Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Some more E-Jets

G-FBJB and JD should be here soon! I'm sure there will be a point when these deliveries stop being exciting but it's not yet...4 have arrived, 31 to go (or possibly more if Flybe exercise their options)

Monday, 12 December 2011

Very Long Haul from Birmingham?

Recently, MG Motor UK said they would like direct flights to China from Birmingham.
This got me thinking. Perhaps this isn't as far-fetched as it sounds? Boeing's 787 'Dreamliner' broke the record for its weight class for speed and distance a few days ago:
If a 777-300 can fly non-stop to Islamabad from BHX (PIA's service), maybe a significantly smaller aircraft (the 787) could get to China? As for the airline operating such a route, it would probably be a Chinese carrier as BA or Virgin aren't likely to open a base at BHX any time soon and China isn't really the holiday market that Thomson serves, so that rules out any British carriers.

Slightly off topic, but if the rumours (or wishfull thinking) about the return of Birmingham to Chicago are true, what aircraft would fly that I wonder? American previously used a 767 on the route.

Friday, 2 December 2011

They're here! [EDIT]

The first 2 of  Flybe's Embraer 175's have been delivered! G-FBJA and FBJC arrived in Exeter and were treated to the traditional fire service water arc. JA and JC are expected to enter service in the next few weeks. (I have no idea what happenned to JB either...). Hopefully, it won't be long before an E75 is based at Birmingham, replacing a Bombardier Dash 8 on the Dusseldorf route. (And it wasn't long at all! An E75 is now BHX based and will be flying Dusseldorf rotations as of the 7th Dec, see link below.)

Saturday, 26 November 2011

They're on their way...

The first 2 of Flybe's Embraer 175's, G-FBJA and G-FBJC, were pictured yesterday (25/11/11) on their delivery flight in Gran Canaria. One of the first routes the E75 is scheduled to fly is Birmingham to Dusseldorf (3 daily rotations, replacing a Bombardier Dash 8). Fingers crossed it'll be at BHX in the next few days! There was also an announcement from Flybe regarding a finance deal for the new E-Jets:

I'm gonna say the 2 things are related. It seems that the assembled E75's were sitting in Brazil, and Embraer were waiting for Flybe to sort out how they were going to pay for them. But they're on their way now!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Comtel Air flight cancellations!

Comtel Air, the Austrian Airline offering services to Amritsar via Vienna from Birmingham, have got into financial difficulties:

The aircraft being used on the route, a Boeing 757-200 leased from Mint Airways of Spain, has positioned back to Madrid, and the future of these flights are uncertain.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

All the new routes from Birmingham!

A round-up of new services from BHX this winter and next summer:

  • Berlin-Brandenburg [announced this week!] Lufthansa, daily using Airbus A319s (but expect 320s too) starting next summer with the opening of the new Brandenburg Airport.
  • Dubrovnik Starting May 2012, Monarch twice weekly with Airbus A320s. 
  • Heraklion Begins May 2012, Monarch twice weekly, A320s
  • Milan-Malpensa Monarch A320 service starting March 2012
  • Rome-Fiumicino Both Monarch and bmiBaby will commence this route next year using A320s and 737-300s respectively. Both start in March.
  • Venice-Marco Polo 4 times weekly Airbus A320 service operated by Monarch
  • Innsbruck Austrian Airlines starting December 16th using Boeing 737-800s.
  • Amritsar Operating now, Comtel Air to Amritsar via Vienna using a Boeing 757-200 leased from Mint Airways of Spain.
  • Geneva EasyJet Switzerland resume their Airbus A319 service which is predominately aimed at the ski market.
  • Grenoble EasyJets other Ski route will also return with A319s.
  • Perpignan will be served again, along with other regional France routes by Flybe.
  • Barcelona bmiBaby with 737-300s starting March 2012
  • Lisbon bmiBaby with 737-300s starting March 2012
In addition many other seasonal services will return. Any uncertaincies? Well, the bmi situation at the moment makes the future of the based A320 flying for Lufthansa to Frankfurt uncertain. Flybe are still expecting their Embraer 175s to arrive 'soon', and these are expected to operate the Dusseldorf route initially. There's also talk of flights resuming to Chicago, but nothing definate.

Overall it's an exciting time for BHX!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Monarch to increase capacity at Birmingham

Monarch Airlines (IATA: ZB IACO:MON Callsign:MONARCH) have announced that they are to increase their BHX based fleet to 6 aircraft as of next summer. The fleet will consist of 4 Airbus A321's and 2 A320's. New routes for Summer 2012 will include: Rome, Milan and Venice in Italy; Dubrovnik in Croatia; and Heraklion in Greece.

I find this really interesting. What I thinks going on is that Monarch have realised too many people from the Midlands have to make the trek up to Manchester or down to London, and so they're increasing capacity where the demand is!

Some info on these new services:
 - Rome isn't currently served, but it will be by bmiBaby starting Spring next year, and now Monarch too.
 - Milan (Malpensa) is currently served daily by Flybe.
 - Venice will be a completely new destination although bmiBaby fly there from East Midlands
 - Dubrovnik is served weekly in the summer months by Flybe, and has been for a few years now
 - Heraklion is currently served by Thomas Cook, Thomson and Skywings (all charter). Perhaps Monarch will offer a scheduled alternative?

Also, I don't think the above new routes warrant 2 extra aircraft, so I'd expect increased frequencies on existing routes aswell.

BHX Airport:

Monday, 24 October 2011

Monarch A321 landing RWY15

Flight ZB403 from Faro on final RWY 15

A day at BHX

Some pics of RWY15 ops at BHX yesterday:

A flybe Dash 8-Q400 caught by a gust on final!

A Swiss (Helvetic) Fokker 100

bmi's BHX based A320 flying for Lufthansa

G-FBEJ the Embraer 195 as seen from the Marston Green railway bridge

A Ryanair 737-800, taken from the 33 end car park

A Dash 8 enters 15 from B1 while the Emirates 777 continues down to A1

Another LearyJet

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

New service to Amritsar from BHX

Comtel Air (ICAO:COE, Callsign:Comtel Air) have commenced flights from Birmingham to Amritsar, India, via Vienna. The route is flown by a Boeing 757-200 leased from Privilege Style. This a welcome return of flights from Birmingham to India following Air India's withdrawal of their Delhi-Amritsar-Birmingham-Toronto route a few years ago. That was operated by a 777, and loads are good on Comtel's route so far, so there clearly is demand for BHX-India services.

Comtel's website:
For more info:

...and a few other bits and bobs

This blog isn't entirely about aviation... I just had to share this:
"YOU SHALL NOT PASS!" - Lilac Tigerwine 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

First biofuel flight in the UK is BHX-ACE!

The first ever biofuel flight in the UK, TOM7446, departed Birmingham today!

The Thomson Airways flight to Lanzarote (ACE) was operated by a Boeing 757-200 with Rolls-Royce RB211 engines, which required no changes to be able to use the new fuel. Although biofuels produce CO2 like standard aviation fuel, it has been produced from plants, so the CO2 released was taken from the atmosphere by the plants anyway. This makes biofuel, in theory, carbon neutral.

EDIT: This was actually the first biofuel flight in the UK, the biofuel Palma flights earlier this year did not go ahead.

For more info on this landmark flight see:


Sunday, 25 September 2011

BHX in the fog

Some pics taken last December at BHX on a foggy day!
EK39 appears out of the gloom complete with impressive contrails!

An EI A320

G-FBEG, an Embraer 195 and previously my ride to Belfast

An RAF C-17 Globemaster (which didn't taxi round to E1, but in fact took off from here!)

EK40 heading back home

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

BHX-PGF-BHX Trip Report (2010)

Last Summer, we decided to fly with Flybe from Birmingham to Perpignan instead of our normal East Mids/Stansted to Carcassonne route. Flights were nearly the same price but car hire in Perpignan was more expensive. This was my first flight on the Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, the workhorse of Flybe's fleet.

Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) to Perpignan-Rivesaltes (PGF/LFMP)
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 G-JECU
No self-service check-in as we had bags, we did it the 'old-fashioned' way at a check-in desk. It was quick though as we were early and we flew through security into the Terminal 2 departure lounge. G-JECU was waiting at Gate 16, built in 2006 and delivered new to Flybe (G-JECU is now ZS-YBT and is flying for South African Express as of August 2011). BE1729 was my 34th flight and 1st on the DH4, and at approximately 7am we lifted off Runway 33 enroute to Perpignan! See the vid below:
 It was a nice, calm flight apart from the last 8000 feet or so where there were some gusty winds! After 2 hours 20 minutes (perhaps too long for the Dash, although they aren't used on routes much longer than this), we landed in 30 degrees and blazing sun. Be warned: row 11 is windowless, as I found to my horror! Luckily the rows infront were not. I loved the 3 different coastlines that you see on this flight - 2 on the channel and then the med... what a contrast!

Perpignan-Rivesaltes (PGF/LFMP)  to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB)
Flybe Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 G-JEDO

 Skip forward 2 weeks, and it was time for my 35th flight, 2nd on the Dash, and BE1730 back home! There's no video for this one as I didn't film the take-off and the batteries died while filming the approach... anyway, Perpignan airport is small but functional, my criticism is that the glass in the departure lounge is frosted and there are no views of the airfield! The Dash once again was a delight, although the length of flight with those seats is maybe too long. G-JEDO, our ride back, looked tiny sat on the apron next to an Air France Airbus A319! Crossing northern France on the way back, we flew through a very active cold front which was producing thunderstorms at the time, and this inevitably caused a few bumps! The turbulence was moderate-heavy (drinking from a cup was difficult without getting wet), and shortly after entering it, we descended slighty, I can assume because the pilots requested a lower level from ATC to get to more stable air. (Not because its a safety issue, but simply because passengers don't like it!)
  It was on this flight, on the ILS for RWY33, that I took the photos of Kenilworth from the air.
A distinctly unimpressed Mum and G-JEDO back at BHX!

So that concludes my BHX-PGF-BHX trip report. Flybe discontinued this route after only a year, odd, because both my flights were full! Which is a shame, because there are many other regional France flights offered from BHX by Flybe, but for the Southwest, it has to be Ryanair for the time being.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

A trip to BHX

Just some pics taken at Birmingham on the 4th September:

bmi Airbus A320 G-MIDS outbound to Frankfurt, flying for Lufthansa (possibly why the BHX based aircraft is in Star Alliance colours?)

Flybe's "low cost, but not at any cost" Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, which promotes the eco-friendliness (is that a word?) of the type.

Another Dash, this one belonging to Austrian Arrows (Tyrolean Airways) and operating for Brussels Airlines. The two airlines are both in the Lufthansa group.  Brussels Airlines also send a bmi Regional Embraer 145 to BHX on Saturday mornings, I wonder, is this due to a lack of aircraft or are they using aircraft smaller than their own Avro RJ's due to low loads?

A KLM Boeing 737-800 on short final. 

Finally, a Bombardier Challenger...
For considerably better pics of this movement go to

Friday, 2 September 2011

French firefighters

I'm back from France! Where we stay in the Languedoc is fairly quiet in aviation terms, with the nearest airport being the tiny Carcassonne Salvaza which sees 3 or 4 movements a day (all Ryanair) at best. The only interesting things flying about in this part of the world are the firefighters!

The Sécurité Civile operate 12 Canadair CL-415's, most (if not all) are based in the South of France, and they are used in forest-fire fighting. These 'bush fires' break out incredibly often in the Summer months, and every time we go to France, we hear the airborne Sapeurs-Pompiers 2 or 3 times. This time, however, we saw them dumping water on a fire up in the Black Mountains, and I managed to get 2 pics:
They're not the best quality, the camera was on full zoom and the air was hazy (it was 34 degrees at the time, so its not suprising these fires break out).
The flying skill demonstrated by these pilots is remarkable, as they perform steep turns and very steep climbs, whilst dumping water (that sudden decrease in weight must make things interesting) and flying in mountainous terrain.

Aswell as these CL-415 'Superscoops',   the Sécurité Civile operate 2 ex-SAS converted Dash 8-Q400's which can be used for fire-fighting, and 9 Conair Turbo Firecats, along with around 40 helicopters all over France in various roles.

 It was nice surprise and not something we have (or have a need for, really) in the UK!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Cheap flights to France!

Over the last 6 years, I've flown to France (Carcassonne mainly) on many occasions. The only operator to this small regional airport in the southwest of France is Ryanair, and as a result I've flown with them more than any other airline. Most of the times, it's been from East Midlands, and as my next French Holiday looms, I thought I'd fish out some of my best Ryanair pics...
Wingview on the apron at East Midlands in April 2006, with a bmi A319 behind.

A winglet-less wing! One of the last wingletless 737-800's in Ryanairs fleet, taken in August 2006.

Early morning at East Midlands in August 2008, with a First Choice A321, a Thomson 757, a Thomas Cook A321, a bmiBaby 737-300 and a Ryanair 737-800.

Our aircraft waiting for the first flight of the day to Carcassonne.

Beginning our descent into CCI

Turning downwind for a visual approach to RWY28

On final over Carcassonne

At this point however, the view from the other side is better:

So thats Ryanair, East Midlands and Carcassonne! I suppose, despite the terrible legroom, hideous cabins and unpleasant competitiveness (see the "bye bye" jets), Ryanair do fly to convenient local airports, and best of all, they are, most the time, dirt cheap!

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Piper PA28!

One of my friends is currently having flying lessons, in the Piper PA28. This is a collection of our videos of flying in the PA28. All are from Coventry and in G-COVA. The first is a touch and go, the second is several touches and go's with a glide approach, and the last is a stalling lesson. Thanks to Matt for the very cool seat view videos! Enjoy!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

The 2010 Coventry Fly-In

Back in September 2010, Coventry airport hosted a 'fly-in', basically an airshow, in support of help for heroes. Among the aircraft present were the Vulcan, a Tornado, and many of the Airbase collection including venoms, the dragon rapide, DC-3s, the list goes on. These are some of the pictures and videos I took on that day:
Classic flights' Avro Anson climbs out

An Air Atlantique Douglas DC-3 (with a strange mod at the front?)

Another Atlantique Dakota

Classic Flights' DeHavilland Heron in Jersey Airlines livery

The Nimrod

'Sybille' the Dragon Rapide

A Vampire

Below is a video of the fly-in, including the Tornado and Vulcan departures:

Hopefully there are plans for another fly-in, as it seemed to be a great success!

Saturday, 23 July 2011

BHX-BHD-BHX Trip Report (2010)

Like my previous trip report (Dublin in 2009), this isn't a full one as it's over a year ago now. This was, again, for my annual birthday daytrip, and was my first time with Flybe and on the Embraer E-Jets.

Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) to Belfast-City (BHD/EGAC)
Flybe Embraer 195 G-FBEG

Being my first flight alone (well, with a friend) I was naturally very excited. We arrived at BHX early and checked in using the fantastic self-service machines, before heading up to the Terminal 2 departure lounge. The two terminals are now merged, which is probably a good thing if you want a good range of shops: they are limited somewhat in the T2 building. But, shops were not high on the agenda for me: we were off to Belfast!
Here's a video of the flight out:
 Flight BE402 went like clockwork, arrving on time. For years I'd been flying on 737's and nothing else, to then fly on an E-Jet was wonderful: they're quieter, comfier (that is down to the airline though), and the windows are bigger too!

George Best Belfast-City (BHD/EGAC)
 To get the cheapest fares and also to fly the E-Jet both ways, we'd booked a return flight (BE409) in the afternoon, leaving only a few hours free. There wasn't really enough time to go into Belfast itself so instead we stayed around the airport. The first port of call? Ikea of course! (Watch the inbound flight vid, you'll spot Ikea just before touchdown).

The Ikea car park gives very good views of the airfield at Belfast City:
 G-FBEG backtracking along RWY 04 to depart off 22.

 The apron at BHD, dominated by Flybe with a bmi A319 at the back preparing for the return to Heathrow.

A Ryanair 737-800 backtracking with the Harland and Wolff shipyard behind.

The Bombardier factory, where the new composite wings for the Bombardier C-Series are currently being constructed and tested. 

Sadly we couldn't stay all day (never thought I'd say that about an Ikea car park...) and so we returned to the terminal for BE409 back home.

Belfast-City (BHD/EGAC) to Birmingham (BHX/EGBB) 
Flybe Embraer 195 G-FBEK
Belfast-City was a nice little airport I found, not very big but fine for internal flights (most of them are from BHD) as the minimum check-in time is 30 minutes before.

The flight back was fairly turbulent, at the time the worst I'd been in and still the second worst today.  But the excellent E-Jet made up for any discomfort, it truly is a remarkable aircraft. If all new aircraft are like this or better, I really can't wait to see what the C-Series, 787, A350 and other new types are like in terms of passenger comfort. 
And the video:
While on approach to RWY33 I took some pictures of Kenilworth from the air, see  below. 

And that concluded my first two flights 'alone'. My experience with Flybe and the E-Jets on that day has meant that all my subsequent flight have been with them too. (Not counting PA28's, of course... stay tuned for some light aircraft action!)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Kenilworth from the air

Kenilworth, where I live, happens to lie just to the east of Birmingham's Runway 33 ILS approach path. This means good views of aircraft from the ground, and of course, of Kenilworth from the air!

The following were taken either from a Flybe Embraer 195 returning from a daytrip to Belfast or from a Flybe Dash 8 returning from Perpignan (both trips will be reviewed on here in the future):

Although hazy, this picture is best I have for showing the majority of the town, as in following attempts (returning from Perpignan) the cloud was a problem. The school is visible in the center at the top.
The castle! This was on full zoom so it's a bit blurry, 2500 feet doesn't sound like much but it's actually a long way away!
Northwest of the last picture, with the Abbey Fields on the right.
 And this is the good one! Taken from a Dash 8, the cloud parted in just the right place to reveal Kenilworth below...

Click on the pics for bigger versions! If you live in Kenilworth, try to spot your house ;)

On a completely different topic, I saw my first funnel cloud today! There will be more weathery things to come...