First Asiana A380 taking shape

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, South Korea, Western Europe | Posted on 26-09-2013

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A380 Asiana assemblyThe first Airbus A380 for Asiana has entered the final assembly line at the manufacturer’s Toulouse facility.

The main sections of the aircraft arrived in recent weeks from the various manufacturing sites around Europe and are now being attached at the airframe assembly station (Station 40).

Asiana Airlines will become the twelfth operator of the A380 when it takes delivery of its first aircraft in the second quarter of 2014. The airline has firm orders for six A380s and will operate the aircraft on its primary routes from Seoul to the US.

Up to 100 Airbus A320s for VietJet

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Vietnam | Posted on 26-09-2013

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VietJet Airbus A320VietJet will receive up to 100 Airbus A320 family aircraft in a new deal signed with the manufacturer and lessors.

Vietnam’s VietJetAir has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for up to 92 A320 Family aircraft and will lease eight more from third party lessors. The agreement signed with Airbus today covers for 42 A320neo, 14 A320ceo and six A321ceo, plus 30 purchase rights for the A320 Family.

VietJetAir is an existing A320 operator, with eight leased aircraft already in service. The carrier took delivery this week of its ninth A320, delivered new from Airbus via the US leasing company AWAS.

 

Farewell VC-10 (and other RAF transports). Brize Norton day

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 24-09-2013

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Brize Norton VC-10 L1011Last weekend I was one of the lucky few who got to pay my respects to some of the RAF’s workhorse transport aircraft, coinciding with the actual retirement of the Vickers VC-10.

The open day was organised by 216 Squadron, with the intention of giving access to the VC-10, Lockheed L1011 TriStar, and the C-130 Hercules, all of which are to be retired in the near future. It was also an opportunity to raise some funds for the RAF Benevolent Fund.

The last two remaining VC-10s flew their final tanker missions on Friday 20th September, and upon arrival at Brize Norton ZA147 was parked ready to receive guests, whilst ZA150 was visible in the distance.

Brize Norton VC-10Also parked on the apron were L1011 ZE705 and Hercules XV303.

Visitors were permitted to enter each of the aircraft and look around, and also to sit in the cockpit seats to have their picture taken. Helpful crews were on hand to answer questions and explain the aircraft, with many being asked what their future holds personally. “easyJet” one said, whilst others announced “Desk job. I’ve done plenty of tours now!”

It was interesting to see the interior of the VC-10, which is fitted out with huge fuel tanks for refuelling other aircraft. It still retains a small section of rear-facing crew seating behind the cockpit. One of the two remaining aircraft is flying to Dunsfold today (Tuesday 24th September), and the other to Bruntingthorpe tomorrow (Wednesday 25th) on what will be the last ever VC-10 flight. The first ever flight was 51 years ago in June 1962. Both of these aircraft are likely to be scrapped, although the Dunsfold aircraft may be sent by road to a museum.

Brize Norton L1011Whilst I’d been inside other VC-10s before (albeit in museums), I’d never set foot inside a L1011 TriStar before, so it was just as interesting to get inside ZE705. This aircraft was built for Pan Am as N509PA and flew with them for four years until the RAF bought them in December 1984.

Many of the fittings remain as they would have been when in civilian use, including a large area of ten-abreast seating. The forward cabin is set up with stretchers to transport injured personnel. The crew told me the type will be retired from the RAF in 2014, but the fate of the aircraft is not yet known.

After the personnel on hand kindle removed all equipment for an hour to allow visitors ‘clean’ pictures of aircraft, I visited Hercules XV303 which features seating along the sides and central area of the cabin, and a huge rear door. These aircraft are likely to be retired by the end of 2013.

Brize Norton HerculesWhilst enjoying these older aircraft, it was good to see the modern replacements active in the background at Brize Norton, including the Airbus A330 Airtanker and various C-17s. There were also two white HiFly Airbus A340-300s parked in between troop charters.

Thanks to 216 Squadron for their invite to the event – something very memorable and a last chance to experience these classic aircraft, particularly the VC-10 which will never again be seen in our skies.

Here’s a selection of pictures from the day:

Royal Brunei Boeing 787 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Brunei, Heathrow, Malaysia, Singapore, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 20-09-2013

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Royal Brunei 787

Royal Brunei will soon receive its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft.

The first routes operated by the type will be short hops from Bandar Seri Begawan to both Kuala Lumpur (from 1 – 30 November) and Singapore Changi (from 18 October – 30 November). Both flights will operate 1-2 times daily.

From 2 December, Royal Brunei will begin its long haul Boeing 787 service from Bandar Seri Begawan to London Heathrow.

Keep an eye on our Boeing 787 Routes page to find out where to catch airlines flying their new Dreamliners.

Lufthansa commits to huge long-haul aircraft order – A350 and 777X

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Germany, Western Europe | Posted on 19-09-2013

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A350-Lufthansa_2Lufthansa has announced a large long-haul aircraft order, split between Airbus and Boeing, which will allow it to ultimately replace its A340 and 747-400 fleets.

The Airbus order comprises 55 A350-900 aircraft (25 firm and 30 options). Lufthansa also has the flexibility to convert some of the order to the larger A350-1000.

From Boeing, Lufthansa will purchase 34 777-9X aircraft, allowing the launch of the type.

“We are focused on developing and delivering a superior airplane that ensures the 777 remains the unequivocal long-haul leader,” said John Wojick, Senior Vice President of Global Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “With its new engines and an all-new composite wing design, the 777X will be the largest and most-efficient twin engine jet in the world with 20 percent lower fuel consumption and 15 percent lower operating costs than today’s 777. Boeing is delighted that Lufthansa is continuing its longstanding partnership with Boeing by selecting the 777X for its future fleet development.”

Meanwhile, John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers said “We are honoured that such a long-standing and prestigious customer as Lufthansa is coming back for more Airbus aircraft,” adding “The all-new A350 XWBs, will integrate very well into the Group’s existing Airbus fleet. From the A319 to the A380 size category, Lufthansa will benefit from latest technologies and efficiency levels, an unmatched wider cabin, operational flexibility and cost-savings – enhanced by the unique fleet commonality only Airbus offers.”

Scheduled for entry-into-service in 2014, the A350 XWB to date has already won 682 firm orders from 35 customers worldwide.

Etihad A321 routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airline News, Asia, Eastern Europe, India, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Turkey | Posted on 19-09-2013

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Etihad Airways will take delivery of its first Airbus A321 in December.

This will be the first of 11 the airline has on order. They will initially fly on the following routes:

Abu Dhabi – Chennai
Abu Dhabi – Istanbul Ataturk
Abu Dhabi – Riyadh

More destinations will be introduced as more aircraft arrive.

Boeing 787-9 flies

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in North America, Spotting News, USA | Posted on 18-09-2013

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787-9 First FlightThe first flight of the stretched Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner took place yesterday, 17 September 2013.

The newest member of the 787 family completed a 5-hour, 16-minute flight, taking off from Paine Field in Everett, Wash., at 11:02 a.m. local time and landing at 4:18 p.m. at Seattle’s Boeing Field.

During the flight, 787-9 Senior Project Pilot Mike Bryan and 787 Chief Pilot Randy Neville departed to the north, reaching an altitude of 20,400 feet (6,218 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 kilometers) per hour, customary for a first flight. While Capts. Bryan and Neville tested the aircraft’s systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.

Boeing is on track to deliver the 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand in mid-2014. Twenty-five customers from around the world have ordered 388 787-9s, accounting for 40 percent of all 787 orders.

Bombardier CSeries first flight

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America | Posted on 17-09-2013

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CSeries First FlightBombardier‘s new CSeries regional jet has made its historic first flight.

The historic flight of CSeries flight test vehicle one (FTV1) – a CS100 jetliner bearing Canadian registration markings C-FBCS – was conducted under the command of Captain Charles (Chuck) Ellis, Chief Flight Test Pilot, Bombardier Flight Test Center. Capt. Ellis was assisted by his colleagues, Capt. Andris (Andy) Litavniks and Andreas Hartono in the roles of First Officer and Flight Test Engineer, respectively. The flight departed from Montréal–Mirabel International Airport at approximately 9:55 EDT and returned at approximately 12:25 EDT.

“The performance of the CSeries aircraft was very impressive! We couldn’t have wished for a better maiden flight,” said Capt. Ellis. “FTV1’s state-of-the-art flight deck was responsive and comfortable, and the aircraft handled exactly as expected. Overall, we had a very productive first flight and an excellent start to the flight test program.”

A total of five CS100 flight test vehicles, all of which are currently in various stages of assembly, will join the flight test program in the coming months.

As of today, Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 388 CSeries aircraft, which include firm orders for 177CSeries airliners. Some 15 customers and lessees have joined the CSeries aircraft program.

Transavia to lease Air Transat 737s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Canada, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Western Europe | Posted on 14-09-2013

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Transavia.com France Boeing 737In July we reported that Air Transat are planning to lease Boeing 737-800 aircraft to help supplement the widebody Airbus A310/A330 fleet on Summer services.

It has now emerged that the carrier is planning to lease some aircraft from Transavia France on a seasonal basis, starting with four in 2015 and increasing to nine examples by 2019.

Seasonal aircraft leases are commonplace between North American and European carriers, allowing capacity (and costs) to be shifted during the lean Winter season in Europe.

American Eagle retiring Embraer 135

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 13-09-2013

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American Eagle ERJ135American Eagle is to retire its fleet of Embraer 135 aircraft on 20th November.

The fleet has been slowly reduced recently, with the remaining aircraft put up for sale.

The final route is not yet known.