg – Narsarsuaq
Aalborg – Copenhagen
Keflavik – Narsarsuaq
Keflavik – Aalborg
Keflavik – Kangerlussuaq
Keflavik – Copenhagen
Copenhagen – Narsarsuaq
Copenhagen – Kangerlussuaq
Copenhagen – Aalborg
Copenhagen – Keflavik
Narsarssuaq – Aalborg*
Narsarssuaq – Keflavik*
Narsarssuaq – Copenhagen*

* Routing from Narsarssuaq is via Kangerlussuaq.

The airline says of its service: “We are looking forward to offering a new alternative for air transport between Denmark and Greenland with safety and personal service in focus, and at quite competitive prices.”