Pan Am was an airline used to grand gestures and though by the mid-70s it was in serious trouble, due to the massive overspend on 747s, the economic woes of the early 70s and increasing international competition, it still had plenty of hubris left in the tank. A pair of important anniversaries led to two special flights being operated each flying a new 747SP around the world but each in different directions. Each flight would break the world record and interestingly each flight would use the same aircraft - N533PA.
I recently posted about Aer Lingus and its short usage of the 767-300 but it wasn't alone in the British Isles in utilising the type during the 1990s for a short period. As with Aer Lingus the arrival of a 767 at Virgin Atlantic was directly related to a specific route but in this case, unlike the Irish example, Virgin got exactly what it needed at the right time. The 767-300 was never intended as a test but served exclusively as a stopgap. Even so, it got the full livery treatment and is once again an interesting what-if version.
The Vickers Viscount sold well, but although it got sales all around the world the USA was relatively lukewarm to turboprops in general, especially British ones. Even so, the Viscount still appeared in the States and in some unusual locations long after it was out of production. In the USA's newest state the Viscount was put into service by both competing Hawaiian carriers, well after production had ended, to help bridge the gap to pure jets and help both cope with the growth in passengers statehood at brought.
The rise of the ME3 has been nothing short of meteoric and nowadays this area of the world appears to be involved in (or ruining) everything, not the least football! Anyway back in the 1990s the advent of Emirates and Qatar Airways seemed like nothing special. Just a couple more vanity project national airlines. Nobody seemed especially bothered by them, but of course that would all change in the 2000s as unlimited funding and a useful geographic location changed aviation forever. Qatar Airways is today a very different beast to the airline that began flying in 1994 and here I take a look back at its earliest years.
Some airlines have ordered new aircraft and operated them only briefly due to changing operational needs and financial problems. Aer Lingus and the 767-300 are one such example who utilised the type only briefly and never for its original intended purpose. Considering the airline subsequently re-equipped with the competing Airbus A330 the 767-300 in full Aer Lingus colours is a great example of what might have been.
Airline's come and go with some frequency, but some are more interesting than others and few short-lived attempts get a release in 400 scale. Some do though, usually via that haven of diversity Aeroclassics. I do love an obscure airline from an obscure nation and Pacific Flier is both. Small Pacific island nations have often attempted to create their own connectivity but it has not always been easy for them and Palau's attempt in 2009 did not last long.
The glory of the Pan Am name made it almost inevitable that it would return following the original's demise. Interestingly the second incarnation had more in common with another fallen giant, but the mid-90s was a challenging period to start an airline, especially one competing in the cut-throat Northeast-Florida market. The initial bright shoots of Pan Am II faded quickly and a merger with another low-cost airline could not stabilise the situation enough to stop Pan Am II from being a short-lived footnote in the history of the once glorious name of Pan Am.
The A319 has been an important and successful member of the A320 family, especially in the early 2000s. It's successor, the A319neo, has not fared anywhere near as well with, depending on how you slice it, only 13 deliveries since 2021 and a tiny order backlog. In fact, currently it is only in service with a single airline (and several non-airline customers), although its second airline customer, Tibet Airlines, looks like it'll be receiving its first aircraft soon. What has changed and what's in store for the A319neo?
Air Pacific's first foray into long-haul flights was an expensive failure, however the airline wasn't to be denied and tried another tack. Although upgrading capacity to 747s may at first glance have seemed unwise the new arrangement was a big success in no small part to its new partnership with Australia's national carrier Qantas.
When I investigate the histories of models in my collection it is always an interesting moment when I realise that I have the same airframe in my collection wearing different liveries. This is the case for one of my DC-10-30s, which started its life in the South Pacific and would alternate during its career between that region and the USA. It was also unique in being the only DC-10 to wear the wonderful scheme of Air Pacific of Fiji and would be the aircraft that launched that airline's ill-fated first steps into long-haul travel.
The myriad of new airlines formed in the twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union was amazing, but also symptomatic of an industry where dubious operators were common and crashes rife. It somewhat reminds of the period immediately following WW2 in the USA and the rise of the non-skeds. Tretyakovo Airlines was just one of these airlines that picked up ex-Aeroflot equipment and flew until it had its licence revoked due to a crash!
The Tupolev 144 (NATO codename 'Charger') is a magnificent looking airliner that pushed Soviet technology to the brink and beyond it. The race to create supersonic passenger airliners was one that faced a range of almost insurmountable problems and in the USSR this led to the continued production of an aircraft that would never have gotten as far as it did if it were made in the West. The Tu-144 was certainly not a success and it wouldn't be out of step to label it a disaster, but the resulting aircraft was without a doubt one of the most impressive civil types ever built.
Perm is a city of just over 1 million people in central Russia. Long a crossroads and the gateway to Siberia following the breakup of the Soviet Union the successor of the Urals CAD / 1st Perm UAD of Aeroflot became Perm Airlines one of many new airlines of the new Russia. Carrying the Bear logo of Perm the airline was first to fly the new Tupolev Tu-204.
The Il-62 (NATO codename 'Classic'), in 1967, finally gave the Soviet Union a long-haul jet airliner, albeit one comparable to first generation Western jetliners like the 707 rather than second generation widebodies then under development elsewhere. The original version was then gradually replaced by the improved M variant from 1974, but the 'basic' variant continued in service domestically and was even used to introduce a kind of 1st Class service in 1978.
Soviet-era aircraft usually come in a dizzying array of, often bizarre, variants and the IL-76 is no different. You may recognise the saucer atop the fuselage of this 76 to mark it out as the AWACs Ilyushin / Beriev A-50 Mainstay variant, but in fact it is something different. It is the 'aircraft 976' SKIP variant, the IL-76SK, used for the AMCS mission. What is that you ask? Read on...
I'm Richard Stretton: a fan of classic airliners and airlines who enjoys exploring their history through my collection of die-cast airliners. If you enjoy the site please donate whatever you can to help keep it running: