Air International 2018-05
Tiger striped Merlin HM2 ZH860 captured performing a confined area landing in Cornwall; 814 NAS is a member of the NATO Tiger association.
The number of former military Blackhawk helicopters on the civil registry in the United States is increasing rapidly. Based in Red Bluff, California, PJ Helicopters was granted a Restricted Category Type Certification for its UH-60A Utility Hawk in July 2015. The Utility Hawk can operate with an internal load capacity of up to 11,300lb, or with an 8,000lb capacity on the cargo hook such as using a Bambi bucket for fire-fighting. PJ Helicopters has seven Blackhawks in their fleet including UH-60A N804PJ, former US Army serial number 78-22998.
Qatar announced its decision to exercise its option for 12 Dassault Rafales for the Qatar Emiri Air Force on March 27, 2018, to bring its total buy to 36. The option for the dozen swing-role fighters, announced on December 7, 2017, followed a contract for 24 aircraft signed in May 4, 2015.
Portuguese wet-leasing specialist Hi Fly is set to take on its first A380 in mid-2018.
Air Belgium conducted its first flight on March 29б 2018, an ad hoc charter from Brussels Charleroi to Surinam. The airline was due to begin scheduled operations from Charleroi on April 30 with a four-times-a-week return flight to Hong Kong. Additional routes to destinations in China are due to start during the summer. The carrier is operating two ex-Finnair A340-343s, OO-ABA (msn 835), pictured, and OO-ABB (msn 844).
Britain's government blamed Russia for the terrorist attack in the UK on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4, 2018. As a consequence, the UK ordered 23 Russian diplomats and their families to leave the UK within a week. Captured arriving at London Stansted at approximately 12:00hrs on March 20, 2018, following its direct flight from Moscow, was IL-96-300PU RA-96023 of Rossiya's Special Flight Detachment, which arrived to collect the Russian personnel. The aircraft departed at approximately 16:00hrs the same day.
The programme by the US Forestry Service to operate its own fleet of C-130 air tankers, using aircraft obtained from the US Coast Guard is being cancelled. Three of the seven C-130H aircraft that were to makeup the US Forestry Service fleet were seen in operation from their base at McClellan Field, with two equipped with temporary Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System units and one being used for crew training. None of the C-130s had the permanent internal systems fitted as called for in the US Forestry Service plan. The fate of these aircraft is currently unknown however the US Coast Guard has replaced some of is C-130H-series aircraft with HC-27JS.
No.29 Squadron based at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire is the Typhoon operational conversion unit and home of the RAF Typhoon display team. Each year the team applies a colourful paint scheme to its display jet for the summer season. On April 1, 2018, the Royal Air Force reached 100 years of age; the oldest independent air arm in the world.
Acquired in 1993, former US Marine Corps OV-10A BuNo 155401, N409DF/330 (c/n 305-12), is under the management of Cal Fire for the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Maintained and operated under contract by DynCorp International, Broncos are used for aerial command and control on fires throughout California. During AFF 2018, nearly half of the 14 Broncos in Cal Fire service were conducting training flights in preparation for the upcoming fire season.
Brussels Airlines has repainted A320-214 OO-SND (msn 1838) into this distinctive livery featuring the Smurfs. The aircraft, known as the 'Aerosmurf', is pictured taxiing at Manchester. The same jet previously wore the 'Red Devils' special livery.
Singapore Airline commenced its first commercial flights on the 787-10 to Bangkok, Thailand, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for crew training.
Boeing 787-9 VH-ZND (c/n 63390), Qantas' fourth Dreamliner, departs London Heathrow for Perth on the first regular direct service between Europe and Australia. The aircraft's livery is based on the work 'Yam Dreaming' by late Northern Territory artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye, whose name the aircraft bears.
Boeing 787-10 9V-SCA (c/n 60253) was greeted with a water cannon salute upon its arrival at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 on March 28, 2018.
SIA opted for a two-class cabin in the 787-10, with 301 seats in economy, ensuring high optimisation of space.
Singapore Airlines claims the forward-facing, flat-lying beds in business class are unparalleled amongst regional business class products.
An unusual visitor to RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk on April 6, 2018, was this highly modified DHC-8-202 fitted with a variety of wide-area surveillance systems, imaging radars, signals intelligence equipment and electro-optical, infrared and hyperspectral cameras. Registered as N8200R (c/n 425) with Dynamic AvLease, Delaware, the company has been the nominal owner of several other extensively modified Dash 8s that have gone on to be assigned US Army serial numbers. However, those machines have been larger DHC-8-300 series aircraft. Aircraft N8200R departed south from Mildenhall the next day.
An MQ-9 Reaper at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. The US Air Force has awarded General Atomics a contract to incorporate air-to-air missiles in its Reaper flight simulator training unit to evaluate future options for arming the MQ-9.
Wearing a distinctive vinyl wrap forest paint scheme, Air Spray USA Tanker 170, BAe 146-200 N907AS (c/n E2156), makes a demonstration drop during AFF 2018 at McClellan Field. Delivered to Discovery Airways in January 1990 as N884DV, and last operated by Aerolineas Star Peru as OB-1948-P, Tanker 170 is awaiting approval from the Interagency Airtanker Board before beginning a Call When Needed contract this summer. It is the first of five BAe 146 aircraft to be converted by Air Spray USA at their Chico, California base.
The AT-802F Fire Boss is one of the leading aircraft in the single engine air tanker (SEAT) category, with over 85 in operation worldwide. Built by an alliance between Air Tractor of Olney, Texas and Fire Boss of South St Paul, Minnesota, the versatile Fire Boss can scoop up and deliver nearly 800 gallons at a time. It can also be operated as a land-based tanker capable of carrying 78 gallons of foam retardant. Built in 2016, N776AS (c/n 802A-0648), Tanker 241, is one of six Fire Boss AT-802F aircraft in the Air Spray USA fleet.
Powered by the 1,600shp Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turbine engine, the AT-802F can cruise at 150 knots, while slowing to 105 knots for an accurate drop. A computerized pilot interface system allows coverage levels to be controlled during the drop from 0.5 to 4 gallons per 100ft2, or achieve the maximum 6.0 coverage when dropped all at once. With a 2.5-hour fuel endurance, the Fire Boss can deliver over 10,000 gallons per hour, with a turnaround time of four minutes, when the fire is within five miles of a water source.
First operated by the US Navy after being ordered by Capital Airlines as N181H, Lockheed Electra L188C (c/n 1130) later spent time with Pacific Southwest Airlines and the National Center for Atmospheric Research before starting its air tanker career. Now owned by Air Spray of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, C-FLXT Tanker 481 is one of nine in active service with Air Spray. It features a 3,000-gallon Retardant Aerial Delivery System tank that Air Spray owns the supplemental type certificate for.
Squirrel HT2 ZJ248 of the Army Air Corps' 7 (Training) Regiment departs Middle Wallop, Hampshire.
An Avenger ER set a new endurance record for the type earlier in 2018 by flying a 23.4-hour long mission.
A People's Liberation Army Navy J-15 of the Liaoning's carrier air wing lands aboard the ship.
The first Grob G115 of 28 for Finland, G115EA GO-1, the former G-CGKA soon after its arrival at its new home, Tikkakoski Airport. It wears the scheme it wore with the Royal Air Force's 3 FTS at RAF Cranwell minus the last two of its registration, the squadron badge and Babcock logo that had all been painted on the fin.
Lockheed Martin delivered the first HC-130J Combat King II personnel recovery and tanker aircraft to the California Air National Guard on April 5, 2018. Serial number 16-5842 flew from the factory at Marietta, Georgia, to Moffett Air National Guard Base, California, using the call sign ‘King 01'. Aircraft 5842 and three others will replace five MC-130P Combat Shadows with the California Air National Guard's 130th Rescue Squadron, a component of the 129th Rescue Wing.
The United States Forest Service has announced for the 2018 fire season, the number of large air tankers on Exclusive Use contract will be reduced from 20 to 13. Some of this reduction is accounted for by the retirement of the P-2V Neptunes of Neptune Aviation. The line-up for 2018 includes two DC-10s, four RJ85s, four BAe146s, one C-130, and two MD-87s including Erickson Aero Tanker 105 seen departing McClellan Field in Sacramento, California. Plans for 2019 is to increase the number of aircraft on Exclusive Use contract to 18.
Laudamotion is a new European low-cost carrier planning to start scheduled operations in April 2018. Established by ex-F1 driver Niki Lauda, the airline has been formed using assets of the former Niki operation acquired from the Air Berlin group's administrators. Laudamotion is planning to expand to 30 aircraft within three years. Ryanair is a 24.9% shareholder, a holding that could rise to as much as 75%, subject to Euro regulatory approval.
After experiencing difficulties in securing additional C-130s to increase its fleet of large air tankers, Coulson Aviation saw an opportunity when Southwest Airlines was forced to retire its Boeing 737-3H4 aircraft. Tanker 138, the former N608SW (c/n 27928), is now in the process of receiving its 4,000-gallon internal tank to become the second 737 in Coulson's fleet. Currently Tanker 137 is conducting its final drop tests in preparation to begin operations this upcoming fire season.
Qatar Amiri Flight Boeing 747-8KB A7-HHE (c/n 37544) at a wet Brussels in March 2018, bringing in a delegation of dignitaries from the Middle East country on a state visit to Belgium.
The first F-35A Lightning II for the Han Guk Gong Gun (Republic of Korea Air Force) made its maiden flight from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth facility on March 19, 2018. It was officially handed over to South Korea during a ceremony at Fort Worth on March 28, 2018; the ninth nation to take delivery of an F-35 jet. Serial number 18-001 (c/n AW-01) is the first of 40 F-35As for the Asian air arm. Initial deliveries are included in low-rate initial production Lot 10 and are on plan for delivery this year.
Embraer handed over the initial customer E190-E2 to launch operator Wideroe on April 4, 2018.
The forward fuselage section of the first Boeing 777-9 airframe, which will be used for static testing, under assembly at Everett.