Plain Aviation http://airplanespotting.net the life of a planespotter and true avgeek Sat, 26 Nov 2016 14:10:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.2 https://i0.wp.com/airplanespotting.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/cropped-IMG_6447-copy-3.jpg?fit=32%2C32 Plain Aviation http://airplanespotting.net 32 32 104831717 Airbus A350-1000 Maiden Flight /2016/11/26/airbus-a350-1000-maiden-flight/ /2016/11/26/airbus-a350-1000-maiden-flight/#respond Sat, 26 Nov 2016 14:10:52 +0000 /?p=745 On Thursday November the 23rd, the new Airbus A350-1000 made its maiden flight at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse Blagnac, France. The aircraft took of at 10:42am local time with two Airbus test pilots and four engineers. Though the weather wasn’t great, spectators and planespotters gathered to watch the first takeoff of the new aircraft. […]

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On Thursday November the 23rd, the new Airbus A350-1000 made its maiden flight at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse Blagnac, France. The aircraft took of at 10:42am local time with two Airbus test pilots and four engineers. Though the weather wasn’t great, spectators and planespotters gathered to watch the first takeoff of the new aircraft. Watch the official video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDY7oPUti8I

The first A350-1000 lifting off on its maiden flight – Photo from Airbus press release

 

The A350-1000 is the second variant of the Airbus A350XWB family. The first variant, the A350-900, completed its test flight in 2014 and is now in commercial service with Qatar Airways, Finnair, Vietnam Airlines, Singapore Airlines, LATAM, China Airlines, Cathay Pacific. The new A350-1000 has an ICAO designation of A35K and is a stretched version of the A350-900 designed to carry around 366 passengers. It is powered by two Rolls Royce Trent XWB-97 each capable of 97,100 lbs of thrust. On the other hand, the A350-900 is powered by the Trent XWB-84 and has been derated to 84,200 lbs of thrust. The A350-1000 has a range of 14,800km ( or 7,990 nautical miles), which is just short of the A359’s range of 15,000km (or 8,100 nautical miles).

The A350-1000 is designed to compete with the Boeing 777-300ER/777X and the 787-9. So far there have been 195 orders for the type, and deliveries are expected to begin in the second half of 2017. Major customers for the A350-1000 include United Airlines, Qatar Airways, Cathxay Pacific, British Airways, LATAM, JAL, Etihad, and Asiana.

Airbus press release: http://www.airbus.com/presscentre/pressreleases/press-release-detail/detail/first-a350-1000-becomes-airborne-for-its-maiden-flight/

Flight Global article: https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/picture-a350-1000-takes-off-on-maiden-flight-431788/

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Cathay Pacific Flight Makes Emergency Landing in Russia /2016/11/23/cathay-pacific-flight-makes-emergency-landing-russia/ /2016/11/23/cathay-pacific-flight-makes-emergency-landing-russia/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 12:37:33 +0000 /?p=742 Cathay Pacific Flight CX250 from London Heathrow to Hong Kong was forced to make an emergency landing in Novosibirsk, Russia after the crew received warning of a fire in the aft cargo hold 6 hours into the flight. The aircraft was a Boeing 777-300ER, registration unknown. The crew made a safe landing at Novosibirsk Tolmachevo […]

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A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300

Cathay Pacific Flight CX250 from London Heathrow to Hong Kong was forced to make an emergency landing in Novosibirsk, Russia after the crew received warning of a fire in the aft cargo hold 6 hours into the flight. The aircraft was a Boeing 777-300ER, registration unknown. The crew made a safe landing at Novosibirsk Tolmachevo Airport with 214 passengers and 18 crew on board. The flight took off from London at 6:02pm local time (GMT) and landed in Novosibirsk at 7:20am local time (GMT+7). There was no fire detected in the cargo compartment after landing. The passengers of the flight were accommodated in hotels for the night and a replacement aircraft has been dispatched to shuttle them to Hong Kong.

In July of last year, another Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER operating flight CX884 from Hong Kong to Los Angeles made an emergency landing in Anchorage, Alaska after a malfunctioning cooling fan triggered a smoke warning in the cockpit. None of the 276 passengers or 18 crew were hurt. In April of this year, flight CX256 also from London to Hong Kong (and also operated by a 777-300ER) made a landing in Almaty, Kazakhstan after a four-month-old baby girl fell unconscious mid-flight. She was declared dead on the ground, and the flight continued to Hong Kong. Finally, in August of this year, Cathay flight CX382 from Zurich to Hong Kong was intercepted over Hungary after the pilots failed to make contact with air traffic controllers on the ground.

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Why Airlines are Cramming More Seats onto Airplanes /2016/11/23/why-airlines-are-cramming-more-seats-onto-airplanes/ /2016/11/23/why-airlines-are-cramming-more-seats-onto-airplanes/#respond Wed, 23 Nov 2016 11:30:42 +0000 /?p=737 In the past month or two, Cathay Pacific and British Airways both announced plans to shift from a 9-abreast to a 10-abreast Economy class seating layout on their Boeing 777 fleet. Essentially this means that there will now be 10 seats per row in Economy class and opposed to 9, which allows the airline to […]

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In the past month or two, Cathay Pacific and British Airways both announced plans to shift from a 9-abreast to a 10-abreast Economy class seating layout on their Boeing 777 fleet. Essentially this means that there will now be 10 seats per row in Economy class and opposed to 9, which allows the airline to cram more passengers into the same aircraft than before. Cathay Pacific and British Airways will be joining Emirates, China Airlines, Air France, American Airlines, and Air Canada among others, all of which operate 10-abreast seating configurations on the 777. This leaves competitor Singapore Airlines as one of the last airlines operating a 9-abreast configuration.

Now it may not be surprising that airlines would want to pull a move like this, but the airline industry hasn’t always been this way. In recent years, there has been a shift in the airline industry due to the rise of low cost carriers (LCC’s) like Ryanair, JetBlue, Easyjet, AirAsia, and Jetstar to name a few. LCC’s are unique because unlike traditional airlines, they will do whatever possible to lower fares for travellers. That includes charging for meals, charging for baggage, cramming seats, using jetstairs instead of gates, deliberately choosing later (and cheaper) departure times, and flying to smaller airports (think London Stansted versus Heathrow). Though they are very lacking in services, LCC’s are very popular due to their low fares. For example, a round-trip flight from Hong Kong to Tokyo Narita would cost around 250USD on an LCC and around 500USD on a standard airline. The price competitiveness of LCC’s puts a lot of pressure on standard airlines, as many passengers wouldn’t pay double the price just to experience the comforts of flying with a standard airline. Thus, most airlines are now shifting towards the LCC strategy by decreasing comfort in exchange for lower prices. While future passengers flying on Cathay Pacific and British Airways 777’s may feel a tighter squeeze, they will be able to enjoy the perks of lower airfares.

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Update 2: Cathay Pacific 747 Farewell Flight /2016/10/08/update-2-cathay-pacific-747-farewell-flight/ /2016/10/08/update-2-cathay-pacific-747-farewell-flight/#respond Sat, 08 Oct 2016 01:42:45 +0000 /2016/10/08/update-2-cathay-pacific-747-farewell-flight/ It’s 9:30 now; one hour down, one more to go. The places are filling up now, looks like people are really sad to see the 747 go. I’m still perched on top of a rock, good thing I was able to nab this spot while I could. 

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It’s 9:30 now; one hour down, one more to go. The places are filling up now, looks like people are really sad to see the 747 go. I’m still perched on top of a rock, good thing I was able to nab this spot while I could. 

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Update: Cathay 747 Farewell Flyover /2016/10/08/update-cathay-747-farewell-flyover/ /2016/10/08/update-cathay-747-farewell-flyover/#respond Sat, 08 Oct 2016 01:04:48 +0000 /2016/10/08/update-cathay-747-farewell-flyover/ It’s 8:30am, and here I am at Victoria’s Peak waiting for the Cathay Pacific 747-400 Farewell Flyover. Even though I got here two hours in advance, the place is already jam-packed with spectators. I managed to find a nice spot on the rock, and now the waiting begins. The total value of all the camera […]

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It’s 8:30am, and here I am at Victoria’s Peak waiting for the Cathay Pacific 747-400 Farewell Flyover. Even though I got here two hours in advance, the place is already jam-packed with spectators. I managed to find a nice spot on the rock, and now the waiting begins. The total value of all the camera gear people have brought here today? Beyond me. I’ll have pictures from today uploaded as soon as possible.

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10 Abreast Seating Confirmed for Cathay Pacific 777 /2016/10/03/10-abreast-confirmed-cathay-pacific-777/ /2016/10/03/10-abreast-confirmed-cathay-pacific-777/#respond Mon, 03 Oct 2016 12:29:10 +0000 /?p=703 After a good amount of speculation, Cathay Pacific has finally revealed plans to switch to a 10 abreast economy class seating on its long-haul 777 fleet. This means that the cabin will be changed to a 3-4-3 instead of the current 9 abreast 3-3-3 configuration. While this means that aircraft will have more seats and […]

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After a good amount of speculation, Cathay Pacific has finally revealed plans to switch to a 10 abreast economy class seating on its long-haul 777 fleet. This means that the cabin will be changed to a 3-4-3 instead of the current 9 abreast 3-3-3 configuration. While this means that aircraft will have more seats and can carry more passengers, it also equates to decreased passenger comfort as there will be less space for each passenger. As a result of the new configuration, seat width decrease from 18.5 inches to 17 inches while total capacity of the aircraft will increase by up to 35 seats. Seat pitch, which is the distance between two front-and-back rows of seats, will not change with the new configuration.

Cathay’s newest A350-900 coming in to land. The new aircraft is said to reduce carbon emissions and also increase passenger comfort.

The Boeing 777 was designed to be fitted with a 9 abreast seating configuration, however most operators (including Emirates, American, Air France, and Air Canada) outfit their fleet with a 10 abreast layout. Cathay Pacific, together with British Airways and Singapore Airlines, is one of the few airlines with 9 abreast seating on the 777. This is mainly because Cathay establishes itself as a premium carrier, one that offers slightly better service than the rest in exchange for higher prices. By changing to a 10 abreast seating they are giving up one of their main advantages over regular airlines from a passenger’s point of view. But as most passengers probably won’t be aware of the change (I probably wouldn’t if I hadn’t been following the story), Cathay can still maintain their status as a premium airline and charge premium fares whilst cramming extra passengers so long as they continue with their marketing ploys.

Yes I know it’s a very sneaky move on the part of Cathay, but I feel like I saw it coming. The airline industry is one that is not very transparent but also tough to be profitable in (especially given the rise of LCC’s), so I’m hardly surprised that airlines have to resort to these kinds of sneaky antics in order to stay in the green.

Read more here: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2024306/tight-squeeze-hong-kongs-cathay-pacific-introduce-10-abreast

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EVA Air’s Sketchy Operations During Typhoon Megi /2016/10/02/eva-air-sketchy-operations-typhoon-megi/ /2016/10/02/eva-air-sketchy-operations-typhoon-megi/#respond Sun, 02 Oct 2016 03:06:12 +0000 /?p=696 On September the 27th, Typhoon Megi struck Taiwan and caused most flights in and out of Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) and Songshan (TSA) airports to be cancelled. Taiwanese EVA Air, on the other hand, decided to brave the storm. On that day, EVA Air had 45 flights scheduled to land at Taipei, 30 of which were […]

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On September the 27th, Typhoon Megi struck Taiwan and caused most flights in and out of Taipei Taoyuan (TPE) and Songshan (TSA) airports to be cancelled. Taiwanese EVA Air, on the other hand, decided to brave the storm. On that day, EVA Air had 45 flights scheduled to land at Taipei, 30 of which were able to successfully land (including those that diverted and refuelled before carrying on to Taipei the same day). Winds were reported to be at around 30 knots gusting to 41, with a maximum of 50 knots gusting to more than 70. While there are no real headwind limits for landing, typical crosswind limits are around 35 knots. Passengers on board the EVA Air flights experienced really bad turbulence, with some of the reportedly having used their phones to type their wills. Not sure if this is true or just a really big hyperbole, but it goes to show how bad it must’ve been and also how scared people generally are of flying.

EVA Air A321 seen here departing Hong Kong International. EVA operates 9 flights daily into Hong Kong from Taipei Taoyuan International.

As a result of EVA Air’s risky operations during Typhoon Megi, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) of Taiwan announced that they would be launching a probe into EVA’s dispatch procedures, fuel planning, safety regulations, and alternate airport planning. The fact that the probe was announced publicly means that it’s a big deal for EVA, as such things usually have a pretty big impact on airlines. Though EVA Air was not in violation of any law, they were operating well outside the norm and took unnecessary risks that put passenger safety in danger. I don’t think the probe will uncover anything major, and I see it ending with nothing more than a letter warning to EVA’s management.

Read more about the story here: http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/taiwan-to-probe-eva-air-for-landing-planes-at-taipei-airport-during-typhoon-megi

 

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How the DC-10’s Faulty Cargo Door Design Killed 346 /2016/09/24/the-dc-10/ /2016/09/24/the-dc-10/#respond Sat, 24 Sep 2016 14:11:45 +0000 /?p=692 Last night, as per my typical Friday night chill-out routine, I watched an episode of the popular television series Air Crash Investigation. Yes I know this is not really what normal people do with their Friday nights, but who said avgeeks are normal people. This week’s episode centered on Turkish Airlines Flight 981 and American […]

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Last night, as per my typical Friday night chill-out routine, I watched an episode of the popular television series Air Crash Investigation. Yes I know this is not really what normal people do with their Friday nights, but who said avgeeks are normal people. This week’s episode centered on Turkish Airlines Flight 981 and American Airlines Flight 96, both of which were operated by the McDonnell Douglas DC-10.

At the time of the incidents (which were only 2 years apart), the DC-10 was McDonnell Douglas’ state-of-the-art widebody airliner and a pretty big gamble. They had sunk a lot of money into the airliner and really depended on its success. Unfortunately, it turns out that the DC-10 had a fatal flaw in the design of its cargo door that was first seen American Airlines Flight 96 and later on Turkish Airlines Flight 981. This ultimately led to the deaths of 346 passengers and crew on the Turkish Airlines flight, and also crippled the safety record of the aircraft.

Most aircraft doors (including cargo doors) are designed to open inward. This ensures a better seal as the door would be pressed into the aircraft frame when the aircraft cabin is pressurized at high altitudes. The DC-10’s cargo door, on the other hand, was designed to open outward in order to increase the amount of space in the baggage compartment. The only problem with this design is that the door would be under a lot stress while the aircraft is in flight as cabin pressure would constantly be pushing on the door and trying to force it open. To compensate, McDonnell Douglas opted to add a few extra clamps to strengthen the locking mechanism. The design of the locking mechanism also made it so that it could easily be improperly secured without the knowledge of the baggage handler or the flight crew.

The issue first appeared onboard the American Airlines flight, which was climbing out of Detroit Airport when the cargo door blew off the airplane and created a gaping hole at the back of the cabin. In the process, the debris also ruptured hydraulic lines and thus jammed the rudder to the right and hindered most of the control surfaces. Captain McCormick still managed to get the aircraft back to the airport for a landing. There were no fatalities. Not even Sully and his Hudson stunt could match the amazing flying by Captain McCormick on that day.

And so the NTSB did what they do best and found that the cargo door locking error was what had caused the incident. As they don’t have much authority, all they could do was advise airlines to remind baggage handlers to make sure that they secure the cargo doors on the DC-10 properly. Two years later, Turkish Airlines Flight 981 went down in northern France, killing all 346 on board. The NTSB came and did their thing again, only to find that this crash was also caused by the cargo door issue that affected American Airlines Flight 96. This time around however, the explosive force of the failed cargo door ruptured all hydraulics lines. Thus, the pilots had no control of the airplane and couldn’t recover from the dive that sent the aircraft plummeting towards the ground. It was only after this incident that the FAA grounded the DC-10 until major improvements were made. It was soon discovered that McDonnell Douglas knew about the cargo door issue in the development phases of the aircraft, and chose not to address the issue. They were soon flooded with lawsuits from the families of passengers killed by the crash, and ended up paying millions in compensation. All this could’ve been prevented if McDonnell Douglas had simply spent the money to fix the DC-10’s cargo door.

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5D Mark IV – Real World Experience /2016/09/23/5d-mark-iv-real-world-experience/ /2016/09/23/5d-mark-iv-real-world-experience/#respond Fri, 23 Sep 2016 14:30:50 +0000 /?p=686 Last week, I had the opportunity to take my new Canon 5D Mark IV out to the airport to put it to the test doing some aviation photography. After receiving it the mail a few days before I only had the chance to take a few test shots of my dog, so I was really excited […]

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Last week, I had the opportunity to take my new Canon 5D Mark IV out to the airport to put it to the test doing some aviation photography. After receiving it the mail a few days before I only had the chance to take a few test shots of my dog, so I was really excited to try it out for real. I had to buy a new CF card (as I don’t think SD cards do the camera justice), but I was able to use my 70D’s spare batteries on the new Mark IV. Before heading out I slapped on the Canon EF 100-400mm telephoto lens that I’ve been using been using with my old 70D, and I was all good to go.

As you may know, the new 5D Mark IV is a fair bit lighter than the Mark III. Though the Mark III is only 50 grams heavier, you’ll really start to feel the difference after a couple of hours. The Mark IV has more plastic in its construction, but this is not necessarily a bad thing as it feels just as solid as the Mark III. While good aesthetics are a nice feature, the real test is the image quality of this new camera. The two main advantages it has over other popular planespotter cameras such as the 70D or 7D Mark II are its full frame sensor and improved dynamic range. This means that it can take full advantage of the EF telephoto lens that I’ve paired with it. The 5D Mark IV’s new and improved autofocus system means that it can track moving subjects better than the 5D Mark III and the 6D. On paper the Mark IV sounds like a great camera for planespotting, so I’m excited to truly put it to the test.

I was looking to get some awesome shots with my new camera, but unfortunately the weather on the day was not that great and the lighting at the spot I chose was rather crap by the time I got there.  Nonetheless I still managed to get some okay-shots. I was very impressed with the overall sharpness of the images. Dynamic range on the other hand wasn’t as great as I had expected it to be, but it was quite a hazy day so I’ll save my judgement until I can get several more shots in. Here are some sample images:

 

Dragonair A330-300 B-HYJ

Thai Airways A330-300 HS-TBD

Cathay Pacific A330-300 B-HLH

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Air China Magazine Scandal – Why I’m Not Surprised /2016/09/13/air-china-magazine-scandal-im-not-surprised/ /2016/09/13/air-china-magazine-scandal-im-not-surprised/#respond Tue, 13 Sep 2016 15:14:49 +0000 /?p=679 Normally quite a low-key airline, Air China has been receiving a lot of heat this past week for a racist article published in its inflight magazine. A travel tip at the bottom of the cover story on the city of London warns passengers that “precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis […]

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Normally quite a low-key airline, Air China has been receiving a lot of heat this past week for a racist article published in its inflight magazine. A travel tip at the bottom of the cover story on the city of London warns passengers that “precautions are needed when entering areas mainly populated by Indians, Pakistanis and black people”. The racist magazine excerpt was first discovered by a CNBC journalist who posted it online and caused quite a ruckus. Virenda Sharma, a member of parliament, actually felt very offended by the article and wrote to the Chinese ambassador demanding an apology. Doubt he’s going to get a response.

air china racist magazine article

Actual excerpt of text from the Air China magazine – Photo (c) Haze Fan

Now the big question being asked here is “Which muppet in Air China’s editorial staff decided it would be acceptable to publish such a racist remark?” The reality is, the answer to that is not as elusive as it may seem. China differs from the west in that it has a very small minority population. The vast majority of China’s population is comprised of a single ethnicity, with the exception of a few African immigrant communities in Guangzhou and the various Uyghur communities spread out across the country. Thus, political correctness is virtually non-existent in China. Most people lack interaction with those outside of their own ethnicity group, and therefore are oblivious to the idea of political correctness and the social issues that the west is currently facing. In China, stereotypes like the one seen in the article aren’t necessarily considered to be bad or racist mainly as there’s no one to speak up and tell people that they are. This is why I’m not at all surprised by this little slip or scandal, whatever you’d like to call it. Until China is caught up to speed in the world of social justice, I’m also expecting some repeat offences.

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