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QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”

stylish cabin crew

Qantas will today mark the end of an era with the departure of the national carrier’s last Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

The final 747-400 in the fleet (registration VH-OEJ) will depart Sydney at 2pm as flight number QF7474, bringing to an end five decades of history-making moments for the national carrier and aviation in Australia.

Qantas took delivery of its first 747 (a -200 series) in August 1971, the same year that William McMahon became Prime Minister, the first McDonalds opened in Australia and Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool topped the music charts. Its arrival – and its economics – made international travel possible for millions of people for the first time.

The fleet of 747 aircraft not only carried generations of Australians on their first overseas adventures, they also offered a safe voyage for hundreds of thousands of migrant families who flew to their new life in Australia on board a ‘roo tailed jumbo jet.

Qantas 747s were at the forefront of a number of important milestones for the airline, including the first Business Class cabin of any airline in the world. Their size, range and incredible reliability meant they were used for numerous rescue missions: flying a record 674 passengers out of Darwin in the aftermath of Cyclone Tracy; evacuating Australians out of Cairo during political unrest in 2011 and flying medical supplies in and tourists home from the Maldives and Sri Lanka following the Boxing Day Tsunami in December 2004.

The last rescue missions the 747 flew for Qantas were to bring hundreds of stranded Australians home from the COVID-19 epicentre of Wuhan in February this year.

Qantas brought forward the scheduled retirement of the fleet by six months after the COVID-19 pandemic decimated international travel globally.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the 747 changed the face of Australian aviation and ushered in a new era of lower fares and non-stop flights.

QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”

“It’s hard to overstate the impact that the 747 had on aviation and a country as far away as Australia. It replaced the 707, which was a huge leap forward in itself but didn’t have the sheer size and scale to lower airfares the way the 747 did. That put international travel within reach of the average Australian and people jumped at the opportunity,” Mr Joyce said.

QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”- B747 upper deck

“This aircraft was well ahead of its time and extremely capable. Engineers and cabin crew loved working on them and pilots loved flying them. So did passengers. They have carved out a very special place in aviation history and I know they’ll be greatly missed by a lot of people, including me.

In-1989-the-London–Sydney-delivery-flight-of-the-first-Qantas-747-400-variant-VH-OJA-set-a-non-stop-world-record-for-a-commercial-aircraft-travelling-18000km-in-just-over-20-hours..jpg
QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”- In-1989-the-London–Sydney-delivery-flight-of-the-first-Qantas-747-400-variant-VH-OJA-set-a-non-stop-world-record-for-a-commercial-aircraft-travelling-18000km-in-just-over-20-hours..jpg

“Time has overtaken the 747 and we now have a much more fuel efficient aircraft with even better range in our fleet, such as the 787 Dreamliner that we use on Perth-London and hopefully before too long, the Airbus A350 for our Project Sunrise flights non-stop to New York and London,” added Mr Joyce.

Qantas has flown six different types of the 747, with Boeing increasing the aircraft’s size, range and capability over the years with the advent of new technology and engine types.

The-first-manufactured-747-at-Boeing’s-Everett-factory-in-1968-with-cabin-crew-representing-all-the-airlines-with-orders-for-the-aircraft
QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”- The-first-manufactured-747-at-Boeing’s-Everett-factory-in-1968-with-cabin-crew-representing-all-the-airlines-with-orders-for-the-aircraft- QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”

Qantas’s first female Captain, Sharelle Quinn, will be in command of the final flight and said the aircraft has a very special place in the hearts of not just Qantas staff, but aviation enthusiasts and travellers alike.

“I have flown this aircraft for 36 years and it has been an absolute privilege”, Captain Quinn said.

“From the Pope to pop stars, our 747’s have carried over 250 million people safely to their destinations. Over the decades, it’s also swooped in on a number of occasions to save Aussies stranded far from home.”

The-first-Qantas-747-VH-EBA-on-an-early-test-flight-from-Seattle-in-1971.
QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”- The-first-Qantas-747-VH-EBA-on-an-early-test-flight-from-Seattle-in-1971..jpg

aptain Quinn added, “It has been a wonderful part of our history, a truly ground breaking aircraft and while we are sad to see our last one go, it’s time to hand over to the next generation of aircraft that are a lot more efficient.”

Captain Quinn and crew will fly the 747 to Los Angeles with a full cargo hold of freight before its final sector to the Mojave.

The-Queen-greets-guests-after-arriving-on-a-Qantas-747-to-commence-the-1992-Royal-Tour-of-Australia..
QANTAS FAREWELLS “QUEEN OF THE SKIES”- The-Queen-greets-guests-after-arriving-on-a-Qantas-747-to-commence-the-1992-Royal-Tour-of-Australia..

VH-OEJ is scheduled to depart Sydney at 2.00pm. Weather permitting, it will do a flyby of Sydney Harbour, CBD and northern and eastern suburbs beaches as well as a low level overfly of HARS Museum (Albion Park) where it will dip the wings in a final farewell to Qantas’ first 747-400, VH-OJA, which is preserved there.

The aircraft will then head out over the Pacific Ocean, as the sun sets on a 50-year love affair with Australians and their beloved Queen of The Skies.

Fast Facts

Flight number:              QF7474

Aircraft registration:      VH-OEJ

Aircraft name:               Wunala

Year delivered:             2003 (30th July)

He is an aviation journalist and the founder of Jetline Marvel. Dawal gained a comprehensive understanding of the commercial aviation industry.  He has worked in a range of roles for more than 9 years in the aviation and aerospace industry. He has written more than 1700 articles in the aerospace industry. When he was 19 years old, he received a national award for his general innovations and holds the patent. He completed two postgraduate degrees simultaneously, one in Aerospace and the other in Management. Additionally, he authored nearly six textbooks on aviation and aerospace tailored for students in various educational institutions. jetlinem4(at)gmail.com

Airlines

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

United Airlines Boeing 737-800 Flight Review: Domestic Economy Done Right

Welcome to another flight review, where we would be flying on United Airlines Boeing 737-800 aircraft on a 4 hour transcontinental flight from Las Vegas to Washington!

Las Vegas consists of 2 main terminals for commercial airlines, Terminal 3 and Terminal 1. Both Terminals serve different airlines, with Terminal 1 more focused on Low Cost Carriers, while Terminal 3 serving the main carriers such as Delta, American, United Airlines, together with international operators. 

We are currently in Terminal 3, which has a wide offering of food and drinks. Furthermore, since we are in Las Vegas, there definitely are some slot machines around the terminal for those who are hoping to make a quick buck before their flight. There was also supposed to be a gaming lounge, but it was closed due to renovation. 

Upon reaching the gate, we were informed of an approximately 30 minute delay to our departure time, due to the aircraft leaving its previous leg late. 

Here is our aircraft, ship 3506, a 17 year old Boeing 737 which would be ferrying us to Washington. Here she is, decked in the old United Airlines colour scheme, The boarding process soon began, with passengers being called to called based on their boarding group, so as to ensure an orderly boarding process. 

We were warmly welcomed aboard by the cabin crew, where sanitising wipes were available upon request. For this flight, I selected 28F, a Window seat. The Economy Class layout in United’s Boeing 737-800 is in a 3-3 configuration, while Business Class is in a 2-2 layout.

This particular aircraft is still fitted with the old cabin of United Airlines, with no in-seat power outlet, small Inflight Entertainment Screens, together with a dated cabin.

United is currently updating their Boeing 737 fleet to have a wider Inflight Entertainment Screen, which includes a USB power port for you to charge your devices. It will definitely be a welcome change on the longer transcontinental flights especially. 

The seats are sufficiently wide, with a rather sufficient legroom offered on the aircraft. Although not generous, I was still able to stretch my legs, so definitely no complaints. The seat has two pockets, one right below the screen, with the other at knee level, which allows you to store your personal electronic devices safely. There are also adjustable headrests, which is always an amazing feature on a seat. 

Soon, we were greeted by the Captain, who warmly welcomed us onboard, before apologising for the slight delay, informing us that he would attempt to get us airborne as soon as possible. 

Inflight Service 

After approximately 30 minutes after takeoff, the flight crew prepared the cabin for snack service. Starting at the front of the cabin, they slowly made their way to the back. 

This is where I feel United really shines, especially for flights on the North American Continent. There are small snacks such as pretzels, chocolate and chips, together with non alcoholic beverages which are provided complimentary to the passengers. There is a wide range of beverages being provided, from Water, Orange Juice to even Ginger Ale. Everyone was given 1 choice of beverage and snack for this service.

Headphones were also handed out on demand, which was definitely what set United apart from other airlines in their Domestic Economy class. In fact, some airlines do not issue headphones for free on International Economy class on the North American continent flights. 

After approximately an hour, the flight crews were walking about, offering passengers a coffee or tea, or any other beverage. Passengers could also request for other drinks of their choice, together with snacks, though some snacks are chargeable. 

Passengers could request for drinks or snacks throughout the entire flight, with the crew occasionally making rounds offering water to passengers. 

United Airlines has the option of allowing their passengers to add their credit cards online, before boarding the flights, so as to ensure a contactless transaction. The cost of items ordered would be billed to that particular card, therefore negating the need for passengers to go through the hassle of finding their credit cards onboard. Cash payments are also not accepted onboard the flight, therefore requiring a card for in flight purchases. 

There is wifi provided onboard, with free internet access to messaging applications. The internet was rather fast, and offered great connectivity onboard, enabling you to stay in contact with your loved ones even in the air.

Free wifi for streaming and internet surfing is provided to T-Mobile customers, and other passengers could also purchase wifi for the entire flight for the same purpose. The wifi could also be used to stream movies to your own device, with a large range of movies and TV shows which could be watched online.

The selection of movies are definitely more than sufficient to keep everyone occupied for the duration of the entire flight. 

Soon, we landed at Washington Dulles International Airport, just slightly behind schedule. We deplaned via an airbridge to a remote concourse, where we were ferried to the main terminal via a mobile lounge, which in my opinion is quite a unique system. 

Delay Management done right

One thing which really impressed me thoroughly was United’s management of delays. Knowing that the aircraft would be approximately 10 minutes late, the flight crews identified those passengers who have connecting flights through lighting the crew call button, therefore providing a visible identification.

Upon landing, passengers were advised to remain seated and let these passengers deplane first, so they could make up for the lost time. United Airlines were also transparent with the information and steps taken to mitigate delays to the travellers’ travel plans through keeping everyone in the aircraft updated with the status of the aircraft arrival. 

Final Thoughts

United’s Cabin Service exceeded my expectations, especially with the offering of earphones to all passengers in Economy, ensuring that passengers were able to enjoy the wide selection of inflight entertainment offered. This is in stark contrast to certain North American Carriers, where they follow a bring your own headphones concept, resulting in some passengers being unable to enjoy the inflight entertainment. Furthermore, the attentiveness of the crew certainly played a part in ensuring an amazing flight, ensuring that the passengers were comfortable and well hydrated. 

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Europe

KLM E190 Engine Incident, 1 Person Dead

An Embraer E190 aircraft from KLM Cityhopper has been involved in a ground incident where a person was ingested into the engine of the aircraft, resulting in a death. The incident was ruled by the Royal Military Police to be a case of suicide. 

This incident occurred on 29th May, when the Embraer E190 aircraft was preparing to depart as KL1341 to Billund in Denmark. Witnesses reported a ‘hellish noise’, followed by smoke coming from the aircraft, according to an article published by Dutch Newspaper De Telegraaf.

The Embraer E190 is a regional aircraft, frequently used by KLM and other airlines on lower density, regional routes. It is powered by two General Electric CF34-10E engines. The aircraft involved in question, PH-EZL, is a 14 year old aircraft. As a result of the incident, KL1341 was delayed by approximately 6 hours as passengers and crew had to be transferred to another aircraft. 

KLM mentioned in a statement that the incident was under investigation, and that they are currently taking care of the passengers and crew who witnessed that incident. 

In a further update from the Royal Military Police, investigations concluded that the ingestion had not been accidental.

The deceased man has been identified as an employee of a company operating at the airport. The investigation has revealed that he intentionally climbed into the engine, indicating this is a case of suicide.

Dutch Royal Military Police

We offer our condolences to the family of the deceased.

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Asia

Singapore Airlines emergency landing after severe turbulence

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777 Aircraft lands at Singapore Changi Airport (Incident aircraft not pictured)

One passenger passed on, while dozens of passengers were injured when a Singapore Airlines Boeing B777-300ER aircraft experienced severe turbulence while en route to Singapore from London Heathrow Airport. The aircraft diverted to Bangkok, and landed at 3:45pm Local time on 21 May 2024 

The flight landed with 211 Passengers and 11 Crew members at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport. According to the Airport Director Kittipong Kittikachorn at a news conference, there were 7 passengers who suffered serious injuries, while a number of other passengers suffered injuries of varying seriousness.

It was also confirmed that the passenger who passed on was a 73 year old British Man. In a statement from Singapore Airlines ‘ As of 0505 hours Singapore Time on 22 May 2024, 79 passengers and 6 crew members from SQ321 remain in Bangkok’. In another statement, it was reported that a relief flight with 143 passengers and crew members arrived in Singapore at 0505 hours Singapore time on 22 May 2024.

According to aircraft tracking site FlightRadar24, the 16 Year Old Boeing B777-300ER aircraft descended sharply from 37,000 feet to 31,000 feet in a short time. It was also further reported by FlightRadar24 that the descent was commanded by Autopilot, instead of being caused by turbulence.

Shortly afterwards, the pilot declared an emergency by squeaking 7700 on the transponder, indicating an emergency situation onboard the aircraft. The Boeing 777 aircraft then diverted to Bangkok, instead of continuing on its planned journey to Singapore. 

In view of this incident, Singapore Airlines mentioned in a statement that they are working with the relevant authorities on the investigation into this incident.

The National Transportation Safety Board, a US Government investigative agency for civil aviation incidents, is sending an accredited representative and 4 technical advisors to support the investigation by Singapore’s Transport Safety Investigation Bureau (TSIB). TSIB mentioned in a statement that it ‘is in touch with its Thai counterparts and will be deploying investigators to Bangkok’. 

Boeing, the manufacturer of the Boeing B777 aircraft mentioned in a statement that they are in contact with Singapore Airlines regarding the ill-fated flight, and ‘stand ready to support them’. 

This situation is developing, more details will be added when they become available. 

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