Best of the Web – Aviation Spotting Videos – Painting Alaska Airlines Q400

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, North America, Spotting Videos, USA | Posted on 15-06-2012


Alaska Airlines (Horizon) has recently painted one of its DHC-8 Q400 aircraft in a special colour scheme promoting San Diego State University. To help promote this, they produced a fantastic quick video showing the process of painting the aircraft using time lapse photography. Here it is:


Mongolian ventures international

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia, Spotting News | Posted on 15-06-2012


Mongolian AirlinesMongolian Airlines has ventured outside its own borders for the first time, by starting flights to Hong Kong and Tokyo Haneda.

The airline is using its Airbus A319 aircraft on the flights. Since Mongolia isn’t a country many of us visit, this is a rare chance to see the airline’s aircraft as Hong Kong and Tokyo are a little more accessible.

Flights operate 2x daily to Hong Kong, and 1x daily to Tokyo, both from Ulaan Baatar.

Plans to operate to Tianjin, Shanghai and Erlianhot have been postponed.


Heathrow Spotting Hotels – a handy guide

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Heathrow, Spotting Hotels, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 12-06-2012


Heathrow Spotting HotelsHeathrow is pretty much the most interesting airport in the UK in terms of civil aircraft movements and variety, and I regularly hear people asking for information on the best hotels to stay at for spotting. Well, I’ve put together this handy guide, which you can download here, and also from the link at the top of the page.

Heathrow Spotting Hotels

You can print it out and treat it like a folded leaflet, or just view it on your computer/portable device.

If you’ve got any feedback, please leave a comment below. I’m aiming to produce similar guides for other worldwide airports.

Remember to follow us on Twitter at @airportspotting

Air India 787s coming this month

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Asia, Australasia, Australia, Heathrow, India, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 10-06-2012


Air India 787sYou may have heard that Air India was refusing to take delivery of any of its Boeing 787 Dreamliners until Boeing offered substantial compensation for the lengthy delays it has encountered in developing and delivery the airliners.

Well, the two parties have come to an arrangement, and you can expect to see the first three examples (a number have been in storage at Everett Paine Field for quite a while) delivered this month!

We always like to see a new airline start flying 787s, and with Air India you can expect it to begin Dreamliner flights from Mumbai to London and Delhi to Melbourne around August.

Initially, the aircraft will be used on domestic routes to enable crew familiarity to be gained.

Best of the web – Aircraft spotting videos – 747 lifting in the wind

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in North America, Spotting Videos, USA | Posted on 08-06-2012


I came across this fascinating video the other day and had to share it as this week’s Best of the Web video. It shows a retired Southern Air Boeing 747 sitting in desert storage at Mojave, CA. Because it has had its engines removed, it has become much lighter than usual, and slightly tail heavy. When 70mph winds arrive, a spectacular phenomenon occurs. I’ll leave it to you to watch…

Paris Vatry Airport – the low down

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, France, Western Europe | Posted on 07-06-2012


Announcements have just been made that Luxair are to start three new routes from Paris Vatry Airport, and it got me thinking ‘What and where is Paris Vatry Airport!?’

Well, it’s one of those ‘Ryanair‘ airports, that are vaguely close enough to the named city to be associated with it, but in reality nowhere near. It’s actually a destination for Ryanair, who call it Paris Vatry (Disney), since it’s also vaguely close to the theme park (65 miles).

The airport is really Châlons Vatry Airport, as its located at the town of Châlons, and was formerly an air base. It has a single runway (10/28), and is currently served by Ryanair on domestic routes, as well as some seasonal international routes. Jetairfly also fly to Nice seasonally.

In addition, it operates as a sizable cargo facility, with regular flights by UPS, Cargolux, and Yangtze River Express.

And now Luxair has announced three new routes to operate only until the end of July 2012 – these are to Luxembourg, Palma and Heraklion.

For the spotter, Vatry has a number of small roads running the length of the runway, opposite the terminal. There are also some opportunities to see aircraft parked up from around the terminal area.

Radisson Blu at East Midlands

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Miscellaneous Spotting, Spotting Hotels, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 03-06-2012


Photo (c) Radisson BluA new airport hotel recently opened at East Midlands Airport in the form of a Radisson Blu.

Whilst passing recently, I decided to check out the prospects of this being a place that you can view aircraft movements from.

In case you’re not familiar, East Midlands Airport is one of the UK’s premier cargo airports, and as such becomes a hive of activity during the nighttime hours. Previously, if you wanted to watch the action, your best bet is to slum it with the local boy racers on Diseworth Road, Castle Donington, which leads up to the crash gate and the best views of the runway and cargo ramp.

Although I didn’t stay at the Radisson Blu, it seems from passing that there are indeed plenty of rooms from which you can watch the action. A request when booking or checking in should provide you with an airport-facing room, overlooking the runway and eastern cargo apron (home to UPS, Star Air (Maersk) etc.). You won’t be able to see the main DHL cargo ramp, but everything should pass the window at some point.

The Radisson Blu East Midlands Airport website is

Let me know if you’ve stayed there. What is the view like? Which rooms are good?

Budapest moves all operations into Terminal 2

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Eastern Europe, Hungary, Spotting News | Posted on 02-06-2012


© Raimond Spekking / CC-BY-SA-3.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

Budapest Airport has closed its historic Terminal 1 and moved all passenger operations into the modern Terminal 2.

In recent years, Terminal 1 has been used primarily by low-cost carriers such as Wizz Air, easyJet, Ryanair and Jet2, amongst others. However, it has been straining to cope under the sheer volume of traffic.

Terminal 2 had been built as a hub for national carrier Malev, however since the airline closed down earlier this year, there has been plenty of spare capacity there.

Following the switch over after the closure of Terminal 1 at 2359 on 29 May, the following morning, between 0600 and 0700, nine aircraft of low-cost airlines and two of traditional carriers left from Terminal 2.

In the first hour of the morning peak, 1780 departing passengers were processed through Terminal 2 without any disruption.
Terminal 1, which originally opened in 1939, may be reopened in the future if demand arises.

bmi brand lives on with sale of Regional

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airline News, Spotting News, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 01-06-2012


The bmi brand is to live on following the successful sale of bmi Regional.

IAG group, who bought bmi British Midland from Lufthansa earlier this year, has been seeking to offload the regional subsidiary as it is not part of its plans. It was a potentially attractive deal for investors, as the offshoot airline was profitable.

The sale has now been completed, with Sector Aviation Holdings taking over the airline, which is based in Aberdeen and has 18 Embraer 135 / 145 regional jets, and 330 staff. It will also retain the website.

Routes throughout the UK and into Europe will likely be retained,  but some shuffling of operations will almost certainly occur. We’ll try to report on any that are announced.

Europe’s Top 5 Cargo Airports

Posted by Matt Falcus | Posted in Airport Spotting Guide, Belgium, France, Germany, Miscellaneous Spotting, UK, Western Europe | Posted on 31-05-2012


DHL 767 at East MidlandsSpotting cargo airliners is often a different challenge for the spotter.

In order to do it justice, finding one of the hubs of these cargo airlines is your best bet for catching up with the airliners in any significant numbers. Otherwise, only the odd example is usually seen on any particular day at a regular airport.

With that in mind, I thought I’d introduce five of the best airports in Europe for cargo spotting. I’ll follow it up with North America and Asia airports.

1. East Midlands, UK
A regional airport in the UK. It has grown into one of the major cargo airports in the country, with dedicated infrastructure such as handling facilities and aprons. East Midlands is a major hub for DHL, and also sees daily flights from Air Contractors, Atlantic Airways, Lufthansa Cargo, Star Air (Maersk), UPS, and other airlines.

2. Leipzig Halle, Germany
Another DHL hub, Leipzig recently took over the Continental Europe hub role from Brussels National. Most flights are in association with DHL, and include airlines such as Bluebird, Swiftair, Kalitta, Europe Air Post, Air Atlantique, ABX, RAF Avia, Aerologic, Aviastar. You’ll also see the odd Russian type, such as AN-24 and TU-204.

3. Liege, Belgium
A major cargo hub on the motorway network close to Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. It is the main hub for TNT Airways, and also sees FedEx Express, Kalitta Air, Southern Air, Icelandair Cargo, Avient, Africa West Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines.

YSSYguy at en.wikipedia4. Cologne/Bonn, Germany
Germany’s sixth largest airport, and also the main European hub for UPS. It’s large dedicated facilities can be observed from the viewing areas atop the passenger terminal opposite. Other airlines visiting include Lufthansa Cargo, FedEx Express, British Airways World Cargo, Cargojet, Farnair, Star Air (Maersk), and BlueBird Cargo.

5. Paris Charles de Gaulle, France
The busiest airport in France for passengers is also the busiest for cargo. Paris CDG is a major hub for FedEx Express, who have a base to the west of Terminal 1, and Air France Cargo. In addition, other cargo airlines serving the airport include Cathay Pacific Cargo, TNT Airways, UPS, China Airlines Cargo, and Europe Airpost.