Norwegian Air UK announces first long-haul route, to Asia

Before the winter season this year, Norwegian will launch their very first route to Singapore from London Gatwick. It will be their second route overall in southeast Asia, with Bangkok being served from the three Scandinavian capitals already.

The flights will commence on September 28, operating four times a week and increasing to five later in winter. 

The route will be operated with their 787-9. It will be their UK subsidiaries first route flown with the DI airline code. The airline recently announced flights to Seattle and Denver, also starting later this year.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: “Our transatlantic flights have shown the huge demand for affordable long-haul travel, so we are delighted to expand into new markets and offer our first route to Asia from the UK.

“Travel should be affordable for all so adding Singapore to our growing UK network will give passengers even more choice for affordable, quality travel to a range of global destinations.

“The UK is at the heart of Norwegian’s ambitious plans for growth so it is a significant moment not only to launch this exciting new route, but also for it to be the first long-haul route to take to the skies with our new ‘UK’ subsidiary.”

Boeing 737 MAX 9 makes First Flight

Boeing’s 737 MAX 9 made its first flight today, departing the manufacturer’s Renton plant in Washington at 10:52 PT (17:52 Z). The aircraft, registered N7379E (MSN 42987) landed at Boeing Field at 13:34 PT (20:34 Z), after testing onboard airframe and cockpit systems.

The flight was commanded by Boeing Chief Deputy Test Pilot Capt. Christine Walsh

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N7379E departing Renton

The flight, under the callsign of BOE901 departed Renton over Lake Washington before heading West over Port Angeles Fairchild Airport and then East towards Spokane. The flight then turned back on a Westerly heading before moving South over Ellensburg and continuing to Olympia before touching down at Boeing Field.

The takeoff was delayed 90min at Renton airport due to a loss of telemetry communications between the aircraft on the ground with Boeing’s control centre. A radio dedicated to flight test communications also failed to work properly after take-off.

Despite the difficulties, Walsh and Boeing Capt Ed Wilson managed to complete a full test flight, validating the 737 MAX 9’s handling at each flap setting, speeds up to 240kts and altitudes up to 24,000ft. The crew also shutdown and re-lit each of the 28,000lb-thrust CFM International Leap-1B engines in sequence.

The 737 MAX 9 landed with only one uncompleted task: a publicity photo by the chase aircraft, which was called off because of a thick blanket of clouds around Mount Rainier.

Capt Christine Walsh, who became the first woman to pilot a new Boeing commercial passenger aircraft on first flight, said “It was a workout,” in a post-landing press conference at Boeing’s Seattle Delivery Center.
The momentous occasion comes just 50 years and 5 days after the first flight of the original Boeing 737-130, N515NA which departed Boeing Field on the 9th of April 1967. To this date, the 737 is Boeing’s best selling jet airliner.
Boeing’s latest airliner is a stretched version of the 737 MAX 8, with a fuselage that is 2.7m longer, allowing 220 seats compared to 200. Overall height and wingspan are the same across all four MAX variants.

The MAX family feature two CFM International LEAP-1B high bypass turbofans with a 9:1 ratio as well as Boeing’s drag reducing, fuel efficient Split Scimitar Winglets.

Michael Teal, 737 MAX Chief Project Engineer and Deputy Program Manager says deliveries of the MAX 9 can begin as early as 2020 if airlines order this year. China has been described as a promising market for the aircraft.

Flight tests will resume on 17 April with the first test aircraft as a second and final test aircraft nears completion inside Boeing’s Renton aircraft factory. As the second member of the re-engined single-aisle family to enter flight test after the 737 Max 8, the certification process for the 2.6m-stretched version is expected to proceed more rapidly with fewer resources.

About 30% of the test points completed by the 737 Max 8 must be revisited during the campaign for the 737 Max 9, says chief project engineer Michael Teal. All of the testing is focused on how the larger size of the 737 Max 9 affects the aerodynamic characteristics and the environmental control system.

[INCIDENT] Mango Boeing 737 involved in Bird Strike at Cape Town

On 9th April Mango Boeing 737-85F(WL) ZS-SJD (MSN 28829) was climbing out of Cape Town Airport’s Runway 01 when a Pelican collided with the leading edge of the left hand horizontal stabilizer, leaving a large dent.

ZS-SJD's left horizontal stabilizer after landing
©The AvHerald

Flight JE348 to Durban climbed to FL330 (cruising altitude of 33,000ft) before the crew made the decision to return to Cape Town, 130 nautical miles away at that point. The aircraft returned to Cape Town around 80 minutes after departure

[INCIDENT] Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 skids off Runway in wet conditions while Landing at Sibu Airport

On 8th April, at 22:10 local time (14:17Z), a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737 operating flight MH2718 was involved in a runway incursion incident when the aircraft skidded off the runway at Sibu Airport causing the nose gear to collapse. The incident occurred during heavy downpour.

All 61 passengers and 6 crew were safely evacuated from the aircraft’s forward right and left doors (pictured below).

The aircraft sitting off the runway

Flight MH2718 landed on Sibu’s Runway 13 in heavy rain but went off the side of the runway and came to a stop on soft ground with the nose gear collapsed. The aircraft was at a perpendicular angle to the runway centerline with the nose towards the runway edge. In the incident, the aircraft received substantial damage.

The airline released an official statement (below)

Sibu Airport also released a statement saying

The safety of all passengers was of utmost priority to Malaysia Airlines and an immediate investigation has been launched to determine the cause of the incident.

Sibu Airport Manager Zainuddin Abu Nasir
 Sibu Airport would be closed for flight operations until 10am on Sunday. Passengers were advised to check with their respective airlines on the status of their flights. 3,000 passengers were stranded at the airport due to the closure.
9M-MXX Malaysia Airlines Boeing 737-8H6(WL) photographed at Kuala Lumpur - International (KUL / WMKK) by Norman Yusof
9M-MXX pictured departing Kuala Lumpur ©Norman Yusof

The aircraft involved in the incident was 2.7 year old Boeing 737-8H6(WL) 9M-MXX (MSN 40161), powered by two CFM56-7B turbofans. She was delivered to Malaysia Airlines (MH/MAS) in August 2014 from Boeing’s production site at Renton, USA.

Flight MH2718 is a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL/WMKK) in mainland Malaysia to Sibu Airport (SBW/WBGS) on the island of Borneo. The regular flight time is around 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Three Maiden Flights in One Day – Airbus A319neo, Antonov An-132, Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner!

31st March 2017 has been quite a momentous day for the aviation industry! Three major aircraft manufacturers – Airbus, Antonov & Boeing – were involved in major milestones with the maiden flights of their latest aircraft. Let’s take an indepth look at the day’s events!

Airbus A319neo

The latest member of European giant Airbus’ A320 family, the A319neo, made its maiden flight from the manufacturer’s Hamburg Finkenwerder facility in Germany. Prototype A319-151N(WL) D-AVWA (MSN 6464) departed this morning at 11:13 local time (09:13 UTC), powered by two CFM International LEAP-1A high bypass turbofans.

The resulting test flight was 4 hours and 55 minutes long, before the aircraft landed at Toulouse-Blagnac Airport, France.

A319neo D-AVWA departing Hamburg Finkenwerder ©FlightGlobal

During the maiden flight, the smallest member of the A320neo family was commanded by test pilots Michel Gagneux and Eckard Hausser. They were assisted by test-flight engineer Jean Michel Pin while two flight other engineers, Sylvie Loisel-Labaste and David O’nions directed the flight from their test station.

The flight crew tested the general handling of the aircraft and its systems during the test flight, one of many that Airbus will carry out to test the aircraft in a variety of situations.

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D-AVWA approaching Toulouse ©Air Transport World

Antonov An-132D

Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov successfully carried out the maiden flight of its latest aircraft, the twin turboprop military transport An-132D. The improved version of the Antonov An-32 has been jointly developed by Saudi Arabia and Ukraine.

UR-EXK in flight with An-178 prototype UR-EXP ©Vitaliy Nesenyuk

The prototype aircraft UR-EXK was rolled out on 20 December 2016 at the manufacturer’s Kiev facility with the first flight taking place at Gostomel “Antonov” Airport.

Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150A engines have been installed on the An-32D, the same powerplants installed on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop. The An-132 will also come equipped with Honeywell avionics, Liebherr air management system and Dowty propellers.

The multi role aircraft is capable of carrying up to 9.2 tons of cargo to a ceiling height of 28,000ft, with a max speed of 500km/h. Its possible uses include medical evacuations, fire-fighting, skydiving, cargo transportation and reconnaissance missions.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko meets the crew after a successful maiden flight

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has observed the flight, hailed the development of the country’s aircraft-manufacturing industry.

“I feel pride for my compatriots, for thousands of workers of the Antonov plant and other Ukrainian enterprises, who are making efforts to put the An-132 in mass production.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko

Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner

American manufacturer Boeing also made headlines yesterday with the maiden flight of prototype Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner N528ZC (MSN 60256). The longest member of the Dreamliner family departed Boeing’s North Charleston facility in South Carolina at 9:38 local time (13:38 UTC) before landing 5 hours later at 14:35 local time (18:35 UTC).

A large crowd of onlookers joined over 6,000 Boeing employees to watch the -10 Dreamliner take to the skies for the first time.

N528ZC lifting into the sky! ©Boeing

Boeing stretched the previous Dreamliner variant, the 787-9, by 5.49m and added semi-levered landing gear to the 787-10 to avoid tailstrikes on takeoff. The powerplants have also been upgraded, with the 787-10 featuring two Rolls Royce Trent 1000-TEN turbo fans, each capable of providing 75,000lbs of thrust.

Despite these changes, the 787-10 still shares 95% part commonality with the 787-9 variant.

During the 5 hour flight, experimental test pilots and flight engineers tested the handling of the aircraft, it’s performance and onboard systems which are provided by Honeywell Aerospace amongst others.

N528ZC in flight ©Boeing

Boeing will assemble the 787-10 exclusively in North Charleston. Assembly for the 787-8 and 787-9 is split between North Charleston and Everett, Washington.

The 787-10 will now enter a months-long flight test campaign to achieve certification and will enter service with Singapore Airlines in 2018. The airline congratulated Boeing on their success

“Singapore Airlines is proud that we will be the first operator of the Boeing 787-10, and we look forward to receiving our first aircraft in 2018.”

“These modern, fuel-efficient aircraft will be operated on medium-haul routes, providing us with new growth opportunities, while also offering our customers more comfort with all-new cabin products that are currently under development.”

[ACCIDENT] Peruvian Airlines Boeing 737 overruns Runway and bursts into Flames at Jauja Francisco Carlé Airport, Peru

At around 21:40Z (16:40 local time) on 28th March, a Peruvian Airlines Boeing 737-300 operating flight P9 112 touched down with excessive force on Runway 31 at Jauja Francisco Carlé Airport, causing the landing gear to collapse and the aircraft to veer off the runway, bursting into flames before skidding to a stop.

After touchdown on Runway 31, the aircraft veered off the right side of the runway. According to the airport authority CORPAC, the right hand wing of the aircraft impacted the perimeter fence. Fuel began leaking from the wing tanks and ignited.

The passengers and crew members evacuated safely whilst the fire spread, consuming a large part of the fuselage. Airport fire crews eventually extinguished the blaze.

The remains of aircraft
The smoking remains of the aircraft, Boeing 737-3M8 OB-2036-P

There were 141 passengers and crew onboard the aircraft, all of whom were evacuated and survived the accident. However, there are conflicting reports on the injuries sustained, with sources such as local media, public prosecutors and Peru’s ministry of Transport providing figures ranging from 0 to 29 injuries.

Injuries are said to include broken bones and concussions, which some reports stating that certain passengers needed to be hospitalized.

The airline released the below statement, of which we have provided a translation.

Today, being 6:30 pm, at the time of landing at the Francisco Carle Airport in Juaja; our aircraft OB-2036 a Boeing 737 turned to the right side, leaving the runway.

Thanks to the expertise and high professionalism of our cabin crew, a major mishap was avoided. The 141 passengers who were on board were evacuated by our crew, with no passengers having any injuries

The competent authorities and the company are making the corresponding inquiries

Office of Public Relations

The aircraft involved in the accident was Boeing 737-3M8 OB-2036-P, c/n 25071. The 26 year old example was manufactured in Renton, USA and has operated for TEA – Trans European Airlines, Markair, Air Europa, AirAsia, Olympic Airlines, Aerosur and Peruvian Airlines. Due to the damage sustained, the airframe has been written off.

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OB-2036-P in 2014 ©César Prieto

Peruvian Airlines flight P9/PVN 112 is a domestic scheduled commercial flight within Peru, from Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM/SPJC) to Juaja Francisco Carlé Airport (JAU/SPJJ). Jauja Airport’s Elevation is 11,034 feet/3363 metres above MSL. Runway 13/31 is 2810 metres/9220 feet long.

Map (Graphics: AVH/Google Earth)

This YouTube video captures the aftermath of the incident; the evacuation and response from airport fire crews.

VIP Traffic Movements at Gloucestershire Airport during Cheltenham Races Week

This year, the annual Cheltenham Races festival ran from the  14th to the 17th March, attracting thousands of visitors to Gloucestershire for the event to bet millions of pounds on horse races.

However, some of the event’s more affluent attendees decided to turn up in style, with many high profile VIP business jets and turboprops flying to nearby Gloucestershire (Staverton) Airport (GLO/EGBJ). An opportunity not to be missed, I headed up to the airport during the week to catch some of these “interesting” visitors!

All photos ©Avineesh Suppiah

Beech King Air 350i G-SRBM was flying charters between Farnborough and Newcastle among other destinations over the course of the week

Read More »

IAG announce LEVEL

Level A330

Today the International Airlines Group announced a brand new low cost, long-haul carrier that will be launched in June later this year. LEVEL will begin by operating two Airbus A330 to 4 destinations in Argentina, The Dominican Republic and The United States. 
The flights will be operated with Iberia’s cabin crew and pilots initially. Flights are already on sale now and start as low as €99 one way. The airline is initially launching in Barcelona, but will expand to other European cities in the near future. 

Destinations, frequencies and schedules are further below.

Willie Walsh, IAG group CEO said regarding the news: “LEVEL is an exciting new IAG airline brand which will bring a stylish and modern approach to flying at prices that are even more affordable. It will benefit from having the strength of one of the world’s largest airline groups behind it.

“LEVEL will become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.

“Barcelona is Vueling’s home base and this will allow customers to connect from Vueling’s extensive European network onto LEVEL’s longhaul flights.

“This is just the start. We’re really excited about the opportunities for expansion and we plan to bring LEVEL to other European destinations”.

From airlineroute:

eff 01JUN17 Barcelona – Los Angeles 2 weekly
IB2623 BCN1540 – 1955LAX 332 47
IB2624 LAX2140 – 1825+1BCN 332 47

eff 02JUN17 Barcelona – Oakland 3 weekly
IB2621 BCN1200 – 1600OAK 332 5
IB2621 BCN1250 – 1650OAK 332 2
IB2621 BCN1405 – 1805OAK 332 7

IB2622 OAK1745 – 1435+1BCN 332 5
IB2622 OAK1835 – 1525+1BCN 332 2
IB2622 OAK1950 – 1640+1BCN 332 7

eff 10JUN17 Barcelona – Punta Cana 2 weekly, subject to government approval
IB2611 BCN1620 – 1950PUJ 332 6
IB2611 BCN1700 – 2030PUJ 332 3

IB2612 PUJ2140 – 1220+1BCN 332 6
IB2612 PUJ2215 – 1255+1BCN 332 3

eff 17JUN17 Barcelona – Buenos Aires Ezeiza 3 weekly, subject to government approval
IB2601 BCN0130 – 1015EZE 332 246
IB2602 EZE1200 – 0545+1BCN 332 246

El Al set to launch 787 flights in third-quarter 2017

Rendering; 787-9; El Al; Over coast; from right side; K66451
Image copyright: Boeing

El Al will receive its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner later this year, and is planning on launching flights with them during the third quarter of 2017. The two first 787-9s will be used on their flights to Los Angeles, and will be leased from ALC. Prior to this it will be used on shorter runs, likely to Europe, for crew training and familiarization.

The new jets will replace its current fleet of 767s and 747s that are used on the airline’s longhaul network. The airline will operate a total of 16  787-8s and -9s, a combination of purchased and leased aircraft. With the added capacity the Argentine Ministry of Tourism is looking at getting the airline to serve the capital, Buenos Aires. The airline has options for an additional 13 Dreamliners.


Two US airlines dropping flights to Cuba


Only six months after regular passenger flights between the US and Cuba were resumed, two US airlines are already dropping flights to the country. Silver and Frontier both blame overcapacity between the two countries. Frontier will end its route between Miami and Havana, while Silver will drop all 9 planned routes. With seven airlines serving the South Florida – Havana market, there has been fierce competition for an overestimated amount of demand due to the lack of flights in the past.

Though no other airlines have left Cuba yet, there have been large amounts of reductions to the island, including cut frequencies and smaller equipment.