Aviation Spotters Online

Aviation Spotters Online

All posts by Dave Soderstrom

Back to the Future…..Ruslan returns to Avalon

When the rumour mill started turning earlier this year that an Antonov AN-124 might be coming to Avalon I’ll admit I was more then a little dismissive that this would eventuate. Not since the 1992 Airshow where the giant aircraft flew a jaw dropping display had there been a Ruslan at Avalon.

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Fast forward to a month out from the Airshow and the confirmation that ‘yes the aircraft was coming’ was a pleasant suprise. Even better news was it would be bringing a Boeing AH-64E Apache to demonstrate to the Australian Defence Force as part of the Tiger ARH AIR 87 Phase 3 Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter Capability Assurance Program (ARH CAP) which is likely to turn into a replacement for the Franco-German helicopter.

So February 24th, at around 18:00 hours RA-82046 which is operated by Volga-Dnepr, Russia’s leading oversize and heavy cargo airline, arrived via runway 18 at Avalon. Volga-Dnepr was established in 1990 in Ulyanovsk, it was the first private airfreight company in Russia to provide commercial operations using An-124-100 Ruslan, freighters. The airline operates twelve An-124s along side five modernized IL-76TD-90VD freighters. The airline has a huge customer list providing oversize and heavy lift to companies including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, British Aerospace, General Electric, and Ericsson Air Crane to name but a few.

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 Landing 2 ASO (1 of 1)
Volga-Dnepr AN-124 RA-82046, Landing
LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 nose ASO (1 of 1)
Looking upwards at the hinged nose.
LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 Wheels ASO (1 of 1)
Always carry a spare tyre or more

Being an older design the aircraft is configured in a traditional analogue setup. The aircrafts cockpit will usually fly with a 4-6 compliment of crew, including pilot, copilot, navigator, senior flight engineer, flight engineer, radio operator and between  2-6 loadmasters. 

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 cockpit ASO (1 of 1)
Cockpit overview
LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 cockpit 1 ASO (1 of 1)
Pilot and Co-Pilots overview of the flight deck

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 cockpit 2 ASO (1 of 1)

From the company’s own website they are proud to mention “Volga-Dnepr Airlines is a member to International Air Transport Association (IATA) and The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA). The company has been certified to service all stages of the full production cycle ranging from training flight crews and carrying out international flights to conducting all types of aircraft maintenance. Company’s maintenance standards have been approved by US, British and Canadian aviation authorities.” The airline has also won awards for its services including  ‘Best Cargo Charter Airline’. In April 2013, for the seventh time, the Airline won the Wings of Russia Award, Airline of the Year.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the company would only fly Russian made aircraft. Yes they do have a fleet of twelve AN-124 and five IL-76s, however the airline also own two other divisions. AirBridgeCargo Airlines and Atran Airlines are part of the group and fly the Boeing 747 and 737s respectively on scheduled cargo flights. Sixteen 747 are flown in the latest 8F, 747-400ERF and 747-400F versions. The three combined airlines employ over 3,500 employees in nine countries across the globe.  

VQ-BRJ AirBridgeCargo Boeing 747-8F ASO 1LR (1 of 1)
AirBridgeCargo Boeing 747-8F, VQ-BRJ.
RA-76950 Volga-Dnepr IL-76 IL-76TD-90BD ASO (1 of 1)
Volga-Dnepr IL-76 IL-76TD-90BD, RA-76950

The word Antonov for spotters is one which will ensure the cameras are out when there is one arriving. While Antonov charters aren’t rare they aren’t that common in Australia. The AN-124 can be seen in Darwin or Perth a couple of times a year, when the type does venture into the Southern states and territories it does bring the spotters out.

Over the course of 12 months we have seen many Antonov aircraft transit through the country as photographed by the ASO team. Here are some of the aircraft in action. 

AN 124-100 RA-82047
AN-124-100, RA-82047 operated by Volga-Dnepr arriving into Darwin.
AN 124-100 RA-82047
AN-124-100, RA-82047 operated by Volga-Dnepr arriving into Darwin overhead of the airport boundary
AN 124-100 RA-82018
Volga-Dnepr AN 124-100, RA-82018
AN 124-100 RA-82018
Volga-Dnepr AN 124-100, RA-82018
AN 124-100 UR-82008
Antonov Airlines AN 124-100, UR-82008
UR-82072 Antonov Airline Antonov AN-124 ASO (1 of 1)
Antonov Airlines AN-124, UR-82072
UR-82007 Antonov Airlines Antonov AN-124 ASO 2 (1 of 1)
Antonov Airlines AN-124, UR-82007
AN-225 ASO-2 (1 of 1)
The one and only AN-225 UR-82060, arrives into Perth Airport last year.

AN-74TK-100

AN-74TK-100
Cavock AN-74TK-100

Volga-Dnepr elected to not only fly the Apache to Avalon, the company also agreed to exhibit the An-124 over the course of the airshow. I met the crew on the opening day of the Trade Show and was impressed by their hospitality and wealth of experience and willingness to show me their pride and joy. I would like to thank Ilya and Quentin for their absolutly amazing hospitality and also for the time the whole crew gave me during my time spent with them. Thanks very much.  

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 ASO (1 of 1)
4 × Progress D-18T turbofans power the AN-124-100 each developing 229.5 kN (51,600 lbf) each
LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 crew ASO (1 of 1)
The Warm and ever welcome in Australia crew of RA-82046!

AN-124 Nose closing sequence 

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 nose up ASO (1 of 1)

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 nose up 1 ASO (1 of 1)

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 nose up 3 ASO (1 of 1)

LR RA-82046 Volga-Dnepr AN-124 nose up 4 ASO (1 of 1)

 

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Avalon Airshow: from grass roots to Australia’s Premier Airshow

After the major success of the 1988 Bicentennial airshow held at Richmond Air Force base in the New South Wales Hawkesbury region, anything that was to follow would be hard to beat. The sight and sounds from all sorts of aircraft types from across the globe. With examples of F-111s preforming the famous Dump and Burn, QANTAS 747-338 low passes USAF F-15 High energy demonstrations, Massive transports from the USA C-5 Galaxy and Russian AN-124, it really was a feast for the eyes for aviation enthusiasts. 

Following the Richmond show it was decided that a biennial event should be held, however the logistics of holding the event at Richmond wasn’t feasible. The then Victorian Premier, Mr Jeff Kennet, realised there was a demand for a industry based aviation trade show with a public airshow attached and, in 1992 the First Australian International Airshow was held at Avalon airport near Melbourne in Victoria. 

Members of the team behind ASO have been attending the airshow since its inception and we thought that the airshow deserved its own story owing to the fact that soon, we will once again be turning our heads to the sky and watching aviation from the past, present and future in the skies above Avalon Airport.

The event is a major draw-card for the state of Victoria with over 200,000 people attending the 2015 event. 

 As the event is now staged for the thirteenth time, the team at ASO would like to share some of our favorite memories from Avalons past.

 

Dave Soda Soderstrom:

Having been to every airshow since 1992, it’s become something of a biennial pilgrimage for me. I can remember my Father coming to wake me up for the first one, I was so excited to be going that I was already up, dressed and ready to go. Even today it’s the same, wake up really early, head down to the airport and soak up the atmosphere.

Avalon 1 (1 of 1)
Antonov AN-124 with IL96 behind were part of the large Russian contingent.

Some of the highlights for me over the years would include the Antonov AN-124 and its very impressive display in 1992, the roar of the USAF RF-4C phantoms at the start of the airshow in 1995 and watching aircraft like the Su-27 and F-22 perform maneuvers which an aircraft shouldn’t be able to!

Avalon 3 (1 of 1)
Royal Air Force Nimrod MR2s have visited several times.

I think that we the public have been extremely privileged to see so many aircraft types at the airshow over the years, many of which are no longer flying. Examples like the RNZAF 727 and A-4 Skyhawks, RAAF F-111, HS-748 and 707, the RAF’s Nimrod and USAF Phantoms, and having been able to see and photograph these is a real treat.

Avalon 4 (1 of 1)
International line up at the 2001 event

 

Avalon 9 (1 of 1)
Anatoly Kvochur, in the specially modified Su-27P ‘Flanker’ performs a roll over the top of the Tupolev TU-204. Kvochur won the award for best flying display this year.

 

Avalon 8 (1 of 1)
The line up for the 2003 show.

 

Omega DC-10 (1 of 1)
Omega DC-10 Tanker at the 1999 Air Show

 

USAF C-5 Galaxy (1 of 1)
USAF C-5 Galaxy’s provide the heavy lift for some of the visiting helicopters.

 

Avalon 11 (1 of 1)
Kadena, Japan based USAF F-15s have visited several times and when they do, they are real crowd pleasers.

 

Avalon 5 (1 of 1)
Royal New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 has been a regular visitor to the event.

 

Avalon 6 (1 of 1)
USAF KC-10A Extender arriving in 2009

 

RSAF F-16 Black Knights (1 of 1)
Republic of Singapore Air Force ‘Black Knights’ F-16 Demonstration team at 2015

 

USAF Avalon 2015 (1 of 1)
USAF KC-135R arriving after supporting the F-22s in 2015

 

Avalon 7 (1 of 1)
Royal New Zealand Air Force T-6A arriving, 2015.

This year I’m looking forward to seeing the RAAF P-8 and F/A-18G Growler, the RSAF F-15s and to see a USAF B-1 again!

Peter Lawrence:

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I’ve been to almost every show…..and for most I have taken my father along with me.  I’ve always loved that Avalon appeals to such a broad range of people….there is literally something for everyone. 

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As someone who has now worked in the aviation industry for over 6 years I love the trade days and the huge effort that goes into providing a world class trade event.  I can spend hours in the halls looking at the latest news and products from such a wide spectrum of the industry.

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But of course I still love the flying displays, those which make the show so memorable! 

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I’ve only been taking photos for the last few years though so my pictures are from the last show, the 2015 Australian International Airshow.

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Leigh Atkinson:

Being a Geelong boy its kind of my home town airshow so its always good to get back there. 

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I do hope we get this old girl back in the air soon.

 

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RAAF C-130 from 2015 show.

 

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Nothing more pleasing than a full performance launch.

 

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Roulettes … precise as ever.

 

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This shot from the 2013 show … I do love Connie

 

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Again from 2013. Callsign Rockshow coming in over one of Temora’s Spitfires.

 

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RAAF’s Super Hornet doing its thing.

 

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I like everyone else have been waiting since 2013 for the F-22 Raptor to display again … bring it on.

 

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RAAF KC-30A with the drouges out

 

Mark Jessop:

In 1992 I was in my final year at High School and getting ready for my HSC but as luck would have it I was invited down to the first Australian International Air Show at Avalon by family friends. My role at the show was to drive pilots to aircraft or any other VIP’s around which gave me very good access to parked up aircraft. I was still very new to photography but loved aircraft. While my standard was very low I do remember that it was an awesome show.

Airbus A340 out in Australia for the 1st back in 1992.
Airbus A340 out in Australia for the 1st back in 1992.
The 1st time I saw a Prowler.
The 1st time I saw a Prowler.
DC-3 on Sunset.
DC-3 on Sunset.
QANTAS 747 about to taxi past.
QANTAS 747 about to taxi past.

 

It would take another 23 years before I would have the chance to come back to Avalon to enjoy the show and I hoped I had learnt a thing or two in that time on how to get a better photo. The line up was very impressive and for me the show was awesome but something that I didn’t think would impress me as much as it did was the World War One aircraft. To see this many old school aircraft in the air at once right above you was awesome, the sounds and sights had to be seen to be believed. It was also the Temora based CAC Sabre would put on a public display for sometime so this was also high on my list of displays I needed to see. As luck would have it I got to be in a helicopter shooing Air to Air of the display and after many years capturing this jet it was one of those happy but sad moments. Bring on 2017.

WW1 Air Battle.
WW1 Air Battle.
Heritage Flight taxing back.
Heritage Flight taxing back
The next generation of RAAF Pilot's
The next generation of RAAF Pilot’s
RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-35
RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-35
ARMY Tiger Attack Helicopter
ARMY Tiger Attack Helicopter
USAF F-22 Raptor.
USAF F-22 Raptor.
The front gate display.
The front gate display.
RAAF F/A-18B Hornet A21-102 pulling up.
RAAF F/A-18B Hornet A21-102 pulling up.

Motty:

I remember my first Avalon show, back in 1995 well, not least because I was there as support crew for one of the flying attractions, MiG-21UM, VH-XXI. Operating from the fast jet flight line, we were in the midst of a wonderful lineup of RAAF Hornets and Kiwi and Singaporean Skyhawks. The Russians had a strong presence with a few larger types and, undoubtedly the star of the show that year, Anatoly Kvochur and the incredible Su-27 Flanker.Mottys-SAvalon-1995-U-27-598-01-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-1995-Kiwi-A-4s-01-DTLR-1-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-1995-Lineup-01-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Then, of course, there were the Phantoms! As an avid Phanom-o-phile, but never having seen an operational one in rea life (that I could remember), I had been aware that there was a detachment of RF-4Cs  from the Nevada Air National Guard at Amberley at the same time that Avalon was on and was hoping like mad that they might send one to the show. Imagine my absolute delight to arrive at the show one morning to find out that, not only had they sent two, but the one slated for some flying appearances was parked just a few meters away on the flight line with us!Mottys-Avalon-1995-Jet-Lineup-01-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-1995-RF-4C-932-01-2-002-001

Motty's-Avalon-1995-Reno-RF4C-013-DTLR-1-001-ASO

It was an incredible week of great displays and experiences. The RAAF Hornets and F-111s, airfield attacks by the Kiwis in their A-4s, the water-bombing displays by the Russians in their Il-76, the awesome displays from the Singaporean A-4SUs fitted with the more powerful F-404 engines, Phil Frawley putting our MiG through its paces, the incredible Su-27 and, of course, the chance to actually see an F-4 fly for the first time. An awesome week, topped off by taking part in the last display by VH-XXI on the Sunday afternoon as self-loading-ballast.Mottys-Avalon-1995-IL-76-02-DTLR-1-1-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-1995-Singaporan-A-4S-15-01-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-1995-Alpha-Jet-E68-01-DTLR-1-001-ASO

My only other visit to Avalon was during one of the trade days in 2007 where we were treated to an incredible display of agility by the Italians in their C-27 Spartan demonstrator. It must have worked too as ten years on we will see the first appearance of the RAAF’s new C-27J at the show in 2017. It remains to be seen however, whether the RAAF’s display (if there is one) will be as adventurous as the Italian test pilots a decade ago.Mottys-Avalon-2007-C27-0893-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-2007-Caribou-0523-DTLR-1-001-ASO

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Mottys-Avalon-2007-F111-0678-LR-DTLR-1-001-ASO

There was also a strong presence from US forces with F-15s, F-16s, Super Hornets and an E-3 AEWAC. Another interesting comparison historically as this year the RAAF will have its own Super Hornets on show (including the brand new EF-18G Growler versions) and its own AEWC capability in the E-7 Wedgetail. There is also slated to be another strong presence from the US with F-22s,  F-16s, B-1B, KC-135, C-17 and P-8 Poseidon.  Add these to the announced list so-far of an example of every type in the ADF inventory, Singaporean F-15SGs, KC-135 & C-130, RAF A-400M, JASDF KC-767, RCAF & RNZAF C-130s and Armee De L’air (French Air Force) CN-235, alongside civilian performers such as Skip Stewart & Jurgis Kairys, Australia’s own Paul Bennet Airshows & the Sky Aces, the Southern Knights, Johan Gustaffson, Bob Carlton,  HARS, Temora and many other warbird and private types and this year is shaping up to be another one for the history books.Mottys-Avalon-2007-F15-1007-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-2007-FA-18-0835-1-LR-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-2007-FA-18-0774-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-2007-F16-0502-DTLR-1-001-ASO

Mottys-Avalon-2007-FA-18-1221-DTLR-1-001-ASO

 

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Cathay Pacific’s A350-900XWB flies into Melbourne

As Airbus A350-941 (B-LRI) Flight CX105 settled onto runway 16 on Wednesday the 1st Feb around 12:20pm, it wasn’t just another Cathay flight, it was the airlines first A350 flight into Melbourne. Another big day for this great airline.

Cathay A350 LR 2 (1 of 1)
Touch Down.
Cathay A350 LR 16 (1 of 1)
Welcome Cathay Pacific and the Airbus A350-900XWB to Melbourne!

Cathay is no stranger to Melbourne and Australia for that matter, already the airline operates three services into Melbourne’s International Airport at Tullamarine. Today’s flight was the first operated by the new generation of airliners the Airbus A350 which until today is usually flown by one of the airlines Airbus A330’s. Cathay is upgrading the types of aircraft serving Melbourne which in turn is an increase in capacity. From March 777-300ERs will replace the CX178 and CX163 flights.  Cathay Pacific Cargo also operates into Melbourne with either a Boeing 747-400F or 747-8F on scheduled services. Cathay took deliver of their first A350 at the companies Toulouse factory in France on Sunday, 29 May 2016. 

Cathay A350 LR 3 (1 of 1)
The aircraft passes the Melbourne International Control Tower.

Some background to Cathay Pacific;

Cathay has a long association with Australia, the airline being started by Australian Syd de Kantzow and American Roy Farrell. The two pilots saw a demand for a service from Asia to Australia. The two men, one an amateur pilot (Roy) who had been flying for CNAC (China National Aviation Company) and Syd who had done everything from being a test pilot to flying Blenheim bombers in the Royal Air Force, the two soon found themselves flying and operating over what was known as the ‘Hump’. This service over the Himalayan mountains cemented the idea that an airline service from Asia to Australia was required. Soon after the first aircraft was purchased, the tried and proven Douglas Commercial 3 or DC-3. The first aircraft ‘Betsy’ as it had been christened began its trade flying between China and Australia. The two officially registered the airline as Cathay Pacific in 1946.

Why Cathay Pacific? Well the two men put some thought into this. Cathay was the ancient name given to China and Farrell believed that one day they would fly across the Pacific. The airline quickly grew and by 1947 three more DC-3s were added as well as a Catalina flying boat.

A prominent feature on Cathay aircraft from the earliest of days was the ‘Swire’ logo on the fuselage. In 1948 Butterfield & Swire, today trading as Swire Group purchased a 45% stake in Cathay Pacific, with Australian National Airways taking 35%  with Farrell and de Kantzow taking 10% each.   

Cathay A350 LR 11 (1 of 1)

Cathay A350 LR 5 (1 of 1)
B-LRI positions itself at Delta 16

Of course today Cathay Pacific is much expanded and serves over 168 destinations in 42 countries and territories. From the humble beginnings with a single DC-3 to today’s fleet of 143 aircraft which includes, Airbus A330-200/300s, A340s, Boeing 777-200/300s and Freight configured Boeing 747-400 and 8Fs and the new Airbus A350s, the airline continues to be rated in the top ten of the world’s airlines.

Cathay has 48 of the Airbus A350 on order, a mix of the 900 and the newer & larger 1000 model, and have selected the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. These engines make the A350 one of the quietest among the aircraft types in its class and also 25% more fuel efficient than previous generation aircraft. Airbus has designed the A350 to maximize the well-being of its passengers with a quieter cabin, panoramic windows, LED mood lighting and larger overhead lockers to make a passenger journey more comfortable and across all the cabin classes

Cathay A350 LR 14 (1 of 1)
Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine

The A350 Business Class seats are an evolution of the of airlines award-winning long-haul Business Class product . A bed that folds into a completely flat position, allows for extra stowage space along with a ‘personalized service’ offered by a “Do Not Disturb” and “Wake Up Call” function in the entertainment system.

Not to be forgotten the Premium Economy Class and Economy Class seats are loaded with new features this includes a dedicated tablet holders ( we all need somewhere to hold the IPAD) and passenger exclusive power outlets and USB ports. In Premium Economy Class the seat gives each passenger has a leg rest which, together with seat, gives you more flexibility to adjust for optimal comfort.

A new aircraft also means a new inflight entertainment system. Connectivity is installed for the first time in a Cathay Pacific aircraft, (hence the hump on the rear fuselage) All seats come with the latest high-definition touchscreen personal TVs and offer a selection of movies, TV, live news channels and music. Inflight Wi-Fi is also available to connect to family, work and world events or that important Facebook update.

Cathay A350 LR 15 (1 of 1)
Ground crew commence servicing the arrived aircraft and learn about the various aircraft systems needed to unload the aircraft.
Cathay A350 LR 6 (1 of 1)
Cathay Pacific is a member of the OneWorld Alliance of airlines.
Cathay A350 LR 8 (1 of 1)
The ‘Zoro mask’ as described by some spotters is a prominent feature of the A350
Cathay A350 LR 9 (1 of 1)
Soon to be a common sight at Melbourne International Airport

 

ASO would like to wish Cathay Pacific and its crews a warm welcome to Melbourne in their new Airbus A350-900XWB!

Aviation Spotters Online is proud to partner with Melbourne International Airport to present the photos and article above and thank them for their great hospitality. 

 

 

 

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Victoria’s Fire Fighting Assets Stand up for Season 2016/17

It was a wet winter and an even wetter spring across most of Victoria this year. With these high levels of moisture its hardly surprising that fuel levels across the state are now high. And as the state moves into summer, Emergency Management Victoria which is the government body established to operate and manage any emergency in the state. EMV presented to the media its fleet of aerial assets today which includes everything from drones to the Large Aerial Tankers or LATS. 

These assets are part National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) which is also part of the larger Australian Government operation which brings together all the states and territories, established to operate the various types of aerial firefighting assets. 

Fire Event EMV ASO 2 (1 of 1)

The days proceedings were initiated by the Emergency Management Commissioner of Victoria, Craig Lapsley, who along with Emergency Services Minister James Merlino, Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief, Stephanie Rotarangi, MFB Acting Chief Officer, Paul Stacchino, CFA Deputy Chief Officer and Bruce Byatt, were all present to introduce the stand up of the fleet in Victoria as of the 14th December 2016. 

EMV Day (1 of 1)
Emergency Management Commissioner of Victoria, Craig Lapsley addresses the media.
EMV Day (1 of 1)
Forest Fire Management Victoria Chief, Stephanie Rotarangi, explains the roles within EMV.

A small representation of some the fleet were proudly on display and their capabilities were exhibited by their various operators.   This season some 48 assets are on contract up from the 40 from the previous season.  Commissioner Lapsley highlighted the continued investment by the Government in the aerial assets and also explained the trial of night vision aided bombing this season. Emergency Services Minister James Merlino, inspected the various aircraft and helicopters today reaffirming the governments commitment to these vitally important assets in conjunction with ground based fire fighting equipment.

N130FF Coulson C-130Q ASO (1 of 1)
Coulson C-130Q N130FF arrives into Avalon

Above is Coulson Aviation’s Lockheed C-130Q Hercules N130FF or ‘Bomber 390’. This aircraft started life with the United States Navy (USN) as a EC-130Q being used in the Take Charge And Move Out or TACAMO role where its core role was as a communications relay in the event of a crisis. After its service with the Navy it was then transferred to NASA being used by the American Space agency until around 2004. It was then purchased by Coulson and became part of their Next Generation Airtanker project. The aircraft is linked via a secure datalink to its home base which tracks the aircraft’s performance and drop statistics. The aircraft arrived into Avalon on December 12 where the aircraft and crew cleared customs and began preparations to start the contract. 

Fire Event EMV ASO 8 (1 of 1)

Fire Event EMV ASO 7 (1 of 1)
Emergency Management Commissioner, Craig Lapsley highlights the C-130Q’s tank capacity of 15,141 Litres to Emergency Services Minister James Merlino.

Conair’s/ FieldAir’s British Aerospace Avro RJ85 C-GVFK or ‘Bomber 391’ This particular air frame was originally delivered to Lufthansa Cityline in 1995. Built at British Aerospace’s Woodford production facility the now 21 year old air frame certainly doesn’t look it. The RJ85 proved its worth in the 2015/16 fire season with its quick turn around and deployments in not only Victoria but in Tasmania and South Australia as well. Converted with a bolt on water tank and drop design so as not to compromise the aircraft structure the RJ85 is back for its third fire season. The 11,305 litre retardant tank capacity and combined with the four jet engines makes this aircraft well suited to slower speed water drops and the reliability and power from them. One of several RJ’s in the Conair fleet this aircraft has been found to be a very well suited air frame to firebombing, with the eighth air frame now under conversion.  The RJ85 arrived in Avalon on December 5. 

C-GVFK Conair-FieldAir RJ-85 ASO 2 (1 of 1)

Fire Event EMV ASO 5 (1 of 1)

Also returning to operate along side the LATs is the vitally important Birddogs. These aircraft which includes Aero Commander 690 VH-CLT or Birddog 376, which is operated by Tasmaian Seafoods, are tasked with the assessment of the fire and provide a lead in for the LATs and VLAT’s. 

Fire Event EMV ASO 3 (1 of 1)

The return of the King? Not quite. Kestrel Helicopters in conjunction with Erickson Air-Crane are back and have provided two of their S-64E Air Cranes this season. N217AC Helitak 341 and N957AC Helitak 342. In a change from last season one of the cranes will be based at Moorabbin airport instead of Ballarat in the states North. This has been replaced by a smaller Bell 412 which which is better suited to operations in that area. 

 

Fire Event EMV ASO 6 (1 of 1)

Fire Event EMV ASO 4 (1 of 1)

N217AC Erickson Air Crane ASO (1 of 1)

 

Another type on display was the Squirrel helicopter exhibited in two forms by Microflight with VH-XXW and VH-LSR. Both preform very different functions. 

VH-LSR, an AS350B2 model is part of the Westpac Life saver RESCUE fleet. Normally based in Barwon Heads on Victoria’s surf coast this helicopter will be tasked for Search and Rescue when it is needed in the event of an emergency. VH-XXW also a Squirrel type an AS350B3 is fitted out with an in-house developed sophisticated surveillance system  Microflite developed this from the ground up with a Wescam MX-10 camera. A single crew member in the rear cabin has three camera sensors which enables the crew to monitor the fires in both infra-red and in high definition which is sent in real time to the Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) control room when the machine is overhead an active fire which is vital for making accurate decisions in real time thus enabling the fire to be managed more effectively.

VH-LSR Westpac Helicopter (1 of 1)

Of course this is but a small snap shot of the types and their roles preformed this season. ASO will bring you a full coverage of the whole fleet at seasons end. 

ASO wishes to thank our hosts for the event today and their hospitality. 

 

 

 

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Ruslan, calls into Melbourne Airport.

Ruslan (Руслан) which translates to Russian, is the name given to one of the more interesting types which was the cause of much hype for Aviation Spotters at Melbourne’s Tullamarine airport this week. The mighty Antonov AN-124 ‘Condor’ a type which is seen in may airports in Europe, as it is used to haul oversize and heavy freight from place to place. 

AN-124 Undercarrige
AN-124 Undercarrige

Designed during the cold war by the Antonov design bureau in the Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union (USSR) the aircraft first flew on the 26 December 1982. A requirement by the USSR for a larger strategic transporter then the AN-22 Turboprop, the AN-124 entered service with in 1986 with the Air Force.  Since then approximately 50 have been built since this date in  several versions. 

UR-82007 Antonov Airlines Antonov AN-124
UR-82007 Antonov Airlines Antonov AN-124

Powered by four 229.47 kN or 51,622 lb trust ZMDB D-18T turbofan engines, which allows the aircraft to reach a top speed of 800 km/h. The AN-124 has some noticeable claims to its name including a record achieved in July 1985, where an An-124 carried 171,219 kg (377,473 lb) of cargo to an altitude of 2,000 m (6,600 ft) and 170,000 kg to an altitude of 10,750 m (35,270 ft). The aircraft is able to haul 88 passengers on top of the cargo load, in a pressurized compartment in the top part of the aircraft. The lower deck isn’t pressurized. 

AN-124 engine
AN-124 engine

The first production version was the afore mentioned AN-124 which was followed by the AN-124-100 commercial transport, the AN-124-100M-150 which has Western Avionics installed, the AN-124-150 with increased payload and the AN-124-300 which is a newer improved version for the Russian Air Force. 

One of the aircraft unique features is the ability to kneel and lower the lower deck closer to the apron for quicker and easier loading. 

Ruslan, UR-82007 is a 1986 build aircraft owned and operated by Antonov Design Bureau, the aircraft arrived into Tullamarine as flight no ADB2800 from Darwin. The aircraft was hauling two Rheinmetall 8×8 Boxer, Armoured Personnel Carrier’s. The two APC’s were being delivered to the Australian Army. The two APC’s will undergo testing and evaluation to find a replacement for the current ASLAV’s and M113 APC’s used by the Army. 

UR-82007 Antonov Airlines Antonov AN-124
UR-82007 Antonov Airlines Antonov AN-124
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Beijing Capital Airlines touches down at Melbourne Tullamarine Airport.

CapitalAirlinesLogo

A new Airline arrived into Melbourne Airport on a clear blue Friday morning, on the 30th September 2016. Beijing Capital Airlines which operates as Capital Airlines is a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines from China. Launched on April the 2nd in 2010 Capital Airlines is based at Beijing International Airport, China. The airline is part of the HNA Group, who is also invested in Virgin Australia.

B-8221 Airbus A330-243 Beijing Capital Airlines ASO (1 of 1)
B-8221 Airbus A330-243 Beijing Capital Airlines, this aircraft line number 1052, was originally delivered to Garuda Airlines as PK-GPI leased from AeroCap who now leases it to Capital Airlines.

Operating its first service into Melbourne’s Tullamarine International Airport (YMML) was B-8221, an Airbus A330-243 as flight number JD461 from Qingdao Liuting International Airport (ZSQD), landing at 08:39am.

B-8221 Airbus A330-243 Beijing Capital Airlines ASO 3 (1 of 1)
B-8221 Airbus A330-243 Beijing Capital Airlines

Beijing Capital Airlines has a fleet of 65 aircraft and flies some 131 routes including 21 international destinations. The Melbourne route is the airlines’ first into the southern hemisphere. The airline will operate services to Melbourne three times a week, connecting Victoria with the Chinese cities of Shenyang and Qingdao.

China is the largest source of international visitors to Victoria, with Melbourne Airport seeing some 798,000 arrivals from there in the 12 months ending April 2016.

B-8221 Airbus A330-243 Beijing Capital Airlines ASO 2 (1 of 1)
B-8221 Airbus A330-243 Beijing Capital Airlines, this 7 year old airframe is powered by the Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60 engine.
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United States Air Force 69th Birthday.

USAF F-16Cs “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
USAF F-16Cs “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
USAF Lockheed U-2R from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing from Beale AFB, California on detachment to Osan in South Korea.
USAF Lockheed U-2R from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing from Beale AFB, California on detachment to Osan in South Korea.

A significant date for the United States Air Force this week. September 18th 2016 marks the 69th anniversary of the largest Air Forces in the world. Formed as a separate branch of the United States Army on this date, the current U.S.A.F is  today a service which operates more than 5,137 military aircraft, 450 ICBMs and 63 military satellites. It has a $161 billion budget with 307,001 active duty personnel, 177,221 civilian personnel, 69,200 Air Force Reserve personnel, and 105,500 Air National Guard personnel.

The U.S.A.F is a frequent visitor to Australia both in the past and also in the present. Aviation Spotters Online wishes the United States Air Force and its serving personal a Happy Birthday and many many more.

We present this Gallery of U.S.A.F aircraft as our salute to them.

McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle form the 67th Fighter Squadron, 18th Wing based at Kadena AFB, Japan.
McDonnell Douglas F-15C Eagle form the 67th Fighter Squadron, 18th Wing based at Kadena AFB, Japan.
Boeing B-52H from the 23d Bomb Squadron part of the 5th BW Minot AFB, North Dakota.
Boeing B-52H from the 23d Bomb Squadron part of the 5th BW Minot AFB, North Dakota.
Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor from the 199th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the Hawaii Air National Guard which is part of the 154th Wing located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Lockheed Martin F-22A Raptor from the 199th Fighter Squadron is a unit of the Hawaii Air National Guard which is part of the 154th Wing located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Honolulu, Hawaii.
USAF F-16C “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
USAF F-16C “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.

Video of Wild Weasel F-16C as seen at Avalon Airshow 2015.

Boeing KC-135R from 909th Air Refueling Squadron "Young Tigers" of the 18th Wing, based at Kadena AFB, Japan.
Boeing KC-135R from 909th Air Refueling Squadron “Young Tigers” of the 18th Wing, based at Kadena AFB, Japan.
Boeing B-52H from the Barksdale AFB is located in northwest Louisiana
Boeing B-52H from the Barksdale AFB is located in northwest Louisiana
Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules from the 317th Airlift Group, which is an Air Mobility Command tenant unit based at Dyess AFB in Texas.
Lockheed C-130J Super Hercules from the 317th Airlift Group, which is an Air Mobility Command tenant unit based at Dyess AFB in Texas.
MC-130H Special Ops into Darwin
Lockheed MC-130H from the 1st Special Operations Squadron, at Kadena AFB, Okinawa.
USAF F-16C “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
USAF F-16C “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
Boeing B-52H from the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron then, deployed to Anderson AFB, Guam.
Boeing B-52H from the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron then, deployed to Anderson AFB, Guam.
Boeing E-3C Sentry AWACS from the 552nd ACW based at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.
Boeing E-3C Sentry AWACS from the 552nd ACW based at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.
Boeing C-17A Globemaster III from 517th Airlift Squadron, 354th FW, from Elmendorf AFB, Alaska
Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from the 203rd Air Refuelling Squadron 154th WG, based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.
Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from the 203rd Air Refuelling Squadron 154th WG, based at Hickam AFB, Hawaii.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia

Lockheed F-22A Raptor from the 192nd Fighter Wing (192 FW), is a unit of the Virginia Air National Guard at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
Lockheed F-22A Raptor from the 192nd Fighter Wing (192 FW), is a unit of the Virginia Air National Guard at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender 60th Air Mobility Wing based at Travis AFB, California.
McDonnell Douglas KC-10A Extender 60th Air Mobility Wing based at Travis AFB, California.
Boeing KC-135R from the 86th Air Refuelling Wing is a unit of the Mississippi Air National Guard stationed at Meridian Regional Airport, Mississippi.
Boeing KC-135R from the 86th Air Refuelling Wing is a unit of the Mississippi Air National Guard stationed at Meridian Regional Airport, Mississippi.
Rockwell International B-1B Lancer from the 28th BW based at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
Rockwell International B-1B Lancer from the 28th BW based at Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota.
USAF F-16C “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
USAF F-16C “Wild Weasels” from the 14th Fighter Squadron based at Misawa AFB, Japan.
Fairchild A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 51st FW based at Osan AFB, in the Republic of South Korea.
Fairchild A-10C Thunderbolt II from the 51st FW based at Osan AFB, in the Republic of South Korea.
USAF 'Thunderbirds' flight demonstration team flying the General Dynamics F-16A are assigned to the 57th Wing, and are based at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
USAF ‘Thunderbirds’ flight demonstration team flying the General Dynamics F-16A are assigned to the 57th Wing, and are based at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 354th FW, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 354th FW, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 354th FW, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 354th FW, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 354th FW, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
General Dynamics F-16C Fighting Falcon from the 354th FW, Eielson AFB, Alaska.
C-5M Super Galaxy 439th Airlift Wing Westover AFB
Lockheed C-5M Super Galaxy from the 337th Airlift Squadron of the 439th Airlift Wing Westover AFB Massachusetts.
USAF C-32A 98-80002 Take off ASO 3 (1 of 1)
Boeing C-32A 1st Airlift Squadron, 89th Airlift Wing, based at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

 

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79 Squadron Spitfire replica dedication at the RAAF Museum Point Cook

Friday, 16th of September 2016, saw the official unveiling of the RAAF Museum’s newest ‘aircraft’. A fiberglass Supermarine Spitfire MK VIII LF A58-492.

The idea for this display was born some three years ago and today members from 79 Squadron, their families, RAAF Officials and invited guests were present for the ceremony. MC for the event, OPSO SQNLDR Glen Coy CSC, welcomed the guests including the Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies. The Air Marshal’s speech highlighted and thanked those who were involved in the new display. The Friend’s of the RAAF Museum (represented by Mr Howard Franks) alongside corporate donors including Rolls Royce, represented by Mr Lee Doherty MBE (Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Region Rolls Royce),  the RAAF Association and a host of other smaller donors, came together to see this project to completion.

From Left to Right - Rolls Royce, Mr Lee Doherty MBE, Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies, and the RAAF Museum's Director David Gardner, stand proudly with the replica Spitfire.
From Left to Right – Rolls Royce, Mr Lee Doherty MBE, Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies, and the RAAF Museum’s Director David Gardner, stand proudly with the replica Spitfire.

The replica which was constructed in the United Kingdom by Gateguards, who have produced a full size replica weighing 1500 Kilograms and made to withstand the harsh Australian weather.

OPSO SQNLDR Glen Coy CSC mc'd the event
OPSO SQNLDR Glen Coy CSC mc’d the event
Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies.
Chief of the Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies.
Mr Lee Doherty MBE (Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Region Rolls Royce) highlighted Rolls Royce's close relationship and history with the RAAF and the RAAF Museum.
Mr Lee Doherty MBE (Senior Vice President Asia Pacific Region Rolls Royce) highlighted Rolls Royce’s close relationship and history with the RAAF and the RAAF Museum.
Mr Howard Frank President of the Friends of the RAAF Museum, recounts the real aircrafts history and 79 Squadrons history.
Mr Howard Frank President of the Friends of the RAAF Museum, recounts the real aircrafts history and 79 Squadrons history.

79 Squadron formed at Wooloomanata, Victoria, on 26 April 1943. Two months later the Squadron was soon deployed to Goodenough Island Papua New Guinea flying the Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII in both the Low Flying (LF) and High Flying (HF) versions. Missions that were conducted included fighter sweeps and bomber escorts for the remainder of the year, recording three confirmed enemy ‘kills. The squadron was plagued with many operational issue relating to the Spitfire, and suffered many losses of both man and machine. Operations were continued there until January 1945, where the Squadron was moved south to Darwin. Action didn’t cease however, a month later on the island of Morotai they were back in action against the Japanese. After Japan’s surrender the Squadron moved to Queensland where it disbanded on 12 November 1945.

The Squadron was reformed in 1962, No 79 Squadron was sent to war in Ubon, Thailand, as part of Australia’s commitment to the Vietnam War. It was expected for there to be a invasion of Thailand by North Vietnamese forces. This was never to eventuate, however the Squadron’s CAC Sabres were kept on a constant state of readiness and fully armed, for five years.

Again the Squadron was disbanded after the war, and after a hiatus some 18 years (1986), was reformed to fly the then current front line fighter, the GAF built Mirage IIIO.  The Squadron was then based at RAAF Butterworth in Malaysia. On the 30th June 1988 the Squadron was once again disbanded, this also marking the end of the RAAF’s presence in Malaysia.

1998 came and 79 Squadron was once again reactivated this time located at RAAF Base Pearce, WA. The Squadron was formed to operate the Australian built Aermacchi MB-326H or ‘Macchi’ which was soon replaced by the BAE Hawk 127 in the year 2000. Today the Squadron is responsible for the Introductory Fast Jet Flying for RAAF pilots selected from No 2 Flying Training School, other task include Hawk refresher and Instructor Conversion Courses,  Fleet support to Navy Operations, and Close Air Support.

The ceremony opened with two BAe Hawk 127s A27-10 and A27-33 deployed form RAAF Pearce to conduct a fly over the Spitfire replica. The two jets were an impressive sight as they passed overhead.

RAAF Hawks fly past the new Spitfire.
RAAF Hawks fly past the new Spitfire.

The Temora Aviation Museum provided a real treat for the invited guests. The museum’s Mk.VIII Spitfire VH-HET one of two operational Spitfires in the collection was present. The aircraft is painted as the personal mount of Royal Australian Air Force, Wg. Cdr Bobby Gibbes of 80 Wing RAAF 457 Squadron, based on Morotai in 1945. The aircraft serial number is A58-758 however it is marked as A58-602. Flown down from Temora and displayed for the ceremony attendees by ex RAAF F/A-18 Hornet pilot and current Red Bull Air Race pilot Matt Hall.

TAM Spitfire MK VIII.
TAM Spitfire MK VIII.

Matt gave a spirited display over the ceremony with the amazing song playing from the Rolls Royce Merlin engine heard across the base. Once the display was finished Matt joined the invited guests in the Mess Hall for Morning Tea.

Matt Hall rolling in.
Matt Hall rolling in.
RAAF Museum 79 Squ 4 (1 of 1)
Matt displaying the TAM Supermarine Spitfire Mk.VIII
RAAF Musuem 79 Squ 2 (1 of 1)
Matt with ‘Grey Nurse’
RAAF Museum 79 Squ 9 (1 of 1)
The RAAF Museum’s Dave Jones, poses and has a chat with Matt Hall prior to departure.

Matt was kind enough to be available to answer questions and pose for photos while at Point Cook. As the afternoon rolled on the Spitfire was prepared for departure. Some of Temora’s crew including Kenny Love (Chief Executive), Peter Harper (Marketing Manager & WH&S Facilitator) and  Brenden Maxwell (Apprentice Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) were on hand to see the departure of Matt and the Spitfire.

RAAF Museum 79 Squ 8 (1 of 1)
Matt prepares for departure.
RAAF Museum 79 Squ 7 (1 of 1)
Everything checked and set.
RAAF Museum 79 Squ 6 (1 of 1)
Matt Halls signals all clear and ready to go! See you next time Matt.
RAAF Musuem 79 Squ 3 (1 of 1)
Matt and the Spitfire head back to Temora.

So, if you are in the Point Cook area, there’s yet another reason to stop by the RAAF Museum and wander though the exhibits and take in some unique Australian aviation history.

With thanks to Point Cook, RAAF Media, Temora Aviation Museum and Matt Hall for the opportunity to cover this significant occasion.

Dave Soderstrom.

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Mr. 747 Joe Sutter the man behind Boeing’s Queen of the Skies, passes.

He’s known as the ‘Father of the 747’ or the ‘Jumbo Jet’.

Joe Sutter, the chief engineer behind the design and build of Boeing’s iconic model 747, passed away on Tuesday, August 30, at the age of 95.

joe_sutter-2
Joe Sutter poses in front of the Boeing 747 Prototype N7470 (Boeing Photo)

Joe joined the US Navy serving on the destroyer escort, Edward H Allen during World War Two. Joe also worked at the  Douglas Aircraft Co before joining Boeing, where he worked on the 707 and 737 and 747 programs.

It was Joe who invented the wide body airliner concept, allowing one aircraft to carry more passengers further than the then in production 707. Joe led the engineering team who delivered the project in 29 months from conception to rollout.

The 747 was launched to the world in 1966, built to carry 370 passengers. Pan American would be the launch customer with an order of 25. Known by many around the world as the ‘Queen of the Skies’, the 747 first flew in 1970, the 747 held the passenger capacity record for 37 years.

Boeing have now delivered over 1,500 747s to many operators and though the type is in its twilight of production in the current 747-8 form, it will be many years before the last of them applies the park break for the last time.

Aviation Spotters online presents our tribute to Joe and the Boeing 747.

VH-EBA QANTAS Pic (1 of 1)
VH-EBA QANTAS’s first 747B (747-238 QANTAS PHOTO via Historic Australian Aircraft)

The 747 first appeared in Australian skies in 1971, QANTAS ordered four of the 747B (later 200 series) thus making it the first customer for this version. It was also at this time that QANTAS became the worlds only all 747 operator. QANTAS eventually went on to order the COMBI version (which carried cargo and passengers on the main deck) the SP (Special Performance) 2 of which were ordered.

Mottys-Photo-_20061116_4904-001-DTLR-1-001-ASO
VH-EBX operated by QANTAS Boeing 747-338

Next in service was the 300 series the first 747 with the extended upper deck, six of these were to see service. 1989 the 747-400 entered service with the airline after an appearance at the Farnborough airshow the aircraft flew non-stop London to Sydney entering the record books as the longest flight by a civilian airliner at that time. Incedently this same aircraft is now preserved. VH-OJA is at the excellent Historic Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) Facility in Albion Park NSW. That wasn’t the end to QANTAS and the Boeing 747 orders. In 2002 the 747-438ER version of which QANTAS was the only airline to order the passenger version entered service with the airline to further extend QANTAS’s reach into the USA.  A total of 65 different 747s not including leased aircraft have been operated by QANTAS over the years.

VH-OJA Cockpit HARS ASO (1 of 1)
ex QANTAS 747-438, VH-OJA Cockpit HARS
VH-OJA HARS ASO (1 of 1)
VH-OJA on display at HARS.
VH-OJT QANTAS Boeing 747-438 ASO (1 of 1)
VH-OJT operated by QANTAS Boeing 747-438 one of 11 still flying for the airline.
VH-OEJ QANTAS Boeing 747-438ER ASO 3 (1 of 1)
VH-OEJ operated by QANTAS in the Olympic paint scheme.

Of course QANTAS wasn’t the only operator of the 747 in Australian skies. Ansett Airlines in 1994 introduced the 747-312 into its operations with three aircraft being leased from Singapore Airlines. VH-INH, VH-INJ and VH-INK, operating Sydney to Hong Kong.

14151839_10153669353116805_2100155248_o
VH-INJ operated by Ansett Airlines in full Olympic livery Boeing 747-312.

In 1999 Ansett replaced its Boeing 747-312s with two Boeing 747-412, and it became a full member of the Star Alliance. VH-ANA and ANB. In the time the 747 and Ansett operated the airline became the official carrier for the Olympic Games held in Sydney in 2000. so several Olympic schemed aircraft flew. Sadly for Ansett employees, passengers and enthusiasts this all came to an end in 2001 when Ansett went into receivership with the two 747s returning to Singapore Airlines.

DSC_2628
HZ- HM1C operated by Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 747-SP
SM9_3123
Atlas Air Boeing 747-400F as seen arriving into Darwin.
B-LIF Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-467ERF ASO LR (1 of 1)
B-LIF operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo, Boeing 747-467ERF
DSC_0052
VT-EVA operated by Air India Boeing 747-437.
9V-SFF Singapore Cargo Boeing 747-412F LR (1 of 1)
9V-SFF operated by Singapore Cargo Boeing 747-412F
P1010637-LR-DTLR-1-001-ASO
JA8080 operated by Japan Air Lines Boeing 747-446.
B-LIB Cargo Pacific Cargo 747-467F ASO LR (1 of 1)
B-LIB operated by Cargo Pacific Cargo 747-467F
4X-ELE Israel Airlines Boeing 747-412 ASO (1 of 1)
4X-ELE operated by Israel Airlines Boeing 747-412
P1010690-DTLR-1-001-ASO
B-2443 operated by China Airlines Boeing 747-4J6
HS-TGY Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGY operated by Thai Airways Boeing 747-4D7
B-16482 Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
B-16482 operated by Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-45EF
SM6_8265a
United Airlines Boeing 747-400 departing out of Darwin
P1010655-DTLR-1-001-ASO
HL7402 operated by Korean Airlines Boeing 747-4B5
B-18208 China Airline Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
B-18208 operated by China Airlines Boeing 747-409
QF 747-400 ASO
VH-OEF operated by QANTAS Boeing 747-438ER in the OneWorld Alliance paint scheme.
TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 ASO 7 LR (1 of 1)
TF-AAK Iron Maiden 747-428 departing Perth on the band’s world tour.
Mottys-Photo_2015_10_23_5885-DTLR-1-001-ASO
10011 Republic of Korean Air Force Boeing 747-4B5
DSC_0108
JASDF 20-1102 operated in VIP configuration Boeing 747-47C
Atlas Air 747-400F ASO
N498MC operated by Atlas Air Boeing 747-47UF
DSC_4983
Dreamlifter N747BC is one of two converted by Boeing to transport aircraft components to the main assembly halls from across the world. Boeing 747-400LCF.
Cargolux 748 LX-VCL (1 of 1)
LX-VCL operated by Cargolux Boeing 747-8R7F

 

VQ-BRJ AIr Bridge Cargo 747-8F ASO (1 of 1)
VQ-BRJ operated by AIr Bridge Cargo 747-8F
B-LJK Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-8F ASO (1 of 1)
B-LJK operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-867F
CX-747-800 ASO
B-LJA operated by Cathay Pacific Cargo Boeing 747-867F
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Spotting in Thailand, Part 1. Suvarnabhumi Airport

 

One thing we can all agree on is there is a mass of airlines and airplanes the world over. While it’s fun chasing liveries and specific types in your local area, state or around Australia, the rest of the world has some interesting things to see as well. So with this in mind I and a few like minded spotters decided to head to Thailand for a week to spot the two major airports in and around Bangkok. If you’re not familiar with the airports in Bangkok we better give you a run down on the localities. Bangkok has two major airports: – Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) and Don Mueang International Airport (DMK).

An interesting fact is Suvarnabhumi (translated means ‘Golden Land’) is the largest airport in the world encompassing 2,980 hectares and is also the main hub for Thai Airways International and Bangkok Airways. Also interestingly it claims to have the world’s tallest free-standing control tower at 132.2 metres or 434 feet and the world’s fourth largest single-building airport terminal 563,000 square metres or 6,060,000 square feet. In 2015 the airport handled 52.9 million passengers, up by nearly 14 percent from the previous year. Costing an estimated ฿155 billion (approximately $7 billion AUD),  the airport has two parallel runways (60 m wide, 4,000 m and 3,700 m long) and two parallel taxiways to accommodate simultaneous departures and arrivals (more on this later). Some very impressive stats I think you’ll agree.

Having been to Bangkok many years ago I was really looking forward to returning to Thailand and my traveling companions and myself were not disappointed in the variety, rarities and oddities which we saw.

 

BKK Line up (1 of 1)
Rooftop overview from the Phoenix Hotel

 

This overview will present you a snapshot of the airport, spotting and show the variety of aircraft which can be seen operating to it. Most of my spotting for BKK was done from the fantastic Phoenix Airport, which provides you with a rooftop spotting area in between the two parallel runways 19R and 19L. The Hotel is fantastic and the staffs are very friendly and accommodating. The Phoenix Hotel is located approximately 15 minutes from the airport, roof top viewing provides great photos where a 100-400 lens with a zoom length of approximately 100-200 is needed for large airliners and 250-350 for smaller aircraft. Of course this will depend on your camera gear for the clarity and the like.

We did venture out to look at other locations including a small fishing village where we were treated to some stools to sit and enjoy the afternoon shooting with the light behind us. The taxi drive to this spot was 10 minutes and cost about $10 AUD. One piece of advice I can recommend to anyone thinking of spotting in Thailand is take large quantities of water and sunscreen. Both are needed in abundance. The days we spent outside saw it reach high 30s and with humidity getting as high as 80%.

 

BKK Phoenix (1 of 1)

 

Weather can play a big part of spotting and of course being in a tropical environment storms are inevitable. This means that you’re adjusting your camera settings to compensate for the changes in light. I did learn a lot about my cameras ability and my own strengths and weaknesses in the ever changing conditions. Now let’s get onto the good stuff! Bangkok is probably one of the more interesting places in the world for the variety of airlines. Over 100 serve the airport around the year. On top of this is approximately 25 plus freight operators. The variety of types is as interesting as the airlines. BKK is defiantly the biggest hub for 747 operators and fans of the type like me are well catered for!

With regular visits from types like the A340, 767, A330, 777 and also rarities like 757s and even the odd A310 calling into the airport daily it is a spotters paradise. Personally it was never a dull moment watching Flight Tracker24 or FlightAware and looking at the types lining up on their way in was fantastic. Incidentally the hotel offers free Wi-Fi as does many of the places around Bangkok to aid your spotting.

So onto the planes as there is so much variety I’ve divided them up into the various types. So many airlines operate into BKK so the photos are numerous. So sit back and enjoy this photo diary of a week at the airport.

 

Boeing 747 operators:

HS-TGB Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGB Thai Airways Boeing 747-400
HS-TGG Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGG Thai Airways Boeing 747-400
HS-TGO Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGO Thai Airways Boeing 747-400
HS-TGX Thai Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGX Thai Boeing 747-400
HS-TGY Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGY Thai Airways Boeing 747-400
HS-TGZ Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TGZ Thai Airways Boeing 747-400
B-16401 Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-400SF ASO (1 of 1)
B-16401 Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-400SF
B-16482 Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
B-16482 Eva Air Cargo Boeing 747-400F
B-16483 EvaAirways Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
B-16483 Eva Airways Boeing 747-400F
B-18211 China Airlines Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
B-18211 China Airlines Boeing 747-400

B-18208 China Airline Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)

B-18207 China Airlines Boeing 747-400 ASO (1 of 1)
B-18207 China Airlines Boeing 747-400
B-18717 China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
B-18717 China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400F
B-18715 China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
B-18715 China Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-400F
4X-ELE Israel Airlines Boeing 747-412 ASO (1 of 1)
4X-ELE Israel Airlines Boeing 747-412
N576UP UPS Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
N576UP UPS Boeing 747-400F
JAO4KZ Nippon Cargo Airlines Boeing 747-400F ASO (1 of 1)
JAO4KZ Nippon Cargo Airlines Boeing 747-400F

Boeing 777 Operators:

HS-TJF Thai Airways Boeing 777-200 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TJF Thai Airways Boeing 777-200
HS-TKA Thai Airways Boeing 777-300 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TKA Thai Airways Boeing 777-300
A7-BEI QATAR Boeing 777-300 ASO (1 of 1)
A7-BEI QATAR Boeing 777-300
G-YMMU British Airways Boeing 777-200ER ASO (1 of 1)
G-YMMU British Airways Boeing 777-200ER
A6-JAD Etihad Boeing 777-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
A6-JAD Etihad Boeing 777-300ER
HB-JNC Swiss Boeing 777-300 ASO (1 of 1)
HB-JNC Swiss Boeing 777-300 ASO
F-GSQP Air France Boeing 777-300 ASO (1 of 1)
F-GSQP Air France Boeing 777-300
A6-JAE Etihad Airways Boeing 777-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
A6-JAE Etihad Airways Boeing 777-300ER
B-16703 EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
B-16703 EVA Air Boeing 777-300ER
A6-ETC Etihad Boeing 777-300 ASO (1 of 1)
A6-ETC Etihad Boeing 777-300
HB-JND SWISS Boeing 777-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
HB-JND SWISS Boeing 777-300ER
OE-LPD Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200 ASO (1 of 1)
OE-LPD Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-200
HB-JNE SWISS Boeing 777-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
HB-JNE SWISS Boeing 777-300ER
B-16702 Eva Air Boeing 777-300 ASO (1 of 1)
B-16702 Eva Air Boeing 777-300

Boeing 787 Operators:

5Y-KZE Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8 ASO (1 of 1)
5Y-KZE Kenya Airways Boeing 787-8
VT-ANK Air India 787-8 ASO LR (1 of 1)
VT-ANK Air India 787-8

 

JA801A ANA Boeing 787-8 ASO (1 of 1)
JA801A ANA Boeing 787-8
G-CIXO Norwegian Boeing 787-9 ASO (1 of 1)
G-CIXO Norwegian Boeing 787-9

JA803A ANA Boeing 787-8 ASO (1 of 1)

HS-TQA Thai Airways Boeing 787-8 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TQA Thai Airways Boeing 787-8
JA825J JAL Boeing 787-8 ASO (1 of 1)
JA825J JAL Boeing 787-8
A40-SB Oman Air Boeing 787-8 ASO (1 of 1)
A40-SB Oman Air Boeing 787-8

Boeing 767 Operators:

VQ-BUO AzurAir Boeing 767-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
VQ-BUO AzurAir Boeing 767-300ER
JA801F ANA Cargo Boeing 767-300F ASO (1 of 1)
JA801F ANA Cargo Boeing 767-300F
ET-ALJ Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
ET-ALJ Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER
UK67004 Uzbekistan Airlines Boeing 767-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
UK67004 Uzbekistan Airlines Boeing 767-300ER
JA8358 ANA Cargo Boeing 767-300F ASO (1 of 1)
JA8358 ANA Cargo Boeing 767-300F
ET-AMF Ethopian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER ASO (1 of 1)
ET-AMF Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300ER

Boeing 757 Operators:

N949FD FedEx Boeing 757-200F ASO (1 of 1)
N949FD FedEx Boeing 757-200F
VP-BOO Royal Flight Boeing 757-200 ASO LR (1 of 1)
VP-BOO Royal Flight Boeing 757-200
P4-KCU Air Astana Boeing 757-200WL ASO (1 of 1)
P4-KCU Air Astana Boeing 757-200WL

Boeing 737 Operators:

XY-ALF Myanmar Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
XY-ALF Myanmar Boeing 737-800
PK-GFN Garuda Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
PK-GFN Garuda Boeing 737-800 Retro Jet
9M-MXF Malaysian Airlines Boeing 737-800 ASO 2 (1 of 1)
9M-MXF Malaysian Airlines Boeing 737-800
B-6986 SDA Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
B-6986 SDA Boeing 737-800
HS-TDG Thai Airways Boeing 737-400 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TDG Thai Airways Boeing 737-400 one of two left in service.
S2-AHC Regent Airways Boeing 737-700 ASO (1 of 1)
S2-AHC Regent Airways Boeing 737-700
B-5113 China Southern Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
B-5113 China Southern Boeing 737-800
B-5817 China Eastern Boeing 737-700 ASO (1 of 1)
B-5817 China Eastern Boeing 737-700
B-5640 CHINA Southern Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
B-5640 CHINA Southern Boeing 737-800 in Skyteam Alliance livery
B-5657 XIAMEN Airlines Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
B-5657 XIAMEN Airlines Boeing 737-800
B-1512 Shanghai Airlines Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
B-1512 Shanghai Airlines Boeing 737-800
B-6066 Hainnan Airlines Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
B-6066 Hainnan Airlines Boeing 737-800
F-ONGA Air Austral Boeing 737-800 ASO (1 of 1)
F-ONGA Air Austral Boeing 737-800

Airbus A380 Operators:

A6-EEC Emirates Airbus A380 ASO (1 of 1)
A6-EEC Emirates Airbus A380
A7-APA QATAR Airbus A380 ASO (1 of 1)
A7-APA QATAR Airbus A380
HS-TUB Thai Airways Airbus A380 ASO 2 (1 of 1)
HS-TUB Thai Airways Airbus A380

Airbus A340 Operators:

EP-MMB Mahan Air Airbus A340-300 ASO (1 of 1)
EP-MMB Mahan Air Airbus A340-300
B-18803 China Airlines AIrbus A340-300 ASO (1 of 1)
B-18803 China Airlines AIrbus A340-300
RP-C3438 Philippine Airlines Airbus A340-300 ASO (1 of 1)
RP-C3438 Philippine Airlines Airbus A340-300
D-AIGM Lufthansa Airbus A340-300 ASO (1 of 1)
D-AIGM Lufthansa Airbus A340-300

Airbus A350 Operators:

B-LRC Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 ASO 3 (1 of 1)
B-LRC Cathay Pacific Airbus A350-900
OH-LWC Finnair Airbus A350 ASO LR (1 of 1)
OH-LWC Finnair Airbus A350-900

Airbus A310 Operators:

EP-MNP Mahan Air Airbus A310 ASO (1 of 1)
EP-MNP Mahan Air Airbus A310

Airbus A330 Operators:

A9C-KD Gulf Air Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
A9C-KD Gulf Air Airbus A330
RP-C8760 Philippine Airlines Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
RP-C8760 Philippine Airlines Airbus A330-300
D-AXGB Eurowings Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
D-AXGB Eurowings Airbus A330
AR-ALO Sri Lankan Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
AR-ALO Sri Lankan Airbus A330-300
HS-TET Thai Airways Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TET Thai Airways Airbus A330-300
9K-APB Kuwait Airlines Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
9K-APB Kuwait Airlines Airbus A330-300
HS-TEL Thai Airways Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TEL Thai Airways Airbus A330-300 in Star Alliance member livery
VQ-BQZ Aeroflot Airbus A330-300 ASO (1 of 1)
VQ-BQZ Aeroflot Airbus A330-300
B-LNS Air Hong Kong Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
B-LNS Air Hong Kong Airbus A330-300
B-16307 Eva Air Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
B-16307 Eva Air Airbus A330
TC-JOF Turkish Airbus A330-300 ASO (1 of 1)
TC-JOF Turkish Airbus A330-300
9V-STR Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300 ASO (1 of 1)
9V-STR Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-300
B-LBA Catahy Pacific Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
B-LBA Catahy Pacific Airbus A330
JY-AJQ Royal Jordanian Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
JY-AJQ Royal Jordanian Airbus A330
HL8025 Korean Air Airbus A330 ASO (1 of 1)
HL8025 Korean Air Airbus A330-300

Airbus A321 Operators:

B-8492 Air China Airbus A321 ASO (1 of 1)
B-8492 Air China Airbus A321
B-MAP Air Macau Airbus A321 ASO (1 of 1)
B-MAP Air Macau Airbus A321
B-1616 China Southern Airbus A321 ASO (1 of 1)
B-1616 China Southern Airbus A321
VN-A332 Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321 ASO (1 of 1)
VN-A332 Vietnam Airlines Airbus A321

Airbus A319 Operators:

HS-PGN Bangkok Air Airbus A319 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-PGN Bangkok Air Airbus A319
A5-BAC Bhutan Airlines Airbus A319 ASO (1 of 1)
A5-BAC Bhutan Airlines Airbus A319

Airbus A320 Operators:

HS-PGW Bangkok Air Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-PGW Bangkok Air Airbus A320
HS-TXT Thai Smile Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-TXT Thai Smile Airbus A320
RDPL-34188 Lao Airlines Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
RDPL-34188 Lao Airlines Airbus A320
B-5669 Shenzhen Airlines Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
B-5669 Shenzhen Airlines Airbus A320
B-6902 Spring Airlines Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
B-6902 Spring Airlines Airbus A320
B-6713 China Eastern Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
B-6713 China Eastern Airbus A320
HS-VKB Vietjet Air.com Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-VKB Vietjet Air Airbus A320
9N-AKX Nepal Airlines Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
9N-AKX Nepal Airlines Airbus A320
9V-TRW Tigerair Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
9V-TRW Tigerair Airbus A320
B-1800 China Southern Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
B-1800 China Southern Airbus A320
9V-TAE Tigerair Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
9V-TAE Tigerair Airbus A320
HS-PPK Bangkok Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-PPK Bangkok Airbus A320
VQ-BNI Ural Airlines Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
VQ-BNI Ural Airlines Airbus A320
RP-C3270 Cebu Pacific Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
RP-C3270 Cebu Pacific Airbus A320
9V-JSA Jetstar Pacific Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
9V-JSA Jetstar Pacific Airbus A320
V8-RBW Royal Brunei Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
V8-RBW Royal Brunei Airbus A320
RP-C86912 Philippine Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
RP-C86912 Philippine Airbus A320
VT-IFZ Indigo Airbus A320 ASO (1 of 1)
VT-IFZ Indigo Airbus A320

ATR Operators:

HS-PGF Bangkok Air ATR-72 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-PGF Bangkok Air ATR-72
HS-PGD Bangkok Air ATR72 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-PGD Bangkok Air ATR-72 (note the A380 in the circuit underneath)
HS-PGG Bangkok Air ATR72 ASO (1 of 1)
HS-PGG Bangkok Air ATR-72
RDPL-342225 Lao Airlines ATR72 ASO (1 of 1)
RDPL-342225 Lao Airlines ATR-72

 

I’d like to say a massive thank you to the staff at the Phoenix Hotel located at 88 Ladkrabang Soi 7 Ladkrabang Bangkok . My Thai isn’t that great but they were very accommodating and made the experience one to remember. The food was absolutely a highlight here, and is something I’m already missing. Also a big thanks to Thai Airways for very comfortable flights to and from Bangkok. The service and friendly staff means that I will be flying with you again soon.

Finally to enable this article to happen, I need to make mention of the photography equipment and guidance form a friend. I use Canon equipment for all my stories. Currently I’m, using a Canon 7D with a 100-400 f4.5-5,6 IS for the photos in this article, all saved onto Sandisk CF cards and edited using an Apple MacBook Pro.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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