Manston Airport to close

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 07-05-2014

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This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. (c) James Stuart

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. (c) James Stuart

The UK’s historic Manston Airport – famed for its role in the Battle of Britain, and popular with enthusiasts largely because of its collection of stored and abandoned airliners – has announced it is to close on 15th May.

The airport was bought for £1 last year by an investor who hoped to find a future for the airport. But recently, the only passenger operator at Manston, KLM Cityhopper, withdrew its flights to Amsterdam and the future looked bleak.

Since the airport is losing £10,000 per day, it entered a consultation period about closing and has now announced this date, despite offers from investors and business proposals by staff.

It’s a sad end to Manston, which interestingly has one of the widest runways in the world.

Etihad creates ‘The Residence’ aboard A380s

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Dubai, Middle East, Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 06-05-2014

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THE_RESIDENCE_BEDROOM_HORIZONTAL

Etihad Airways is due to take delivery of its first Airbus A380 at the end of 2014.

In a first for the aviation industry, the airline has created a unique concept on board these aircraft call The Residence.

The Residence will feature a living room, double bedroom, separate ensuite shower room, and for the first time in the airline industry, a dedicated, trained Butler. Designed for up to two guests travelling together, it has been created by leading interior designers and hospitality experts who understand the discernment and sophistication expected by the private traveler. Measuring an unparalleled 125 square feet in total area, The Residence will be located on the forward upper deck of the airline’s new fleet of Airbus A380s and will be available for single or double occupancy.

Etihad A380 Residence

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad Airways’ Chief Commercial Officer, said: “The Residence will set Etihad Airways apart from the rest of the industry and allow us to provide the complete range of world-class products and services to cater for the individual tastes of every VIP traveller.

“This is the culmination of five years of intensive effort and research into how Etihad Airways can provide an unparalleled VIP experience. Without doubt, we are ushering in a new era of luxury travel in commercial aviation.”

Here’s a video of the Residence:

I’m looking forward to seeing these aircraft in the skies and reading trip reports from people using The Residence. It sounds incredible.

Guide to aviation and spotting in India

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Asia, India, Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Hotels | Posted on 03-05-2014

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8.-JETAPRONVABB

India is one of the world’s most populous countries. It covers an area of around 1.3 million square miles, and has a population of over 1.2 billion people.

With a country of this size and with that many people, transport naturally plays a major role in everyday life, both in terms of moving the population around, and also in bringing people to and from India from the rest of the world, whether for tourism or business.

Air India 707

The Ministry of Aviation controls civil aviation within India – covering both airlines and airports. However, since the 1990s liberalisation has meant that the airline industry in particular has been able to welcome new entrants to challenge the foothold previously held by national carrier Air India (and Indian Airlines, which it merged with in 2011).

However, for the aviation enthusiast India has proved somewhat difficult as a place to pursue aircraft spotting and photography. Security is notoriously tight and unsympathetic to anyone carrying cameras or binoculars anywhere near an airport, with one notorious case even involving spotters using a hotel room being arrested as suspected terrorists after concern was raised over their behaviour and equipment.

Yet despite this, India is a fascinating place for aviation where new and old meet. It has some incredibly busy airports which see aircraft from many eras operating daily.

Main Airports

Mumbai

There are more than 20 international airports in India. The principal ones of interest to the spotter are:

  • Delhi Indira Ghandi International Airport
  • Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
  • Chennai International Airport
  • Bangalore Kempegowda International Airport
  • Kolkata Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport
  • Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport
  • Kochi Cochin International Airport
  • Ahmedabad Sardar Patel International Airport
  • Pune Lohegaon Airport
  • Thiruvananthapuram International Airport

 

Principal Carriers

Air India is the national airline of India. It was one the largest airline in Indian subcontinent, but is now not even the largest in India. After years of financial struggles and an ageing fleet, it is now positioning itself for growth, having merged with Indian Airlines in 2011 and introduced a modern and efficient fleet of aircraft over recent years. It is also poised to join the Star Alliance in 2014.

Air India’s principal bases are at Delhi and Mumbai airports. It has smaller bases at Chennai and Kolkata, with a number of focus cities in other regional airports around the country.

Its fleet comprises Airbus A319/A320/A321, Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-200LR and -300ER, and Boeing 787-8.

Air India Express at Cochin

Air India Express is a low-cost subsidiary of the national carrier, operating Boeing 737-800 aircraft.

Air India Regional operates regional flights linking with the parent carrier’s hubs using ATR 42-300 and Bombardier CRJ-700ER aircraft.

GoAir

GoAir formed in 2005 as a low cost carrier with its base at Mumbai. It operates Airbus A320s to 21 different domestic cities, and recently placed an order for 72 of the new A320neo models. Originally GoAir painted its aircraft in a range of different colours, but has now standardised on the grey option.

IndiGo is a Delhi-based low-cost airline which has grown incredibly fast since it started flying in 2006, now carrying more passengers than any other airline in India. It has secondary bases in Kolkata and Mumbai, and flies Airbus A320s both domestically and internationally. It also has a large number of A320neo aircraft on order to complement its growth plans.

Jet Airways is one of India’s biggest carriers, operating over 3000 flights per day. Its primary base is at Mumbai Airport, but with expansion has come a number of other secondary hubs, including Kolkata, Kempegowda, and Delhi. It also operates a base at Brussels in Belgium, through which it stages international flights to destinations in North America.

Jet Airways’ fleet comprises Airbus A330-200/300, ATR 72-500/600, Boeing 737-700/800/900, Boeing 777-300ER. Boeing 787-8s are due to join the fleet from late 2014.

Additional coverage is offered through the JetKonnect brand, which flies ATR 72 and Boeing 737s from the main fleet on low cost flights on many domestic routes from Mumbai. This airline emerged from Air Sahara and JetLite.

Spice Jet

SpiceJet is another major low-cost and ‘no frills’ airline in India, formed in 1993 (as ModiLuft). It has principal bases in Chennai, Delhi and Hyderabad, and flies a large fleet of Boeing 737-800/900 and Bombardier Q400 aircraft to 46 domestic and ten international cities. It recently placed an order for Boeing 737MAX aircraft as it seeks to increase its market share across the increasingly competitive carriers.

 

 

A380 and 787 in India

Large and modern airliners such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 have both come to India. In the case of the 787, Air India was one of the first carriers to take delivery of the type, and now deploys it on international routes mostly from Delhi, as well as from Mumbai to London Heathrow.

Jet Airways are due to take delivery of Boeing 787s in late 2014, and will use them on their international schedules.

No Indian carrier operates the Airbus A380, and the Indian government was determined to ban airlines from flying it to the country, despite passenger demand on some routes. This was mainly a move to stop large international carriers from dominating routes to India’s hubs at the cost of losing business for Air India. However, recently the government has relented on its ban, allowing the A380 to fly into Bangalore, Delhi, Hyderabad and Mumbai airports. Singapore Airlines were first to take advantage, introducing the type twice daily to both Delhi and Mumbai. Emirates and Lufthansa are likely to follow suit.

 

Other interesting aircraft in India

What about other aircraft that might be of interest to the spotter in India? Well, the Indian Air Force operates a number of interesting transport types, including Antonov An-32, BAe/HS 748, Boeing 737-700, C-130 Hercules, DHC-4 Caribou, Dornier 228, Embraer 135 LEGACY, Ilyushin IL-76/78, and C-17 Globemaster which all occasionally show up at the country’s civil airports.

Indian BAe 748

The Indian Navy also operates Boeing 737 P-8, BN2 Islands, and Dornier 228 aircraft.

 

Spotting

Spotting is where things get difficult in India. The hobby is definitely not understood by most people, and you’ll be sure to attract attention if you take out a camera or binoculars and start pointing them at aircraft – particularly if you’re near an airport fence.

You will also attract attention of the police or security personnel around the bigger airports, such as Delhi or Mumbai.

However, it is important that you know the official rules regarding this as there is hope for spotters and photographers in India…

The official law states that: No person shall take, or cause or permit to be taken, at a Government aerodrome or from an aircraft in flight, any photograph except in accordance with and subject to the terms and conditions of a permission in writing.

However, photography IS permitted within airport terminal buildings of all civilian airports, and at some mixed government/civilian airports, such as Goa and Pune.

You are also permitted to take photographs on board and airliner, so long as you are a ticket holder on that flight, and the aircraft is not at a government or military airport. Can you believe it was actually illegal to carry cameras and video equipment aboard an aircraft until 2005?

Another key aspect of the rules to remember if you are photographing outside an airport – it is not permitted to take pictures of the airport itself, however there is no rules about pictures at the airport.

It is wise to keep a copy of the rules handy if you are visiting India. This will at least allow you to back up your case if you are approached by an official. See these links:

http://dgca.nic.in/airrule/rule13.htm

http://dgca.nic.in/airrule/so1353.pdf

http://dgca.nic.in/aic/aic7_2004.pdf

 

None of India’s airports provide places for people to watch aircraft. As I said, it’s a misunderstood hobby which raises suspicion. Having said that, for most fare paying passengers you have a ticket to sit by the windows of your chosen airport and watch movements quite easily in most cases.

When doing this it is important to show discretion, particularly with the use of cameras, binoculars and SBS equipment as you are likely to attract attention quickly. Keep compact binoculars and cameras with shorter lenses in a bag and only use them sparingly.

Where the locals go

Naturally, local spotters will always know the best positions. When working on the book Mumbai Airports Through Time, spotters Sean DSilva and Jimmy Wadia shared their collection of hundreds of pictures taken around Mumbai Airports, and you can see that they knew the best locations to get good shots.  See some examples here from the book:

Mumbai IL-76

Air India 747 rain

14.-P1170226

The spot is a raised area of land near the airport perimeter which is higher than the fence level and is good for pictures of aircraft on the ground and in the air. However, Sean tells me that even here the officials will regularly move on and interrogate spotters.

Delhi Airport is not known for its spotting locations, so unless you find a local to show you around it is best to stick to watching movements from inside the terminal.The same can be said for Kolkata, Goa and Hyderabad.

Spotting at Chennai Airport

Spotting at Chennai Airport

Bangalore and Chennai are similar to Mumbai in that there are some locations close to the end of the runways which offer views. An active local community of spotters have a Facebook page for Chennai at (https://www.facebook.com/ChennaiPlaneSpotters) which shows the latest pictures that have been taken here, and may offer advice on where to go.

 

Spotting Hotels

Hotels often produce the best results for plane spotters in India. They offer privacy to watch (and often photograph) aircraft without worry about being questioned by security officers. Having said that, there were some people arrested for this at Delhi’s Radisson in 2010, so always show caution with equipment and how you behave in hotels.

The best hotels for spotting in India are:

Orchid Hotel at Mumbai Airport (http://www.orchidhotel.com/)

This hotel has some rooms facing the airport terminals, which are fine for logging movements. However, the main draw is the rooftop terrace and swimming pool which overlooks the airport and allows nearly all aircraft to be logged and acceptable photos to be taken. The hotel management understand the hobby, although you should inform staff of your intentions when arriving.

Radisson Blu Hotel at Delhi Airport (http://www.radissonblu.com/hotel-newdelhi)

Some rooms at this hotel face the airport, making it probably the best option for spotting in the city. However, given the problems caused with spotters at this hotel in the past, extreme caution should be exercised.

 

Museums

A few aviation museums exist in India, and these are usually happy for enthusiasts to take pictures of exhibits. Most, however, focus primarily on military aircraft. Examples include:

Connie_at_NAM_2

HAL Aerospace Museum, in Bangalore

Indian Air Force Museum, in Palam, Delhi. Website http://indianairforce.nic.in/show_page.php?pg_id=49

Naval Aviation Museum, in Vasco da Gama, Goa. The most notable exhibit is a Lockheed Constellation aircraft. Website http://www.goatourism.gov.in/destinations/museums/159-naval-aviation-museum

 

Events

India is home to a few air shows. Most notable is AeroIndia, which has become the largest in Asia and is primarily a showcase for military manufacturers and organisations to do business, but it also opens to the public. It is held at Yelahanka Air Force Base in Bangalore biannually. The next one is expected to be held in early 2015. Photography is acceptable at such events.

 

Should I go to India?

This is something that spotters need to weigh up. Clearly there are security issues with spotting, and some spotters have gotten into trouble in the past. But with discretion, many spotters travel to India every year and get some great results (just look at the photos on Airliners.net).

Mumbai Airports Through Time

In terms of aircraft, there are some here that you won’t find elsewhere – particularly aircraft in domestic fleets, and those of the Indian Air Force. Most of the airports are pretty busy so you should have a fruitful time.
One of the reasons we put together our book Mumbai Airports Through Time was to show off the variety of fascinating aircraft to be seen in India simply because it is difficult for people to get there and see for themselves. You can buy a copy of the book here.

If you do choose to go, it’s always advisable to seek advice from locals and show the utmost discretion in what you do.

Have you been spotting in India? Write a comment below and let us know how you found it…

Best of the Web – Airport Spotting Videos – Davis Monthan Time Lapse

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Spotting Videos, USA | Posted on 02-05-2014

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It’s been a while since I posted a Best of the Web video, but I saw this one today and felt I had to share it as the photography is simply stunning. It shows the huge Davis Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ, through a series of time lapse sequences, often shot at night, both inside and out of many of the classic military jets, helicopters and former airliners in various states at the storage site.

Hope you enjoy!

KLM modifies livery

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Miscellaneous Spotting, Netherlands, Western Europe | Posted on 30-04-2014

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KLM modified livery

KLM has unveiled a modified livery with the arrival of its latest Embraer 190 aircraft, PH-EXD.

Although not a major departure from its existing livery, the new scheme adds a little flair and new design to the forward part of the fuselage.

The latest Embraer 190 is part of KLM’s ongoing fleet-renewal programme. The replacement of seven Fokker 70s with six new Embraers brings the total fleet in 2014 to 28 Embraer 190 and 19 Fokker 70 aircraft.

Heathrow Terminal 2 opening soon. Check out the sculpture!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport News, Heathrow, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 29-04-2014

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Slipstream Terminal 2

London Heathrow’s new Terminal 2 will open on 4th June after a number of years under construction, which started with the demolition of the 1950s Queens Building and original terminal structure.

The new building much resembles Terminal 5 and offers  the latest in layout and construction design, and will help Heathrow handle passengers more efficiently. Terminal 2 will be home to Star Alliance carriers once opened.

It features one of Europe’s longest permanent sculptures, the 78 m Slipstream, by Royal Academician, Richard Wilson. It was made using the same Dassault Systèmes 3DEXPERIENCE Technology that is instrumental to the design, development and production of the Boeing and Airbus aircraft that will carry many of the 20m passengers per year served by Heathrow’s new Terminal 2.

Supported between 2 passenger walkways on 4 slim columns 18 m apart, the sculpture weighing around 77 tonnes represents flight.

Flybe launching London City routes

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Airport News, Ireland, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 23-04-2014

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Flybe Q400

Flybe has announced a number of new routes from London City Airport starting in October.

New routes include Belfast City, Dublin, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness.

Flybe chief executive Saad Hammad said: “Today’s announcement is a significant landmark in the re-birth of Flybe. We are delighted to re-enter the London market at London’s most convenient airport following a rigorous profitability analysis utilising our strict route assessment model.”

 

Read about my behind the scenes tour of London City Airport here.

Air Arabia starting Ras Al Khaimah flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Airline News, Airport News, Asia, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Middle East, Oman | Posted on 21-04-2014

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(c) Air Arabia

(c) Air Arabia

Air Arabia will begin flying from Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) from 6 May using Airbus A320 aircraft.

The airline will take up where failed RAK Airways left off.

In February 2014, Air Arabia and the Ras Al Khaimah Department of Civil Aviation entered into a long-term strategic partnership to significantly increase the number of destinations accessible to the residents of Ras Al Khaimah and to bring more tourists within reach of the emirate. From its hub at RAK International Airport, Air Arabia will follow exactly the same value-for-money business model as it does from its primary base in Sharjah.

Two new Airbus A320 aircraft will initially be based at RAK International Airport to service regular routes to Jeddah in Saudi; Cairo in Egypt; Muscat in Oman; Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar in Pakistan; Dhaka in Bangladesh; and Calicut in India, which will be added shortly after launch.

 

10 Boeing 707s you can go inside today

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Africa, Australasia, Australia, Colombia, Iran, Israel, Middle East, North America, South Africa, South America, UK, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 19-04-2014

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It seems the days of being able to fly on a Boeing 707 are finally over, with Saha Air in Iran grounding their fleet in favour of modern types. So the next best thing is to at least get inside one of the classic jets.

Here are 12 Boeing 707s around the world that are open to the public*

55-3139 KC-135 Stratotanker USAF
Castle Air Museum, Atwater, CA
A former US Air Force tanker, 55-3139 is now preserved and occasionally open to the public to explore the interior.

KC-135 55-3139

55-3139 (c) Chris Kennedy

 

008 – 4X-JYD 707-131
Israeli Air Force Museum, Hatzerim AFB, Israel
Originally flown by TWA, this Israeli Air Force museum is preserved and often very dusty!

4X-JYD (c) Pieter v Marion

4X-JYD (c) Pieter v Marion

 

VH-XBA 707-138B QANTAS
Qantas Founders Museum, Longreach, Australia
This aircraft was part of the original QANTAS order for Boeing 707s. It was restored to flying condition from storage at Southend, UK, and ferried around the world to this amazing museum in Australia.

VH-XBA

VH-XBA (c) Qantas Founders Museum

 

G-APFJ 707-436 BOAC (forward fuselage only)
National Museum of Flight, East Fortune, Scotland
This aircraft was preserved in one piece at the RAF Cosford museum, but sadly scrapped in 2006. The forward fuselage is now open to the public at the National Museum of Flight near Edinburgh.

707-G-APFJ

(c) Kim Traynor

 

58-6970 C-137B Air Force One
Museum of Flight, Seattle Boeing Field, WA
Air Force One during the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon is now preserved at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

58-6970

Air Force One in Seattle (c) Matt Falcus

 

62-6000 VC-137C Air Force One
National Museum of the US Air Force, Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
The aircraft used on the day of John F Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas 50 years ago, and on which President Lyndon B Johnson was sworn in.

707 62-6000

Air Force One 62-6000

 

EP-IRJ 707-321B Air Restaurant
nr Tehran Mehrabad Airport, Iran
Originally a Pan Am machine, this aircraft is now open as a restaurant close to Tehran Mehrabad Airport.

Inside EP-IRJ near Tehran (c) Sam Chui

Inside EP-IRJ near Tehran (c) Sam Chui/SamChuiPhotos.com

 

AF-621 707-344C South African Air Force (forward fuselage only)
South African Air Force Museum, Waterkloof AFB, South Africa
Forward section of former Air France and South African Air Force 707 is open to the public at the Waterkloof museum.

707 AF-621

(c) Warrant Officer Class II Alan Taylor

 

72-7000 VC-137C Air Force One
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA
The aircraft used by President Ronald Reagan is now lovingly restored at his final resting place and Presidential Library. See how the aircraft looked when in use as Air Force One.

707 Reagan Library

707 at the Reagan Presidential Library

 

HK-749 720-030B Avianca
Parque Saltire Magico, Bogota, Colombia
A former Lufthansa and Avianca aircraft is now in the large Saltire Park in Bogota, along with a Boeing 727, and often open to the public.

HK-749 (c) Renato Krause

HK-749 (c) Renato Krause

* Opening times are subject to the individual organisations displaying these aircraft.

Air Malta Retro A320 flies

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Malta, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 16-04-2014

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Air Malta Retro

Air Malta has painted its Airbus A320 9H-AEI in a retro livery, showing the airline’s 1970s and 80s colours.

It made its debut in a flypast at Malta Airport, with many spotters ready to take pictures.

Picture (c) Air Malta