200 airports approved for 747-8 operations

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting | Posted on 05-04-2012


Boeing has proudly announced that 200 airports have been approved for operations of its new 747-8 aircraft – the latest and largest in the 747 family.

The new aircraft has a wider wingspan, and increased length, over previous models. This puts it into the Category F size of aircraft, similar to the Airbus A380.

All airports need to be approved for commercial operations with the categories of aircraft that fly in.

Boeing announce that London Heathrow has become the 200th to gain approval for the 747-8, which is already serving around 63 airports around the world with the few carriers to have received their orders so far.

Across both passenger and freighter variants, it will operate for the likes of Lufthansa, Cargolux, Cathay Pacific, Atlas Air, Arik Air and Korean Air.

Last chances to see NASA’s Space Shuttles in the air!

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, USA | Posted on 05-04-2012


Photo (c) NASANASA is preparing to deliver its retired Space Shuttle orbiters to their final resting places – namely the chosen museums who will take delivery of them for exhibit.

Since the Shuttle isn’t a powered aircraft in its own right, this means that you will get to see the famous Boeing 747 ‘piggy back’ shuttle aircraft one last time.

These classic -100 model aircraft formerly flew with American Airlines, and now only one remains active with NASA. This aircraft will fly to Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Tuesday 10 April. Then, all going well, on Tuesday 17 April it will deliver Discovery to Washington Dulles Airport as it heads to the National Air and Space Museum. It is hoped that the aircraft can perform a flyby of Washington DC before landing, which will make quite a spectacle!

Then, on 23 April, the Boeing 747 will be used to ferry the prototype Shuttle Enterprise from Washington Dulles (it is currently at the museum) to New York JFK Airport. From there it will be barged to the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum in Manhattan.

Finally, in September this year, the Shuttle Endeavour will be delivered atop the 747 to Los Angeles (I’m not sure which airport at the moment), from which it will be transported by road to the California Science Center.

Believe me, I want to see photos of these trips. So please send them in!


Berlin Brandenburg will be spotter friendly

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Germany, Spotting News, Western Europe | Posted on 03-04-2012


Berlin Brandenburg is the flagship new gateway for the city, and the country, and is due to open in late June.

It is being built adjoining the existing Schonefeld Airport, which will close down along with Tegel Airport, meaning all air traffic will use one modern hub.

In some reassuring news for spotters, provision is being made for an observation deck atop the terminal giving views across the airport and runways, and no doubt offering great opportunities for photography, plus an elevated viewing tower with additional views.

This should come as no surprise, as Germany is one of the most spotter-friendly countries, with most airports providing some kind of viewing area.

Berlin Brandenburg is set to become quite a busy airport, not only because it is combining the operators of two airports into one, but because many airlines are opening new routes, and national carrier Lufthansa has announced a proper hub at the airport, with worldwide routes.

The observation deck will be located on Level 4 of the terminal, and will be semi-covered, with telescopes. Opening times will be 6am-10pm in the summer, and 8am-8pm in the winter.

It is also planned to offer airside bus tours that will take you to the maintenance areas and fire station.

In addition to the observation deck, a viewing tower called the Infotower will be provided with elevated views over the airfield. This will be open from 10am-6pm.


Iran Air sources more aircraft to replace older ones

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Iran, Middle East | Posted on 01-04-2012


(c) Konstantin von WedelstaedtIran has many economic sanctions imposed upon it, and as a result its airlines have difficulty in obtaining new aircraft to fly. Therefore, you find a lot of older types still flying there which date back to the early generations of jet airliners.

However, as sourcing spare parts is even difficult, these airliners can only fly so long and the airlines need to find alternative ways of replacing them.

One such way is to obtain aircraft from owners in countries through which sanctions are not in place, such as Kyrgyzstan.

This is what Iran Air has arranged. Their older Boeing 747-100, -200 and SP aircraft are in need of replacement, and a solution has been found in three former Qantas Boeing 747-338 aircraft that have recently been retired by the airline.

These aircraft will be joining the fleet from April and May this year. If the interior configuration used by Qantas is still in place, it will see an improvement in comfort since they were outfitted to match the 747-400 fleet internally.

The aircraft may be approved to fly international routes, which with the -100 and -200 aircraft had been banned by many countries on safety grounds.

If you see one in action, why not post a photo on our Facebook page?

More 787 routes announced – LOT Polish

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Eastern Europe, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Poland, USA | Posted on 31-03-2012


Following hot on the recent announcements by LAN Airlines about their proposed routes to be operated by the Boeing 787 when it enters their fleet later this year, LOT Polish Airlines has now unveiled its plans for the aircraft.

LOT will take delivery of the Dreamliner in early 2013, and significantly will be the first European carrier to operate the type.

The airline has announced that its initial route will be from Warsaw to Chicago O’Hare. This route is currently operated daily with Boeing 767-300 aircraft, and the 787 will allow increased capacity on the route, which is due to go 9x weekly this summer.

With the arrival of the 787, you will also see a slightly new livery introduced for LOT. The picture above ((c) LOT) demonstrates this.

Best of the web – Airport Spotting Videos – Dusseldorf Crosswind Landings

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Germany, Miscellaneous Spotting, Western Europe | Posted on 30-03-2012


Here’s another best of the web video of airport spotting action. This video actually did the rounds a month or two ago, becoming quite popular as it shows some pretty extreme landings at Dusseldorf Airport during a storm. It makes excellent viewing.


Where you gonna fly on a LAN 787?

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Chile, Frankfurt, Germany, North America, Peru, South America, Spain, USA, Western Europe | Posted on 29-03-2012


LAN Airlines is one of the next customers that will start flying the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

One of the demonstrator aircraft is currently in Chile on the latest leg of its World Tour, so the airline and airports are getting their first look at this fantastic new airliner.

To coincide with this visit, LAN has announced the routes that it will be sending its 787′s on from its Santiago de Chile base. They include:

Buenos Aires
Los Angeles

These will gradually roll out over the first year of service as more aircraft come on line. The first Dreamliners will join LAN’s fleet from late 2012. The airline will eventually take 32 examples.

HS 748 Enthusiast Flights

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Canada, Miscellaneous Spotting, North America, Spotting Trip Reports | Posted on 28-03-2012


How would you fancy a trip on that rare workhorse, the Hawker Siddeley HS.748? Very few of them remain in service today, so it’s quite unusual to get the chance to fly on one.

Henry Tenby’s AirlineHobby site is offering enthusiast flights on an Air North example on three different dates this summer, and tickets are limited so get yours now!

The dates are:

Saturday, 16th June from Vancouver Airport South Terminal
Saturday, 14th July from Vancouver Airport South Terminal
Saturday, 11th August from Vancouver Airport to Abbotsford Air Show and back.

Every ticket booked will receive a free Air North HS748 DVD from Henry Tenby’s excellent collection of titles.

Flights last around an hour, and will cover all aspects of interest to the enthusiast.

You can find out more information from this link: http://www.airlinehobby.com/welcome/748tour/hs748charter.cfm

Middle East Airports for the plane spotter

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Abu Dhabi, Airport Spotting Guide, Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Middle East, Qatar, Sharjah | Posted on 26-03-2012


The Middle East – particularly around the United Arab Emirates – has become a major aviation hub, particularly with east-west travel and the rise of the big carriers such as Emirates and Qatar Airways. But what’s the difference between the many airports from an aviation enthusiast’s perspective? Here are some observations and highlights…



By far the busiest and most profitable airport in the region for the spotter. Dubai is a large airport, home base for Emirates, and visited by major airlines from around the world. It is still frequented by some older and Russian jets, and the constant sunshine makes it great for the photographer. BUT, you’ll have to splash out for the rooftop area of the Sheraton Deira Hotel, as there aren’t many good vantage points around the airport. Always be careful, as spotters still get unwelcome attention from authorities if they are seen brandishing cameras and binoculars in public.

Not too far from Dubai, Sharjah has turned itself into the region’s main low-cost airport. The days of smoking Russian aircraft and older generation Western jets are largely gone now, but you can still see the occasional interesting movement.

The airport still has airside tours available, but they are now quite expensive. Book through the airport’s website: http://www.shj-airport.gov.ae/

Doha is the rising star in the region. Its infrastructure is still quite basic, but it is expanding at quite a pace. Its home airline is Qatar Airways, who have a mixed medium- and long-haul fleet which flies in a similar wave pattern to Emirates at Dubai.

The only real places to spot here are inside the terminal, which has some windows at either end for passengers.

Home of Gulf Air, Bahrain is one of the older airports in the region, but is undergoing significant upgrades and expansion. It is served by a large number of passenger and cargo airlines, but not nearly as busy as Dubai or Doha.

Spotting is quite difficult. One option is the park near the end of Runway 30, or the waterside area near the end of runway 12.

This airport is also undergoing a massive terminal expansion. Home to Kuwait Airways, it is not as busy as the other Middle East airports mentioned, but still worth a look.  There are some views close to the runway ends, and within the terminal.

Things will improve with the new terminal when it opens.
Abu Dhabi
The second largest airport in the UAE, and served by home airline Etihad’s large fleet. Like other nearby airports, it operates a wave pattern of flights – many of which arrive late at night.

Spotting is possible from the roads at either end of the runways, but this can often arouse suspicion. Inside the terminal, the cafe area before security has views over the aprons and runways. Just be careful flashing equipment around with security present.

Las Vegas McCarran’s new terminal opens in June

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, North America, USA | Posted on 23-03-2012


Photo (c) Las Vegas McCarran AirportLas Vegas McCarran‘s snazzy new Terminal 3 is set to open its doors on 27 June, and is set to wow the travelling public with its amenities and ease of use.

The terminal is located to the east of the existing terminals, and consists of a single building with 14 jetbridge-equipped gates, and a huge new parking lot and road access system.

Terminal 3 is to operate as a mixed domestic and international facility, taking over the role of the old charter terminal and other terminals at the airport. It will feature self boarding gates and self tagging baggage drop stations, as seen in some other airports around the world.

It will also have plenty of big name shops and eateries to spend your winnings on.