Archive for the 'aircraft' Category

First Flight of the Airbus A350

The brand new Airbus A350 aircraft has taken to the skies for the first time ever on June 14, 2013 (earlier today). A very much awaited moment for the aviation world – and the 33 customers who have firm orders for the type – has happened, and the plane worked flawlessly. The first flying fuselage is an A350-900 version (the medium size of the type).

Airbus A350 XWB First flight (Live from Airbus.com)

The Extra Wide Body (XWB) plane took off (see video) from Tolouse-Blagnac airport at 10:00 am local time. The first flight is a very important milestone in the life of a new aircraft type, that has been preceded by the manufacturing of different parts, transporting them to Toulouse, building the actual airplane, installing the wires, connecting the engines, running ground tests, engine power up (happened on June 2nd) and also taxi tests, when the plane rolled-up and down the runway by its own power. The fuel efficient Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines on MSN1 are also new, and this flight marks the first flight of those engines as well. The A350 is planned to be more fuel efficient and have operation costs up to 8% lower than the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Airbus A350 XWB First flight (Live from Airbus.com)

Nearly two hours into the flight, above the Northern part of the Pyrenees  Mountains Peter Chandler has confirmed over radio in the Airbus.com live coverage that “All is going pretty well, the weather is beautiful up here and the plane behaves wonderful. We are climbing up higher to do some higher speed tests“. The first flight took nearly 4 hours altogether and ended with a smooth landing (see video).

Airbus A350 XWB First flight Path (from flightradar24.com)

The flight path on flightradar24.com

The A350 XWB is the all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions and seating between 270 and 350 passengers in typical three-class layouts. The new family will bring a step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category, using 25 per cent less fuel and providing an equivalent reduction in CO2 emissions. Scheduled for entry-into-service in second half of 2014, the A350 XWB has already won 613 firm orders from 33 customers worldwide as mentioned above.

A350 XWB First flight crew - by Airbus

The A350 is the first Airbus with both fuselage and wing structures made primarily of carbon fibre-reinfoced polymer. The launch customer is Qatar Airways (who is soon to take its first Airbus A380 as well) with 80 pieces of the plane on firm order.

Besides this first test aircraft, two more of the type are soon to join the test fleet as they are already on the final assembly line. The third fuselage will be the first one to feature a full internal cabin as well, the other two are equipped with in-flight test lab computers on most of their deck and water tanks for heavy flight tests.

by balint01

First Boeing 787 for LAN Airlines

LAN Airlines, member of the oneworld alliance and part of the LATAM Airline group (and one of my personal favorite airlines) took its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner at the end of August. It was a few months ago, but let’s take a closer look at this beautiful bird.

LAN Boeing 787 Dreamliner   - by Carlos P. Valle C. on airliners.net

The aircraft, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, was the first Dreamliner to be received by an airline in the Americas (and the fourth in the world after Japanese ANA and JAL, and Ethiopian Airlines). LAN has 32 787s on order, valued at USD 4.9 billion, to be delivered over the next decade. Two more are delivered this year.

The cabin features 247 seats altogether, with Business Class (30 fully-flat seats in a 2-2-2 layout) and Economy (217 total, in a 3-3-3 layout), making the 787 slightly less crowded than Ethiopian (24+245 = 269) and ANA (12+252 = 264) but more efficient than JAL (42+144 = 186). The numbers compared to the other operators of the type look like a fair compromise expecting a fairly good business audience, that offer specious comfort as well as economy of scale at the same time.

LAN said it expects to start Los Angeles-Lima 787 flights in January 2013. LAN CEO Ignacio Cueto said in a statement, “The Dreamliner will make it possible for us to cover greater distances in a more environmentally conscious and highly efficient aircraft.” As per the latest route announcements, it looks like LAN is planning to operate sort of a circle flight with Santiago-Los Angeles, Los Angeles-Lima, Lima-Santiago – enabling three routes with the aircraft type on paper – while in reality each city-pair would only be services one-way by the 787.

Other cities expected to be served by LAN 787s over the next year besides the hub of Santiago are Buenos Aires, Madrid and Frankfurt, the carrier said.

LAN Boeing 787 - c by Russell Hill on airliners.net

I have flown LAN all around South-America and to the Easter Island (twice), but now I’m looking forward to my next LAN flight, which I will aim to make on one of their 787’s.

by balint01

The Hobbit Flies With Air New Zealand (An Unexpected Briefing)

Air New Zealand has “always” been the official “Airline of Middle-earth”, and this is no different in case of the release of the latest Tolkien Movie, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”. But this time they have created a great short movie – which is actually useful for those passengers embarking on an expected journey aboard one of their planes as it prepares them for the unexpected safety situations.

First let’s take a look at their latest special livery aircraft (registration number: ZK-OKP), a Boeing 777-300ER, painted to promote the movie itself (see more images on airliners.net):

Air New Zealand Boeing 777-300ER in special "The Hobbit" livery  - by James Mepsted on airliners.net

And then the funny Onboard Safety Demonstration Video with the very well known Lord of the Rings Characters:

I haven’t seen the movie yet, (will surely do) – but I don’t expect any “goofs” hidden with the random appearance of an Air New Zealand plane…

by balint01

First Boeing 787 for Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines is the first non-Japanese carrier to receive the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and demonstrate its forward looking strategy – even as an African airline. As the third overall operator of the new Dreamliner aircraft type (and the second Star Alliance member), Ethiopian flew the plane from the delivery ceremony from Boeing’s Everett facility to Washington Dulles airport at the US capital – even before flying it home to Africa two days later on 17 August.

The first destination is very well understandable in the light of the news that the Addis Ababa – Washington route will be the airlines’ first route served by the 787 – starting mid-September when they receive the second of the type. According to plans, Ethiopian will take 4 more before the end of 2012. The first one is the 49th aircraft in its fleet, and the Plane was dubbed as “Africa First”. Ethiopian has 10 of the type on order. The carrier also announced that its next desired route will be connecting Addis Ababa to Guangzhou, China, but it’s not yet decided when that service will get the Boeing 787. By the way, one day after the delivery flight from the US, the plane made its maiden flight in Africa with a Dream Tour to Mount Kilimanjaro with VIP passengers on board. The Dream Tour was a start of rotating Africa destinations, and some scheduled flights into Europe (Rome, London, Frankfurt) and India (Mumbai).

The plane in Ethiopian livery features 24 business class seats (called “Cloud Nine”) and 245 seats in Economy. Besides all the seats, this Dreamliner will bring the same customer benefits as the ones already in operation: lower noise levels, higher humidity, the largest windows on a passenger plane, bigger overhead bins and a unique lighting system – the Sky Interior that can be adjusted to the environment and time of the day.

In remarks at the delivery ceremony, Ethiopian CEO Tewolde Gebremariam noted the 787’s delivery was “overdue by four years” due to multiple program delays. But he said it was “worth waiting” for an aircraft that will launch a “new era” for ET and African aviation. “This shows you how much Ethiopia as a country, and Africa as a continent, is changing,” he said.

Tewolde also said that Ethiopian plans to grow its aircraft fleet to more than 120 units (passenger and cargo fleet combined) and its workforce (now numbering around 7,000) to 17,000 by 2025 and aims to become the leading airline on the African continent and eventually compete against any of the world’s top carriers for passengers and cargo. This would equal to generating $10 billion in annual revenue by 2025 (ET reported revenue of $1.5 billion in 2011). According to the CEO talking to ATW, Addis Ababa is located right in the middle of the line between the world’s most emerging markets – notably between Russia, India, China and Brazil – and would strategically be located to connect these areas both in terms of passengers as well as cargo. The Boeing 787 can reach all of these countries within a 10 hour radius with nonstop flights.

We will keep an eye on Ethiopian and see how this aggressive, optimistic strategy will become a reality. A very important step has just been made by adding the Boeing 787 to the fleet – as the third airline to ever operate the type after All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines.

by balint01

First Boeing 787 Commercial Flight at ANA

Star Alliance Member All Nippon Airways (ANA) has finally conducted the first commercial flight of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on October 26, 2011. This historic milestone charter flight was delayed by 3 years and 4 months in takeoff…

ANA originally placed the launch order for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner back in April 2004, with the anticipation, that it can show off the plane on the scheduled Tokyo-Beijing route in time for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. That could not happen due to Boeing facing several issues during the development of the plane that caused numerous delays in the program. Just to name a few of those reasons: part shortages, software issues, machinists’ strikes, network problems, and a fire during flight testing… Test flights only began in December 2009 and certification took about twice as long as planned back then.

The first Boeing 787 Dreamliner (Registration: JA801A), which is a fuel efficient airplane made almost exclusively of lightweight carbon composites, made a 4 hour and 10 minute flight from Tokyo Narita Airport to Hong Kong with 250 passengers as its first commercial flight. Following the charter flight, the first Boeing 787 regular scheduled domestic service will be routes from Tokyo Haneda to Okayama and Hiroshima, both beginning Nov. 1. Then in December 2011, ANA plans to use the new aircraft type on the Tokyo Haneda-Beijing route, which will be the airplane’s first regular international service. Further domestic services are planned to be launched before year-end from Haneda to Itami, Yamaguchi Ube and Matsuyama. The first regular long-haul international 787 service will be Tokyo Haneda-Frankfurt, beginning as a thrice-weekly service on January 21, 2012, and increasing to daily in February.

To power all these routes, ANA currently has two 787s (with special domestic configuration of 12 premium and 252 economy seats – later two different configurations will be used for international flights: 42 business + 180 economy and 46 business + 112 economy), but expects to have another five (!) by the end of the year. By the end of March 2012, ANA expects to have a total of 11 787s, and 20 by March 2013. The Japanese Star Alliance member plans to have all 55 of the 787s on order – which includes 15 of the longer 787-9 version – by the end of March 2018.

by balint01

Boeing 747-8I First Flight

More than a year after the successful first flight of the Boeing 747-8 Freighter version, the passenger version of the updated JumboJet has taken to the skies for the first time as well.

On March 20, 2011, the latest version of the legendary Boeing 747 Jumbo Jet, the 747-8I (the “I” stand for “Intercontinental”) has taken off from Paine Field at 9:59 local time, to land at Boeing Field at 14:24 – after four and a half hours in the air. The plane was piloted by Boeing 747 Chief Pilot Mark Feuerstein and captain Paul Stemer. They told the media that the 747-8I systems as well as the four General Electric GEnx-2B engines performed as expected, as the plane reached 6096 meters altitude and 463 km/h (250 knots) speed.

Test plane RC001 in “Sunrise Orange” livery will be one of the test aircraft that are scheduled to complete a 600 hour flight test program in the coming months. This first flight took the plane out North first, then West above the Western Washington state area, and returned it back after a large circle around the Seattle area.

Somewhat similar to the 787 Dreamliner situation, the 747-8 program has also faced some delays, but not as bad as the Dreamliner. The 747-8 family is a major redesign of the famous Jumbo Jet designed to compete with the Airbus A380, using the engine and cockpit technology, as well as the larger overhead compartments and the Sky Interior of the Dreamliner, but keeps some of the original features of the plane, including the partial double-deck design – extended even a little bit more than the previous longest double-deck version, the 747-400.

The 76.3 meter long 747-8 will be powered by new generation GEnx engines, but this is not the only change, as the aircraft will be 5.6 ms longer than the current Boeing 747-400 version (4.1 ms before the wing on both decks and 1.5 meters after the wing only on the lower deck). This additional length provides a few more seats onboard for the passenger version that can fly up to 14.800 kms. The new 747-8 will have a maximum take off weight of 442.250 kgs, but will still have a 12% less maintenance costs. It consumes about 17% less fuel, as on top of the new engines types, some parts of the fuselage will be replaced by lighter materials than in the current version. This also means 16% lower (CO2) emissions and a 30% decrease in noise levels from that of the 747-400.

The first 747-8I will be delivered to launch customer Lufthansa, with delivery scheduled for the end of 2011. Lufthansa has ordered 20 of the type so far with 386 seats (the maximum density could be 467). Boeing has sold a combined 33 747-8Is (besides the 20 to German Lufthansa: 5 to Korean Air and 8 for unidentified VIP customers). Most recently Air China has indicated that it would purchase 5 pieces of the longest ever passenger jet, but that order is yet to be confirmed and approved by the Chinese Government. Boeing also has sold 76 of the cargo version of the 747-8, the 747-8F (freighter).

You can find more photos about the first flight and the test aircraft on airliners.net.

by balint01

First Lufthansa Airbus A380

Lufthansa has taken delivery of their first Airbus A380. The German airline will first use it to transport the German National Team (“Nationalelf”) to the Football (soccer) World Cup in South Africa starting in less than two weeks.

On May 19, Lufthansa become the second European airline after Air France (and the 5th worldwide) to receive the super-jumbo when Airbus CEO Thomas Enders handed over the aircraft to Lufthansa CEO and Chairman Wolfgang Mayrhuber at an official ceremony at the Airbus plant in Hamburg-Finkenwerder, which was attended by about 700 honorary guests. The plane powered by Trent-900 engines carries the registration number D-AIMA and is named “Frankfurt am Main”.

The German flag-carrier first plans to operate its first double-decker for pilot training across 13 German airports plus Zurich and Vienna from May 31 through June 3, and also on a few selected scheduled flights from Frankfurt to Munich and Hamburg in order to familiarize crew and airport staff with the aircraft, while also generating publicity. On June 6, 2010, this super-jumbo will transport the German national soccer team to Johannesburg for the World Cup in South Africa.

Lufthansa has configured its Airbus A380 with 526 seats (12 less than so far recorder Air France). The entirely new First Class cabin (seen above) with eight seats on the upper deck reflects the concept of individuality and offers the ultimate in comfort and technical innovation, which further enhances the travel experience. However, Lufthansa did not opt for the personal Suite-type of First Class product as fellow Star Alliance member Singapore Airlines, or Emirates. Lufthansa is rolling-out an overall new First class product together with the introduction of the A380 as originally announced two years ago. Also on the upper deck is the Business Class cabin with 98 seats. The main deck features 420 Economy Class seats providing an unprecedented level of passenger comfort in coach-class (seen below).

Download the full Seat-plan of the Lufthansa Airbus A380-800.

Long-haul scheduled services, starting with Frankfurt-Tokyo Narita route, will commence on June 11, 2010, with thrice weekly return flights, replacing a Boeing 747-400 on the route. The Tokyo A380 service will become daily from August 4, after Lufthansa receives the second super-jumbo. Currently the second plane is undergoing painting work and cabin interior installment in Hamburg, and will be named “München”.

Furthermore Lufthansa will receive two additional A380s this year (one in July and one in September). Its third A380 will operate between Frankfurt and Beijing thrice-weekly beginning Aug. 25 and its fourth will fly between Frankfurt and Johannesburg thrice-weekly from Oct. 25.  The German carrier will take 4 more such planes next year and expects each A380 to transport 366.000 passengers each year, while flying 4.6 million kms each. It received the first plane 2.5 years later than the original schedule and has 15 firm orders currently with 10 more options for the aircraft type.

The first Lufthansa Airbus A380 has also received a brand new maintenance hangar (the largest in Europe) at Frankfurt Airport, by Lufthansa Technik, after seven years of preparational work. The new facility underwent final tests in early April, when a test aircraft was flown in from Toulouse for this purpose. Lufthansa Technik already employs 80 A380-licensed technicians including staff for stations outside of Germany. It invested €150 million ($200.5 million) to build its A380 maintenance facility at Frankfurt expanded later. Currently, it has the capacity to handle three A380s and two MD-11s at one time. Lufthansa will also get support for the first several months of A380 operations from Airbus, which will provide nine specialists to assist the carrier, and Rolls-Royce, which will supply 20 temporary support staff.

We are happy to see another European airline starting to operate the European-built, largest aircraft in the world, and hope that it will bring the expected results, including reduced noise levels for both passengers and residents on the ground, as well as reduced fuel consumption and less emissions.

The big question remaining is: how will the 11 starting players of the Nationalelf share the 8 First Class seats on their June 6 flight to South Africa? 🙂

by balint01


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