Glasgow Airport Movements 2019
Thomas Cook Repatriation Flights - The Final Phase
The `Operation Matterhorn` repatriation flights continued during the first part of this month with various chartered aircraft bringing back holidaymakers stranded following the collapse of the iconic British airline Thomas Cook. The carrier`s A321s impounded at Glasgow, two of which are pictured below on 2 October, all left for Shannon - G-TCDH on Tuesday 1 October followed by G-TCDD and G-TCDG on the 2nd shortly after the following shot was taken. Airbus A330-243 G-TCXC (above) finally departed about 15:10 hrs on Monday 14 October for Newquay Cornwall Airport (ex RAF St Mawgan) to await its fate. This A330 operated the last-ever TCX flight into Glasgow Airport, having arrived from Orlando slightly ahead of schedule at 05:35 hrs on September 23rd, its crew learning in mid-air that the company had collapsed and they no longer had jobs.
As I did last month, I`ll list any `Operation Matterhorn` repatriation aircraft visiting Glasgow here, as well as include them in the Jet Airliners section below: Tuesday 1 October saw Atlas Air Boeing 747-422 N480MC and Airbus A330-203 TC-AGD of AtlasGlobal appear. Gowair Airbus A320-214 EC-MQH from Lanzarote landed about 03:00 hrs, plus Freebird Airbus A320-214 TC-FHC. Nouvelair Airbus A320-214 TS-INA was set to return to Glasgow in the afternoon with holidaymakers from Enfidha but was diverted to Gatwick.
During the early hours of Wednesday 2 October, Boeing 737-8K2 CS-TQU (left) of EuroAtlantic Airways (in TUI Netherlands colours) landed as flight YU641 from Dalaman, Turkey. Also making an appearance on the 2nd were Electra Airways Boeing 737-46N LZ-EBA (below) which re-positioned from Gatwick, Airbus 321-231 TC-ETV of AtlasGlobal and Gowair A320-214 EC-MQH, the latter airliner making a return visit.
Electra Airways was founded in 2016 and commenced flight operations, in conjunction with various tour operators, in August 2017 with a single Airbus A320. It currently operates charter flights in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. As of August this year, the Electra Airways fleet comprised of Boeing 737 LZ-EBA, which I snapped from the terminal as it took-off on the afternoon of the 2nd, and a pair of Airbus A320-200s. I boarded a Jet2 Larnaka-bound 737 for a week-long `plane-free` holiday in Protaras, Cyprus, shortly after taking the above shot.
Atlas Air Boeing 747-422 N480MC (above) arrived about 06:00 hrs on Tuesday 1 October and is pictured on Stand 6A in the afternoon sunshine. It left the following morning for Orlando. Atlas Air is one of the world's largest providers of cargo aircraft available for lease. The carrier`s services include ACMI (Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance and Insurance) leasing, dry leasing, CMI (Crew, Maintenance and Insurance), charter services and training. Atlas Air operates Boeing 747-400F and 747-8F equipment, in addition to utilising 767-300 and 747-400 aircraft for passenger charter services. Following Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings` USD $110 million acquisition of Southern Air Holdings, parent company of Southern Air and Florida West International Airways in April 2016, the available fleet now totals over 75 aircraft and includes Boeing 737, Boeing 757 and Boeing 777s.
Airbus A320-214 EC-MQH (above right) of Gowair flew in on the 1st from Lanzarote, landing about 03:00 hrs then made another return trip the next day.
Both of Eastern`s Boeing 767s were still present on the 2nd but N703KW, seen here, left later that day as did the Atlas Air 747.
In an effort to assist some of the 9,000 UK staff facing unemployment when Thomas Cook failed to secure a last-ditch rescue deal, several large scale jobs fares were staged across the country at the beginning of October with the largest at Manchester Airport which had been the carrier’s main base of operations. Hundreds of former Thomas Cook employees, including married couples and families, flocked to the Concorde hangar at the Runway Visitor Park after the organisers said that more than 5,000 vacancies were available. TUI, Jet2, Network Rail, the NHS, Next and Whitbread were among the mix of employers who offered places.
More promising news followed when Sunderland-based company Hays Travel, the UK’s largest independent travel agent, announced that it would take over all of the 555 former Thomas Cook branches and staff them with former Thomas Cook employees. By 14 October, Hays had re-opened 138 stores and hired 1,761 former Thomas Cook workers, including frontline travel agents and regional managers, and said its recruitment team will continue working to fill the remaining vacancies. Hays shops back in operation so far are in Northumberland, Teesside, Tyne and Wear, Darlington, Yorkshire, the Midlands, Northern Ireland and Wales.
Scottish holiday specialist Barrhead Travel also stepped in, announcing plans to open up to 100 new UK high street stores and rehire a `significant number` of former Thomas Cook staff. The proposed locations have not been revealed, but it`s understood that most of the new outlets will be in England. Plans are said to be well advanced, with the first unit set to open within the next two months. The company currently runs 76 outlets in Scotland as well as Newcastle, Cumbria, Southampton, Leicester and Belfast. Last year Barrhead Travel's revenues rose by 6.6% to £320m, although pre-tax profits were down. The firm attributed its revenue growth to increased sales of solo holidays, adventure travel, cruising and touring.
Stats released show that 909,448 passengers passed through Glasgow International in August which is down -10.1% on August 2018. The latest figure gives a rolling total of 9,082,726, a drop of -7.6% compared with 2018. August’s air transport movements also fell, experiencing a 6.5% decline compared to the same month last year.
Overall, this is another substantial drop with worse likely to come, especially following the collapse of Thomas Cook which was one of the main players at Glasgow. If none of the other airlines step in to takeover at least some of the defunct carrier’s routes, passenger numbers will likely tumble, potentially resulting in a substantial annual reduction of 500-600k.
Another indication of Glasgow Airport`s decline is that during the period 1 January to 31 August this year, Bristol overtook Glasgow International for the first time ever. Belfast`s combined airports totalled 6,103,838 passengers during the same period with Glasgow International plus Glasgow Prestwick just ahead at 6,507,037. These figures don`t bode well for the future.
Flybe- Changes Ahead
It was confirmed this month in a press release that Flybe is to rebrand as Virgin Connect following the acquisition of the regional carrier by Connect Airways, a consortium which includes Virgin Atlantic (VS, London Heathrow), Stobart Group, and Cyrus Capital. While the group said that further details regarding the rebranding will be revealed over time, it did say that the carrier will change its livery to red, closely aligned with Virgin Atlantic's own colour scheme. The takeover of Flybe by Connect Airways was approved by the European Commission in July 2019, contingent on the carrier releasing some of its sought after slots at Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris CDG airports.
"Honest Gov` - It wasn`t Me!" (Said in English with a French accent)
On Friday 11 October, a Frenchman was arrested at Glasgow Airport. He was thought to be Xavier Dupont de Ligonnes who is suspected of killing his wife and four children in 2011. The passenger was detained after arriving in Scotland on an easyJet flight from Paris Charles de Gaulle. Dupont de Ligonnes has been wanted for murder in France since his family was discovered buried in the garden of their family home in Nantes. The incident, known as the "Nantes slaughter", deeply shocked France at the time and the 58-year-old suspect detained at Glasgow was thought to be travelling under a false name.
French prosecutors previously said the murderer dispatched his victims in a "methodical execution", firing two bullets from a silenced weapon at close range into their heads, before he rolled them in lime and buried them under cement along with the family`s two dogs. Before fleeing, de Ligonnes reportedly told his teenage children's private high school that he had been transferred to a job in Australia and allegedly told friends he was a US secret agent who was being taken into a witness protection programme. A large police operation was mounted in the Var region of southern France in January last year after witnesses reported seeing a man resembling him near a monastery.
Police Scotland confirmed a man was in custody in connection with a European arrest warrant issued by the French authorities but following further enquiries, it was established that the man arrested was not the person being sought - no doubt relieved, it wasn`t a great start to his holiday!
Although there had been a steady increase in migratory geese arriving in the general area last month, 1 October saw hundreds set down in the fields bordering the Black Cart Water, close to the airfield. Other large skeins overflew and the volumes kept Airside Ops staff busy, firing-off bird scarers while the tower urged caution to departing and incoming aircraft. These shots show Canada Geese but Greylags usually overwinter here in far greater numbers. A flock can be seen coming in to land behind the Hercules pictured below.
The sequence on the right shows one of the Airside Ops staff collecting a goose he`d just dispatched with a shotgun close to the northern perimeter of the airfield on 18 October. The fact that the bird had been on its own and remained within range likely indicated that it was injured.
Loganair has secured a contract, beginning on 25 October this year, to continue to operate Scottish government-funded flights on the west coast. The £21m four-year deal involves flights from Glasgow to Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown. The Glasgow-based carrier already operates the public service obligation route, which provides islanders and people in Argyll with an air link to Scotland’s largest city. The flights, which involve landings on Barra's beach runway, are also well used by tourists.
Loganair has operated scheduled flights to Barra, Tiree and Campbeltown since 1974, transporting people, goods and services, to play a crucial role in island life and ensuring that residents have access to specialist healthcare. They also enable visitors to reach the islands easily, boosting local tourism. The journey incorporating a beach landing on Barra is ranked as one of the world’s most scenic ‘must-do’ flights.
Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350-1041 G-VPRD flew in on Thursday 24 October for several days of training. This was the second of the type to do so and follows on from G-VLUX which spent a week here in August. The aircraft crews fly numerous circuits each day, practising takeoffs, approaches, landings, overshoots and touch-and-gos. Hopefully Virgin will continue to use Glasgow as a temporary training base for their new `heavies`.
I managed my first shots of G-VPRD on the morning of Saturday 26 August when rather than touching down, the airliner made a low approach then overshot.
As the A350 was on the way in, another widebody from the Virgin Atlantic fleet in the shape of Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner G-VNEW (above) overflew the airport at about 30,000ft. Conditions were such that none of the flyovers left contrails and the visibility was so good that I could actually read this one`s registration from the photo.
My next shots of G-VPRD were taken late afternoon on Sunday 27 October, the day when the clocks had been put back an hour to herald the end of British Summer Time (BST). The Virgin trainees all had a decent lie-in and didn`t take to the air until 14:00 hrs. The Queen Elizabeth University Hospital at Govan, Xscape, Braehead and at Clydebank the Rothesay Dock Oil Terminal, West College Scotland and the Titan Crane at the old John Brown`s Shipyard all feature in the above view taken from the Kilpatrick Braes.
It was back to a 09:00 hrs kick-off the following morning and if anything, the weather was even better than the day before with a clear sky and a drop in temperature overnight resulting in a light covering of frost. A few of the Arrochar Alps were visible in the distance from the airport`s southern boundary, most with a covering of snow. Although there were very few planes on stand, the roads around the airport were exceptionally busy, apparently due to an accident or breakdown on the M8 persuading some drivers to seek an alternative route.
The following slideshow features more snaps of Virgin A350 G-VPRD on Monday 26 October...
Please bear in mind that all my images are subject to copyright. They are not free to use and have been embedded with a digital watermark.
All Clear after a Suspect Package Alert
On Friday 4 October, an emergency incident was declared at Glasgow Airport after concerns were raised following leakage from a package in the cargo hold of flight KL1473 arriving from Amsterdam. A large number of emergency personnel and vehicles responded, including police, fire appliances, ambulances, and an environmental protection unit.
An exclusion zone was immediately put in place around the KLM jet and part of the international terminal evacuated and closed off as a precaution, although all other areas of the airport remained fully operational.
Examination revealed that the suspect package contained glass tubes with vaccines and although the tubes themselves had remained intact, surrounding dry ice acting as a coolant had begun to leak. The incident was stood down at 13:25 hrs after the incident commander confirmed it had been a false alarm and there was no risk to the public.
Tuesday 1 October saw the Emirates twice-daily Glasgow - Dubai service revert to two Boeing Triple-sevens. The first year of the carrier`s A380 summer season finished at the end of last month, the `super jumbo` having been used on the morning run with a 777 in the evening. Although the former type proved popular with passengers and spectators alike, handling agents and companies wishing to export their wares were frustrated by its lower cargo capacity which is surprisingly less than half compared with the smaller Boeing. Emirates will re-introduce daily A380 flights from 29 March 2020, which is somewhat earlier than planned. Hopefully there will be some snow on the local hills to create a spectacular backdrop, but a decent coating of the white stuff has been a rare occurrence here in recent winters.
Some interesting airliners, particularly at the beginning of the month: Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPK Emirates (Expo 2020 blue livery), Boeing 747-422 N480MC (f/v) Atlas Air, Airbus A330-203 TC-AGD AtlasGlobal, Airbus A320-214 EC-MQH (f/v) Gowair, Freebird A320-214 TC-FHC and Boeing 737-5Q8 9H-YES (f/v) Air X (1st); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPD (Expo 2020 blue livery), Boeing 737-46N LZ-EBA Electra Airways, Boeing 737-8K2(WL) CS-TQU (f/v) TUI Airlines Netherlands, Airbus 321-231 TC-ETV (f/v) AtlasGlobal plus A320-214 EC-MQH Gowair (2nd); Boeing 737-8K2(WL) CS-TQU TUI Airlines Netherlands returned (3rd); Titan Airways` Boeing 757-256 G-ZAPX arrived from Basel, Switzerland, plus Airbus A320-233 G-POWK, also from the Titan fleet became temporarily based to cover Jet2 flights (4th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-ENM Emirates (Expo 2020 orange) and A320-232 EC-LRM (f/v) Gowair (TCX repat) (5th)...
Airbus A321-231 TC-ETV AtlasGlobal (6th); Airbus A330-202 CS-TQP Hi Fly, Boeing 747-443 G-VLIP Virgin Atlantic (first visit of this aircraft following repaint - now in Star Wars livery and renamed ‘Falcon’). Boeing 737-9K2 PH-BXO KLM ( SkyTeam livery) also called in. (7th); Airbus A320-232 G-POWM Titan Airway operated a Jet2 `Northern lights` flight to Akureyri, Iceland (10th); Embraer ERJ-145LU F-HRGD Regourd Aviation (11th); Boeing 737-8JP(WL) G-DRTO (f/v) Jet2 (12th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPB Emirates (Expo 2020 blue livery) and Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-ENM (Expo 2020 orange) (13th); Boeing 737-9K2(WL) PH-BXO KLM (SkyTeam livery) (15th)...
Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPF Emirates (Expo 2020 green) (16th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPD Emirates (Expo 2020 blue) (17th); Airbus A330-243 C-GJDA Air Transat and Embraer ERJ-195LR D-AEBB Lufthansa (18th); Airbus A321-231(WL) G-WUKH (f/v) Wizz Air UK, bound for Stanstead on delivery from the USA (20th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-ENM Emirates (Expo 2020 orange), Boeing 737-8CX(WL) SP-ENG (f/v) Enter Air, Boeing 737-8KN(WL) PH-CDE (f/v) Corendon Dutch Airlines and Boeing 737-85P(WL) OO-TUP (f/v) TUI fly Airlines Belgium (21st); Boeing 737-81Q(WL) EC-NAB (f/v) Alba Star and Airbus A320-232 G-POWM (23rd)...
Air Transat Airbus A330-342 C-GTSO lifts-off from Runway 05 on Thursday 17 October 2019.
The last of October`s noteworthy airliners were Airbus A350-1041 G-VPRD (f/v) of Virgin Atlantic which arrived for several days training (24th); Dornier Do-328JET-300 N100UJ (f/v) of Ultimate Jetcharters (26th); Embraer ERJ-135LR G-SAJB (f/v) Loganair (28th); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-ENM Emiartes (Expo 2020 orange). Virgin A350 G-VPRD departed (29th); Airbus A321-271NX C-GOIE (f/v) Air Transat (31st).
A surprise visitor on the 26th, Dornier Do-328JET-300 N100UJ of Ultimate Jetcharters made a brief stop for fuel. It was routing from Nuremberg to Keflavik, on delivery state-side. First established in 1984 as Gordon Air, Ultimate Jetcharters is based at Akron Canton Airport and provides private and business charter services. In addition to this, the US carrier also provides public charter services through its regional operation, Ultimate Air Shuttle utilising a fleet of solely Dornier 328 aircraft.
There was still a light ground frost on the morning of Monday 21 October when Air Transat A330 C-GPTS arrived from Toronto. At the end of this month, the carrier announced that it will be expanding its transatlantic services to Toronto and Montreal next summer. The Gatwick-Toronto route will double to twice daily and the number of Gatwick-Montreal flights will rise from three to five per week with many flights operated by Air Transat`s new 199-seat Airbus A230neo long range single aisle airliner. A mix of A330 and A321neo LR services will run from Dublin to Toronto five times a week. The expansion will also help to address Glasgow`s falling passenger numbers as flights currently served by A310s will be replaced by the larger A330 which will fly five times weekly. Although there appear to be no plans to utilise the new type on the Glasgow run, Airbus A321-271NX C-GOIE made a surprise appearance on the 31st.
Very quiet on the turboprop front this month. ATR 72-600 EI-GPP (f/v) of Stobart Air was the only prop-liner of note.
Below: ATR 72-202(F) EI-SLU of ASL AIrlines Ireland and Swiftair Embraer EMB-120ER Brasilia EC-JKH on Wednesday 2 October 2019...
Cessna Citation Sovereign D-CARO (above), travelling from Cardiff to Aberdeen, was October`s first corporate visitor, arriving and departing on the 1st. It was joined by Bombardier Global 5000 CS-LAM (below) from Farnborough and Raytheon Beechcraft 390 Premier 1 D-IBBB (f/v) of Augusta Air from Eindhoven.
Biz still on the ground from last month were Bombardier Challenger 850 9H-ILB, Canadian Challenger 605 C-GFAP and Hawker Beechcraft 750 9H-BSA.
Dassault Falcon 7X G-MATO taxis to Area R after landing on Wednesday 2 October.
October`s corporate visitors continued with Gulfstream IV N453FX (f/v), Vistajet Bombardier Challenger 350 9H-VCE plus Dassault Falcon 7X G-MATO (2nd); Challenger 605 M-TOPI, Falcon 7X D-ASIM, Gulfstream G100 OE-GBD of Tyrol Air Ambulance and Learjet 36 N41GJ (f/v) (3rd); Raytheon Beechjet 400A N51NP (f/v) (4th); Cessna 650 Citation VII 9H-WII Luxwing Ltd (6th); Learjet 45 CS-TFR (7th); Embraer Legacy 500 G-RORA (f/v) (8th); Global 6000s 9H-VJN (f/v) VistaJet and N950MP (f/v) (9th); Hawker Beechcraft 900XP N144UV, plus Citation Sovereign D-CARO returned (10th); Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy 650 D-AFBS (f/v) Air Hamburg (11th); Gulfstream G650ER G-DSMR (f/v), Bombardier Global 6000 EC-LTF and Cessna Citation XLS+ D-CEHM (14th); Gulfstream IV N156WJ, Cessna Citation Bravo G-CMBC, Cessna CitationJet CJ1 9H-GIO (f/v), Citation Excels CS-DXP and OE-GWV (f/v), plus Learjet 31A D-CGGG and Citation Mustang G-FFFC (15th)...
Learjet 35A D-CTIL (16th); Bombardier Challanger 850 9H-JAD Air X Charter, Global 5000 N247WE World Wrestling Entertainment, Cessna Citation X D-BLDI, Citation Latitude OE-GLR (f/v) and CitationJet CJ3 2-RBTS (18th); Dassault Falcon 2000LX I-FEDN and Citation Mustang G-GILB (19th); Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy 650E D-ARMY (f/v) Air Hamburg, Citation Excel CS-DXW and Hawker Beechcraft 750 9H-BSA (20th); Citation Bravo G-CMBC and Citation Excel G-LEAX (21st); Gulfstream Vs N83CW and N800JH, Gulfstream IV N478GS, Cessna Citation Bravo G-XJCI and Citation XLS+ D-CSCB (f/v) (22nd); Embraer Phenom 300 D-CHLR, Phenom 100 F-HLRZ (f/v) and Learjet 35A D-CTIL (24th); Cessna Citation M2 M-KNOX (f/v) and Citation Mustang F-HAHA (25th)...
Bombardier Challenger 605 9H-VFI VistaJet, Learjet 31A D-CGGG and CitationJet CJ3 D-CUGF SFD (Stuttgarter Flugdienst GmbH) (26th); Phenom 300 D-CHLR (27th); Citation Mustang G-XAVB (28th); Bombardier Global 5000 M-AABG (f/v), Gulfstream VI N650VC and Gulfstream IV-SP N156WJ (29th); Embraer EMB-135BJ Legacy 650 D-AHOI Air Hamburg, Cessna 680 Citation Sovereign N7777B, Citation Bravo G-IPLY and Phenom 300 D-CHGS (30th); Gulfstream V SE-RKL (f/v), Citation Sovereign SE-RFH and Learjet 45 D-CDOC (31st).
Above: Gulfstream IV N453FX`s arrival on Wednesday 2 October.
Above: Bombardier Challenger 850 9H-JAD of Air X Charter arrived Stockholm Arlanda on the 18th. Falcon 2000LX I-FEDN flew in the next day from Birmingham with Citation Excel CS-DXW from Luton making an appearance on 20 October. The last two aircraft mentioned are pictured below...
The last biz-jets photographed by me this month were US Cessna Citation Sovereign N7777B and German-registered Learjet 45 D-CDOC, both on the 31st...
Pilatus PC-12s LX-JFR and M-YBLS, both September arrivals were still here on 1 October. Very few noteworthy visitors in this category during October but GA aircraft calling in included King Air 200 G-FLYK (2nd); Piaggio P-180 Avanti D-IRBS (3rd); King Air 90 M-TSRI and Eurocopter AS-355NP Ecureuil 2 G-WECG (f/v) (4th);Pilatus PC-12 M-YBLS and King Air 200 G-BVMA (5th); King Air 350 G-SRBM (6th); King Air 200 G-MCDS (7th); Diamond DA62 2-SALE (10th); King Air 200 G-MEGN and AgustaWestland AW109SP Grand New G-SGRP (11th); Pilatus PC-12 LX-LAB (12th); King Air 200 G-BGRE and King Air C90GTi G-MOSJ (13th)...
SOCATA TBM-940 N4MD (f/v), Diamond DA42 Twin Star G-DJET, plus King Air 200s G-FLYK and G-RAFL (15th); King Air C90A M-POWR (f/v) (18th); King Air 200 G-FLYK returned (20th); King Air 200 G-NIAB (21st); King Air 200s G-WCCP and G-WNCH (23rd); King Air 200s G-ZVIP and LN-KGW (24th); King Air 200 G-YVIP (f/v) (29th); AgustaWestland AW109SP Grand New G-IWFC (30th); Pilatus PC-12 G-FLXI (31st).
Finally, AS355F Ecureuil 2 G-NLDR, snapped from the Riverside Transport Museum car park on the 31st, appeared to be checking the railway line between Partick and Finnieston and may having been operating from the Glasgow City Heliport on the south bank of the River Clyde...
A West Coast Explorer Seaplane Flight
I took a flight with Loch Lomond Seaplanes toward the end of the month, the slot chosen due to the autumn colours and the chance of some early snow on the high tops. I was lucky with the weather, which obviously can`t be guaranteed, as the pilot will fly whenever conditions safely allow which may not necessarily always be ideal for photography.
Take-off time for my Explorer Tour flight was 13:00 hrs and after a quick turn above the southern end of Loch Lomond to let everyone see Ben Lomond, Cessna Caravan G-LAUD headed west to pass over the north end of Bute then the Kintyre peninsula.
After checking out Gigha, the plane continued a couple of miles out to sea towards Islay and Jura before starting the return leg. The route is retraced so that no matter where you`re sitting you don`t miss out on the magnificent panoramas. More shots from my trip can be viewed here.
Although Joint Warrior had long-since ended, RFA Lyme Bay (L3007), a Bay-class Landing Ship Dock, was berthed at the head of the Gareloch and an unidentified RN sub, thought be an Astute-class, had just arrived at the base. It`s not known whether either of these vessels had been involved in the exercise.
A Narrow Escape on the Mountain
The AugustaWestland AW189s and Sikorsky S-92As of HM Coastguard make numerous visits to Glasgow annually, mainly dropping-off patients at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital but sometimes calling in at the airport to refuel. Findings into a call-out during which one of these helicopters almost came to grief while on a rescue mission have recently been published following an investigation.
This was a night-time rescue mission and on reaching the mountain, although the crew made approaches from several directions, low cloud foiled all attempts to reach the stricken party. On the fourth attempt, from yet another angle, the visual references seen through each pilot’s Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS) were lost and the captain attempted a turn back down the re-entrant, inadvertently flying into cloud. During the manoeuvre, due to the proximity of the ground, the pilot climbed but lost airspeed after which the helicopter yawed to the right.
Control was momentarily lost as the helicopter spot-turned through some 370° but the pilot regained control and ascended towards the summit where visibility was much better. Fortunately the aircraft had not struck the ground and was undamaged. It subsequently landed and the crew liaised with the Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) who recovered the climbers on foot. Following an investigation into the circumstances, the operator introduced a scenario-based training exercise for all pilots which replicated the incident and this, with an emphasis on unusual attitude recovery, will be included in the HM Coastguard`s six-monthly recurrent training and testing program.
The Arrochar Alps contain five principle mountains which are concentrated in the angle between Loch Long and Glen Croe. Four of these are Munros, but the Cobbler (below) at 884 metres is not only the best known but has the most striking topography. The other Munros of the group are Ben Ime, Ben Vane and Ben Vorlich with the last pair being more often tackled from Loch Lomondside.
Despite their proximity to Glasgow, the rugged terrain of the group enables local Mountain Rescue Teams to practice their search and rescue techniques, often in extreme conditions more often associated with the Swiss Alps or other higher European ranges. During this exercise I came across years ago, an avalanche had actually occurred on the Cobbler which was ideal for putting the Search and Rescue Dogs Association (SARDA) dogs through their paces.
Beinn Narnain, despite appearances from Loch Long, is a very rugged mountain with impressive cliffs and crags on its upper slopes. One imposing block of rock just before the summit is known as the Spearhead and appears to bar progress but it can be bypassed with some mild scrambling. The Bealach a` Mhaim lies to the northwest and makes it easy (in clear weather) to combine Narnain with Ben Ime and / or the Cobbler. The above view shows Beinn Narnain on the left and Ben Ime.
Above is a distant view of Beinn Narnain (just right of centre) from the south. The Brack, the nearest peak, is in shadow with the rocky Cobbler to the left of Narnain. Ben More and Stob Binnein are the snow-capped peaks on the right. Back in the days when the Royal Navy had Sea Kings and photographers were using 35mm film, one of my ascents of Beinn Narnain coincided with a Mountain Rescue training exercise near the summit. These shots are rather poor quality scans from Kodachrome slides.
The playing fields behind Arrochar Primary School in the village was where rescue choppers would meet the local mountain rescue team on call-outs and lift them onto the hill, weather permitting of course. The shots below, also copied from poorly exposed 35mm slides, were taken on an earlier occasion when the teacher had to abandon lessons temporarily while the kids peered through the classroom windows, engrossed in monitoring the action.
Here, a handler tests the harness of his search dog at Arrochar prior to boarding the Sea King that took the team to the incident site. Dogs, like human team members, often have to be lowered onto the hillside if adverse weather or difficult terrain prevents a landing so it`s always advisable to check the dog`s harness before jumping on board.
JW191, held in April this year, was a large-scale event but JW192 involved substantially less naval units and is thought to be one of the smallest ever. As usual there was an airborne element with any participating Maritime Patrol Aircraft again temporarily based at Prestwick Airport rather than RAF Lossiemouth which is undergoing an upgrade to accommodate the service’s new P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft. Add info re date etc*
On the run-up to any Joint Warrior, or while it`s underway, there`s always the chance of a military aircraft belonging to the UK, Canada, the USA or a NATO ally stopping in at Glasgow, however, the appearance of C-130H Hercules, serial number 1217 (f/v) of the United Arab Emirates Air Force on the morning of 1 October was very unusual and not thought to be connected with Joint Warrior as the UAE is not one of the participating nations. However, military representatives from around the world are sometimes invited to watch proceedings from the control centre so this may have been the case here.
This aircraft, which dates from 1976, is currently operated by the UAEAF`s 4 Squadron but originally bore the South African registration ZS-JIY, having been delivered to the civilian carrier Safair who subsequently leased it to Air Botswana. Safair, which was established in 1969, is based at OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg and operates one of the world's largest fleets of civil Lockheed L-100 Hercules cargo aircraft. This Herc has was acquired by the UAEAF in February 2010. It parked up on the northside, beside the impounded Thomas Cook A330 and left the next day.
The same UAE Air Force Herc returned on the 20th, possibly to pick-up personnel.
Above: Fairchild Swearingen Metroliner C-26B 91-0506 (f/v) of the US Army, call-sign `PAT 18`arrived on Wednesday 9 October and parked up on Area Juliet, remaining until the 11th. It was routing from Keflavik to Wiesbaden, Germany. Another in the shape of C-26B 91-00513 (f/v) (below) call-sign `PAT 336` stopped-off for a `gas`n`go` on the morning of the 21st. It was heading in the opposite direction.
The C-26 is the military utility transport version of the commercial Fairchild Metroliner 23 aircraft. With a maximum payload capacity of 5,020 pounds, the cabin can be configured to accommodate passengers, cargo or both. C-26s are used as rapid-response transports for resupply and ferrying personnel often to remote, unserviced sites.
Grob G.115E Tutor T1 G-BYWI RAF (University Air Squadron) flew in during the day on Tuesday 15 October and French Air Force Airbus A330-223 F-RARF, call-sign `CTM 1275`, did a go-around of Runway 23 at 20:20 hours that evening. This is one of two VIP-configured A330s currently used by the Armée de l'Air`s Commandement du Transport Aérien Militaire Français (COTAM) and often carries the French President and his entourage on state visits. As of September 2019, COTAM also operates a pair of Airbus A310s, two A340s and 15 Airbus A400s.
I didn`t manage to get photos of French Air Force Transall C-160R, serial number R217 (f/v) and USAF Beechcraft MC-12W Liberty 10-0742, call-sign `ELVIS 11`, both of which arrived on Friday 18 October. The appearance of the former aircraft was likely related to Exercise Griffin Strike which ran simultaneously with Joint Warrior. The former exercise is designed to test the capabilities of a new UK-France Combined Joint Expeditionary Force which has been set up to respond to any future crisis affecting the two countries. Both the Transall and MC-12W left later that day.
Dassault Falcon 10 MER, serial number No.32 of the French Navy landed on Wednesday 16 October and made an overnight stop. Grob Tutor T1 G-BYWS of the UAS called in too.
In service since April 1975, the French Navy`s Falcon 10`s roles include providing Instrument flight rules (IFR) and night flying training, service flights on behalf of the Navy's staff officers plus various support missions in the 2ème Region Maritime (Second Naval Area) for Atlantic Command ships.
Like their counterparts operated by UK-based Cobham Aviation, the French Navy Falcons can also act as enemy aircraft to train ships` crews in intercepting hostile targets. The Marine jets are also used to calibrate ships' radars and firing systems.
Boeing MH-47E Chinook HC.5 ZH902 (f/v) `call-sign `Onslaught 1` arrived about 11:20 hrs on Thursday 17 October. It had been inbound for Runway 05 but in response to a request from Air traffic Control veered off and adopted a holding pattern close to the southwest airfield boundary while the day`s Toronto-bound Air Transat flight took-off. The RAF machine then landed on the Royal Pan where it was refuelled by its crew.
The Chinook is an extremely capable and highly versatile support helicopter that can be operated from land or sea bases into a range of diverse environments, from the Arctic to the desert or jungle. Chinooks are fitted with a suite of self-defence equipment and can be armed if deployed to an area of threat. They are primarily used for troop transport, resupply and battlefield casualty evacuation (CASEVAC). Up to 55 troops or a maximum of 10 tonnes of mixed cargo can be carried. With it`s triple-hook external load system, internal cargo winch, roller conveyor fit and large reserves of power, the helicopter can lift a wide variety of complex underslung cargo or internal freight, including vehicles.
Exercise Joint Warrior JW192
I was aboard on holiday at the beginning of October, so missed the arrival and departure of the participating naval vessels which traditionally gather on the Clyde for a briefing prior to the commencement of each Joint Warrior exercise. Most of the warships tie-up at either Faslane or Glasgow’s KGV Dock to give their crews some shore time before the hard work begins and Sunday has become the main departure day when most vessels head out to sea to take up station.
However, on Wednesday 16 October, as the exercise wound down, HMS Albion (L14), RFA Argus (A135) and FS Tonnerre (L1094) dropped anchor off Greenock where I captured all three vessels on camera in the afternoon sunshine. Two helicopters were active: French Navy Aerospatiale SA319B Alouette III, serial number 1997, operating from FS Tonnerre and Aerospatiale SA365N2 Dauphin 2 ZJ164 of the Royal Navy flying from HMS Albion.
The French Navy`s Tonnerre is a Mistral-class LHDM Amphibious Assault Ship, which is no stranger to the Clyde having taken part in previous Joint Warriors as well as forming part of the ‘Guard of Honour’ along with HMS Ark Royal for the QE2 when the famous liner made her last visit to Scotland back in October 2008. Tonnerre can embark 450 fully-equipped troops and 60 armoured vehicles, or 13 main battle tanks, along with Landing craft and up to 16 helicopters.
HMS Albion (L14) is the lead ship of two Albion-class Assault Ships, the other being HMS Bulwark (L15). These vessels can transport up to six Challenger 2 main battle tanks or around 30 armoured all-terrain tracked vehicles. The floodable well dock has the capacity to take four utility landing craft while four smaller landing craft, each capable of transporting 35 troops, are suspended on davits. The ships support a permanently embarked Royal Marines landing craft unit, and the stern opens and floods a compartment, allowing the boats inside to be launched. Although there is no hangar, the 64-metre flight deck can handle a pair of Chinook-sized helicopters, or operate two smaller machines with the space to stow a third.
Launched in 1981, Italian-built, RFA Argus was formerly the container ship MV Contender Bezant. The vessel was requisitioned in 1982 for service in the Falklands War and purchased outright in 1984 for use as an Aviation Training Ship, replacing RFA Engadine. After a four-year conversion at Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Argus entered Royal Fleet Auxiliary service in 1988. In 1991, during the Gulf War, she was fitted with an extensive and fully functional, 70-bed hospital to assume the additional role of Primary Casualty Receiving Ship. In 2009, the PCRS role became the ship's primary function and the medical complex was upgraded and now holds 100 beds. Argus can carry four Merlin or five Apache helicopters and although it can land a Chinook, the larger aircraft won't fit in the hangar. As the ship is armed and is not painted in the required white with red crosses, the Geneva Convention prevents her from being officially classified as a hospital ship. Argus is due to remain in service until 2024.
Royal Navy and RAF Hawks, plus several civilian-registered Dassault Falcon jets of Cobham Aviation usually fly from Prestwick while any Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPAs) operate from RAF Lossiemouth but, as in April, the latter types joined the others at the Ayrshire airport, a real bonus for local enthusiasts. This relocation is due to ongoing construction work at the Moray base to accommodate the RAF`s new P-8 Poseidons, the first of which is scheduled to arrive next spring.
The JW192 Maritime Patrol Aircraft comprised 2 x US Navy P-8’s, 2 x Canadian CP-140’s and 2 x French Navy Atlantique ATL2’s which between them flew numerous sorties over the fortnight, each aircraft on station for an average of 4 hours at a time. I only went down to Prestwick once during the exercise, on Friday 11 October, and although there wasn`t a great deal of JW activity. I managed to photograph most of the participants, albeit not always at the best angle.
A dedicated JW 192 page contains more shots of the participating aircraft and warships.
Also Present at Prestwick on 11 October were...
Boeing 747-8KB(BBJ) A7-HHE is reckoned to be one of the world`s most expensive biz-jets. It belongs to the Qatar Amiri Flight, a VIP airline owned and operated by the government of Qatar. It provides worldwide charters on demand and caters exclusively to the Qatari royal family and top-level government officials although the vast majority of the fleet is painted in the standard livery of the commercial flag carrier of Qatar, Qatar Airways. Run-about `taxis` in the shape of Gulfstream VI A7-CGE, Sikorsky S-92A A7-MBN and Eurocopter EC155B1 A7-HMD all arrived at Prestwick on Sunday 6 October, with the Jumbo touching down at 16:25 hrs the following afternoon. An additional bonus for local enthusiasts was Boeing 747-4R7F 4K-SW008 of Silk Way West Airlines which arrived less than an hour later.
Other aircraft operated on behalf of Amiri flight, but not part of the fleet, are one Bombardier BD-700-1A10 Global Express and a Qatar Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III which is pictured above at the Royal International Air Tattoo, Fairford in July this year. The Amiri Flight`s Global Express is also in Qatar Airways livery. Qatar's emir gifted a Boeing 747-8 private jet to Turkey in September 2018. Gulf 6 A7-CGE (below) left for Inverness (apparently the Qatari royal family own a large chunk of the Scottish Highlands) at 13:15 hrs on Friday 11 October with the 747 departing about 22:00 hrs that evening. I presume the two helicopters are UK-based and will remain hangared somewhere until the emir`s next visit.
Unsurprisingly, the Qatari royal family also do it in style when it comes to sea travel. Pictured below is the Superyacht Katara which was built for the (then) Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, father of the current Emir. The vessel turned more than a few heads when she sailed into Corfu Port in June 2014 which is where I took the following photos. The 124 metre-long superyacht ranked as the 14th largest yacht in the world and was designed by Monaco based Espen Øino International. Dating from 2010, she`s is a product of Germany's Lürssen shipyard in 2010 and spent her first full season in the Caribbean.
She has a single helipad and at that time carried Eurocopter EC155 B1 A7-HMD, which visited Prestwick this month - no sign of the superyacht on the Clyde though! The hull of the Katara is steel, while its superstructure is aluminium, 124.4 meters (408.2 feet) long and 19.5 metres wide , with a draft of 5.30 metres, all for a gross tonnage of 7,922t.
The decks are made of teak. Powered by 2 MTU diesel engines with a total output of 16,600 hp (12,200 kW), the yacht reaches a cruising speed of 15 knots ( 27.8 km / h) with a maximum speed of 20 knots ( 37 km / h) thanks to 2 propellers. There`s a Jacuzzi on the aft deck, a pool, a gym, and a spa - certainly more upmarket than the Rothesay Ferry!
No less than seven Norwegian Airlines Dreamliners were present when I visited Prestwick, either undergoing or awaiting engine upgrades or interior conversions. The aircraft, several of which were hangared were Boeing 787-8s LN-LNA/B/D/G/H and Boeing 787-9s LN-LNL and SE-RXY.
Air France Boeing 777-F28 freighters, including F-GUOB seen here, make frequent visits to Prestwick.
Swiss-registered Pilatus PC-12 HB-FQI stopped off for a refuel on its way State-side, touching down here at 11:30 hrs. It was on the ground for just over 30 minutes before resuming its journey. Many PC-12s pass through Prestwick on delivery flights but this one was heading to Las Vegas as a demonstrator at this year`s NBAA (National Business Aviation Association) Convention & Exhibition which runs from 22-24 October 2019. HB-FQI has an `Experimental` sticker on its port-side forward fuselage which is believed to be a reference to a new engine/propeller combination.
Learjet 45 C-GEJD of Skyservice Business Aviation operates as an air ambulance.
Glasgow Airport: Construction & Development
Back at Glasgow Airport, work on the new business park is progressing rapidly despite some prolonged spells of wet weather. The new line of Abbotsinch Road, which will take motorists away from the existing perimeter fence and closer to the west bank of the White Cart Water, is becoming clearer.
Part of the improvements have included chopping off the west end of the mound overlooking the football pitches opposite the Gama / Scottish Ambulance Service hangars. Part of the top has also been bulldozed.
The mound is a good vantage point for `23` arrivals and planes taxiing past Area Juliet and it`s unclear at this stage whether it will be flattened altogether.
I went up onto the mound on the 24th to catch the arrival of A6-ENE (below), the first of the day`s Emirates Triple-Sevens and startled a Roe Deer foraging at the far end. It immediately bounded away but was unable to gain cover immediately due to the perimeter fence of the Long Stay Car Park. The new development will eat up a vast amount of space, displacing wildlife and forcing numerous animals and birds to relocate but options are becoming increasingly limited.
It looks as the though the cycleway which runs around and through the grounds of the airport is finally receiving a long overdue upgrade. It`s badly fragmented, too narrow and confusingly signed in places while lacking proper road markings.
The above image shows a typical weekday scene at the southern end of Abbotsinch Road with a continuous row of parked cars totally blocking the cycleway, which isn`t even wide enough to accommodate an adult`s bike along this stretch.
The following slideshow features shots taken during the latter end of the month. For anyone unfamiliar with the layout, views taken while travelling or looking along the route in a clockwise direction will be shown by a left hand arrow < while those marked with a > symbol relate to views on an anti-clockwise circuit.
The next batch of images show the route as it continues west of the security barrier in Bute Road...
The view on the left above looks west along the stretch of the cycle route which skirts St James` Park and runs through the Paisley Moss Local Nature Reserve. The right-hand photo looks in the opposite direction from the same spot. The `No Drone Zone` sign is a recent addition. The final shots cover the cycleway until it joins the A726 Barnsford Road...