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Hello and Goodbye

Grand hyatt at SFO 1

Hello to the plane spotters’ dream hotel room

Grand Hyatt at SFO opened on 7 October. The hotel does not disappoint the airplane enthusiast. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows. Airside ones feature a Plane Spotters Guide and binoculars. For multiple viewing angles, the Corner Suite provides the ultimate spotting opportunity, with an added angle to the Terminal A ramp.  In this suite, you can take a bath in the spa-inspired bathroom while viewing planes out the window!

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General Aviation


What else is up there?

As last Sunday was the tenth anniversary of Flightradar 24 coming online, let’s look at the smaller guys who share the skies.

ICAO defines general aviation (GA) as operations that are not commercial air transport services. This includes aerial surveying, search and rescue, business jets, military, firefighting, helimeds, air taxis, helicopters, balloons, gliders and microlights. The “Top 1%” such as Roman Abramovich, Middle eastern rulers and selected captains of industry operate executive versions of larger passenger jets.

In Australia, North America and Canada general aviation is important to cover great distances and serve isolated communities.

Airfield types used range from international, regional, asphalt and grass strips. In some countries, use of international airports is now discouraged due to commercial traffic volumes, although there’s often an area allocated to GA services.

A typical snapshot of activity covers future airline pilots training with flight academies in the Diamond Twin Star. Aerobatic ones honing their skills in the Pitts Special or Sukhoi SU-29. The small jets could be air taxis or air ambulances. Honda and Raytheon have now entered the market alongside Falcon, Lear, Citation and Challenger.

For single or twin propeller, Beech, Piper and Cessna still lead the way. Piaggio chose something different with the P180, mounting the engines in the “pusher” configuration; not a great success. The Sikorsky S-92A Helibus remains popular for oil and gas field operations. Agusta and Airbus also have larger passenger-carrying helicopters. For private owners, Robinson and Bell seem to be the favoured makes.

For those preferring a quieter flight, Schempp-Hirth and Schleicher manufacture gliders. Cameron and Lindstrand are leading names for balloons.

In a future blog we’ll look in more detail at this sector, what’s new and “fly-ins” which give more spotting opportunities.

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Ninth Anniversary of QF32 Incident

On 4 November 2010, Qantas 32 left Singapore for Sydney, with 469 passengers and crew on board. The aircraft an A380, registration VH-OQA, named Nancy-Bird Walton. Four minutes after take-off, number two engine exploded. The cause a faulty stub pipe. Supposed to supply oil to the bearing unit, it separated which allowed oil to leak onto very hot metal, resulting in the turbine explosion.

Shrapnel damaged the belly, upper fuselage and tail. Many vital flight systems and back-ups were destroyed or degraded. Fuel escaped straight into the atmosphere through many holes in the wing. Thirty minutes after the explosion, pieces of the engine were found on Batam Island, Indonesia.

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Fleet News

United Star Wars

 Paint jobs, new aircraft and deliveries

Qantas: 787-9 VH-ZNI, VH-ZNJ, VH-ZNK

Virgin Atlantic: A350-1000 G-VLUX, G-VPRD, G-VJAM, G-VPOP

RAF: first Poseidon MRA Mk1, ZP-801 named Pride of Moray, delivered to Naval Air Station Jacksonville for crew training

FlyBe: upgrading EDI-LCY and BHD-LCY to jets (E190 from Stobart), Q400 remains on EDI-LHR, ABZ-LHR

BA: effective 27/10 now operating LHR-PKX (Daxing) new airport, moved from PEK. B777

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KLM Royal Flights



KLM justifies Royal Dutch Airlines

For twenty-one years KLM passengers have been oblivious to their first officer’s identity.

Two years’ ago, King Willem-Alexander revealed his second job. At the time, he was flying the Fokker 70 for Cityhopper. With that aircraft being phased out, His Majesty converted to the 737.

In the interview, he described flying as relaxation from the pressures of royal duties. A few passengers spot him in the terminal or on board. Not customary to give his name during cabin announcements, he often remains anonymous. He quipped that most passengers don’t listen anyway!

The internet only documents a flight from Amsterdam to Istanbul in November 2018. Passengers recognised him as they boarded. Next time you’re flying short haul with KLM on the 737, take a sneaky look on the flightdeck. You never know who may be occupying the right-hand seat…

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