Qantas’s Airbus A380 registered VH-OQA or known as “Nancy Bird Walton” finally returned home from Singapore on the 22nd April.

The A380 suffered an uncontained engine failure on the 4th November 2010 as it departed Singapore with bits of the engine falling to the ground, forcing an emergency return to Singapore.

Since the return of the aircraft to Singapore, the aircraft has had investigators crawling over it to establish what happened. After they finished, it came to repairing the aircraft.

The work was carried out at SIA Engineering at Singapore Changi, costing A$139 million (about $144 million give or take), involving engines, and the damage on the left wing between ribs on the forward spar and upper and lower wing sections. With 70,000 man hours of work,over 18 months.

In addition, a major repair requiring the fixing a custom made patch to the upper wing skin, which was pierced by debris from the No 2 engine. Part of the front spar and lower wing skin was also replaced. Inside the wing, various components were replaced including harnesses, fairings, flaps, fuel pipes, and various other hydraulic and electrical systems. All four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines were also replaced during the time of the refit.

The net result is that the plane is “as new” for all intents and purposes – except for a 200kg extra weight on the plane as a result of the patch.

For testing, the plane was put through some it’s pre-delivery drills including a four hour flight test and a full electrics system test.

For Qantas, who have an aircraft valued at A$300 million, they see this as an investment – and keeping Qantas’s safety record intact.

Repairs took almost 18 months to complete, and used almost 40,000t of tooling and parts. The entire tab of A$139 million ($144 million) was picked up by insurance companies. Another A$95 million came from Rolls-Royce, which supplied the Trent 900 engines, as compensation.

Richard de Crespigny -  who was the captain of the original flight was the captain to ferry the bird back to Australia as QF32, who ha absolute confidence in the aircraft.

Flight number QF32 however will be retired in the near future.

It’s good to see Nancy Bird back in the air, and it will returning to active service on the 28th April, operating Sydney to Hong Kong in the first instance.

Posted by Kevin M GhettoIFE | 2 Comments

Well here’s a turn-up for the books. FlyBe – a UK Regional carrier that plays the low cost carrier game is going to scrap a fee.

And it’s the Debit card fee that is up for the chop. Additionally, the Credit Card fee is also being reduced:

  • Currently a £8 transaction fee is levied for Debit cards. This will be removed
  • Credit Card fees drop from £13 to £9

The aim of this move is 1) to curry flavour with those examining fees into handling costs of a card and 2) to “increase increase the transparency” of FlyBe’s pricing.

No date has been confirmed as the fee is still there at the time of writing.

To make life more fun FlyBe is going to try and get more money out of you in other ways as it moves to a three ticket system.

So here are the three fare types

  • Essential – Lowest fares, 10kg hand luggage
  • New Economy – For a £19 surcharge you get a hold bag, pre-assigned seats at time of booking, unlimited date changes and a SMS booking confirmation.
  • Economy Plus – Is the current high end product, adding includes lounge access, fast-track security and double frequent flyer points.

FlyBe is also planning to increase on-board hand luggage, a lounge refresh, and relaunching its frequent flyer programme – which is one of the poorest offerings going at the moment….

Interesting times for the Regional carrier.

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So Boeing have finally dragged their Boeing 787 on tour to the United Kingdom on a few stop tour to Heathrow, Manchester  and London Gatwick (Oh, and thanks for the lack of a press invite Boeing…)

Frame ZA003 – the 3rd Test and Demonstration aircraft,  powered by Rolls Royce Trent 1000 Engines arrived at London Heathrow earlier today to a flurry of British Airways and Virgin Atlantic happy people. With stops at Manchester and Gatwick, it’ll also keep Thomson happy – as well as show of the 787 to potential UK airlines that are still thinking about it.

Now we all know the concept of the 787 – lighter frame and body, more range, and makes it cheaper to take less passengers over a longer distance.

In fact, I’ve done this ;) For those of you who missed it, head to Farewell Miles: Frankfurt to Tokyo Haneda in ANA’s 787

But whilst Boeing have designed what is a reasonable aircraft, there are some facts that need to address.

  • Lengthwise it’s slightly longer than the current Boeing 767-300ER
  • Widthwise, it’s slightly wider than the said 767-300ER

That in itself presents a few limitations, which points to the initial competition of the Boeing 787 – the Airbus A330. With the larger variants coming on stream (the 787-9 and the possible 787-10), the amount of passengers won’t be an issue – more like the experience for the passenger.

And that’s where I’m going with this ramble.

Whilst there are some nice big windows and a lower air pressure point of 6000ft over the normal 8000ft, and a higher humidity level (which didn’t make a spot of difference to me – I needed a couple of bottles of water on that trip), there are some little things.

There are some great configurations going for the longer distance carrying 787′s

  • ANA’s 1-2-1 at the front, 2-4-2 down the back is to be commended as very spacious – in every sense of the word.
  • JAL has gone for a reasonable 2-2-2 at the front, 2-4-2 down the back.
  • ANA Domestic 787′s are slightly more crammed with more economy class seats, however it’s still 2-2-2 at the front, 2-4-2 at the back.
  • Then there is Air India. Whilst Business is a reasonable 2-2-2, economy class is the slightly worrying part configured in a 777 style 3-3-3 – reducing your width in personal space to nothing.

And for those who think space doesn’t matter, you get 19″ (48cm) of width in a 2-4-2 configuration, where as in the 3-3-3 config, you get 17.2″ (44cm) of space.

And 4cm of space… is a lot on a 10 hour flight. Size in this case does matter.

So that’s the first thing – airlines preserve seat width where possible.

Second up is In-Flight Entertainment. Yes, I will natter on over In-Flight Entertainment as it’s supposed to be one of the cornerstones of this blog :) . And there are some great systems being loaded on these birds.  My fear (and it was well founded on ANA) is the disturbing lack of content that seems to be loaded on the systems. This can be negated with connectivity options, but some serious investment in IFE content for longer haul segments is becoming a requirement.

Finally, there is the little thing of the Window Shades. And I have concerns over this smartglass thing.

  1. The glass polarises the entire window to black and can’t bring it up to bright no matter the circumstance, which is a risk at takeoff or landing
  2. The glass fails to polarise at all, causing the cabin to be flooded by light on a sleeper service.

If the 787 is to succeed in the eyes of the passenger, it won’t be the nosecone, the chevron engines, the wings that seem to bend forever or the magic 787, it’ll be the seat they sit in that will dictate their memories – and whilst Boeing can provide the frame and the cabin, ultimately, it will be the airlines that decide if their implementation and use of the cabin.

So airlines – a challenge to you – make the 787 a pleasant environment for your passengers… please?

Posted by Kevin M GhettoIFE | 2 Comments

Things are not looking rosey for BMI Baby and BMI Regional at the moment.

The two subdivisions of BMI were meant to be sold off before the IAG takeover by Lufthansa, but they failed to be sold.

IAG is not interested in owning the two units who operate to very different markets – BMI Regional operating high value regional routes, whilst BMI Baby operates the low cost model from various hubs to locations in Europe.

Willie Walsh has stated he is “not confident” about selling them. He also said:

“These are airlines that Lufthansa struggled to sell but we are going to make an effort to sell them”

BMI Regional employs 330 and operates Embraer ERJ-135′s and ERJ-145′s, whilst BMI Baby employs 470 people, operating older Boeing 737-300′s and 737-500′s.

IAG has previously said that if it cannot sell the two units it will shut them down, but now says that it is reviewing all of its options and that talk of job losses would be premature.

There are people in the sidelines trying to grab a bargain – the BMI Regional folks are probably the ones most safest with Granite Aviation once again striking up talks for the purchase of the airline – if this comes to anything remains to be seen.

On the other hand, BMI Baby with its ageing fleet and comparability smaller presence, in a market dominated on one side by the big Low Cost Carriers Ryanair and EasyJet, whilst competing with Monarch and Jet2 on the charter has a much more difficult prospect ahead.

Good luck to all the staff involved.

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For those of you who love the 787, good news as JAL today confirms more routes for its 787 network. Beijing, Delhi and Moscow DME are the next visitors for JAL’s 787s.

Operating on a spread timetable between Tokyo Haneda to Bejing, and Tokyo Narita to Delhi and Moscow Domodedovo.

Tokyo Haneda – Beijing

JL023 DEPART HND 09:10  ARRIVE PEK 12:05 
JL024 DEPART PEK 16:40  ARRIVE HND 21:05 

Operates Daily
Equipment booked: Boeing 787 
Commences 07/05/2012 (7th May 2012)

Tokyo Narita – Delhi

JL749 DEPART NRT 11:30  ARRIVE DEL 17:35
JL740 DEPART DEL 19:35  ARRIVE NRT 06:55+1

Operates Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday with 787 Equipment
Operates Thursday with Boeing 777 equipment 
Commences 01/05/2012 (1st May 2012)

Tokyo Narita – Moscow Domodedovo

JL441 DEPART NRT 10:45  ARRIVE DME 16:00 
JL442 DEPART DME 17:45  ARRIVE NRT 0810+1

Operates Monday, Thursday and Saturday
Equipment Booked: Boeing 787
Commences 07/05/2012 (7th May 2012)

This is just the first of many deployments as 787′s spread from the Everett factory in Washington as 787 fly around the world. Hopefully this weekend, will take you into some of the facts and figures that make up the powerful engines of this bird.

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I’m not going to write much on this, but provides some complaints that are still true if you’re sat behind or near the small room on the plane.

It maybe 7 years old – but it’s still true today….

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It’s Sunday, and it’s time for a very special Airplane Art

This week, it’s the British Midland International fleet from 2007 to 2012 as photographed by my fair hands and fair cameras.

As you probably know,BMI is now part of International Airlines Group and will be merged into the British Airways unit over the next few months. As a result, there’s a strong chance that the white and blue of BMI’s “Whale”scheme will be painted out and replaced with the Chatham Dockyard tail of British Airways.

Of course, the images are clickable if you want to look at the big pictures.

At London Heathrow T1 in 2007…


At LHR in the classic “Whale” Livery (Airbus A319)

Airbus A321 at Dublin Airport in the transitional British Midland/BMI Livery

One of the dreaded BMI Regional ERJ’s taxing at London Heathrow

A combo here – Old Style Star Alliance Washing Line and BMI Interim.

The dreaded BMI Boeing 757 operated by Astraeus

A more current logojet taxing at LHR in March this year.

And a current whale waiting on a Heathrow morning.

…. and finally a few of the aircraft that introduced me to BMI: The Airbus A330 “fleet”

aAt Chicago O’Hare


Taxing at it’s traditional home of Manchester Airport


The A330 logojet sitting at London Heathrow

Being towed to the gate at Chicago O’Hare

And dusk for the airline.


More less sentimental Airplane Art next week.

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As BMI is taken over by IAG and becomes part of British Airways, here’s a list of dates that are important:

As of now:

  • Diamond Club members can earn on BA Flights and vice versa.
  • BMI has formally exited from the Star Alliance
  • Diamond Club Members can access BA lounges at LHR and LGW

Big upcoming dates

  • 1st May – Diamond Club to BA Executive Club status matching begins
  • 31st May – Final Star Alliance matters need to be tied up.  That includes: Any Earning, Any Redemptions and any access to Star Alliance facilities through the member airlines (except on Lufthansa family airlines – that flight has long since departed)
  • 1st June – It’s BA and BMI sitting in a tree.. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. By that point I’d hope you’d matched any status over to preserve lounge access privileges. Note that BMI will not have a Oneworld badge on it at that tim.
  • 3rd July – Diamond Club Destination Miles to Avios transfers begin. You’ll not this excludes ANY status miles transferred to BA Tier Points
  • End of Summer Time Table: Major changes begin, with who knows what to come.

The big question of when to do the status match is important. And it’s going to be very personal as for some of you who will be switching to Executive Club for the first time will be governed by when your next flight is, and how many Tier Points you’ll need/want.

My plans.. are a lot more muddier sadly mainly due to my excessive cargo carrying habits and my love of lounge hopping. I’ll be writing on how this change is going to impact me a bit later on….

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It’s Saturday, and time for an aircraft to enter the paint shop

As Qantas’s Nancy Bird (their first A380) prepares to retake to the skies after it’s extended break on the ground after her engine incident over 18 months ago, here’s a video of her getting her first paint job in 2008.

More airplane repainting next week!

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Earlier today, I looked at the losers of the sale of BMI to IAG. Lets be more congratulative and look at the winners

  • The big winner is of course International Airlines Group and its subsidiary British Airways who have got a total of 42 pairs of slots to play with at London Heathrow.  As well as that they get the staff, facilities and aircraft too.
  • Lufthansa although a looser is technically a winner as they have managed to offload BMI onto someone else, and it is no longer a black hole in their accounts.
  • A lot of the BMI Mainline crew come up on top as they’re probably safe from the cuts
  • A lot of Diamond Club Customers actually come out very well out of this: in fact better than I though they would. The Status Match (equal level to level) is very welcome indeed. The 1:1 Avios transfer  – although not unexpected – is equally welcome.
  • And the airlines who want those 14 spare slots at London Heathrow. Which could be an interesting fight depending how the slots are used… and if they’re used for their intended purposes.

So comparatively fewer winners than looses, but wins enough for the remaining staff, IAG and BA and even Lufthansa who don’t have to throw any more money away.

And heck, so of us win when it comes to status and avios’s.

Coming tomorrow, is a little timetable of what to do and when.

Previous BMI Takeover Coverage:

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