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This month we travel to Larnaca in Cyprus to join the final commercial flight for the British Airways Boeing 767 fleet. The widebody has been a workhorse of the British flag carrier for decades, with a fascinating history spanning far-flung royal charters to more modest domestic operations. We hear from those who flew the jet, and also those who enjoyed travelling on the versatile airliner as BA seeks to streamline its fleet.
As we close one chapter of modern aviation, another begins as we visit Airbus headquarters in Toulouse to find out more about their A330neo project. We speak to key players involved in the project and determine what the future holds for the crowded – but highly lucrative – mid-market sector.
Airbus’ newest airliner reached a major milestone in late November 2018 when the first example was delivered to launch customer TAP Air Portugal. But while the A330neo may initially appear to be a simple overhaul of the A330 – the European aerospace giant’s most profitable widebody – look a little closer and the changes are far more substantial.
In the years since the fragmentation of the four-nation Gulf Air alliance, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Emirates in particular have become household names, boasting some of the most comprehensive networks of any global carrier. But what of Gulf Air?
In the past year, the carrier has accepted delivery of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner and the Airbus A320neo as part of a radical fleet overhaul. Don’t miss our exclusive interview with CEO Krešimir Kučko, as the Bahraini national airline transforms not only its fleet but its wider strategy as it adopts a new boutique concept.
Continuing our globetrotting this month, we profile Osaka’s Itami Airport, which is carving a niche as the city’s premier domestic gateway.
With a population of more than 19 million, Osaka sits inside the second largest metropolitan area in the country after Tokyo and is also a long-standing economic powerhouse of the Kansai Region as well as having been Japan’s commercial centre for more than a millennium. It is therefore not entirely surprising the city boasts a sizeable and busy first-class airport – one of only five such facilities in the country – dedicated exclusively to domestic traffic.
Elsewhere in this edition, we visit Canada’s Northwest Territories to learn more about the classic ‘piston-pounders’ of Buffalo Airways. The community of Yellowknife, on Canada’s Great Slave Lake, draws visitors from around the world. Many arrive on business and travel onwards to remote diamond and gold mines, or to roadless communities ensconced in primal tundra. Others explore the region’s freshwater lakes to sample trophy fish or paddle wilderness rivers. Aviation enthusiasts, however, invariably find themselves traipsing to what local residents call the ‘Green Side’ of Yellowknife’s fast-paced airport as we discover.
As part of our ongoing historical insights, we also remember the Lockheed Electra L-188, an elegant, four-engine turboprop which raised the bar for performance, range and luxury until critical design flaws destroyed public confidence and forced the programme to a premature close.
The L-188 made its maiden flight in early December 1957, several weeks ahead of the jet-powered Boeing 707 and months before the rival Douglas DC-8 and Convair 880. With an excellent power-to-weight ratio, large propellers, very short wings (the majority of which were enveloped in propwash) and sizeable Fowler flaps that significantly increased the effective wing area when extended, the L-188’s performance was unrivalled by many pure jet aircraft even today, particularly on short runways and in hot and high conditions.
Other highlights this month include a ‘from the cockpit’ feature as we join the teams hauling airmail from Edinburgh to Inverness in the venerable Short 360 and a fascinating series of images from Kinshasa’s N’djilli airport.
Finally, we bring you our comprehensive coverage of worldwide news, including a full report from the Bahrain International Airshow, plus Cathay Pacific roster their A350-1000 to Manchester, ANA receive their first superjumbo, a first look at WestJet’s new Dreamliner, and Air Astana unveil their Embraer E2 in a striking snow leopard livery. We also have our regular sections covering the latest commercial aircraft acquisitions, up-to-date accident reports and developments from the world of aviation training and MROs and we give you the chance to win aviation DVDs worth over £200 in our reader competition.