Manchester celebrates 75 years and opens new tower

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 25-06-2013


Manchester Airport's New TowerManchester Airport has reached its 75 anniversary, having opened on 25th June 1938 as Ringway Airport.

To celebrate this milestone, the airport has opened its brand new control tower.

The 60m structure is situated in a more prominent position close to the airport’s hangar complex, giving commanding views across the entire airfield, runways and taxiways. It replaces the older tower, which sits atop Terminal 1 and has been in use for over 40 years.

Nigel Howarth had the chance to visit the new tower to take in the views. Whilst visiting he took these excellent pictures of the views that are possible from the top.

SAS buys A350s and more A330s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Western Europe | Posted on 25-06-2013


A350-900 SAS (c) AirbusSAS Scandinavian Airlines has placed an order for Airbus A350XWB and A330 aircraft.

The order comprises eight A350-900s, and four A330-300s.

Currently, SAS operates a fleet of 19 A320 Family aircraft, four A330s and seven A340s. The new wide-body aircraft will fit seamlessly into the airline’s fleet and deliver operational efficiencies and cost savings due to the commonality across the fleet, a feature unique to Airbus.

Scary runways around the world

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Asia, Eastern Europe, France, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Western Europe | Posted on 22-06-2013


Faith Norris has written this run-down of some of the scariest runways around the world. How many have you flown to?


Scary Runways around the World

Flying can be a turbulent experience for some, especially the take-off and landing. However, the thrill of arriving at an exciting and fun location means that most of us are keen fliers who love knowing we’re just hours away from dream destinations. So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s look at five of the shortest and scariest runways around the world.


Madeira Airport Runway - credit futureshapeSanta Catarina, Madeira, FNC

The international airport on Madeira Island is known as Funchal Airport, located just 13km from the Funchal Cathedral. The runway is 9000 ft. long and the landing process is not a straight forward descent. With the Atlantic Ocean to one side of the runway and sheer mountains to the other, the pilot has to direct the plane towards these mountains before making a last minute turn to land on this short runway. The airport opened in 1964, when the runway was just 5,200 ft., before being revamped in the 21st century. Once landed on this beautiful Portuguese island, tourists can enjoy exploring towns such as Funchal and Canico, taking stunning mountainous walks, as well as visiting excellent beaches. The southern location of the island means that the weather on Madeira is great all year round.


Nepal Airport - credit ilkerenderTenzing Hillary, Nepal, LUA

Also known as Lukla, the Himalayan airport is renowned for having one of the most feared runways in the world. Built on a steep incline in the middle of the Himalayan Mountains, it’s a mere 1500 ft. long and 65 ft. wide! There is no room for error when landing as you approach the runway, winding your way through mountain peaks and clouds. The take-off is just as daunting, accelerating at full speed down the runway before reaching a 9000 foot drop into the valley. The airport is usually quite a busy place as it’s the starting point for people trekking to the Khumbu and the Mount Everest Base Camps.


Courchevel Airport - credit pr1001Corcheval, France, CVF

The airport at Corcheval in the French Alps has a steep runway, with a gradient of 18%, a length of just 1700 ft. and a vertical drop at the end. The weather conditions throw another spanner in the works, with snow, wind and ice making for a challenging landing at the best of times. As pilots approach to land they have to carefully manoeuvre between the snowy valleys and mountains, this can only be performed by specially trained pilots. As well as being rather dangerous, the airport also has another claim to fame; filming for the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies took place here. Even Pierce Brosnan must have been slightly scared! To calm your nerves, make a detour at the après-ski bar in the airport, grab a hot chocolate or a shot of schnapps to really warm you through, as you watch the planes attempt the awkward landing. Once sufficiently settled after the nerve-racking land, tighten those ski boots, click on your skis and carve up the piste.


Heraklion, Crete, HER

Heraklion airport, also known as Nikos Kazantzakis, is the second busiest airport in Greece after Athens. It was first opened in March 1939 where it was simply a flat area of agricultural land. It wasn’t until 1953 that it had a concrete runway measuring a mere 5,100 ft. Over the years, the airport has had a number of improvements, with terminals being built as well as the runway being extended to 8,000 ft. It operates to 102 destinations in 27 countries offering stunning views of the island as you fly over the Mediterranean Sea. In 2012 over forty thousand flights arrived and departed the airport. Unfortunately, it’s requested that photographs or videos are not to be taken, as the airport is the base for the Hellenic Air Force. Fear not, as once you’ve landed, there will be plenty of opportunities to take your holiday snaps.


Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, FUE

The runway at Fuerteventura airport, also known as El Matorral, is 7000 ft. long and requires a skilled pilot to land safely on the short stretch. It reaches out to 66 destinations in 11 countries and caters to millions of tourists every year; 5 million in 2012! Built in the 1960s, and next to the Atlantic Ocean, it gives passengers a stunning view as they arrive in Puerto del Rosario, the island’s capital. As you come in to land, you’ll notice the lunar landscape and golden sand dunes. Once you’ve touched down, head to the coast to try out water sports activities, such as windsurfing and kite surfing, taking advantage of the strong winds and great waves. Corralejo and Costa Calma are both popular resorts, with long sandy beaches and excellent restaurants.


Even though you may have to overcome some minor panic, the destination will make the flying experience worthwhile, and you’ll have some great stories to tell your friends if you spend time one of these iconic runways. Buckle up and enjoy your travels.

Best of the Web – Airport Spotting Videos – AMC 737 overrun

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Eastern Europe, Friday Favourite, Greece, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Videos | Posted on 21-06-2013


I came across this crazy video yesterday of a runway overrun by an AMC Airlines Boeing 737-800 at Thessaloniki Airport in Greece.

All manner of things seem to be wrong with the approach, from being too high and too fast, to not deploying flaps until almost touching down and floating down the runway.

ANA to end 747 operations in March 2014

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Japan | Posted on 20-06-2013


ANA 747400DANA All Nippon Airways is expected to end flights by its Boeing 747-400s at the end of March 2014.

The airline currently only operates the -400D model, which was specifically developed for the Japanese domestic market where large numbers of passengers could be flown between the country’s largest cities.

The airline previously operated the Boeing 747 on international routes, too, however these have recently been retired.

Boeing commits to 787-10

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 19-06-2013


Boeing 787-10Boeing has announced at the Paris Air Show that it has committed to the 787-10 model, following orders for over 100 of the type.

The stretched version will be the longest of the Dreamliner models, and will hold up to 330 passengers and have a range of 7,000 miles.

We reported last week that Boeing had commenced building the first 787-9 variant. The -10 model is expected to fly in 2017, with first deliveries in 2018.

Customer launch commitments for the 787-10 include Air Lease Corporation, with 30 airplanes; GE Capital Aviation Services, with 10; International Airlines Group / British Airways, with 12 subject to shareholder approval; Singapore Airlines, with 30 and United Airlines, with 20 airplanes.

Aeroflot MD-11Fs to be grounded

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting, Russia | Posted on 19-06-2013


Aeroflot Cargo MD-11 (c) Pavel AdzhigildaevAeroflot Russian Airlines is expected to announce that it is grounding its fleet of McDonnell Douglas MD-11 freighters.

The airline is struggling to compete against the increase in belly cargo carried by regular passenger airliners, which makes it hard to justify its cargo division, for which the MD-11s operate.

The airline currently operates three MD-11s, and it’s not known if they will be replaced by more fuel-efficient aircraft, or whether the division will be wound down.

easyJet decides future aircraft with massive A320neo order

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 18-06-2013


easyJet A320easyJet has put an end to speculation over whether it will order more aircraft, and what type it will choose, by placing a huge order at the Paris Air Show.

The order is for 100 Airbus A320neo (New Engine Option) aircraft, with options on a further 100. These aircraft will be delivered between 2017-2022.

easyJet will also acquire 35 current generation A320 aircraft between 2015-2017.

85 of the aircraft will replace older examples in the current fleet, whilst the remainder will be used to allow the airline to expand.


Spotting at Stansted – Belmer Road

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Spotting Trip Reports, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 18-06-2013


I recently visited London Stansted Airport and chose to use the Belmer Road spotting location as a base for watching the action.

Whilst there are no official spotting locations at Stansted Airport, this spot is kept in a good condition with cut grass and car parking permitted alongside the road. ‘Plane Watch’ signs attached to the fence also hints that the airport know this is a well-used spot.

After parking up alongside the road (there are usually other cars parked there, particularly at weekends), it is a short walk through one of the gaps in the trees to reach the open area which runs alongside a significant part of the fence on the northern side of the airport.

The airport’s runway runs in front of you, and it is possible to take pictures through the fence or as aircraft climb above it.

Most aircraft movements can be seen from this location, however you’ll usually have to wait for aircraft to move away from the passenger terminal before they can be identified.

Belmer Road Spotting

Directly opposite the spotting location is the cargo ramp, which is often home to a number of Boeing 747-8s. To the right is the VIP terminal and parking area. The aircraft can not be seen from Belmer Road, but it is a short drive or a 20 minute walk to reach the area.

To reach Belmer Road by car, follow directions for the Long Stay Car Park, but continue past their entrance along the narrow country road (Bury Lodge Lane). It eventually becomes Belmer Road, which has the postcode CM24.

The pictures on this post are from my recent visit and show what is possible from this location.

Air Berlin A319

Who has ordered the Airbus A350?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, France, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 15-06-2013


A350 OrdersFollowing yesterday’s first flight of the Airbus A350, I thought I’d give you a glimpse of who has ordered the aircraft and where you’ll see it flying.

Like our Boeing 787 Routes page, I’ll be adding a similar one for the A350 once airlines start taking deliveries (this is going to be in 2014).

I think this list will be added to now that the aircraft has flown, and with the Paris Air Show happening next week. I’ll try to report any new orders as they happen.

Asiana Airlines
AWAS Leasing
Hawaiian Airlines
ILFC Leasing
Libyan Airlines
US Airways (to become American Airlines)

Aer Lingus
Afriqiyah Airways
Air Asia X
Air China
Air Lease Corporation
Asiana Airlines
Cathay Pacific
China Airlines
CIT Leasing
Ethiopian Airlines
Hong Kong Airlines
ILFC Leasing
Qatar Airways
Singapore Airlines
Synergy Aerospace
TAM Linhas Aereas
TAP Portugal
Thai Airways
United Airlines
US Airways (to become American Airlines)
Vietnam Airlines

Air Lease Corporation
Asiana Airlines
Cathay Pacific
Etihad Airways
Qatar Airways