Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 258,704
2013: 330,818

Air China Takes Delivery of its First 747-8 Intercontinental

Air China's first

Air China’s first 747-8 completing its first flight – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Air China has taken delivery of their first 747-89L, making them the second operator of the 747-8 Intercontinental after Lufthansa.

Air China will operate the 747-8 on training flights from Beijing to Guangzhou’s Baiyun International Airport. The aircraft’s first international destination will be Frankfurt, with New York and Los Angeles both slated to gain service as more aircraft arrive.

Air China’s 747-8 is configured in four classes with 12 first class seats, 54 business class, 66 premium economy, and 233 economy seats. Economy class will offer between 32 and 33 inches of seat pitch, whilst Premium Economy will offer 38″.  The aircraft will also feature onboard wifi.

The whole cabin was designed by famed Chinese designer Han Meilin. But it was odd that we didn’t get more information about the interior.

Continue reading Air China Takes Delivery of its First 747-8 Intercontinental

Cathay Pacific Concludes 747 Service to North America

Cathay Cabin crew lined up to bid farewell to their North American 747 operations. Photo - Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay cabin crew lined up to bid farewell to their North American 747 operations – Photo: Cathay Pacific Airways

On August 13, 2014 Cathay Pacific Airways celebrated its last 747 flight of any sort to North America. This is an iconic moment, as Cathay Pacific has been flying the 747 to North America, starting with San Francisco, since 1986. That’s 28 years of daily 747s. Cathay itself has been in the commercial 747 business since August 3, 1979. The actual last 747 flight to San Francisco will take place on August 31.

Cathay Pacific's 747-400 Farewell luncheon took place in San Francisco Airport's museum.  Photo - Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific’s 747-400 farewell luncheon took place in San Francisco Airport’s museum – Photo: Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay was not going to let this event pass without fanfare. At San Francisco Airport, they hosted a luncheon to celebrate the 747’s service in Cathay’s fleet.

Continue reading Cathay Pacific Concludes 747 Service to North America

Why are Airlines Continually Ordering Larger Aircraft?

United recently switched their remaining 787-8s for 787-10s. This, however is a -9 Photo - Bernie Leighton

United recently swapped their remaining 787-8 orders for 787-10s. This, however is a -9 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Boeing sees a market for 36,770 new aircraft between 2014 and 2033; only 2,490 of them are in the “regional” category. They are also clear to not differentiate the single-aisle market by size, but other than in the “Very Large Aircraft” category (think 747 and A380), their forecast for total aircraft demand is very bullish.

With United Airlines converting seven of its eight remaining 787-8 orders to the largest Dreamliner, the 787-10, it is a situation reminiscent of Air Berlin, pending approval, switching their 787-8s to larger 787-9s.

Many airlines are trading 737-700s for larger 737-800s as they come off lease. Southwest, however, is more than happy to have them.  Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Many airlines are trading 737-700s for larger 737-800s as they come off lease. Southwest, however, is more than happy to have the smaller birds – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

This is not a trend I expect to stop. Right now, the 787-8 comprises 47% of the total order book. That is, of course, significantly higher than the 249 767-200s ordered in the 767 family (or ~20% of the total 767 passenger fleet produced).

The 737-7MAX  has garnered the fewest orders of  the family (55). On the Airbus side of the spectrum, the A350-800’s future hangs in a precarious balance. The A319NEO has only garnered a total order for 45 frames. The smaller the next-generation aircraft, the smaller the backlog. Or at least, that is what the evidence shows.

The reason, as always, comes down to the most important question an airline has to answer: “what makes the most profit?”

Continue reading Why are Airlines Continually Ordering Larger Aircraft?

The Pilatus PC-24 Rolls Out

The Pilatus PC-24 rolled out onto a Swiss flag. Photo - Pilatus

The Pilatus PC-24 rolled out onto a Swiss flag – Photo: Pilatus

On August 1st of this year, Pilatus’ clean-sheet jet aircraft, the PC-24, rolled out of the hangar with a procession of twenty-four horses leading the charge. The horse theme was chosen as this aircraft is being marketed as a “workhorse”.

A side on view of the Pilatus PC-24. Photo - Pilatus

A side view of the Pilatus PC-24 – Photo: Pilatus

The PC-24 may look like a standard medium-light jet (think smaller Cessna Citations if you are unfamiliar with the term), but that is where the similarities end.

Marketed as a “Super Versatile Jet”, the PC-24 is the only medium-light jet aircraft that can do what small turboprops can; for instance, land on unprepared airfields. It is also the only corporate-class aircraft that comes standard with a cargo door. Continue reading The Pilatus PC-24 Rolls Out

Flying on a Genex Antonov AN-26

EW-328TG, an AN-26V side-on. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

EW-328TG, an AN-26B side-on. Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Antonov’s AN-26 is not a passenger plane, not even close. The AN-26 stems from the passenger AN-24- except it’s an AN-24 with a retractable cargo door. Same Ivchenko-Progress AI-24VT engines, same Kuznetzov APU. Just a door and some bubble windows in the flight deck separate it from its more, passenger-appropriate, forerunner.

Boarding an AN-26B. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Boarding an AN-26B. Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The cargo ramp is actually relatively slippery, so one must pay close attention and walk up the net. That photo also illustrates the fact that the AN-26 is equipped with an overhead crane to make loading easier.

The seats are hard — hard and linear. There are four windows in reasonable shape, but they barely make the cabin lighter than a dim alley, but it’s the thought that counts. All this didn’t take away from the fact that I had the opportunity to fly in this Ukrainian-built aircraft.

Continue reading Flying on a Genex Antonov AN-26