On the 16th of June 2021 an exotic bird landed at Twente Airport after a long flight; this day saw the arrival of a Cathay Dragon Airbus 320 that will be dismantled over here.
Around 15.30 local time Airbus A.320-200 B-HSI (bearing callsign BHSI) made her final landing at Twente Airport after a 6 and a half hours flight from Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai. Al Maktoum was one of the stops used for refuelling and crew rest, as the aircraft was not able to travel the distance from Hong Kong at once. Therefore stops were made in Bangkok and Dubai.
This particular airframe with Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 930 was built by Airbus in Toulouse 22.7 years ago and made her test flights with registration F-WWIE. After that she was delivered to Dragonair in 1999 and flew in a configuration with 8 business class seats and and 156 economy seats.
In 2006, Dragonair was aquired by Cathay Pacific, its main (and only) competitor in Hong Kong. In 2016 it was announced that Dragonair would be renamed into Cathay Dragon, including a new livery that resembled that of Cathay Pacific. However, this particular airframe escaped that fate and still wore the Dragonair colours on her final flight.
Before repainting was possible, the world was struck by the COVID-19 pandemic and air travel collapsed. Because of this, B-HSI was withdrawn from use and as of August 2020 she was stored at Alice Springs in Australia, together with numerous other aircraft from various airlines.
After the decision was taken that B-HSI would be phased out, she was ferried to Twente Airport, where AELS will dismantle and reuse the various components of the airframe. The day after het arrival all markings referring to Dragonair were removed already.
Hospital Medisch Spectrum Twente (MST) operates as part of the Trauma Centre a heliport for handling Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) flights. In addition, ambulance flights and flights for the transportation of human organs are allowed to be carried out on this heliport. This heliport is the gateway to the Medisch Spectrum Twente when every second counts.
In the Twente region, MST is the only hospital with a heliport. The choice for MST was logical, on the one hand because the hospital is one of the eleven trauma centres in the Netherlands and on the other because of its central location in the east of the country and close to Germany. Some 90 per cent of the trauma helicopters that land at MST come from Germany. On average, the heliport receives about 120 helicopters per year.
Previously the heliport was located next to the hospital. At this location the iconic Bundeswehr UH-1D “Huey” helicopters from the SAR76 station in Rheine were a common sight. When the hospital was renovated, the heliport was relocated to the current location on top of the building. In this way an approach path free of obstacles was possible.
A trauma helicopter is deployed at the request of the emergency services after a serious accident. Often in traffic, but also, for example, after an incident in or around the house. In many cases, the helicopter flies in to get a specialised doctor to the accident site quickly. Patients or wounded are only transported by helicopter if they are stable, so sometimes a helicopter returns ’empty’ to the hospital to pick up only the medical staff.
The Netherlands has four so-called lifeliners, which are deployed in the north, south and west. Twente and the Achterhoek are mainly covered by the Christoph Europa 2 from Rheine, backed up by the Christoph Westfalen from Münster and the Christoph 8 from Lünen.
The majority of the patients that are transferred to the Medisch Spectrum Twente by helicopter originate from incidents in the Twente region and the neighbouring area in Germany. Most of the time this is done with the Christoph Europa 2, an EC.135 of ADAC Luftrettung based in Rheine. This type of helicopter weighs about 3000 kilos, can carry 4 seated persons (including the pilot) and 1 patient on a stretcher. This mini hospital can fly at a maximum speed of 260 km/h. After arriving at the helideck, the patinet can quickly be transferred to the emergency room to receive the treatment needed.
If something happens somewhere, the pilot and doctor together decide where to fly to. The pilot knows what distance can be flown, the doctor knows where the patient in question can receive the best care. It is noticed that more and more people are transferred to Enschede.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, helicopters were also used to transfer patients from one hospital to another. In the Netherlands the Lifeliner 5 was pressed into service (see more in this article) and visited Enschede several times as well.
Christoph Europa 2
The air rescue centre in Rheine has existed since 1982. Initially operated by the German Armed Forces with a Bell UH-1D SAR helicopter under the designation SAR 76, ADAC Luftrettung took over the station in 1998. Because of its proximity to the Dutch border, the “yellow angel” was given the call sign “Christoph Europa 2”. It is the second rescue helicopter to be given the name “Europa”. It is meant to make clear that helicopters in border areas do not stop at national borders and also care for patients in neighbouring countries.
The Mobile Medical Team (MMT) has Airbus helicopters at its disposal. The EC-135 (H135) from Airbus is used as a trauma helicopter, also called Lifeliner. The helicopter is mainly used when the doctor and the nurse of the MMT must be at the scene as soon as possible. A trauma doctor can perform certain actions and interventions that an ambulance nurse is not allowed to do. Life-saving activities can therefore already be started outside the hospital. The heli-MMT is usually deployed in case of serious accidents where quick start of medical treatment is important.
As of the 24th of March 2020 the fifth Mobile Medical Team (MMT) took to the air with an additional trauma helicopter to quickly transport intensive care patients. This helicopter was deployable throughout the Netherlands. In view of the growth in the number of patients infected with the coronavirus, it has been decided to use this helicopter in addition to the existing MMT service to get patients to the right hospital even faster and thus relieve the burden on road transport. The helicopter (type H145) was made available by the ANWB Medical Air Assistance (MAA) and has been fully equipped by Radboudumc for the transport of intensive care patients.
Besides the obvious subjects, the heliport every now and then also receives visitors that are not so often seen in the Twente region. Below are some examples.
In March 2013 the area around the former Twenthe Airbase was the scene of a large exercise called Cerberus Guard where airmobile forces had the objective to capture the airfield. This article is a throwback to the exercise.
After capturing the airfield, an operating base was established from where the forward bases in Losser and Oldenzaal were supported. From these bases several actions took place, ammongst others in the FC Twente Stadium.
But first during Exercise Cerberus Guard Twenthe airfield had to be captured. The night before, already some pathfinders were dropped close to the airfield. Then on Wednesday 20 March troops of 11 Airmobile Brigade were transported by Cougars and Chinooks of the Defense Helicopter Command to capture the airfield.
Troops were dropped close to the runway and fought their way towards the control tower, where the “enemy” occupied several buildings. The goal was to clear this area and to establish control of the airfield.
After access to the airfield was secured, the Pathfinders took control of the runway, so that they could guide Hercules aircraft to the airfield. These aircraft would fly daily replenishment missions from Eindhoven Airbase to Twenthe, in order to supply the troops with all things they required for their mission. This ranged from food to ammunition.
This also proved to be a valuable training for the Hercules crew, as being able to perform tactical operations in the Netherlands is quite rare.
In August 2020 a truly unique exercise took place in Germany: Exercise Blue Wings 2020. This exercise marked the first time that aircraft from the German Luftwaffe and Israeli Air Force (IAF) operated jointly in German skies.
After the Luftwaffe had already taken part twice in Exercise Blue Flag, which took place at IAFs Ovda airbase, it was now time to return the honour. On the 17th of August, a detachment of 180 men and women from several IAF units started the exercise at Nörvenich Air Base, just south of Cologne. Nörvenich is the home of Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 31 “Boelcke”, flying the Eurofighter.
The first week of the exercise primarily consisted of getting to know the airspace in preparation for the “MAG (Multinational Air Group) Days” exercise – an international event that takes place four times a year.
On Tuesday the 18th of August, a mixed formation of German and Israeli aircraft perfromed a fly-by over the sites of Dachau Concentration Camp, in memory of the Holocaust victims, and Fürstenfeldbrück Air Base, in memory of 11 Israeli Olympic delegation members that were murdered in the 1972 Olympics terrorist attack.
As part of the exercise, six “Barak” (F-16C/D) fighter jets, two “Re’em” (Boeing 707) aircraft, a “Nachshon-Eitam” (Gulfstream G-550) and a “Nachshon-Shavit” (Gulfstream G-V) aircraft landed at the Nörvenich Air Base. The Baraks were flown by members of 101 and 105 Squadrons, both based at Hatzor. The Re’ems were operated by 120 Squadron (nicknamed Giants), normally based at Nevatim. The two Nachshons were both flown by 122 Squadron, also based at Nevatim.
101 Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, also known as the First Fighter Squadron, is Israel’s first fighter squadron, formed on May 20, 1948, six days after Israel declared its independence. Initially flying the Avia S-199, it has since operated the Supermarine Spitfire, North American Mustang, Dassault Mystere IV, Dassault Mirage IIICJ, IAI Nesher and IAI Kfir. It currently operates out of Hatzor Airbase, flying the F-16C Fighting Falcon.
The 105 Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, also known as The Scorpion, was founded in December 1950 as a Spitfire squadron and has since operated the P-51 Mustang, Dassault Super Mystere, IAI Sa’ar, and F-4 Phantom II. It currently operates F-16Ds at Hatzor Airbase.
The 120 Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, also known as the Desert Giants (former International Squadron), is a Boeing 707 Phalcon and KC-707 Re’em squadron based at Nevatim Airbase. Eventually the KC-707s will be replaced with newly ordered KC-46s.
The 122 Squadron of the Israeli Air Force, also known as the Nahshon Squadron (former Dakota Squadron), is a G550 squadron based at Nevatim Airbase. The Squadron has five G550 (G550 “Nachshon-Eitam” and G-V (“Nachshon-Shavit”) with two aircraft are used for Airborne early warning and control (CAEW or Conformal Airborne Early Warning, IAI EL/W-2085) and three are used for Signals intelligence (SEMA or Special Electronic Missions Aircraft).
TLG 31 “Boelcke”
The Tactical Air Force Wing 31 “Boelcke” is one of four Eurofighter squadrons. With the fighter jet, the squadron makes its contribution to alliance and national defense. This mission includes ensuring air combat capability and establishing the Eurofighter’s air-to-ground capability for the Air Force. The squadron develops procedures and training principles for pilots and technicians for all German Eurofighter associations in order to establish the air-to-ground capability of the fighter jet.
In August 2020 some work needed to be done in the depots of the Dutch Nationaal Militair Museum. Because of this, several sleeping beauties (otherwise not visible to the public) were parked outside in the morning sun on the platform of the former Soesterberg Airbase.
The National Military Museum is situated on the former air base at Soesterberg. It combines the collections of the former Military Aviation Museum in Soesterberg and Army Museum in Delft. There are numerous pieces on display, including tanks, planes, armoured vehicles and helicopters.
Considering the fact that a heatwave was taking place, as well as that we were in the middle of school holidays, the choice was made to visit the site in the early morning.
At 7.30 in the morning the August summer sun provides a beautiful low light, which emphasizes the beautiful lines and pristine conditions of these aircraft. Some are so well preserved that you could almost fire them up and fly away.
These aircraft were all moved back inside once the maintenance work in the depot was finished. When will we see them aiagin? Hopefully very soon….
Do you want to know more about the NMM and the former Soesterberg Airbase? Then visit the WEBSITE of the NMM.
Because of ongoing cost reductions, Lufthansa has decided to put 6 Boeing 747-430s in long term storage at Twente Airport. In order to facililtate this, several dedicated aircraft parking platforms have been created next to the main platform.
The third Lufthansa 747 to arrive was D-ABTK, which is 18.5 years old. It was initially withdrawn from use at Frankfurt in March 2020. After some rescheduling, it was then ferried to Twente on the 29th of June.
Upon arrival, D-ABTK was initially parked at the former Runway 11 platform. Later that week she was moved to the newly created parkingspots.
On the 6th of June two Lufthansa Boeing 747-400s arrived at Twente Airport for long-term storage. More aircraft will follow in the near future.
Airplane enthusiast faced an early start on Saturday 6 June for the arrival of two Lufthansa Boeing 747-400s that will be stored at Twente Airport. Initial rumours on the ever-reliable internet mentioned that these aircraft would be dismantled with AELS, but AELS was quick to mention that this was not the case.
These two aircraft are the first of in total six Boeing 747s that will be stored at Twente Airport for Lufthansa. Whilst parked here, the Cranes (nickname for Lufthansa aircraft) will be maintained by Lufthansa Technik, so that they can be restored into airworthy condition at any given time.
Due to the loss in demand and the many travel restrictions, Lufthansa has to keep a large part of the fleet grounded. Initially this was done at their hubs like Frankfurt, Munich and Hamburg. However, these airports are now slowly starting up their operations again, which means that some of the parking space over there is needed for other purposes.
Because of this, Lufthansa came to an agreement with Twente Airport for the storage of 6 aircraft. Since Twente has a runway that is wide and long enough (almost 3000m), it is able to handle large aircraft like the Boeing 747.
Earlier this year, two factory fresh Airbus 220s were already parked at Twente Airport whilst the lease company was looking for a new customer.
The first aircraft to arrive on 6 June was D-ABVO named Mülheim a.d. Ruhr, which landed shortly before 8 am. This 747 arrived directly from Beijing, where it was ferried earlier this year for a C-Check. However, because of the Covid-19 crisis, this check was postponed and the aircraft was flown to Twente. The crew was not that confident that this particular airframe would fly again, as it is already more than 23 years old and the demand for large aircraft is less.
Two hours later her younger sister D-ABTL arrived from Frankfurt, which was with a flighttime of 45 minutes a lot shorter. After arrival, she was directly parked at the former runway 11, where Lufthansa Technik will prepare her for the long term storage.
After parking, there was a quick moment for a group picture, after which both crews flew back to Frankfurt in a Piper 34. That’s also one of the perks of storing aircraft close to home; you can fly back with a small aircraft.
At this moment, it is not yet known when the other 4 Boeings will arrive. In order to park them, first the new parking positions that are currently under construction at Twente Airport need to be ready.
PlaneMania made a very nice video report about the arrival of D-ABTL at Twente Airport, you can find it below.
After a period of almost 2 months, Lifeliner 5 made the last operational flight on 20 May 2020. This flight between Hamburg and Venlo ended an intense period during the COVID-19 crisis.
As of the 24th of March the fifth Mobile Medical Team (MMT) took to the air with an additional trauma helicopter to quickly transport intensive care patients. This helicopter was deployable throughout the Netherlands.
In view of the growth in the number of patients infected with the coronavirus, it has been decided to use this helicopter in addition to the existing MMT service to get patients to the right hospital even faster and thus relieve the burden on road transport.
The helicopter (type H145) was made available by the ANWB Medical Air Assistance (MAA) and has been fully equipped by Radboudumc for the transport of intensive care patients. The team flew in protective gear to avoid getting infected. The helicopter was completely disinfected after each transport.
The helicopter, which is normally in use as an ambulance helicopter to serve the Wadden Islands, was temporarily based at Volkel Airbase and available from 7 in the morning till 7 in the evening. Between the 6th of April and the 2nd of May the second “Waddenheli” was also put in use as an MMT Helicopter, this Lifeliner 6 was based at Groningen Eelde Airport. During this period a NH90 of the Royal Netherlands Airforce was on stand-by to carry out ambulance duties for the Wadden Islands.
The helicopter crew consists of a pilot, a specialized MMT nurse and an anesthetist-MMT doctor. This helicopter is larger than the regular helicopter used by MMTs and offers more space to transport a patient and to provide proper care.
Lifeliner 5 transported the last COVID-19 intensive care patient on Wednesday, May 20. Due to the decreasing number of corona patients, long-distance interregional intensive care transport is no longer necessary. IC patients can also be transported by road over a short distance from 22 May.
Lifeliner 5 was made available by ANWB Medical Air Assistance at the time of increasing demand for MICU transport, and was fully equipped by the ANWB together with Radboudumc for the transport of intensive care patients with the COVID-19 virus. The medical crew consisted of members of the regular MMT of the Radboudumc. Lifeliner 5 transported 66 corona patients and 2 non-COVID intensive care patients from the Volkel site. Most of the patients came from hospitals in the south of the country and were brought to the north of the Netherlands and to Germany, and vice versa.
The Lifeliner 5 last flew with a corona patient from Hamburg to Venlo on Wednesday 20 May. This patient had spent six weeks in Germany – without a visit – at the ICU and was allowed to return to Venlo that day. Lifeliner 5 returned to its regular location in Lelystad on Friday 22 May, where it will be used as a backup ambulance helicopter for flights between the Wadden Islands and the mainland.