Most people would not consider a week-end in Manchester to be an exciting proposition, but aviation geeks have a different view about it. Unknown to the general public, MAN is an openly plane spotter-friendly airport with a rather diversified traffic, connections with many European cities : these were good reasons for the first Flight Report Meetup to be held there back in late 2013.
At the end of this memorable week-end, it was time to fly back to Paris. I checked in on line on the internet before leaving the airport in the morning. The BP was quite ordinary, but the second page was not:
I had bought my ticket on AF’s website, but the flight was going to be operated by Flybe which charges the drinks on board, contrary to AF which offers one. Hence this voucher to have one on board for free. But since I did not have a printer, I needed to obtain my BP at the airport. Using one these machines? No, none of them recognizes the references of my ticket, whatever the identification means I used. There was fortunately no much waiting at Flybe’s check-in counters, whereas there was a long line in front of the Ryanair counters in the background.
Ryanair was very present on the tarmac ; this is the hand luggage gauge which belongs to the fine art of traveling hard LCC.
I received the voucher at the gate on the right, without producing any document.
MAN’s Terminal 3 is very plane spotter friendly, with wide windows providing good views of the tarmac and of Runway 5L/23R, the one used most because it is nearest to the terminals.
This was not the best place for plane spotting, but that is where I found a power port to recharge the battery of my camera which was famished after a full day of plane spotting. This proved to be a wise move : two fully charged enough turned out not to be enough for the 850 pictures I took that day. (I did not post them all in this report…)
The main problem I found in MAN was that the boarding gate was displayed only at ETD-30’, which was all the more inconvenient that there are too few FIDS. In our case, the boarding gate turned out to be the furthest away from where I was before it was announced. This was the E-175 that was going to fly me back home.
Once there, the "last call" and "very last call" messages kept pouring from the PA system even though boarding had not started yet. The friendly staff at the gate explained to me that they were broadcast according to the plane’s scheduled departure time, irregardless of it being late. I wondered how many hours of delay it would take before they would be deactivated. This picture was taken at 17:44, i.e. ETD+14’.
Seat 3A was on the correct side for the lighting, but at the wrong row for the window, or more precisely for either window, but I managed as I could.
The safety card, both sides
The cainb, with a wave from another Flight Reporter
This picture illustrates a problem well managed by the people involved. Mrs PAX1C had a hand luggage of maximum standard size which did not fit in the overhead bin. But since this was an exit row, she could not keep it at her feet, although she did not seem to mind the idea of having minimal leg space. What should be done? A FA organized a seat exchange with Mrs PAX9B, and deserved an extra point in my grading.
We waited for three successive landings before we could cross Runway 23R, and takeoff from 23L.
One of these aircraft was this Virgin Atlantic A320
It was our turn : take-off at 18 :07, i.e. ETD+37'
The plane turns above the English countryside
… and provides a good view of MAN, slightly improved by image processing
The winglet (don’t worry, you will have more later)
The outskirts of Stoke on Trent, through one of the few breaks in the cloud cover.
Service began ; this picture shows that the seats were strictly identical to those of Mandarin Airlines E-190s in Taiwan.
… and that the seat pitch was the same, which meant quite generous for Economy
I did not catch the pride of the FA serving me coffee in a Starbucks paper cup after power hot water on the instant coffee which was inside, but the quantity was generous and the taste acceptable.
I did not leave my seat (the plane was full or nearly so), but I nevertheless managed to take three winglets in a single picture, or rather the shadow of the right winglet on the left winglet at sunset, and the reflections of the latter on the wing.
About halfway between Manchester and London, Coventry Airport (CVT) which only handles freight traffic nowadays.
Another view of the cabin
Turweston airfield, a former RAF bomber base during WWII, now used by a flying club.
A golden winglet at sunset
No wonder there is so much waiting to land in LHR with only two runways
The waning light did not give me a chance to have better pictures of London
The English coast line
A winglet above the English Channel
And the French coast, with lots of difficulties for eliminating the reflections
The sun was setting at cruise altitude
It took me many tries to have the strobe lighting the winglet !
Night landing in CDG. You have to take my word that I saw the Eiffel Tower at the far right.
It was 20:15, i.e. ETA+5’, which meant that there was an ample margin built in the schedule
An AF A319 on the left
Flybe saved the expense of the jet bridge fee
How do you recognize a group of Flight Reporters ? Two were taking pictures, one was checking the pictures his took, and the fourth one was smiling to the one taking this picture.
I took several pictures, until a ground staff rushed to me, shouting "Les photos sont interdites!" (Pictures are forbidden !). I didn’t care, because I had not waited for this interruption to happen. This was the usual CDG version of a welcome, when a jet bridge is not used, and that did not stop me from taking another picture from the stairs, with the said staff in it.
Reaching immigration, since Britain refused to join the Schengen Area. There were only three policemen for handling all foreigners and all the French citizen who like me had only an ID and therefore could not use the PARAFE automated passport reading booths.
The result was that we wasted five minutes and had to take the next train, running every quarter of an hour.
The well known FIDS at CDG2’s train station
… and the train ticket vending machines : one out of four was out of order. SNCF (French Raiways) did not seem to know that currency exchange outlet give banknotes only, and its machines accept only coins that foreigners do not have, or a credit card. Each time I came here, I have seen hapless foreigners trying to insert a ten-euro bill in the machine.
The good news was that this was a renovated train, and that it was not crowded at this time of the day.
If you are not interested in planes, you can skip the ensuing bonus and go directly to the conclusion. But if you visited this website and went that far on this page, you must be interested in planes, and you therefore have no excuse for skipping this tourist bonus, since it is 100% avgeek oriented, being focused on MAN’s Visitor’s Park, with a splendid weather.
In the name of security, taking pictures of CDG’s tarmac from the terminals is forbidden, and you need a special authorization delivered by the prefecture to take pictures from outside the airport’s perimeter. On the other side of the Channel, the British, who know something about aeronautical terrorism, encourage plane spotting in MAN with dedicated infrastructures, served by a bus shuttle. Find the bug…
Plane spotting started in a grand manner,
… a 388 EK landed precisely when we arrived on location
I chose not to keep the chronological order and group the planes by airline, with one exception. To start with, there were several museum pieces on display there (and many more in a museum in town).
This Trident, British made of course, was made in the 60’s.
Interestingly, this aircraft had a fourth smaller boost reactor, for difficult take-off conditions, with a separate air intake above that of the main central one.
… and describing its cabin layout as "outdated" is an understatement. Apart from the 3+3 layout and the discreet seat belts, it looks more like a main line train from the 70’s, including the overhead luggage storage shelves (better not have turbulence in flight!) :
The cockpit was equally antiquated
Hawker Siddeley Nimrod
Another unique and partially British bird, but here, access is only for those who paid enough money to have a reception in this setting. The general public could only look at it through the windows.
An interesting 747 and V1 hybrid, thanks to the creativity of a company specialized in plane fire simulators for fire brigade training.
In order to make a transition to today’s passenger aviation, will you identify this aircraft before I provide the solution a few pictures down ?
Technologically speaking, this was an antique, but she was still airworthy.
Piston engines, a fixed landing gear : this Britten Norman Islander was used by the Manchester police forces.
Since the flight home was on Flybe, I took a few more pictures of aircraft of that airline. I also have a special liking for the Dash 8, and they were many in MAN.
Flybe Dash 8 Q400
The helical contrails created by the propellers
B757 United Airlines
Libyan Airlines A320
Flybe E-175, and landing of an SAS 737
Air Transat A330
Air Transat A310
Thomas Cook A320
Thomas Cook B757-200
Thomas Cook B767-300
There was enough to please LCC fans, with many Ryanair 738s
Not a LCC : a British Airways A320, in red nose livery
British Airways A321
British Airways A319
This one flies Flight Reporters back to AMS (connecting there to France)
Virgin Atlantic A320
744 Virgin Atlantic at the moment the front landing gear lifted off
Qatar Airways A330
There were lots of plane spotters, for this one and others
American Airlines B767
Arrival of a Monarch A320
Helvetic Airways Fokker 100
The next scene would have been nothing out of the extraordinary, if there hadn’t been the aircraft in the enter of the picture, flying above the airport.
A 737, which can be recognized by its visible main landing gear in, like the Embraer
This Thomson Travel aircraft was doing a go around after interrupting the landing. I did not learn the reason, but the airport’s fire brigade took the incident seriously, and positioned their vehicles next to the runway before the aircraft tried landing again.
Don’t worry : the plane landed safely,
… and the emergency vehicles returned to their base near the terminal.
The aircraft nevertheless stopped for a few minutes on the taxiway while a light vehicle approached from behind. I suspect that the landing gear had not locked correctly after the initial wheel down during the descent.
Egyptair B738 in the old livery
Beechcraft King Air 200
Air France A320
BMI Regional Embraer 145
Sun Air Do-328, operating a flight for British Airways
Aer Lingus A320
Brussels Airlines BAE Avro RJ100
LH A320, behind an Aer Lingus ATR72
Aer Lingus ATR72
Portugalia Fokker 100
And in order to loop the loop of this avgeek tourist bonus which had started with the arrival of an EK 388, the same 388 departed a few minutes before our bus back to the airport’s terminal, as the sun was getting low on the horizon.
Alignment on Runway 05R
… and the heaviest passenger aircraft on earth vanishes in the distance, and so will you from this report.
Thanks for reading me !
Manchester - MAN
Paris - CDG
The cabin of an E175 or an E-190 is more or less identical for all airlines (some have IFE screens), I enjoyed the comfortable seat pitch and the 2+2 layout, like I used to on Mandarin Airlines E-190s. The engines being in the rear ensures that the sound level is limited in the cabin (maybe less so in the last rows behind) and eliminates the problem of hot air from the reactors degrading the quality of the pictures. I like FAs who face the passengers when placing their PA welcome speech. They graciously managed the hand luggage issue of the first row passenger.
MAN is very plane spotter friendly, and if you look hard enough, you can find power ports, although they may not be next to windows or seats (I later found that some were masked by plastic lids, that some insiders knew about). The accessibility by train is good, and of course, the plane spotting area is just wonderful. On the other hand, the late display of the flight’s gate is a nuisance, because you must choose between waiting in the central area, which is noisy and busy, next to the shops and restaurants, or bet and lose on the future location of the gate and have a long way to walk when it is displayed at last.
CDG remained CDG, with an understaffed immigration control, longish corridors and that meaningless tarmac picture prohibition.
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