More long-haul aircraft than ever at Barcelona airport

Barcelona airport is quite a unique case in Europe: its nearly 35M annual passengers make it one of Europe's top ten airports, yet it is visited by a relatively small number of wide-bodied aircraft. Or was it?

In reality the number of long-haul routes (and airlines flying wide-body aircraft) has been increasing at Barcelona airport., to the point that Emirates and Transaero have announced A380 flights from Dubai and Moscow respectively. Add to that the fact that some airlines respond to Barcelona's popularity as a tourist destination by adding capacity and flying larger aircraft during the summer months and the chances of seeing large aircraft at Barcelona airport increase are actually much larger than they used not long ago.

So I was curious to find out more about this topic: although staff at Barcelona airport were extremely helpful, hard data had to come from Aena's website (Aena is the public entity managing almost all Spanish airports) that is really a pain to use...and unbelievable enough there is no dedicated site for Barcelona airport. 

However, there is a very active planespotting community in Barcelona and this is how I found what I was looking for. They say an image is worth more than a thousand words, so I thought it would be a good idea to share this video by Aerotendencias that summarizes quite well the current activity by wide-body aircraft at Barcelona airport, it only covers the first half of 2013, so the summer months, when activity peaks, are not included, but it is a very good illustration nevertheless!

 

Planes never sleep

Iberia has published on its corporate blog this very interesting video about what goes on in an aircraft during the night, when it rests at base.

With the name "Los aviones nunca duermen" ("Planes never sleep" in Spanish), you can see how ground crews take care of an Airbus cleaning and maintenance throughout the night...the video is in Spanish but, even if you don't understand the language, there is plenty of interesting footage of that part of airline operations you usually do not get to see!

Planespotting at London Gatwick airport

After the global mega-hub of Istanbul it was time to planespot at a totally different type of airport, not because it is small (London Gatwick makes it into Europe's top 10 airports by number of traffic) but because of the role it fulfils.

Although in some aspects might be providing a passenger experience superior to that of Heathrow (not a difficult challenge anyway!), Gatwick is not London's main airport.

Gatwick is mainly an airport for origin and destination traffic, with a strong leaning towards leisure and low cost carriers, however, it still provides good planespotting opportunities, as most of these carriers are fond of colourful liveries.

Gatwick has also its fair share of long-haul traffic too and, as it does not have the capacity constraints of Heathrow it is easy to spot a broad range of aircraft types, from British regional carriers to Virgin Atlantic's jumbo jets...

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If you are into planespotting, check out my Instagram and Pinterest accounts too!

Why cross-winds do not affect only small aircraft

I have already posted several videos of aircraft landing in strong cross-wind conditions in the past, but when someone sends one of these to me I can't help but share it as they tend to be quite spectacular and give you a perspective that (thankfully!) you are usually not aware of when inside the aircraft.

And if you think that cross-winds affect only small aircraft, have a look at the Emirates Boeing 777 that appears first in the video!

Planespotting in Barcelona

One of the best airports for planespotting I have ever been to!...there are even two purpose-made viewing platforms between the runways and the beach (In this map you will find the approximate location of, what I think, is the best place for planespotting at Barcelona airport, and in this other one (good find, Pau Cuevas!), there is comprehensive guide of the best locations for spotters at Barcelona airport)

But there is a catch: the planespotting platform is not easy to get to unless you have a car (there is a local bus, but, as far as I am ware of, it does not connect with the airport terminals but with the train station at the nearby town of El Prat).

Another factor to take into account is that most of the traffic at Barcelona is to and from European destinations, which means that Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 will account for an overwhelming majority of the sights. 

But you can still spot some visitors from afar, like this Pakistan International Airlines Boeing 777-200 or a Qatar Airways Airbus A330!

Planespotting at London City Airport

London City airport is, obviously quite different from the other airports serving the London area, like an exclusive boutique compared to a mainstream retailer.

But I was also positively surprised as an aviation enthusiast an planespotter, since it is possible to enjoy great views of the runway from the waiting area of the terminal, and you can see some aircraft types that you seldom see at other London airports, such as the Avro RJ85s and several models of Embraer's E-jets.

Here are some pictures that I took while waiting to board my flight...I took some more interesting pictures with my camera (including one of the unique British Airways transatlantic business-only Airbus A318 and I expect to post them to my Instagram account in the near future).

Allplane in the media

A bit of blatant self-promotion here, I know, but it is nice to see one's work picked up by industry peers, particularly when we are talking about some heavy-weights of online journalism!

My picture of a Thai Airways' Airbus A380 crew sleeping quarters was re-published on the front cover of popular American technology site Gizmodo.

And my article about Vueling's recent expansion was picked up by online travel magazine Skift.

No need to say readership figures went through the roof with all this extra exposure!

Enjoy the read!


Aviation videos (III): landing at small island airports

One of things I am wondering is how Felix Baumgartner managed to land at exactly the right spot from so high up...because landing can really be an art, be it because of adverse weather conditions or because the the airport is in a "challenging" location...and some of the most challenging airports are located in small islands, where it can often be difficult to find enough flat land to be able to build a runway. Have a look at these islands airports to see what I mean...!

Madeira

In this video you will see several aircraft landing in cross-winds at Madeira airport, a landing streep embedded between a steep hill and the sea. I found particularly interesting the landing of Air Berlin aircraft from minute 9 of the video!

Vagar, Faroe Islands

The interesting here is the shape of the runway, that is not exactly flat, but adapts to the curvature of the terrain (this airport, built by the British during WWII is possibly worth a blog post of its own!)

Saba, Netherlands Antilles

If Madeira's airport looks challenging, what to say of Saba's!