Thursday, 28 June 2012

Airbus To Build A320's In The US

Airbus' popular A320 model could soon have 'Made in America' stickers on them as the European Airframe Manufacturer plans a new factory in Mobile, Alabama according to the New York Times.

Airbus plans to invest several hundred million dollars in the new plant which could eventually build dozens of the very popular, 150-seat A320 each year according to sources with knowledge of the project. In doing so Airbus would directly challenge arch-rival Boeing on their home turf and allow them to increase the jets supply, supporting an ever increasing demand.

An 'official' announcement regarding the plans is expected as early as Monday 2 July 2012, although Airbus spokesperson, Stefan Schaffrath denied any announcement was imminent.

Airbus hopes that by building their popular A320 model on American soil, it may encourage US airlines, in need of renewing their aging fleets, to buy it, as well as saving huge sums of money by utilising non-union, American workers and the US Dollar.

Airbus currently lags far behind Boeing with just a 20% share of the US narrowbody market.

Photo Credit: Airbus

UPDATED: 01 July 2012
Confirmation of announcement date and time. Boeing response to the news.

Despite Stefan Schaffrath (Airbus spokesperson) denying that any announcement is due, Airbus indeed plans to make such an announcement at approximately 10:00 CDT on Monday 2 July. The announcement will include details such as the $600 million investment, the creation of up to 2,500 jobs and the fact that the Final Assembly Line (FAL) will be used for all members of the A320 Family (A319, A320, A321 CEO/NEO).

In response to the news, Boeing spokesman Charlie Miller wrote in an email...

"While it is interesting once again to see Airbus promising to move jobs from Europe to the United States, no matter how many are created, the numbers pale in comparison to the thousands of US jobs destroyed by illegal subsidies, which Airbus and its European government underwriters have failed to remove to the satisfaction of the US government and in direct contravention of international trade law," - Statement Source: Reuters.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Malaysia Airlines A380 Livery Completed

The Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380, delivered on 29 May 2012, has finally received the rest of her stunning new livery. The special livery, designed by Malaysia Airlines specifically for its Airbus A380 fleet was applied by Airbus at their facilities in Toulouse, France. She will enter service on the Kuala Lumpur - London Heathrow route from 1 July 2012.

Photo Credit: Airbus
Photo Credit: Airbus

Monday, 25 June 2012

Thai Airways A380 Breaks Cover

The first pictures of a fully painted Thai Airways A380 have emerged after the aircraft was rolled out of the hangers in Hamburg, Germany.

Thai Airways' the 9th A380 operator will take delivery of the plane later this year which will undergo pre-delivery testing shortly.

I'm sure you'll agree she is one of the best looking A380's to see the light of day to date.

Photo Credit: Airbus
Photo Credit: Airbus
Photo Credit: Airbus

Sunday, 24 June 2012

1:400 Scale Phoenix Models (July Releases)

Phoenix Model have announced their 1:400 Scale July 2012 Releases...

  • KLM Boeing 737-700 (PH-BGW)
  • SAS Boeing 737-700 (LN-RNW)
  • SAS Boeing 737-700 (LN-RRB)
  • Air Berlin Airbus A330-200 'Oneworld Titles' (D-ABXA)
  • ANA Boeing 767-300ER (JA611A)
  • ANA Boeing 767-300 (JA601A)
  • TAM Boeing 777-300ER (PT-MUD)
  • Virgin Australia Boeing 777-300ER 'New Livery' (VH-VPH)
  • MASkargo Boeing 747-400 (9M-MPS)
  • China Southern Airbus A380 (B-6138)
  • JAL Boeing 777-200 'eco Jet' (JA8984)
  • Malev Boeing 767-300ER (HA-LHC)
  • Aeroflot Tupolev Tu-154B2 (CCCP-85579)
  • China Eastern Boeing 737-700 (B-5095)
  • China Eastern Boeing 737-700 'w/winglets' (B-5270)
  • Fly Scoot Boeing 777-200ER (9V-OTC)
  • Asiana Airbus A321 (HL7790)
  • Russia IL-96-300 (RA-96019)
  • TAM Airbus A340-500 'Old Livery' (PT-MSN)
  • Thai Airbus A330-300 'Thai Royal Barge' (HS-TEK)
  • Turkish Airlines Boeing 777-300ER 'Barcelona FC' (TC-JJI)
  • Aeroflot IL-96-300 (RA-96008)
  • ANA Boeing 787-8 (JA805A)
  • Alitalia Airbus A330-200 (EI-EJJ) - SECRET RELEASE
  • British Airways Airbus A319 'Firefly' (G-EUPC) - SECRET RELEASE
  • EVA Air Airbus A330-200 'Hello Kitty' - SECRET RELEASE
  • Korean Airlines Airbus A330-200 (HL7539) - SECRET RELEASE

You can find pictures of these models on the Phoenix Model Facebook Page.

I highly recommend collecting Phoenix Models if you are looking to start up the hobby. They are great quality and highly detailed.

You can see my collection as of October 2011 below:
My collection is currently made up of GeminiJets, Phoenix Model and Herpa models.
All are 1:400 Scale.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Virgin Atlantic's A330 Registrations & Names

Virgin Atlantic will eventually operate a fleet of 10 Airbus A330-300's.

Here are their registrations and names for reference:

Beauty Queen (MSN: 1195)

Mademoiselle Rouge (MSN: 1201)

Miss Sunshine (MSN: 1296)

Champagne Belle (MSN: 1231)

Golden Girl (MSN: 1329)

Lady Love (MSN: 1206)

Lady Stardust

Liberty Bell (MSN: 1315)

Miss England

Diamond Girl (MSN: 1215)

Information provided by planemadblog

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Qantas A380 Steering Issue's Happen AGAIN!

A new YouTube video has surfaced showing a Qantas Airways Airbus A380-800 suffering a Nose Steering Fault Issue on take off at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport.

As the aircraft, operating Flight QF11 between Sydney and Los Angeles, enters runway 34L and begins to accelerate into her take off roll, the nose gear suddenly and unexpectedly turns 90 degrees to the right. The huge aircraft veers dramatically to the right, as smoke starts to rise from the tyres. The crew then turn the gear 180 degrees to the left allowing the aircraft to recover whilst seemingly resolving the malfunction.

Interestingly, after spending about 2 minutes on the runway and causing an approaching Jetstar flight to go around, the Qantas A380 begins another take off attempt and successfully lifts off bound for LA.

The video was recorded by YouTube user dgkiwi1 on the 18 May 2012.

It's not the first time such problems have arisen. In February 2012, a Singapore bound Qantas A380 was forced to abandon two take off attempts at London Heathrow Airport due to similar problems with the Nose Landing Gear. The A380 was returned to the gate (by tug) each time for maintenance personnel to resolve the problem. On this occasion, Qantas felt it necessary to dismiss passenger tweets that the aircraft had veered onto the grass.

I myself have filmed a Qantas A380 experiencing Nose Gear Steering Problems back in July 2009. In my video the Qantas A380 (VH-OQA) is on approach to Runway 27L when the crew report a steering malfunction. The aircraft performs a go around before eventually landing safely. The aircraft was subsequently towed to the gate.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Voyager 1 Sets A NEW Record

Far, far away (approximately 18 Billion Kilometres from our Sun), and going where no man has ever been, or likely to ever go in our life times, the Voyager 1 space probe has finally reached the edge of our Solar System.

Voyager 1 (Photo Credit: JPL/NASA)

In a statement from the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on 14 June 2012 scientists confirmed that the spacecraft is sending back data showing a sharp increase in the charged particles that originate from outside our Solar System.

"Voyager scientists looking at this rapid rise draw closer to an inevitable but historic conclusion - that humanity's first emissary to interstellar space is on the edge of our solar system" the statement read.

Voyager 1 was launched on September 5, 1977 from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. Her trajectory took her past Jupiter and Saturn before sending her out towards interstellar space - the space between solar systems in our Galaxy, The Milky Way.

Voyager 1 is currently the farthest man-made object from Earth.

Interesting Facts...
On February 14, 1990, Voyager 1 took the first every 'Family Portrait' of the planets in our solar system as an outsider. The series of images included the famous 'Pale Blue Dot' image which shows Earth, some 6 Billion Kilometres away, alone in the vastness of space.

Providing she isn't the victim of a cosmic collision, Voyager 1 will eventually pass (in about 40,000 years) within 1.6 light years of Gliese 445, a star in the constellation Camelopardalis near to Polaris (The North Star).

Friday, 15 June 2012

The Air Livery Bonus 1: Manchester Airport

Having an Air Livery hanger at Manchester Airport is a bonus that many other airports in the UK cannot boast about. As such, we get to see some interesting visitors.

One such visitor was this RAF E-3D Sentry AWACS...


Departure following Air Livery visit:

For more HD Aviation videos, please visit my YouTube Channel: MCPCShowcaseHD

A380 Wing Cracks: Who Is Paying?

The wing cracks that have plagued the Airbus A380 over recent months is going to costs millions of dollars to put right, but who is actually responsible for the repair costs?

The cost to Airbus for researching the wing cracks, developing a fix and implementing the modified design for future wings is currently sitting at more than $315 US Dollars.

To implement the permanent fix on existing aircraft, Airbus estimates that it will take 8 weeks if the repairs are completed in one go. Alternatively, airlines can add extra time to the end of each major maintenance check until the fix is completed. Airbus and the airlines insist the A380 is safe to fly in the meantime.

However, there now seems to be a differing opinion on whether or not compensation should be paid to the affected airlines. Airbus says no compensation will be paid, whilst Emirates President Tim Clark feels otherwise.

Speaking to Aviation Week on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association annual general assembly in Beijing, Tim Clark said "Chief Operating Officer - Customers John Leahy has said there is no compensation, but we take a different view. Airbus have a legal obligation to fix the aircraft at their expense." However, he also concedes that the purchase contracts do not include a clause for this scenario, adding "In all fairness, nobody would ever have contemplated anything like this."

Emirates Airline is seeing significant financial impacts to its bottom line as interim repair costs continue to grow. Clark estimates that it is costing his airline $30 million per month as aircraft are taken out of service for interim repairs to be carried out. The airline has the largest fleet of A380's in the world with 21 in active service and another 23 due by early 2014. The 23 new aircraft will each have the problematic wings because Airbus can only get the new wings ready for 2014. The interim repairs are only supposed to take 6 days according to Airbus, but Clark claims this is taking up to 42 days for his aircraft. "It's taking quite a long time because we have the largest fleet."

So whilst Airbus is taking a financial hit to redesign the wing and everything that goes with it, their airlines customers are also seeing huge costs as a result of taking the aircraft out of service.

Is it right that Airbus refuses to pay these valuable customers compensation? Will their customers be happy at this decision. I feel we haven't heard the last of this, not by a long chalk.

One of Emirates Airbus A380 Aircraft (Photo Credit: MCPCShowcaseHD)

Thursday, 14 June 2012

British Airways Boeing 747-400 Crabbing Over London

Early morning on final approach to Runway 27L at London Heathrow Airport, the largest aircraft of the UK's national carrier is photographed crabbing beautifully as she fights crosswinds.

Nice Crabbing
Nice Crabbing - BA 744 (Photo Credit: MCPCShowcaseHD)

British Airways Launches New Subsidiary

British Airways is launching a new subsidiary called British Airways Limited.

British Airways Limited will operate BA's premium transatlantic A318's (under a wet lease agreement with BA) between London City and New York. It will have its own air operators certificate and has sought clearance to codeshare these flights with Oneworld partners Iberia and American Airlines.

British Airways has already informed the US Department of Transportation that it's A318's will be removed from its own air operators certificate and transferred to that of British Airways Limited.

This move by BA is thought to be linked to future financing, however BA has been reluctant to discuss its decision beyond saying that "We are in the process of exploring a variety of options related to potential new sources of finance!"

The A318's used on the service seat up to 32 people and land in Shannon, Ireland en route to New York City for refuelling and for passengers to clear US Immigration.

The name British Airways Limited was last used by a company founded in the 1930's. It eventually merged into British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC).

Club World | London City
BA A318 (Photo Credit: elBartoFromCBR)

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Look Back: Libyan Air Cargo Antonov An-124 - Manchester Airport

A very lucky catch for me.

This Libyan Air Cargo Antonov An-124 'Ruslan' (5A-DKN) had made several trips to the airport in the days leading up to this video, but because the aircraft didn't have a firm schedule it was hit and miss as to whether or not you'd see it.

I just happened to be at The Airport Hotel near the threshold of Runway 23R when the beast arrived. Amazing views.

Notice the smoke coming from the engines as she makes her final approach, followed by the huge amount of smoke generate by those many tyres (24) on touchdown. Impressive indeed!

Problems playing? Try here.

World's Busiest Airports 2011 (TOP 10)

Top 10 Busiest Airports (Passenger & Movements) Lists 2011

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Atlanta Airport (Photo Credit: redlegsfan21)

Total Passenger Traffic

01. Atlanta ATL (92,365,860 +3.4%)
02. Beijing PEK (77,403,668 +4.7%)
03. London Heathrow LHR (69,433,565 +5.4%)
04. Chicago O'Hare ORD (66,561,023 -0.5%)
05. Tokyo Haneda HND (62,263,025 -2.9%)
06. Los Angeles LAX (61,848,449 +4.8%)
07. Paris Charles de Gaulle CDG (60,970,551 +4.8%)
08. Dallas Fort Worth DFW (57,806,152 +1.6%)
09. Frankfurt FRA (56,436,255 +6.5%)
10. Hong Kong HKG (53,314,213 +5.9%)

Total Aircraft Movement Traffic

01. Atlanta ATL (923,991 -2.7%)
02. Chicago O'Hare ORD (875,798 -2.7%)
03. Dallas Fort Worth DFW (646,803 -0.8%)
04. Denver DEN (628,784 -0.2%)
05. Los Angeles LAX (603,912 +4.9%)
06. Charlotte CLT (539,842 +2.0%)
07. Beijing PEK (533,253 +3.0%)
08. Las Vegas LAS (531,538 +5.1%)
09. Houston IAH (528,725 -0.5%)
10. Paris Charles de Gaulle CDG (514,059 +2.8%)

The percentage +/- is the increase or decrease when compared with 2010.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Did An Emirates A380 Nearly Crash In Canada on 1 June 2012? Reason:Fuel Starvation

If you read any of the media reports immediately after the event, you certainly would have believed that flight EK241 an Airbus A380 with registration A6-EDD was in peril due to a low fuel emergency.

According to the Aviation Herald, widespread media reports said the aircraft had nearly crashed, completely ran out of fuel or landed with just 5,000 lbs of fuel remaining (below final fuel reserve).

In reality, though the final moments of the flight were far from routine, the aircraft and its passengers were never in any danger. The crew followed all of the correct precautions and procedures.

Emirates A380 A6-EDD at Manchester 1 June 2011 (Photo Credit: MCPCShowcaseHD)

This is what happened...

Flight EK241 is a scheduled flight between Dubai (UAE) and Toronto (Canada). The Airbus A380 wearing registration A6-EDD was carrying 530 people.

Whilst on approach to Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ/CYYZ), the aircraft was instructed to hold due to traffic congestion because of bad weather.

After holding for around 25 minutes, the EK A380 was cleared to land on Runway 15R. As the aircraft approached, the crew were forced to abort landing at 600 feet because of a wind shear alert.

At this point, the crew decided to head for Ottawa whilst declaring an emergency. The crew were worried that if there were any further delays they would burn into their final 30 minutes of fuel reserve.

The aircraft climbed to 23,000 feet and headed to Ottawa.

As the aircraft approached Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (YOW/CYOW), her crew reported that she still had 6.3 tons or 14,000 lbs of fuel remaining and cancelled the emergency.

The aircraft landed safely on Runway 14 about 50 minutes after aborting at Toronto. The aircraft landed with more fuel than her final reserve.

The Emirates A380 had to back track up the runway in order to exit. Ottawa is not ideally suited to the Super Jumbo aircraft.

Another example of certain media outlets blowing things out of proportion.

Friday, 8 June 2012

More Woes For Qantas

The share price of Qantas Airways dropped to under A$1.00 for the first time this week as ratings agency Standard and Poor (S&P) said it was to put the airline under review for a possible ratings cut. Shares in Qantas fell over 8% to 97 cents per share before recovering to 99 cents.

Qantas A380
Qantas A380 (Photo Credit: Simon_sees)

Share prices in Qantas have dropped by almost a third over the past four days wiping a staggering $1 Billion USD from its value. Earlier this week Qantas said its profits would be down by almost 90% this financial year after costs, including fuel, soared whilst demand for its international flights fell.

Qantas currently has a BBB credit rating (two stages above junk rating), which S&P said would be evaluated over the next 90 days. If Qantas' credit rating were to be cut to junk status, it would make borrowing much more expensive placing even greater pressure on the airline.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce, remains committed to cutting costs and restructuring and hopes he can have the international business making a profit by 2014.

See my Qantas Videos.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Is Airbus' A350-1000 Doomed?

Has Airbus made a critical mistake with its A350 program giving rival Boeing an even greater advantage in the large twin-engine market?

The A350-1000 in particular has struggled to gain momentum since it was launched, is now in its second design phase and is still attracting criticism from both Emirates and Qatar Airways who collectively have 40 of them on order.

In a tweet put to Airbus during a recent #AskTheExpert Q&A session with their Francois Caudron, Head of A350 Customer & Business Development, I asked...

"Is Airbus worried that orders for the A350-1000 are going down instead of up?
Are airlines really happy with it?"

My question was in direct response to the fact that Etihad Airways have reduced their commitment to the A350-1000 from 25 to 12.

Airbus responded to my tweet as follows...

"[The] A350-1000 order book situation is not linked to product attractiveness but rather linked to low early slots availability"

I find this quite a strange answer for the following reasons...
  • The A350 program has been open for orders since 1 December 2006. The program is considered by Airbus to be a Boeing 777 killer with the A350-900 and A350-1000 targeting the Boeing 777-200ER and Boeing 777-300ER respectively.
  • The A350-1000 has been redesigned since launch to make it more attractive to airlines, yet it seems to have been redesigned without airline consultation. Both Qatar and Emirates, who collectively have 40 out of 62 -1000's on order, have expressed concerns.
  • Why would you need to redesign an aircraft that is only suffering from 'low early slot availability'?
  • Despite the redesign, the A350-1000 has still failed to attract new orders (as of June 2012). The -1000 hasn't received a single new order since 2008, something Boeing is always keen to point out.
  • Redesigning the A350-1000 means its EIS will inevitably be delayed.
Emirates Airline and Qatar Airways criticism essentially boils down to the fact that the A350-1000 is not a strong enough competitor to the Boeing 777-300ER. Both airlines want more range, performance and less fuel burn. Emirates have even said the redesign was unnecessary and done without consultation.

If behind the scenes Airbus is working to address these issues, this is going to take more time and further delay the A350-1000.

Boeing 777-300ER
Boeing 777-300ER (Photo Credit: David McKelvey)

This is where Boeing benefits enormously.

They already have a very good airplane in the shape of the 777-300ER, demand for the plane has increased dramatically in recent years and has easily outsold the A350-1000. Airlines know that this aircraft is available to them now and does a bloody good job.

However, there is enormous room to improve this aircraft and Boeing is already studying the best way to do this. Emirates is heavily involved in its design and is urging Boeing to get it launched as soon as possible.

The 777 replacement program is currently known as the 777X and includes the 777-8X which would be the 777-200ER replacement / A350-900 rival and the 777-9X which would be the 777-300ER replacement / A350-1000 rival. Improvements over the original would include new, larger composite wings, new engines, general weight saving, an increased fuselage length (more passengers) and new 787 style cockpit whilst delivering better fuel burn.

Airbus' fumbling of the A350-1000 design is perhaps the result of not listening carefully enough to what airlines want. As a result, they felt compelled to do a redesign which has left the aircraft's biggest customers scratching their heads in amazement.

Boeing's tactical approach has enabled Airbus to go head first into a design which is not as strong as it could have been from the starting blocks. As a result, Boeing now has more time to study and perfect their rival solution, the 777X.

Airbus' A350-1000 could go down in history as a failure.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Etihad Airways Acquires 4% Of Virgin Australia

Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways has acquired a 4% stake in Australian Carrier Virgin Australia for $35.6 million. According to Etihad, this move will help it to better compete with rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways whilst also boosting its global presence.

Etihad plans to acquire up to 10% of Virgin Australia at some point in the future.

This move could also add additional pressure to national carrier Qantas. Qantas has seen costs at its International business rise considerably, forcing the airline to announce that profits could fall by up to 90% for the year ending June 30 2012.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Three Cunard Queens Celebrate The Queens Diamond Jubilee

Today, Tuesday 5 June 2012, Cunard's Three Queens; RMS Queen Mary 2, MS Queen Victoria and MS Queen Elizabeth will rendezvous at Southampton for the first time to celebrate HRH The Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

Cunard has a long and established history with Royalty, with two of their current ships having been named by Her Majesty The Queen in recent years.

The celebrations include a Red Arrows display, a first for Southampton and a huge fireworks display.

The Three Queens arrive consecutively, 15 minutes apart shortly after sunrise flanked by fire boats, shooting water cannon salutes, and they depart around 11pm after the firework show. It'll be a day to remember!

Official June 5 2012 Page

Three Queens Video From 22 April 2008 (QM2, QE2 and QV)

Monday, 4 June 2012

Vulcan Bomber Suffers Major Engine Failures

On Monday 28 May 2012, the only flying example of the Vulcan Bomber, XH558 suffered a major engine failure whilst attempting to take off at Doncaster Airport.

Both engines #1 and #2 (Port Side Engines) were destroyed beyond repair in the accident which forced the Vulcan Bomber to abandon its take off roll. It was later found that two large Silicon bags, used to soak up moisture and keep the engines dry whilst the aircraft is in storage, had been ingested into the engines. An investigation is under way.

A Vulcan to the Sky newsletter confirms that work is now underway to remove the two destroyed engines which will be replaced.

It is uncertain when the Vulcan will return to the sky at this time.

A video showing the incident can be found here.

Video of the Vulcan Bomber by MCPCShowcaseHD

Friday, 1 June 2012

Lufthansa Completes Inaugural 747-8I Flight

German carrier Lufthansa, the first airline to take delivery of a next generation Boeing 747-8I, has today completed its inaugural flight of the new aircraft between Frankfurt and Washington D.C.

The flight LH7478 was scheduled to depart Frankfurt at 9.50am and touchdown in Washington D.C. at around 12.45pm.

In addition to lucky passengers the new plane carried VIPs connected with Lufthansa and Boeing.

Great to see these new planes in service (finally!)

Lufthansa's 747-8I
Lufthansa Boeing 747-8I (Photo Credit: hitachiota)