Eurasian Adventure 7 – Antalya to Budapest

Antalya (LTAI/AYT) to Yerevan Zvardnots (UDYZ/EVN)

Mountains

Today we’re flying JARDesigns A320.

Turn

Turns out Antalya has some beautiful scenery nearby!

Approaching Ararat

This volcano is seriously impressive to fly near – and is visible for an incredible distance!

Final Approach

Safe Parking

Album Here!

Yerevan to Istanbul Ataturk (LTBA/IST)
Gate

This flight will be done in FlyJsim’s 737-200 – mainly because I didn’t want to do another flight in a Turkish aircraft!

Foggy Take-off

Breaking Out Of Clouds

Wing

Seriously has to be the best-looking wing built in X-Plane.

Minimums

Vacating Runway

Istanbul

Scenery is a conversion of Taxi2Gate’s Istanbul.
See more images here (and I really recommend it, they’re gorgeous!)

Istanbul to Bucharest (LROP/OTP)
Engine Start

More flights with the A320 – The more I fly, the better I get with this aircraft and the more enjoyable it becomes! Still not quite greasing my landings but I don’t bounce all over the place now!

Departure

Sunset

This flight was so, so pretty. Skymaxx really knows how to make sunsets GORGEOUS!

Gradient

Look at those colours…

Baneasa

This is Bucharest’s old international airport, now serving GA and private aviation.

Decelerating

Nightlight

This is the first night movement I’ve done on this tour – normally I fly in daylight for better screenshots (and because most sceneries lack night lighting!), but now I’m not so sure that’s true…
Album! Click me!

Bucharest to Budapest (LHBP/BUD)
Not a confusing destination pair at all…
Windy

Pretty grim day here in Bucharest – Fair crosswinds and a lot of overcast cloud. I know the livery looks the same as last flight, and that’s something I don’t normally do, but I made a lot of modifications since that last flight to make it different!

Escape

Always a good feeling to get clear of the bad weather by climbing over it!

Wizz

Really pleased with how this update turned out. The changes are subtle but make a big difference! This was shot on descent into Budapest.

Landed

Budapest

Quite a nice airport, but I had to do a lot of work merging two FSX sceneries together to make it look right! Sadly, this means the ground markings differ from what the objects suggest so getting lined up to park was a bit tricky!
Here’s the album.

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Eurasian Adventure 6 – Doha to Antalya

Doha (OTHH/DOH) to Dubai (OMDB/DXB)
Today I’ll be trying to fly the Jetsim A330-300 and… botching it [biggrin] I’m still making these photos look like I did a decent job of it though!

Gate

This scenery is one of the rare few to have modeled gate areas, which is nice!

Engine Start

Wing View

I really love the A330’s wing…

Climbing

Don’t ask what happened between here and the runway… [eek]

Ubiquitous Nose Shot

Thankfully, things settled down enough to get this shot!

Dubai!

Just starting to see some of the buildings along the coastline!

Dubai! (2)

This is FlyTampa’s FSX scenery converted to X-Plane, and it is AMAZING.

Crosswind

Pretending this went well would be a lie… Turns out the problems I’d been having through the flight were actually due to a glitch leaving a UNIVERSAL 55 knot wind… meaning even this low on approach I had a groundspeed of under 100kts… makes for a very weird landing! We got down in (just about) one piece… Probably want to get a good maintenance check done though!

Dubai (OMDB/DXB) to Bahrain (OBBI/BAH)
Time for a flight to Bahrain in FlightFactor’s B777-300ER, wearing an Emirates livery (they’re everywhere in real life, and there’s no escaping them in the sim world either!)

Pushback

Engine Start

Taxiing

Airport Overview

Dubai

Cliché

Seriously, this angle is just the best. Trust me.

Planespotter’s View

Decelerating

Look, this view works at any stage of flight!

Runway Vacated

Gate

Full album here, as always!

Bahrain (OBBI/BAH) to Sharm El-Sheikh (HESH/SSH)

A350

Today we’re flying in the newly-released Flight Factor A350 – and she’s gorgeous! I originally planned this with a custom-liveried 777-200ER but the release of this aircraft overtook that imediately!

Departing Bahrain

Not the prettiest of sceneries today unfortunately, this area has no payware airports and I didn’t fancy making photo texture for the ground… The A350’s bandana-ed beauty more than makes up for it in my opinion though!

Winglet – Up close and personal

Can’t help but stare at these unusual looking winglets – they’re very cool!

Approach

Such a pretty plane… really smooth flyer as well, it has the QPAC plugin driving the FBW systems, making it have some of the most advanced Airbus behaviours of any aircraft in X-Plane.

Sharm

Just a bit of scenery eye candy for you. I don’t normally focus enough on the airports with these screenshots as it doesn’t tell much of the flight story sometimes, but would you like to see it more? [biggrin]

Busy

There are far more ground services for this aircraft than any other. Really makes being at the gate exciting! Album.

Sharm El-Sheikh to Antalya (LTAI/AYT)

Ramp

No Title

Is this getting overused now?

Clouds Off The Coast

Got quite bumpy on our initial descent into Antalya…

Mountains

…But cleared up for some fantastic views later!

Reverse

Another safe touchdown! Album here.

Eurasian Adventure 5 – Larnaca to Doha

Larnaca (LICC/LCA) to Doha (OTHH/DOH)

From Larnaca, I was to set forth to Doha on what should have been the longest leg of the entire journey, at roughly a whopping (to me, anyway) 1,300mi! At the sake of full disclosure, I did suffer a system crash somewhere near Amman, due to a bad graphics driver, so I did continue the flight from there (still the longest planned leg so far, at 1,047mi direct!). However, I have no scenery for the area (other than some awful default buildings I hurriedly added to give me something to look at) and so took no photos of the takeoff. I have included it in the journey plan though, as the planned Larnaca to Doha route followed a very similar path to avoid Syria and Iraq.

Anyway, now that’s out of the way – on to some more screenshots!

Loading Cargo

Today we’re in the amazing SSG B747-8F, just released days earlier!

Takeoff
The 747 is one of the coolest aircraft when it comes to takeoff. Personally, I think the -8F has the best looks of any 747, too…
Climbing out (1)

…And this is why; isn’t she gorgeous?

Climbing out (2)

If you answered no previously, please consider revising that answer…

Passing Beirut

Beauty shots!


Seriously. How could you not love this aircraft?!

Cloudy Bahrain

We’ll be seeing you again soon, Bahrain. Please be sunnier!

Decelerating

Like crazy. Slightly forgot to set descent altitude, had to fall like crazy and now I have to deal with speed management [biggrin]

Doha City

Final

Nice and windy today – we have a constant 11kts crosswind from the right

Landed!

Doha’s new airport is pretty cool, and this scenery does it so much justice! One of the nicest I have.
Bizarrely, the 747 stops on a dime – I managed to make the first high-speed exit with only half autobrakes – it was so fast I didn’t even get chance to react and open reverse thrust!

Parked at the gate

Unloading all the precious cargo – who knows what’s in all these boxes? Maybe a few extra photos from this flight, which you can see here!

Eurasian Adventure 4 – Athens to Larnaca

Athens (LGAV/ATH) to Skiathos (LGSK/JSI)
This will be a a GA flight  using Carenado’s Mooney M20J, recently updated to V3, with X-Plane’s new GNS430 GPS system.

Overflying the sprawl of Athens

Passing Mountains

Skiathos in sight

Downwind

Touchdown!

Parked – next to a very nice business jet!

More images here

Skiathos to Mykonos (LGMK/JMK)
Next, We’ll be flying the Cirrus SR22, trying out what I now know is an excellent G1000 simulation!

Climbing out of Skiathos

Admiring Clouds

Mykonos in Sight

Overhead Join

Finals

Touchdown!

Parked at the Gate

More pics of this flight here

Mykonos to Larnaca (LICC/LCA)
Following on from Mykonos, I quickly prepared to fly the next leg in my Jetto A320.

Preparing for Departure

Climbing Out

Money Shot

Approaching Larnaca

Final Approach

(If it looks off, it’s because it is – Glideslope/Localiser data isn’t normally part of scenery packs, and in this case the conversion from FSX was slightly south of the X-Plane data to match photoscenery – Thus, I’m slightly north of where I want to be!)

Touchdown

As you can see, I didn’t quite correct the error from the last image, and I’m still a little off centreline!

Parked

More pics of this flight here

Eurasian Adventure 3 – Bratislava to Athens

Bratislava (LZIB/BTS) to Belgrade (LYBE/BEG)
Ramp

Today we’re flying the mighty 757 once more, in Titan Airways livery as I didn’t have anything better for the route. Let’s say they’re operating on behalf of Air Serbia!

Taxiing

Can’t get over how well-made this airport is.

Climbing above the clouds

Cruising

Parked

Safely landed in Belgrade! See more of the flight Here.

Belgrade to Naples (LIRN/NAP)
This time we’ll be flying in an Pratt & Whitney powered 757 operated by Air Italy

At The Gate

Climbing

Over Italy

Threshold

Approaching beside Vesuvius is a great experience… wish I’d installed photoscenery beforehand!

A Safe Landing

As always! [biggrin] Similarly, you can view the rest of the album here.

Naples To Catania (LICC/CTA)

Parked at the Gate

Turning South

Beauty Shots

Overflying Lamezia Terme

Safely parked

Catania To Athens (LGAV/ATH)
After climbing out of the B1900D, it was time for a night’s rest before an early flight to Athens the next morning – this time in JARDesigns A320neo, with a custom Jetto livery.

Preparing for departure

Taxiing

A steep right turn after departing to point us towards Greece

Climbing through some gorgeous clouds…

…and watching the sun rise

Cruising over Greece

Landed!

Eurasian Adventure 1 – Humberside to Tampere

So for the past few months, I’ve been enjoying flying in X-Plane as much as I can, having finally found a way to give myself a purpose: Fly to all the amazing sceneries I have in Europe! I never really flew enough to visit all of them, and so I decided doing a point to point journey around Europe and parts of the Middle East would really give me a great opportunity to do this!

The main rules for the trip are that I must depart from the same airport I arrive at for each destination, and that I can only visit each airport once – thus ensuring I see as many airports as possible! I’ve also tried to keep my routes below 1000nmi (most of the time), so I have to visit loads of places, and also to keep times short!

Anyway, here is my current routing as of the time of this post’s last update:


You can view the route in more detail (because that map is fairly chaotic) by clicking here!

As of writing this post, I’m just beyond halfway through this adventure – currently I’m in Doha, with my soon-to-be next stop being Dubai! Before that, here’s some catching up – might take a few volumes!

My journey began in Humberside (EGNJ/HUY), since I’d just made a real world flight there as part of flight training and got to taxi behind a KLM Fokker 100!

CRJ-200 From Humberside (EGNJ/HUY) to Amsterdam (EHAM/AMS)

I then made a flight in the same aircraft, from Amsterdam to Southampton (EGHI)

Southampton (EGHI) to Hamburg (EDDH)
Climbing out of Southampton: Glorious evening lighting!
Overflying Heathrow (since updated)

Following this, I made a flight from Hamburg to Berlin Brandenburg (EDDB) but unfortunately didn’t take any photos!

Berlin Brandenburg (EDDB) to Helsinki Vantaa (EFHK) in the FF 757-200RR.
At the Gatez3z34wT.png

Left TurnoutPLihO1w.png

Landing!P2BqZ91.png
I also compiled a larger albums which can be found here. I get a lot more screenshot-happy from this point onwards!

Helsinki (EFHK/HEL) to Oulu (EFOU/OUL)
This flight was made with a quick turnaround before heading back down to Vaasa (EFVA). My ride was OH-LBT; Finnair’s old livery looks great on the 757!

Overflying Helsinki

It seems I’ve developed a habit of choosing SIDs that take me back over the departure airport – and they make for some nice views!

Approaching Oulu

For this landing I made sure I practiced using the ILS and autoland – Thankfully, everything worked perfectly and the aircraft performed a perfect autolanding!

Quick Turnaround

Oulu (EFOU/OUL) to Vaasa (EFVA/VAA)
Climbing (and then descending again)

The trip to Vaasa was so short that almost as soon as I hit the t/c point, I had to start descending again! A shame, as I had barely any time to enjoy Finland’s glorious coastline.

Finals for Vaasa

Performed a manual landing this time – might as well make the most of each!

Touchdown(ish)!

I may have drifted a tiny bit further past the touchdown point than this, but nothing too problematic!
As usual from now on, there’s a few extra shots if you click here!

Vaasa to Tampere (EFTP/TMP)
The next trip I made after I last posted was down to Tampere in a Flybe Q400, which was a very short flight I almost entirely forgot to screenshot, apart from this one, taken as I was climbing away from Vaasa.

Anyway, that’s all for Volume 1 – I’ll be coming up with these pretty quickly while we catch up, so watch this space! Also to look forward to is a livery catch-up; I’ve been busy!

As always, fly safe!
Jiggyb2

PPL Skills Test and CTC/Virgin MPL!

So a few weeks ago I finally finished the second half of my PPL Skills Test – my final checkride, making me (technically) a fully-fledged pilot! Now I just have to wait for the CAA to check my paperwork so they can send me my license!

I did my test in two flights, the latter being the navigation section (normally done alongside the general handling section, but weather was poor last time so we rescheduled the second part), and while the weather was still far from perfect, I managed to get everything done surprisingly accurately! Despite being blown around by 30kt winds, I managed to get my first planned leg of the journey (to Skegness) quite close, but the unplanned diversion I was given (to an airfield north of Nottingham) somehow worked out so nicely that I stayed precisely on track! We never finished the leg because the wind left us travelling with a groundspeed below 60 knots (way too slow to get anywhere), but considering I was so accurate my examiner believed I was more than capable!

Unusually, we didn’t do any work with VORs or simulated IMC conditions, but I’m very confident with those two things anyway (thanks to X-Plane!) so I’m sure I would have passed that section easily.

In other news, I have also applied for CTC Wings’ MPL programme with Virgin Atlantic, and have got through to the assessment/interview stage! I wasn’t planning on applying so soon, however Flying A330s for Virgin Atlantic was too good an opportunity to miss! I’ll report back after Thursday 4th describing how the process went – it’ll involve a nice list of firsts for myself!

Thanks for reading, and fly safe!
Jiggyb2

OBBI Updates and Solo Navigation #2!

First up, Bahrain is now updated to V2, with new static aircraft and a few other updates! Check it out here!

 

________________________________________________________________________________________________________

I also completed my second solo navigation today! Here are some pics, mostly taken while cruising over the river Trent.
The route: 

Departing from Netherthorpe, the eastern point on my route, then heading south to Newark before following the Trent North to Gainsborough, then back to Netherthorpe. Most of these images are taken on the second leg.


Looking directly towards Gainsborough here.


Some small showers around, lots of weaving around them since the aircraft doesn’t have wipers!


Just an interesting bit of the Trent I passed over.


A seemingly tiny boat on the Trent. Everything looks minuscule, even at only 2000ft!


Passing the first of the West Burton Power Stations…


…and the second!


I never made it all the way to be directly overhead Gainsborough, thanks to this big storm that was hovering around and kicking up a lot of turbulence.


Finally, passing just north of Retford. After this I was too busy switching from Doncaster to Netherthorpe and sorting out my approach so I didn’t take any more pics sadly!

Fairchild-Dornier 728: The RJ that never quite made it

In the very early 2000s, Fairchild-Dornier were planning to try and make it big and create a family of regional airliners going from the 34-seat 328JET up to the 95-110 seat 928. The first new aircraft in this series to come about was the 70-85 seat 728, and the family was launched on the 19thMay 1998, with orders from Lufthansa Cityline and Crossair (who later cancelled their order due to the fuselage layout) for up to 120 aircraft. In August of the same year, Fairchild announced that General Electric’s CF34-8D engine would be the power-plant for the 728, instead of the Pratt & Whitney SPW-14.

Originally, the first aircraft were planned to be 728-100s, which would then be followed in 2003 by the longer-range 728-200. This would have had a 750km range advantage over the -100 with a 3000kg higher MTOW. The 728 had a very slightly larger cabin than any aircraft in its class, with a 51mm greater width than the E170/190 that would have served as a main competitior. This would have allowed for a 5-abreast cabin.

Soon after the 728-200, the 928 was expected to have its first flight towards the end of 2003, providing a longer cabin and increased wingspan but keeping the same flight deck as the 728, allowing for commonality with it and a planned shortened version, the 528. There was also a private jet version called the Envoy 7 which was expected to enter service in 2004 with an intercontinental range and “Super Shark” winglets. There was also a plan for an AEW&C variant.

The first prototype of the 728-100 made its official roll-out on the 21st March 2002, with the intent of making its first flight that Summer. However, this aircraft never got the chance as Fairchild-Dornier filed for insolvency only weeks later, terminating the program and causing the three partially-completed prototypes to be sold. The most complete aircraft, seen in the rollout and with most instrumentation already installed, was sold to the DLR (German Aerospace Centre) for cabin testing at the price of only 19,000 Euros, though this meant that the wings were cut off, leaving only stubs and destroying the most complete example. The other two incomplete and unpainted aircraft still stand in the locations they were left in; one in the former firm area of Dornier and one in Dresden.

This was not quite the end of the line however, as the Chinese D’Long group bought the project but this also fell through due to bankruptcy in 2004.

So, what are your thoughts on Dornier’s ambitious plans that never quite made it? Would it have been any good as an airliner? Does anyone else think it looks an awful lot like a Sukhoi Superjet?

Sources:

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=9268.0

http://www.aerospace-technology.com/projects/728jet/

http://www.airliners.net/aircraft-data/stats.main?id=214

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairchild_Dornier_728_family#928

TRIP REPORT: US Airways MAN-PHL-MCO and back again!

Before I start with the report, I may as well say yes, I’m sorry for not posting anything for a while, I’m a bit of a slowcoach when it comes to posting things! I’ve got a few plans for thing so expect them “sometime within the next year”!

PART 1: SPOTTING AND MISSED CONNECTIONS

Hi everyone, I’ve thought about writing a trip report for a while and so here is my first, I hope you enjoy! It follows my recent adventure to Florida with US Airways, via Philadelphia. Please give me some feedback, I would really appreciate it for my next trip in December!

First up, a bit of spotting in T2 at Manchester, my departure airport. Stood at the gate waiting to board, I spotted the light blue tail of a large Thomson jet right at the far end of the terminal. Having not seen a 787 before, I was very curious as to whether this could be it so felt like I would have a walk to investigate.

On the way down there I saw a few monarch aircraft, A 757 and A321 were parked up at the terminal and a few others on remote stands. The A321 happened to start it’s push-back as I passed and so I briefly stopped to watch.

Getting closer to the end of the terminal, I found I was correct; The Thomson aircraft had the swooping, unmistakable wings of a 787!

It was in a pretty good position for a nice overview but sadly I couldn’t get a good view of the wings because there was a gate in the way.

Upon returning to my own gate, I found that our own aircraft, N274AY, had arrived at the gate. I was rather pleased to see that this was an A330-300 rather than the usual -200; it meant I might have a chance of journeying on both types in this trip.

Interesting to see Thomson still hadn’t finished painting all the First Choice aircraft yet.

Some point later on the 787 was towed to a proper gate at the other end of T2, an event I almost entirely missed and so didn’t get any good shots from. Virgin Atlantic A333 G-VSXY (Which I have in 1:400 form) was also present but was in the process of boarding so people were in the way of the gate as I headed up to see more of the 787.

And finally I got to the (mostly quiet) gate with the 787 in. A few passengers had already arrived, and every single one was making slightly nervous jokes about batteries and fire…

Soon after taking that, boarding was announced so I headed back to rendezvous with the family and get on board our flight.
I’m afraid I didn’t take many pictures here so I’ll place more detailed opinions into the return journey.

Date: 26/07/2013
Airline: US Airways
Flight Number: AWE735
Departure Airport: Manchester International Airport, UK (MAN/EGCC)
Arrival Airport: Philadelphia International Airport, USA (PHL/KPHL)
Departure Time: 12:00
Arrival Time: 14:55
Flight Duration: 7hr 55min
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-313X
Aircraft Registration: N274AY
Seat Number: 22H (Window seat, Starboard side)

Upon boarding, I found my seat (which I admittedly ‘earned’ off another family member instead of the central aisle seat I was originally given) and found I had a

rather nice view over the wing. G-VSXY was parked up beside us and G-TUIA (the 787) next to that.

Legroom was alright for a 16-year old like myself, but the under-seat are was rather small and, as you can see below, with my bag and pillows stowed there wasn’t any space for legs. I could have put the bag overhead but I’m a little neurotic about leaving my laptop and things out of sight while travelling. I did move my bag to make enough space to fit my legs once we were taxiing.

We were the only aircraft departing at the time so it was a quick taxi to runway 23R and an immediate departure. I sat back to watch the UK and Ireland drop away from us as we climbed up to altitude (I didn’t fancy disobeying the request to “Turn phones off, Aeroplane mode doesn’t count” since we know what US security can be like, so no pics/videos). As soon as I could I snapped a quick picture of the A333’s wings fully flexed and sat back to enjoy an X-Men film – I’ll talk about the IFE later, but my opinion wasn’t great.

The flight across was rather uneventful, though the cabin attendants seemed to be less than enjoying their job, one of them was scowling for the majority of the flight. They also made fun of me for calling sprite lemonade, a perfectly legitimate thing to do in the UK… I later understand US lemonade is the cloudy, fresh-lemony stuff.

Arrival in Philadelphia was smooth enough and all seemed alright since we were about 30 mins early. This was, of course,  until we realised that not only did we have to go through the US border there (which was as dull as always), we also had to collect our bags and drop them back into the domestic system or something, then pass through security, which was hideously slow and tedious, primarily because the crew used the same line as everyone else but actually were more useless than us cattle; they repeatedly tried going through with shoes on, or metal labels/badges! This meant lots of waiting and a queue going out the door for security!
What’s worse is we had the wrong time for our flight, someone in our group misread the time as 5:55pm when it was actually 15:55 and nobody bothered to double-check… This meant we didn’t ask to be put at the front, and subsequently missed our connection; not that we would have made it anyway, having taken so long to get through security and bag drops.
Once we were back to the airside area of PHL we realised our mistake, though only after trying to scour the awful arrival boards at the international terminal, which were dim and on a nasty contrast level so they almost looked like they were just blank screens from a (short) distance.

Fortunately US had a flight 2 hours later to Orlando we could take, along with a fair few others who missed the same connection. This was on an A321 rather than a B752 (what we would have been on) so while I knew we would be sampling less variants of the US Airways fleet (I knew we’d be on an A32X aircraft on the return to PHL) I like the A321 a lot as an aircraft so it wasn’t so bad.

All that was left was an agonising wait in terminal B of PHL. My thoughts on the airport? it’s a bit rubbish. The place is overcrowded (At peak times), sprawling, and generally a bit outdated. Everyone has to run to catch connections because AWE puts them too close together for an airport of that size. Didn’t take any photos since there was too much hustle and bustle but I was pleased to see lots of E170s, which are very rare here in the north of England.

Date: 26/07/2013
Airline: US Airways
Flight Number: AWE759
Departure Airport: Philadelphia International Airport, USA (PHL/KPHL)
Arrival Airport: Orlando International Airport, FL, USA (MCO/KMCO)
Departure Time: 19:29
Arrival Time: 21:21
Flight Duration: 1hr 52min
Aircraft Type: Airbus A321
Aircraft Registration: UNKNOWN
Seat Number: 13F (Window seat, Starboard side)

On to our replacement flight we eventually got, sadly there weren’t any good points to grab the registration so I’ve no idea which aircraft it was other than an A321.

I once again managed to swap my way into a window seat (as always!) and got to enjoy the quick flight down the East coast, watching the (rather impressive) sunset.

I also found it quite amusing sitting far forward enough to be able to see my own reflection in the engine cowling; normally I’m seated above or behind the wing on a flight since I’m always in economy. I had the 6th (and 7th when reclined) windows from the door in the image.

Legroom wasn’t too bad either since there wasn’t an IFE box in the way any more. Fortunately I’d charge my phone in PHL so listened to music for a bit while enjoying the outside view. I did do another shot of the legroom but my bag was again poorly positioned to make it look rather uncomfortable.

Arriving in Orlando was again very smooth, and we happened to pull up next to the 757 that should have taken us there in the first place.

PART 2: MORE US AIRWAYS CHAOS

After a good couple of weeks in Orlando and Tampa, we set off towards MCO only slightly fearful of getting a missed connection and being stuck in PHL. These would become much worse fears later on but for now everything was, for the most part, alright.

At the airport, we were allocated seats all over the plane; nobody was sat next to each other for the PHL-MAN leg. The attendant at the desk informed us this was due to US trying to get us to pay extra to select seats (the flight wasn’t full and we were the first to check in too). Again, not cool, especially when there are kids in our group who really don’t want to be sat alone. Fortunately we managed to persuade them to give us a middle row for one family so that they were together but only following a lot of fuss.

After that, MCO was alright though again there were horrible queues for security. UK airports manage it so much better with the same equipment, I’ve never seen a particularly long queue at a UK airport as far as I remember. Fortunately, perhaps the only cheerful TSA officer in existence decided to push us to the front of the queue since we were such a big group. MCO is a bit of a dull airport, everything is spread out in the domestic terminals and there aren’t many stores in the US Airways bit to start with. Fortunately there are plenty of windows to look out of; I spotted this United 757 but can’t tell if it’s a -200 or -300, can anyone enlighten me?

Soon after arriving, our aircraft, an A320-214, pulled up to the gate as well. This time I caugt the registration, the rather pleasing numbered N123UW.

Date: 07/08/2013
Airline: US Airways
Flight Number: AWE734
Departure Airport: Orlando International Airport, FL, USA (MCO/KMCO)
Arrival Airport: Philadelphia International Airport, USA (PHL/KPHL)
Departure Time: 17:30
Arrival Time: 19:27
Flight Duration: 1hr 57min
Aircraft Type: Airbus A320-214
Aircraft Registration: N123UW
Seat Number: 19F (Window seat, Starboard side)

Boarding all went smoothly, nothing really worth mentioning. Pretty much the same legroom as the A321; Same product, obviously.

I could see a US Airways A321 and the UA 757 from earlier out my window. Have I mentioned that I love the A320-series’ wing and those cool little winglets? Much more interesting than sharklets.

Here’s a pic of the cabin. Does anyone know what the faintly visible clouds that come out of the air con system are? I’ve only seen them a few times while boarding.
Somebody in front had a lobster in a box as hand luggage, which I found quite amusing.

These signs are new to me. Much more useful than no smoking these days, too!

And here is a quick shot of a tray table, for reasons I will mention later. For now, note how it is quite spacious and square.

I stopped taking photos after this, I think my phone ran out of power after being used all day. So I’ll have to describe the rest of the journey to Philadelphia myself. We pushed back on time, but spent about 10-15 minutes sat on the tarmac with the engines running. We started to think how a hold up would be catastrophic for getting home.
Next, we hear the unmistakeable groan of the engine shutting down. We worry even more.
Finally, we’re told that the pilots have found a computer malfunction of some sort and are re-starting EVERYTHING to fix it and will take 5 minutes. Not so bad then, though the nervous flyers with us weren’t so happy. By thew way, remember the words ‘Computer Malfunction’ for later. Anyway, in the same message, we’re told we’ve been given a departure time 20 minutes later than scheduled. Our worries return.

For the most part, the rest of the flight was uneventful (I fell asleep after the early morning trip from Tampa), though the arrival to PHL was agonising slow, both because we sat in holds for ages and because we were so nervous about this tiny connection time. Once we finally made it onto the ground we made a loooooong taxi all the way across the airport, and then once we arrived at the terminal were told we had to wait for a Delta CRJ700 to move out the way. It took something like 5-10 minutes to do so, for some reason. Of course we charged off as quickly and politely as we could, and while we had booked a wheelchair for my grandmother, we (well, she did anyway) gave up on it anyway when they told us we had to wait for the plane to empty for some reason. So the younger ones sprinted to stop our flight leaving (we had maybe 15-20 minutes to cross the airport at disembarktion) so the older folk had time to not sprint to the gate.

Once we arrived, instead of finding an empty gate area and no plane like we were expecting, it was actually full, and our flight had been unloaded and delayed for what was at that point one hour due to… yep, ‘Computer problems’ (Turns out they couldn’t get the thing to take on fuel).
5 Hours, a free food voucher and a pack of dodgy tasting mentos later, we finally got the call that we were no longer delayed as, instead of the plane’s computers (which had at this point been replaced in some form) being dodgy it was actually the fuel truck all along, and we could have been delayed a lot less. By the way, we would have made it on to the flight if it was on time anyway!

Anyway, after this point things weren’t so bad.

Date: 07/08/2013
Airline: US Airways
Flight Number: AWE734
Departure Airport: Philadelphia International Airport, USA (PHL/KPHL)
Arrival Airport: Manchester International Airport, UK (MAN/EGCC)
Departure Time: 01:40
Arrival Time: 12:07
Flight Duration: 5hr 27min
Aircraft Type: Airbus A330-243
Aircraft Registration: N287AY
Seat Number: 12A (Window seat, Port side)

Quickly looking up the registration of the aircraft I realised we had the nearly-new N287AY, delivered in May 2013! Sadly the mythical ‘new plane smell’ seemed to have dissipated at this point but everything was still very clean. I’d heard of US Airways having dreadful legroom in their A332s but since this is a newer model it seems they’ve (thankfully) fixed things, since the space was about the same as the MAN-PHL leg in the A333. Space for my feet with my bag properly positioned this time.

Another shot of the modern overhead signage, I swear I’ve never seen this before!

Sadly there wasn’t much to see out at a rainy 1AM, but you can see how clean this brand-new plane is!

I was pleased to find a USB port in the armrest too, I managed to put some more power into my phone after adding about 20% at a very busy plug socket at the gate.

We were stuck with an annoying wait for the IFE though as they rebooted in after we boarded. Previously, it had been usable from boarding, with sfety shown only on large screens at the front of the cabin.

Once it loaded we were already taxiing and the safety video didn’t finish until we were practically lined up with the runway! Once we were going though, I put on another X-Men film to watch since it was absolute darkness outside.

While the UI for the IFE in these aircraft is very nice, the screens themselves used the most unresponsive pressure-based sytem I’ve ever come across. To select anything required at least 2 very violent taps on the screen, which was very annoying for everyone. Took ages to select a film if it was at the end of a list!

Not long after the film ended, I began to see the usual pretty sunrise of a red-eye flight, something I enjoy seeing every time, revealing the alien landscape of clouds below. I also finally found out that I was sat in a good position, very near the leading edge of the wing and with an interesting view of the powerhouse that is the Trent 700.

Breakfast was also served around this time, and I realised that I greatly prefer the domestic tray tables since they’re blank and provide more space than the International ones, completely the opposite of what I’d want. On US’ A330s, the tray tables are smeared with phone network advertising which is rather annoying, and the odd wavy shape really doesn’t provide the greatest amout of room. On a slightly unrelated note, anyone else think there should be two spaces for drinks? I always find I have a half-full can and a full cup but only space for one on the table.

Evcentually we landed back at Manchester after a very, very short flight (Thanks, Jetstream!). The landing was spectacularly gentle, we honestly didn’t feel a bump when we touched down. I’d like to think it was the pilot from this video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lowrM-780tg) that flew us there.
We taxied back up past the brand-new Manchester control Tower, and I managed to get a nice shot of it too!

I saw a glimpse of the Emirates A380 and Thomson 787 through the windows on the other side of the plane but only really saw a flash of colour as we went past; I was on the wrong side, sadly. I did spot two interesting liveries I didn’t recognise, anyone able to help me out?

The latter is a TUI aircraft of some sort I think. Speaking of which, we pulled up to this Jetairfly 737, presumably covering for Thomson.

Anyway, my conclusions.
US Airways is alright for short 1-3 hour flights on their own, and their fleet is in pretty good condition, however their international product leaves a lot to be desired and is rather irritating at times, not to mention numerous technical problems, a horrible hub airport and nearly impossible connections. I’d say spend a bit more and go direct if you can. Let’s hope they merge with American and improve themselves. SOON.

Domestic: 6/10

International: 5/10

My next trip should be with BA to Hong Kong aboard their new A380, around New Year. Feel free to pop any suggestions for improvement as I plan to report on that too!