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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Hong Kong . . . .

9 02 2011

It’s been 6 years since I left this wonderful city and now I am back again. This time  for a relatively short 8 day holiday with plans to meet up with old friends, shopping and least but not last, to do a bit of hiking. Not known to many people, Hong Kong is actually a great place for outdoor sporting activities and of these I love hiking the most.

The pictures above shows you two different faces of Hong Kong. One is of the district of Mongkok, probably the heart of the shopping district and another the the coutryside as seen from a hiking trail on Lantau Island. I loved them both.

After I started this blog I had wanted to write about Hong Kong but I thought it would have been inappropriate as I was no longer livng in this city that never sleeps. Yes I can attest to this, the city or at least what the world understands as Hong Kong never sleeps. I could find food, entertaiment and transport any time of day. I could find busses to take me from the Airport where I worked to my home which was in North New Territories even at 3 a.m in the morning.

Now that I am back, I thought I would start writng about Hong Kong and my experiences while I was staying here. This post will be the start of my Hong Kong series.





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.





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.





Broga Hill

6 06 2010

Two  weeks ago I wa sinvited by a few friends to join them on a hiking trip to Broga Hill. We had planned it to be a hiking and photography outing but the weather turned out to be very foggy and wet. nevertheless we enjoyed ourselves immensely. More on that trip later. Yesterday the 5th of June, I made my second trip to Broga Hill with a few other friends of mine.  It actually began to drizzle while we were climbing up the hill but the Gods were on our side this time and the skies cleared revealing a beautiful sunrise. Here’s a sneak peek at some of the picture I managed to take.

Clockwise from left are Woi Loon, Yung Tian, myself and Goo.

I haven’t seen such a beautiful skyline in a long time reminding me of the days I used to hike in Hong Kong. Except for some cropping, there was absolutely no tinkering with the photo above. I am so glad I planned the trip and quite sure I will visit this hill again soon, perhaps on a weekday when there would be less people around.





Tailstrike!

24 05 2010

For an aviator, the transition of his aircraft from ground to air and visa versa can be one of the most stressful times in the whole flight. There are so many things to do and look out for in a span of a short time. One small mistake can mean the loss of the aircraft and all onboard. Some, like the pilot of this unfortunate aircraft will make that mistake that he or she (and all onboard) will be able to walk away from.

A “tailstrike” is an where an aircraft’s tail hits the ground while attemping the transit from ground to air. It happens when the pilot flying applies too much elevator causing the aircraft to over rotate. This spectacular picture of a United Airlines 747-400 tailstrike was taken by a Sydney airport staffer who happened to be indulging in his hobby, taking pictures of aircraft. You’d have to be extremely lucky tobe at the correct palce and time to have taken such a photo. This is what makes this picture so spectacular.

The aircraft, a 747-400 registratered  N128UA was taking off enroute back to San Francisco when this incident occured. The pilot of the aircraft levelled off at 8000 ft and dumped fuel over the Tasman Sea before returning to Sydney airport. After temporary repairs were made, the aircraft took off 4 days later for Busan, Korea on the 11th of May for permanent repairs.

repairs.





My Borneo Adventure part 4

24 03 2010

Inside the Fairy Cave

Entrance to the cave

The entrance to the fairy cave is rather small and unimpressive and does little to reveal the size and beauty of the main cave.  But being small and low it was ideal to experiment with flash photography. But having no tripod made it quite a challenge finding a suitable place to place the flash unit. We needed to light up the subjects (namely ourselves) and part of the cave while keeping the flash body out of sight.

Mystic cave entrance

The sign at the entrance advises those who enter to watch their heads as the cave ceiling drops to a point where most people need to duck or risk knocking their head on outcrops of rock. Just behind the main entrance of the Fairy cave the passage narrows and visitors are made to climb up a narrow set of wooden steps.So up I went  for the very first time.

I have yet to visit the Niah and Mulu Caves (both also in Sarawak) but the Fairy Cave is by far the most impressive cave I have ever been to. Even Batu caves in West Malaysia pales to the size and beauty of the Fairy Cave. You enter the main cavern from it’s lowest point and climb up using some steps provided. careful, these steps are very very slippery. You can see from the picture above staircases leading up to the mouth of the cave (not in the picture). As you climb up higher and higher the cave opens up and reveals it’s true size and beauty.

Woon Hwan and Tzy Wen had been telling me about how impressive this cave was but I was not convinced. I had really wanted to visit the Mulu caves, which by the way was the original intention of my trip to Sarawak. But plans changed and that plan had to be postponed. But now i am suitably impressed. The main cavern is so huge that neither I nor Tzy Wen could snap a picture which shows it in it’s full glory. To do that one would need an Ultra Wide Angle Lens and a multiple lighting system. perhaps one day i would return here to do just that.

Viewing platform

The Borneo Parks and Forestry Department which is the caretaker of the cave has done a great job in providing ease of access to the cave  whilst  maintaining it’s natural beauty. I know the staircases do not look as if they were put there by nature but it’s an acceptable compromise. At least they have not made gaudy guardrails and lighting systems! Almost right at the back and centre of the main cavern is a viewing platform from which you can see the main opening of the cave. You can see Woon Hwan giving Tzy Wen a lesson on the flora and fauna found in this cave and how they evolved over the last few million years. Me? I was so impressed by the beauty of the cave that I missed his talk. I really did not know he was such a Naturalist.

I had thought that this was it. The Main Cavern. I wanted to get up to the mouth but then Tzy Wen and Woon Hwan showed me that the Fairy Cave goes back even deeper. Far deeper than i have ever been in any cave before.

Just look at that! This part of the cave is just the beginning. You can see Woon Hwan in the near distance and Tzy Wen in he middle. This part of the cave is easily 150 metres long but still well lit as it faces the main cavern. Our attempts at using the Nikon remote flash system proved to be inadequate to light up the cave.

Here is  Tzy Wen trying his best to take a self portrait but to no avail. His camera and lens were just not up to it but I did manage to fire a few shots with my camera and remote flash. You will notice that most of the cave is still in darkness. Still the cave went on but past the point where Tzy Wen tried his self portrait, the cave was enveloped in darkness. Sunlight from the mouth of the cave does not reach this part of the cave. The picture I took of Woon Hwan above was only possible with the use of my flash at full power. Even then I had to use photoshop to increase the exposure by 2 full stops! If you switched off your torchlights in this part of the cave, you would not be able to see anything, not even your own hands placed in front of your face!

Staircases

These sets of steps are typical of the ones you will find all over this cave. The ones here lead up to the last part of the cave and out into the opening you see at the top (midlde of the picture). One lesson we learned form trying to take photographs in a cave. It’s very hard to do it with just one flash unit. Too little power and you cannot light up the subject, too much and you overexpose the cave nearest the flash unit.

out of the rabbits hole

A short scramble over some rocks at the top of the staircase leads you to the opening at the very back of the cave. Compared to the size of the cave, this looks like a rabbits hole. hardly noticeable from 20 feet away. to the right of this opening (left in this picture), is a path that is supposed to lead you up to the top of the hill in which the cave is situated. We did not dare go up as it was rather slippery.

Cave Mouth

After a short rest we climb back down into the hole and headed for the main cavern. Upon reaching it i took the picture above. This is the main opening to the Fairy Cave and is the only source of light. Soon we had to leave the cave and make our way to Sematan where we planned to stay the night.

I hope to come back here and spend more time exploring this cave and perhaps make my way across Sarawak to visit Mulu too. There si so much to Sarawak left to see. Anyone who loves the outdoors would find Sarawak a treasure trove of adventure.