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Qantas aircraft dedicated

After a memorable maiden voyage from the United States, Qantas’ majestic new indigenous art aircraft finally arrived in Broome last week, showcasing a livery design inspired by the work of late East Kimberley indigenous artist Paddy Bedford.

The Boeing 737-800, named Mendoowoorrji, is the fourth aircraft in Qantas’ flying art series, in partnership with Australian designers Balarinji. 

See below for a video of Mendoowoorrji inflight.

Its striking artwork is an interpretation of the 2005 painting Medicine Pocket, which captures the essence of Mendoowoorrji, Mr Bedford’s mother’s country in the East Kimberley.

The aircraft was officially presented in Seattle earlier this month, before making its way back to Australia.

More than a hundred spectators packed out Broome International Airport to witness the arrival of the splendid aircraft, and erupted in cheers and applause as Mendoowoorrji glided into town around Wednesday lunchtime.

Special guests included Broome woman Kathy Watson, the daughter of Mr Bedford, Balarinji Studio creative director Ros Moriarty, Yawuru leaders, Gija elders from the East Kimberley and other community members.

Ms Watson said the special tribute to her father was very poignant.

“It’s very emotional and I’m proud to share it with the Australian, West Australian and the Kimberley people for promoting Aboriginal art.”

Ms Watson’s niece Maxine Charlie conducted a special welcome to country.

Ms Charlie said the project heralded a significant moment for indigenous artists throughout the country.

“It’s an honour to be part of this event,” she said.

“For us, every artist around Australia, this artwork is on the page so that if you dream big, the sky’s your limit.”

Ceremonial dancers performed in front of the aircraft as crowds lined up at the exit gates to enjoy the presentation.

A special blessing of the aircraft was conducted by Father Matt Digges of the Broome Catholic Diocese.

Qantas’ latest project took 18 months to complete in collaboration with Balarinji, the Bedford Trust and the National Gallery of Australia to ensure design of the livery reflected the original painting.

Qantas Head of Community Laura Berry said it was a special moment to bring the aircraft home ot where it all began.

“Qantas is proud to feature indigenous art throughout its fleet and we are very pleased to offer this piece of art to the Gija people of Western Australia.”

Ms Berry said the project had been ambitious and ground-breaking.

“This paintwork was particularly unusual because there are specific brush strokes within the shading on the sides of the aircraft and those techniques have never been tried before so the painters broke new ground in that respect by employing techniques that had never been employed before.”

Balarinji Studio creative director Ros Moriarty said it was an “emotional” day to bring the aircraft home.

“From Balarinji and the designers’ point of view, we are very gratefully that we were entrusted with the job of translating this old man’s magnificent artwork to this aircraft,” she said.

“A lot of paint, a lot of dots, a lot of time to translate, but we’re here to celebrate this old man’s work, he is a luminary in the art world.”

Qantas and Balarinji Design Studio have worked together for more than 20 years on aircraft livery projects and design work. Balarinji designed the first indigenous livery Wunala Dreaming on a B747 aircraft in 1994.

Paddy Bedford was born on Bedford Downs Station and worked as a stockman for most of his life. He began painting in his 70s and was a founder of the Warmun art movement and was credited for inspiring a generation of indigenous artists.

Missed approaches

PerthAirport is experiencing a higher than usual go-around rate due to the very strong easterly winds and the closure for repairs of the cross runway.

According to air traffic controllers the missed approach or go-around rate for Perth, which is the highest of any capital city, has increased significantly because of the runway closure for repairs.

The airport was forced to close runway 06/24 – which runs north-east/south-west – for repairs in August and it will not reopen till March.

Pilots perform a missed approach if their plane is unstable caused by strong cross winds or severe turbulence and wind shear.

In summer the airport is sometimes impacted by strong winds off the Darling Range, which acts a little like a rock in a stream, and the wind tumbles off the hills, creating wind shear.

Pilots are also forced to perform missed approaches if the plane ahead of them doesn’t exit the runway quickly enough.

PerthAirport does not have any high speed taxiways and thus pilots sometimes must bring their planes almost to a stop before turning off the runway.

However a report conducted by the UK air traffic controller NATS found that some locals pilots were too slow to get off the runway.

The airport and Airservices, Australia’s air traffic control provider are working on a number of initiatives to increase the efficiency of the runways.

In the video below “Qantas737800” brillantly captures a Singapore Airlines A330 performing a missed approach.

In this case the Singapore Airlines pilot is battleing strong north-westerly winds and you will note the dipping of the wing to the left and into the direction of the wind to help offset the impact.

To see more videos by “Qantas737800” click here.

Kiwi Magic

Air New Zealand has done it once again and is giving Hobbit fans the chance to join the celebration with the stars at the red carpet premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Hollywood.

The Official Airline of Middle-earth announced on Wednesday the key elements of its global marketing campaign two weeks ahead of the premiere of the second film in The Hobbit Trilogy, which is a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures.

A key feature of the airline’s campaign, titled Middle-earth is closer than you think, is a competition to give three Hobbit movie fans from around the world the money-can’t-buy opportunity to attend the world premiere movie screening with a friend. 

A fourth lucky entrant will win a once-in-a-life-time Middle-earth experience for two in New Zealand.

Before entering, fans will need to watch the airline’s just-released video (below) inspired by The Hobbit films that will feature on television and online.

The video Just Another Day in Middle-earth stars Air New Zealand flight attendants, pilots, aircraft engineers, an aircraft marshall, baggage handlers and airport staff as themselves, with a cheeky film-inspired twist, and more than 120 extras.

It aims to inspire travellers from around the world to take their own unexpected journey – with the key message ‘Middle-earth is closer than you think’.

The video also features Kiwi Dean O’Gorman, who plays dwarf Fili, and the voice of Sylvester McCoy, The Hobbit Trilogy’s Radagast the Brown.

Viewers of the video from around the world can enter for their chance to win one of four trips of a lifetime for two to their choice of either Middle-earth (New Zealand) or to the premiere of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in Los Angeles, including airfares, accommodation and rental car.

Another feature of the Air New Zealand marketing campaign will be the unveiling of a Boeing 777-300 aircraft in special Hobbit film-inspired livery on December 2 in Auckland. 

The flying billboard will leave that night for Los Angeles where it will touch down in time for the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug premiere.

To enter after watching the video click here:

How low can you go?

It’s possibly the lowest landing ever and it took place in August at Skiathos Airport – an island off Greece.

The runway is short and narrow which necessitates pilots touching down as close to the start of the runway as possible.

GreatFlyer Productions has captured some amazing video – below – of an Air Italy Boeing 737-800 crossing the airport fence with just meters to spare.

“As plane spotters at Skiathos airport, we wanted a low landing, but we definitely hadn’t seen this one coming,” GreatFlyer said.

“Many people have said that it was the lowest landing they had ever seen at Skiathos and it is definitely one of the lowest landings in the world”.

“After touchdown, two clear marks from the landing gear were drawn before the runway threshold!”

GreatFlyer adds that often the pilots on departure “look back, outside the aircraft, to check the tire marks he had made before!”

To see a stunning blind landing click here.

Middle Eastern Airline Safety on the rise

Qatar Airways

ICAO audits countries on their level of aviation safety utilising eight parameters; Legislation, Organization, Licensing, Operations, Airworthiness, Accident Investigation, Air Navigation Service and Aerodromes.  At, any airline that meets the global average for all eight parameters gets two stars towards the seven star total available. If 5-7 of these parameters are met they are awarded one star. If less than 5 of the parameters are met no stars are awarded.

Qatar now meets the global average for 5 of the criteria whereas before it met only 4. As a result, the airline has been awarded one extra star towards its safety rating at to give an overall score of 6 out of 7.

It is a similar story for Oman Air who after a significant improvement in their aviation safety levels now meet 7 of the 8 criteria set out by ICAO. Oman previously met less than 5 of the criteria.  As a result of these changes Oman Air are now rated a 6 out of 7 for their overall safety rating on

For detailed information on our safety rating criteria please click here or for the individual safety breakdown for any airline click here.

50 dead in Russian crash

A Tatarstan Boeing 737-500 operating Ak Bars Aero flight U9-363 from Moscow to Kazan in Russia has crashed on landing killing all 44 passengers and 6 crew.

The 737-500 was on its second approach to land at 7.25pm Sunday November 17 and crashed in a fireball.

According to Russia’s Ministry of Emergency all passengers and crew were killed.

The Airport of Kazan was closed after the accident.

It has two parallel runways with a Category II ILS approach.

Russian President Vladimir Putin “expressed his condolences to the relatives of the victims in this horrible disaster” and ordered a government commission be set up to investigate the cause, said Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov, quoted by the news agency Interfax.

The Investigative Committee said an inquiry had been opened to determine whether there had been “violation of aviation security rules” and added that several inspectors had been sent to the scene of the crash.

AAP said that pilot error was one of three preliminary lines of inquiry, along with weather conditions and technical failure, said Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin, quoted by Interfax.

Kazan is the capital city of the Russian republic of Tatarstan.

The airline had not done the very important International Air Transport Association Operational Safety Audit (IOSA). Airlines that have completed IOSA have a safety record twice that of airlines that have not done the audit.

Air Travel in Russia has improved significantly in recent years with no hull losses in 2012 down from 8.6 per one million flights in 2006. However in 2013 the country suffered 2.94 losses.

This compares to the industry average of 0.30.

The 737-500 that crashed first flew in 1990 and is owned by leasing company AWAS. It has had six operators. According to Aviation Safety Network it was involved in a landing accident in Brazil in 2001 which severely damaged its undercarriage.

Boeing launches another game changer – the 777X

London to Sydney non-stop at fares 20 per cent below current levels is the promise of the latest model of Boeing’s 777 launched at the Dubai Air Show on Sunday November 17.

To see an interactive presentation and video do here:

Emirates, the world’s largest international airline, gave a ringing endorsement to the 410-seat Boeing 777X, with an order for 150.

Etihad Airways ordered 25, Qatar Airways 50 and Lufthansa 34.

The launch is the largest product launch in commercial jetliner history by dollar value. The 259 orders are worth $95 billion at list prices.

“We are proud to partner with each of these esteemed airlines to launch the 777X – the largest and most-efficient twin-engine jetliner in the world,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Ray Conner. “Its ground-breaking engine technologies and all-new composite wing will deliver unsurpassed value and growth potential to our customers.”

Opening new growth opportunities for airlines, the 777-9X offers seating for more than 400 passengers, depending on an airline’s configuration choices. With a range of more than 8,200 nautical miles (15,185 km), the aircraft will have the lowest operating cost per seat of any commercial aircraft.

The second member of the family, the 777-8X, will be the most flexible jet in the world claims Boeing. The aircraft will seat 350 passengers and offer a range capability of more than 9,300 nautical miles (17,220 km).

Emirates President Tim Clark is the driving – and demanding – force behind the 777X a plane he describes as “an absolute peach.”

“Every [long haul] airline will want to buy this plane,” Mr Clark told

Key to the enthusiasm is the aircraft’s incredible economics, being 20 per cent more efficient per seat than the current industry benchmark the 777-300ER.

Those economics will enable airlines to make significant cuts to airfares making the 777X a game changer.

The 777X combines the best features of the current 777, with a longer fuselage, new engine and the composite wing design from the Boeing 787.

 It also features 20 per cent larger windows and lower pressurization altitude to reduce jet lag.

“This machine will do Sydney to Rome or Perth to London [with a full payload],” Clark said in an earlier interview.

“There will not be a city on the planet — aside from the mid-Pacific — we can’t reach,” Clark said.

“This (777X) will be poetry in motion . . . it will have enormous versatility.”

Other airlines that have expressed strong interest are Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Air France and leasing companies.

Emirates is considering bars and standing areas for the 777X series.

The 777X is expected to enter service in 2020.

And the secret to the plane’s extraordinary economy is the General Electric GE9X – the largest engine ever built.




Etihad places its largest order

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has placed its largest ever fleet order, for 199 aircraft and 294 engines, in a $67 billion dollar deal which will enable the airline to accelerate its growth over the next decade.

It announced firm orders at the Dubai Air Show for 87 Airbus and 56 Boeing aircraft, with a further 56 options and purchase rights.  The new aircraft will be powered by 127 GE Aviation, 115 Rolls-Royce and 52 CFM engines.

The new aircraft will be used to support the ambitious growth strategy of Etihad Airways, launching into new markets and increasing frequencies on existing routes, as well as progressively replacing its older, less efficient aircraft. 

In a unique new approach, Etihad Airways says it will have a capability to redirect orders to members of its equity alliance, the airlines in key markets around the world in which it holds minority shareholdings.  The order, for 25 next-generation Boeing 777X aircraft, 30 Boeing 787-10s, one Boeing 777 freighter, 50 Airbus A350 XWB, 36 Airbus A320neos and one Airbus A330-200F, will see passenger aircraft deliveries start in 2018. 

The airline currently has a fleet of 86 aircraft, with more than 80 on firm order. 

Etihad Airways will now become the single largest airline customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, with the 30 aircraft in this order being added to 41 announced in previous orders. 

It will also become a launch customer for the Boeing 777-8X aircraft. 

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways, said:  “Last week, Etihad Airways celebrated its tenth anniversary.  In just one decade, we have grown into an airline with 86 aircraft, carrying more than 11 million passengers on 97 routes, served by more than 16,500 employees. 

“We now have seven equity alliance partners reaching across the world and a business strategy that has seen us create the world’s leading airline.  We have achieved all of this while reaching sustainable profitability.

“These aircraft orders provide the next step in our long-term growth strategy. They are about meeting the needs of the next 10 years, and beyond, as we grow further and faster than ever before.

“We are helping to establish Abu Dhabi as one of the world’s great aviation hubs, offering connections to cities on every continent.  This order will provide us with the capacity to continue with those ambitious aspirations.”

Mr Hogan said the ability to share the orders with members of the equity alliance offered a unique opportunity.  Etihad Airways currently holds stakes in airberlin, Air Seychelles, Aer Lingus, Virgin Australia, and Air Serbia. Etihad Airways last week received regulatory approval for a proposed 24 per cent investment in India’s Jet Airways.

Yesterday, it also announced the acquisition of a 33.3 per cent stake in Swiss carrier, Darwin Airline, which will offer Etihad Airways’ first branded regional operations under the new Etihad Regional badge and livery.

Emirates buys more super jumbos

Emirates has ordered another 50 A380 super jumbos to meet growth projections.

The order was signed at a ceremony at the 2013 Dubai Airshow witnessed by His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive Emirates Airline and Group and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

“The A380 continues to be the flagship of our fleet and after five years in operation it remains highly popular with our passengers,” said HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline and Group.

“It is still one of the most efficient aircraft to operate today in terms of fuel burn and emissions per passenger, and it gives us the flexibility in some cases to meet passenger demand in slot-constrained markets. This latest order will help us meet both fleet expansion and fleet replacement needs.”

“We value our partnership with Emirates Airline and are pleased to see this getting stronger each day with their A380s flying,” said Fabrice Brégier, Airbus CEO and President.

“By strategically placing the A380 at the centre of its business, Emirates is maximizing its leading position with each day of operations. Emirates has understood from the start the A380s advantages in terms of efficiency, economics and passenger comfort. It continues to be a true crowd-puller and contributor to the rapid development of its Dubai hub.”

Following delivery of their first A380 in July 2008, Emirates has now taken delivery of 39 A380s. The new order takes the airline’s commitments for the A380 to 140.

The total A380 fleet has accumulated over one million flight hours in almost 140,000 commercial flights. To date some 50 million passengers have flown on the super jumbo. Every five minutes, an A380 either takes off or lands at one of the 34 airports where it operates today and the network is constantly growing.


Will AA/US Merger Mean More Competition?

A respected aviation observer contends the once-again on-track merger of American Airlines and US Airways could actually bring about more, not less, airline competition.

“Over the next five years we can expect to see additional market entry from start-up [airlines] who are going to take advantage of consolidation opportunities,” contends Josh Marks, CEO of masFlight, an aviation consultancy. “History proves that when airlines consolidate service that sets up new opportunities for new-entrants.”

That consolidation got the green light to move forward this week when the United States Department of Justice reached an out-of-court accord with American and US Airways in which the two carriers will divest themselves of a number of critical takeoff and landing positions at Reagan Washington National and New York LaGuardia. American and US Airways will also relinquish a pair of gates at each of five U.S. airports, including Los Angeles International and Chicago O’Hare.

The idea is to open up those airports, particularly Reagan National and LaGuardia, to more competition from low-cost carriers such as Southwest and JetBlue.

“This agreement has the potential to shift the landscape of the airline industry by guaranteeing a bigger foothold for low-cost carriers at key U.S. airports,” believes U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The nation’s top law enforcement official contends, “passengers will see more competition and nonstop and connecting routes throughout the country.”

The issue for at least one other noted aviation analyst is why the Department of Justice’s lawsuit had to happen at all. 

“Everybody who worked on this merger from the beginning knew that there would be a divestiture of slots at [Washington Reagan] National and [New York] LaGuardia,” says Darryl Jenkins, president of the American Aviation Institute.  “That was a given. What is interesting is the amount of money the government wasted in getting to a solution that was foregone at the beginning of this.”

On August 13, 2013 DOJ and six state attorneys general and the District of Columbia, filed an antitrust suit against AA and US contending that the US Airways’ $11 billion acquisition of American would have “substantially lessened competition for commercial air travel in local markets throughout the country,” according to a DOJ statement.

Josh Marks says the American/US Airways merger is probably the last of its kind we’ll witness, at least for a while. The U.S. skyscape should soon be dominated by a trio of so-called “network” carriers – American, Delta and United. Southwest is the last member of the so-called “Big Four.” But it’s those anticipated new-entrants, along with more airport access by existing low-cost carriers, that Marks maintains will spark more consumer-friendly competition. 

The merged carrier will create the world’s largest airline with 6,700 daily flights to 336 locations in 56 countries. It will have $40 billion in revenue, 100,000 employees and around 1000 aircraft excluding regional affiliates. The two airlines have over 600 aircraft on order.   


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