Airbus Delivery Centre @ Toulouse Airport

2 05 2011

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The Airbus Delivery Centre is where aircraft which are ready for customer final inspection and testing are parked. It is quite remote from the aircraft production facility. The delivery centre is designed and built like a small airport. In fact it’s larger than all but the largest airports in Malaysia!

These are some pictures of the delivery centre model found in the lobby of the building itself. The largest “terminal” is used very high profile deliveries such as the delivery of the first aircraft to a customer. This is typically when the Senior management and VVIPs are present for the handover ceremony. The curved viewing hall affords a great view of the finished product. This terminal also houses immigration and customs facilities so customers may depart directly form the facility after taking possesion of their aircraft.

For subsequent deliveries, the customer aircraft are positioned in the other 3 terminals  (round in shape) connected to the main one. Each of these smaller terminals can handle up to 4 aircraft at any one time. Customers are normally provided with 2 offices each on the first floor of the terminal whilst their respective Airbus representative offices are on the ground floor closest to the aircraft. This means each customer’s office overlooks his own aircraft.

In total the Airbus Delivery Centre can handle up to 13 aircraft at any one time. This makes a lot bigger than most airports in Malaysia.

As most of my work involves paperwork, I am usually in in the terminal building shuffling between main office and the office given to the Malaysian Department Of Civil Aviation surveyors. Above is the view of the aircraft I and the team of 10 other people are here to deliver back to Malaysia Airlines.

The next day whilst sitting in the same office, I caught my first live view of the A380. It was taxing ever so slowly so i was able to take a few snaps of it with my Iphone camera. It really is huge. I hope I get a chance to get up close to it while I am here. Unfortunately the A380 production facility is way over the other side of the airport and put of view from the delivery centre. In fact new Airbus A380’s are delivered to their customers in Hamburg facility where Airbus has built a 2nd such delivery centre.

The Toulouse facility outs the A380 together and then flies it to the hanburg facility where the interior finishing and external painting are done before handing over each finished aircraft to their customers.

The picture above was taken as our team were leaving the facility for the hotel at the end of the first day. It’s the picture of the delivery centre and if you’ll look to the left of the picture you can catch a glimpse of the first A380 ever built.

It was about 8 p.m when we finally pulled up at the hotel but as it was nearly summer, there was still lots of daylight left and I managed to snap this picture of the hotel I was staying at.

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First day in Toulouse

27 04 2011

I finally arrived in Toulouse yesterday at Noon, 18 hours after leaving KLIA. Arriving in Toulouse our small entourage was greeted by an Airbus staff who took us directly to our hotel. Adagio Parthenon is actually an apartment hotel near the centre of Toulouse and 30 minutes drive from the airport and Airbus production facility.

The hotel reception is actually on the 9th floor. I was checked into room 1206 which faces the city. The apartment has a living room and a kitchenette. The brown sofa you see in the living room folds out into a bed which can sleep another 2 persons. The separate bedroom is small but very comfortable. The apartment is also equipped with a decent  internet connection but no wifi.

Above is the view of  Toulouse from the apartment. As you can see the city has no tall buildings. Most of the buildings in this part of the city are apartments and about 4 to 5 stories high. It is because of this that I have a commanding view of the city. By contrast, if this was Hong Kong, I’d be surrounded by tall buildings and my view limited to a few hundred metres if not just metres.

After a brief rest and a shower, we went out for lunch. En. Kamal of the DCA took us to a Kebab restaurant nearby the hotel. Here  you can have your lanb kebab with cheese or plain nan and/or fries. I ordered a kebab with plain nan bread and fries. Total cost was Euro 5.70 with a bottle of water . They don’t give you a plate. The fries comes wrapped together with the meat in the nan bread.

After lunch we took a walk around the city. Toulouse is a very old city and it shows in the buildings. The architechture is gothic. presently we entered a square in the middle of the city where we came by a mime performing for money.

All his belongings are in the trolley which doubles up as a pedestal. I watched him for a good 5 minutes before moving on. What you’ll notice immediately about Toulouse are the people sitting around the square, public parks and sidewalk cafes. It was 3.30 p.m on a weekday and it seems that nobody was working!

Today, I’ll be going to Airbus Industrie at the airport.





First Time in First

25 04 2011

I’ve been in the airline business for nearly 22 years and work in two countries for two different companies but never have I had the privilege of flying in first class.
Tonight will mark a few firsts for me. It’ll be the first time I fly in first class and also the first time I am traveling to pick up a brand new aircraft from a production plant.
I am heading for the Airbus Factory in Toulouse, France via Amsterdam.
Firs class travel is a whole world of difference from economy. Before I even get a chance to sit I am asked if I wish to have a drink.
Earlier on I had the chance to use the first class lounge operated by the airline in the airport. It was superb. Ok they have closed the air raft doors and we are about to push back so I’ll have to continue this post when I arrive in about a day’s time.

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9M-MXA

18 10 2010

Malaysia Airlines last changed it’s livery on the 15th of October 1987. We went from an an almost all red on white colours to the more recognizable Red, Blue, Gray and White colours that we have now. One of the first few aircraft that carried this new livery was our brand new Boeing 747-400’s. Her eis one pictured in Kai Tak Airport courtesy of Airliners.net.

Now, almost exactly 23 years later, we are again changing our livery. This time around the first aircraft to don the new colours will be our new fleet of Boeing 737-800’s, the first of which will bear the registration number 9M-MXA. Here is one of the first pictures leaked onto the internet, again courtesy of Airliners.net.

What do I think of the new livery? Well, honestly speaking, I liked the old one but this new one is rather refreshing. maybe over time I will grow to like it too. One thing for sure, our painters will breath a sigh of relief. It should be much easier to repaint the aircraft colours in the future. Just a few streaks of Blue and Red on a canvas of pure white.

Here is the same aircraft performing a “touch and go” procedure as part of it’s post production flight tests.

I can’t wait to see the same livery on our new Airbus A330’s.





Human powered flight?

25 09 2010

A Canadian University student claims to have made history by flying an aircraft he and his friends built with nothing more than human muscle power. The aircraft called the Ornithopther has flapping wings.  But is the claim legitimate? Watch the video here.

Although the team claims to have flown “Snowbird” as the aircraft is christened, a RECORD distance of 475 feet while staying airborne  for 19.3 seconds, the take off was aided by a motored vehicle and a tow line. The aircraft looks almost birdlike and definitely very graceful in flight but  is this really counted as human powered flight? Could the aircraft, after attaining a minimum airspeed, glide for the same distance without any human intervention?

I don;t claim to be an expert at designing an aircraft but it would have been more convincing had the team made it the take off from a knoll and without the aid of a tow line from a motored vehicle. Still this is progress. Perhaps in future they can perfect their wing to produce enough lift for a human powered takeoff!





Smoke gets in your eyes

21 09 2010

To those of my readers who cannot remember, this is actually a title of a very famous song first written in 1933. The song was covered by many artiste up to the 70’s. Here are the Platters with their version of the song.

I still remember listening to this song on my father’s 8 track and turn table.

But getting smoke in your eyes is as you know very painful, but in the aviation industry, an announcement by the flight crew of “smoke in the cabin” can be very deadly. Very recently, in fact on the 3rd of September 2010, a 747-400 Freighter crashed shortly after taking off from the international airport in Dubai due to the same reason. The captain had radioed to control tower saying there was thick smke n the cockpit and that he was practically “flying blind”.

There is now (and I just found out about it today) a simple but effective piece of  equipment that will so to speak, clear the way for the crew to see his instrument panels and out his windscreen. It’s called the Emergency Vision Assurance System or EVAS which has been installed on about 1500 aircraft. But sad to say it has not been mandated on Commercial Aviation. Here is a video about the system.

I hope in the near future, I will get to see this system installed on all public transport aircraft in the world.





Test Flight on a B777-200

26 06 2010

Yesterday I attended what might be one of my last test flights on a commercial aircraft. I hope this would not be true since I love aircraft and working on them. So with this in mind I tried to make the most of it. I charged up my camera battery and brought along my DSLR hoping to snap some great pictures. And boy did the test flight turn out to be eventful.   Here are some pictures to start  off this post.

The head hnncho or chief Pilot was captain Gerard Gunther.  He is one of the few captains flying the B777-200 fleet that is rated to do a test flight for the purpose of renewing the aircraft’s Certificate of Airworthiness. he turned out to be a very friendly and easy going person.The other captain was captain Tan, a veteran from the air force. He too was quite friendly and easy going.  The day however turned out quite eventful. First the weather was very cloudy and wet, not the best weather to take pictures. Then the test flight got a little confusing due to some unforeseen circumstances which I am not at liberty to discuss here. Needless to say it became rather hectic in the cockpit and I had no time to snap any photos. But then the weather had already taken care of that aspect of my plan.

Before I knew it we were already on approach to Kuala Lumpur International Airport’s runway 32L. The picture above is of the refinery at Port Dickson a few miles south of the airport.more to come soon.