Sunday, 9 May 2021

Qantas to activate five Embraer E190s

On Friday Australian flag-carrier Qantas announced that it would activate a further five Embraer E190 aircraft in Adelaide, as part of a plan to boost domestic travel and add more routes in response to a growing demand in leisure and corporate travel. The Embraer E190 aircraft, having a layout of 94 seats and a five-hour range, would be deployed in Adelaide as part of a deal with Alliance Airlines. An agreement was signed to provide the national carrier with the extra capacity of Alliance’s recently acquired 14 Embraer jets, depending on market conditions.
Qantas are already using three Alliance Embraer aircraft, the first three aircraft commenced operating on Qantas’s behalf on the 25th of May, while the additional five will start work from the 21st June. Each option is for an initial three-year period, and the remaining six options are still in place.

ALLIANCE EMBRAER ERJ-190 VH-UYW (MSN 174) 

“The E190 is a great aircraft for the Adelaide market, with its size, range and economics opening up a number of new destinations that wouldn’t be viable with the larger 737 aircraft,” Qantas CEO, Alan Joyce said. “Instead of one or two flights a day with a larger aircraft, we can offer three or four flights a day on the E190, which gives customers a lot more choice about when they travel.” With extra capacity for the domestic market, Qantas will launch more routes from Adelaide to other destinations, such as Gold Coast, Canberra and Darwin beginning June 2021. The five E190 aircraft would be able to carry almost one million additional passengers to and from Adelaide each year. Furthermore the five Embraer E190s, which will be repainted in the Qantaslink colour scheme, would help the Australian airline grow its domestic capacity to 107% of pre-COVID-19 levels in the fiscal year of 2022. Additionally, the newly activated E190s would free up Qantas’ Boeing 737 aircraft to be deployed across other domestic routes. “We’re continuing to see really positive signs of sustained recovery, with strong travel demand and forward bookings expected to see our domestic capacity back above 100 per cent of pre-COVID levels in the coming months,” Joyce added. The boosted services are expected to increase Qantas’ domestic capacity to 107% above pre-pandemic levels, with the airline’s budget arm Jetstar set to hit 120%. It also announced additional services from Adelaide to Sydney and Melbourne will be added to schedules across both Qantas and Jetstar.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said the new additions to the fleet have been added to meet demand and give customers more flight options by “opening up a number of new destinations that wouldn’t [otherwise] be viable.” 
“Instead of one or two flights a day with a larger aircraft, we can offer three or four flights a day…which gives customers a lot more choice about when they travel,” Joyce said.

Qantas will launch the new Adelaide-Gold Coast service in time for the S A winter school holidays.
From the 25th June, South Australians will be able to fly direct to the Gold Coast with Qantas, with four return services per week, increasing to daily during school holiday peaks. To celebrate the launch Qantas is offering special fares from $149 one-way.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Vietnam’s newest international airline is headed to Australia.

Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways to launch Melbourne-Hanoi flights

Vietnamese carrier Bamboo Airways intends to launch flights to Australia, beginning with a non-stop connection between Melbourne and Hanoi. Bamboo Airways hopes to be granted the rights to operate scheduled Melbourne-Hanoi services by the fourth quarter this year, having already operated several chartered repatriation flights on the same route.

Melbourne Airport's chief of aviation Shane O’Hare said the non-stop flights would "open up critical trade, leisure and business opportunities for Victoria." The 10-hour route would be flown by a Boeing 787-9 with around 290 seats across three classes.

The Dreamliner's business class cabin sees 26-30 seats (the airline has two 787-9 configurations) in a 1-2-1 layout, based upon the same Collins ‘Super Diamond’ platform which Australian travellers would recognise from the likes of Air Canada’s Boeing 787 Signature Class, Fiji Airways’ A350 business class, and of course, Virgin Australia’s now-defunct ‘The Business’ cabin. While all of the 787-9's feature a premium economy cabin marketed simply as Special, some of the jets have 21 dedicated premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 layout, as shown below... ... while others have 33 seats of the same type and 3-3-3 layout as economy but with extra legroom, making it more of an Economy Plus section.

Prior to COVID-19, Bamboo Airways’ rival Vietnam Airlines along with Qantas' low-cost arm Jetstar connected Melbourne with Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, while Vietnam Airlines ran direct Sydney-Hanoi flights on its own Boeing 787.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Could South Africa Airways fly again?

After a $940m Govt bailout, could South Africa Airways fly again?

South Africa's government is digging deep to create a rescue fund for its stricken flag carrier.

South Africa is in the final stage of negotiations with a potential investor for its grounded flag carrier, a move that would give the airline a boost just as it emerges from bankruptcy protection.
The deal will bring capital and “much-needed technical and commercial expertise” to South African Airways, the Department of Public Enterprises said in a statement Friday. The agreement should be signed in the next few weeks, it said.

The comments indicate a significant stride forward in a search that has dragged on for several months and taken place during the worst crisis in aviation history. SAA has been grounded since South African borders were temporarily closed in March last year to contain the coronavirus, and was awarded the latest in a series of state bailouts in October.

The government didn’t disclose the identity of the potential investor, and few names have emerged since Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan started saying private entities may be the sought. Ethiopian Airlines Group, Africa’s biggest airline, has publicly expressed interest, but has stressed in the past it would be an operational partner rather than financial backer.

One barrier to a major deal is that South Africa is cut off from large swathes of the world due to travel bans to contain a coronavirus variant identified in the country last year. Global air travel more broadly remains at a fraction of pre-pandemic levels, as resurgent case numbers and the differing pace of vaccine rollouts keep governments wary.

Struggling subsidiaries

While talks are ongoing, SAA’s interim board will develop a business plan to sustain the carrier’s operations, the DPE said. A priority will be to ensure the sustainability of its units including low-cost carrier Mango and maintenance arm SAA Technical, which are both showing signs of financial strain.

“These subsidiaries will need to be restructured and, in some instances, the case for continued existence must be assessed,” the department said.

Mango flights were briefly suspended earlier this week over the non-payment of fees to the airports operator, while SAA Technical announced plans to cut jobs that a union representative said would impact about 60% of employees.

Neither it nor Mango were included in the 10.5 billion rand (A$940m, US$725m) bailout granted to SAA last year.

SAA is now “solvent and liquid,” business-rescue practitioners led by Siviwe Dongwana said while handing over the airline to the board earlier Friday. The carrier has cut almost 80% of its workforce and reduced liabilities to 2.6 billion rand from 38 billion rand after deals with creditors and lessors.

PREVIOUS [September 19, 2020] 
South Africa’s government is in talks with two state agencies to try and secure the 10.5 billion rand (A$890 million) needed to restart its insolvent national airline, people familiar with the situation said.

Money is being sought from the Development Bank of Southern Africa and the Public Investment Corp., which oversees more than 2.1 trillion rand of mainly state pension funds, the people said, asking not to be identified because an agreement has yet to be reached. The two firms didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The administrators of South African Airways said the government had again promised to find the funding that will be used to pay severance packages, among other things.

“The timelines are critical for the decision on whether SAA is liquidated, wound up as a going concern or is able to continue to trade,” Louise Brugman, the administrators’ spokeswoman, said by phone from Johannesburg on Friday.

SAA has been in administration since December. The airline, which hasn’t made a profit since 2011, has long been a drain on state finances, relying on bailouts and other assistance since last making a profit almost a decade ago. Keeping it afloat is seen by opposition parties and some analysts as a distraction for the government at a time when it needs to rescue the more crucial state power utility and reinvigorate growth in an economy set for its biggest annual contraction in nine decades.

Mobilising money

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has previously indicated the government doesn’t have the money available to rescue SAA and said he would help “mobilize” funds from other sources. The Treasury, which is due to release its medium-term budget framework next month, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. “The 2020 budget said that the money for restructuring costs will be found through a reprioritization process,” Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, who has been championing efforts to save SAA, said in a text message. “That will be sorted out next week.”

While the DBSA, which has previously funded SAA, may provide more money, the PIC is resisting efforts to tap it for cash, citing its already significant exposure to struggling state entities, one of the people said. Twenty private-sector funders, private-equity investors and partners have submitted unsolicited expressions of interest in a restructured SAA, and those are being assessed, the DPE said.

Ethiopian Airlines Group is in talks with SAA over providing assistance, people familiar with the situation have said previously. The Addis Ababa-based carrier is seeking control, possibly in the form of a management contract, and that may be a sticking point, the people said. Ethiopian Airlines said in an emailed response to a request for comment that it has “no recent update” on the matter.


This article is published under license from Bloomberg Media: the original article can be viewed here

Monday, 3 May 2021

Aircraft Buried In The Antarctic

Sometimes when an aircraft crashes and can’t be repaired in situ, its location makes it too difficult to recover and is left to be a landmark for the ages. This has been the case for a Lockheed C-121 Constellation in Antarctica, abandoned after a crash landing in 1970. Named the Pegasus, let’s take a look at this one aircraft buried in the Antarctic.

It was back on the 8th October, 1970, when the Pegasus took its final flight. The aircraft, part of the United States Navy’s VX-6 Squadron, departed from Christchurch International Airport (CHC/NZCH), New Zealand for a ten and a half flight hour flight to McMurdo Station-Williams Field (NZWD), Antarctica. Onboard the aircraft were 80 people: 12 crew and 68 passengers. The crew of 12 included the commander, two co-pilots, and two navigators, two flight engineers, a radio operator, and two loadmasters. The Lockheed C-121 Constellation (Connie) was headed to McMurdo Station when it encountered a fierce storm. Snow and ice blown about by strong winds made for almost zero-visibility conditions. Considering the remoteness of Antarctica’s location in the world, the Pegasus could not simply fly back to its origin or to a suitable airport outside of the distant continent, as there would not be enough fuel to do so.

Crash landing

Based on the memories of second navigator Robert O’Keefe, freelance writer Noel Gillespie retells the story, saying,
“Half an hour out from McMurdo, the weather had deteriorated, to zero visibility with an intense storm, which had enveloped the base. Low on fuel and no alternative airfield, Commander Greau was force to ‘crash land’ the aircraft. After making five attempts, he veered off to the right side of the ice runway and the “Connie” was destroyed without loss of life.” – Noel Gillespie via Radiocom.net

While Atlas Obscura notes that winds were so strong that parts of its exterior were blown off, there was no mention of this in the retelling of the story by the flight’s second navigator. With a runway barely visible, the aircraft crash-landed, skidding along the icy surface. All four engines were put into full reverse while the right main gear hot a snowdrift. Hitting the snowdrift caused the aircraft to veer to the right, turning 210 degrees clockwise, sliding backwards to the right of the runway. The main landing gear hit a large snowdrift and was twisted in the impact. It was sheared off “just below its pivot point inside the gear well.” It has remained in this spot for over 50 years now, with the 51st year coming this October.

All 80 souls onboard survived

Considering the fierce weather conditions, it is an impressive and admirable achievement that all 80 people onboard the aircraft survived the crash without sustaining any major injuries.
“I can remember vividly that [the captain] had completely idled the engines and dived for the ice runway. We landed very hard but would probably have suffered little or no damaged had several frozen snow drifts not formed on the runway, while we were making our first approach.” – Robert O’Keefe, Second Navigator via Radiocom.net
With strong winds and extreme cold, passengers (many of whom were improperly dressed) stayed inside the aircraft. Despite the crash landing, the aircraft was deemed a low risk for fire considering the temperature. Recovery took a few hours due to limited visibility.
Nowadays, those visiting McMurdo Station might be able to visit the crash site, with the aircraft resting in place, half-covered in ice and snow. The crash site and the ice runway were renamed Pegasus Field, after the aircraft. However, this field is no longer used as a blue ice runway as it closed in 2014 because of excess summer melt.


Aircraft Information:
Airline: United States Navy
Aircraft: Lockheed C-121J Super Constellation
Registration: 131 644
Serial Number: 4145
First Flew: 1953



Story sourced from here

Sunday, 2 May 2021

El Al Boeing 787 Escorted Over Europe By Fighter Jets

EL AL BOEING 787-9 4X-EDJ (MSN 65086)        File Photo

An El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv flew under a fighter jet escort for the latter stages of its journey to Israel’s second-most populous city. The reason that the Israeli flag carrier’s Boeing 787 was accompanied by the military aircraft is said to have been a suspected bomb onboard. 

The flight in question

El Al Israel Airlines flight LY2 is a weekly scheduled service from New York JFK to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport (TLV/LLBG). The Israeli flag carrier operates this service every Thursday using aircraft from the Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner’ family. Flight LY2’s scheduled departure time from New York JFK has been set at 16:00 for the last four iterations of the service. Looking further back, it has departed the Big Apple at a wide variety of times, ranging from 01:40 to 20:50 local time. In terms of the current 16:00 departures, the flight’s arrival into Tel Aviv is scheduled to occur at 09:30 local time the following morning. This gives a total planned flight duration of 10 hours and 30 minutes. Alongside El Al (both its passenger and cargo divisions), US legacy carriers American Airlines and Delta also have a presence on this corridor.

What happened?

The most recent El Al flight LY2 departed New York JFK on Thursday, April 29th. It did so slightly behind schedule, at 16:17 local time. Nonetheless, it made good progress, ultimately arriving into Tel Aviv 19 minutes early at 09:06 the following morning, with a flight time of 9 hours 49 minutes. However, its latter stages were the subject of a military escort. According to The Aviation Herald, the flight was over northern Spain when its crew advised air traffic controllers that the plane had a suspected bomb onboard. With this serious security concern in mind, NATO dispatched fighter jets to escort the flight as it passed over various Mediterranean countries during the remainder of its journey. The first jets accompanied flight LY2 from Spanish to Italian airspace, whereupon Italian fighters took over the escort role. These military aircraft remained with the Israeli 787 until it reached Greece. According to Greek Reporter, the next leg of the escort involved two pairs of Greek General Dynamics F-16 ‘Fighting Falcon’ jets based in Araxos and Kasteli.

The Greek F-16s escorted the flight until it reached Cypriot airspace, where it was met by Israeli military aircraft. These fighter jets remained with the Dreamliner for the rest of its journey to Tel Aviv. It landed there safely, having been determined not to be under threat, around four hours after its crew had first alerted ATC to the potential bomb onboard.
 
The aircraft involved

The El Al aircraft that received the fighter jet escort was a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner with the registration 4X-EDH (MSN 38085). According to Planespotters.net, this is one of 12 787-9s in the Israeli flag carrier’s fleet, 10 of these are currently active. The airline also flies three examples of the smaller 787-8 variant, all of which are currently active. 4X-EDH is around two-and-a-half years old, having first arrived at El Al in October 2018. It bears the name Beer Sheva, and sports a three-class seating configuration capable of holding 282 passengers. SeatGuru shows that this consists of 32 ‘Business First’ flatbeds, 28 premium economy seats, and a 222-seat economy class section. According to RadarBox.com, the aircraft is yet to have flown since the fighter jet escort incident yesterday.

Simple Flying reached out to El Al for a comment on this incident, but did not receive a response by the time of publication. We shall add El Al’s statement upon receiving it.

EL AL's current 787 fleet registrations are
4X-EDA - 4X-EDF and 4X-EDH - 4X-EDM





Story sourced from here

Friday, 30 April 2021

Virgin Atlantic passenger spared jail for attack at 40,000ft

VIRGIN ATLANTIC A340-642 G-VFIT  (MSN 753)

A first-class airline passenger who shouted ‘I hope this plane crashes’ during a drunken attack on a flight from Barbados to Heathrow has been spared jail. Rachel Street, 41, from south London, ‘lashed out’ at Virgin Atlantic staff and pulled a woman’s hair following a “litany of abuse” while travelling back to the UK on January 5. Appearing at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today, she was fined £10,000, made the subject of a 7pm to 7am curfew for six months and a rehabilitation requirement, and ordered to pay £1,000 in compensation. The self-employed production assistant was also handed a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months. Street previously admitted behaving in a threatening and abusive manner, entering an aircraft while drunk, failing to obey the pilot’s command to remain in her seat, and assaulting a female staff member. Sentencing Street, District Judge Deborah Wright said: ‘You were travelling first class and you were in a situation where everybody was unable to escape from your conduct. ‘You behaved with a sense of self-entitlement and with no understanding of the fears passed on to passengers and staff. ‘Your behaviour was utterly appalling.’ Speaking of the common assault charge, the judge added: ‘You were drunk, you were 40,000ft above the ground, and it came at the end of an appalling litany of abuse.’ In a victim impact statement read to the court by prosecutor Martin Edwards, one member of staff said: ‘Wishing the aircraft to crash was some of the worst I have experienced.’ Another crew member described the incident as ‘very distressing’, adding: ‘I was shocked we had to hold her down.’ One passenger said she was ‘scared’ because she had her 18-month-old baby on the flight. Street was moved from first class to the economy area of the plane after being ‘loud and abusive’, before barging back in and ‘lashing out’ at a flight attendant. She was heard shouting: ‘I might end up in jail tomorrow, but I don’t care.’ She also declared ‘I hope this plane crashes and we all die’, and said she wanted to ‘punch’ members of the crew. She was restrained and was arrested after the plane landed at Heathrow. Jude Lanchin, defending Street, said she was ‘horrified at her own behaviour’ and had been ‘very disturbed by the effective blackout and behaviour she demonstrated’. She was told she would serve six months in prison if she could not pay the £10,000 fine on Monday.




Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Spotting at Coolangatta (OOL/YBCG)

On holidays from work for a week my wife and I headed down to the Gold Coast to stay for three nights. Gold Coast airport is only 5 km's from our hotel and knowing Alliance Airlines were bringing in their Embraer E190 from Townsville we ventured out for an hour or so to see this come in. This is the first time I have seen this in the air, as most of the time its on the ground in Brisbane. It was also great to see Air New Zealand arrive on the Gold Coast.

SURFERS PARADISE

VIEW FROM OUR BALCONY




AIR GOLD COAST CESSNA 172R VH-NWZ (MSN 172-80933)

ALLIANCE AIRLINES E190AR VH-UYW (MSN 19000174)
TL180 ARRIVING FROM TOWNSVILLE

TL 181 HEADING BACK TO TOWNSVILLE

JETSTAR A320-232 VH-VQH (MSN 2766)
JQ411 OFF TO SYDNEY

REX (REGIONAL EXPRESS) B737-8FE VH-RQC (MSN 33797)
ZL520 ARRIVING FROM SYDNEY

CESSNA 441 VH-TAZ (MSN 441-0005)
OFF TO HOBART

AIR GOLD COAST CESSNA 172R VH-RBB (MSN 172-80776)

AIR NEW ZEALAND A321-271NX ZK-NNB (MSN 08542)
NZ187 ARRIVING FROM AUCKLAND


PIPER PA-32R-301 VH-LTC (MSN 32R-8113047)

REX (REGIONAL EXPRESS) B737-8FE VH-RQG (MSN 34168)
ZL658 ARRIVING FROM MELBOURNE

CESSNA 172N VH-BGN (MSN 172N-70356)

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA B737-8FE VH-YIA (MSN 37824)
VA511 ARRIVING FROM SYDNEY

PILATUS PC-12/47E VH-PLE (MSN 1607)

TVPX AIRCRAFT SOLUTIONS BOMBARDIER CL-600N360SL (MSN 5456)

MWP RACING BOMBARDIER CL-600-2A12 VH-MXK (MSN 3003)