Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

MORE PHOTOS: American Airlines’ First Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Full Livery

American Airlines' first Boeing 787-8 being towed at Paine Field - Photo: American Airlines

American Airlines’ first Boeing 787-8 being towed at Paine Field – Photo: American Airlines

American Airlines’ first Boeing 787 came out of paint last night giving us a first glimpse at the Dreamliner in AA’s new livery.

When the airline takes delivery, by the end of the year, they will become the second US-based airline to operate the Dreamliner, after United. American has 16 787-8s and 26 of the larger 787-9 Dreamliners on order.

A rear angle of Americans 787 - Photo: American Airlines

A rear angle of Americans 787 – Photo: American Airlines

Catch more photos of American’s first 787 below.

Continue reading MORE PHOTOS: American Airlines’ First Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Full Livery

Tour: Condor Airlines’ Maintenance Facility in Frankfurt

A Condor Boeing 767-300 being worked on in their maintenance facility.

Condor Boeing 767-300ER being worked on in their maintenance facility

With Condor Airlines being a smaller, low-cost carrier, it is not a huge surprise that their on-site maintenance facility at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) is quite small (well, in comparison to others like Lufthansa Technik).

Just because the hangar might not have the volume of other locations, it is a place where the job gets done. Ensuring that aircraft are checked and safe is no easy task, but a very important one.

Condor’s facility at FRA is able to work on one Boeing 767 at a time — and they only work on their 767s and 757s there. Condor sublets out the work done on their Airbus aircraft at other facilities around Europe.

Continue reading Tour: Condor Airlines’ Maintenance Facility in Frankfurt

Gone Gliding – Part One

Gliders flying in formation near Lake Tahoe.  Photo: Soaring NV

Gliders flying in formation near Lake Tahoe – Photo: Soaring NV

If you’ve ever flown into Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO) when the winds are howling out of the west, you know that the approach and landing can be…sporty.  In fact, it sometimes gets so turbulent that the mainline jets head for Sacramento International Airport (SMF), leaving RNO to Alaska Airlines’ Bombardier Q400 turboprops, which can use RNO’s short crosswind runway.  I’ll happily fly into RNO from SEA on the AS Q400s on those bouncy days.

The bumps can mean that conditions are great for soaring.  Yes – I’m a glider pilot, and the region around Reno is world-famous for those who love to fly without an engine.  It’s an amazing sensation, soaring in our ocean of air.  Some flights are like a dream – I just have to think about moving the control stick, and off I go, hunting for lift, as if the glider’s wings are attached to my shoulders.

When you think of gliding, you might have an image of a pilot running towards the edge of a cliff, ready to leap into the air while hanging from a fabric-covered wing.  Yes, there are those out there who enjoy hang-gliding, in aircraft that are at the light and slow end of the soaring spectrum. Other than a lack of an engine, they don’t have much in common with a modern high-performance glider.

Continue reading Gone Gliding – Part One

My Dinner with Audrey – The Last Commercial MD-11 Flight

PH-KCE (Audrey Hepburn) arriving at gate A55 after a water cannon Salute. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

PH-KCE (Audrey Hepburn) arriving at gate A55 after a water cannon salute – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

In October of 1934, KLM (Royal Dutch Airlines) took delivery of their first Douglas aircraft: a DC-2.  This DC-2 was entered into an air race from London to Melbourne. It placed second. Not only did it place second, but it did so carrying a full passenger load. Fast forward to 1993. KLM took delivery of their last, now, McDonnell Douglas aircraft type – the MD-11. Unfortunately for us enthusiasts, October 25th (when KLM’s summer timetable ended) would not only mark the end of the MD-11, but the end of KLM’s eighty-year history of commercially operating McDonnell Douglas aircraft.

All of KLM’s MD-11s were named after women renown for their charitable or humanitarian efforts. The aircraft I was to fly on, PH-KCE, is named after Audrey Hepburn.

Naturally, I had to be a part of the final flight.

KLM's last MD-11 to Montreal at the gate. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

KLM’s last MD-11 to Montreal at the gate – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

KLM and Aeroports Du Montreal were also very aware that this was the last MD-11 commercial passenger service, ever. They had prepared quite a party at the gate. There was an impressive stack of cupcakes; some bearing a chocolate saying “KLM 95″ – along with a soft drinks bar and a photo booth to get your photo taken with an MD-11.

Continue reading My Dinner with Audrey – The Last Commercial MD-11 Flight

The End of the (Passenger, Widebody) Trijet: Saying Goodbye to the MD-11

A KLM MD-11 coming in for a landing at Montreal - Photo: Doug | Flickr CC

A KLM MD-11 coming in for a landing at Montreal – Photo: Doug | Flickr CC

The MD-11 was probably a bad idea. McAir came up with the aircraft because it was a bigger, meaner, DC-10. So much DC-10 that there originally was not going to be an MD-11, but a DC-10 stretch. There were two attempts at this aircraft: a DC-10-10 stretched by 40 feet, and a DC-10-30 stretched by 30 feet.  Concurrently, McDonnell Douglas (McAir) was concerned about the range of the 747-SP and began work on an ultra-long-range DC-10 Global.

This research lead to an aircraft series called the DC-10 Super 60. The DC-10 Super 60 was going to be a series. A simple stretch, an ultra-long-range variant, and an aircraft optimized for both range and capacity. Unfortunately for McDonnell Douglas, the American Airlines 191 crash happened – summarily executing the DC-10 program. It did not help that there was economic malaise going on at the time, either.

An MD-11 arriving at Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Many MD-11s have been converted to cargo duty. An example arriving at Kingsford-Smith Airport, Sydney. Photo – Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Being the kings of iteration that they were, in 1981 they decided to revive the large trijet research. Leasing a DC-10-10 from Continental, they studied various winglet configurations in conjunction with NASA. For reasons of marketing, this project would be designated the MD-100. This was an interesting project as it actually offered more engine options than the final MD-11, in the form of the Rolls Royce RB.211. By November 1983, it was clear there was no interest in the MD-100. The board shuttered it. Continue reading The End of the (Passenger, Widebody) Trijet: Saying Goodbye to the MD-11