Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 271,099
2013: 330,818

Aviation in Seattle: Renton Plane Spotting Guide

Renton Municipal Airport, home of the 737.

Renton Municipal Airport, home of the Boeing 737

In the past, we have featured plane spotting guides for Paine Field and also other airports like Anchorage or Tokyo Haneda. With numerous airports in the Seattle area, including SeaTac and Boeing Field, there is sometimes a forgotten, but quite important, airport for plane spotters which provides a continuous stream of aircraft to spot. I am speaking of Renton Municipal Airport, the home of Boeing’s narrow-body aircraft plant.

The Southern Threshold of Renton's runway.

The southern threshold of Renton’s runway

The Renton Airport traces its history back to World War II.  Originally built on reclaimed land from Lake Washington, the airport was built by the Department of Defense (DoD) to support Amphibious Aircraft being built by Boeing on Lake Washington.  The PBB Sea Ranger project was cancelled after the prototype was built, so Boeing ended up using the facility to produce the B-29 Superfortress.  By the end of the war, a total of 1,119 were built.

After the war, the City of Renton purchased the airport back from the DoD for $1 and the facility laid dormant for a few years.  In 1948, the KC-97 Stratofreighter project brought the airport back to life and thus began a long and productive history of aircraft to flow out of the Boeing factory doors.  The first Dash 80 aircraft, famous for the barrel roll over Lake Washington, rolled out in May 1954.  Renton was the home of every single 707 built.

The 727 & 757 were all built there as well.  However, Renton is famous these days for being the home of the 737, where production stands at a massive 42 aircraft per month. Continue reading Aviation in Seattle: Renton Plane Spotting Guide

The Unique Boeing 737-700C Gets Some Love

Composite image of an Air Algerie Boeing 737-700C - Image: Boeing

Composite image of an Air Algerie Boeing 737-700C – Image: Boeing

The Boeing 737-700C is an interesting aircraft. What makes it unique is its ability to convert from passengers to cargo depending on how the airline wants to use it. If you have heavy passenger flow during the summer, but more cargo during the winter, being able to convert between the two is quite helpful.

What also makes the 737-700C unique is that, like the Boeing Business Jet (BBJ), it has strengthened wings, different than the standard passenger 737-700. When in passenger configuration, the plane can hold 120-140 seats and fly 3,205nm. In an all-cargo set up, it can haul 40,000 pounds and fly 2,880nm.

The model was launched back in September 1997, when the US Naval Reserve ordered two and called them the C-40A Clipper. This was a big deal, since there had not been a convertible version of the 737 built from the Next Generation-version of the 737 at the time.

The US Navy currently operates 12 C-40As to move personnel and supplies around the world. Think of it as an airliner for the military.

Continue reading The Unique Boeing 737-700C Gets Some Love

Virgin Australia Reborn – Flying Business Class from Brisbane to Sydney

Virgin Australia's new livery showcasing their transition to a corporate carrier - Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

Virgin Australia’s new livery showcasing their transition to a premium-focused carrier                       Photo: Jacob Pfleger | AirlineReporter

VIRGIN AUSTRALIA BUSINESS CLASS REVIEW BASICS:

Airline: Virgin Australia
Aircraft: Boeing 737-800 (VH-YIF)
Departed: Brisbane Airport (BNE)
Arrived: Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD)
Stops: Non-stop flight
Class: Business class
Seat: 1F
Length: About 1.5 hours

Cheers: Fresh and funky looking cabin interior and great catering for such a short flight
Jeers: No foot-rests and no curtain divider thus limiting privacy
Overall: A great new business product on the Australian domestic market which with a few improvements will give competitors a run for their money.

During the last two years, perhaps no other airline has gone through as much transformation as Virgin Australia. Starting off as the first true low-cost carrier (LCC) in Australia in 2000 (then known as Virgin Blue) it quickly became a popular choice for leisure travelers. As the Australian market became more saturated with LCCs, Virgin decided it was time to remodel and focus more instead on the premium market. This transformation included the introduction of a business class across the fleet, with all aircraft having completed the re-fit by the 3rd quarter of 2013.

Continue reading Virgin Australia Reborn – Flying Business Class from Brisbane to Sydney

SilkAir Welcomes the Boeing 737-800 into its Fleet

A side view of Silk Air's first 737-8SA. Photo - Bernie Leighton AirlineReporter.com

Side view of SilkAir’s first Boeing 737-8SA – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

February 21, 1989 was an important day for Singapore Airlines. On that day, their regional affiliate Tradewinds Airlines took off using MD-87s for previously unserved Southeast Asian destinations like Bandar Seri Begawan.

Tradewinds continued until 1992 when it was renamed SilkAir. If you have not noticed, it is almost February 21, 2014. In other words, we are quickly approaching the twenty-fifth anniversary of SilkAir. On top of that, this is also the Chinese Lunar New Year period. There is a lot to celebrate at SilkAir. Most of all, the delivery of their first Boeing 737-8SA.

A Chinese Lion Dance to bring in the new year and celebrate a new era of SilkAir.  - Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

A Chinese Lion Dance to bring in the new year and celebrate a new era of SilkAir – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

SilkAir is celebrating a lot of firsts with delivery of 9V-MGA (internally referred to as “my great aircraft”). Their first 737 NextGen, their largest aircraft order (54 frames), and their fastest year-on-year fleet growth (they are accepting eight frames this year).

Continue reading SilkAir Welcomes the Boeing 737-800 into its Fleet

Time Lapse Video & Photos of WestJet’s Disney #MagicPlane

If you haven’t caught the new WestJet #MagicPlane livery, you are in for a real treat. It is a complicated design that was not an easy task to complete. This time-lapse video above demonstrates the painstaking steps it took to bring this design to life.

The completed #MagicPlane livery. Photo: WestJet

The completed #MagicPlane livery (reg: C-GWSZ). Photo: WestJet

According to WestJet, “The special livery is designed to tell a story from tail to nose. It starts with Sorcerer Mickey, prominent on the aircraft’s tail, with magic stars coming from his hands. The magic stars swirl around the fuselage and past the wings, culminating with fireworks over the Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World.”

BONUS: Alaska Airlines Unveils its Latest Disneyland Scheme

It took a total of 26 workers, using 36 different colo(u)rs, 24 days working around the clock to make the paint scheme work. Now that is dedication, but we think it paid off. Check out some more photos, plus some magic in the interior:

Continue reading Time Lapse Video & Photos of WestJet’s Disney #MagicPlane