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Morgan Freeman's Emivest SJ30 N30GZ visits Shannon
Wed, Jul 28 2010 10:31 PM

 Shannon Airport hosted another first in its history this morning, July 28 with the arrival of Emivest SJ30  registered N30GZ. The aircraft is owned by American actor Morgan Freeman who took delivery of the aircraft in Dubai on December 23 2009 during his Christmas vacation in the Emirate. Freeman is a keen pilot with IFR ratings since 2002 and also owns a Cessna 414 and Citation 501SP.

Headquartered in San Antonio, Texas,  Emivest Aerospace Corporation is a subsidiary of Emirates Investment and Development PSC. The aircraft was originally designated as the Swearingen SJ30 due to the involvement of its developer Ed Swearingen. N30GZ is serial number 010 and completed its first flight on August 28 2009. The trip which led to this morning’s arrival began on Wednesday with a routing which saw the aircraft fly San Antonio – Van Nuys – Duluth – Goose Bay – Shannon, arriving in Shannon just before 06:30 local. After refuelling the aircraft departed again at 07:40.

 The SJ30 is reminiscent of Dassault’s Falcon 10/20 coupled with an F18 undercarriage although the Dassault would have difficulty in reaching the SJ30’s service ceiling of FL490.

 N30GZ carries the personalized registration of Ground Zero Blues Club which is co-owned in Clarksdale, Mississippi by Morgan Freeman, attorney Bill Luckett and local entertainment executive Howard Stovall. Clarksdale is widely recognized as being the birthplace of blues music.

 

Omega Tanker N707MQ in Shannon
Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:52 AM

 One of the more interesting aircraft to grace the runway in Shannon this year turned up tonight in the shape of Omega Air’s Boeing 707-368C, registered N707MQ (msn 21368). Built in 1977 the aircraft has had a remarkably short history. Initially registered as HZ-ACK for Saudi Airlines the aircraft subsequently joined the Royal Family VIP fleet as HZ-HM3. In 2005 Omega acquired the aircraft and it underwent tanker conversion, a process which left the passenger windows intact.

Pictured above “Omega 71” is seen on finals to R24 with those real engines churning out lots of the black stuff !

Pictured below, “Omega 71” is seen about to touch down at 21:46 local on arrival from Bangor, Maine, just minutes before photography became an impossibility.

Cityline's Antonov 26 HA-TCN in Shannon
Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:47 AM

Hungarian operator Cityline’s aircraft belong to that breed of aircraft – the nighttime freighter which appear to spend most of the daylight hours parked up on airport ramps so it was a pleasant surprise when An26 registered HA-TCN (msn 97307705) arrived in Shannon during daylight hours yesterday. Arriving from Spain the aircraft was due to carry on to Stuttgart but in the end overnighted on Taxiway 11 before departing this afternoon.

XA-PRR fuel stopping in Shannon
Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:41 AM

Visiting Shannon yesterday afternoon, July 25 was Mexican registered Dassault Falcon 50, XA-PRR (msn 319). Built in 2001 the aircraft had a succession of US registrations before assuming Mexican marks in 2007. XA-PRR is pictured above rolling on R24 after fuel stopping westbound.

Challenger 300 M-BFLY in Shannon
Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:35 AM

Manx registered Bombardier Challenger 300 M-BFLY (msn 20123) has made a number of visits to Shannon since the beginning of June. Previously registered as D-BFLY, the aircraft is now registered to Detling Ltd, having taken up Manx marks in May of 2009. Pictured above the aircraft is seen on finals to R24 in Shannon yesterday afternoon, July 26.

B52H 61-0002 at Bray Airshow
Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:32 AM

Following the demise of Galway’s Salthill Airshow, Bray, Co. Wicklow is the location for the largest “free to air” spectacular in Ireland. The star of this year’s show was B52H serial 61-0002, tailcode LA which is based at Barksdale Air force Base in Louisiana. Joe McDermott captured “SKULL 20” during its flypast on Sunday last, July 25.

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50th anniversary commemoration of Irish UN peacekeeping role at Baldonnel
Wed, Jul 28 2010 12:16 AM

The 50th anniversary of the deployment of Irish troops to The Congo (The Congo Airlift) was marked at a ceremony at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel on Friday last July 23.

The Congo mission was the first major involvement of the Irish Defence Forces with the UN. Between 1960 and 1964 six thousand soldiers served in Congo and 26 lost their lives. It was also the first armed Irish peacekeeping mission with most of those serving never having been abroad before. In the early 1960’s they were also ill equipped for what turned out to be a difficult and traumatic operation.

During the early months of the operations, upwards of 1,400 Irish soldiers were in Congo at any one time and an Irish officer, Lt. gen Sean McKeown served as overall UN commander from January 1961 to March 1962.

Just four months into the campaign, nine members of an eleven man patrol were killed by Baluba tribesmen in the now infamous Niemba ambush.

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Brian Cowen, Defence Minister Tony Killeen and Chief of Staff Lt Gen Sean McCann paid tribute to the bravery of the Congo peacekeepers at Friday's commemoration.

The ceremony included a memorial service conducted by the Head Chaplain to the Defence Forces, Monsignor Eoin Thynne. He said the ceremony was in memory of those remarkable men who began the epic journey of peacekeeping. He praised their sense of adventure, tenacity and bravery.

Mr Cowen unveiled a commemorative plaque. Current members of the Defence Forces carried out a parachute display, a 4 ship flypast was flown by Pilatus PC-9's,  military equipment was on show, and a commemorative photo book was launched.

Pictured at top during the ceremony was Irish Air Corps Agusta Westland AW139 serial 274. Also present were Eurocopter EC135P2 serial 270 and EADS CASA CN-235 serial 253, both pictured below.

With thanks to Joe McDermott for reporting from Baldonnel.

Dreamliner N787BX visits Shannon after Farnborough debut
Tue, Jul 20 2010 9:56 PM

Throughout it’s 70 years plus history, Shannon Airport has witnessed many significant milestones and one such event occurred this evening with the arrival of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner. The much hyped aircraft which has taken in the region of $700m to develop was scheduled to be the last performer in this afternoon’s flying display at the Farnborough Airshow. Almost bang on cue, N787BX was airborne at 16.40 and performed a flypast at the Hampshire airport before departing northwards for Derby where a flypast was performed to recognise Rolls Royce’s Trent 1000 contribution to the aircraft development program. Next stop was Shannon where the aircraft was due to refuel before commencing the non stop leg to Seattle and back to testing after the brief visit to Farnborough.

At 18.11 local time the aircraft touched down on Shannon’s Runway 24 as a thunderstorm brewed on the southern side of the estuary. Although few will have seen the aircraft in the flesh before it arrived in Shannon, many will have been familiar with the characteristic wing curvature which marked the aircraft’s approach.

The requirements of airshow performance demand minimum fuel and weight to display aircraft flight envelopes to the maximum impact. With no passenger payload N787BX had no problem pulling up for Taxiway Alpha.

 

N787BX pictured above and below, on Alpha for Taxiway 11.

Being a first visit, there was no chance of a Dreamliner towbar knocking around the ramp in Shannon so N787BX was parked on Taxiway 11 )below). Initially planned for a 19.30 local departure flight BOE 787 didn’t get airborne until 21.38, departing for oceanic entry point SUNOT where the aircraft was noted at 22:22 local. One wonders how long before this 21st century aircraft will be seen on Irish soil again ?

SE-IED, EI-AEE in Kilkenny
Fri, Jul 9 2010 9:04 PM

A new start up at Kilkenny airfield in the south east of Ireland is The Tandem Parachute Club which operates Cessna 185F Skywagon registered SE-IED. According to the company’s website, (tandemskydive.ie) the club specialises in “Arrive and Jump” along with Stag and Hen weekends although it is probably best to have the skydive first before indulging in alcohol !

 Also seen during Joe McDermott’s visit to Kilkenny was Bryan C Hogan’s Trevet based Auster EI-AEE, callsign “Triple Echo” which was involved in some circuit bashing.

JP McManus Invitational ProAm July 5-6
Fri, Jul 9 2010 7:51 PM

Since its inception the JP McManus Invitational Pro Am has gone from strength to strength. First staged in 1990 at Limerick Golf Club the now 5 yearly event helped raise €1.2m for local charities.

By the time of the third event in 2005 the event had outgrown Limerick Golf Club and moved to a new home at Adare Manor, just across the river from Shannon Airport. Among those attending that year were world class players such as Tiger Woods, Ernie Ells and Colin Montgomery along with celebrities such as Michael Owen (then playing with Real Madrid) and Bon Jovi drummer Tico Torres. The growing success of the format had driven the fund raising to total a massive €31m.

 

This year’s tournament was held on July 5 and 6, again at Adare Manor and this year’s attendees included Tiger Woods, Ernie Ells, Jose Maria Olazabal and Luke Donald among the 55 professional golfers whilst the celebrity attendees included actors Michael Douglas, Hugh Grant, Samuel L Jackson, Kyle Mac Lachlan along with Westlife, Harry Redknapp, Jamie Redknapp and Martin O’Neill. Over 80,000 spectators attended the two day tournament with Ireland’s Darren Clarke becoming a one shot winner over England’s Luke Donald.

 

As in other years, Shannon Airport was the focus of the major airlift before, during and after the competition with early arrivals on Saturday and the last of the partygoers departing on Wednesday. Total bizjet numbers were down on the 2005 event, no doubt due to the current worldwide economic state of affairs but also due to the fact that two major competitions were staged on either side of the Atlantic immediately before the JP ProAm – The French Open finished on Sunday as did the AT&T National in Newtown Square, PA. A number of the European tour golfers arrived from Paris CDG on Sunday night aboard Titan Airways Bae 146 G-ZAPN. A number of the US golfers arrived in Shannon on Monday morning aboard Boeing 727-232 registered N727NY which arrived from Philadelphia. The “main man” – Tiger Woods used his Gulfstream 550 registered N517QS. The aircraft is registered to GTW Corp in Orlando (Golf Tiger Woods) and was operated by Net Jets subsidiary Executive Jet Management with callsign EJM 517.

 N727NY, Boeing 727-232 (msn 20646) is a 1973 vintage aircraft, operated by Swift Air and brought a number of golfers from Philadelphia after the AT&T National at Newtown Square.

 N502JL, Bombardier Global Express (msn 9050) is operated by Las Vegas based Hannover Aviation and was one the early visitors, arriving on Saturday morning.

 N526EE, Gulfstream 5 (msn 519) is registered to the ubiquitous Wells Fargo Bank but carries the personalised registration of golfer Ernie Ells. It was one of the few “owner driver” (no pun intended) bizjets owned by a golfer to appear in Shannon during the tournament.

 Keeping up local appearances was Irish business mogul Denis O’Brien with his Gulfstream 550 registered VP-BJK (msn 5200).

 Helicopter transport for the short VIP trip across the Shannon to Adare was provided by Agusta A109E Power registered EI-NTH (msn 11651) and Westair’s Bell 430 EI-WAV.

 As is to be expected at an event such as this, European Net Jets was well represented with either end of the scale featuring : Raytheon Beechjet 400XP registered CS-DMB (msn RK-403), above  and Dassault Falcon 7X registered CS-DSA (msn 30), below both feature the latest European Net Jets colour schemes.

 

Aer Lingus June passenger figures
Fri, Jul 9 2010 5:12 PM

On Wednesday, Aer Lingus published its June traffic figures for 2010.

 

A total of 941,000 passengers were carried for the month, a figure which represents an 8.6% decrease on June 2009. On Short Haul, the total was 849,000, down 7.8% YoY whilst Long Haul stood at 92,000, down 15.6% YoY.

 

Network Load Factor for the month was 82.1%, up 0.8% YoY whilst capacity was down 12.8% YoY. Short Haul Load Factor was 79.7%, down 2.3% YoY with a 5% reduction in capacity. Long Haul Load Factor was 87.2%, up 7% YoY against a capacity reduction of 25.8% YoY.

 

The traffic figures do not include passengers carried on the United Airlines – Aer Lingus JV route between Madrid and Washington Dulles or on the Aer Lingus Regional services operated by Aer Arann.

Ryanair winter services from Leeds to undergo significant growth
Fri, Jul 9 2010 5:03 PM

Ryanair announced this week that its services to / from Leeds Bradford would undergo  significant expansion this coming winter. Last winter the carrier operated 3 routes to / from Leeds but this winter will see two based aircraft operate 13 routes.

 

The full destination list from Leeds will consist of Alicante, Barcelona, Carcassonne, Dublin, Faro, Gdansk, Fuerteventura, Malaga, Malta, Venice, Weeze and will see Ryanair’s traffic at Leeds grow to 1m per year.

EU Court dismisses Ryanair appeal against hostile takeover bid
Fri, Jul 9 2010 4:54 PM

On Tuesday last, July 6, the European Union General Court in Luxembourg dismissed Ryanair’s appeal to the court against the prohibition of the carrier’s hostile takeover bid for Aer Lingus. The ruling effectively confirms the findings of the EU Commission that such a takeover would remove competition between the two carriers, contrary to the interests of consumers.

 

In a separate ruling, the Court confirmed the 2007 decision by the EU Commission that it could not force Ryanair to sell its stake in AerLingus.

 

Colm Barrington, Aer Lingus Chairman said, "Today's rejection by the European Court of Ryanair's appeal confirms that a takeover of Aer Lingus by Ryanair would harm consumers and lead to higher prices on Irish routes. It is regrettable that the Court has not taken this opportunity to take the further step necessary to address the anti-competitive effects of Ryanair's minority shareholding in Aer Lingus which is contrary to the interests of the majority of our shareholders."

 

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary commented “We welcome today’s ruling of the EU General Court which confirms that Ryanair can not be forced to dispose of its 29.8% shareholding in Aer Lingus. This is the third time since 2007 that Aer Lingus has lost appeals on this issue.

 

We note the Court’s decision on our appeal against the EU Commission’s ruling on our 2006 offer for Aer Lingus. This will not prevent Ryanair making a future offer for Aer Lingus, but obviously any such offer will have to take account of the court’s detailed ruling. Ryanair has no immediate plans to make a third offer for Aer Lingus, which in any event would be unlikely to succeed unless the Irish Govt decides to sell its 25% stake. 

 

Aer Lingus awards base maintenance contract for A320 aircraft to Dublin Aerospace
Fri, Jul 9 2010 4:39 PM

On Monday last, July 5, Aer Lingus announced that it had awarded a contract for a significant portion of its base maintenance requirements to Dublin Aerospace. The contract covers 12 Airbus A320 aircraft for the winter 2010 / 2011 season and will commence at Dublin Airport on November 1 2010.

 

The remainder of Aer Lingus’ Airbus base maintenance requirements will be fulfilled by Sabena Technics in Bordeaux under the terms of an existing contract.

Speaking after the contract signing Conor McCarthy, Executive Chairman of Dublin Aerospace said, "This win is fantastic news for all of the team at Dublin Aerospace who have worked tirelessly over the past year to create a globally competitive Maintenance & Repair business here at Dublin.  Winning this heavily contested contract is especially gratifying as Aer Lingus is an admired and respected airline brand which should help us attract even more business in the years ahead."

EI-TIP sold to Turkey as TC-HUC
Fri, Jul 9 2010 4:19 PM

Former Starair Ireland Bell 430 EI-TIP (msn 49074) has been sold in Turkey. On Wednesday morning last, July 7, the craft emerged from the Westair hangar in Shannon wearing registration TC-HUC (hex code 4BA2A3). The new owner is Sonmez Havacilik. TC-HUC is seen departing the east ramp in Shannon for Bristol on the first leg of its delivery flight. 

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