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A record breaker retires

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Qantas first B747-438 on the production line at Boeing. Image: Boeing.

After a final celebration in Qantas’ Hangar 96 in a few hours Qantas’ first B747-438 VH-OJA ‘City of Canberra’ will touch down in Los Angeles ending 25 years, three months and 20 days of commercial service.

Holding a distance record, only surpassed by Boeing’s 777-200LR record in 2005, and speed record that it still holds, -OJA was delivered to Sydney on 17 August 1989. QF7441 flew direct from London Heathrow in 20 hours, ten minutes – slightly over the planned flight time of 19 hrs 53 mins, and endurance estimate of 20 hrs 57 – at an average 848.54kmh with the aircraft routing to Frankfurt, then Istanbul, Ankara, Tehran, Oman, Colombo, Cocos Island, Carnarvon, Meekatharra, Woomera, Cowra and finally Sydney.

Qantas named its 747-438 fleet ‘Longreach’ to pay tribute to the airline’s Queensland hometown and the new -400 series superior range capability.

-OJA entered revenue service on 6 September 1989, when it operated Sydney – Melbourne and return as QF28/QF1. In the 25 years since it has completed nearly 106,000 hours of flying over 13,800 cycles. And now its last commercial service – QF107 - before continuing tomorrow to retirement at Mohave.

Images: Jeremy William, Editor, Carry-on

50 years of Australian domestic jet services

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Australia’s domestic jet age. On October 16, 1964, Ansett’s B727-77 VH-RME and TAA’s B727-76 VH-TJA which had tailed each other across the Pacific operating Seattle – San Francisco – Honolulu – Canton Island – Nadi, arrived at Melbourne Essendon Airport. Having won a coin toss Ansett-ANA’s 727 had the honour of landing first. On November 2, 1964 the first commercial services began with Ansett’s B727 VH-RME operating Melbourne to Sydney in a record time of  47 mins, 55 secs.

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Arrival of Ansett-ANA’s first B727 in Sydney from Melbourne on Nov 2, 1964.

 

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TAA’s VH-TJA arriving at Essendon on its delivery to Australia.

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Aeroplane derivative design era begins

“We have every justification for taking an optimistic view on the mid- and long-term prospects for this program,” Franz-Josef Strauss, the chairman of Airbus Industrie on the A320 programme in 1987.

It was a grand declaration. Just over 27 years and 7 months after Airbus’ first A320-100 MSN001 took to the sky Airbus’ A320neo flew for the first time yesterday commencing the type’s certification campaign.

The original A320-100 was the first fully fly-by-wire aircraft, and the beginning of Airbus’ now conventional side stick in replacement of the traditional yoke. At the time of the first flight there was significant psychological aversion of pilots and certifiers to full electronic control with the belief that hardware was still more reliable that electronics. On this note, it’s worth reading a flight test report written during the original A320 test campaign.

Innovation and willingness to take industry leading chances made and broke both Airbus and Boeing. It was this mentality also drove both to greatness. But the wounds of the last few years still raw, appetite for risk is minimal. The neo’s first flight is significant in this respect because it marks the embodiment of the derivative era. Re-engined efficiency has begun.

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Featured images via Airbus SAS.

 

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Amazing footage from Swiss’ accompanied A330 flyover of Air14 at Payerne in celebration of the Swiss Air Force’s centenary.

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Onboard the A350 during ‘Airline 1′

Over the last two weeks A350 MSN5 F-WWYV has been undertaking Airline 1. The 110,000 kilometre route proving campaign mirrors airline service, testing and hopefully accelerating the maturity of the aircraft by measuring its performance against KPIs such as dispatch reliability.

With major testing already complete, Airline 1 is the last major milestone before the Airbus applies for certification. Following certification the first four A350-900s will be delivered, in order, to Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair and TAM.

“The concept is simple: to operate and test the aircraft as much as possible in an operational environment, use the maintenance and support systems that our customers would have, capture their findings as soon as possible, and fix small issues quickly,” says Didier Evrard, Head of the A350XWB Programme.

While MSN5 arrived in Perth from Doha today on the final leg of Airline 1, over the last two weeks the campaign has already brought the aircraft to Sydney and Hong Kong where av journalist Will Horton and I were lucky enough to take a look ground and in the sky. Enjoy the tour.

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