End of an Era! Indian Navy to retire Tu-142 ASW aircraft

The Indian Navy is set to retire its Tupolev Tu-142 long range maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare aircraft by the end of this month. Eight of these gigantic turboprop aircraft were acquired by the Indian Navy in 1988 from the Soviet Union and served as the flagship maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare platform in the Indian Ocean region for nearly 30 years. The Tu-142s are based at INS Rajali, situated at Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu.

The Tu-142 was derived from the Soviet Tu-95 “Bear” long range strategic bomber designed in the 1950s. It is a large turboprop aircraft powered by four Kuznetsov NK-12 engines with distinctive contra-rotating propellers. It is one of the loudest military aircraft and is also the fastest turboprop aircraft with a maximum speed in excess of 850kmph/460knots. Its long fuselage, wide wingspan and high speed has earned it the nickname, “Albatross”.

The Tu-142 is a true long range reconnaissance aircraft with a combat radius of around 6500km. It can carry out long duration missions of nearly 11 hours with a large payload of around 9000kg. The aircraft is fitted with ASW equipment including sonar, magnetic anomaly detector (MAD), sonobuoys, anti-submarine mines and torpedoes.

However, age has begun to catch up with the Albatross, as newer anti-submarine warfare technologies have emerged in the recent years, thereby rendering the Cold War era Soviet equipment on the aircraft obsolete. The Indian Navy has already found its eventual replacement – the Boeing P-8I “Neptune” multi-mission maritime aircraft (MMA). Eight P-8Is have already been inducted into the service, and are also based at INS Rajali.

Although the P-8I doesn’t quite have the range or the endurance of the Tu-142, it is packed to the gills with state-of-the-art surveillance & ASW equipment, including the deadly Harpoon anti-ship missile.

In addition to the Tu-142 & the P-8I, the Indian Navy also operates the Ilyushin IL-38SD maritime patrol and anti-submarine warfare aircraft. The IL-38s were acquired by the Indian Navy starting in 1977, and were recently upgraded in Russia including fitting of a new radar and the Sea Dragon avionic suite, allowing them to soldier on for some more time. These are currently based at INS Hansa situated at Dabolim, Goa.

Newer technologies apart, none of these aircraft have the Cold War style awe and aura of the Tu-142. The retirement of the Albatross is truly the end of an era!

 

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Saudi King Salman visits Malaysia

February 26 2017 – The ruler of Saudi Arabia, King Salman kicked off his month long Asian tour with a four day visit to Malaysia today. King Salman is visiting with a huge delegation of around 600 staff, ministers and officials. The King and his delegation arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KUL) in three special aircraft earlier today.

The KUL plane-spotting community was out in force to catch the arrival of these special aircraft.

The King himself along with his close associates arrived first in the Saudi Royal Flight Boeing 747-400 registered HZ-HM1. The callsign was “Saudi One”

Saudi Arabian Royal Flight Boeing 747-400

The second aircraft to arrive was the highlight of the day. Carrying the Saudi delegation was the Saudi Royal Flight Boeing 747SP, registered HZ-HM1B. The callsign was “Saudi One Bravo”

We were lucky to spot this rare 39 year old classic as it touched down on Runway 32L.

Saudi Arabian Royal Flight Boeing 747SP

The final aircraft in the delegation was the Saudi Royal Flight Boeing 757-200, registered HZ-HMED, and callsign “Saudi 11”.

This is an interesting aircraft as it is practically a flying hospital. This aircraft is equipped with facilities and personnel to cater to any medical emergencies that might occur.

Saudi Arabian Royal Flight Boeing 757-200

 

As you can see, this was a great opportunity to spot some rare special aircraft. Enjoy the photos! 🙂

 

Indian Air Force to induct indigenously developed AEW&C aircraft during Aero India 2017

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to induct the first indigenously developed Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft at Aero India 2017, which kicks off on February 14th at the Yelahanka Air Force Station near Bangalore.

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The indigenous AEW&C system has been developed by DRDO’s Centre for Airborne Systems (CABS) based in Bangalore and integrated on the Brazilian Embraer ERJ-145 platform.

The hitherto unnamed indigenous AEW&C system consists of multiple antenna arrays mounted on top of the fuselage of the ERJ-145 and provides a 240 degree radar coverage. In addition to this, there are multiple sensors and cameras installed throughout the aircraft fuselage.  The primary radar is an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) unit with Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) capabilities.

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The system has been designed to detect and identify threats to IAF fighters and other assets both from the air and from the ground, and act as a flying command and control post to support IAF missions. The aircraft uses secure data links to communicate with IAF aircraft, satellites and ground based stations. It is equipped with a comprehensive self defence suite, to protect itself from threats while on a mission. The AEW&C aircraft also has mid-air refuelling capability, which allows extended operations and loiter time.

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The project began back in 2003, when the IAF & DRDO carried out a joint feasibility study for development of an AEW&C system. After receiving government approvals, the responsibility for design and development of the system was assigned to DRDO’s CABS. The program was originally supposed to deliver three AEW&C aircraft to the IAF by 2013, but this has been delayed by four years, with the first aircraft to be delivered next week. The aircraft has been displayed during the past two Aero India shows starting 2013.

The IAF AEW&C aircraft will complement the more capable and larger Phalcon AWACS systems based on the Ilyushin IL-76 platform that are already in service.

 

 

 

 

Countdown to LIMA ’17

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The LIMA (Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition) 2017 maritime and aerospace exhibition for defence, civil and commercial applications will be held next month in Langkawi, Malaysia.

The biennial event will be held between 21st and 25th March 2017 will be held at The Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre, Langkawi for the Aerospace exhibition and Resorts World, Langkawi for the Maritime exhibition. This year will be the 14th edition of LIMA and it promises to be as spectacular as always. There will be something for everyone – whether you are an aviation geek or a maritime enthusiast.

The highlight of the five day event will of course be the daily aerial displays and boat demonstrations.

The list of confirmed participants for the aerial displays this year is as follows:

  1. SU-30 MKM Royal Malaysian Air Force
  2. F/A-18D Royal Malaysian Air Force
  3. Hawk 108/208 Royal Malaysian Air Force
  4. A400M Royal Malaysian Air Force
  5. PC 7 MKII Royal Malaysian Air Force
  6. KT-1B (Jupiter) Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara
  7. HAL Dhruvs Indian Air Force (Sarang Aerobatic Team)
  8. KAI – T50B Republic of Korea Air Force(Black Eagle)
  9. Gripen Royal Thai Air Force
  10. Rafale France Air Force
  11. B-1B (Fly Pass) United States Air Force
  12. Airbus 380 (Fly Pass) Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB)
  13. Airbus 330 Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB)
  14. Super Lynx Royal Malaysian Navy
  15. Fennec Royal Malaysian Navy
  16. CL-415 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
  17. Agusta AW 139 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
  18. Dauphin AS365 Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency
  19. AS 355 Royal Malaysian Police

Source:  LIMA Exhibition Official Website

As you can see from the line-up above, it looks like a power-packed display this year. It will be exciting to see the Royal Malaysian Air Force birds in action, as well as the Airbus A330 & A380s from Malaysia Airlines. The USAF B-1B Lancer fly past also promises to be an exciting event.

I am also looking forward to seeing the Indian Air Force Sarang Aerobatic Team in action with their brightly coloured HAL Dhruv helicopters. I last saw them in action two years ago at Aero India 2015 in Bangalore, India.

Look forward to more updates soon!

 

 

 

 

Trip Report: SQ Premium Economy Experience BOM-SIN A380

Singapore Airlines Premium Economy Experience BOM-SIN A380

BACKGROUND

Singapore Airlines had started retrofitting its A380s with its brand new Premium Economy Class (PY) product. During the retrofitting exercise, the usual A380 service to BOM had been temporarily downgraded to a 777-300ER. However, a couple of months later, the A380 was back on the SIN-BOM sector with the new Premium Economy class on offer.

The SQ PY product looked decent from the ads and publicity material I had seen; although the seats themselves were nowhere close to say the Turkish Airlines Premium Economy seats on their 777-300ERs. I had experienced the Turkish PY some time ago and felt that the seats were pretty close to a regional Business Class product. Nevertheless, I was sure SQ would more than make it up with the onboard service.

I had a trip to Singapore coming up, and was contemplating trying out the PY product on SQ. It meant spending around 150 USD more (one way) as compared to a Y ticket. I was not sure whether it was worth it, but in the end decided to try it out on one leg.

I hoped I had made the right choice and SQ would not let me down.

REACHING THE AIRPORT

I was to fly on SQ 423, the signature overnight departure out of BOM, operated by the A380. This flight has seen a couple of equipment upgrades in the recent years – from a 777-300A to a 777-300ER to the A380 right now.

I left home early anticipating heavy evening traffic on my way to the airport. I wasn’t wrong. What is usually a 20-minute taxi ride in no traffic, turned into an almost 40 minute crawl. Anyway, I reached the airport well in time, and made my way to the SQ check-in counters.

CHECK-IN

There was a longish queue at the Economy counters, but thanks to my Star Gold status, I could use the Business Class check-in counters, which had only 2 people ahead of me.

The check-in process took less than five minutes, and I was handed my boarding pass and the Indian immigration departure card.

Next up was security check, which again took not more than five minutes, and then I joined a long queue for immigration. As it is the start of the peak international departures wave out of BOM, almost all counters were open, and our queue progressed quickly. Post immigration, I made my way to the “Loyalty Lounge” to relax for a bit.

After downing a couple of Kingfishers at the lounge, I made my way to our boarding gate.

Our aircraft was parked at Gate 68 today.

There was a sizeable queue of passengers at our boarding gate, which meant that the flight was quite full.

BOARDING

Sector: BOM-SIN

Airline: Singapore Airlines

Flight: SQ 423

Aircraft: Airbus A380-841

Registration: 9V-SKH

Seat: 31K

Boarding for our flight was announced at 2305, 30 minutes before STD, but ten minutes later than what was printed on the boarding pass. From the massive queue that had formed at the gate, I doubted if we could push back on time.

The boarding was sequential, with Suites and Business Class passengers invited to board first, followed by Star Alliance Gold members. With a quick scan of my boarding pass, I made my way to the aerobridge. SQ Premium Economy Class on the A380 is situated on the lower deck just aft of Door #2, and I boarded through one of the two lower deck aerobridges.

The Premium Economy Class features a comfortable 2-4-2 seating configuration.

I had selected seat 31K, a bulkhead window seat in the first row of the PY section. This meant that I had massive legroom to stretch on this overnight flight. The regular seat pitch in PY is 38 inches.

The seat itself was comfy, wider than the standard Economy seat (up to 19.5 inches wide) and the recline is up to 8 inches. There was a wide double armrest between two adjacent seats. This was good, as I hate people hijacking the entire armrest. The rear portion of the armrest is slightly raised and includes a USB charging port and the headphone port.

Each seat also comes with an adjustable LED reading light, which can be moved to any angle that’s comfortable for you.

Small amenity pouches had been placed on each seat. These were limited edition pouches with SG50 themed motifs and consisted of socks and a toothbrush kit.

The boarding process took around 40 minutes, which meant we were ten minutes past our departure time by the time it was completed. The crew passed around the menus for the supper service on this 5-hour flight.

The menu had a distinctive “Premium Economy Class” branding.

Headphones had already been placed in the seat pocket.

SQ offers bulky active noise cancellation headphones in PY. I was keen on trying them out later on.

The IFE system in PY consists of a 13.3-inch full HD LCD screen. For my row of course, the IFE screen was mounted on the bulkhead wall. The position of the screen means that one has to always look slightly upwards at all times in order to view it. A better arrangement would be to place the screen inside the armrests.

Our captain came online made an announcement that we had closed our doors, and were waiting for our pushback clearance, which would take around 10 more minutes. We finally pushed back at midnight, almost half-an-hour post our scheduled departure time.

THE FLIGHT

One after another, the four RR Trents came alive. The A380 cabin is incredibly quiet, and even with four engines powered on, one could easily talk to fellow travellers without raising one’s voice.

We began taxiing towards Runway 27. There were 3 aircraft ahead of us in the takeoff queue and after nearly 7 minutes of taxiing, we turned in to Taxiway N3 and held short of Runway 27.

Now this was interesting, as heavy aircraft and especially the A380 usually departs using taxiway N1, which allows maximum runway length to be used. However, as N1 was currently shut for maintenance, we would depart from N3 tonight. The cabin lights were dimmed and then turned off for takeoff.

After a couple of minutes of holding for a landing, we turned on to Runway 27 and waited. The four Trents were slowly spooled up to takeoff power, and we began our takeoff roll. The sound of the engines even on the takeoff roll is incredibly low. After a 35 second roll; we lifted off into the night sky in the westerly direction.

After a nice bank to the left, we set course in a southeasterly direction towards Singapore.

The cabin lights were turned back on and the crew began preparation for the meal service. The Premium Economy cabin looked pretty full, so the demand seems to be there.

The drinks trolley appeared first, which is how I like. I enjoy having a drink or two before eating the main meal, and hate airlines that serve drinks during/after the meal.

Singapore Airlines serves champagne in PY, so I decided to try it out. It was served in transparent plastic “flutes”, not real glass ones. Fair enough I think. A pack of roasted almonds and cashews was served alongside. A nice touch!

With champagne in hand, I decided to explore the entertainment on offer. Didn’t feel like watching a movie, so I decided to watch back-to-back episodes of “The Big Bang Theory”. Always a favourite of mine on flights!

The main meal service began soon after. There were three meal options on offer – one international and two Indian.

I opted for the international meal, which consisted of apple coleslaw with toasted almond as an appetizer, “Cayenne Pepper flavoured chicken stew” with sautéed vegetables and potatoes for the main course, and an apricot cheesecake for dessert. It looked quite filling for a five-hour flight.

The meal was served with a bread-roll & butter and a bottle of water.

The crew asked for a second round of drinks, and this time I chose the signature SQ Singapore Sling.

After finishing my meal, I reclined my seat, pulled out the calf rests. I cannot sleep on flights, so it would be helpful to at least catch up on a quick nap.

The cabin crew passed around bottles of water to keep us hydrated through the flight. Another nice touch!

The cabin lights were dimmed and slowly turned off.

ARRIVAL

Roughly an hour before arrival, the captain came online and announced that we would begin our descent into SIN in 20 minutes. The cabin crew did a quick round of drinks, offering water or orange juice.

As we began our descent, the rising sun presented me with this beautiful view out my window.

It became brighter as we approached SIN. The A380 is super quiet on the approach leg, and one can barely hear the engines. Soon we lined up on Runway 02L, and made a smooth touchdown, 10 minutes post our scheduled arrival time.

After a longish taxi, we docked at Terminal 3, which is my favourite terminal at Singapore Changi Airport. The exit from the aircraft was quick, as we were the second group after Suites to leave.

As I made my way to the Arrivals area, I clicked a final departure shot of the superjumbo that brought me to SIN.

I walked towards Immigration, and saw hardly any queues at the counters. This would be a quick SIN immigration for a change at least for me.

SUMMARY

It was a good, positive experience for me in Singapore Airlines Premium Economy on board their flagship Airbus A380. There is a distinct difference in both the hard product and the onboard service as compared to the standard Economy Class. The seats are wider, come with fold out calf and foot rests and recline further. The grey-orange upholstery also adds another level of distinction as compared to Y class.

The F&B service is superior with a wider choice of food including the famed “Book the Cook” available for PY. Champagne (even though it is not the best) is served through the flight along with assorted nuts.

Even though it was worth spending the extra bucks for the PY experience, I feel SQ needs to drive it up a notch or two higher. The seats although good, could be made better – especially in terms of seat width and recline. The Turkish Airlines PY seats on the 777s as quoted earlier are a good example. The amenity kits could be equipped better. Eyeshades and earplugs should definitely be a part of it.

Hope you enjoyed this peek into the Premium Economy experience on Singapore Airlines.

Thank you all for reading!

India & France sign the Rafale deal – FINALLY!

After a wait of almost a decade, involving a multi-country and multi-aircraft competition, extensive negotiations, cancellations and re-work, the IAF (Indian Air Force) will get modern fighter aircraft with India & France FINALLY inking the deal for the Dassault Rafale multi-role fighters on Friday, September 23 2016.

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The precursor to the Rafale deal was the MMRCA (Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft) competition to supply the IAF with 126 advanced multi-role combat aircraft. The RFP (Request for Proposal) for this deal was released in August 2007 to six bidding aircraft – Boeing F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16, Mikoyan Mig-35 & SAAB Gripen NG. The competition involved extensive trials of the six competing aircraft in a variety of environmental conditions. After an extensive technical evaluation, the IAF announced in April 2011 that it had shortlisted two aircraft – Dassault Rafale & Eurofighter Typhoon. On 31 January 2012 it was announced that Dassault Rafale won the MMRCA competition due to its lower life-cycle cost. Thus began a phase of long and painful negotiations, which involved differences over cost escalations and guarantees by Dassault for aircraft license-built in India.

The negotiations continued for over two years with differences persisting between the two sides. Finally, in April 2015, Indian PM Narendra Modi announced India’s intent to purchase 36 Rafale fighters in a fly-away condition directly from France in a government-to-government agreement. This effectively killed the MMRCA deal, with the Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar officially making an announcement to this effect. Even then, it took nearly 18 months of negotiations to officially ink the deal!

The Dassault Rafale will be a much needed boost to the IAF’s rapidly declining fighter aircraft strength. With multiple aircraft types like the Mig-21, Mig-27 and Jaguar slated for retirement in the coming years, there is a critical need for inducting modern fighter aircraft into the fleet. The Rafale will be a shot in the arm for the IAF, providing it with a much needed capability boost to tackle the challenges it faces from Pakistan & China.

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Being an “omni-role” aircraft, the Rafale can be easily configured for air-air or air-ground missions. The deal includes the Thales RBE2 AA AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar and weapons systems like the Meteor BVR air-air missile, which has a range of over 150km, and the SCALP air-ground cruise missile with a range of over 300km. This will allow the IAF to engage targets inside enemy territory without crossing its own borders.

The first Rafales will start arriving within 36 months of signing the contract i.e. in the year 2019 and the delivery will be completed within 66 months. The 36 Rafales constitute approx. two squadrons, and will clearly not be enough to plug the declining fighter strength in the IAF. What remains to be seen is whether there will be a follow-on order for more Rafales including possible local assembly/manufacturing or whether the IAF decides to go in for another type.

Dream comes true – The An-225 visits Kuala Lumpur

Dream comes true – The An-225 visits Kuala Lumpur

I had a dream – to see the “dream”. Goofy wordplay aside, the dream was to see the Antonov An-225 “Mriya” (meaning dream or inspiration in Ukranian) at least once. This dream came true, as the big bird landed in Kuala Lumpur yesterday – May 14th 2016.

Powered by six Progress D-18 turbofan engines, the mammoth An-225 was on a trip from Prague, Czech Republic to Perth, Australia, carrying a 117 tonne electrical generator. The trip involved stopovers in Turkmenbashi (KRW), Hyderabad (HYD), and Kuala Lumpur (KUL) before reaching its destination in Australia.

The stopover at KUL was lucky, as the original itinerary involved the big beast stopping over at Jakarta. This was changed later to KUL due to unavailability of slots at Jakarta. The schedule was published by Flightradar 24 a couple of weeks prior to the flight, and we waited with bated breath for the arrival.

The scheduled arrival at KUL was 0800 local time, and I left home early with my seven year old son in order to secure a vantage point to witness the arrival of the Mriya. As I was reaching the spotting location, I saw hundreds of people gathering to see the giant six-engined aircraft that was due to arrive soon. The excitement was palpable, as the spotting community in KUL came together, and waited patiently.

The aircraft could not be seen on Flightradar 24 – our trusted companion for tracking aircraft and their arrival/departure times. We had found out from friends back in Hyderabad that the aircraft had departed at 0140 local time, which meant that it would be arriving approximately at half past eight.

Just before 0800, the Mriya became visible on Flightradar 24, and the atmosphere amongst the waiting spotters became electrified. Folks readied their equipment – double-checking to make sure that the memory cards were inserted and batteries were charged.

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Soon, the familiar shape of the An-225, with its six engines became visible in the distance. The aircraft was approaching rapidly, and appeared to become larger by the second.

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It glided smoothly over the threshold of Runway 32L, and touched down right in front of us, producing a fair bit of smoke from its massive 28 wheel main landing gear.

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A loud cheer went up in the spotting community as the aircraft rolled down the runway, and slowly made its way to its designated parking bay.

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It felt amazing to see the massive six-engined aircraft with its distinctive twin tail. The wings and the horizontal stabilizers are humongous!

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So there it is – the dream to see the one-of-a-kind Antonov An-225 “Mriya” finally came true. Don’t know if I will get an opportunity to see it again…

The Malaysian Queen flies again!

Malaysia Airlines recently decided to bring a Boeing 747-400 back into active service. The 747-400s were retired a couple of years ago when the A380s joined the fleet. The 747 will provide interim heavy lift to the airline while the A380s go through maintenance. The Jumbo is supposed to operate its long haul service to London on two days of the week.

The aircraft that was re-commissioned is registered as 9M-MPP (formerly named as “Putrajaya”) Malaysia Airlines has painted this aircraft in the retro 1970s livery. Many aviation enthusiasts including me were pretty excited when this piece of news broke, and we have been waiting patiently for the Queen to take to the skies.

The big day finally arrived!  The 747-400 was supposed to roll out and get airborne for a test flight at 10AM local time on April 26th 2016. All the local plane spotters and aviation enthusiasts flocked to the Subang airport (where the aircraft was parked) and waited for the aircraft to show up. 10AM came and went, and there was no sign of the Queen. Then we got to know that there was a technical issue with the aircraft, and it was taken back to the hangar. The test flight would have to wait for another day!

The new date for the test flight was two days later – on April 28th at 2PM local time. Again, the enthusiast community came out in full force to view the Queen. This time we hoped that she would show up! At around 2PM, the aircraft showed up on Flightradar24, which meant that the transponders were active.

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The aircraft had been given a callsign – MH5109 for the test flight.

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We were getting impatient, as the aircraft showed no movement. We were hoping that the technical issues had been sorted, and the Queen would finally take to the skies.

Just before 3PM, the 747 finally started taxiing out. We got ready with our cameras to capture this event. Dark rain clouds had gathered over the Subang area, and the light had faded quite a bit. As she made her way to the active runway, we could see streaks of lightning with accompanying thunder all around. It was as if the weather gods were announcing the arrival of the Queen! 🙂

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As she lined up on Runway 15, the heavens opened up! What started off as a slight drizzle, turned into a torrential downpour. We were caught in between – sheltering our cameras from the rain, and craning our necks to catch sight of the Queen. We soon heard the four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 powerplants spool up to take-off power, and a loud cheer went up amongst the waiting plane-spotters. And in the next few seconds, the four engines spooled down, bringing a look of worry on all our faces. The engines spooled up and spooled down once again, before spooling up once more and the aircraft finally started to roll. As soon as the Queen came into view, our cameras went into overdrive, capturing her spraying water all around.

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What a sight it was!

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After a shortish take-off roll, the Queen took to the skies with a grace typical of the 747.

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That’s it – the Malaysian Queen was finally back in the air!

After taking off from Subang, the aircraft turned north and headed out to the Malacca Strait for its tests. The aircraft made multiple circuits at varying altitudes around Penang and the Malacca Strait for nearly three hours before heading back south to Kuala Lumpur. The aircraft was supposed to land at KLIA (KUL) at around 6PM local time.

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We reached there well in time for the arrival, and hoped that the rain gods would keep away this time. At exactly 6PM, the familiar shape of a 747 on approach became visible on the horizon. The Queen touched down with a puff of smoke on Runway 32L and deployed her reversers briefly.

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As she rolled out, we got another view of the beautiful curves of the Queen of the skies…

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Test flight complete, the aircraft was parked at the cargo apron, next to her cargo cousins. We hoped all had gone as per plan, and the 747 was fit to fly once again.

Some not so good news emerged one day later, as the website Airlineroute.net reported that Malaysia Airlines had shelved plans to operate the 747-400 on the Kuala Lumpur – London route for the month of June. As of now, the reasons for this change are not known.

We only hope that all issues are sorted out, and the Queen takes to the skies soon!

ANA retires its Boeing 737-700ERs

Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) has retired its mini fleet of Boeing 737-700ERs. The long range 737-700ERs equipped with additional fuel tanks used to ply daily on the Tokyo Narita – Mumbai route till March 26th 2016. ANA started deploying the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner to Mumbai starting March 27th 2016.

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ANA had two 737-700 ERs in its fleet – JA10AN & JA13AN. These aircraft were used to launch and operate the “ANA Business Jet” service to cater to premium business traffic. One of the aircraft (JA13AN) was configured in an all business-class 38 seat configuration whereas the other (JA10AN) was configured in a 44 seat business-class + premium economy configuration. On the west bound leg from NRT to BOM, the 737-700ERs had to make a fuel stop at Nagasaki occasionally, depending on wind conditions. However, the east bound leg was non-stop.

The aircraft were also painted in a special “ANA Business Jet” livery to distinguish them from the regular ANA aircraft. One of them was later re-painted in the standard ANA livery.

Both the aircraft are reported to be stored w.e.f. March 27th, 2016.

Cathay Pacific’s new livery

Cathay Pacific Airlines has recently revised its livery that had been in existence since the early/mid 1990s. The existing livery featuring the distinctive “brushwing” design on the tail and aft of the flight deck windows has been an icon.

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The new livery is a refreshed, simplified version of the existing livery that has served the airline well. The darker green patch situated aft of the flight deck windows has given way to a uniform light green band that stretches across the fuselage. The tail is now painted entirely in a dark green colour with a larger “brushwing” design painted in white.

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B-LIB is the second Cathay Pacific Cargo aircraft to be painted in the new livery.