In the weekend of 9 February 2019, an extraordinary transport took place next to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. During this weekend, a Boeing 747 was transported from the airport to the nearby Corendon Hotel.
This whole story started a bit like a joke. When KLM announced the gradual retirement of their Boeing 747s, Corendon founder Atilay Uslu thought that it would be a nice idea to buy one of these 747s, paint it in Corendon colours and park it next to the Corendon hotel in Badhoevedorp.
In October 2018 it was announced that Corendon would buy the Boeing 747-400 -BFB “City of Bangkok”. On the 26th of November, this 747 returned from her last commercial flight to Los Angeles.
On the 10th of December, the Boeing was flown to Rome, where it was painted in the colours of Corendon Airlines, she returned to Amsterdam on the 14th of December, which was also the last flight of the PH-BFB. After this final landing, AELS removed the engines and other valuable items like the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), brakes, fuel pumps and air conditioning.
On the 5th of February 2019 the whole move, that would take a week and which was executed by Mammoet, started. In order to move the Boeing, it was loaded onto a massive, remote controlled, flatbed trailer. The trailerhas 192 individually controllable wheels, that evenly distributed the 160 tons weight of the 747 and the 200 tons weight of the trailer.
The first leg of the move was still at Schiphol Airport, where it covered an 8 kilometer stretch from Schiphol-East towards the Zwanenburg runway. At this point the City of Bangkok left the airport and continued her journey across the meadows towards the hotel.
In order to avoid sinking into the soggy ground, 21000 steel road plates were laid out in order to create an artificial road for the transport. Next to that, 17 ditches had to be crossed, for which temporary bridges were constructed.
The most impressive part of the whole operation took place in the night of 9 February, when the whole transport had to cross the A9 Motorway. In order to do this, the whole A9 was closed for several hours. At that point, first a couple of lamp posts had to be removed, as well as the guardrail in the central reservation.
Then, the transport could slowly creep up to the motorway. Before it entered the tarmac of the motorway however, all 192 wheels of the trailer had to be cleaned, as the authorities did not want to have any mud on the road.
Once the motorway and the adjacent ditch were crossed, the 747 transport could continue through the meadows towards the hotel.
Finally, on the 11th of February, the last stretch was covered. At the hotel, the Boeing 747 had to make 57 turns, in order to rotate it 90 degrees and park it at the final position.
Over there an aviobridge will connect the hotel with the Boeing, which wil serve as an experience center, where visitors can walk on the wings and can experience a 5D flight inside. It will also serve as a visitors centre, where the history of the “City of Bangkok” will be told.
The month of January 2018 was a very busy month for Twente Airport, both within and outside of the fences. The reason for this was the arrival of no less than 3 heavy widebodies in one week. All three aircraft made their final flight to Twente Airport, where dismantling would follow by AELS.
Many people know the large aircraft boneyards like Mojave and AMARG, but AELS chose a different approach when it comes to aircraft dismantling. Costs can be saved by chosing to dismantle aircraft in the region where they come from, which already reduces the amount of fuel that is required to transfer the aircraft on the final flight.
What is AELS
AELS is an aircraft disassembly and dismantling company that provides full scale solutions for aircraft that have reached their (economical) end of life. The services of AELS can be split up in 3 segments, where they often come together in one project:
Aircraft disassembly and dismantling
Recycling of aircraft parts
The fact that AELS is a relatively small company means that they can quickly adapt and react to the customers’ needs.
History of AELS
The history of AELS starts with its founder, Derk-Jan van Heerden, a couple of years before the establishment of the company in April 2006. In that period Mr van Heerden asked himself what was happening with aircraft that had stopped flying and he decided to find out more on this subject. This proces lead to him graduating on this subject after which he began to create a business plan for AELS. After a short period with KLM Engineering & Maintenance, where he was responsible for the dismantling of a Boeing 747, AELS was founded by Mr van Heerden in 2006.
Nowadays the AELS team assists aircraft owners all over the world in the dismantling of their aircraft. AELS facilitates the complete process, from the arrival of the airplane to the sale of the last piece of aluminium. During the short existence of the company, more than 40 aircraft have already been processed in a sustainable manner, where the goal is to reuse all components.
Initially the disassembly activities were based at Woensdrecht, in the south of the Netherlands. The downside of this location was however, that wide-body aircraft could not be processed there, due to the lack of space. Therefore it was decided to move the company’s activities to Twente Airport, where the first airframe – a Swiss Airbus 340 – arrived on 27 April 2017. AELS then made clear that they had larger plans and were looking to acquire more airframes.
Three Widebodies in one week
By the end of December 2017, messages started seeping in that , after the arrival of the first KLM Boeing 747, more was to be expected at Twente Airport in January. Almost everybody believed that this would be the 2nd KLM Boeing 747, the PH-BFF. For many it came as a surprise that next to this Boeing, also 2 Air France Airbus 340s were scheduled to arrive at Twente.
A disadvantage of January is that normally the weather is not all that good, grey skies, low clouds, snow and rain dominate the winter period in the Netherlands. These weather conditions can cause issues at Twente Airport, as it is a VFR (Visual Flying Rules) only airfield. VFR dictates that there has to be a minimum cloud base of 1500ft and a visibility of 5 kilometers. Because of these reasons the flights were several times postponed to different dates and on the day itself the arrival time was also changed several times.
The first aircraft that was scheduled for arrival was Air France’s A.340-311 F-GLZI, which was due to arrive on the 19th of January. This aircraft was ferried from Paris – Charles de Gaulle to Twente Airport, a flight of approximately an hour. Due to a combination of strong winds and low ceiling, the flight was postponed several times on this day, after which the Airbus finally arrived at quarter to four. At that time, there was no longer a tow truck driver available, so that the aircraft was parked at Twente’s Runway 05 end. This was something that was appreciated by many aviation enthusiasts, but less by the members of the flying club. They could not use the 3km runway that weekend.
Next up was Air France Airbus 340 F-GLZR on the 22nd of January. On this day the crew was prepared early on the day to make the short flight form Paris to The Netherlands. However, because the flight was a non-commercial flight, they had to join the back of the queue at CDG to obtain a slot or get a towing truck for pushback. When finally F-GLZR’s symbol lit up on the Flightradar app, a sigh of relief went through everybody on or around Twente Airport.
Finally, on the 25th of January the last flight of KLM’s Boeing 747 PH-BFF “City of Freetown” was scheduled to take place from Amsterdam to Twente. This flight had received quite some publicity through the regional media channels, so the spotters hill at Twente was filled with spectators early that day already. This was the shortest flight of this week, but later it proved to be the most difficult one as well. All day long, the cloud base above Twente was to low, so that the flight could not take place at that point. Throughout the day, the AELS and Twente Airport staff were in contact with the flightcrew, who were already aboard the aircraft since 10 in the morning. Finally, by the end of the afternoon, the clouds broke and the ceiling was high enough.
When this became clear, the puzzling and brainstorming started. The Boeing had to arrive before the Universal Daylight Period (UDP) expired, as Twente is a VFR only airport. On the 25th of January this UDP ended at 17.30 local time. An extra problem was that prior to the arrival of the PH-BFF, two bizzjets were scheduled to arrive and depart. These aircraft had already departed their airport of origin, so cancelling them was no longer possible. These jets also had to leave Twente before the Boeing’s arrival, as otherwise they would be stuck at Twente (the runway would be blocked with a large piece of blue metal).
All in all this was a big puzzle, but in the end the last flight of the PH-BFF could take place. At 17.30 precisely, with the last bit of daylight, the wheels of the 747 were pushed against the tarmac for the very last time. After this, the City of Freetown was towed through the darkness towards the AELS platform. Before this could take place, first an A340 had to be repositioned, so that the Boeing could be parked next to Hangar 8. Once parked over there, the crew could finally exit the aircraft after a very long day. Flights to New York usually take them less time than this short hop.
After this flight, things got “quiet” at AELS. They now own 4 widebodies, of which two are parked at the former Runway 11 and two next to the AELS hangar. Only once these aircraft have been dismantled will there be space for new acquisitions. Who know what will be the next arrival….
Night photography is one of the more difficult things to do. The primary reason is the lack of light, something essential to photography. In order to get decent pictures you need a lot of practice, patience and a tripod will come in handy as well.
Modern DSLR cameras can easily go up to ISO One Zillion without loss of quality, but back in the old days, when you used slide film, a very long shutter time was needed and then still it was a big guess on what the result would be.
As said, modern cameras make it a lot easier, but you still have to know what you are doing. Next to that, quite some correction is required afterwards, as artificial lights have a nasty yellow glance.
This article shows various nightshots throughout the years.
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.