Record-Breaking Birmingham

Birmingham Airport is in a celebratory mood after recording its busiest ever year.  The Midlands facility welcomed 11 million passengers over the 12 months up to August, just a year after passing the ten million milestone.

Commenting on the landmark, Birmingham Airport’s CEO Paul Kehoe said: “Reaching ten million passengers last August was a big milestone in the airport’s history but reaching 11 million is an absolute game changer.  It shows that demand for flying to and from the Midlands is rapidly rising and this is only expected to continue as national and international investment in the region continues and the Midlands Engine powers on.

“We have celebrated a huge number of accomplishments recently, including welcoming an astonishing 13 new airlines to the airport, creating an even stronger network of global routes.  We now have over 440 direct or one-stop flights globally with 50 airlines and proudly handle the magnificent [Airbus] A380 and [Boeing 787] Dreamliner, daily.”

The airport also recorded its busiest single day to date on August 19 when it handled 44,767 passengers, an increase of 14.1% over its previous best on August 13, 2015.

ECA Returns to the Air

Croatian carrier European Coastal Airlines (ECA) has resumed operations after briefly suspending services.  The Split-based airline was forced to ground its fleet of de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters seaplanes on August 13 after the Croatian Civil Aviation Authority (CCAA) temporarily withdrew its Air Operator Certificate.  This is understood to have related to issues identified during a safety and maintenance audit the previous week.

ECA’s Managing Director Klaus Dieter Martin confirmed services had restarted on August 29 but initially with just one of its four aircraft, 9A-TOE (c/n 096), as this was the only example to have had its paperwork approved by the CCAA.

“My team and I have been extremely passionate and optimistic regarding the resumption of our operations,” the CEO said in a statement on ECA’s website.  “However, additional and unforeseen obstacles have slowed down this process drastically.”

Martin added: “In the meantime, we are working on releasing our Twin Otters 9A-TOA, 9A-TOB and 9A-TOC for operations, but cannot yet foresee when this will occur.” 

French Mirage 2000s Deploy to Lithuania for Baltic Air Policing

FOUR ARMÉE de l’Air (French Air Force) Mirage 2000-5Fs have been deployed to Siauliai Air Base, Lithuania, to take up leadership of the Baltic Air Policing (BAP) mission.

All are from Escadron de Chasse 1.2 ‘Cigognes’ at Base Aérienne 116 Luxeuil. The aircraft arrived on August 28 to replace the Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP – Portuguese Air Force) F-16 contingent, which has undertaken the role for the last four months.

A ceremony to mark the change-over was held at Siauliai on August 31. This is the fifth time France has carried out the BAP mission, having previously deployed aircraft for the role in 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

Thai Joins the A350 Club

Thai Airways International has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-900, making it the eighth operator of the type.  The jet, which is leased from CIT, is registered HS-THB (c/n 044) and has been named Wichian Buri.  It is the first of 12 the carrier has on order, four of which are being purchased directly from Airbus.

Thai crew pose with the new jet at the Delivery Centre at Toulouse. Airbus
Thai crew pose with the new jet at the Delivery Centre at Toulouse.  (Airbus)

Thai’s A350s are configured in a two-class layout, consisting of 32 Royal Silk Class, convertible fully lie-flat beds and 289 seats in Economy Class.  In Royal Silk Class, seat pitch is between 41 and 46in with each having a 16in touchscreen.  In Economy Class, the seats are pitched at 32in and are equipped with an 11in touchscreen.  Wi-Fi is also provided on board.

The jet will debut on domestic services between Bangkok and Chiang Mai before making its long-haul bow on the Bangkok-Melbourne route.

First NEO for LATAM

Airbus has handed over LATAM Airlines Group’s first A320neo.  The carrier is the first in the Americas to operate the latest generation jet, which is powered by Pratt & Whitney Pure Power PW1100-JM engines.

Executives from LATAM and Airbus attended a delivery ceremony at the manufacturer’s Toulouse, France, facility where the carrier also took delivery of its fourth A350 XWB.  Both jets are painted in LATAM’s new livery.

“We are pleased to offer our passengers the opportunity to fly the first A320neo in the Americas,” said Enrique Cueto, CEO of LATAM Airlines Group.  “The A320 aircraft family has long served an important role in our fleet, supporting the operation of our unrivalled domestic and regional network in Latin America.  With the latest in technology, efficiency and passenger comfort, the A320neo is a welcome addition and will help us to continue to offer one of the most modern and efficient fleets in the industry.”

Airbus President and CEO, Fabrice Brégier commented: “Over the years, Airbus and LATAM have grown together to become partners in building today’s dynamic aviation market in Latin America, which is why we are especially proud that the first A320neo in the Americas will be flying in LATAM’s livery.  We are certain that this aircraft will complement their existing fleet and further their success in the region.”

The South American carrier will debut the 174-seat neo on domestic services before expanding to regional routes in November.  The airline has 67 A320neo Family aircraft on order.

Kirby Switches from American to United

Scott Kirby has been named president of United Airlines.  This is a newly created role at the airline and will see Kirby assume responsibility for United’s operations, marketing, sales, alliances, network planning and revenue management.  His appointment is effective immediately and he will report to United CEO Oscar Munoz.

“Scott is a proven leader, whose deep airline experience and expertise will further accelerate our efforts to build the best airline in the industry,” said Munoz.  “His appointment, along with other recent leadership announcements, is the culmination of the formation of my senior leadership team.  This is just the latest step in our mission to be an agile and innovative industry leader.”

Kirby was previously President of American Airlines where he has been replaced by Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom.

“Robert is a world-class executive, and extremely well-qualified to assume the role of president,” said Chairman and CEO Doug Parker. “He has played an important role in the success American has become, including leading our operational integration and building an outstanding team. Robert is an engaging leader with a talent for growing and inspiring the colleagues around him. As president of American Airlines, Robert will do great things for our team members, our customers and our shareholders.”

Parker paid tribute to Kirby saying: “Scott has been a key member of our team for over 20 years.  We would not be where we are today without his leadership.  The more than 100,000 team members of American Airlines – most notably me – will be forever grateful to Scott.”

UT2 Summer-Fall 2016 Schedule Out Now

Flight One Software has released new 2016 schedule data for Ultimate Traffic 2.

This latest update brings over 660,000 scheduled flights, using 1000’s of different airports from around the world, incorporating over flight 250,000 flight routes.

Flight1’s Ultimate Traffic 2 brings real-world AI traffic to your flight simulator environment. There are several options available, which allow you to customize your AI and airport traffic. You can either jump right in, or use the various tools available to expand and tweak the product.

For more information on this schedule update, and to purchase the update for $6.95, please For more information on Ultimate Traffic 2, please

DA42 Arrives in Flight School

The Diamond DA42 is now available for everyone who owns Flight School.

This PBR modelled aircraft features two liveries, a stunning glass cockpit complete with a G1000 avionics suite, lighting effects, and various animations. The package also includes realistic audio effects and a new pilot model. In addition, you also get four lessons and three missions.

If you have automatic Steam downloads enabled, your update will install automatically. The approximate download size of this update is approximately 397 MB and requires 1.3 GB free space

PC-24 Takes Off

The Iris – Aviator Series – Pilatus PC-24 SVJ for FSX and Prepar3D is now available.

The twin-engine PC-24 business jet is a short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft, being designed to operate from short and rough air strips, it incorporates an advanced wing design, with large double-slopped flap system to achieve the necessary performance.

With a stall speed of only 81 knots at the maximum landing weight, it has a take-off distance of 820 m (2,690ft) and a landing distance of 770 m (2,526ft). it is also capable of operations from unpaved runways and grass strips which no other business jet has this ability.

The package from Iris features custom sounds based on the Williams FJ44 engines and in-cockpit audio along with detailed flight deck displays and systems. The external model comes with HD (4096 x 4096) textures, realistic reflections and detailed documentation.

A custom HD paint kit in Photoshop PSD format is also provided.

Click here for more information on the Iris website

FSLabs A320-X Released

The A320-X from FSLabs is now publicly available.

The aircraft comes with an entirely custom animated external model, a complete 2D panel set and a fully interactive 3D virtual cockpit. Additional features include a Flight Management and Guidance System (FMGS) with SID/STAR tracking; lateral and vertical flight management which follows the ARINC 424-19 specification in full detail; the entire range of aircraft systems; and the complete custom fly-by-wire implementation featured in the actual aircraft.

Click here for more information on FSLabs website