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.
Well, the answer was rather simple. The crew heard about the event and decided to have a look. Since the Fouga did not fit in with the event (it was buit after WW2), it was parked on the main platform of the airport and not with the event. The crew did however dress up for the occassion and perfectly blended in with the event.
Later in the afternoon I was lucky enough to move to the main platform to take pictures of the Fouga. On this occassion I also met the pilots Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk, who flew here from Lelystad Airport. Both of them are former Koninlijke Luchtmacht pilots who later made the move to various airlines as captains. After their retirement they are now using their time to support the DHJA and fly the Fouga. Fons is very well known in the Dutch aviation scene (and abroad as well), as he was the NF-5 Solo Display pilot with Twenthe Airbase based 315 Squadron during 1981/1982. These skills come in very handy when displaying the Fouga during the various airshows. Gerhard used to fly the F-104G Starfighter with 322 Squadron, based at Leeuwarden.
Both Gerhard and Fons receieved their initial jet training on the Fouga CM.170R Magister with the Belgian Air Force’s Voortgezette Vlieg Opleiding at Brustem. Here they both developed the love for this easy going whistle jet and they have been involved with the DHJA since its foundation in 1997.
The Fouga CM.170R Magister
The Fouga CM.170 Magister (and its navalised sister, the CM.175 Zephyr) was designed by Fouga’s engineersRobert Castello and Pierre Mauboisson. In 1948, development commenced at Fouga on a new primary trainer aircraft design that harnessed newly developed jet propulsion technology. The initial design was evaluated by the French Air Force (Armée de l’Air, AdA) and, in response to their determination that the aircraft lacked sufficient power for their requirements, was enlarged and adopted a pair of Turbomeca Marboré turbojet engines. First flying on 23 July 1952, the first production order for the type was received on 13 January 1954. Export orders for the Magister were received, which included arrangements to produce the type under license in Germany, Finland, and Israel. In addition, the related CM.175 Zéphyr was a carrier-capable version developed and produced for the French Navy.
While primarily operated as a trainer aircraft, the Magister was also frequently used in combat as a close air support platform by various operators. In the latter capacity, it saw action during the Six-Day War, the Salvadoran Civil War, the Western Sahara War, and the Congo Crisis. In French service, the Magister was eventually replaced by the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet. In total, 926 were built.
The Belgian Air Force operated 50 Magisters as primary trainers. The aerobatic team The Red Devils also used them as display aircraft. A small number of Magisters remained in use until September 2007, as flight maintenance aircraft for senior officers. The Belgian Air Force was the last country that used Magisters for full duty.
The Dutch Historic Jet Association currently owns two Fouga Magisters and is based at Lelystad Airport. The CM.170R with registration F-GLHF is a former French Air Force Magister with constructionnumber 406, which was delieverd to the Armée de l’Air in 1964. In 1997 the DHJA acquired this airframe and painted it in the striking red colours. The second airframe is former Belgian Air Force MT-37 (constructionnumber 312), which is not in flyable condition. This aircraft is painted in the coloursof the famour Red Devils aerobatics team.
When preparing to depart from Twente Airport in the afternoon, the jet did not want to start up, even after several attempts. Since the saying “Better safe than sorry” particularly applies to aviation, Fons and Gerhard decided to abandon the attempts and park the Fouga in Hangar 9 (a former F-16 hangar) and return at later stage with the technicians. On Friday the 15th of September the Fouga could return to Lelystad after a faulty fuel-micro-pump was replaced.
Acknowledgements: I want to thank Fons Hemmelder and Gerhard Westerdijk for their time and the really nice conversations and explanation.
During the weekend of 9 September 2017, the Keep Them Rolling association celebrated its 45th Anniversary in the region of Twente. During this weekend a WW2 Airfield was set up at Twente Airport.
Keep Them Rolling (KTR) is a Dutch association that has the objective to preserve and maintain Military vehicles that were built or used during the 2nd World War, more in particular maintaining the historical aspects and background associated with these vehicules as well as preserving and maintaining memories of events during the 2nd World War for future generations.
In order to do this, they have the following activities:
Preserve military vehicles, cars, trucks (softskinned or armoured), boats and planes.
Organise meetings and publish a Club Magazine.
Establish and upkeep contacts with Dutch and foreign associations with the same interests.
Spreading of Newsletters about the activities being held by the members of the association.
Help organise tours and processions or static shows in order to show to the general public the preserved material.
Give support to events organised by foreign associations.
Obtain facilities which might be usefull to the members.
Guide and be helpfull with renovations and work on objects restored.
Do all things possible which can be usefull to the association
Because KTR celebrated the 45th Anniversary, a special event was organized. Already 2 years ago, the organisation spoke to the owners of Twente Airport to see if there were possibilities to establish a fully operational WW2 Airfield. The airport management was enthusiastic from the start and soon the first plans were drafted. With the involvement of the Vliegclub Twente a location to create the Airfield was soon found.
During the course of 2017 the invitations were sent to the various aircraft operators and many of them agreed to participate in the event. Amongst others, DDA Classic Airlines would come an perform sightseeing flights during the weekend. Initially the Catalina PH-PBY would come as well, but unfortunately she had a landing accident some weeks before, which prevented participation.
When the 9th of September arrived, Twente woke up to a grey sky with low clouds and lots of rain. This is not the ideal scenario to fly historical aircraft and soon news came through that several participants had to cancel due to this weather. However, towards the end of the morning the meteorological conditions improved and soon the first participants, in the form of two KLu Historical Flight Harvards appeared over Twente’s runway. The aircraft were carefully marshalled onto the airfield and then pushed into the shelter area, where guests could see them up close.
Not much later the Dakota arrived from Schiphol airport, after which various sightseeing flights took place in the afternoon. Finally P-51D Mustang “Trusty Rusty” of the Early Birds Foundation arrived from Lelystad.
Throughout the day, various convoys with Keep Them Rolling vehicles visited Twente Airport, where the visitors could enjoy the whole airfield scenery, listen to live music from marching bands and singers, or just enjoy the sunshine and catch up with fellow enthusiasts. By the end of the ofternoon it was time to say goodbye, but to quote Dame Vera Lynn, maybe “We’ll meet again”?
On the 8th of July Twente Airport played host to the annual Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) Fly In.
During this event, more than 100 aircraft found their way to Twente Airport, where they could enjoy lectures, an aviation market and a nice barbecue.
The excellent weather during the day made this a very enjoyable event. Twente had not seen that many visiting aircraft, since the last Royal Netherlands Airforce (KLu) Open House in 2003. This meant that all possible help was needed and provided.
Below is an impression of some of the visiting aircraft
During the first week of July the NLR (Netherlands Aerospace Centre) used Twente Airport to perform the first tests with the XCalibur+ Jet Trainer, a certified drone, according to the ASRPAS1 standards. The jet trainer is being used to gain experience on flying jet-powered drones.
The XCalibur+ jet trainer is based on a model aircraft, where several modifications have been applied to bring the aircraft onto ASRPAS1 specifications. The drone can fly on various speeds and is remotely piloted. It was the first time that the NLR flew this drone. Four NLR employees have been specially trained in Germany in order to fly jet powered, fixed wing, drones. Furthermore, the trials are supervised by a pilot with expertise on real jets and drone jets.
The experience gained with the jet trainer is essential for future NLR big drone activities. For some time, NLR has been working on the development of a large remote controlled jet plane measuring 4 meters in length and 4 meters span and weight over 100 kg. It does this within the framework of the EU Cleansky 2 SCALAIR (SCALed AIRcraft) project, in which a flying scale model of an existing airplane is being developed, built and tested. The purpose of this scale model is to show connection between the scale behavior of the scale model and the full-scale aircraft.
NLR chooses Twente Airport because this location is unique. ‘The NLR has the Netherlands RPAS Test Center (NRTC) in Marknesse, however, for the first flights with the jet trainer and other big drones, Twente Airport is chosen because of the availability of a long hardened runway, an obstacle free environment and relatively little air traffic. In addition, Technology Base, located at Twente Airport, offers the environment where innovative entrepreneurship and a lot of space to experiment together, “said Jan Willekens of NLR. Within the Dutch Drone Platform, NLR works closely with Space53 and the other proposed Drone test locations in the Netherlands to promote Drone development and use.
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 Thursday 30 March 2017 Twente Airport was officially opened as a civilian airport. During a ceremony the authority was officially transferred from the Dutch Ministry of Defence to the Province of Overijssel.
More than 250 guests attended the ceremonies surrounding this transfer of authority, one of them was Sharon Dijksma, secretary of Infrastructure and Environment. In her speech she referrred to the pioneering powers for which the Twente region is well known. “Twente Airport will be a regional airport with regional characteristics and a national innovative agenda”.
Twente Airport will focus on 3 aspects of aviation: business and small aviation, testing and the settling of aviation related companies. This was already shown earlier with several tests that were executed at Twente Airport (see The Runway is Wet and NLR Tests at Twente Airport) and after the opening the NLR also announced that it would start testing large scale drones at Twente Airport. The settling of companies has also started with AELS. AELS is a company that specializes in the dismantling of aircraft and selling the reclaimed parts. They will use Twente Airport as a location to dismantle wide-body aircraft, such as the Airbus 340 and Boeing 747. The dismantling of aircraft like this takes approximately 2 months per airframe.
After a round-table discussion the moment came for Colonel J.P. Apon to officially transfer the authority to respresentative Eddy van Hijum. During this transfer the Koninklijke Luchtmacht said goodbye in a fitting way, two F-16’s made a fly-by over the runway that they had used for many years.
Airport Director Meiltje de Groot was hopefull for the future and commented: “The last couple of months we already received several requests to land at Twente Airport. Now we are really open for business! We already have several aircraft booked for the coming months and for example, the NLR will use Twente Airport to test their X-calibur drone.”
Earlier on the day several aircraft had already landed at Twente Airport to take part in the official opening. A special visit was made by a CH-47D Chinook from the Koninklijke Luchtmacht, it gave a small performance show for the spectators that had gathered on the Spotters Hill.
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).
The Netherlands Aerospace Centre (NLR) has chosen Twente Airport as the location of several tests with it’s airplane, a Cessna Citation businessjet.
On the 13th of September brake tests were held, whereby the runway was artificially soaked. The tests will continue on 15 and 16 September, but now brake tests will be performed in a water basin, which will be purposely built on a section of the runway. The NLR was looking for a location where some special tests could be executed; plenty of space and a runway with a special coating were required.
The top layer, Antiskid from the Possehl company, increases security when landing on a wet runway. These tests are held to measure exactly what the friction of the runway is in rainy conditions. The runway will be soaked with the use of six large tanker trailers that will spray a large amount of water on the runway. The testplane will then land shortly after.
On 15 and 16 September another set of braking tests were performed but now in a so-called waterbasin, that will be constructed on a part of the runway.
The amount of water in this basin represents the amount of water that can accumulate on the runway during a heavy downpour. The purpose of these tests is to see how the aircraft brakes perform in these extreme conditions. The knowledge that is gained will be used to adapt rules and regulations, which will then in turn increase flight safety. The tests on 15 and 16 September were performed in the light of a European study to increase flight safety.