Glasgow Airport Movements 2021
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Coronavirus put paid to Scotland`s traditional grand scale New Year celebrations. Normally tens of thousands of people would have gathered in Edinburgh early on Hogmanay in anticipation of participating in one of the world`s largest annual street parties. Plus fireworks and gatherings throughout the nation, whether grand open air public events or more intimate `family and friends` affairs indoors, would `Bring in the Bells`. The pyrotechnic display that normally lights up the skies above the capital is justly one of the highlights but, in order to discourage crowds, it was scaled back with online synchronised drone art providing a unique alternative. A series showing shapes formed in the sky was filmed in the Scottish Highlands and over Edinburgh and made available to view on the edinburghshogmanay website.
The largest public firework display took place above Stirling with the Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle (below left) illuminated in spectacular fashion.
The dawn of 2021 was followed by another milestone to celebrate on Monday 4 January when the first dose of the Oxford Vaccine was administered in the UK. The race was on to roll out protection fast enough to counter the spread of Coronavirus, the pathogen boosted by a newly identified strain that passes from person to person at an alarming rate. New emergency laws requiring people to stay at home came into force in Scotland at midnight on the 4th. That afternoon, the Scottish mainland and the Isle of Skye, which has bridge connection, went into the highest Tier and the rest of the UK quickly followed suit. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced similar lockdown measures for the whole of England with all schools and colleges there closing to most pupils until mid-February.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that outdoor gatherings would also to be cut back, with people in Scotland only allowed to meet one person from one other household. Places of worship were closed apart from essential limited attendance services and schools will now largely operate via online and remote learning. These rules will apply across most of Scotland until at least the end of January, and will be kept under review. Island areas, apart from Skye, were able to remain in Level Three for the time being.
Both Nicola Sturgeon and PM Boris Johnson made heartfelt TV appeals in an attempt to illustrate the severity and urgency of the situation as infection rates steadily reached and then surpassed those of March last year when the pandemic was at its height. Yet again the steeply rising trend of infections threatened to put significant pressure on NHS services and overwhelm some hospitals, particularly those in London and several other UK cities. Despite the best efforts of the majority of the population in sticking to the rules, whether they be heads of government, emergency service personnel or carers, workers in numerous fields, to ordinary members of the
public, by 9 January 2021, the UK toll from COVID-related deaths had surpassed the 80,000 mark - a staggering and tragic milestone.
Just over a fortnight later, as the government battled to speed up the vaccination program, the death toll passed 100,000 people, making the UK the first European nation to reach that grim figure, while suffering the world’s fifth highest COVID-related fatalities. The 100,000 plus tragedy means that in less than a year more people have died here than Britain’s entire civilian death toll in World War Two; twice the number killed in the 1940-41 Blitz bombing campaign.
Typical city centre scenes this month: No hoards of bargain hunting shoppers in Glasgow`s Buchanan Street and Princes Street, Edinburgh...
(Lockdown / Police images © BBC / ITV / Getty / Glasgow Times / Daily Express)
Police Scotland confirmed it would increase patrols in various communities throughout the nation in a bid to ensure Scots follow the legally-enforceable stay-at-home lockdown rules. People were only permitted to leave their place of residence for an `essential purpose` and only two people from two different households could meet outdoors instead of the previous limit of six people from two households.
Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said the force’s approach had not changed, and its officers would continue to encourage people to follow the regulations and take personal responsibility in the fight against the virus. Ideally, minor breaches would be resolved after advice was given, but anyone blatantly flouting the regulations could make themselves liable to a fine or arrest.
It`s permissible to leave your home for outdoor exercise, however, the new directive has ruled out travelling outwith your own council area for non-essential purposes. The reasoning behind this was clearly illustrated on Hogmanay when a major rescue operation was launched after two climbers who had ignored the travel ban got into difficulty while tackling Buachaille Etive Mor in Glen Coe.
The men, aged 21 and 27, had travelled more than 40 miles from their homes in Oban to make the climb. One of them suffered a leg injury on the descent in fading light, forcing them to call the Glencoe Mountain Rescue team for help. No less than 25 team members responded and reached the pair on foot to assist them down the hill. One of the rescuers damaged ankle ligaments during the operation and will be off work and unavailable for rescues for at least six weeks.
While there`s always risk involved, the committed volunteers never hesitate to respond to those in need of assistance, but Team Leader Andy Nelson said that some of those involved on this occasion did feel vulnerable due to the inevitable close contact required, placing them at increased risk of catching COVID. A further consideration is that some of the team are a bit older, or have close relatives who might be shielding, or are in an otherwise high-risk group. The rescue, which did not require the assistance of a helicopter, took a total of 108 man-hours. The pair who instigated the rescue were each issued with a fixed penalty notice by police for breaching travel regulations.
A trip that caused even more adverse criticism from some camps took place on 28 January when Prime Minister Boris Johnson made a one-day visit to Scotland. By chance I was driving past the airport when `Bor Force Two` (left) taxied out for departure. I only had my compact camera with me but managed a few grainy shots which can be viewed in the Military Section below. The PM`s visit north of the border was intended to highlight how the Union is fighting the pandemic as a whole. Recent polls have suggested there is growing support for independence and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is threatening to hold an advisory referendum. She maintained that Boris`s presence was not essential and political leaders should abide by the same lockdown rules as they ask of the general public.
On the morning of Mr Johnson's trip, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove defended his boss`s visit, saying: `The prime minister has a responsibility and a role to make sure the vaccine roll-out is proceeding appropriately, to thank those on the front line, NHS professionals and those in the British Army who are making sure things work well.` Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also backed the prime minister's Scotland trip, saying he was `with the prime minister on this one. He is the prime minister of the UK. It's important that he travels to see what is going on, on the ground.`
(Above photo © Scottish Sun / Alamy Live News)
The PM visited French biotechnology laboratory Valneva in Livingston, a Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow which is used for processing COVID-19 tests then, suitably clad in PPE, Boris met staff at a lab in the city`s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital. Officials said Westminster has delivered more than one million rapid lateral flow test kits to Scotland so far and is funding testing sites across the country, as well as the Lighthouse Lab. `Money from Westminster has provided 62% of testing kits in Scotland`, a No 10 spokesman added.
(Additional images © Sky News / The Guardian / The Times / AFP / Getty)
According to Johns Hopkins University, by the middle of the month, more than two million people around the world had died as a direct result of Coronavirus, or had it recorded as a contributory factor since the pandemic began. In response to more easily transmissible strains, one first identified in South Africa and another in Brazil, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that as of Monday 18 January, the UK would close all travel corridors to protect her citizens. Anyone flying into a UK airport from overseas would have to show proof of a negative COVID test before setting off.
The directive follows a ban on travellers from South America and Portugal which came into force on Friday 15 January. The PM said the new rules would be in place until at least 15 February. All travel corridors will close from 04:00 GMT on Monday. After that, arrivals to the UK will need to quarantine for up to 10 days, unless they test negative after five days. Mr Johnson, who said the rules would apply across the UK after talks with the devolved administrations, added that the government would be stepping up enforcement at the border and in the country.
A Dusting of Snow
Snow fell on the airport and surrounding area for the first time this winter during the early hours of Thursday 7 December. Although it didn`t last long, it made a pleasant change from the wet and windy winter weather that has become the norm in recent years. These impressive aerial shots of Glasgow Airport are not real photographs but computer generated views created by UK2000 Scenery for the Microsoft Flight Simulator. The realism and attention to detail is outstanding and it`s no surprise that this amateur flight simulator program for PC and console, now with near-photo-realistic graphics, is the world leader.
Glasgow had been set to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) at the Scottish Event Campus (SEC) in Glasgow during November last year but it was put on hold due to the pandemic. Up to 90,000 people had been expected to attend the original event which has been rescheduled to take place between 1–12 November 2021. Obviously there`s still a chance that the event could be cancelled altogether, relocated, or postponed again depending on the ever-evolving worldwide COVID-19 situation, but if not the climate talks should see hundreds of heads of state, diplomats, climate experts, business leaders, media, observers and campaigners, as well as protesters, descend on Glasgow and Edinburgh. No doubt there will be far more online discussions and virtual meetings than originally planned but COP 26 is still being billed as one of the biggest global events the UK will ever host, requiring possibly the largest ever mobilisation of police officers in the UK.
Even if the numbers of attendees are well down on the original totals it should provide a welcome boost to Scotland`s struggling airports and hospitality sector. Also, even though the nature of the conference will see many participants use green modes of transport, there should be plenty of unusual movements at all three of Scotland`s main airports, certainly enough to keep the aircraft photographers snapping away. (Above image © Scottish Event Campus).
Between them, Greenland and Antarctica lost 6.4 trillion tonnes of ice in the period from 1992 to 2017 which was enough to push up global sea-levels by 17.8mm. I took these views of Greenland`s spectacular landscape several years ago from an altitude of 30,000 feet on a plane bound for Halifax, Nova Scotia.
At the opposite end of the scale, global warming is increasing the incidence of drought, which dries up water holes. Higher temperatures may produce an increasing number of wildfires that alter desert landscapes by eliminating slow-growing trees and shrubs and replacing them with fast-growing grasses. The Sahara Desert has expanded by about 10 percent since 1920, according to a new study.
With COP 26 now just over 9 months away, the organisers are looking to recruit host city volunteers to provide support, information, and assistance to visiting delegates. In a move that aims to emulate the success of the London Olympics, and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, the government is already calling on the public to give up their time to help host the high profile summit. Glasgow City Council, which is running the recruitment drive, said a variety of roles would be available in both Glasgow and Edinburgh, with volunteers tasked with providing information on the conference and its venues, supporting delegates that are staying and travelling around the area, and promoting `the best of what Glasgow and Scotland has to offer`. More information can be found on the event`s official website: Click here to view.
One iconic species suffering a catastrophic decline, due not only to loss of habitat due to climate change, but poaching on an industrial scale, is the African Elephant. Now scientists are able to use satellite images to count and track African elephants from space. The pictures come from an Earth-observation satellite orbiting 600km (372 miles) above the planet's surface. The breakthrough could allow up to 5,000 sq km of elephant habitat to be surveyed on a single cloud-free day, and a computer algorithm trained to identify elephants in a variety of backdrops, provides an accurate tally.
The scientists tested the system at South Africa's Addo Elephant National Park which has a high density of elephants and a variety of terrain. The technology is now ready to go and conservation organisations are already interested in using the system to replace surveys using aircraft. Conservationists would have to pay for access to commercial satellites and the images they capture, but the new approach could vastly improve the monitoring of threatened elephant populations in habitats that span international borders, where it can be difficult to obtain permission for survey aircraft to overfly. Scientists say it could also be used in anti-poaching work.
(Satellite images © Maxar Technologies)
Glasgow Airport, which had reported a sharp annual drop in profits even before Coronavirus struck, warned of material uncertainties which may cast significant doubt over its ability to continue as a going concern. Accounts recently filed at Companies House by AGS Airport Holdings, Glasgow International`s owners, revealed that profits had dipped to £45.1 million for the year ending 31 December 2019, down from £57 million. Directors underlined the huge impact that the pandemic is continuing to have on operations and that the collapse of Flybe was another significant event that adversely affected operations in 2020. Traffic at Glasgow Airport ground to a near-halt in March last year following the introduction of restrictions to suppress the spread of COVID-19, with activity subsequently limited to the provision of lifeline services to the Highlands and Islands and NHS air ambulance flights.
By the time Flybe went into administration in early March, just before COVID infections started to soar, the regional carrier had accounted for eight per cent of the airport’s traffic. Glasgow International`s passenger numbers for the full year of 2020 are expected to be drastically down on 2019 which had reached 8.9 million by 31 December 2019. It is understood that traffic at Glasgow is currently down between 90% and 95% on the level of this time last year.
The fall in passenger numbers experienced by Glasgow Airport in 2019 came as Edinburgh Airport achieved a record annual tally, with its numbers rising by 3.1% to 14.7 million. However, last October, Edinburgh reported that the number of people that passed through during 2020`s peak April to September period fell by 91% to 785,000. (MS Flight Sim images © www.uk2000scenery.co.uk).
Steps taken by the owners of Glasgow Airport to protect staff, preserve cash and raise finance in the wake of the pandemic have included use of the UK government`s furlough scheme, temporary pay-cuts and the cessation of bonuses. They have also negotiated with suppliers, local councils and tax authorities to reduce or defer costs, but uncertainty over when lockdown will end makes the outlook increasingly bleak.
Following the initial lockdown in March of last year, Glasgow Airport saw traffic pick up for a time last summer, as services to some holiday destinations came back on stream. However, traffic tailed off as the second wave of Coronavirus hit, and more nations were added to the quarantine list. This month saw a further decline in activity with the introduction of new restrictions on international travel, including a requirement for people arriving in the UK to have tested negatively for COVID-19. (Glasgow Airport Terminal interior images © The Times / Daily Record / Alamy. Following computer Flight Sim screenshot © www.uk2000scenery.co.uk).
AGS chief executive Derek Provan, who has repeatedly called for mass testing to be used as a means to keep aviation open safely throughout the crisis, welcomed the decision by the UK Government to insist on negative tests for arrivals, but said the move had `taken much longer than expected`. In response to the worsening crisis, several airlines cut back their already drastically reduced services from Glasgow: Ryanair and Jet2 have elected to suspend their flights to and from the airport until the end of March, with Loganair suspending their connections to Belfast City and Southampton airports until 1 March. Meanwhile, new accounts for Aberdeen Airport show it made pre-tax profits of £18.3 million for the year ended 31 December 2020, which is down from £24.4m. The fall came as passenger traffic there decreased by 4.1% to 2.97 million. (Another realistic flight sim view of Glasgow Airport is shown below)...
On 14 January struggling airline Norwegian, once the third-biggest operator at Gatwick, announced that it will no longer fly long-haul routes, even after the pandemic, bringing an end to its low-cost, long-haul vision and spelling the loss of about 1,100 jobs including 300 pilots at London`s second airport. Approximately 2,150 positions will go throughout it`s network with additional staff cuts in Spain, France and the US.
The airline’s 1,100 long-haul UK-based flight crew and pilots had been furloughed since the start of the COVID crisis but a further 400 UK employees who worked on short-haul routes were made redundant last year. The carrier is going through bankruptcy protection proceedings in Ireland that will allow it to restructure and continue operations by demonstrating a viable business plan to judges there. Under Norwegian’s complex company structure, only its subsidiaries employing the crew have gone into liquidation, allowing its Gatwick-based airline, Norwegian UK, to survive on paper and one day potentially return to the air.
Although Norwegian has never operated scheduled services from Glasgow International, its Boeing 737s are a familiar sight at Edinburgh. The airline`s Boeing 787 Dreamliners have also been a regular feature at Prestwick in recent years, flying there to undergo upgrades and engine changes at Chevron. Now the long-haul Dreamliner fleet will be disposed off leaving Norwegian with 50 narrow-body planes. The following shot was taken at Prestwick in November last year.
The six Norwegian 787s currently at Prestwick have all been stored there for well over a year: LN-LNA since 27 May 2019, LN-LNG since 02 July 2019, LN-LNH since 20 August 2019, LN-LND since 10 September 2019, LN-LNB since 17 September 2019, plus SE-RXY, a brand new airliner, has been there since 31 July 2019 having positioned direct from Boeing.
President Trump Goes Out With A Bang
On Wednesday 6 January 2021, as the end of Donald Trump`s presidency loomed ever closer, the world watched on amazed and horrified as the U.S. Capitol building, at the heart of the most powerful nation on earth, was stormed by a riotous mob. Chaos, death and destruction ensued, with security personnel and police on duty in and around the complex totally overwhelmed and unable to hold back the tide. Five people lost their lives including one police officer and many more were injured.
The riot occurred shortly after President Trump addressed several thousand of his supporters, including far-right groups, at an organised "Save America" rally outside the White House, maintaining his false claims of widespread election fraud. Most Democrats, and many Republicans, put the blame for the chaos squarely on Mr Trump after his inflammatory dialogue seemed to have incited the protesters. 'We will stop the steal'; 'We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen`. 'If you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore;` `I know that everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to peacefully and patriotically make your voices heard;` `We're going to walk down to the Capitol and we're going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women, and we're probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them.` While much of President Trump`s language was seen by many as catalyst to the events that followed, his defenders argue that the use of `peacefully and patriotically` in his speech show that he never intended to incite the extremely volatile crowd.
On the evening before the riot, two pipe bombs were found within a few blocks of the Capitol. One device was discovered next to a building containing Republican National Committee (RNC) offices. About 30 minutes later, the second, similarly designed, pipe bomb was found under a bush at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters. Both, which were viable and could have caused `great harm`, were safely detonated by bomb squads. Also, Molotov cocktails were discovered in a vehicle near the location.
(Riot images © AFP / Reuters / Getty / LA Times / Bloomberg / Fox News)*
The unlawful occupation lasted for several hours and saw widespread vandalism and looting, many of the intruders filming themselves and broadcasting their behaviour, comments and intentions live online. As well as assaulting Capitol Police officers and reporters, some rioters attempted to locate lawmakers to harm and take hostage. A makeshift gallows was also erected on the Capitol grounds.
After the police eventually regained control of the Capitol building and cleared it of rioters, it came as no surprise that those in charge of security were found to be seriously negligent, not only remaining oblivious to the potential for serious disorder, but also having ignored a wealth of intelligence, including input from the FBI. Within 24 hours as many as 15,000 National Guard personnel had been deployed in and around Capitol Hill with the Pentagon announcing that 20,000 soldiers in total, with lethal weapons, would be on hand ahead of the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden on January 20; this to counter any violence and prevent a repeat of the scenes witnessed on 6 January. This total is twice the number of American troops currently in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
Even though Trump`s term in office had less than a week to run, House speaker Nancy Pelosi (below), Democrat of California, and one of the president`s fiercest critics, insisted impeachment was necessary. `The president’s threat to America is urgent, and so too will be our action,` she said. Trump’s conduct immediately before the riot was personal for Pelosi as she was among those forced to huddle in a bunker during the rampage as armed rioters could be heard shouting taunts of `Where’s Nancy?` as they surged towards her office.
Democrats and a growing number of previously supportive Republicans subsequently declared that Donald Trump was unfit for office and had gravely endangered the security of the United States and its institutions of government. The House of Representatives voted by 232 to 197 to impeach the president for ‘incitement of insurrection’. Ten members of Trumps own party joined with the opposition to vote for impeachment. He had already faced impeachment in December 2019 when `abuse of power and obstruction of Congress` were alleged, but the Senate acquitted him of these charges in February last year. He is now the first American president in history to have been impeached twice. Even by Donald Trump standards this was an unbelievable end to his controversial time in office.
Joe Biden said that it was `time to turn the page` after his presidential election victory was confirmed by the US electoral college. In a speech after the announcement, he said US democracy had been `pushed, tested and threatened` and `proved to be resilient, true and strong`. He condemned President Trump's attempts to overturn the result and said the will of the people had prevailed. The confirmation was one of the steps required for Mr Biden to take office.
Under the US system, voters actually cast their ballots for `electors`, who in turn, formally vote for candidates weeks after the election. Democrat Joe Biden won November's contest with 306 electoral college votes to Republican Donald Trump's 232. Fears of large-scale, widespread armed protests on inauguration day were unfounded as no serious disorder was reported.
On February 13, following a five-day Senate trial, Trump was acquitted when the Senate voted 57–43 for conviction, falling ten votes short of the two-thirds majority required to convict; seven Republicans joined every Democrat in voting to convict, the most bipartisan support in any Senate impeachment trial of a president. Although a number of other Republicans felt that President Trump was practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day, making him responsible for the riot, they felt that the Senate did not have jurisdiction over former Presidents and was therefore he was constitutionally not eligible for conviction.
On Wednesday 20 January 2021, Joe Biden`s inauguration day, the outgoing president left the Washington area onboard Air Force One. After a short helicopter transfer to Joint Base Andrews by Marine One, the highly-customised Boeing VC-25A ferried him, First Lady Melania and other family members, to Florida, with the flight scheduled to arrive just an hour before he lost the right to use the plane. Had there been a delay, the iconic callsign would have been dropped, as he would no longer be in charge. Leaving prior to Biden’s inauguration made Trump the first president in a century to fail to hang around to welcome his successor and as the Boeing 747-based VC 25A rolled down the runway at Andrews, the sound of Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’ blared over the public address system.
(Additional Trump photos © Sky News / Fox News)
Mr Trump & Co were bound for his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Now from global events, back to aircraft visiting Glasgow Airport this month. Loganair, which has its headquarters here, announced four new routes from the Isle of Man; to Belfast City; Birmingham; Jersey; and Southampton. The first, to Belfast City, `takes off` on 1 April. These routes were previously operated by a various operators. Loganair will also resume an IOM to / from Edinburgh service after a 12 month absence.
These five routes will mean that the Scottish carrier`s network to the Isle` in summer 2021 will total eight, twice as many as easyJet. Loganair currently serves Liverpool, London Heathrow, and Manchester from the island, with Liverpool partly driven by an NHS contract. Loganair intends to base one Embraer 145 and one ATR-42 on the island between 28 March and 30 June. From 1 July, its base will comprise three ATR-72s.
British Airways Holidays cancelled plans to continue offering breaks to the Caribbean and elsewhere. Despite the UK in lockdown and other firms halting holidays, the company had been continuing with sales, however, on reflection, it decided to withdraw package deals for the time being. This month TUI, Jet2 and Virgin Holidays all cancelled operations until mid-February because of the tighter travel restrictions. People are legally permitted to book flights and travel during the lockdown period if their reason for doing so is essential, but most customers were travelling for leisure.
British Airways had five aircraft in storage at Glasgow Airport throughout the month, namely A319s G-DBCA/B/F plus A320s G-EUYD and G-MIDS, while the bulk of the carrier`s stored short-haul airliners are now split between Gatwick, Madrid & Palma, Majorca. Airbus A319/A320/A321 maintenance movements noted at Glasgow in January were G-EUYO which arrived on the 12th and G-TTNH 15 January - 11 February. G-EUUX arrived 18 January and G-NEOS on the 27th. On the right is Airbus A319-131 G-EUPT which worked a number of Shuttle flights during January.
The first of 2021`s Emirates Dubai - Glasgow flights was operated by Boeing 777-21H(LR) A6-EWC on New Year`s Day. Also visiting on the 1st was KLM ERJ-190STD PH-EZX (SkyTeam livery). Based easyJet A320-251N G-UZHA (NEO livery) set off at 10:55hrs for Gran Canaria. On the 2nd, Airbus A321-251NX F-HNCO (f/v) of La Compagnie took Celtic to Dubai for some warm weather training which seems a strange move considering the global travel situation.
Late on Saturday 3 January, Edinburgh Airport closed to traffic due to ice on the runway. A number of inbounds had to divert including the following to Glasgow International: KLM Boeing 737 PH-BCG, easyJet A320s G-EZTR and G-UZHV, plus a trio of Ryanair 737s; EI-DPP, EI-EBZ and EI-EVE. All these diversions night-stopped into the 4th.
Above: A photo of A321-251NX F-HNCO which took Celtic to Dubai for their training camp. The trip amid a global pandemic angered many, especially after centre-back Christopher Jullien subsequently tested positive for Coronavirus forcing 13 of his team-mates into quarantine. Fans are especially irate given that the Frenchman went despite being ruled out to play for four months as a result of a serious knee injury. Celtic were able to fly to the UAE as they have elite status to travel for work reasons, despite the vast majority of the country at the time dealing with Tier 4 restrictions.
The Celtic hierarchy originally said that the team (pictured above on their return) did not regret flying to the Middle East as they had been legally allowed to travel but chief executive Peter Lawwell later apologised, saying `looking with hindsight and looking at the outcome, clearly it was a mistake`. Nicola Sturgeon also voiced concern, especially after photos, widely circulated on social media, showed players and back room staff drinking in close proximity at a poolside and then socialising at a bar in the evening. (La Compagnie Airbus & Celtic images: © The Sun / STV / Ross MacDonald / SNS Group).
The sequence in the above slideshow, shot from Gleniffer Braes above Paisley, records Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-ENA on approach for the airport on Monday 4 January. By that time, much of the snow on the upper reaches of the distant hills and mountains had melted but the skyline was still impressive. The Cowal Hills, Arrochar Alps, the Luss Hills and Ben Lomond still held a decent amount.
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.
Airliners continued with Boeing 777-31H(ER) A6-EPF Emirates (Expo 2020 green livery) 7th and 8th; Embraer ERJ-170LR G-CIXW Eastern Airways (7th); A321-251NX F-HNCO of La Compagnie returned with Celtic from Dubai on the afternoon of the 8th. Thursday 14 January saw no less than four Emirates flights, three of which were Triple-seven 300ERs on a cargo run, plus Boeing 777-200LR A6-EWB on the standard passenger / cargo service. A6-ENZ, one of the 777-31H(ER)s, landed at 07:55 hrs after holding for over an hour while the runway was blasted clear of snow. After vacating the runway it had to remain on the taxiway for almost another hour until its stand was de-iced. The other cargo-only aircraft were A6-EGZ which landed at 09:35 followed by A6-ENX in the afternoon.
I was going to photograph Triple-Seven A6-EWB (above) taking off on 20 January but a rain shower moved in restricting visibility.
This sequence shows Boeing 777-21H(LR) A6-EWF landing on Friday 22 January. The weather was ideal for a walk or bike ride although frost remained on areas in shadow. A dusting of snow on the Campsie Fells helped emphasise the airport`s spectacular backdrop. These shots were all taken from the perimeter at the St James end of the airfield. The last noteworthy jet-liner to call in this month was Embraer ERJ-145LU G-CISK of Eastern Airways on the 28th.
Boeing 777-21H(LR) A6-EWG on Friday 29 January worked what was the last Emirates flight between Glasgow and Dubai for the foreseeable future after the government`s decision to suspend international flights. Overcast conditions and light rain greeted the big jet as it touched down, and it departed on schedule a couple of hours later. As of the 30th of January 2021, the only scheduled passenger flights into or out of Glasgow International were a couple of BA Heathrow Shuttle flights and several daily Loganair connections to the outer isles. The King Airs and helicopters of the Scottish Ambulance Service made up the bulk of the airport`s movements and are likely to do so over the weeks ahead.
With far fewer passengers travelling during the pandemic, Aer Lingus Regional have been using their smaller capacity ATR 42-600 EI-GEV between Dublin and Glasgow over the past few months. The aircraft is pictured here departing under sunny skies on Friday 22 January. Also, an ATR of ASL Airlines Ireland has been a feature most days, I believe working a cargo run between Newcastle and Glasgow airports, however, on the afternoon of 25 January, ATR 72-202(F) EI-SLW belonging to the carrier departed Glasgow for Budapest. I`ve currently no information as to the nature of the flight.
From Passenger Workhorse with Flybe to Firefighting Water Bomber with Conair
Canadian aerial firefighting company Conair is purchasing 11 ex- Flybe Bombardier-built Dash 8 Q400 turboprops for conversion into aerial water bombers. Up until its collapse on 5 March 2020, Flybe was the largest independent regional airline in Europe. It was amjor player at Glasgow and provided more than half of UK domestic flights outside London. Some of the aircraft sourced by Conair had been destined to restart operations with Flybe successor-airline Virgin Connect, however, the knock on effect of the pandemic dashed those plans.
A Conair spokesperson said the first of the eleven Dash 8s, all aged between 11 and 14 years old, will be delivered to the company this month. Conair had evaluated 29 types of aircraft before selecting the Q400 for modification and it was revealed that the decision was unanimous among the company’s flight operations experts. They all rated the plane as `fast, fuel-efficient, and tactically flexible,` very important considerations for an aircraft operating as an aerial tanker. (Following image © FlightGlobal).
The fact that the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 remains in production was a key factor in reaching the decision. Plus, it has strong Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) support from De Havilland Aircraft of Canada, thus guaranteeing availability of parts and servicing for years. Bombardier sold the program to De Havilland Aircraft of Canada in 2019. The conversion work to turn the commuter turboprops into airtankers will be carried out at the Conair facility at Abbotsford, British Columbia by a team of specialists. This is not a new venture, however, as the company has been converting Dash 8 Q400s into tankers since 2005. Once the work on the ex-Flybe machines is completed, the aircraft will be designated as either Q400MR or Q400AT. AT stands for ‘air tanker’ while MR denotes a multi-role capability. This will see the Q400MR be capable of a quick reconfiguration for use in air tanker, cargo, passenger, combi-transport, or medical evacuation missions. The external tank will have a maximum capacity of 10,000 liters (2,642 US gallons). The company website: Conair Aerial Firefighting has more information.
Following the end of WW2, a number of Douglas A-26 Invaders were converted into fire-fighting water bombers, primarily in Canada and the USA. This particular aircraft, an A-26B, was acquired by Conair who later donated it to the British Columbia Air Museum on Vancouver Island.
Large scale models of other water bombers and float planes hang from the ceiling within the museum including a Martin Mars flying boat (below left).
Up until recently the last surviving Martin JRM Mars flying boats were based at Sproat Lake near Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. They were operated by Coulson Flying Tankers. These massive aircraft, the largest Allied flying boats to enter production during the Second World War, were originally conceived as long-range bombers for the US Navy but were redesigned as long-range transports when the heavy-lift capability of the prototype became apparent. Only seven were built and when hostilities ended the surviving aircraft, the `Big Four`, were later converted for civilian use, as water bombers.
In 1961, the Marianas Mars crashed while fighting fires in British Columbia and was totally destroyed and just over a year later the Caroline Mars was damaged beyond repair during a typhoon while parked onshore. The Philippine Mars C-FLYK and Hawaii Mars C-FLYL had their conversions to water bombers accelerated and entered service in 1963. The former was painted in US Navy colours in preparation for it being flown to the National US Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, in the United States, but as far as I`m aware, both huge planes, which haven`t taken to the air in years, are still at their Sproat Lake base.
(Above image © Wikipedia / Michael Maclean. Aerial view and interior of Philippine Mars below © Wikipedia / RuthAS / Kevstan).
The only biz-jet to stop over into 2021 from last year was Phenom 300 G-JMBO, which had been parked upon Area J since arriving on 16 December. It finally took to the skies again on 18 January. This year`s first corporate visitor was German-registered Learjet 35A D-CTIL which called in for a time on the 5th. It was followed by Cessna Citation Bravo G-IPLY (left) (10th); Gulfstream GV-SP N600J (f/v) (15th); Eclipse EA500 2-TABS (f/v) (above), plus Citation Bravo G-IPLY made a second appearance (22nd). Then, on the 25th, frequent visitor Phenom 300 G-JMBO paid a visit. The above gallery shows EA500 2-TABS taxiing onto its allotted parking spot after arriving on 22 January.
On Saturday 30 January, Cessna Citation XLS+ D-CSUN called in fro a time. I didn`t manage to photograph it on this occasion, but this member of the Air Hamburg fleet has made numerous visits to Glasgow Airport over the years. I took the above shot back on Friday 21 October 2005. Eclipse Aerospace EA-500 OE-FXJ (f/v) on 31 January 2021 was the last of only a handful of biz-jets that visited this month.
More Biz-Jets from the Archives
With so few visiting biz-jets this month I`ve included a batch of corporate jets which visited Glasgow Airport in 2005 / 2006. First is Yakovlev Yak-42D RA-42427 (above) which visited Glasgow on Saturday 30 September 2006. The 42D is a long-range version with additional fuel capacity which replaced standard Yak-42 in production. The Yakovlev Yak-42 (NATO reporting name: `Clobber`) is a 100/120-seat three-engined mid-range passenger jet. It was the first airliner produced in the Soviet Union to be powered by modern high-bypass turbofan engines. This particular machine was operated by the Marco Group.
Dassault Falcon 900B I-FICV (above left) of Compagnia Aeronautica Italiana (CAI)) was snapped on Monday 17 October 2005.
Bombardier Global 6000 N626JS called in that October.
Above: US Gulfstream G-IV N877A, seen here late on Wednesday 17 August 2005, has made numerous visits to Glasgow Airport over the years.
IAI 1124A Westwind II N122MP was snapped lining up for departure on Saturday 17 September 2005. This distinctive business jet was initially manufactured by Aero Commander as the 1121 Jet Commander. The program was bought by Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) in 1968, and subsequent production saw the airframe stretched slightly into the 1123 Westwind, and given more powerful engines.
Over 400 were produced mainly for the civilian market but military operators included Israel, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Uganda and the United States of America. Below: These MAHA Air Learjet 45s were both snapped on 26 September 2005. One is D-CEWR and the other unidentified.
Above: Falcon 2000 N905B. Saturday 15 October 2005.
Above: Further shots of Canadian-registered Learjet 45XR C-GJCY which visited in September 2005.
Bombardier Learjet 45 G-OLDR was snapped the day before.
Ready for departure, US Falcon 900B N94NA heads for Alpha One on Thursday 27 October 2005.
Below: Raytheon Hawker 800XP CS-DNX and Citation Excel N560S parked on Area Juliet. Respective dates not recorded...
January 2021 saw the following GA movements: Beech King Air 200 G-BGRE (6th); King Air 200 G-IASB (12th); Cessna T303 Crusader G-CMOS and Diamond DA62 G-IRJE (13th); Sikorsky S-92A Helibus G-WNSD (f/v) of CHC Helicopter Service (16th); King Air 200 G-FLYK (17th); King Air 350 N1090B (f/v) (18th); Cessna T303 G-CMOS and King Air 200 G-IASB both made a return visit (25th); Mitsubishi MU-2P D-IAHT (f/v), plus King Air 200s G-FSEU and G-WNCH (27th); Repeat visits by King Air 200s G-IASB and G-WNCH (28th); On Saturday 30 January, Airbus Helicopters AS355 Ecureuil G-PDGP `Osprey 60`was carrying out railway line check, following the south side of the Clyde from Skelmorlie to Langbank before cutting inland and heading for the city. Plus, King Air 200s G-BGRE and G-FSEU called in at the airport that day. On the 31st, King Air 200 G-FLYW was the last twin prop to call in. Also, Gulfstream American GA-7 Cougar G-GOTC did go-arounds of Runway 05 at 14:45 and 15:05 hrs.
Face coverings are still the order of the day for anyone indoors in public areas including airports. Even two Glasgow resident lights G-EVIE and G-FKOS were masked-up, but in this case to protect them from the winter weather. These aircraft can also be seen on the far right of the following shot of the snow covered Campsie Fells which was taken from the Paisley Moss Nature Reserve.
HM Coastguard helicopter visits to Glasgow Airport during January 2021 were AgustaWestland AW189 G-MCGT on the 2nd and 3rd, followed by G-MCGR on the 11th and 26th. Then AW189 G-MCGN called in on the 28th. All the foregoing are based at Prestwick. Inverness-based AW189 G-MCGM visited on 8 January (02:25/03:30 hrs) with Stornoway based G-MCGL on the 31st.
The first military aircraft to visit Glasgow Airport in 2021 was British Aerospace BAe 146-2 C.3 ZE708 which did a number of circuits on Tuesday 5 January before landing for a time. This aircraft, which previously served with several civilian operators, has been in service with the Royal Air Force since March 2012. Next for a spot of training was Britten-Norman BN-2T-4S Defender AL2 ZH001 of the Army Air Corps, call-sign `AAC 530`on Saturday 9 January, reappearing on the 20th. The Luftwaffe, which I believe operated the majority of military training flights at Glasgow International last year, made their first appearance of 2021 with Airbus A319-133(CJ) 15+02, callsign `GAF 880` which did a go-around of Runway 05 about 13:10 hrs on Thursday 14 January.
This month`s highlight was undoubtedly the appearance of Boeing E-3D Sentry AEW1 ZH101 (callsign `NATO 32`) which did a go-around on Thursday 21 January. Commonly known as AWACS (Airborne Warning & Control System), the distinctive plane arrived about 16:10 hrs in fading light just as C-130J Hercules ZH866 `Ascot 2221` was manoeuvring for the last of several training circuits. I only discovered these RAF aircraft were operating in the local area after a chance look at tracking site Freedar. With Runway 23 in use there was just enough time to snap the inbound E-3D from my back window. Although these long distance shots aren`t great I was pleased at catching the Sentry and Herc in the same frame. The Sentry may have went round for a second pass if it hadn`t been for an inbound Loganair Embraer commuter jet. Instead it headed south for its Waddington base.
Below: This fine aerial shot of a Sentry is available for sharing on the RAF website...
More military aircraft visits to Glasgow Airport followed: At approx 12:30 hrs on Tuesday 26 January, Bombardier Global 6000 14+07 `GAF 686` made a go-around of Runway 05. Then, the following day, BAe146-2 ZE707 called in for a time on a visit that was no doubt linked with PM Boris Johnson`s arrival the following day.
As previously mentioned, sister aircraft ZE708, seen here, served as Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s taxi on his visit to Scotland on 28 January.
It made another visit the next day when the following telephoto shot was taken...
Wedgetails for Lossiemouth
(Above artist`s impression and aerial photo of RAF Lossiemouth, both © Royal Air Force)
Last month it was announced that the RAF`s fleet of Boeing E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft will operated from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Northeast Scotland. The five planes on order will be delivered between 2023 and 2026, replacing the Boeing Sentry AEW1s currently based at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. The movement of the RAF`s AEW&C aircraft will co-locate them with the Poseidon MRA1 fleet, another type based on the Boeing 737 airliner, albeit a different variant. No.8 Squadron, which operated Shackletons from Lossiemouth until 1990, will returned to the airfield as a result. Two of the Wedgetails are second hand including ex-Deer Jet 737-700 BBJ1 N946BC which was built in 2010 and arrived in the UK for conversion on 7 January. The work will be undertaken by STS Aviation Services at Birmingham.
Lossiemouth is one of two RAF Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) stations which protect UK airspace. In general terms, RAF Lossiemouth protects the UK's northern airspace, and RAF Coningsby protects the south. Team Lossie is currently made up of four Typhoon combat aircraft squadrons, one Poseidon MRA1 squadron, and an RAF Regiment squadron. Aircraft and crews are maintained on high alert in order to scramble and intercept unidentified aircraft approaching UK airspace. The station`s personnel and aircraft also support operations worldwide and host numerous national and international exercises, including the bi-annual Joint Warrior. This dramatic shot of a Typhoon lifting off from a wet runway at Lossie was available for sharing via the Reddit website but I couldn`t see any information as to the photographer to attribute a credit.
Construction & Development
These distant views of the development area off Abbotsinch Road were taken from the Gleniffer Braes on Monday 4 January.
By the 20th of January (below right), all sections of the dismantled bridge, which had been stacked awaiting inspection following the accident on the night of 22/23 November last year, had been removed from the site. Either the pieces have been taken to a secure location for a more detailed inspection, or possibly the entire structure will have been written off requiring replacement.
The first building to be erected on the site continues to take shape.
The shot below was taken on January 29th...
Following on from last month`s entry, Campsie Kitchen, which previously operated as Campsie Snacks, still has a small outlet in Campsie Drive (left) along from the British Airways Maintenance hangar. The Campsie Kitchen site here had been cleared recently and had all the hallmarks of a business going bust.
However, a brand new portacabin, pictured below, is now in situ. Their main outlet beside the Airport Taxi feeder rank to the west of the terminal is still getting some trade and this one should be ready to spring back into action as soon as applicable lockdown restrictions are lifted. The owners still face a major challenge though as much of its custom comprised of workers from the adjacent airline catering and freight businesses, as well as coach drivers and the said airport taxi drivers.
As mentioned last month, our wee fox, a great source of entertainment over the past year, hasn`t been seen for some time and is presumed dead.
A couple of squirrels show up most days and have so far managed to avoid the clutches of the local cats.
If the squirrels are nowhere to be seen, the cats chase one another instead.
Out and About
Although I`ve stayed in Erskine for many years, and visited the Bargarran Shopping Centre numerous times, I`d never ventured up Craigend Hill which is only a few hundred metres away from the car park. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it is as a vantage point with views not only of the bridge, but panoramas in every direction, albeit some are partially obscured by the trees growing on the upper slopes.
Looking southward, part of the airport is visible although wires from electricity pylons cut across the scene. A gap in the trees enables a view of the River Clyde beside the Titan Crane on the site of the old John Brown`s Shipyard. Bishopton is shown below with the snow capped Cowal Hills in the background...
Muirshiel Country Park
On 2 January the weather was superb and ideal for a day on the hills. Current travel restrictions ruled out leaving your own council area, so the high tops were out. Muirshiel Country Park above Lochwinnoch qualified for me as it`s in Renfrewshire and although the terrain here is nowhere near as dramatic as the rugged tops on the north side of the Clyde, it makes an ideal destination for a leisurely leg stretch.
I timed my arrival at the car park to coincide with first light. The above view of the impressive sunrise was taken from the road in and conditions were so clear that the moon remained visible in the sky for much of the morning. Windy Hill at just 316 metres above sea level is the most popular summit and easily reached in about 15-20 minutes. Rather than retracing your steps, there are several small bumps to the north and west to aim for before you regain the riverside track, making a more worthwhile circuit than a straight out-and-back.
The undulating moorland is usually very boggy but the crisp conditions made for easy walking. There was a bit of a haze looking towards the city but the storage tanks at the Clydebank Oil Terminal were immediately identifiable as was Glasgow Airport.
Although the sky was clear and the visibility excellent in every other direction, I never spotted a single flyover during my outing. The only aircraft seen was Loganair Twin Otter G-HIAL, inbound for the airport. These aircraft have been operating continuously to Campbeltown and the islands of Scotland`s West Coast, providing a vital link to these communities during the pandemic.
The wee dog in the following shot was clearly enjoying being out in the snow.
Closer to home, I wandered down to the Riverside Walkway a few times to capture the sunrise but never saw an inbound airliner or ship to add to the scene.
Above: This small gallery shows the Black Cart Water around dawn, taken from the Barnsford Road bridge.
It`s always great to see Roe Deer in the local area.
This trio remained in range of my compact camera.