Best of Winter 2011 – Part 2

June 11, 2011

June 11 was a particularly clear day with some really interesting clouds around, so off I went to catch the action as the aircraft came in from the south on runway 03. One of the good things about 03 approaches is that you tend to get all of the aircraft using the same runway, rather than being split between runways 21 and 24 when they are coming in from the north or northeast. That means more traffic, always good for a planespotter!

First in was QANTAS 737-400 VH-TJW from Adelaide. Delivered to Air Nauru in August 1993, it was acquired by QANTAS in June 1995, however in February 2012 was placed into storage. Most of QANTAS’ 737-400’s have now been retired, so whether -TJW will be sold or scrapped remains to be seen.

VH-TJW QANTAS Boeing 737-4L7

Jumbos are always a great sight, and even though the new Airbus A380 is a mightily impressive plane, I still think the 747 is aesthetically more pleasing, especially from the front. While the A380 has an almost bulbous nose, the 747 looks more streamlined and built for speed. In fact, the 747 is actually the fastest airliner currently in service, beaten only by Concorde (and maybe the Convair CV990 Coronado) while it was in operation.

This aircraft is an Extended Range (ER) 747-400 and was stopping off in Perth en route Johannesburg from Sydney. It would normally have flown direct, but the volcanic ash plume that had spread across parts of Australia and to the south meant that it had to take a more northerly route and so had to make a refuelling stop. QANTAS has six ER 747’s and this was the fifth one delivered in June 2003.

VH-OEI QANTAS Boeing 747-438-ER

This shot shows the wing sweep, which at 37.5 degrees is 7.5 degrees more than the Airbus A330, and helps explain why it can fly so fast relative to other airliners.

VH-OEI QANTAS Boeing 747-438-ER

As of May 2012, QANTAS has a fleet of around 24 active 767-300’s and has sold 13 to other operators. The 767 was due to be replaced by the Boeing 787, but delays in that programme have resulted in th 767 hanging on for longer than anticipated. Whilst some of QANTAS’ 767’s look a bit worse for wear, this one, VH-OGV, looks good and a number have been painted in the carriers latest livery, making them look very smart. -OGV was delivered to QANTAS in June 2000.

VH-OGV QANTAS Boeing 767-338-ER

The red dust on VH-XFP gives away that fact that these aircraft operate to some fairly basic airfields. The Dash 8 is a common sight at Perth, their robust design making them an ideal aircraft for gravel strips found at some of the WA mine locations.

VH-XFP Skippers Aviation DHC Dash 8-102K

With one of my favourite airline tail liveries, South African Airways make a great sight at Perth. This Airbus A340, a model 200, was delivered new to Lufthansa in 1993 and joined South African in 2003. A340-200’s are becoming quite rare and South African is gradually retiring them as new A330’s are delivered, which is a pity, because you can’t beat a big four engined jet!

ZS-SLC South African Airways Airbus A340-211

ZS-SLC South African Airways Airbus A340-211

ZS-SLC South African Airways Airbus A340-211

Talking of A330’s, here is VH-QPB on approach as flight QF72 from Singapore. QANTAS seems recently to be losing the Perth-Singapore battle to Singapore Airlines. A number of flights have been operated by the smaller A330-200, rather than the -300 pictured here, while Singapore Airlines has been both upgrading equipment from A330’s on the daily afternoon flight to Boeing 777’s and adding frequencies. QANTAS CEO Alan Joyce has made numerous comments about QANTAS International losing money, but you have to wonder what the problem is when SIA is increasing capacity while QANTAS is going in the opposite direction. Both airlines are full service carriers, so one has to ask the obvious question – is it the quality of service that’s making, in this instance, SIA more popular? One for the blog . .

VH-QPB QANTAS Airbus A330-301

Another QANTAS 767, this time VH-OGL, which was delivered in 1991.

VH-OGL QANTAS Boeing 767-338-ER

And here they are, Singapore Airlines, with Airbus A330-300 9V-STQ and flight SQ223. This flight has since been upgraded to a Boeing 777-200, and from 1 July 2012 will be upgraded again to a model -300. Plus, from December 10 2012 to January 31 2013, an additional daily flight will operate, SQ213, arriving in Perth at 1.15pm and operated by 777-200’s. As mentioned above, Singapore Airlines are going gang busters while QANTAS seem to be throwing in the towel . . .

9V-STQ Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343E

I’ve always wanted to get a photo of an airliner with the Moon in the shot, and this was the day I finally managed it! The Moon has to be in the right place, you have to be in the right place, and then you have to get the airliner in the right place! All of that while looking through the camera’s view finder and not being able to accurately tell where the Moon is – no wonder it took me so long. Everything finally came together, and Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-200 9M-MRI, arriving from Kuala Lumpur as Malaysian 125, takes the honours.

9M-MRI Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777-2H6-ER

Increasing cloud coming in from the west gradually blocked out the sun, so after the Malaysian it was time to head for home and a cup of tea . . .

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