Posts Tagged 'Paris'

The Air France Airbus A380

Air France is the first European carrier to introduce the Airbus A380 double-decker Superjumbo in its fleet, with the first scheduled commercial flight taking place between Paris Charles-de-Gaulle and New York JFK airports. Air France has 12 of the type on order and plans to take delivery of the first three in the 2009/2010 winter season. Their first plane is already the 20th of the type in operation and now all three airline alliances operate at least one of the type.

380 tickets for each of the first flights were auctioned off on e-Bay in October, where all proceeds went to charity organizations selected by Air France. The first European owned SuperJumbo seats 538 passengers – compared to just 450 at Qantas, 471 at Singapore Airlines and 489 at Emirates. The so-far most crowded A380 has only 9 seats in First Class, 80 in Business and 449 in Economy. 22 flight attendants will be taking care of the 538 passengers – meaning one steward(ess) for every 25 travellers. Besides being the first European airline to own the A380, Air France will also be the first to operate the aircraft to the African Continent as it plans to introduce the plane to a daily Johannesburg flight later this winter following the Paris-New York route.

At the launch ceremony Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon did not only focus on the “usual” media messaging around the unrivaled luxury of the A380 (as Singapore AirlinesEmirates and Qantas did earlier), but instead pointed out the savings that this aircraft will bring for the company. Each aircraft will allow the carrier to save €12-€15 million ($17.7-$22.1 million) per year based on their calculations. This is mostly due to the size of the plane and that it can replace two other flights, which could be serviced by an Airbus A340-300 (equivalent to the upper deck) and a Boeing 777-200 (equivalent to the main deck of the A380) for example. Flying the same number of passengers in just a single A380 instead means 20% reduction in operating costs as the frequencies on busy routes can be rationalized by replacing two flights which leave at similar times by one flight, while offering the same number of seats. For example, between Paris and New York, an A380 leaving at 1:35pm can replace two flights operated by an A340 and a 777-200, leaving at 10:30am and at 1:35pm respectively. The same connecting morning flights can still service and feed the “big” flight.

On top of all the rationalization of flights, the A380 uses less fuel per passenger. It burns less than three litres per 100 km! Besides the gas emmissions, the A380 creates less noise than its closest rival, the Boeing 747 – half as much at take-off! I had the personal experience of seeing and (not) hearing the A380 land in Frankfurt on one of its test-flights back in 2007 with Lufthansa crew – and we were all shocked by the little noise it generated compared to other aircraft landing on the same approach route before and after it. The Air France A380 is also quieter in the cabin itself, and besides the 220 windows it has special lighting features to reflect the time of the day within a flight and to help synchronizing the body-clock of the passengers. Guests can also meet up during the flight for a drink and a snack in one of the 6 bars onboard. One of these is for Première (First Class) on the main deck, two for Affaires (Business Class) on the upper deck and three for Voyageur (Economy Class), with two at the main deck and one upstairs.


We hope Air France and its passengers will be happy with the first new Airbus A380 flying under European registration and providing the first Transatlantic connection aboard the double-decker superjumbo between Europe and North America. Please leave your comments if you happened to be on one of these flights and would like to share your experiences with our readers!

Download the AirFrance Airbus A380 Factsheet (pdf)

Separately, but conincidentally at the same time as the first Air France A380 flight: Emirates said it will begin serving Paris Charles de Gaulle with a 489-seat A380 from Dubai on Dec. 29 rather than Feb. 1. “An operational review, coupled with demand on the route, has led to an earlier introduction,” it said. The A380 will fly thrice-weekly to start, becoming daily Jan. 17.

by balint01

Air France Flight AF447 Missing

It has been confirmed by Air France that their flight AF 447, linking Rio de Janeiro with Paris (Charles de Gaulle) had disappeared earlier today from the Brazilian radars and has never contacted Senegalese air traffic control.

The Airbus A330 should have landed in Paris at 11:10 local time but it has dissappeared earlier this morning. The plane – with 216 passengers (126 men, 82 women, 7 children and a baby) and 12 crew members onboard – took off from Rio de Janeiro Sunday evening at 7pm local time, heading towards Europe on a route that would lead northwards above Brazil, then crossing the Atlantic towards Senegal and flying through Spanish air-space before arriving to the French capital. However, contact with the aircraft was lost about 3 and a half hours into the flight (~1:33 GMT), when the plane was cruising at 35.000 feet at a speed of 840 km/h, approximately 300 kms from the Brazilian shore (565 kms north-east of the Brazilian city of Natal), above the Atlantic Ocean – already outside of Brazilian radar-space. It had last contacted air traffic control in Recife, Brazil. Brazilian Air Force started the search early Monday morning around the Northeastern Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha (365 kms from the South-American coast). They were later joined by a French military plane flying out of Senegal to help with the search. Brazilian officials cautioned that the search area could be three times the size of Europe. See map on and the map on


There were several possible scenarios why contact was lost, it could have been a transponder problem, a hijack or a crash. Transport analyst Kieran Daly told CNN that the lack of communication with the aircraft “does suggest it was something serious and catastrophic.” He said the aircraft involved was one delivered to Air France in April 2005. Given the fact that that Airbus A330 is one of the safest airplane types currently flying around the Globe – not having a regular fatal accident since its first commercial flight in 1998 -, theoretically it could have done a water landing – similar to the US Airways flight that ditched in the Hudson river earlier this year – but the fact that all radio contact had been lost does not sound too positive at this stage. Also in the middle of a storm at the open ocean it is a much harder task than the Hudson river in quite weather.

The plane was hit by heavy turbulance in stormy weather and reported electrical problems before it lost contact, Air France said Monday. The automatic system of the Airbus A330-200 began a four-minute exchange of messages to the company’s maintenance computers, indicating that “several pieces of aircraft equipment were at fault or had broken down,” at 02:14 GMT (four hours after leaving Rio de Janeiro) as it hit strong turbulence early in its 11-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, Air France CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon told a news conference. “This succession of messages signals a totally unforeseeable, great difficulty,” he said. “Something quite new within the plane.” During that time, there was no contact with the crew, Gourgeon said, adding that “It was probable that it was a little bit after those messages that the impact of the plane took place in the Atlantic,” he added. He also said that flight AF 447 was probably closer to Brazil than to Africa when it crashed. Speculations are now pointing towards a possible lightning strike as the cause of the electrical malfunction – but that alone should not have brought down a modern airliner such as the Airbus A330. The jet had also sent a warning that it had lost pressure, the Brazilian air force said. The missing jet, registered as F-GZCP last had a maintenance check on April 16 and has been flying in service since April 18, 2005 – with 18870 recorded flight hours and was powered by General Electric CF6-80E engines. According to Reuters, two Lufthansa planes have flown over the same area shortly before and shortly after the Air France flight – without any incidents. Both German pilots reported the bad, stormy weather.

The chances of finding any survivors were “very low,” French President Nicolas Sarkozy admitted Monday. Air France identified the nationalities of the victims (based on the information received from the Brazilian Authorities) as two Americans, an Argentinean, an Austrian, a Belgian, 58 Brazilians, five British, a Canadian, nine Chinese, a Croatian, a Dane, a Dutch, an Estonian, a Filipino, 61 French, a Gambian, 26 Germans, four Hungarians, three Irish, one Icelandic, nine Italians, five Lebanese, two Moroccans, three Norwegians, two Polish, one Romanian, one Russian, three Slovakian, one South African, two Spanish, one Swedish, six Swiss and one Turk. This means 32 countries are involved in the tragedy. The four Hungarians are said to be 2 adults and 2 children. A woman returning from a 3 week training in Brazil – that she held on behalf of the International Pető Institute – with her spouse and her child – traveling together with another child who had visited relatives in Brazil. According to Brazilian sources, Luis Roberto Anastáci, President of Michelin South America was also among the passengers. Two ticket holders were not allowed to get on board due to the expiration of their passports.

Update (02/June, 20.00 CET): some debris of a plane were found by rescue teams. According to new sources a seat, a life vast, an oil drum and signs of oil and kerosene were found, but there were not enough material to make sure these were parts of the lost plane. Three commercial ships were directed to the area later in the afternoon.

Update (07/June, 10.00 CET): According to CNN, two bodies and some parts of the aircraft were found yesterday. Also a backpack and a leather briefcase were found, the latter holding a flight ticket, which was identified by Air France and it was proven to belong to one of the passengers. Airbus said the automated error messages may show that the speed controls were faulty.  Read more here.

by balint01

Plane Landing “Art” Project

Aleksandra Mir is a Lublin, Poland born modern artist, who has previously claimed herself as the First Woman on the Moon in 1999 – among other strange artistic projects. My colleague, Péter has brought my attention to one of her latest artworks, which is referred to as “Plane Landing“.

Cameron Balloons Drawing

Plane Landing goes back to 2001, when she first came up with the idea of creating a special, large balloon with the shape of a landing passenger airliner and inflate it at places, where we would not expect to see a jet airplane. Then it turned out to be a relatively complicated engineering project at Cameron Balloons of Bristol (the company that gave us Darth Vader, Coke Bottle or Flying Cow shaped ballons just to mention a few) where the actual balloon was designed and manufactured. It became a science project rather than art at this stage with aeronautics, engineering and design playing the major roles.Cameron Balloons At WorkPlane Landing First Test Inflation - c by

The balloon became an impressive one:

  • Length = 20.8 meters
  • Wing span = 15 meters
  • Volume = about 100 cubic meters
  • 4 different fabrics = white gas fabric (white gas fabric with overlaid silver), black hyper last for the go-faster stripe, black window fabric and red doorframe artwork fabric.
  • Approximately = 1 km of thread and heat sealed seams

It was first inflated in Compton Verney, in the UK in 2003 with three successful test inflations and with the first crowd gathering around it in the park. Mir usually prepares a collage or a sketch of the location where she is planning to land the plane – and after approval she lands it. We have no information on where the plane had spent the following five years – maybe at the Mojave desert among the other parked planes or simply flying in the air – but the next documented landing only happened in July 2008 ,when the plane arrived in Switzerland. Contrary to the original idea, it showed up in a place where we would most expect it to be: at Zürich Airport! It was first inflated at dawn at the place where the plane observers watch actual planes touching down, while the second landing took place overnight at the airport tarmac, in front of Gate 44.

Plane Landing in Zürich 1

Plane Landing in Zürich - c by

Plane Landing in Zürich - c by

Plane Landing Art Project at Zürich Airport Gate 44 - c by

Just a little more than 3 months after landing in Zürich, the plane arrived to dowtown Paris in October 21-22-23, 2008 with inflations around the most famous locations such as the Eiffel Tower or the in front of the Louvre. You can see all Paris pictures at

Plane Landing Art Project in Paris - c by

Plane Landing Art Project in Paris - c by

Plane Landing Art Project in Paris - c by

I’m not fully convinced that this project can be categorized as art, but I very much like it as a gig, and hope to hear about its next landing somewhere in the near future!

Aleksandra, if you happen to read this post and plan to land the plane in Budapest, Hungary, please let us know, we would help you with organization and some publicity!

by balint01

New Airbus A380 Flights to Paris

Singapore Airlines, the first operator of the Airbus A380 has announced that it will fly to Paris Charles-de-Gaulle starting June 1, 2009 from its Singapore homebase. This will be the first service to the continental Europe operated by an A380 superjumbo. The new daily flight will replace the existing 10-times-weekly Singapore-Paris flight, that has been operated by Boeing 777.300ER.

Singapore was the first one to bring the A380 to London Heathrow nearly 10 months ago, and now is the first one to operate this aircraft type to Paris. They have passed the 2000th flight with an A380 with more than 20,000 flying hours, and are currently the largest operator of the type, already having 6 aircraft in service, each equipped with 471 seats in three cabins. First class features the famous and revolutionary Singapore Airlines Suites, a new and luxurious class of travel with each Suite enclosed by sliding doors for privacy, and a full-sized flat bed that is separate from the seat. Paris will be the carrier’s fourth A380 destination after London Heathrow (twice-daily), Sydney and Tokyo Narita (each daily) and will follow the delivery of the seventh and eighth aircraft. It has a further 13 Airbus superjumbos on order.


Flight Number 

 Daily Departure Time

 Daily Arrival Time

(From June 1, 2009)



 0655hrs + 1

(From June 2, 2009)



 0655hrs + 1

Separately, Singapore Airlines is very close to reaching another exciting milestone less than one and a half years after the inaugural flight, as they are expecting to fly the one millionth A380 customer in February 2009, less than only four months after the first anniversary of launching A380 commercial services.  The Airline is expecting to welcome its first millionth customer onboard the A380 in the month of February, and is planning to surprise the lucky customer and other customers on the flight with a series of goodies. The lucky millionth customer will be greeted with the news upon check-in and a special package.  Beyond the enhanced inflight experience, the winner will get to enjoy a host of prizes at the destination, including a three-night stay at a luxury hotel and a chauffeur-driven limousine ride to the hotel, experiences at top-class restaurants as well as a series of other goodies to take away. To commemorate this special occasion, customers in all three classes on the millionth customer flight will also be presented with champagne onboard and special Singapore Airlines giveaways.

by balint01

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