An afternoon with Mum

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Normally when I go planespotting I’m on my own. My wife thinks planes are boring, my daughter thinks I’m a plane lame-o, and my son, while finding planes interesting, can’t muster the enthusiasm for a whole afternoon. If I’m lucky, one of my fellow spotters will be at the usual spot, but more often than not, I’m the only one there. Not that I mind too much – it’s an opportunity for some peace and quiet away from phones and the daily hustle and bustle.

March 7, 2011, was different though. The sky was very clear and when I suggested to my visiting Mum that we go and watch some aeroplanes, she was really keen! So, off we went, and below are some of the better shots from the day.

First up with local time at 1.36pm, South African Airways flight SA280 from Jo’burg. This is an A340-200 and was originally operated by Lufthansa between August 1993 and August 2003, at which point it was acquired by South African. This aircraft is powered by four CFM56-5C3/F engines, and according to CFM, the CFM56 will soon to be the most widely used commercial turbofan engine in the world. The serial number of -SLD is 019, making it a very early production A340.

ZS-SLD South African Airways A340-212 5736

Garuda’s afternoon flights to Perth are now almost always 737-800’s, most of which were delivered in the airline’s new livery. I’m not sure how many of their planes are still in the old livery, but I’ve not seen one in quite a while.

While the South African A340 -SLD is getting on a bit, this plane is still a baby – first flight was 9 July 2010 with delivery to Garuda on the 16th. It does share one thing in common with the SAA plane though – those CFM engines! These ones are CFM56-7B26’s. Maybe CFM are right . . . Still, you’d never think they were the same engine family from looking at them.

PK-GFD Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-8UF 5746

An even newer jet is this Singapore Airlines A330-300, 9V-STS, delivered on 13 October 2010. The A330-300 always looks so slender and sleek, and it’s big, long, wings just add to the effect. This is classic Perth spotting – crystal clear blue skies and a Singapore Airlines jet gleaming in the sun!

By the way, this rego, 9V-STS, was previously used on a Singapore Airlines A310. In fact, pretty much the entire block of registrations used on the A330’s were used on their A310’s. I’ve got some ‘old’ photos and slides of SIA A310’s at Perth taken in the 90’s, I’ll have to dig them out and scan ’em . . .

The engines on this one? No, not CFM’s, but Rollers – two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60’s.

9V-STS Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X 5834

‘Slender and sleek’ is a phrase you wouldn’t use for the next subject! Boeing’s Big Twin is chunky and heavy looking with engines to match – pure heavy metal and always an impressive sight! 9M-MRC was delivered to Malaysian on 20th June 1997 and is also powered by Rolls-Royce Trents, these ones being the -892 version.

9M-MRC Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-2H6-ER 5903

I’ve written about the upcoming Virgin Blue rebranding elsewhere on the blog, but here’s a photo of one of their 737’s just waiting for the new paint job. Rather than waste money repainting the current livery, they’ve just painted over the offending area and put up temporary titling to bide them over until the new full livery can be applied. definitely a short-term thing and a good one to catch.

The Pacific Blue brand is rumoured to be disappearing with the various operations being rolled into a domestic and international operation. Currently there is Virgin Blue, Pacific Blue and V Australia. I suppose it makes sense from a marketing point of view, but from a planespotter’s view it means a bit less variety to photograph.

VH-VOX Pacific Blue Boeing 737-8BK 5948

Thai Airways has one of my favorite liveries and it looks particularly good on the A330. As of April 2011, Perth is the only Australian city that has Thai A330 service, so if you want to catch one, you know where to come!

HS-TEO was delivered to Thai on 7 May 2009 and the engines – 2 x Rolls Royce Trent 772B-60.

HS-TEO Thai Airways Airbus A330--343X 5993

Another Virgin Blue hybrid is this one featuring advertising for the AFL (Australian Football League). As of season 2011, VB will be the official airline for the AFL, replacing QANTAS who had held the rights for the past 9 years. VB hopes the deal could generate as much as $8 million in additional revenue over the 3 year lifespan of the deal and will provide it with numerous advertising and promotional opportunities.

Of the planes on this page, this is the youngest, having had its first flight on December 2, 2010 and operating its first revenue flight from Brisbane to Rockhampton in all-white livery on December 23, 2010, so at the time I took this photo, it was just over 3 months old.

Another CFM jet – CFM International CFM56-7B26’s – I wonder if this aircraft will be repainted following the rebranding?

VH-VUY Virgin Blue Boeing 737-8KG 6052

Second Garuda of the afternoon, flight GA726 comes in from Denpasar/Bali and is also wearing the new livery as well as being powered by those same CFM56-7B26’s.

PK-GMA Garuda Indonesia Boeing 737-8U3 6080

QANTAS A330’s are regulars in Perth and along with the Boeing 767 are the airline’s main widebody seen here. Boeing 747’s are expected to make an appearance once Virgin Blue commences A330 service, but at the moment are a rarity.

Australia recycles aircraft registrations, and this one, VH-EBN, has previously been used on a DC-4 and a Boeing 707 named ‘City of Parramatta’. This current incarnation of -EBN is named ‘Clare Valley’, but have a look a little further down the page and you’ll see the current ‘City of Parramatta’.

VH-EBN QANTAS Airbus A330-202 6117

Over the past few years, Air New Zealand has really pushed its ‘green’ credentials, and one of the steps taken was to retro fit its 767 fleet with blended winglets, leading to an improved fuel efficiency. Given the size of a 767, the winglets look pretty impressive, as this picture shows. Other steps taken by Air New Zealand to improve fuel efficiency include installing de-humidifiers in their aircraft to remove excess moisture. Not only does this save a good few kilos in wight, but it also reduces corrosion.

ZK-NCK Air New Zealand Boeing 767-319ER 6140

While VH-VUY further up was the youngest plane on this page, the one below, VH-TJT is the oldest. This aircraft was delivered to QANTAS in 1993 and is a Boeing 737-476. The aircraft was originally ordered by Australian Airlines, which was bought by QANTAS in 1992, hence its -476 designation rather than QANTAS’ -338.

Noticeable in this shot is the old livery featuring a less stylised kangaroo on the tail compared to that on the A330 further up the page, as well as the much shorter and stubby wings compared to a 737-800, such as the Garuda examples above. QANTAS’ -400 series 737’s are slowly being withdrawn from use, so TJT’s visits to Perth will be coming to an end.

VH-TJT QANTAS Boeing 737-476 6159

Alliance Airlines has its headquarters in Brisbane but operates mining charters out of Perth using 100 seat Fokker F100’s to such places as Telfer, Mount Keith, Leinster and Karratha. An immaculate VH-FKF, which was originally operated by US Air between 1991 and 2001, comes in to land on what is probably another mine flight for BHP.

VH-FKF Alliance Airlines Fokker F-100 6331

And here it is, the ‘City of Parramatta’ in the form of a 767-338ER (Extended Range), VH-OGH. Maybe not quite as spectacular as a 707, but looking pretty good none the less, this aircraft has flown for QANTAS its entire operational life. Delivered in December 1990, it’s now coming up for its 21st birthday!

VH-OGH QANTAS Boeing 767-338ER 6386

With the sun now getting lower in the sky, the light gets that bit softer, and Network Aviation F100 VH-NHO looks great as it comes in on runway 03 finals. Network was recently acquired by QANTAS, who have said they will expand their services and fleet, so more F100’s around Perth is looking likely – good news for us spotters!

VH-NHO Network Aviation Fokker F-100 6404

Last one for the day – QANTAS Boeing 717 VH-NXH comes in at 6.03pm with some great light. It’s been a 4 1/2 hour arvo with some great planes and shots, but best of all, no complaints of boredom from Mum. “I’ve never seen so many planes!” was her comment. I’ll have to see if she wants to go again next time she’s here . . .

VH-NXH QANTAS Boeing 717-2K9 6422

And so to the engine tally:

In first place it’s CFM with the CFM-56 on 6 points –

  • South African Airways A340
  • 2 x Garuda 737
  • 2 x Virgin Blue 737
  • QANTAS 737

In second place was Rolls-Royce with the Trent on 3 points –

  • Singapore Airlines A330
  • Malaysia Airlines 777
  • Thai Airways A330

In equal third place is General Electric and the Rolls-Royce Tay on 2 points –

  • Air New Zealand and QANTAS 767’s
  • Alliance Airlines and Network Aviation F-100’s

And in fifth place, BMW Rolls-Royce with the BR715 on 1 point –

  • QANTAS 717

I know, totally unscientific and not including the planes that didn’t get their photos featured, but in that sense a random selection.


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