Walking into the media entrance at Farnborough 2012.
This story is unfortunately delayed, since I wrote the complete series and then lost it. So, I get to start over and hopefully I remember mostly what I originally talked about. Oh right, I flew to London and saw some planes… I think there might be a few more details than that.
I’ve been to plenty of airshows in my day, but not THE airshow. Every other year, the big airshow of the year takes turns at Farnborough (outside of London) or Paris. This year, was Farnborough’s turn and I decided it was time to take the plunge.
Monday through Friday, the airshow is only open to vendors, media and invited guests, where Saturday and Sunday is a public airshow. I was curious to check what was offered during weekday since the show is quite different over the weekend.
To get to London, I took Air New Zealand’s flight from LAX.
Before I did anything, I had to brave an application process for authorization to attend the show as media. After a few hurdles, I was approved and could move forward with getting my airline tickets and hotel.
While most of my international trips are planned out for me by a public relations contact; this time I was entirely on my own. First I dealt with the question: How do I get there? What airline would provide a unique journey? Air New Zealand, of course. AvGeeks know the power of riding a carrier’s uncommon route and the Air New Zealand Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR) takes the cake. I was set to fly their Premium Economy over to London and their Business Premiere back. Now that my flights were set, time to find my hotel.
There was quite a bit of walking to get to Farnborough, but the views were too bad. This is just outside of the Farnborough North train station.
I had never been to London before and wasn’t really sure how things worked. I probably should have asked for some assistance, but decided to figure things out on my own — I kind of messed up. You see, I was late in getting my hotel room and my budget was pretty much non-existent for this trip. I knew I was probably going to have to find a place to stay outside of Farnborough and certainly not in London due to costs. I found a town less than 15 miles away from the Farnborough Airport called Bracknell and both locations had a train station. DEAL!
Here’s the problem; Bracknell is located north of Farnborough, but most of the trains run east to west, not north to south. Every morning, I would get up, walk a mile to the train station, take one train transfer, and walk another mile to another train station to catch a bus to get to the airshow. The 15 mile commute took me two and a half hours in the morning and about two hours to get back at night. Lesson surely learned.
The pain was quite worth it. Each morning my adventure would begin at the Farnborough Airport by being dropped off by a double-decker bus.
Just some of the Chalets located up the hill at Farnborough.
It’s very difficult being a single media person and knowing what the heck is going on at the airshow. First of all, there aren’t many preplanned press conferences or events and those that are, changed daily. Most days I would show up with little planned, but my schedule would become packed as the day evolved. By the last day I still wasn’t able to take a check out all the static display aircraft. It killed me, one of the primary reasons I went was to check out the planes.
The other issue was internet connection. You have about 110,000 people located in a small area, which means that cell reception was almost impossible to get. The airshow had a special media facility that offered free Wi-Fi, but it was not much better. Luckily, many other companies had their own media facilities (called chalets) and Boeing and Airbus both had free Wi-Fi that I accessed (sorry Airbus, but Boeing’s was a bit better).
My second home while in London; Boeing’s Media Chalet at Farnborough.
Because of the internet issues, it was more likely that someone sitting at home, reading about what is going on at the airshow was more informed than a media person on-location (aka me) in a complex sea of information without solid web access. Eh, I was okay being uninformed and enjoying myself — I had no real agenda.
Larger media organizations like Aviation Week and Flight Global had huge staffs, their own chalets and obviously quite a few resources to cover the airshow from top to bottom. I went to the airshow without any real game plans except hoping to get on the Malaysian Airbus A380, the Qatar Airways 787, see as many airplanes, meet new people and have fun — mission accomplished.
In PART 2, I will talk in more detail about what it was like being at the airshow and what I hope to have accomplished next year (if I am able to go). Until then, enjoy the photos…
Qatar Airways first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the tarmac at the Farnborough Airshow.
At the Farnborough Air Show, Qatar Airways showed off their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to an awestruck crowd.
When presenting the aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker stated: “Qatar Airways has been highly anticipating the arrival of our Boeing 787 aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show, and are proud to share this milestone with the world during the unveiling of our new Dreamliner.”
Welcome on board — entering the Qatar Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time.
I was excited to check out this Dreamliner. I have previously been in a few of ANA’s Boeing 787s and in one of JAL’s. How would Qatar’s 787 stack up?
Although ANA’s and JAL’s products were nice, Qatar really took the interior of their 787 to the next level — especially with their Business Class product.
The Business Class seats on the aircraft are laid out in a 1-2-1 format, where the 232 economy seats are in a 3-3-3 format.
Business Class seats on the Qatar Boeing 787 is very impressive.
This is the first Dreamliner we have seen in a 3-3-3 economy set up, where the ones previously have been a 2-4-2 layout. I was actually surprised how spacious the economy cabin felt, realizing that there was an extra seat in each row. I only sat in an economy seat for about a minute and it seemed fine, but a ten hour flight might be a bit different.
Each seat has an iTouch touch remote control, which accesses over 1000 entertainment options.
The Qatar economy is set up in a 9 abreast seating, but felt roomy.
The interior was quite impressive, but seeing Qatar’s Dreamliner flying at the airshow was even more so. Historically, Boeing has not flown any of their aircraft at the airshow, so this was a special treat.
Qatar’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off.
Living just minutes away from Paine Field (where the 787 is built) I have seen plenty of 787 Dreamliners flying, but never like this. The 787 looked natural flying above Farnborough, completing aggressive maneuvers, showing off. Sure, there were no Tex Johnston style rolls, but it was still inspiring none-the-less.
It looked great on the ground, but a bit better in the air.
The 787 left Farnborough early to return back to Seattle to have the final touches done before being delivered to Qatar by early September. The airline has 60 787s on order and Boeing is expecting to deliver five of them to Qatar before the end of the year.
After delivery, Qatar plans to use their first 787 flying between Doha to London Heathrow.
ADDITIONAL QATAR AIRWAYS BOEING 787 PHOTOS (even more on Flickr):
Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 flying over the Farnborough Airshow.
Malaysia Airlines recently took delivery of their first Airbus A380 and brought its second to the Farnborough Airshow to show it off.
Invited guests were allowed to take a tour of the interior and everyone with-in sight of the airport was able to see the A380 perform in the sky.
Like other A380′s, the cockpit is huge.
If the livery doesn’t look familiar to you, that is because the airline decided to give all their A380′s a special livery. The livery was a surprise (or a last minute decision), since the aircraft first flew with the standard livery on the tail. When seeing the design in photos, I wasn’t so sure what to think about it, but it really pops in person.
The main problem is the outside color scheme doesn’t match the inside. While the outside uses different shades of blue, the interior uses reds, which is a bit of a mind boggle when first boarding, but I am sure most people won’t even notice.
First Class is found on the lower deck.
The airline decided to put their eight First Class seats, which are laid out in a 1-2-1 formation, on the main deck, at the front. First Class are mini-suites that contain a lay-flat bed, 89″ pitch, 23″ screen, power at the seat and a personal closet. To create a sense of height (literally), there are not overhead bins in First Class.
I have to say that the product seemed quite impressive, but I was not a fan of the materials and colors. A bit too much red and brown for my taste, but it could be cultural. I think I could probably get over the coloring and enjoy the product.
A Business Class seats in sleeping and eating positions.
Business Class is found on the front part of the upper deck and is in a 2-2-2 configuration. The 66 full flat seats have a 74″ pitch, a 17″ screen and a power supply.
This Business Class is a pretty standard product out in the industry today — which is not a bad thing. There seemed to be plenty of storage (especially those seats up stairs with the side-bins) and the color I liked.
Each Economy seat has a pretty large screen and a iTouch remote.
Economy is set up in a 2-4-2 on the upper deck and 3-4-3 on the main deck. They offer 32″ of pitch, seat power, and a 10.6″ screen.
If you are going to be flying in economy, trying getting a seat on the upper deck. Not only do you get to feel special for being on the upper deck, but if you score a window seat, you will be rewarded with extra arm room and a cubby between your seat and the wall.
Flight crew have 12 bunks, three high, located at the rear of the upper deck.
One thing you will not find in the First Class cabin or the entire upper deck are baby bassinets. That is because Malaysia Airlines will only allow babies to fly in the economy section on the main deck.
Pilot rest area behind the cockpit.
Behind the cockpit, there are three small rooms. Two are rest areas for the pilots and one is their private lavatory. The cockpit is located between the A380′s two decks, so it takes a few steps to get in.
The actual cockpit itself is huge. We had about six people in it with no problem what-so-ever. You could really throw a party up there, but it is probably best to just stick with flying.
The Airbus A380 shows its moves at the airshow.
It was all well and fun checking out the inside of the A380, but the real impressive part was seeing this beast in the air, doing aggressive maneuvers during Farnborough. I am sure A380 pilots do not get to experience flying the world’s largest airliners like that very often. What a great treat for them and for those of us on the ground.
ADDITIONAL MALAYSIA AIRLINES AIRBUS A380 PHOTOS (even more on Flickr):
The new Advance Technology Winglet that will go on the Boeing 737 MAX.
There are tons of eye candy here at the Farnborough Airshow and I will be sharing more of it soon. For now, I wanted to show off the new Advanced Technology Winglet for the Boeing 737 MAX in the flesh. The thing is huge and looks quite impressive in person.
The new winglet is 9′ 7″ tall and extends about 4′ out from the wing. This is done on purpose, since it increases the effective span of the wing. The new winglet increases the lift of the 737, without adding weight,making it more efficient.
With four additional feet on each side of the 737, this could cause some issues with manufacturing at the Boeing Renton plant, where the NG’s are currently made. Boeing tells me that this is not currently a concern, since they plan to build the MAX on an additional line and will have room for the additional size of the winglet.
As I stated previously, I am not a big fan of the boring name for the winglet, but I am a fan on how it looks. And really, an airline isn’t going to be choosing the new 737 MAX for the look or name of the winglet, but more for the 1.5% increase of fuel efficiency.
Words of Note: For those of you fans who read Jon Ostrower’s Flight Blogger site, the “Photo of Note” statement might look familiar. I have always loved his usage of that statement. Now that he doesn’t use it anymore after moving to the Wall Street Journal, I received permission to use the terminology — thanks Jon!
A Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in Qatar Airways livery, arrives to London this week. Image from Boeing.
I am very excited, because I will be heading to London this weekend to attend the Farnborough Airshow for the first time. Each year, Paris and Farnborough take turns hosting this amazing airshow and I hope to share the experience with you folks.
It is normally during this airshow that Boeing and Airbus announce orders for additional aircraft. Although the A320neo and 737 MAX will be popular, I am really hoping for some 747-8 Intercontinental and Airbus A350 order announcements.
You better believe, I will be sharing what is going down via my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I also hope to get a few blogs up next week as well. And yes, I actually plan to take a day to check out London (oddly, I have never been), although it might be difficult to get me away from the airplanes.
Air New Zealand’s Premium Economy.
Per usual, getting there will be half of the fun. I will be taking Air New Zealand’s flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to London (LHR). I will be reviewing their premium products and flying over there in Premium Economy and on the way back flying in Business Premier.
Right now, they are one of their 777-300s scheduled to do the route tomorrow, which offers the newest product. I hope it stays that way because the 777-200 still has the older Premium Economy, which is not bad, but I much more prefer the 2-2-2 layout to the new product versus the 3-3-3 on the -200.
Previously, I had the opportunity to fly from Paine Field to Los Angeles on Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 777-300ER in Business Premier, but since it was a special media flight, I wasn’t able to get the whole experience — plus the flight was very short. I am looking forward to trying both products on the long haul and check out their new safety video in person.