Glasgow Airport Movements 2020
A very eventful 4 weeks, both with regard to the aviation industry and the general situation globally, including some cause for cautious optimism concerning the Coronavirus nightmare. However, just days after it was announced that American multinational pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer had developed a potentially effective vaccine, the UK became the first country in Europe to surpass 50,000 COVID-related deaths. According to the latest government figures, Great Britain is the fifth country to reach this grim milestone, coming after the USA, Brazil, India and Mexico. By the middle of November, there had already been some 1.2 million confirmed cases in the UK since the outbreak began, with more than 185,000 people admitted to hospital as a result. Recorded deaths only include people who passed away within 28 days of testing positive for COVID and these figures don`t take into account those who have died as a result of missing out on essential operations or medical treatment.
Apart from the chance of a vaccine being imminent in the fight against the deadly bug, the US Presidential Elections held the world`s attention and became yet another bizarre episode in the wacky world of Donald Trump, when he accused his opponents of large scale voter fraud, just as the first counts began to come in. Closer to home, although the end of the Brexit transition period fast approaches, a trade deal with the EU still seems unattainable with fishing rights just one of the main sticking points.
Rather than opting for a national lockdown, Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon introduced a new five-level system of measures which came into force in Scotland on Monday 2 November. Many parts of the country had already been subject to tighter controls in the preceding weeks. The new system comprised of tiers numbered 0-4. The highest, the fourth level, would come close to March’s full lockdown with all non-essential shops, hairdressers and hospitality venues forced to shut temporarily. Non-essential travel was not allowed to or from areas under Tier Four. It`s intended that schools will remain open, irrespective of the level of lockdown.
The UK-wide job support scheme, which covers up to 80% of workers` wages and has supported hundreds of thousands of jobs north of the border, was extended through to December after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a 4-week lockdown in England. Concerns were initially raised that the extension of the scheme in Scotland would only apply while England was subject to these drastic measures, but this was found not to be the case. The COVID Test Centre at Glasgow Airport is pictured below.
As Nicola Sturgeon revealed which lockdown tiers Scotland's council areas would be placed into, news broke of a new strain of Coronavirus that has spread from mink to humans. It was first discovered at fur farms in Denmark in June after an outbreak at a care home. Scientists believe the virus jumped from farm workers to the animals during the summer before being passed back to humans. As it crossed between species, a mutation occurred on its 'spike' protein which it uses to enter human cells. The mutation was originally thought to have infected only 12 people, but Danish health authorities suspect that it has already infected hundreds. Alarmingly, one strain, which Danish scientists call `Cluster five`, appears to be less sensitive to antibodies. Danish prime minister Mette Frederiksen responded by imposing strict measures in the north of the country and ordering a cull of Denmark`s entire mink population, which is somewhere between 15 and 17 million, a decision which has drawn a great deal of adverse criticism.
The UK responded by imposing a ban on all non-UK nationals coming from Denmark and directing that British citizens returning from the Scandinavian country would have to self-isolate along with all members of their household for 14 days. An additional directive that cabin crew were no longer exempt from the rules was described by Ryanair`s Michael O`Leary as a `bizarre and baseless` move.
(Mink farm images © Daily Mail: Reuters / AFP via Getty Images / Independent / Morten Stricker).
Despite the drastic action take by Denmark, a number of other countries including the USA, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Israel have already been hit by the mutated strain. By the end of November, France had ordered the culling of one thousand mink after lab analysis detected a mutated form of COVID-19 at one farm in the Eure-et-Loire region in the west of the country. The French Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that all animals there and animal products would be destroyed. Neighbouring mink farms are still being tested and if they come back positive, the French government says it will order the culling of all minks on farms nationwide. So far, all French farmers in contact with the minks have tested negative.
The above view, taken on the first day of the month of pumpkins left to rot in the fields at East Yonderton Farm, is a small scale consequence of Halloween being effectively cancelled this year. As previously mentioned, less than a week into November, England entered its second national lockdown and yet more high-street `big guns` announced huge job losses. Sainsbury's revealed that 3,500 positions, mostly from the Argos chain it bought in 2016 would go. The retailer said it planned to close about 420 standalone Argos stores by March 2024, although it would open 150 more outlets in supermarkets where delicatessens, fresh fish and meat counters will close. The firm also posted half-yearly results, revealing a £137m loss which it blamed on pandemic-related closures and market changes, the latter possibly acknowledging the general public`s move to online grocery shopping.
John Lewis and Lloyds Banking Group said they were cutting a combined 2,500 jobs and Marks and Spencer recorded its first financial loss in its 94-year history. Half-year results to 26 September showed clothing and home sales were hammered by the closure of non-essential retail during the first COVID-19 lockdown that began in March. The retailer, which has undergone a transformation programme to close under-performing stores, improve its online experience and launch a grocery delivery service through a partnership with Ocado, reported a pre-tax loss of £87.6m. This compares with profits of almost £160m in the same period last year.
More than 860 people have immediately lost their jobs and a further 2,000 roles are at risk after the Edinburgh Woollen Mill chain and the homewares retailer Ponden Home called in administrators on 6 November. Just days later, bosses at the Petroineos plant in Grangemouth said they will restructure operations in the wake of falling demand for fuel, placing up to 200 jobs there at risk. Over 800 positions are also set to go at bakery chain Greggs. Also, US manufacturing firm Caterpillar, is planning to cut 700 jobs, mostly at its Larne plant in Northern Ireland. The company also has two plants in Belfast; one that includes a manufacturing facility that makes axles and transmissions for trucks, and another serving as an administrative centre. Unlike the vast majority of companies cutting jobs this year, Caterpillar says the proposed downsizing is not related to Brexit or the pandemic.
On Thursday 5 November, travel agents and tour operators gathered outside the Scottish Parliament building in Edinburgh to protest against what they see as minimal support for their industry which is at real risk of collapse. The event's organisers said COVID-19 had left the sector `broken and broke`. The Scottish government maintained that it was engaging with the travel industry in order to help support businesses. The protest in Edinburgh was organised by the Scottish Passenger Agents' Association (SPAA), which said "Scotland's 26,000 travel sector jobs were under threat without a clear strategy from the Scottish and UK governments showing how they will get the travel industry moving again". (Protest images © BBC News / insider.co.uk).
Just a few days later, the news of a vaccine sent stock exchanges into overdrive on hopes of a potential breakthrough in the battle against COVID-19. Already buoyed after a clear end to the US Election (see below), markets piled on gains and the FTSE 100 jumped nearly 5%. Tozinameran, commonly known as the Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, and sold under the brand name Comirnaty, has been developed by German company BioNTech in cooperation with American multinational pharmaceutical corporation Pfizer. Pfizer's own shares climbed 9% after it said that preliminary analysis indicated that its Coronavirus vaccine was 90% effective, but some of the initial optimism had faded by the end of the trading session. Meanwhile the Nasdaq, where many of the tech firms that have benefited from demand for their products during lockdowns are listed, fell 1.5%. In addition to the BioNTech solution, roll outs of other functional vaccines are reportedly not too far behind. These include one produced right here in the UK by Oxford University/AstraZeneca and another by American biotechnology company Moderna in the US. (Vaccine Images © BBC / Financial Times / Daily Mail / Getty).
Having witnessed a Halloween like no other this year, Guy Fawkes Night also went ahead on a far smaller scale. All public fireworks displays were cancelled and bonfires were discouraged. Even so, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that it had taken almost 1,200 calls from members of the public between late-afternoon and midnight on 5 November, with some crews attacked as they responded to incidents. Most towns and cities have their traditional flash points (no pun intended) and 2020 was no different. Firefighters across Scotland dealt with more than 500 bonfires, on what they called "one of their busiest nights of the year". The service said there were also 12 reported attacks on crews, but luckily no injuries were reported. The following morning, newspapers focused on thugs throwing fireworks at bystanders in Edinburgh`s West Pilton area while cars were torched in a night of chaos. This is the third year in a row that dispersal zones have operated across the capital to deter illegal bonfires, gatherings and firework misuse. Police can instruct two or more people who are congregating and behaving in an antisocial manner to leave and anyone who fails to do so, or returns within 24 hours, faces arrest.
Also in Edinburgh, the Fire Service said it had received 32 calls reporting a blaze on Arthur's Seat just before midnight. Three appliances were sent to the scene where about 40 square metres of gorse were on fire. There`s a good chance that this fire had been set deliberately. Firefighters handed the incident over to park rangers in the early hours and left the scene, with no reports of any casualties.
The worst incident of the night was at Greenock where police in public order gear were deployed to assist local officers who were attempting to disperse a 200-strong crowd attending an illegal bonfire rave. The action was taken after local officers and firefighters were pelted with bottles stones, and attacked with fireworks. There was also serious Guy Fawkes Night related disorder in Glasgow`s Drumchapel housing scheme and in other parts of the city.
Meanwhile, In Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, a stray rocket landed on the roof of a semi-detached two-storey property (right) in the town's Corrie Road and set it alight, but again no one was hurt.
Yobs went along residential streets in Shawlands on Glasgow`s south side, letting off fireworks with one individual discharging pyrotechnics from what appeared to be a hand held automatic rocket-firing device which were aimed at houses and parked cars. It could have been this firework, which is capable of setting off 300 missiles, possibly adapted in some way, or something similar. This pack is widely advertised online for just £17.99 in the UK.
US Elections: Trump Trumped!
Following the most divisive US presidential electoral contest in decades, erstwhile host of the USA`s version of The Apprentice TV show, Donald Trump, was himself fired. It appeared that many voters simply wanted a President that behaved in a more conventional manner. They had tired of Mr Trump`s infantile name-calling, ugly language, ceaseless confrontation and a constant barrage of Tweets as announcements of intended policy. Much of his content posted on Social Media was defamatory, inaccurate or completely false which led to an increasing number of the President`s posts being removed by the operators. His mishandling of the Coronavirus outbreak which by Election Day had killed more than 230,000 Americans, must have been a major contributor to his downfall.
It looks as though the President won`t give up the White House without a fight though. On Election Day it soon became apparent that things weren`t going his way. Even as the counts were being updated, Trump made false accusations of widespread voter fraud, blaming a flawed and corrupt system, which he himself is charge of. Since Joe Biden was declared the winner, leaders from around the world have congratulated the president-elect, including President of France Emmanuel Macron; the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson; and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, acknowledging his victory even while Trump has refused to do so.
However, the fact remains that Donald Trump won more than 70 million votes, the second highest total in American history. But, despite having an extraordinary hold over large swathes of the country, with millions upon millions of enthusiastic followers and in many cases fanatical devotees, including the Proud Boys (below), a far-right, neo-fascist political organisation, Trump is now one of only four incumbents in the modern era not to get reelected for another four year term. (US Election images © ABC News / Evening Standard / Reuters / EPA / Getty / AP / AFP).
By 21 November, the USA`s Coronavirus infection rate had topped 12 million according to Johns Hopkins University and taken the lives of more than 250,000 Americans, which is by far the largest total in the world. Since the election result, President Trump has been spending a lot of time on the golf course, apparently even more disinterested in issues that he doesn`t support. After attending the introductory remarks of the G20 Summit’s `Pandemic Preparedness` event which was being held virtually, he skipped a special session in which numerous other world leaders discussed how best to coordinate the fight against the virus, choosing to play golf instead.
During his 2016 campaign for the White House Trump regularly attacked his predecessor Barack Obama for hitting the links too often and insisted that he would have little time to play golf himself once president as he would be working too hard. Now, according to a tally kept by CNN, Trump has visited one of his golf clubs on 303 occasions so far during his four years in office. His refusal to concede the presidency risks jeopardising the transition for president elect Joe Biden, and vice president elect Kamala Harris and could disrupt their efforts to tackle not only the escalating pandemic, but other issues such as the climate crisis, and the migrant emergency in Central America. (Above images © CNN).
This month, with the US Presidential Elections and developments regarding the Coronavirus pandemic headlining, the subject of Brexit has been largely overlooked in the media, even though the end of the transition period is fast approaching. It`s clear that there will be troubled waters ahead for the negotiators as they attempt to thrash out a deal, especially with regard to fishing rights which has always been one of the most contentious issues.
The politically-charged subject is of great symbolic significance to maritime nations, such as the UK and France. EU countries want their boats to be able to keep fishing in British waters after the transition period ends on 31 December. But the UK argues that as an independent coastal state it should be able to prioritise its own boats and control access and quotas. However, the bulk of fish caught by UK fishermen is sold in Europe, so ideally Britain needs to maintain access to EU markets. France is seen by many on the UK side as the nation most resistant to compromise. Various EU and independent commentators have said that because fishing accounts for a relatively small percentage of the UK`s economy, they see little reason why this issue should remain a stumbling block in the attempt to finalise a trade deal.
The situation around the island of Ireland is even more complex than elsewhere with Northern Ireland`s waters controlled by the UK while the Republic of Ireland is an EU member state. Geography makes the situation very difficult to police. Kilkeel (pictured), for example, is the southernmost town in Northern Ireland and the main fishing port on Ulster`s County Down coast. Its busy harbour, just a few miles from the border, houses one of the largest fishing fleets on the entire island, plus Kilkeel is home to an RNLI Lifeboat Station.
Last month, Ireland`s Foreign Affairs and Defence Minister Simon Coveney warned that there would be tensions between fleets if there was no trade deal, raising the prospect of confrontations akin to the Cod Wars between British and Icelandic fishermen in 1973 in which vessels were damaged. Irish warships would be required to deal with these situations which would put pressure on the country`s Naval Service. Its modest fleet of Offshore Patrol Vessels, including LE Samuel Beckett (below), has been beset by mechanical and staffing issues. (Following image © IDF / Wikipedia).
The majority of the fishing that takes place close to the west coast of Scotland is for shellfish, and most of this catch is exported to Europe. But an industry that is already struggling because demand has dried up during the COVID-19 pandemic is now facing the prospect of a no trade deal between the UK and the EU which would lead to crippling tariffs. Some fishermen could find their produce too expensive for European customers but their Northern Ireland-based neighbours will have easier access to the EU economy next year than the rest of the UK.
One suggestion being considered by some skippers is to re-register their boats in Northern Ireland but continue to fish in Scottish waters. Several airlines, including easyJet and Ryanair, re-registered some of their respective fleets in EU member countries to try and get round red tape following Brexit, but the subsequent catastrophic collapse of the travel industry has made this move somewhat irrelevant, at least for the foreseeable future.
Deal or no deal, Northern Ireland will continue to follow most of the rules of the EU single market after the rest of the UK leaves at the end of the year. That will allow its fishermen to continue exporting, either across the land border into the Republic of Ireland (which is in the EU) or straight to continental Europe, without new costs or bureaucracy, therefore the apparent loophole of re-registering Scottish boats could prove tempting.
Below: At the beginning of the month the crew of a fishing boat was rescued in Loch Etive in Argyll after breaking down as Storm Aiden battered Scotland. The four people on board the 22ft (6.7m) vessel managed to secure it to a fish farm mooring in the 18 mile-long (30 km) sea loch while they waited for help. The RNLI lifeboat from Oban towed the boat to safety as winds gusted at 60 mph. Elsewhere a shipping alert was issued after 33 containers were lost overboard in the Pentland Firth. Two of the empty 40ft (12m) containers later washed ashore at South Hoy in Orkney and a coastguard aircraft was called in to help look for the others. (Above images courtesy RNLI).
Another Visitor Attraction Sunk - At least for the Time Being.
Still on a nautical theme, the charity that operates the Royal Yacht Britannia announced that the vessel would be closed to visitors from 09:00 hrs on Wednesday 4 November 2020 until further notice. She is permanently berthed alongside Leith`s Ocean Terminal and up until recently was one of Scotland`s most popular tourist attractions. Over 390,000 people visited in the last year alone.
Bob Downie, chief executive of The Royal Yacht Britannia Trust, said the decision to temporarily close had been taken to minimise the ongoing losses that are being incurred due to the significantly reduced visitor numbers. There is already a shortfall of more than £2.4 million. The timing of the move is to take advantage of the extended COVID Job Retention Scheme under which employers can furlough staff and reclaim 80% of their wages. Keeping the floating attraction open with so few visitors was less cost effective than closing and putting staff on furlough. It`s hoped that taking action now will help protect the charity’s long-term future.
Her Majesty`s Yacht Britannia is just one of many world-famous ships built and launched at the Clydebank shipyard of John Brown & Co. The Royal Yacht rolled down the slipway on 16 April 1953, with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II having performed the launch ceremony. Thousands gathered at the John Brown yard and on the opposite, Renfrew side of the River Clyde to watch the historic event. After the Queen said “I name this ship Britannia. I wish success to her and all who sail in her”, a bottle of Empire wine was smashed against the hull instead of the traditional champagne as a symbol of austerity in post-war Britain.
The Royal Yacht cost an estimated £1.8 million to build, the equivalent of some £35m today. Despite the grim weather, it was a day of celebration not least because workers were given the day off to witness the climax of their hard graft, along with their families. Children too had been given the day off school to join their parents at the dockside. These historical photos, available for sharing via social media, are among those featured in an online article on the Glasgow Herald and Glasgow Times websites.
Above: I presume this shot was taken when Britannia changed berths for further fitting-out. The industrial buildings lining the north bank of the Clyde all along this stretch are a reminder of the town`s, and indeed the Clyde as a whole`s shipbuilding capacity. One interesting point is the small stone building on Newshot Island, on the opposite side, close to the navigation light. Cattle can be seen and are still kept here today so the structure would have likely served as a byre at some point. Foundations and lengths of dry-stone dyke survive but this is the first time I`ve seen evidence of the actual building. (Old photos © Herald Scotland).
Dated 1907, this shot taken from the top of one of the Titan cranes in John Brown`s shipyard has an even better view of the Newshot Island structure.
Following her commission in January 1954 Britannia spent the next 44 years travelling well over a million nautical miles and calling at over 600 ports in 135 countries around the globe. During her career Britannia carried the Queen and other members of the Royal Family on 968 official voyages, from the far-flung regions of the South Seas to the freezing waters of Antarctica. The ship has three masts and the uppermost sections of her foremast and mainmast were hinged, to allow the ship to pass under low bridges. This shot shows her passing Erskine, presumably returning to John Brown`s after sea trials.
Numerous Heads of State and dignitaries have been welcomed aboard Britannia including three US Presidents. Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, took their honeymoon cruise aboard the vessel in 1981. Upon coming to power in May 1997, the Labour government under Tony Blair announced that the Royal Yacht would be taken out of service and not replaced, having decided that the vessel`s operational costs could no longer be justified. The above shot of the State Dining Room is from the gallery page on the official website. (Image © Marc Millar).
The Royal Yacht`s final foreign mission and coincidentally her longest voyage, was to collect the last Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, from Hong Kong after its handover to the People's Republic of China on 1 July 1997. He was accompanied by Prince Charles.
(Hong Kong images © Imperial War Museum / Reuters / AP).
Hong Kong became a colony of the British Empire after the Qing Empire ceded Hong Kong Island at the end of the First Opium War in 1842. The colony expanded to the Kowloon Peninsula in 1860 after the Second Opium War and was further extended when Britain obtained a 99-year lease of the New Territories in 1898. The whole territory was transferred to China as a special administrative region with the understanding that it would maintain separate governing and economic systems from that of mainland China.
A flotilla of Royal Navy warships led by the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious escorted Britannia on the first leg of her homeward journey back to the UK. By the end of the year Britannia had been decommissioned at Portsmouth. Her Majesty The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh and 12 senior members of the Royal Family, as well as over 2,000 Royal Yacht Officers and crew, together with their families, witnessed the ceremony.
Only seven parked-up British Airways Airbus A321s remained at Glasgow International at the start of November: G-EUXD, G-EUXE, G-EUXF, G-EUXG, G-MEDJ, G-MEDM and G-MEDU, the rest having left on various days over the preceding weeks for Madrid. Presumably the long term storage fees at the Spanish airport are cheaper. Next to go was G-MEDM which departed on 3 November.
A321-231 with registration G-MEDU (above) was one of only two parked on the west apron at the start of the month.
Following on from the aforementioned departures, even more British Airways Airbuses flew-in from 6 November onwards, vacating London Heathrow due to less expensive ground fees at Glasgow. Most of these aircraft, like their predecessors, would later relocate to Spain for layup over the winter. A319s G-EUPM & G-EUPO positioned from LHR on the 6th. Then some days saw either six or eight aircraft arriving here and stands steadily filled. By the middle of the month, excluding any operational Shuttle flight aircraft, there were no less than 36 British Airways airliners parked up, or in the BA Engineering hangar: A319s G-DBCA, G-DBCB, G-DBCF, G-DBCG, G-DBCK, G-EUOE, G-EUOG, G-EUPG,G-EUPM, G-EUPN, G-EUPO, G-EUPR, G-EUPT and G-EUPY; A320s G-EUUB, G-EUUD, G-EUUE. G-EUUF, G-EUUI, G-EUUK, G-EUUM, G-EUUO, G-EUUR, G-EUYA, G-EUYC, G-EUYD, G-EUYN, G-EUYR, G-EUYW, G-EUYX and G-MIDS; plus A321s G-EUXD G-EUXE, G-MEDJ, G-MEDU and G-NEOW, although A321 G-EUXD left for Madrid early morning on Sunday 15th and several individual aircraft later relocated to Palma, Majorca.
Airbus A320-232 G-EUUM (above) was initially allocated a parking space on Area R which is usually reserved for visiting biz-jets.
The following slideshow features general shots taken between 7 November and 9 November of the stored British Airways planes...
These panoramas and following gallery cover the BA arrivals between Tuesday 10 November and the end of the month.
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.
The above panorama shows the West Apron on Wednesday 11 November after the bulk of the BA lay-ups had arrived.
Above left: Airbus A321-231 G-EUXE sets off for Madrid during a downpour on Wednesday 18 November for a further stint of long term parking. Also pictured here on the same day is the carrier`s A319-131 G-EUPJ (BEA-livery), on finals for Runway 23. The latter retro-look plane, which I snapped from the Riverside Walkway at Erskine, worked several afternoon Shuttle flights during the second half of the month. It then flew in on Saturday 21 November and parked up on the West Apron for a spell.
Fortunately, the Retro Airbus was left in a relatively uncluttered position. These shots were taken on Monday 23 November.
Low cost carrier easyJet reduced its November schedule from / to Glasgow to just eight flights per week this month: four connecting Belfast and four connecting London Gatwick. COVID restrictions permitting, flights to the Canary Islands will resume in December in time for the Christmas and New Year getaways. Over on the east coast, easyJet has temporarily withdrawn its service between Edinburgh and Belfast, but the airline`s link connecting the Scottish capital and London Gatwick remains, albeit this will reduce to just four flights per week for the time being.
easyJet added that it expected to fly at just 20% of normal capacity into next year. Then, soon after, Chief executive Johan Lundgren announced the first annual loss in the airline's 25-year history, a whopping £1.27 billion for the year to 30 September 2020. The financial pressure caused by the pandemic has forced easyJet to take on more debt, go to shareholders for extra cash, and sell dozens of its aircraft. Full national lockdowns across its network led the carrier to ground its entire fleet for 11 weeks.
There had been some recovery in demand during the summer months as regulations were eased, but with the onset of winter resulting in rising infections, widespread quarantine restrictions were again implemented, creating another major setback for the entire travel industry.
However, Mr Lundgren welcomed the possibility of a Coronavirus vaccine being rolled out in the not too distant future, and said that people still wanted to travel, confirmed by the fact that easyJet bookings were now up close to 50%. easyJet has been making use of UK government support, borrowing £600m in April and placing many of its staff on furlough.
Eastern Airways Embraer ERJ-145MP G-CHMR took off on 1 November after an overnight stay.
Scottish airports are facing a fresh wave of job losses after Loganair confirmed it had started formal consultations with its workforce. This month`s announcement came after the Unite union reported that up to 165 Loganair positions were at risk at Glasgow, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Inverness airports. The airline described the situation as a `worst case scenario` and added that it would be using the job retention furlough scheme to hold on to as many staff as possible over the winter.
The company currently has 725 staff and the latest job losses are in addition to 92 posts which are already going across its UK operation. In a statement, Unite estimated that about a quarter of the airline's Scottish airport workforce was now at risk, including 49 posts at Aberdeen, 26 at Edinburgh, 70 at Glasgow and 20 at Inverness. The roll out of the anticipated effective vaccine, however, could make a massive difference by next spring.
Noteworthy airliners calling in at Glasgow Airport this month were Bombardier CRJ-900LR EI-GEA (f/v) CityJet (f/t Dubin) (1st); Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPB Emirates (Expo 2020 blue livery), Airbus A321-211 G-POWN Titan Airways and Boeing 737-7Q8 OK-SWT (f/v) Smartwings (4th); A321-211 G-POWN returned (6th); Boeing 777-236(ER) G-YMMP (f/v) British Airways (Cargo-only flight from Kuala Lumpur, bringing in much needed PPE) (11th); Boeing 777-336(ER) G-STBJ (f/v) British Airways operated an identical flight on the 12th...
British Airways Boeing 777-236(ER) G-YMMU (f/v) flew in on Sunday 15 November on another cargo-only run, this time from Bangkok rather than Kuala Lumpur. Boeing 737-7GL(WL) EZ-A007 of Turkmenistan Airlines made a fuel stop on the 18th. BA Triple-seven-236(ER) G-YMML (f/v) (Great Festival of Creativity colour scheme) on the 20th was followed by Boeing 777-336(ER) G-STBJ making its second appearance on the 22nd. Airbus A330-941N CS-TUM (f/v) TAP Air Portugal plus Emirates Expo 2020-liveried Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPB made a return visit (25th); Boeing 777-236(ER) G-YMMJ (f/v) BA (cargo flight from Kuala Lumpur) (27th); Boeing 777-36N(ER) G-STBC (f/v) BA (Cargo-only flight from Kuala Lumpur) (29th).
Michael O`Leary`s Ryanair has revealed that it carried 80% fewer passengers over the first half of its financial year and expects losses to grow amid the Coronavirus pandemic. It said 17.1 million people had travelled on the airline in the six months to September, compared with 85.7 million last year. The carrier also reported a €196.5m (£174m) loss for the same period but warned the situation would likely worsen. The Irish airline's first half loss compares with a €1.15bn profit in the same period last year. Revenues also plunged to €1.1bn from a previous €5.3bn. When flights did resume Mr O`Leary said passenger confidence and forward bookings `were negatively impacted by the return of uncoordinated EU government flight restrictions in September and October which heavily curtailed travel to and from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal`.
Ryanair is still rated as one of the worst airliners to reimburse cash refunds to entitled passengers. The above right hand view of Ryanair 737 EI-ENI was taken on Wednesday 11 November 2020. This was the first time that I`d seen the new advertising screen overlooking the M8 in operation. No doubt the companies involved will be hoping the ads would boost sales on the run up to Christmas, but anytime I passed during the second half of the month it was switched off, perhaps due to potential clients realising they`re fighting a losing battle to entice shoppers due to the pandemic, even though the Festive Season, traditionally the busiest time of the year for sales, is fast approaching.
The screen is an unnecessary distraction for motorists and could become downright dangerous in heavy traffic, especially in limited visibility or when there`s heavy surface water if drivers` eyes stray even momentarily. Below: In the air, the risk of a bird strike increases at this time of year. Many species congregate in the fields surrounding the airport, and on Newshot Island at Erskine, which is close to the descent path for Runway 23.
Flocks can often number several hundred birds, illustrated in these shots of a Ryanair 737 descending over Clydebank on finals with a large flock of Lapwings in the foreground. Although they were well away from the aircraft on this occasion, several near misses and occasional strikes are usually reported each year.
Icelandair`s net earnings have dropped by 81% since last year, however, revenue from cargo transport has helped to address the balance as that`s risen by 16%. The figures come from the company`s third-quarter results. Icelandair has maintained minimum passenger flights between Reykjavik (Keflavik) and a handful of destinations in Europe and North America throughout the COVID-19 crisis and has received various forms of government support.
It also held a successful public share offering in September as part of its restructuring. The carrier`s CEO Bogi Nils Bogason stated that Icelandair`s strengthened financial position will enable it to maintain minimum service and sales until 2022 if need be. (Keflavik Airport aerial view © SuperJet International / Wikipedia).
With the Boeing 737 MAX given permission to fly with passengers once again in USA and Europe, we should see Icelandair use the type on its Glasgow service again sometime in 2021. Ryanair is buying 75 additional 737 Max jets from Boeing, by far the largest order for the troubled plane since it was grounded nearly two years ago following two fatal crashes. The carrier had already placed orders for 135 of the MAX aircraft, making it one of the jet's largest customers in the world but they had not taken delivery of any before the grounding. No doubt Mr O`Leary is taking advantage of massive discounts offered by Boeing as the manufacturer attempts to sell off planes which were subject to cancelled orders.
Air Transat offered Glasgow International`s only scheduled link with North America in 2020 but the departure of Airbus A321-271NX C-GOIO to Toronto on Sunday 1 November marked the end of the service until next year. The previous week saw the return of the world's longest flight: Singapore to New York JFK, but another new aviation record, the world's longest flight in a single-aisle aircraft, was set by one of Air Transat`s narrowbody A321NEOs like this one.
Air Transat flight TS690 flew transatlantic from Montreal, Canada, to Athens, Greece, on 26 October, on a journey of 4,754 miles (7,600 kilometres). The record-breaking 8 hour 32-minute flight is not the furthest the A321LR has flown. In 2018 the type completed a test flight from Mahé, Seychelles, to Toulouse in France which took 11-hours and covered 5,466 miles. On that occasion, however, instead of passengers, the plane was equipped with heat-emitting dummies. Before this Air Transat jet`s achievement, the record for a commercial flight by a single-aisle airliner was held by WOW Air, set on a Reykjavik to LA flight in 2018 which covered 4,304 miles (6,927 kilometres). It`s likely that the Air Transat A321NEOs will be flying plenty more long-haul routes in the future, especially with demand for air travel at a historic low due to COVID, and a slow recovery predicted. The plane can seat up to 199 passengers, which now compares favourably with the carrier`s larger Airbus A330s with a maximum capacity of 375. The following views, both taken at Glasgow Airport in 2006, show a couple of Air Transat`s previous colour schemes.
Lufthansa had been due to operate two Glasgow flights from/to Frankfurt throughout the winter beginning on 3 November but the service was pulled at the last minute. Hopefully it should resume next summer. Smartwings Boeing 737-7Q8 OK-SWT (f/v) (above) kicked-off November`s football charters on the 4th, bringing Sparta Prague to Scotland for their Europa League match against Celtic at Parkhead. It arrived about 11:00 hrs and later that afternoon Rangers headed for Portugal on Titan Airways A321-211 G-POWN for their showdown against Benfica in the same competition.
Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPB in Expo 2020 blue livery also flew in on the 4th, landing just a few minutes behind the Smartwings 737.
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.
This month`s rarest visitor was Boeing 737-7GL(WL) EZ-A007 of Turkmenistan Airlines which made a fuel stop on Wednesday 18 November. The airliner was returning from scheduled maintenance in the United States, presumably at Boeing Field, Seattle, and had arrived from Bangor, Maine. It had came through westbound on 15 May this year.
Turkmenistan, which gained independence from Soviet rule in 1991, is ruled by Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov, a former dentist who became President in a 2007 election that international observers said was rigged after the death of the nation’s longtime dictator, Saparmurat Niyazov. The regime controls all media and punishes all unsanctioned forms of religious and political expression.
Bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert, the former Soviet republic was once an important stop on the Silk Road. Its futuristic theme park of a capital, Ashgabat, houses an eccentric collection of architectural oddities. Known as the `City of Love`, it contains the world’s highest concentration of white marble buildings, many of which are lit up at night by garish LEDs. Despite a million inhabitants, this ostentatious place seems largely deserted to those few foreigners who do visit and implausibly clean.
Ashgabat International Airport.
Pictured above is the country`s newly built international airport with its terminal designed to represent a falcon in flight. It was built to host 17 million passengers per year, yet just 5,000-6,000 people visit Turkmenistan annually. Western human rights organisations are banned from Turkmenistan, and Human Rights Watch calls it `one of the most repressive and closed countries in the world.` There are similarities between the Turkmenistan President and Kim Jong-un of South Korea as both have a flair for dramatic displays and project themselves as almost god-like. Berdymukhammedov propaganda videos boast of his athletic prowess and military skills well as his affinity with animals. The Turkmen leader already has a 69-foot-high gold statue of himself riding an Akhal-Teke horse, a breed known for its physical capabilities and golden sheen.
Now, this month, he unveiled a 19-foot-tall golden sculpture of his favourite breed of dog, the Central Asian Shepherd, known locally as Alabai. The monument was erected on a pedestal at the centre of a roundabout in the capital and the opening ceremony was complete with exuberant singers and twirling dancers, clouds of coloured balloons, and a wraparound television screen on the statue’s base beaming out images of the dogs. An Alabai puppy, held by a young child, also made an appearance. The shots below show Berdymukhammedov gifting one of the dogs to Russian President Vladimir Putin while on a visit to Moscow. (Ashgabat International Airport photos © polimeks.com / worldrecordacademy.com; Turkmenistan & News images © The Guardian / www.calvertjournal.com).
Last year, Berdymukhammedov released a book about the breed, including a poem he reportedly wrote during a cabinet meeting. At the book’s launch, participants sang songs in honour of the dog in a packed hall. The Alabai has traditionally been used for protection and to guard livestock, and can be found across Central Asia in countries like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The dog statue was unveiled as part of a package of new infrastructure in western Ashgabat, the state news agency said, which also included several high-rise residential buildings and a shopping centre. These and other opulent monuments stand in stark contrast with the everyday lives of many in a country that remains impoverished despite rich reserves of natural gas that it largely exports to China. Who knows, had Donald Trump been reelected he may have got on great with this guy! (Turkistan images © The Guardian / www.calvertjournal.com).
Below: TAP Air Portugal Airbus A330-941N CS-TUM (f/v) which brought Benfica FC to the city on Thursday 26 November for their Group Stage Europa League match against Rangers at Ibrox was not only the first visit of an A330 NEO to Glasgow, but to any Scottish airport. I listened in on the scanner as it made its approach about 19:00 hrs under a clear night sky. As he made his descent over the Motherwell area, the captain reported that his aircraft had been targeted by a green laser, but he was obviously unable to be more specific about the culprit`s location. The source of the beam was estimated to be at a distance of somewhere between 1 and 2 miles and the tower altered the TAP airliner`s course to lessen the risk of injury.
On match night the Ibrox men went 2 goals ahead but Benfica stunned Rangers with a second late comeback within three weeks to earn a draw and stall their hosts' Europa League knockout hopes. On 5 November, the Gers had thrown away a 3-1 lead in Portugal to draw 3-3 after Alfredo Morelos had scored his 22nd European goal to overtake Ally McCoist as the club's all-time leading marksman on the continent. The draws against Benfica are hardly a disaster for Rangers and if they beat Standard Liege at Ibrox on 3 December, a last-32 spot is theirs. Plus, they remain unbeaten in 22 matches. Things aren`t going so well for rivals Celtic though. Manager Neil Lennon is under increasing pressure to quit after a second successive 4-1 defeat by Sparta Prague. It means the Hoops are now out of the Europa League even though they have two games remaining.
The return flight to Lisbon was on the afternoon of Friday 27 November so I went along to the airport for the scheduled departure time but gave up waiting when there was no sign of movement. The big jet left just after I did, 35 minutes late, but I managed a distant snap from my back garden despite the gloomy conditions...
Celtic`s next game was against Ross County in the Scottish League Cup at Parkhead on Sunday 29 November. The visitors won 0-2, and soon after the defeat, irate fans gathered outside the stadium to call for Lennon's departure. Unfortunately many football teams have an undesirable element of supporters who lose the plot and vent their aggression when things grow wrong. Despite pleas to stay away to prevent the spread of COVID, things turned nasty for a time and two police officers were hurt, the disorder unsurprisingly making the next morning`s headlines.
The only visiting turboprop airliners other than the usual Loganair, Aer Lingus Regional , ASL and Swiftair machines were from the Blue Islands fleet. The fact that Loganair Saab 340 G-LGNF, photographed on Sunday 1 November outside the company hangar, is now in an all-white livery may indicate that it`s about to be disposed of.
On Monday 30 November, Airside Ops were asked to fire-off a few bird scaring flares at `Alpha One` before Twin Otter G-SGTS lined-up for takeoff...
This November was the quietest month I can ever remember for corporate traffic: Gulfstream GIV-SP N475LC (2nd); Cessna CitationJet CJ2 D-ISJP, plus Citation Mustang OE-FZE from Luton (3rd); Dassault Falcon 2000EX CS-DLD, CitationJet CJ2+ G-TWOP, Eclipse EA500 2-JEZA and Embraer Phenom 300 G-JMBO (4th);Gulfstream IV-SP N475LC again (5th); Cessna Citation Bravo D-CELI (f/v) (8th); Citation Mustang OE-FIT (10th); Embraer Legacy 500 G-MRFX (11th); Bombardier Global Express XRS G-CEYL (18th); Embraer Legacy 650 D-AERO Air Hamburg and Dassault Falcon 7X N898ES (f/v) (24th); Phenom 300 D-CASH Air Hamburg and CitationJet CJ3 2-RBTS (29th).
Below: Air Hamburg Embraer Legacy 650 D-AERO, seen here on the morning of 25 November, had flown in from Nice the previous day...
Diamond DA-42NG Twin Star G-HAKA arrived on 31 October and night stopped into November, having done various go-arounds to calibrate navigation aids.
Not much in the way of interesting General Aviation visitors either: King Air 200 G-IASB (1st); King Air 200s TF-MYV (f/v) and TF-MYV (f/v) from Akureyri in Iceland, plus Diamond DA42 Twin Star G-CIKM (3rd); King Air 200 G-NIAA, plus Van's RV-8 G-WEEV did a go-around via Runway 23 at 15:05 hrs (4th); Bell 429 GlobalRanger M-YMCM (5th); King Air 200 G-CDZT and King Air C90GTi N95VB (6th); King Air C90A M-POWR (8th); King Air 200 G-FLYK (10th); Diamond DA-62 Twin Star G-IRJE (f/v) (12th); King Air 200 G-CDZT returned (plus other dates) (17th); SOCATA TBM 940 N949BZ (f/v) (19th); Cessna 421C Golden Eagle G-ISAR (23rd); King Air 200 G-IASB returned (24th); Cessna T303 Crusader G-CMOS (26th); Denney Kitfox 4-1200 Speedster G-BVGO did a go-around of Runway 05 on the 27th; Last but not least were King Air 200s G-NIAA and G-NYCO (f/v) on Monday 30 November. The latter aircraft is pictured on the right, coming in to land on Runway 23 and later (below), parked on Area Juliet...
Resident Piper PA-38-112 Tomahawk II G-BSFE is pictured here on Saturday 7 November 2020.
Prestwick based HM Coastguard AW189 ‘Rescue 199’ G-MCGT visited on 6 and 18 November while Inverness based ‘Rescue 151’ G-MCGP was noted on the 9th. Stornoway based Sikorsky S-92A G-MCGL appeared on the 26th. Gama Aviation`s Airbus Helicopters EC145T2 G-GMAH (below) is used by the Scottish Ambulance Service....
Remembrance commemorations were drastically scaled back this year as a result of the Coronavirus restrictions. At 11:00 GMT on Remembrance Sunday and Remembrance Day itself, the annual two-minute silence in honour of those who lost their lives in conflicts was held across the UK, but unlike previous years the Royal British Legion and Legion Scotland advised people to observe the silence from their doorsteps. The Queen wore a face mask in public for the first time during a visit to Westminster Abbey on Sunday 8 November. It was her first public engagement in London since March in which she paid her respects at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior to mark 100 years since his burial. A royal aide said Sunday`s service was `deeply personal` for the Queen, who was married in the Abbey in 1947. She left flowers based on her wedding bouquet on the grave.
A socially-distanced National Service of Remembrance went ahead at the Cenotaph in Whitehall in central London but it was the first time the event was closed off to the general public. Last year, more than 1,000 military personnel took part in these commemorations but this time it was fewer than 150. Where ordinarily 10,000 veterans would usually gather, just 26 former service men and women marked the occasion. Prince Charles laid a wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of the Queen, who watched the tributes in Whitehall from a nearby balcony. (Images BBC News).
In Scotland, thousands of people did as suggested and observed a two-minute silence on their doorsteps after traditional civic Remembrance Sunday parades and commemorations were cancelled country-wide. A scaled-back national service of remembrance was held at the Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those who laid wreaths. Everyone present at the short service wore face coverings and maintained physical distancing in line with the current guidelines.
Life-size silhouettes of 200 soldiers, all with heads bowed, have been erected at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to mark Remembrance Sunday. The installation, set up to raise funds for the Royal British Legion, is laid out by the Column of Victory and also features 75 poppy wreaths. Named `Standing with Giants`, the figures for the project were made from recycled building materials by Witney-based artist Dan Barton. Heather Carter, the palace's operations director, called it a `fitting tribute`, especially as many of the planned parades and services had to be cancelled. Blenheim Palace was built to celebrate Britain's victory over the French in the War of the Spanish Succession and completed in 1733. It was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and was used as a rehabilitation hospital for World War One soldiers, then a secret testing ground for landing craft in the run up to the D-Day Landings in World War Two.
(Blenheim Palace photos © BBC / Pete Seaward & Dave Seaward).
The silhouetted soldier figures at Blenheim bear a stark resemblance to the rows upon rows of headstones at the numerous Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries across the globe and emphasise just how many men and woman in military service have made the ultimate sacrifice over the years. Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Cemetery (below) in Belgium is the largest British and Commonwealth military cemetery in the world. As time passes many sites are bypassed now without little more than a glance from some people, but If each grave marker had a life-sized figure towering over it, hypothetically of course, the scale of the human cost which enables us to enjoy the freedom we know today may hit home. (Following view © BBC News).
Tyne Cot Cemetery (below left) first came into being in October 1917 when the ridge where the cemetery now lies was captured by the 3rd Australian Division during the bloody Battle of Broodseinde Ridge. The Germans had constructed a formidable network of trenches, fortified by concrete emplacements, and they enjoyed an uninterrupted view over the Salient towards Ypres. The Allied High Command therefore made the ridge`s capture a top priority. It`s said that it was the Northumberland Fusiliers who gave the ridge its name when they saw the resemblance between the German concrete pillboxes and Tyneside workers` cottages from their home county - `Tyne Cot`s`. This name, however, was already on the trench maps by the time the Northumberlands arrived in the battle area so may have been attributed for another reason.
The present-day Tyne Cot Cemetery, was designed by Sir Herbert Baker and unveiled on 20 June 1927. As well as being the final resting place of 11,954 military personnel who fell in the Great War, there is a Memorial to the Missing which commemorates those who fell in Flanders and have no known grave. The memorial is in the form of a stone wall which surrounds the cemetery and it came into being when authorities realised that the Menin Gate in Ypres was too small to contain all the names of the Missing as originally intended. The Menin Gate lists almost 55,000 names of those who have no known grave and an additional 35,000 names, all of whom fell after 15 August 1917, are recorded at Tyne Cot. This total includes 1,176 missing New Zealanders whose memorial is incorporated in the wall. The fact that these huge numbers represent just some of the men who fell in such a relatively small area, namely the Ypres Salient, over a four year period, is staggering.
This month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson revealed that the government would allocate an additional ‘£16.5 billion’ for defence spending over the next four to five years, which is welcome news for the Ministry of Defence, coming in the wake of financial uncertainty as a result of the Chancellor’s delayed autumn spending review. This financial uplift represents the largest investment into the British armed forces for 30 years, and sets the scene for a UK defence strategy in a post-Brexit age. Correctly identified as an additional £7.3bn spent annually on defence by 2024-25 in real terms, this is £6.5bn over manifesto pledges, representing a 4.2% growth per year above inflation. By 2024-25, defence spending should nudge the £50bn mark. (Above photo © Royal Navy).
Those immediately standing to gain from the financial boost are the Royal Navy, and with them, UK shipyards, particularly those on the Clyde, and associated manufacturing. In addition, the RAF will receive funding for the new space command, with additional investment for drone technology and the UK-led Tempest programme; the sixth generation fighter jet. Further announcements were a national cyber force, and an artificial intelligence (AI) agency. It focuses on two separate components for UK defence; the return of naval supremacy and the forward-deployed Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group in 2021, and the arrival of a truly digital defence age. (Images © www.defensenews.com / Ben Stansall, Finnbarr Webster/ The Times /Getty Images).
Shortly before the the sizeable financial package was announced, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace denied rumours that the government intends to mothball all of its main battle tanks which many consider no longer fit purpose and would be easy targets in a modern tech-heavy combat environment.
The budget for army kit is already being squeezed and military chiefs are said to have drawn up plans to mothball all of Britain’s tanks under radical proposals to modernise the armed forces which would lead to other military assets being given priority over heavy armour.
The government is examining the controversial idea as the cost of upgrading Britain’s ageing fleet of 227 Challenger 2 tanks, and the 388 Warrior armoured fighting vehicles that support them on the battlefield, has soared. The argument in the Ministry of Defence is that the changing character of warfare demands more investment in cyber capabilities, space and other cutting-edge technologies. Conventional infantry numbers are also likely to suffer although there is no suggestion of redundancies. Recruitment will merely reduce in order to bring the troop numbers down, if that`s what`s decided but further reducing the overall manning levels across the military would have significant adverse effects.
In this new digital defence age, where global pandemics, civil wars, migratory processes, and natural disasters all show no regard for artificial borders, the British armed forces must adapt to this new globalised era. It`s already clear that Russia means to destabilise the USA and European NATO members, including the UK, utilising cyber attacks and sophisticated disinformation campaigns. Further east, China is bolstering its military presence in the South and East China Seas, dominating the world’s most crucial shipping lanes, while seeking to increase its influence throughout the region. Many, therefore see this announcement of extra funding for UK defence as not only timely, but also highly appropriate given the threat posed to British interests across the globe.
The Royal Navy are set to acquire eight new Type 26 and five Type 31, in addition to new Type 32 frigates, the building of which should safeguard thousands of manufacturing jobs and create many more across BAE Systems’ yards on the River Clyde.
Work on the first two Type 26s, HMS Glasgow and HMS Cardiff, is progressing well with the former vessel beginning to take shape outside the shed on the quayside at Govan. The artists impression on the left is courtesy of BAE Systems.
In the meantime, the new naval Carrier Strike Group, led by HMS Queen Elizabeth and accompanied by US, Canadian and Australian personnel and equipment, is set to sail East of Suez next year, charting the Indian Ocean and on to South East Asia, on a flag-waving exercise. (RAF drone image below right © MoD/Crown Copyright).
On the left above is a mock-up of the BAE Systems Tempest 2, the proposed fighter aircraft concept currently under development in the UK for the Royal Air Force and the Italian Air Force (AMI). The `sixth generation` fighter is intended as a Eurofighter Typhoon replacement and should enter service from 2035 onwards. An estimated two billion pounds will have been spent by the British government on the project by 2025. Tempest will be able to fly unmanned and use swarming technology to control drones. It will also incorporate artificial intelligence deep learning and possess directed-energy weapons.
November 2020 saw various military aircraft pass through Glasgow Airport, the undoubted highlight being four Beechcraft T-6 Texan IIs which landed on Saturday 31 October. All bore US civil registrations as this is the latest batch of these turboprop trainers to be delivered to the RAF. They arrived at Glasgow between 17:15-18:00 hrs on Halloween, and remained until the morning of Tuesday 3 November.
The aircraft, all obviously making their first appearance here, were N2811B, N2786B, N2789B and N2790B. As is often the case with interesting visitors parked on Area Juliet, the general aviation ramp, they were positioned close to the University Air Squadron buildings which partially screened them from the road.
A pipe is being laid all along this stretch adjacent to the perimeter fence in connection with the major redevelopment project and an additional barrier has been erected. This would have ordinarily ruled out photographs from this angle altogether, if it hadn`t been for Storm Aiden. Luckily the overnight gusts blew down around half of the temporary fence, making it possible to wander along and get at least two of the group side-on between the hangars.
The only way to get all four in the same frame was in a distant telephoto shot taken from the end of Walkinshaw Road.
The Texan II is based on the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-9. The next-generation T-6 has replaced the Air Force's Cessna T-37B and the Navy's T-34C Turbo Mentor and is equipped with an all-digital, glass cockpit and features a hard-point wing to carry external fuel tanks, weapons and other external stores.
The United States Air Force (USAF) use the T-6 for basic pilot and Combat Systems Officer (CSO) training and the US Navy and US Marine Corps use it for Primary and Intermediate Naval Flight Officer (NFO) training. The T-6C is used for training by the Royal Moroccan Air Force, the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Mexican Air Force while the earlier T-6A variant is in service with the Canadian, Greek, Israeli and Iraqi Air Forces.
I`ve managed to photograph previous Texan IIs on delivery when they too stopped off at Glasgow but prior to the RAF planes, company demonstrators visited on several occasions, also overnighting here while routing between the US and Europe. The first one snapped was Raytheon 3000 / T-6B N3000B which is seen here parked up on Area Juliet on Thursday 9 March 2006.
Ten years later, this mean-looking example in desert camouflage, bearing the US civil registration N630LA, touched down at Glasgow for the first time at 14:10 hrs on Friday 22 April 2016.
Below: Beechcraft Texan T-6C (Raytheon 3000) demonstrator N3000B returned on Friday 20 July 2018, having landed at 10:30 hrs ...
It was still in a black, red and white colour scheme, but had undergone a makeover resulting in a more striking appearance.
It remained at Glasgow until setting off at 10:00 hrs on Sunday 22nd, returning Stateside after starring at the Farnborough Airshow.
Above: This rear-end view was the only shot possible of all four Texan IIs together from Abbotsinch Road on this occasion.
At 10:00 hrs on Monday 2 November, Boeing C-17A Globemaster III ZZ175 showed on Freedar, crossing well to the southeast of the airport at an altitude of 14,000 ft en route to the Leuchars area after a go-around at Prestwick. Then early the next day, Tuesday 3 November, all four Texan IIs departed Glasgow for RAF Valley in Wales. I missed the first two getting airborne just after 09:00 hours but managed to snap the last pair at a distance, the first aircraft being N2786B.
Last to leave was N2789B etc...
A few of the local enthusiasts were closer to the action and captured the takeoffs from halfway down Abbotsinch Road near the farm track.
A couple of the local UAS Grob Tutors were up circuit bashing on Wednesday 4 November, taking advantage of the settled conditions. This is G-CGKU...
German Air Force Bombardier Global 6000 14+05 `GAF 645` made an early morning training sortie on Friday 6 November, appearing at Glasgow Airport for two quick go-arounds, the first at 09:15 hrs. Global 14+06 `GAF 630` followed it across to Scotland`s west coast but didn`t come to Glasgow, opting for a go-around at Prestwick instead.
Monday 9 November saw a visit to Glasgow by RAF BAe 146-100-CC.2 ZE700 which used the call-sign`Ascot 1163`then Luftwaffe Global 6000 14+05 did a single go-around on Tuesday 10 November. BAe146 ZE700 also made a return visit and Grob G115E Tutor T1 G-BYWI arrived. On the 11th, it was BAe146 ZE701`s turn to drop in. This aircraft is shown above.
The Luftwaffe were back on the 13th with Global 5000 14+04, then Global 6000 14+07 on the 16th, both aircraft making brief appearances. On Tuesday 17 November, 14+04 returned to Scottish airspace, but this time opted for a circuit at Prestwick. Following not too far behind, however, was Glasgow-bound Airbus A340-313X 16+02. The pilot requested a low go-around of Runway 23 at an altitude of just 50 feet. Conditions were horrendous with the big plane hardly visible in this long distance shot from my back window. The German Air Force have two of these VIP transport aircraft, the other being 16+01. Both are ex-Lufthansa airliners: D-AIGR and D-AIFB and are operated by the Luftwaffe`s Executive Transport Wing.
The Flugbereitschaft, as it is known in German, operates a diverse fleet of aircraft with Its main operating base for its fixed wing assets being the military area of Cologne Bonn Airport. Various larger types from the unit, including the A340, have visited Glasgow on training flights over the years.
One of the various helicopter types that was used by the Flugbereitschaft previously was the ex-East-German Air Force Mil Mi-8S. This example, 93+51, is on display at the Luftwaffe Museum at Gatow, Berlin. Codenamed `Hip` by NATO, prior to reunification of Germany, more Russian-built Mi-8`s have been produced than any other helicopter and the type is still operating in more than 50 countries across the globe. They can be adapted to perform a variety of both civil and military roles.
Glasgow Airport`s military visitors during November concluded with Luftwaffe Global 5000 14+04 making a go-around on the 20th and again on the 27th.
Glasgow Airport`s military visitors during November concluded with Luftwaffe Global 5000 14+04 making a go-around on the 20th and again on the 27th.
I made a brief visit to Prestwick Airport on the morning on Monday 16 November, but there wasn`t a great deal of activity. Three out of four temporarily based US Navy Poseidons were present, with the fourth presumably out on a mission. The contingent comprised 169544, 169546, 169547 and 169548. A US Navy C-130T 165349 / JW had arrived the previous evening and along with a night-stopping RCAF CC130J 130611, were the only military aircraft present although Airbus CC-150 Polaris 15002 departed at 06:55 hrs, having arrived approximately 2 hours previously.
The only incomers were a Ryanair 737 and King Air 200 G-JASS, although I did manage a few snaps of the US Navy Herc taking off. Cessna 750 Citation X N797CX was parked tail-end on outside the Chevron hangar and impossible to photograph. Typically, after I`d left, the afternoon was more productive: RN Merlin ZH842 `Tiger 65` was followed by a pair of US Air force C-130H Hercules 91-1233 and 91-1232, then veteran Douglas DC-8 N782SP of Samaritan`s Purse made a fuel stop at 18:20 hrs.
US Navy C-130T Hercules 165349 / JW.
Norwegian Dreamliners have been a regular feature at Prestwick in recent years, with the planes undergoing maintenance and / or conversion. The carrier has 36 long haul Boeing 787s in its fleet, all of which are currently parked up in the UK or at Scandinavian airports. Headquartered in Fornebu, the Norwegian Group's commercial airline activities are organised under parent company Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and its fully owned subsidiaries, Norwegian Air International Ltd, Norwegian Air Norway AS, Norwegian Air Argentina and Norwegian Air UK. The group also has other airline-related subsidiaries in Ireland, Denmark, Finland and Singapore. Norwegian Air Shuttle is primarily based at Oslo Airport and operates to destinations across Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, Middle East and North America. Norwegian Air International Ltd is registered in Dublin, Ireland and acts as the entity holding ownership of the group's long-haul Boeing 787 aircraft. Norwegian Air Norway AS operates with some the group's fleet of 737 aircraft which are also registered in Ireland. Norwegian Air UK is the carrier's UK-registered subsidiary.
Relatively unheard of a decade ago, Norwegian quickly grew to the point that it seemed to be flying everywhere, from Thailand to Argentina, not to mention blanketing Europe. Now, after months of pandemic pressure and with no bailout forthcoming from the Norwegian government, it appears the airline may be nearing the end of the road. It`s no surprise that ongoing transatlantic and Asian travel bans, and new lockdowns across Europe, have drastically impacted finances, and this has led to Norwegian filing for bankruptcy in Ireland, seeking financial protection while it reorganises its operations. The carrier`s Boeing 737s have been a regular feature at Edinburgh Airport up until recently...
Norwegian was in financial trouble long before the Coronavirus crisis. Many have argued it got ahead of itself and grew too fast, spawned too many sub-carriers. In the fortnight prior to the latest announcement, the airline cancelled many of its remaining intra-European flights and concentrated mostly on operating a small number of domestic sectors within Norway. The week from November 10 to November 16 saw just 324 total flights, compared to 3692 in the same week in 2019. Things aren’t over yet. Officially Norwegian is still in operation and looking to adapt which it`s hoped will enable it to find a way forward.
Beech Super King Air B200 G-JASS...
Air Sea Rescue Craft at the Scottish Maritime Museum
I found myself at Irvine this month, with a few hours to pass and took the opportunity to visit the Scottish Maritime Museum. It`s well worth a look and I had the place to myself for most of the time, which I suppose is not surprise considering the time of year and the ongoing Coronavirus situation. Face coverings are compulsory at present, not just for staff and visitors but as can be seen above, most of the permanent residents.
This strange strange-looking craft is the ASR-10, an experimental air and sea rescue barge built in 1942 for the Royal Air Force by Carrier Engineering Ltd of Wembley as part of a 16 vessel order placed the previous year. The intention was to moor ASR-10s, codenamed Cuckoos, at regular intervals around the British Coast with concentrations under flight paths taken by returning bombers and fighter planes. They would act as an all-weather addition to the fleet of high-speed launches which were used extensively by the RAF in the Air Sea Rescue role.
The ASR-10s were made of steel with no engine or rigging and were intended to act as temporary refuges for pilots and aircrew who had the misfortune to find themselves afloat in the sea as a result of enemy action or aircraft malfunction. The ASR-10`s hull was painted in these gaudy colours to ensure that it was as visible as possible to downed airmen. The idea was that survivors would swim to the barge and climb inside where they would find it equipped with radios, six bunk beds, books, playing cards and emergency rations as well as alternative signalling apparatus. These rescue barges did not prove particularly successful as they had to be moored close to shore and coastal observers monitoring them could usually spot an aircraft in distress from the same position anyway.
It does not appear that many Allied airmen took refuge in the barges but at least one Luftwaffe crew did after being shot down in the English Channel. A life raft from a World War 2 German bomber is pictured on the right. Germany had it own version of the rescue craft, nicknamed `Lobster Pots` and it was said that Kriegsmarine E-boats used to visit to help themselves to the supplies. The RAF`s fast rescue launches however, were far more effective than the moored barges, by plucking pilots from the sea and saving over 13,000 aircrew and other personnel. In 1945, with peace secured, the Air Sea Rescue fleet was drastically reduced with many wartime craft being sold off to private operators. The remaining launches were stripped of their armament and converted to act as target towing launches, seaplane tenders, and range safety vessels.
The post-War career of Irvine`s ASR-10 Cuckoo is not documented but she may have ended her working life as a towed naval target on the Clyde. She was converted to a yacht in the 1950s but eventually ended up abandoned on the slipway at Battery Park, Greenock. Left to rot, she was eventually rescued herself and transported to the Scottish Maritime Museum where she was painstakingly restored by the museum`s volunteers.
The above shots were taken during a wartime training exercise. The manual kept within every Cuckoo included the following text: `Air Sea Rescue Float No.10 welcomes you and hopes that you will be comfortable and that your stay will be short. Though the host is absent you should fine all you need. Dry and warm clothing, food, drink, and a smoke, a stove to cook with and blankets to sleep in. Please help yourself but do not consume all the stores the first day.`
This is the Wanderer, a yacht converted from a World War 2 Fox Mark II airborne lifeboat. These small sailing craft were designed to be carried by the RAF`s long-range bombers and reconnaissance planes as it was realised that aircrew ditching in the open sea had a better chance of survival if they could sail and steer rather than attempt to paddle a rudderless raft.
These Imperial War Museum shots show a lifeboat dropping by parachute from a converted Vickers Warwick heavy bomber into the sea. Several types of rescue boat were trailed, including this one which appears to be substantially lager than the Fox Mark II. The Warwick was the largest British twin-engined aircraft to see use during the Second World War, but although almost 850 were produced, the Warwick is far less well known than the Wellington, Halifax, Stirling and Lancaster. This is probably due to the fact that by the time the first aircraft were ready to equip RAF front line bomber squadrons in 1942, the type was outclassed in that role. It proved ideal, however, for use in RAF Transport Command and by RAF Coastal Command as an air-sea rescue and maritime reconnaissance platform.
These lightweight boats had a telescopic rudder, mast and boom and could be carried underneath large aircraft and dropped by parachute. The Fox Mark IIs were self righting with two self-inflating air chambers in the hull. Emergency supplies including fresh water, milk and cigarettes were stored in watertight hatches and in addition to a sail the Foxes were equipped with a 16 horse-power engine.
Back in April 2011, lying beside the hulk of the tall ship Carrick, a.k.a the City of Adelaide on the quayside at Irvine, awaiting restoration was this RAF launch, Number 1262 which was one of 235 sixty foot Admiralty pinnaces destined for general service during the Second World War. She was in a sad state and, exposed to the elements, her condition was only set to worsen. Following a change of ownership, I believe she was transferred to Hartlepool, County Durham, shortly after these shots were taken and deconstructed with the intention that she be eventually restored to operational condition.
This launch was among those built by Walton Yacht & Launch Company at Walton-on-Thames in 1942. The company was started circa 1930, and produced boats in its large hangar-like sheds, which were then launched down slipways into the river. During World War Two, production switched over to high speed launches, particularly for the RAF. Many of these vessels were principally used to tow flying-boats to their moorings and pull targets for RAF attack and anti-submarine aircraft. It`s possible that some operated as rescue launches both in the UK and from British bases abroad. This type`s wooden hull has a hard chine, a sharp change in angle in the cross section of the hull, typically arising from the use of sheet materials (such as sheet metal or marine ply) as the mode of construction. Originally, No.1262 would have had either three Perkins SM6 engines or three Gardner 6LW engines, linked to three propellers.
Also on display within the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine, is this sectioned Olympus Marine Gas Turbine. This power plant was originally developed for aircraft and was fitted to the Vulcan bomber before being put to civilian use on Concorde. The Olympus engine was adapted for marine use in the 1960s, with HMS Exmouth being the first major western warship to be powered solely by gas turbine engines. The Olympus engines proved to be well suited for naval purposes as they were relatively light but powerful enough to allow a ship to accelerate and manoeuvre quickly. The Royal Navy`s Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers (below) are fitted with Rolls Royce Marine Trent gas turbines, bringing this form of technology right up to date. This particular engine was used as an instructional aid for Royal Navy trainee technicians at their HMS Caledonia land base at Rosyth.
(Carrier photo © Steve Moyes / 2020 Aviation).
A Rival for Nessie? - The Caspian Sea Monster.
Finally, to round up the military section this month, the CNN website featured an interesting article on the unique Lun ekranoplan, which was used by the Soviet and Russian navies from 1987 until sometime in the late 1990s. Known colloquially as the Caspian Sea Monster, this strange craft is classed as a Ground Effect Vehicle (GEV) rather than an aircraft. A GEV, also known as an ekranoplan, is basically a hybrid between an aeroplane and a ship. Although the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) classifies them as ships, they derive their unique high-speed capabilities from the fact that they skim along above the surface of the water at a height of between one and five meters (3 to 16 feet), rather than touching it. This allows them to operate even in choppy seas. Despite its size and weight, the Lun was capable of reaching speeds of up to 340 miles per hour (550 kilometres per hour) thanks to eight powerful turbofans located on its stubby wings. Its intended mission was to conduct lightning sea-borne attacks with the six anti-ship missiles carried in launch tubes placed atop the hull. Advanced tracking systems were housed in its nose and tail.
Lun was designed in 1975 by Rostislav Evgenievich Alexeyev (18 December 1916 – 9 February 1980) who was renowned for his pioneering work on such vehicles and hydrofoils. Although two Luns were planned, this was the only one ever produced. It was allocated the serial number MD-160 and entered service with the Black Sea Fleet in 1987. High speed coupled with their proximity to the surface makes GEVs very difficult to detect by radar and the Soviet military experimented with several variants of the concept during the Cold War. Lun was abandoned after the 1990s collapse of the Soviet Union and condemned to rust away at Kaspiysk Naval Base on the Caspian Sea, some 100 kilometres (62 miles) up the coast from Derbent, Russia`s southernmost city. (Left hand image © Wikipedia / Soviet Navy Archives).
The second of the Lun-class craft was intended to operate unarmed and would have been assigned to rescue and supply missions. It was at an advanced state of completion when, in the early 1990s, the whole program was cancelled and the existing Lun withdrawn from service.
Then in July of this year, after three-plus decades of inaction, Lun MD-160 was on the move. A flotilla of three tugs and two escort vessels towed the unique vessel to a stretch of coast near Russia's southernmost point, arriving after 14 hours at sea. It`s destined to become the star attraction at Derbent's planned Patriot Park, a military museum and theme park that will display different sorts of Soviet and Russian military equipment. Construction of the park is expected to start soon, so for the time being, Lun will sit alone on the beach. (Slideshow and Header shots © CNN/AP/TASS/Getty Images).
The surviving ekranoplan is pictured here at Kaspiysk Naval Base prior to its move to Derbent. It looks set to become an additional highlight for visitors to its new home. Derbent city claims to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Russian territory and its citadel and historical centre have been designated by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites. (Above photo © Wikipedia / Fred Schaerli).
Construction & Development
The big news this month came following an attempt to move the new pedestrian / cycle crossing and position it alongside the existing stone bridge spanning the Black Cart Water. The new bridge had been set to form part of the new road network connecting the £21 million Glasgow Airport Investment Area project currently under construction off Abbotsinch Road. The unit was loaded onto two heavy bogie transporter units with the operation scheduled to take place during the night of 22/23 November when traffic would be light and no inbound or outbound flights were scheduled.
Had it reached the east bank of the river, the 160 ton, 100 metre-long structure would have been lifted into place by two cranes.
Having seen the length of the bridge, it looks a tall order for just two bogie units to carry.
After the cranes had lifted the structure onto the transporters, they took up position, one on either side of the river to await the bridge`s arrival.
Witnesses speak of hearing a loud crash in the dark as the bridge toppled onto its side about 20:30 hrs while stunned engineers looked on.
Fortunately, there were no reports of any injuries but the move could so easily have ended in disaster with workmen seriously injured or even killed. Failure of the operation will greatly hinder progress, plus the bridge may have buckled rendering it totally useless. Civil engineering contractors Wills Bros won the tender for the work but have so far refused to say what went wrong.
A Volkswagen works van caught directly underneath was squashed flat but it`s unclear as to whether anyone was inside immediately before the accident occurred. No doubt the driver, whoever he or she is, will consider themselves extremely lucky. An investigation into the incident is now underway.
The following slideshow contains general shots of the development area taken earlier in the month, before the abortive attempt to move the bridge...
Additional photos taken on Monday 23 November, the morning after the accident, can be found below...
The above telephoto shot of the site was taken from Inchinnan, late afternoon on Friday 27 November, by which time the two cranes were back in action righting the bogies, at least one of which, unsurprisingly, looks a bit dented. Early the next morning, the cranes had moved to the other end of the bridge and were being used to shift various items including blocks to stabilise the toppled structure.
It looks as though there won`t be much movement here for a while as the cranes, no doubt very expensive to hire, had moved off site by 30 November, plus fences had been erected to screen off both side of the river bank beside the supports for the new Black Cart bridge.
Elsewhere on the site, however, there was a great deal of activity especially over towards the White Cart. The road network continues to take shape and there is an increasing amount of plant involved in operations.
The White Cart and Black Cart Water meet west of Renfrew to form the River Cart where early travellers crossed by ford and later by ferry. In 1759 a nine-arch stone bridge was built across both rivers, and in 1786 an adjacent canal with a swing bridge was cut to allow ships to bypass the bridge without lowering their masts. The nine-arch stone bridge was destroyed by flood in 1809 and later replaced by two bridges.
The Black Cart from the stone bridge looking north towards its confluence with the White Cart Water.
The current bascule bridge (above) which dates from 1923 ended the requirement for the swing bridge over the canal. It is just one of many such structures built by the famous engineering company founded by Sir William Arrol (1839–1913). This company built some of the best known bridges in the British Isles. Structures included both Forth Bridges, the Tay Railway Bridge of 1887, Tower Bridge in London, the Middlesborough Transporter Bridge, and bridges over the Humber and River Severn.
The White Cart was once a busy industrial waterway serving Paisley`s factories, mills and shipyards but nowadays seldom sees any waterborne traffic. I`d imagine that at least one crane will be needed to lift the new footbridge over the White Cart into position and several, far larger ones for the more substantial structure over the Black Cart Water. This model on display at the Scottish Maritime Museum, Irvine, is of the Crane Ship Newshot which started her life on the River Cart in the shipyard of Fleming and Ferguson in Paisley. She was one of four crane ships ordered by the Ministry of War Transport in 1943 but rather than being given a proper name, she was known only as MOWT10. Fitted to her deck was a 60-ton lift crane which was built for her by Arrol & Co. In 1948, MOWT10 was sold to the Clyde Navigation Trust who renamed her Newshot after the small island on the Clyde at Erskine. Her duties included loading and unloading cargo, ship repair and keeping the harbour clear of silt.
A new bridge, this time over the White Cart Water, will link the west end of Wright Street, Renfrew, with the Glasgow Airport Investment Area at its southeast corner. The main structure is now in place and unlike the larger Black Cart crossing, this one has been built in situ, rather than assembled at a nearby location and moved into position. The White Cart bridge construction site is blocked off from the Abbotsinch Road side with no public access but a view is just possible from a gap in the fence on the Renfrew side of the river.
The red arrow in the above graphic shows the location of the new housing estate being built in Wright Street, Renfrew. (Image © Renfrewshire District Council).
Above: Looking towards the new White Cart Bridge site from the Abbotsinch Road (west) side.
These views show the Wright Street housing development construction site.
The next slideshow shows how Abbotsinch Road looked on Monday 30 November...
To the north of the airport, work is also underway at the ThermoFisher Scientific complex within the Inchinnan Business Park.
The Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus), is a large bird of the northern hemisphere and the Eurasian counterpart of the North American Trumpeter Swan. Whoopers pair for life, and their cygnets stay with them all winter. Sometimes parents are also joined by offspring from previous years. Their preferred breeding habitat is wetland, and the fields surrounding Glasgow Airport, especially those close to the Black Cart Water, are ideal. They breed in countries within the Arctic circle but many spend their winters in the UK as conditions are generally not as harsh.
Both the male and female help build the nest, and the male will stand guard over it while the female incubates.
Twenty-years ago, Whooper Swans overwintering in the local fields often numbered between 200 - 300 birds but now a dozen seen together is a good count. This batch feeding beside Walkinshaw Road at the start of the month contained 18 individuals, some of which were this year`s young, the largest number I`d seen together for a while.
A damp and very mild month with hardly a hint of overnight frost. As a result, although my garden feeders have been busy with Goldfinch, Great, Blue and Coal Tits, there`s no sign of Siskins or Redpolls and other less-common types that usually visit for an easy source of food once the weather turns colder.
I haven`t spotted any Redwings or Fieldfares either in the immediate area although small flocks can be found in the trees and shrubs bordering the Newshot Island salt marsh and adjacent nature reserve. Large numbers of these these thrush-like birds migrate from Scandinavia each year to avoid the traditionally harsh winters there.
Looking east along the Clyde from Park Quay at Erskine, early morning.
Our young fox and a couple of Grey Squirrels provided most of the entertainment this month.