Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Caribbean, Greatest Flights, Sint Maarten | Posted on 07-03-2014
If you’re like me, you’re not easily phased by somewhat seat of the pants flying. The focus of this Greatest Flights piece is Winair’s DHC-6 Twin Otter flights from St Maarten to St Barthelemy (St Barths for short).
Flying in and out of St Maarten is an experience in itself, given the spectacular beach location of the runway. But flying from there to St Barths gives passengers the chance to experience a very steep approach to a short runway, barely skimming the tops of cars and heads of cyclists on a road close to the end of the runway. At the opposite end is the sea, so you’d better hope the pilot knows where the brakes are!
Here’s a video of the approach and landing:
You can book flights with Winair here.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 07-03-2014
The closure will last for 80 days, and will mean the airport’s carriers – in particular based airline Emirates – will have to reduce frequencies and make other changes in order to cope with the restrictions in place.
Emirates has also confirmed that it will ground 20 aircraft during the period, including all of its Airbus A340-500s, some A330-200s, and some Boeing 777s.
The airline recently relocated its dedicated freight operations to the new Dubai World Central Airport.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Heathrow, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting, Qatar, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 06-03-2014
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.
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.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, Indonesia, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 03-03-2014
The FM7 Resort Hotel is situated close to the end of Runway 25R, and one of the main benefits is the proximity of aircraft approaching this runway, which can be photographed quite easily.
Although the hotel is only two stories high, rooms on the top floor can be found that have good views and are not too obstructed by the surrounding trees. Some rooms also have views across to runway 25L, but SBS is necessary to identify them as they disappear behind the buildings.
The owner of the hotel is aware of the needs of plane spotters and welcomes the trade this brings. A rooftop bar is being constructed which has views of both sides of the airport, although through glass.
The hotel is in a less than ideal neighbourhood, but once inside is quite luxurious and serves good food. It also provides a free shuttle to the airport. Here’s a map of the hotel’s location.
Visit the FM7 Hotel’s webpage here: http://fm7hotel.com/
If you have visited, leave a comment below and tell us about your experience.
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
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).
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.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, China, North America, USA | Posted on 26-02-2014
The new airplane is the first of 10 777-300ERs China Southern has on order with Boeing.
“The 777-300ER’s long-haul capability is a perfect fit for our network expansion plans as it will enable us serve our existing long-range markets more efficiently and open new routes in the future,” said Zhang Zifang, Chief Operating Officer, China Southern Airlines. “The 777-300ER will support the development of Guangzhou as our main international hub and will be a vital part of our ‘Canton Route’ services.”
China Southern plans to operate its first 777-300ER on its new North America routes, where it will be able to directly connect passengers in the southern region of China to the eastern coast of the United States.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Book Reviews, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 23-02-2014
Our ebook Last Chance to Fly, which covers details of which airlines still fly some of the rarer aircraft types today and how you can fly on them, has been updated for 2014.
As well as updating some rarer types such as the Tupolev Tu-134 and Tu-154, we’ve also sadly had to remove some types completely as they are now no longer flying. These include the Boeing 747-100 (last flight with Iran Air in January) and McDonnell Douglas DC-10 (last flight with Biman in February).
To find out more about the book and buy your copy, visit this page.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Bolivia, Canada, Netherlands, North America, South America, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 21-02-2014
This month sees the final passenger flights to be operated by a Douglas DC-10, with Biman Bangladesh operating a number of enthusiast flights from Birmingham, UK, ahead of the retirement of their last example.
The DC-10 first flew in August 1970, and despite a few early setbacks including some notable crashes, it went on to be a very successful airliner used both for long and medium haul flying.
In recent years the number of operators has been dwindling, and with Biman retiring their last example it leaves only cargo and military operators operating the type. So where can you still see the DC-10? Here’s a handy list.
Along with the US Air Force, FedEx are the largest operator of DC-10s today. With around 60 in service at the time of writing, they have all been converted to MD-10 configuration, which converts them to a two-man, glass cockpit to match their more modern MD-11 fleet. FedEx’s main hub is at Memphis, TN, and you can see their MD-10s flying many domestic and trans-continental freight routes. However, the airline is retiring its fleet at an alarming pace as it introduces more fuel efficient aircraft.
US Air Force
Also with around 60 DC-10s in service at the time of writing, the US Air Force uses the military KC-10A derivative. These are used as refuelling tankers and transport aircraft, supporting the air force in conflicts and war zones around the world. They are primarily based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, NJ, and Travis AFB, CA. The US Air Force initially said the KC-10 would operate until 2043, but it is thought the fleet will be retired much earlier than that as part of cost cutting measures.
Royal Netherlands Air Force
Continuing with the military variant, the RNAF owns three KDC-10 tanker/transport aircraft, which are based at Eindhoven Airport in support of peacekeeping operations around the world.
This Bolivian cargo operator has three DC-10s in its flee, one of which is an ex-FedEx MD-10. It operates cargo flights around South America and to Miami.
Kelowna Flightcraft Air Charter / Purolator Canada
The Canadian cargo operator has four DC-10s operating usually from its Kelowna and Hamilton bases, although two aircraft have been in storage recently.
Another tanker operator, Omega Air has a lot of DC-10s on its books, but most are in storage or in the process of being scrapped. The active ones are used to support military refuelling operations, and can thus be found operating all over on missions, including with foreign air forces.
10 Tanker Air Carrier
One of the more spectacular DC-10 operations are these converted aerial firefighting aircraft. Using two former passenger examples, these huge aircraft now fight wild fires and are capable of dumping 12,000 US gallons at at time. The aircraft are painted white and red, with 910 and 911 fleet numbers.
Finally, another unusual operator of two DC-10s is Project Orbis – a non-profit organisation whose mission is to perform eye operations around the world to prevent blindness and eye diseases. These two Flying Eye Hospital aircraft are equipped with hospital equipment, operating theatres, and teaching facilities. Their N220AU aircraft was the second DC-10 built, and since then an MD-10, N330AU, has been donated by FedEx.
A Venezuelan cargo carrier with bases in Caracas and Valencia. They have a single DC-10 in a smart livery which flies throughout Latin America on scheduled and charter flights.
In addition to these active DC-10s, stored and retired aircraft can be seen at a number of the bigger storage airports around the US, including Davis-Monthan, AZ, Marana, AZ, Mojave, CA, Roswell, NM, Sanford, FL and Victorville, CA.
Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Airport Spotting Guide, Australasia, Australia, Spotting News | Posted on 20-02-2014
According to site Australian Business Traveller, Sydney Airport confirmed the closure due to “operational reasons” as the airport explores a range of potential uses for the space as it looks to redevelop parts of the terminal.
This is sad news for spotters who enjoy the panoramic views and great position for photographing and watching aircraft at the airport.
There are a number of alternative locations for spotting aircraft at Sydney, which the airport encourages you to use. These include the Rydges Hotel at Terminal 1, Qantas Drive, the mound next to runway 16L, and the area alongside the runway 25 threshold.
The airport maintains that the aviation enthusiast community is important to them and has a page dedicated to this (see here) with details of spotting locations. Nevertheless, some enthusiasts have reacted badly at the news of this closure.