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!
CityWing Aviation Services Ltd have released a statement over social media in which the virtual airline announces they have cancelled all of their scheduled airline service after going into Liquidation on 10th March 2017.
The move comes just days after Van Air Europe, the company that operates the virtual airline’s flight, had their route license suspended by the UK Civil Aviation Authority over safety concerns. CityWing’s statement is as follows.
The reason for the suspension of Van Air Europe’s license is still in speculation but the event that lead to the investigation is known. On February 23rd, Van Air Let L-410UVP-E3 OK-LAZ was operating flight V9502 on behalf of Citywing from Isle of Man to Belfast City. The flight plan was filed with alternate airports as Belfast Aldergrove and Isle of Man due to possible bad weather from the oncoming Storm Doris.
The aircraft departed with 550 kg of Jet A-1 fuel (enough for the flight and reserves) and was on final approach to Belfast City Airport’s Runway 04 around 08:55L (08:55Z). The crew initiated a go around because of their low altitude, affected by increasing turbulence. Weather information for Belfast Aldergrove suggested suggested similar conditions, persuading the crew to return to Ronaldsway Airport on the Isle of Man where runway 26 would be better aligned into the wind.
The aircraft touched down safely on Runway 26 around 09:25L (09:25Z) and was about to vacate the Runway via Taxiway F when tower controllers instructed the aircraft to stop. Emergency services responded to the aircraft and the crew was subsequently instructed to shut the aircraft down. The passengers disembarked onto the runway and were taken to the terminal. The aircraft still had 200 kg of fuel on board.
Several rumours were floating around as to what happened exactly. One of these rumors is as follows. The aircraft reached the Isle of Man just before the storm. When the storm hit, winds picked up and it deemed unsafe to turn the aircraft out of the wind and taxi off the runway. The aircraft was instructed to stop and emergency services were dispatched, so that the trucks could shield the aircraft against the wind gusts. About 15 minutes later the storm front had passed and the aircraft was able to taxi to the apron.
However, this does not tie in with the information that the aircraft was instructed to shut down on the runway and that the passengers disembarked there.
Following the incident, on Feb 24th 2017, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told another aviation news website that they have no knowledge of this occurrence and that the Czech Republic’s CAA is investigating. The UK CAA added on Feb 25th 2017, that as long as Czech Republic’s CAA is investigating, the operating permit for Van Air Europe in the UK has been suspended.
When confronted with information later on Feb 25th 2017, that the Czech CAA is not investigating, the UK CAA responded on Feb 25th 2017, that they are again examining the current situation. Czech Media reported on Mar 1st 2017, that UK’s CAA told them Czech Republic’s CAA, who have regulatory oversight over the operator, is investigating the occurrence of Feb 23rd 2017. As a result, the permit to operate in the UK has been suspended.
However, the Civil Aviation Authority of Czech Republic told Czech media, that they are not investigating the occurrence and that they are cooperating with the UK CAA. Therefore it is still unclear which CAA grounded the airline indeed and why. Van Air received it operational permit from the UK CAA. The Isle of Man CAA oversees Ronaldsway Airport and the CAA of Czech Republic oversees the operator, as all Van Air aircraft are on the Czech Civil Register.
The airline released a statement on the day. They confirmed that:
“Flight V9-502 returned to Isle of Man due to turbulence on final approach to Belfast’s runway 04. The aircraft was subsequently instructed by tower to stop after landing and a few minutes later to shut down.”
The airline received a brief letter from the UK Civil Aviation Authority stating:
“The incident is indicative of deficiency of operational control.”
The airline also confirmed that:
The aircraft took off with 550kg of fuel and had 200kg of fuel remaining (above final fuel reserve) after landing at Ronaldsway.”
The crew would have needed to declare emergency, had they needed to go around again at Isle of Man and divert to Manchester or Blackpool. The airline does not know why emergency services were present at the runway, their crew did not declare emergency and somebody else must have declared emergency for them.
On Feb 28th 2017 the airline reported that they had received a letter from Czech Republic’s CAA stating:
“The CAA is satisfied with the immediate safety actions taken by the airline and proposed further actions to improve, no investigation was taking place and no further actions were taken by Czechia’s CAA.”
On Mar 10th 2017 UK’s Civil Aviation Authority reported that the permit for Van Air to operate in the UK is still suspended. In early March, Van Air Europe positioned all their aircraft out of Isle of Man to mainland Europe.
In order to keep their services flying, CityWing chartered in other companies to fly their routes. Stansted based charter company Titan Airways supplied a Boeing 737 that was temporarily based at the Isle of Man for flights to Belfast, Glasgow and Newcastle
This was soon replaced by a SprintAir Saab 340A SP-KPR (MSN 139), brought in from Warsaw, Poland.
CityWing also released some very misleading schedules for dates leading up to the 24th of March, in which many days and dates are mixed up.
However this schedule will stand for nothing as on Mar 10th 2017 Citywing announced, that the company has entered liquidation and that all flights of March 11th 2017 and onwards had been cancelled. CityWing’s statement read
As a result of Van Air losing their route licenses on Friday 24th February 2017, the company has found it difficult to source suitable viable aircraft to fulfil our contracts. The company has tried to offer a service whilst suffering considerable losses but these have proved unfortunately to be commercially unsustainable.
It is therefore with much sadness and deep regret that the Directors of Citywing Aviation Services Limited have had to take the difficult decision to close the company today and put the company into liquidation. This decision has not been taken lightly and has been made to protect creditors.
Flights on 11th March 2017 onwards have all been cancelled
We request that you do not turn up at the airports for your flights as there will be no one to assist.
A liquidator will be appointed and they will advise in due course on how to get a refund on your tickets.
There will also be guidance on the UK CAA website from Monday 13th March 2017.
At 15:55 UTC (16:55 local time) on 23rd Feburary, a Flybe Dash 8 aircraft operating flight BE1284 suffered a collapse of the right hand side main landing gear while landing on Runway 22 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Int’l Airport while attempting to land during Storm Doris.
Videos from the incident suggest that the right hand main landing gear slowly folded back in during landing rollout. The aircraft came to rest on the runway with the right hand wing tip contacting the ground.
The flight crew issued a mayday call after the incident and subsequently issued another mayday call, stating that they were evacuating the aircraft due to smoke in the cabin.
David Fleming, one of the passengers onboard, captured this video of the incident from inside the aircraft.
As fire crews responded to the incident, passengers evacuated onto the runway. None of the 59 occupants were injured in the landing incident but the aircraft sustained substantial damage. Aircraft next in line for landing on Runway 22 were instructed to go around by tower controllers
The aircraft involved in the incident was 10.5 year old De Havilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8 G-JECP (MSN 4136). The aircraft was manufactured at Bombardier’s Toronto Downsview plant and was delivered to Flybe on 31st October 2006.
Flybe flight BE1284 is a scheduled passenger flight from Edinburgh Int’l (EDI/EGPH) to Amsterdam Schiphol Int’l (AMS/EHAM).
Storm Doris has been causing havoc to airports around Europe; at the time of landing, wind at Schiphol was recorded as 240 degrees at 31 knots, gusting to 46 knots with the wind direction varying between 210 and 270 degrees.
METARs for the times leading up to and at the time of the incident
14:55 UTC / 15:55 local time: EHAM 231455Z 23034G48KT 180V260 9999 FEW022 09/03 Q0985 TEMPO 7000 -RA BKN020
15:25 UTC / 16:25 local time: EHAM 231525Z 24037G51KT 9999 -RA FEW020 SCT032 08/04 Q0985 TEMPO 7000 BKN020
15:55 UTC / 16:55 local time: EHAM 231555Z 24031G46KT 210V270 9999 -RA FEW020 SCT028 BKN037 08/04 Q0985 TEMPO 7000 BKN020
This video captures the moment when the incident occurred.
On 7th February 2017, a Western Air Saab 340 operating flight WT708 was damaged in a runway incursion at Grand Bahama Int’l Airport. The main left side landing gear collapsed on the landing roll, causing the aircraft to veer left off the runway and into nearby bushes.
All 33 occupants were safely and successfully evacuated.
Flight WT708 was climbing out of Grand Bahamas Int’l Airport at about 17:00L (22:00Z) when the crew observed abnormal indications from the electrical systems on board and decided to return to Grand Bahamas International Airport. During the landing roll out on Runway 06 the aircraft suffered the left main gear collapse.
The aircraft involved in the incident is 30.5 year old Saab 340A C6-HBW (MSN 67). One of the oldest in the Western Air fleet, the Bahamas based aircraft first flew on 22nd August 1986. She has previously seen service with Swedair from 1986 to 1993 and Air Nelson from 1993 to 2007.
Western Air flight WT708 is a domestic scheduled passenger flight from Freeport – Grand Bahama Int’l Airport (FPO/MYGF) to Nassau-Lynden Pindling Int’l Airport (NAS/MYNN), Bahamas.
According to local media reports, two passengers were taken to hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
Shortly after the incident, the airline Western Air released a statement:
“Shortly after take off, the Captain noticed an indication pertaining to one of the electrical systems, he communicated with air traffic control (ATC) and followed protocol to return the aircraft back to the airport as a precaution.”
The aircraft made a normal landing with both landing gears in place, however once the aircraft proceeded down the runway and was preparing to turn onto the taxiway, the left gear malfunctioned, causing the aircraft to swerve off the runway.
All passengers and crew were evacuated of the aircraft safely.”
Bahamas’ Air Accident Investigation Department also released a report saying:
“Shortly after takeoff the aircraft suffered a problem with its landing gear and returned to Grand Bahamas Airport. Shortly after touchdown, the left main gear collapsed causing the aircraft to leave the runway and come to a stop on soft ground amid bushes on the left side of Runway 06. Minor injuries were reported.”
METARs leading up to, around the time of and after the incident happened
On 07 February at 10:05, British Airways flight BA804 slid off the taxiway at Billund Airport, Denmark and became stuck in the grass next to the taxiway. None of the passengers or crew onboard were injured in the incident
The aircraft had just landed on Runway 09 and had vacated the runway via Taxiway Mike. It was turning towards Taxiway Kilo when the incident happened. The aircraft is believed to have skidded on ice and snow.
The aircraft involved in the incident was 16.7 year old Airbus A319-131 G-EUPM (MSN 1258). British Airways BA804 is a scheduled commercial flight from London Heathrow Int’l (LHR/EGLL) to Billund Lufthavn (BLL/EKBI)
An Air Algerie ATR-72, operating flight AH6252 landed on El Oued’s Runway 13 at about 12:00L (11:00Z) coming to a stop on the runway resting on its nose gear strut after both nose wheels separated.
The 67 passengers onboard were uninjured and disembarked onto the runway and were taken to the terminal.
The aircraft involved in the incident was 14.8 year old Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-500 (72-212A) 7T-VUN MSN 684. Air Algerie flight AH6252 is a scheduled commercial flight from Algiers Houari Boumediene Int’l (ALG/DAAG) to El Oued Guemar Airport (ELU/DAUO).
Local sources reported one of the nose tyres blew on touch down and that the aircraft began to veer left and came to a stop without nose wheels.
The airline reported there were no injuries, the circumstances of the occurrence are being investigated.
METARs for the time leading up to, at the time of and after the incident
On February 1st, Garuda Indonesia flight GA258 was involved in a runway incursion at Yogyakarta-Adisutjipto Airport when the Boeing 737 aircraft skidded off the runway in rainy conditions. None of the 124 occupants onboard were injured.
The aircraft involved in the incident was 2.5 year old Boeing 737-8U3(WL), MSN 41798. Flight GA258 took off from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport at 18:42 UTC. At 19:24 UTC, the aircraft entered a holding pattern just west of Yogyakarta. The approach was commenced at 19:46 UTC.
About 19:50 UTC the aircraft landed on runway 09 and ran off the runway, coming to rest bogged down on a soft soil grassy area. Local news reports indicated that it was raining heavily at the time of the incident.
Around 18:30 local time (23:30 UTC) on 28/01/17, a Boeing 737 Freighter, operated by Aer Caribe, was damaged during a runway excursion after landing on runway 21 at Leticia-Alfredo Vásquez Cobo Airport, Colombia. The four occupants were not injured.
The airframe, 27 year old Boeing 737-476(SF) HK-5197 (MSN 24430) was operating a scheduled cargo flight from Bogotá-Eldorado Airport (BOG/SKBO) to Leticia-Alfredo Vásquez Cobo Airport (LET/SKLT) and skidded off the runway into grass past the runway threshold after touchdown.
Firecrews at the airport responded to the incident but the aircraft did not light on fire. The cause of the runway excursion is currently unknown.
MSN 24430 was originally delivered to Australian Airlines as 737-476 VH-TJE before being transferred to Qantas. She was withdrawn from use in October 2012 and flown to Victorville, California for storage.
In December 2015 she was flown to Miami, Florida. In June 2016, she was converted into a 737-476(SF) Special Freighter, before joining Aer Caribe – Aerolinea del Caribe later that month as HK-5197.
METARs leading up to and at the time of the crash, around 23:30 UTC/19:30 Local Time
21:00 UTC / 16:00 local time:
SKLT 282100Z 00000KT 9999 SCT010 BKN015 27/24 A2982
22:00 UTC / 17:00 local time:
SKLT 282200Z 32003KT 9999 -DZ SCT010 BKN015 27/24 A2980 RERA
23:00 UTC / 18:00 local time:
SKLT 282300Z 00000KT 9999 -RA BKN010 BKN080 26/24 A2986 RMK AD OPER IMC
00:00 UTC / 19:00 local time:
SKLT 290000Z 00000KT 8000 -DZ BKN010 25/25 A2984 RMK AD OPER IMC
This story is developing, we will bring you live updates as they happen
WOW air will make a decision on its first international base later this summer, revealed the Icelandic LCC’s CEO Skúli Mogensen. The base will be chosen from a list that has been whittled down to three candidate cities.
“Dublin Int’l is a contender, I hope to make that decision by the summer and hopefully we can initiate something by next year. I like Dublin for a number of reasons. It has pre-clearance to the United States. It’s a well-known hub of air expertise. The airport has grown a lot, so there’s a lot of incoming traffic.”
– Skúli Mogensen
Founded in 2011, WOW air currently offers regular budget flights to either side of the Atlantic Ocean from its Reykjavik Keflavik hub. In Europe, it currently serves Spain, Netherlands, Ireland, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Poland, Sweden, and Austria.
WOW serves Montréal Trudeau and Toronto Pearson in Canada as well as Baltimore Thurgood Marshall, Boston, Los Angeles Int’l, Miami Int’l, Newark, Pittsburgh Int’l, and San Francisco, CA in the United States.
Mogensen added that WOW Air may even use its new base to develop its first routes into Asia in the future.
Malaysia Airlines Berhad has hinted at plans to order 25 widebody aircraft by the end of the year, according to CEO Peter Bellew.
Fifteen of these aircraft would replace the airline’s existing fleet of Airbus A330-300 aircraft, while the other ten aircraft would allow for expansion of new routes. The competition for the order is between the Airbus A330neo and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Deliveries would start in the third quarter of 2018, through to 2023, during the same time that the leases of the existing A330 fleet expire.
The carrier wants to configure the aircraft in a two class, business and economy layout. This is opposed to a three class layout, with the addition of premium economy, which has previously been unpopular in the Malaysian market.
The remaining ten aircraft to be used for growth will offer route upgrades for flights to Indian cities such as Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. These particular routes use downsized equipment, previously operated by the Boeing 777-2ooER to the Boeing 737-800. On the other hand, Bellew hinted at the remaining aircraft being used for possibly resuming European routes
“Market conditions have to be right before we start flying to Europe again; I do not see this happening before the 2019-2021 time frame” Bellew noted
London is the European destination that Malaysia Airlines currently flies to, served twice daily by the carrier’s Airbus A380 aircraft. However, there are plans to replace the super jumbos with Airbus A350-900s, starting in April 2018. These will be leased from Air Lease Corporation (ALC) under a 12 year agreement.
Current plans for the A380 fleet include reconfiguring them to seat 700 passengers for Hajj flights to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Bellew is in talks with Airbus to carry out the reconfiguration process.
In other news, Bellew has also hinted at the airline leasing an extra four A330-300s to operate high capacity short-haul routes.
The airline is also planning to open seven new routes from Kuala Lumpur to China starting with Nanjing, Fuzhou and Shenzhen in April followed by Wuhan in August and Chengdu and Chongqing in October. It expects to announce flights to Tianjin within the next few months.
Plans for April also call for the introduction of a new route, between Penang and Shanghai, and the doubling of daily Kuala Lumpur to Shanghai service.
“Regaining market confidence is a boost and with flights recording 90 percent-plus [load factors] indications of better times are to come,” Bellew concluded.
Bellew expressed confidence that Malaysia Airlines will return to profitability in 2018 despite strong competition from fellow carriers Malindo Air and AirAsia on domestic and regional flights. For the carrier, passenger loads have improved significantly after a pair of high-profile crashes in 2014 forced the airline into bankruptcy.