On Friday 19 January 2018 Air France’s Airbus 340-311 F-GLZI made its last flight to Twente Airport, to be dismantled by AELS.
Long-time Airbus customer Air France is gradually replacing the Airbus 340 with the newer, more cost-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner. As a result, the Airbus 340 fleet is slowly phased out. Twente based aircraft dismantling company AELS was able to acquire two airframes, of which the first one was transferred on 19 January.
Airbus 340-311, the 84th A.340 built made its first flight on July 12th 1995 and has since flown with Air France for 22 years. Recently it made the last commercial flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle.
On 19 January 2018 the aircraft was initially expected to arrive at Twente Airport around 11 o’ clock in the morning. This was however postponed to 14.30 due to the weather along the route.
The flight was later postponed further due to availability of tugs at the departure airport and availability of Air Traffic Control slots. Finnaly the arrival time was changed to 16.00 local.
Shortly before 3pm the engines were started and take-off of flight AF370V could be witnessed on Flightradar. The flight then went north and entered Dutch airspace just west of Bergen op Zoom. Above Dordrecht the aircraft turned north-east in the direction of Twente, where it landed at 15.45.
The aircraft was then parked at the Runway 05, where the engines were stopped for the last time. The F-GLZI was then handed over to the new owner, who will slowly reduce it to small pieces.
On Monday 22 January 2018 sister ship F-GLZR will make the same journey.
On the 27th of April 2017 AELS welcomed the first aircraft for disassembly at Twente Airport. On this date former Swiss Airlines A.340-600 HB-JMK arrived from Zürich. Many spectators were present at the Spotters Hill to witness this event.
At 10.36h, the A.340 made it’s last-ever landing at Twente. This was a unique moment for Twente Airport as well, since it was the largest aircraft to ever land here.
The Airbus with line number 169 is a 20 year old airframe, which made the last commercial flight from Johannesburg to Zurich on 24 April 2017. It started commercial service with Austrian Airlines and was later transferred to Swiss Airlines.
This is the first disassembly project that AELS carries out at Twente Airport. AELS has created a technical team that mostly consists of people from the region around Twente Airport. This team will carry out the disassembly of the aircraft.
Twente Airport has several good characteristics to dismantle a wide-body aircraft, which are beneficial for AELS. These are amongst others, a 2400m runway, sufficient platform and hangar space and the flexibility to host these types of aircraft.
It will take approximately 3 months to disassemble a complete Airbus. First the engines will be removed, after which all the useable parts will be parted out. Finally, the remains of the aircraft will be scrapped and recycled.
Since 2006, AELS has dismantled 50 aircraft, but this A.340-600 is the first wide-body aircraft. It is a large aircraft: approximately 64 meters in length, a wingspan of 60 meters and a height of 16 meters.
On 21 and 22 March 2017 Twente Airport hosted an Airbus A.400M to perform wet runway tests together with the Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR). Niek van der Zande Photography was there to witness these tests.
The fact that Airbus would send an A.400M to Twente only became known to the outside world on Monday 20 March, when a NOTAM (NOtice To AirMen) was issued and the Grizzly was airborne out of the facty airport in Sevilla, Spain. Twente Airport already knew of these plans for a long time, but was not allowed to mention anything before.
Upon arrival in Twente, the crew first circled the airfield for a considerable time, as the crew was not yet sure whether the meteorological conditions were good enough for them to land. There are no ILS facilities in Twente, which means that conditions need to be good enough for a visual approach. Luckily, Twente Airport has its own meteo station on site, so the most accurate information could be passed on to the crew, after which they considered it safe to land.
The reason behind this unique visit is that Twente Airport has the facilities to perform wet runway tests, something that cannot be performed just anywhere. Twente has the unique situation that it has a long runway with the right surface. Next to that, the runway is prepared to create a water basin through which the aircraft can perform high speed taxi runs. In 2016 the first tests were already performed with a NLR Citation ( see: NLR tests at Twente Airport ), these tests were now performed on a larger scale. For this a set of grooves of 1cm wide and 3cm deep were cut into the runway. In these grooves large rubber slats were inserted so that a basin was created. This basin could be filled up with up to 3 centimeters of water, which resembles a heavy downpour of rain during a storm.
The A.400M then taxied through the water basin in order to measure the brake performance under various circumstances. IN order to get a clear picture, a total of 16 runs were executed, all at different speeds and with different braking profiles. The maximum speed at which the runs were performed was 110 knots, which guaranteed a big splash of water around the aircraft.
The tests themselves were initiated by the European Commission, in order get further information on aircraft performance under extreme conditions. These results will be used to further expand regulations and certifications and thus enhance the safety in aviation.
After this succesful series of tests, the A.400M left for Sevilla on Thursday 23 March. Twente Airport hopes to see more of these tests in the future, they are now talking to the Chinese manufacturer COMAC in order to see if tests with the COMAC C919 can be held at Twente Airport. This will get easier when ownership transfers from de Dutch Ministry of Defence to the Province of Overijssel on the 30th of March 2017. From then on the restrictions on the usage of the airfield will be lifted and visiting aircraft can be accepted at a 24 hours advance notice (24Hr PPR). This 24Hr PPR was introduced since the airport does not have a fixed staffing of Air Traffic Control, Fire Brigade etc. These will be hired on a need-be basis.
In order to facilitate operations outside of daylight hours, a GPS appraoch system will be introduced in the fall of 2017. This means that pilots can fly to and from the airport under Instrument Flying Rules (IFR).
Recently I had the opportunity to scan some of the slides that I took at Twenthe Airbase in the nineties and the beginning of the new Milennium. Looking at those pictures brings back nice memories, so why not share those pictures as well.
1996 Open House
The Open House usually brought many nice visitors to Twenthe and 1996 was no exception.
2003 Open House
The 2003 Open House was a great success, but it was also the last Open House for Twenthe Airbase. The day after the show, Defence Minister Kamp announced that Twenthe would be closed because of budget cuts.
Over the course of the years, Twenthe was visited by many aircraft. Some were spectacular and unique, some a bit less.
One of the things F-16 pilots had to practice was flying by night. This video shows some take-offs in the beginning of the evening, during the final months of Twenthe’s active period.
During the week of 15 to 21 june 2015, the 51st edition of the Paris Air Show (Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace)was held at Le Bourget airport. This Air Show takes place every 2 years and counts as one of the largest trade shows for the aviation industry. Also this year, the show was visited by over 150,000 professional visitors as well as more than 3,000 journalists from over 80 countries.
This year’s edition of the Paris Air Show showed 1,017 order commitments and 206 options, which leads to a total of 1,223 orders. Of these orders, 531 went to Airbus and 350 to Boeing.
Traditionally the Paris Air Show is the home show for Airbus, as well as companies from the French defence industry like Dassault, Thales and MDBA. After this year’s merger with Eurocopter, the Airbus booth was the largest booth on the grounds and showed a wide spectrum of aircraft, ranging from the electrically powered E-Fan, through the Caracal helicopter, up to the enormous A.380 airliner. The booth also featured a full-scale mock-up of the new H160 helicopter. The H160 made it’s first flight from Marseille in the week prior to the Paris Air Show. Airbus also showed it’s goods in full force during the flying display. After the may 2015’s fatal crash in Seville and it’s subsequent grounding, the A.400M was back in action, showing an impressive flying display.
Due to the sequestration, the United Stated Department of Defence had to miss out on the 2013 edition of the Paris Air Show, but this year they returned in full force, showing aircraft such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the P-8 Poseidon on the static display.
An interesting newcomer was the Chengdu/PAC JF-17 fighter aircraft from Pakistan. This fighter aircraft was developed jointly by China and Pakistan. Pakistan produces 58% of the aircraft, China produces 42% and the aircraft is powered by a Klimov RD-93 engine. There are plans though to equip the next version of the JF-17 with a different engine, as the RD-93 (developed from the MiG-29’s RD-33) produces too much smoke. For this year’s Paris Air Show, the Pakistan Air Force brought 3 aircraft. One featured in the static show, while the other was shown during the flying display. The 3rd JF-17 featured as a backup aircraft. At the end of the show, Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood of the Pakistan Air Force announced that the first export-order was signed with an undisclosed Asian country.
Even though Airbus dominated the show, Boeing also made sure it’s presence was noted. In the weeks before the Air Show a video was already loaded onto YouTube, showing the complete display that the Boeing 787-9 would fly in Le Bourget. This display featured a near-vertical take-off and the audience was not left disappointed.
A new player in the market for small airliners is Bombardier. In Paris the Canadian company showed it’s new C-series with the CS100 and the CS300. With these aircraft Bombardier focuses on the market that is currently served by aircraft such as the Airbus 320 and the Boeing 737.
On the Ground
Le Bourget always has many gems in the static display, some hidden away behind flagpoles, tents and banners. Below is an impression of what could be found on the ground.
Up in the Air
Next to a huge showground for the static display, Le Bourget would not be complete without a flying display. Here are some pictures from this years show.
Patrouille de France
No Air Show is complete without a show from the famous Patrouille de France. The same obviously goes for Le Bourget.
The next Paris Air Show will be in June 2017. Let’s see what that edition will bring.