View XL426 up close on April 23, 2017

A ‘Visit Vulcan XL426’ open day event is due to be held at (London) Southend Airport on Sunday April 23, from 10.00 to 16.00 hours.  The Vulcan Restoration Trust (VRT) team will be on hand to give visitors guided tours of Vulcan XL426, and cockpit tours for an additional small fee.

Also on display will be a WE177B bomb, carried by the Vulcan during its time with the RAF, as well as examples of the 1,000lb high explosive bombs the Vulcan dropped on Port Stanley airfield during the 1982 Falklands Conflict.

Special displays will include the cockpit of an RAF Buccaneer, a selection of historic RAF and Army Land Rovers, plus historic fire engines, all of which will be free to sit inside.

Richard Clarkson, VRT Secretary said: “Our Visit the Vulcan days are a great family day out; young or old, people are always awe-struck by the Vulcan. It’s a real testament to our volunteers that we can offer such a unique opportunity for people to see up close one of only 3 live condition Vulcans in the world.

“Our souvenir stand will be open selling a selection of Vulcan souvenirs, including Vulcan models, badges, patches, postcards, books, and much more. There will also be hot and cold snacks and drinks available.

“The VRT is a charitable organisation which is funded by donations, membership subscription and open days which is why events like this are very important to ensure the future of Vulcan XL426. We run Visit the Vulcan days throughout the year so keep any eye on our website and Facebook page. We look forward to seeing everyone and showing off our pride and joy”.

General admission is £4.00 for adults with accompanied under-16s admitted free. Admission and cockpit tickets will only be on sale ‘at the gate’ on the day of the event – please note that there are no advance ticket sales. Entry is free for Vulcan Restoration Trust members.

Car Parking – important notice – Due to ongoing airport development, there will be no free parking at the Visit the Vulcan Day. All car parking will be in the airport’s short stay car parks for which there is a charge. Visitors to arrive by train or bus if possible. London Southend Airport station is only two minutes walk from the Vulcan and is served by frequent trains on the London Liverpool Street to Southend Victoria line. Turn right when leaving the station and follow the signs to the Vulcan.


An historic artefact which helped propel aviation into the jet age will go on public display in Gloucester thanks to the RAF Charitable Trust.

The blade, part of the propeller fitted to the experimental turbo-prop Gloster Trent Meteor I EE227, belonged to the late Fred Crawley who donated it to the RAF Charitable Trust, of which he was a Trustee. It is to go on display at the Jet Age Museum.

Museum archivist Richard Hentschke said: “This turboprop blade has a significant place in the history of the Jet Age, and therefore also for the Jet Age Museum. The world’s first turboprop aircraft was a modified Gloster Meteor used as a testbed for the Rolls-Royce Trent engine. With five-bladed propellers fitted to its two modified Derwent jet engines it pioneered the type of propulsion used by many short and medium range airliners today.”

RAFCT Director Justine Morton said Fred was a long term supporter both of the charity and of the Royal International Air Tattoo. He donated a large number of interesting aviation related items to the charity and donated a significant sum of money that was to be used to benefit the many volunteers who help stage the Air Tattoo each year.

She said: “Fred was very happy for the mounted blade to be loaned to the new Jet Age Museum at Gloucester Airport so people could view it as he recognised it was a significant piece of Gloster Aircraft Company’s history.”

Jet Age Museum historian and Trustee Tim Kershaw said Meteor I EE227 had seen RAF service with 616 Squadron before being transferred to Rolls-Royce at Hucknall for the new engines to be installed. It first flew on September 20, 1945, with Gloster’s chief test pilot Eric Greenwood at the controls.

Mr Kershaw added: “Gloster had schemed the project in January 1944 as Gloster Meteor I type aircraft with Rolls-Royce W2B/37 propeller combination installation after Sir Stanley Hooker’s research team showed the potential fuel economy for speeds below 450mph (724kph) of a jet engine fitted with reduction gear and an airscrew.  Although Greenwood suffered 18 complete engine failures in 21 flights, the programme continued until March 1948. It led to Rolls-Royce developing the highly successful Clyde and Dart turboprops.”

The Jet Age Museum is devoted to the preservation, conservation and public display of Gloucestershire’s world-class aviation heritage and holds a major collection of Gloster Aircraft Company aircraft, artefacts and archives.

Iran Aseman Selects the MAX

Iran Aseman Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with Boeing for the purchase of up to 60 737 MAX aircraft.  The deal, which was announced in Tehran on April 4, consists of a $3bn firm order for 30 jets, plus purchase rights for a further 30.

This is the second large order the US manufacturer has reached with Iranian airlines since sanctions were eased in January 2016, following an international agreement on the country’s nuclear programme.  It follows an $8bn deal for 80 aircraft with Iran Air last December.

Boeing says it has negotiated the MoA under the authorisations from the US Government following a determination that Iran had met its obligations under the nuclear accord.  This latest deal still requires final approval from the government.  Once this is received a firm contract can be signed, with the first aircraft expected to be delivered to the carrier in 2022.

RAF boss visits Pakistan Air Force


The Royal Air Force’s Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, visited the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) last week. During his three-day trip from March 30 to April 1 he spent time with the PAF CAS, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman and was briefed on the PAF’s ongoing fight against terrorism, which is conducted under Operation Zarb-e-Azb.

On March 31 Hillier visited the newly named PAF Academy Asghar Khan (formerly Risalpur) where he was chief guest at a graduation ceremony for the 118th Combat Support Course and 39th Basic Learning Pilots Course. During his speech, the RAF CAS said: “the RAF made a valuable contribution towards the development of PAF especially in its early years – a contribution that was deeply appreciated.” He went on to add: “the relations between two countries and, of course the two air forces, will continue to strengthen even further.”

During a visit to Mushaf Air Base the following day, the RAF CAS reinforced his sentiment when he announced that the PAF’s 9 Multirole Squadron ‘Griffins’, which flies F-16A/Bs, would twin with the RAF’s No 9 ‘Bats’ Squadron currently flying Tornado GR4s. It is unclear what the twinning will mean, given the high level of operational activity that the two units are involved in. Both squadrons are participating in ongoing operations against terrorism – the PAF in the FATA region of Pakistan and the RAF over Syria and Iraq.

Air Chief Marshal Aman said: “No 9 Squadrons of both the air forces have a rich legacy and have been frontline squadrons since their inception. The twinning of these squadrons would help us in learn from each other and strengthen our cordial relations.”

While addressing the occasion ACM Hillier said: “The Pakistan Air Force is respected world over due to its sound professionalism and deeply respected in the [United Kingdom].” He added: “The twinning of these renowned squadrons will further develop their capabilities and lay a foundation to build on the legacy of our predecessors.”

Earlier in the day, both the air chiefs flew a mission in separate 9 Squadron F-16Bs. It was the first time that a foreign CAS had participated in a joint mission with a PAF CAS. Alan Warnes


LHT Embarks on Cabin Conversions

German maintenance, repair and overhaul provider Lufthansa Technik (LHT) has embarked on a programme to upgrade Airbus A320s for fellow Lufthansa offshoot Eurowings.  The initiative covers cabin conversions for 33 single-aisle jets, including A320s and A319s, being transferred from airberlin to the Düsseldorf-based low-cost carrier under a six-year wet-lease agreement.

“The modification of 33 aircraft in such a short amount of time requires intensive co-operation and great experience,” Ole Duenhaupt, Design Verification Engineer for cabin modifications at Lufthansa Technik explained.

The MRO was responsible for the design and approval of the cabin changes, which include an increase in seat pitch and the corresponding adjustment of the overhead service elements.  The company is also installing new safety belts, adapting the in-flight entertainment hardware and modifying the cabin monuments.

“The team responsible for the work, consisting of representatives from the airberlin as well as technicians from Eurowings and our engineering department, co-ordinated and completed all the required steps – from the preparation of the design documents and the planning and co-ordination of the layovers to the aircrafts’ approval and acceptance for flight operations – in the shortest time possible.  All the wheels interlocked with precision,” Duenhaupt noted.

Work on all 33 aircraft is due for completion by the end of April.

AFM at LIMA: New configuration for Guardian 400 MRSA

Viking Air, the Canadian company now producing Twin Otters, is keen to gain some of the maritime surveillance market in Asia. It is offering the Guardian 400 Multi-Role Sensor Aircraft (MRSA) and a mock-up of the aircraft’s nose could be found at the company’s LIMA stand.

Inside the nose on display was a Selex Osprey 30, a 28VDC version of Leonardo’s Seaspray 5000 maritime surveillance radar which requires AC electrical power, as well as an L-3 Wescam MX-15 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) turret. The EO/IR system is retractable so that spray doesn’t get on the system as it departs/lands on water or in poor weather conditions.

Since restarting the Twin Otter production line in April 2007, Viking Air has sold 144 Twin Otter 400s, with production backed up to the end of next year. There are two military customers operating the Guardian 400. The United Arab Emirates Joint Aviation Command (JAC) operates six and the Vietnam People’s Navy operates three, although Viking would not confirm this or their configurations. The Vietnamese examples are known to have been modified by Ikhana Aircraft Services of Murrieta, California with an Elta EL/M-2022 maritime radar system and a 10-inch MiniPOP day/night EO turret.

However, Field Aviation, Viking’s preferred system integrator, has come up with a new approach, preferring to put the systems into the nose section. Joar Gronlund, Senior Advisor, Field Aviation told AFM: “It will turn the Twin Otter 400 into a versatile multi-role aircraft suited for surveillance, search and rescue, medevac and other forms of transport, without the operator having to make time-consuming changes to the aircraft. It can also be delivered with ITAR-free systems.” Alan Warnes


The Twin Otter MRSA nose on display at the Viking Air stand, with Oscar 30 maritime surveillance radar and a retractable Wescam MX-15 EO/IR system. Alan Warnes




Norwegian Honours Sir Freddie

Norwegian has revealed its maiden Boeing 737 MAX will pay tribute to aviation entrepreneur and pioneer Sir Freddie Laker.  The carrier has a long history of honouring iconic figures on the tails of its aircraft, noting the personalities displayed on its jets “symbolise the spirit of Norwegian through innovation, challenging the norm and inspiring others.”  Sir Freddie Laker will become Norwegian’s third British hero, following author Roald Dahl and pioneering aviatrix Amy Johnson.

Sir Freddie enjoyed a long and distinguished career in aviation, working for aircraft manufacturer Short Brothers, delivering military aircraft during World War Two, and setting up several airline ventures post-war.  He was arguably best known for founding Laker Airways and the ‘Skytrain’ service which first took to the air in September 1977, offering low-cost long-haul flights from London/Gatwick to New York/JFK.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: “We continue to see huge growth in our transatlantic flights but we are standing on the shoulders of giants like Sir Freddie Laker who first pioneered the idea that travel should be affordable for all.

“Millions of passengers around the world owe a huge debt to Laker, who first opened the door to the affordable fares we all now enjoy.  We are honoured to have Sir Freddie as one of our tail fin heroes and it is especially fitting that he will be the first face on our brand new MAX aircraft serving new transatlantic routes between the UK, Europe and the US this summer.”

Norwegian will take delivery of the first of 100 MAXs in May.

First flight for An-132D

Antonov has completed the maiden flight of its new An-132D multi-role turboprop transport. The aircraft took to the air last Friday, March 31, from the company’s airfield in Kiev, Ukraine.

The first prototype of the short- to medium-haul aircraft flew for 1 hour and 50 minutes in the hands of Antonov test pilot Victor Goncharov, accompanied by Saudi test pilot General Mohammed Ayash of  Taqnia Aeronautics. The co-pilot was Antonov’s Bohdan Zagoruyko, while Volodymyr Nesterenko was on board as flight engineer. The aircraft was ‘chased’ by one of the company’s An-178 jet transports.

Development of the An-132 is being conducted as a joint project with two Saudi Arabian companies, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) and Taqnia Aeronautics.

According to Oleksandr Kotsiuba, president of Antonov, the programme will now work towards presenting the An-132D demonstrator in Saudi Arabia.

Antonov formally rolled out the first prototype An-132D in a ceremony at its Kiev production facility last December 20.

One of the first customers will be the Saudi Ministry of Defence, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Taqnia and Antonov at the Dubai Airshow on November 12, 2015, for an initial acquisition of six An-132s. Four of these will be transport versions, reportedly configured for search and rescue operations, while the remaining two will be specialised electronic warfare variants.

Series production will be carried out by Taqnia and KACST in Saudi Arabia. First deliveries are planned before the end of the year.


X-Plane 11 on Final

Laminar Research has announced X-Plane 11 is out of beta testing and is now a full official release.

The team said it is now working on more improvements and features for the first free update. And this month Laminar Research is on a mission to get top notch Gateway submissions for the world’s busiest airports, along with regular tips and add-ons.

The latest submissions include:

  • ZGSZ Shenzen Baoan International by artist anthony_d
  • YMML Melbourne by artist pikitanga
  • KJFK John F. Kennedy by artist Connor Russell

KJFK is already shipping with X-Plane 11, but the others will be coming in future updates.

X-Plane 11 features new aircraft, scenery, and 3-D airports.  This new version also incorporates the newest technology available in computing and graphics processing, resulting in breathtaking visual and dynamic effects.

Some of the major features include:

  • New intuitive user interface and control setup
  • Completely overhauled aircraft fleet with detailed documentation, plus multiple new aircraft
  • High-resolution exteriors and detailed 3-D cockpits for many aircraft
  • New global auto-gen scenery with both European and North American details
  • The latest road placement and global scenery from open street map are included
  • Now with over 3000 airports with 3-D buildings & airport scenery
  • Airports are now populated with dynamic, driving service vehicles and static and dynamic aircraft.
  • New rendering engine for enhanced lighting and water effects
  • Updated weather and atmospheric effects
  • Enhanced performance from the modern 64-bit engine

X-Plane 11 is available to purchase through Steam and DVDs will be coming shortly. You can also buy pro-use USB keys and digital downloads.

Maiden Flight for Boeing 787-10

Boeing flew the largest member of its Dreamliner Family, the 787-10, for the first time on March 31. The aircraft made it maiden flight from the manufacturer’s facility at Charleston, South Carolina, undertaking a four hour 58 minutes sortie.

“The 787-10’s first flight moves us one step closer to giving our customers the most efficient airplane in its class,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Kevin McAllister. “The airplane will give carriers added flexibility in growing their network routes and build on the overwhelming success of the 787 Dreamliner family.”

Boeing Test and Evaluation Captains Tim Berg and Mike Bryan conducted the first flight, testing the jet’s flight controls, systems and handling qualities. Boeing hopes to begin customer deliveries of the 787-10 in the first half of 2018.

Berg, who is also the manufacturer’s Chief 787 Pilot, said: “From take off to landing, the airplane handled beautifully and just as expected. The 787-10 is a fantastic machine that I know our customers and their passengers will love.”

Boeing has secured 149 orders for the 787-10, which is 18ft (5.5m) longer than the -9, from nine customers. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer with airframes scheduled for delivery to Air Lease Corporation, All Nippon Airways (ANA), British Airways, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, GE Capital Aviation Services, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and United Airlines too.