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Happy Easter, welcome Spring, and begone Virus!
The usual caveats apply - IE. don't take anything I say here seriously! Except this: Stay safe and best wishes to anyone affected by the pandemic.

Coronavirus Update: With immediate effect all UKDirect pilots should fly from the comfort of their own homes and all flights are to be carried out virtually.
In the meantime I will be applying for a UK government grant to claim 80% of your FSA earnings - looks like that Caribbean island will be mine quicker than I hoped possible, mwuah ha hah hah haaah :)
I won't dwell on it as everyone is probably fed up being stuck indoors but to help ease any boredom I have tried to create a bumper edition with extra articles to help while away those long hours in the cockpit.

There is so much change going on in the world of aviation that it would be easy to miss some parts (cue the drumroll - and wait for the emails “you forgot xyz,” lol) but I just wanted to share some news and provoke some memories and thoughts that don't really fit in anywhere else.

We saw some large airlines disappear from the skies over the last 12 months - Monarch, Thomas Cook, Flybe, XL Airways, BMI, Air Italy and Atlas Global.

Brandenburg airport which featured in the Summer 2019 Directions has announced (for the 5th time) that it is due to open. October 2020 is the new planned date although I’d probably hold off on buying tickets just yet - they're running 9 years behind schedule, and thats if they open this year!

Newsflash: Giant long-range aircraft are falling out of favour while the smaller more fuel efficient aircraft are picking up sales!
Pointing out the obvious would be the cancellation of the Airbus A380 program and Boeing’s 747-8’s. El Al became the latest airline to phase out its 747s and replace them with Dreamliners but even the larger Dreamliner 787-10 is struggling for sales whilst the smaller 787-9 is extremely popular. Boeing is replacing its 777-200 and -300 models with the new 777X featuring improved wings, leaner engines and longer range but the 777X family comes in two sizes and the larger 777-9 is struggling to generate sales whilst the 777-8 is grabbing all the orders.

Boeing have repeated the same trick with the 737MAX, recently starting the test-program for the MAX-10 a larger version of the MAX-8 and -9 but orders are slow so far - the fact the other two are still grounded doesn't appear to be a factor, they are expected to start flying again this year. In fact Boeing are planing to start production again later this year after a short halt from 1st January due to having around 400 airframes backed-up in storage.
To round off the news on Boeing there have been numerous reports (I included one below) about their management structure and safety vs profit culture.
The board and CEO were mostly ex-McDonnell Douglas men who took over Boeing from the inside after Boeing bought out MD in the 1990’s. Slowly there has been a shift in priorities while they court shareholders and Wall Street. After sacking the ex-CEO Dennis Muilenburg, forfeiting his bonus and shares to boot, the new broom CEO is almost daily revealing the extent this emphasis on profit went to, there seems to be an attempt at getting all the dirty laundry out now while peoples opinions cant sink any lower. Trying to blame the 737MAX pilots for the crashes when Boeing knew about the faulty sensors was loathsome enough, the fact they encouraged other airlines to carry on flying the MAX is criminal.

Bombardier has completely withdrawn from the commercial aircraft sector following the sale of their 33.5% share in the A220 to Airbus and the Quebec government. In 2018 they divested themselves of the Q400 Dash-8 and last year sold their CRJ business to Mitsubishi. . Airbus now have a 75% stake in the A220.

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the airline industry. Am I alone in thinking that's an ironic sense of justice? Obviously they weren't the cause of the virus but undoubtedly they played a massive part in its global spread.
They chose not to postpone their lucrative flights to China and it's quite possible it would have been too late anyway but it's yet another moral decision dictated by greed. Many airlines have put their staff at risk in doing so:
Eventually governments around the world forced them to stop (themselves being slow to react) and now as a consequence they can barely fly anywhere and have got the begging bowl out asking for government handouts!

Thats it from me, my soapbox is getting quite worn. Let's get back to lighter issues - the usual format below - repaints by Charley Zulu, latest news on Microsoft's  FS2020, more news of shenanigans at Boeing as they try to rebuild their reputation and a few aircraft incidents to highlight aviation hazards and pitfalls some of us (cough) have fallen in. I have scoured the Internet to bring you the best videos which will hopefully entertain, educate and amuse; and sprinkled a few interesting historical stories, facts and jokes in between. You can't blame all of this on me - Simon and Phil have contributed parts too.

Newshound aka Mark UKD171

Things will get better.

UKD World Cargo Boeing 744F by Charley Zulu

No one has submitted any images for quite a while so I hunted through Facebook till I found a clean one (in every sense) from Charley Zulu! There are some really great images on there taken by you all collectively but I discounted most because they were too small or not of UKD aircraft. This one is one of our unsung freighter fleet, a Boeing 747-400F no less and doesn't she look pretty!

Do you have a screen shot you are proud of? Please send it in and share it with us.
To enter in the next e-magazine send your entries to Newshound: mark[at] 

Don't worry about editing pictures, sending them as a full size bmp is best and I’ll edit them for Directions

Compatible Sims

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FSX P3Dv1-3 FS2004

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David Maltby



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 Some screenshots of UKDirect Hawker Siddeley HS-121 Trident 2E to use it’s full title. Charley Zulu painted the David Maltby Trident 3 for UKDirect pilots to use. The model is historic in its own right, originally created for FS2004 and features a Virtual Cockpit (VC) upgrade since (included in this package) which looks very good and is basic but functional. This is available for free download from the Fleet page.
Charley’s planes are developing a tendency to spontaneously combust... weird! (look on Facebook if you don't get the reference!)


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Boeing faces fine for 737 Max plane 'designed by clowns'

US regulators are seeking to fine Boeing $5.4m (4.14m) for "knowingly" installing faulty parts on 737 Max planes.
The move comes after the release of internal messages that raised more questions about the plane's safety.
In one of the communications, an employee said the plane was "designed by clowns".
Boeing has been under scrutiny since the fatal crashes of two 737 Max planes, which killed 346 people.
The fine announced by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA is not connected to the software system that investigators have implicated in those crashes.

It concerns "slat tracks" that are located on the wings.
The FAA said the company submitted the planes for FAA approval despite determining that the wing parts had failed a strength test. It also accused Boeing of failing to oversee its suppliers properly.
The plane-maker has the right to contest the penalty, which follows a $3.9m fine the FAA proposed against the US aerospace giant for similar reasons recently. Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The announcement heightens the pressure on the company, which is now facing multiple investigations following the 737 Max crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. Last month, the company fired chief executive Dennis Muilenburg. The firm said it had denied him severance and that he had forfeited stock awards worth about $14.6m.
As part of the investigations, Boeing has provided hundreds of messages to the FAA and Congress. It said it had released redacted versions this week as part of its commitment to transparency.
"These communications do not reflect the company we are and need to be, and they are completely unacceptable," Boeing said.

Simulator pushback
In one exchange in April 2017, an unnamed employee wrote: "This airplane is designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys."
The documents also showed Boeing planning to push back against requirements that 737 Max pilots receive training on simulators, which would have led to higher costs for its customers, making its aircraft less attractive.

"I want to stress the importance of holding firm that there will not be any type of simulator training required to transition from NG to Max," Boeing's 737 chief technical pilot at the time, Mark Forkner, said in a March 2017 email.

"Boeing will not allow that to happen. We'll go face to face with any regulator who tries to make that a requirement."
On 7th Jan, Boeing reversed its position by recommending 737 Max simulator training for all pilots.
These messages refer to Boeing employees telling lies, covering up problems and treating regulators with contempt.
They reinforce the impression - already expressed vividly by whistle blowers and in Congressional hearings - that Boeing was a company that had lost its way, focused on maximising production and keeping costs down, rather than on safety.
Will all this actually harm Boeing though? It's questionable.

The company's reputation has already been savaged; it may be calculating that it now has little to lose by being transparent about past failures.
But it is easy to see now why the relationship between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration has deteriorated so far - and why the recertification of the 737 Max has taken so long.

Staff also appear to discuss problems with the simulators.
In February 2018, a Boeing worker asked a colleague: "Would you put your family on a Max simulator-trained aircraft? I wouldn't."
"No," came the reply.

Economic cost
Boeing has said it is redesigning the automated control system thought to have been the primary cause of the crashes.
But 737 Max planes have been grounded worldwide since March 2019 and with no sign from regulators that the aircraft will be re-approved for flight anytime soon, the firm has been forced to halt production of the planes.
The economic costs started to be felt as Spirit Aerosystems, a major Boeing supplier, said it would cut 2,800 jobs at a plant in Kansas, and expected smaller layoffs at some of its other factories.
"Spirit is taking this action because of the 737 MAX production suspension and ongoing uncertainty regarding the timing of when production will resume and the level of production when it does resume," the company said in a statement, which noted that Boeing has hundreds of 737 planes in storage.

Timeline: Boeing crashes
29 October 2018: A 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashes after leaving Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board
31 January 2019: Boeing reports an order of 5,011 Max planes from 79 customers
10 March 2019: A 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashes, killing all 157 people on board
14 March 2019: Boeing grounds entire 737 Max aircraft fleet
The FAA said of the emails that safety problems had been addressed.

However, the regulator added: "The tone and content of some of the language contained in the documents is disappointing."

'Covering up'
In the emails and instant messages, employees spoke of their frustration with the company's culture, complaining about the drive to find the cheapest suppliers and "impossible schedules".
"I don't know how to fix these things... it's systemic. It's culture. It's the fact we have a senior leadership team that understand very little about the business and yet are driving us to certain objectives," said an employee in an email dated June 2018.

And in a May 2018 message, an unnamed Boeing employee said: "I still haven't been forgiven by God for the covering up I did last year."
Without citing what was covered up, the employee added: "Can't do it one more time, the pearly gates will be closed."
Boeing said that some of the messages "raise questions" about the company's interactions with the FAA in discussions about the simulator.
But the company dismissed safety concerns, saying that the issues raised in the emails occurred at the start of the simulators.
It said: "We remain confident in the regulatory process for qualifying these simulators."


How Boeing Lost Its Way

Boeing is an American institution. But one year after the grounding of the 737 Max, the company's stock has fallen by almost 50% and its future is anything but certain. So what were Boeing's failures in the aftermath of two tragedies in which the flawed plane crashed, killing 346 people, and can Boeing regain its elite status in U.S. aviation once more?

FAA proposes $19.68 million civil penalty against Boeing

7th March 2020
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $19.68 million civil penalty against The Boeing Co. for allegedly installing equipment on hundreds of the company’s 737 aircraft containing sensors that were not approved for that equipment.

The FAA alleges that between June 2015 and April 2019, Boeing installed Rockwell Collins Head-up Guidance Systems on 791 jetliners, including 618 Boeing 737 NGs and 173 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The FAA alleges that the guidance systems in these aircraft were equipped with sensors that had not been tested or approved as being compatible with those guidance systems.

The FAA alleges that Boeing violated Federal Aviation Regulations when it certified these aircraft as airworthy when they were not in conformance with their type certificate. The agency further alleges that Boeing failed to follow its own Business Process Instructions, which are in place to help prevent such situations from occurring.
The manufacturer of the head-up guidance system, Rockwell Collins, subsequently conducted the necessary testing and risk analysis and updated the documents.

Boeing has 30 days to respond the FAA’s enforcement letter.

Cracks in the Boeing 737 NG wings!? Mentour explains

On the 3rd of October 2019 an airworthiness directive was sent out from the FAA regarding cracks found in a component known as a "pickle fork" in a few Boeing 737NG aircraft that were being rebuilt from passenger aircraft into Freighter-aircraft.
What does this actually mean? Is it dangerous and what is a "pickle fork" anyway?


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American Airlines admits 'soap spill' did not divert flight

(but it’s not the APU ..... honest!)


American Airlines now says a spilled cleaning product did not cause an odour that led to a flight being diverted when two cabin crew members passed out.
The airline initially made the claim after a flight from London Heathrow was diverted to Dublin on 21 October.
However, the aircraft's maintenance records and other evidence, obtained by BBC News, cast doubt on that theory.
Now American Airlines says its maintenance team has established that a cleaning solution was not the cause.
The odour was so serious that a passenger and both of the crew members who fell unconscious were taken to hospital when the plane landed in Dublin.

Records show part of the aircraft had been leaking oil prior to the flight. BBC sources say it is likely the leak caused toxic fumes to enter the cabin. However, American Airlines denies that. Initially the airline said the plane had diverted "due to an odour caused by a spilled solution in the galley."

An internal American Airlines report on the incident on 21 October stated that "dish soap in a bottle caused two flight attendants to get medical attention and one passenger". Dish soap is the American term for washing-up liquid.

An American Airlines insider, who is not authorised to speak to the media, said it was "inconceivable" that dish soap, or any other cleaning product approved for use on aircraft, could cause two people to pass out.
The airline says the aircraft involved was "thoroughly inspected" after the incident by its "highly-skilled" maintenance team who conduct "an in-depth investigation… whenever a cabin odour event is reported."
After the BBC published evidence which cast doubt on the claim that the spilled cleaning solution was the cause, American Airlines issued a clarification.
It said its maintenance team had established the cleaning solution "was not the source of the odour, which led to the diversion of this flight."
American Airlines says: "Cabin odours are a priority for American's leadership team at the highest level of the organisation."

Documents obtained by BBC News also showed there was an oil leak on part of the aircraft days before the incident, which could have been the cause.
The part of the plane that was leaking oil is called the Auxiliary Power Unit, or APU.
Three days before the aircraft was diverted to Dublin, an engineering maintenance report stated that its APU showed a "high oil consumption".
Another American Airlines maintenance document stated that the APU was inoperable, and determined that it should be repaired in the coming days.
A "noxious odour" which resulted in "eye and throat irritation" was also recorded on the same plane on 23 October, two days after the flight from Heathrow was diverted to Dublin. In another report from the same day, the APU on the plane is then described as "wet with oil".

American Airlines claims the odour, which caused two cabin crew to pass out, "was not related to the APU" because the unit was "not operational during this time period and did not operate during this flight".
However, a document written by aircraft manufacturer Airbus clearly states that an APU, which has leaked oil, can contaminate the air supply in the cabin, even when the unit is switched off.
That's because if oil leaks from the APU it can spill into the ducting of the plane's air conditioning system.
American Airlines said: "It cannot be emphasised enough that the health and welfare of our crews and customers continues to be our top priority.
Now that the spillage of a cleaning product theory has been discounted, we asked the airline what caused the incident.
American Airlines did not give a reason but said the aircraft in question has since flown 39 commercial flights with no reports of odours.
But it reiterated that it believed that "in the case of this aircraft and the diversion to Dublin, there is no connection to the APU or bleed air from the APU."



The A330-800 has acheived joint certification from the US and European aviation authorities and is expected to enter service later this year. The -800 is a direct replacement for the A330-200ceo and has a range of 7,500nm however sales have been slow with only 15(!) confirmed orders. Most customers have opted for the larger A330-900 (A330-300 replacement) with over 320 orders so far but future production is to be scaled down due to market demand.

The A319neo has just been type certified by EASA which completes the A320neo family. Engine options include Pratt & Whitney PW1100G and CFM LEAP-1A. First delivery is expected this year and Airbus has 83 orders for the 160-seat aircraft.
Air France has retired the first of four A380’s which along with their A340s will be replaced by A350-900’s. Airbus have received  959 orders for the A350.

The Airbus Beluga ST wil soon start to be phased out in favour of its replacement - another Beluga! The BelugaXL is based on their A330-700 and will be the worlds widest and longest dedicated freighter able to carry two wings at once compared to the original A300 based capacity of one. Airbus expects to build 6 examples.

A220-300 orders stand at 530 following an order for 50 from Green Africa with deliveries starting in 2021.


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I’ve colour-coded the news below - GREEN text is a non-fatal incident or accident of interest,
                                                               RED has fatalities so now you can skip those if you want.

2019 continued the recent upward trend in airliner accidents but thankfully the longer-term trend is still going the right way. Despite the increase in incidents there were fewer fatalities last year and most of those were in the single Boeing 737MAX crash. Click on the graphic below to expand for a clearer view.


08 JAN 2020   Boeing 737-8KV (WL)  Ukraine International Airlines  UR-PSR    C/n / msn: 38124/5977  First flight: 2016-06-21 (3 years 7 months)
Total: Fatalities: 176 / Occupants: 176       Aircraft fate: Destroyed

Ukraine International Airlines flight 752, a Boeing 737-800, crashed near Sabashahr, 7 minutes after takeoff from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport, Iran. All 167 passengers and nine crew members on board were killed.
The aircraft had landed on schedule at 00:57 hours local time at Tehran. The return leg back to Kiev was due to depart at 05:15 local time (01:45 UTC).
At 05:49 the doors were closed and the aircraft was ready to depart. The controller coordinated with Mehrabad Radar and issued clearance to start the engines.
The aircraft then taxied to runway 29R and commenced the takeoff roll at 06:11. After takeoff the flight contacted Mehrabad Radar and was cleared to climb to FL260 and turn right after reaching 6000 feet, heading direct to the PAROT reporting point.
At 8100 feet at a position about 20 km west-northwest of the airport the radar controller noticed that the aircraft id and altitude data tags had disappeared. At 06:15 the aircraft was no longer visible on the Secondary surveillance radar (SSR).
Mehrabad's Primary surveillance radar (PSR) tracked the flight to the right, possibly towards the airport. The aircraft continued and after about three minutes of flight, disappeared from the primary radar as well.

The aircraft crashed near Sabashahr, 15 km north of the airport. It disintegrated completely and wreckage was strewn along a 300 m long path.
Iran stated on January 11 that the aircraft was shot down by two surface to air missiles due to 'human error'. Hours before the shootdown, Iran had attacked U.S. bases in Iraq.
Preliminary information released by CAO Iran states that the two missiles were fired from a Tor-M1 missile system (which is known to carry 9M331 missiles).
A video of the launch of these missiles, verified by The New York Times, shows the first missile impacting the aircraft seventeen second after launch. Fourteen seconds after the impact, a second missile was fired that exploded ten seconds later.

Boeing 737-8KV (WL)  Ukraine International Airlines

03 FEB 2020   Boeing 767-375ER    Air Canada    C-GHOZ   C/n / msn: 24087/249   First flight: 1989-03-31 (30 years 11 months)
Total: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 138  Aircraft damage: Minor

Air Canada as flight 837, a Boeing 767-300ER, took off from runway 36L Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Surez Airport (MAD/LEMD), Spain.
During the take-off run, the tire tread from the left rear wheel of the left main gear detached and some fragments of the tyre were ingested by the number 1 engine. The crew continued the takeoff, shut down engine no.1 and requested to return to the airport while declaring an emergency.
Due to maximum landing weight considerations, the flight crew decided to hold at 8000 feet for several hours to consume fuel.
In the meantime the landing gear was inspected by a Spanish Air Force McDonnell Douglas EF-18M Hornet fighter aircraft. The pilot of the Hornet confirmed one of the tyres was blown. Subsequently, a safe landing was carried out at 19:06 LT.
The aircraft was repaired and resumed service on 14 February 2020.

05 FEB 2020   Boeing 737-86J (WL)    Pegasus Airlines   TC-IZK   C/n: 37742  First flight:  2009 (11 years )
Total: Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 183       Aircraft fate: Destroyed

Pegasus Airlines flight 2193, a Boeing 737-800, suffered a runway excursion after landing on runway 06 at Istanbul-Sabiha Gken International Airport, Turkey. There were 177 occupants on the aircraft. The Turkish Health Minister reported that one occupant of had died, 157 were injured.
The aircraft departed Izmir Airport at 17:22 hours. At the time the flight arrived in the vicinity of Istanbul-Sabiha Gken Airport, a thunderstorm was passing. Runway in use was 06. About 18:17 the Tower controller cleared another flight for takeoff from runway 06, reporting wind 300 degrees at 11 knots, gusting to 21 knots. The subsequent arrival was flight 2193, which was cleared to land with wind information given as 270 degrees at 22 knots, gusting to 30 knots. This translates to a 19 knot tailwind.
Since the wind was shifting the controller reported to a flight on the ground that it was to expect a runway change for departure.
At 18:19 Pegasus 2193 touched down, but failed to come to a complete stop on the runway. It overran and went down an embankment, breaking in three. The aircraft came to rest about 20 m below runway elevation. The last recorded ground speed was 63 knots as the aircraft crossed the perimeter road.
In March 2020 Turkish media reported on a preliminary report, issued by authorities. According to this report the aircraft was struck by lightning six minutes before landing. During the approach one of the preceding aircraft reported a sudden tailwind of 37 knots below 600 feet. This report was communicated in Turkish by the Tower controller. The Dutch first officer, who was Pilot Monitoring, did not understand this. Subsequent clearances and weather information were in English.

Boeing 737-86J (WL)    Pegasus Airlines

23 MAR 2020  Boeing 757-300  UKDirect    G-UKAI     First flight: 16/05/2011 (8 years 10 months)
Total: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 204       Aircraft fate: Required fuselage unfolding, wings ironing flat and maintenance (D-Check)

UKDirect flight UKS5327 Dubrovnik to Birmingham, piloted by Glenn UKD675 crashed on take-off. Test pilot Glenn was flying a 757 which had been recently modified in one of UKD’s new service centers set-up by Graham. Apparently the modification included a Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) which was being installed across the fleet. An ‘unnamed source’ said that if the pilots weren't told about it then they wouldn't need any bloody training, besides it's just there to compensate for some ‘unique handling characteristics’!
In one of the biggest cover-ups of our time the records for this incident have been removed. :)
Meanwhile there are some irate cargo handlers who can't get the packages out of the 757 until it's fuselage has been straightened out. lol.

27 MAR 2020  Boeing 737-800  UKDirect    G-UKWA ‘James Bond’     First flight: 08/08/2013 (6 years 7 months)
Total: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 200       Aircraft fate: nothing  Pilot fate: Public humiliation, head shaved, tared and feathered.

UKDirect flight UKS5288 on a routine flight from Exeter to Ibiza inexplicably diverted to Palma de Mallorca. This phenomenon has occured several times recently but to protect the others I will be the fall-guy. Just call me Colt (you have to be of a certain age to get that reference, search for Lee Majors). I was awarded a ‘wrong airport’ penalty by FSA - in my defense ATC/Pro-X directed me to that airport, ‘someone’ filed the wrong flightplan!

” I went to all the right airports but not necessarily in the right order!”

08 MAR 2020   Boeing 767-3Q8ER    Omni Air International   N477AX   C/n / msn: 29390/870   First flight: 10/02/2002 (18 years 1 month)
Total: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 138  Aircraft damage: Substantial

Omni Air flight 346, a Boeing 767-300ER, bounced and touched down hard on runway 24 at Shannon Airport, Ireland.
There were no injuries and airplane suffered creases all around the forward fuselage. It’s known that weather conditions in the area at the time were poor with turbulence reported also. It’s understood the crew of the Omni flight and other aircraft were advised of the turbulence at the airport shortly before landing.
Buckling of the forward fuselage could be seen stretching from one side to the other over the roof of the jet. The damage is understood to be ‘significant’.

Omni-Hard Landing

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Plane talking by NATS

Every year, NATS handles more than 2.5 million flights. Take a journey through the skies, learn the language of aviation and see how NATS Air Traffic Controllers safely guide a real domestic flight from London Heathrow to Manchester.

Phil UKD101 provided this interesting and informative link from the National Air Traffic Service.

Solari boards: The disappearing sound of airports

As day turns to night in Singapore's Changi Airport, a queue of people wait patiently for a picture with an old star.
They leave their bags by a bench, turn their cameras on themselves, and pose for a photo.
Some smile; some jump like starfish; one even dances. As they upload to Instagram, the old star watches on, unmoved.
And then - a noise. The moment they've been waiting for. The travellers turn their cameras round, and the star begins one last turn.
In a blur of rotation, Kuala Lumpur becomes Colombo; Brunei turns into Tokyo; and a dozen other cities whirr into somewhere else.
Two people taking photos, Eileen Lim and Nicole Lee, aren't even flying. They have come especially to see the departures board.
"It's therapeutic to see the names turn round," says Eileen, a teacher in Singapore. "And that sound - I love it."
Every time she comes to Terminal 2, Eileen takes a photo with the board. But now, she is saying goodbye.
In less than three hours, the hoardings will come up, and the sign will come down. Changi Airport, like hundreds of others already, will whirr, spin, and flap for the final time.

As the Terminal 2 queue testifies, split-flap boards are popular. They are a romantic reminder of air travel's so-called golden age; a menu of the world; a vintage prop for the Instagram era.

Put it this way: no-one is waiting for a picture by the digital displays.
But, like most vintage tech, split-flap boards are inefficient. They are harder to update and harder to maintain. They do not speak in full sentences. They do not advertise.
When Changi announced the "retirement" of their boards, they said parts - and there are hundreds of thousands in each sign - were becoming harder to find.
And so Singapore's signs, installed in 1999, have come down - as have hundreds of others, from Budapest to Baltimore. There is no list of those that survive, but designers agree they are a vanishing sight. Even the company that gave split-flap boards to the world no longer sells them to airports.

Solari di Udine, as it is now known, was founded in 1725 - more than 250 years before Changi Airport opened - in a small town in northern Italy. It specialised in clocks for towers. After World War Two, the company began working with designer Gino Valle. He and Remigio Solari developed a sign with four flaps, each containing ten digits - perfect for telling the time.
The now-familiar design, with white numbers on black flaps, won the prestigious Compasso D'Oro award in 1956. In the same year, Solari sold its first moving sign to Liege railway station in Belgium. With the help of Belgian inventor John Myer, the design evolved to 40 flaps, which, like the clocks, turned via motors and currents. Now able to display words as well as numbers, the Solari board was ready to take over the world.


Solari board in Namibia airport1965

The company sold "thousands" of boards to airports and railway stations, says marketing manager Katia Bredeon - even in hard to reach markets. "When there were the economic protection rules in Japan, the only product using non-Japanese technology was the Solari split-flap board," she says.
Solari was not the only manufacturer - on the other side of Europe's Iron Curtain, for example, Czech company Pragotron made similar products - but, like Hoover, the Italians became synonymous with their design.
Although the company remains an industry leader, and still sells to airports and railway stations, the signs are now electronic (thin-film-transistor and light-emitting diode). But - despite the march of technology - Gino Valle's split-flap board has not died out. In fact, this Italian design is having a renaissance.

While some airports still have Solari boards, they are often museum pieces, kept because of inertia or Instagram.
In Australia, for example, there are three working boards in the Qantas first class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne.
"They were nearly glassed over, but the sound is too important," the airline said in 2016. "Our guests love to hear them as well as see them." But these days, you are more likely to find Solari boards away from airports, rather than inside.
Solari di Udine still sell their boards to "shops, restaurants, museums, and hotels". Others, too, are tapping into the sepia-tinted nostalgia scene. In 2013, six engineers who worked together at Drexel University, Philadelphia, formed Oat Foundry - a company that built "cool mechanical things for brands and companies".
Three years later, they were approached by a "fast-casual" restaurant who wanted to display orders in a "non-digital way...without guests bathing in that blue light glow". The client suggested "an old-school train departure board", and, after four months of research, they had a prototype. The product was a mixture of old - they tested a number of materials "to get that iconic sound of 1960s airports and stations" - and new: it was integrated with an iPad point of sales system.
Soon after advertising their product online, they got their second split-flap client - the Chicago Cubs Major League Baseball team.
"And that's when we knew we were on to something," says Jeff Nowak, marketing manager.

They now have "thousands and thousands of modules" on "nearly every continent". So the question is - why do split-flap boards still appeal? "It depends on who you ask," says Mr Nowak.
"The utilitarian loved that the sound signalled the changing of information. They can keep their eyes on the morning paper and only need to look up when necessary.
"For those who live in a city with an original split flap, the sound recalls a wistful memory to days gone by. The clack-clack-clack sound represents the anticipation of travel.
"[And] for the generations that do not have a history with these displays, it is the eye-catching analogue movement."



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Time to get that grey matter working!. Email answers to mark “at” or use the message facility on FS Airlines.  Answers will be posted in the next Directions but if you email me your guesses I will reply straight away (in confidence - so no need to worry about embarrassment).


  1. What Common Household Device Was Originally Created for NASA’s Skylab Space Station?

    a) Microwaves
    b) Smoke Detectors
    c) LED Bulbs
    d) Mercury-Free Thermometers
  2. Coffee Was Originally Decaffeinated Using What Toxic Chemical?
    a) Mercury
    b) Sarin Gas
    c) Benzene
    d) Glyphosate
  3. Who first crossed the English Channel in an airplane?

    a) Louis Bleriot
    b) Amelia Earhart
    c) Charles Lindbergh
    d) Charles Yeager

Answers are at the bottom of the page.


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Flightsim News

FlightSim Community Survey 2019 Results

What is the most popular flight simulation software? How many are planning to get the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator? How much do flight simulator enthusiasts spend on hardware and software every year? These were some of the questions that we set out to answer in this year’s edition of the FlightSim Community Survey. The turnout was better than ever and we are very happy with the results.


Microsoft Flight Simulator: Alpha Update and Change Log (New Aircraft, Airports and More!) [10.26]

Microsoft has detailed an extensive changelog for Microsoft Flight Simulator which brings the alpha build to version The new update includes new aircraft, additional airports and adds new multiplayer modes.



Aerosoft A330 Professional: The FSElite Review [23:29]

Update March 11th:
After a community member pointed out a way to get the climb and descent wind request working, I did some testing. Adding a route file to Active Sky was a suggestion I had, but that did not work with adding the winds to the MCDU. I then attempted to add the flight plan via a co-route to the aircraft and this was a successful way for the winds to automatically be entered into the MCDU with Active Sky open. A flight plan did not need to be in Active Sky for this to work with co-routes.


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ORBX - TrueEarth Great Britain Central & North - Official Video

P3D V4.  Scenery: ORBX TrueEarth Great Britain SCentral & North
Weather: AS & ASCA.  Camera: Chaseplane.   PTA was used in this video 

Core i9 9900KF OC @ 4.8Ghz | Corsair Cooling Hydro Series H100i PRO RGB | GIGABYTE Z390 AORUS ULTRA | 64GB Corsair Vengeance Pro RGB @ 3200Mhz | 2x 1TB M.2 Samsung 970 EVO PLUS | 1x 256GB M.2 Samsung 860 PRO | 4TB Toshiba HDD | ASUS Strix GTX 1080 8GB | Corsair RM850 | Corsair Obsidian 500D RGB SE Premium

UKD Crossbow

I have created a new fleet called “UKD Crossbow”, the intention being to have an Edinburgh equivalent of the (Heathrow-based) UKD Longbow fleet, ie mainly long flights but in this case providing our colleagues north of Hadrian’s Wall with a direct link to some of the places they might otherwise have to first fly to London/Manchester to get to (hence “Crossbow”, implying fast and direct routes). The aircraft are identified with regs of the form “G-UCBx” and names that have “Cross” in them (and, in some cases, a Scottish theme).

Currently the fleet’s two key aircraft are a re-positioned A330-200 and a new B787-800, and are assisted by an A319 and RJ70 for some shorter routes within Europe.

Flights for this fleet are coded CBW (CrossBow World): CBW1xx for the main long haul routes, CBW2xx for the medium haul (Europe flights too long for the RJ) and CBW3xx for flights the RJ can do. Feel free to suggest aircraft and routes you think you might like to see for this fleet.




Current SODE version

SODE V1.6.6    13. February 2020


FSUIPC latest versions:

FSUIPC5 5.155 for use with Prepar3D 64-bit Version 4 March 27th 2020.
(5.15 MB)

FSUIPC 4.974 [for FSX, FSX-SE and P3D 1.4-3.4]  
Released February 24th 2018. (4.04 MB)


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QF72 | Hero pilot Kevin Sullivan's quick thinking saves 315 people [40:24]

 It's the most terrifying mid-air emergency in Australian aviation history - flight QF72's autopilot tried to kill all 315 people on board. They were only saved by the quick thinking of Captain Kevin Sullivan - so why has Qantas refused to give him and the crew the recognition they deserve?

Please make sure you sign Fuzzy’s petition so the crew get the recognition they deserve.


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 Vickers VC10 - the lost flagship [19:11]

The Vickers VC10 is a narrow-body long-range aircraft developed by British  Vickers-Armstrongs conglomerate in the early 1960s. The plane made its maiden flight in 1962 and became the first civilian aircraft in the world, which applied a rear-engined quad layout (two other planes were the Soviet Ilyushin Il-62 and American Lockheed Jetstar). The newest airframe, engines, and avionics made the VC10 one of the most advanced airliners of its time.
However, despite the innovations and efforts of the aviators, a number of conceptual errors and fierce competition did not allow the flagship of the British aviation industry to become a world leader. Only 54 planes were produced.


BAe 146 - more engines! [20:00]

BAe 146 (British Aerospace 146), later - Avro RJ is a regional passenger jet airliner, developed in the early 1980s and manufactured by British Aerospace. In the 1990s, there was a wide modernization program, which resulted in the creation of the next generation airliners released as the Avro RJ. A total of 387 aircraft of all versions were delivered.

A feature that distinguishes the BAe 146 from similar regional airliners is its design: a high wing with four engines. In this video, we will get acquainted with this aircraft and try to figure out why it has such a design.


How A Jet Engine Starts [9:03]

What's it take to get a jet engine up and running? There are a few ways to do it, and we'll show each one.



Number One In Europe is a color, promotional film created for British European Airways (BEA) in about 1971, its 25th birthday. BEA was a British airline which existed from 1946-1974. Produced by Harold Weaver. Narrated by Patrick Allen, John Keith Patrick Allen, a British film, television and voice actor. The film tells the story of the British European Airways.


12 Most Amazing Abandoned Planes [14:06]

Even though passenger transport through aviation has been with us for a long time now, there’s still a sense of glamour about flying. Unless you fly every week for business, getting on a plane and taking to the skies is a rare treat, and one which many people look forward to. Maybe that’s why plane spotting has become a hobby - people like to watch planes taking off and coming in to land, fascinated by their journeys. Any plane spotter would be horrified by the contents of this video, though - here are some proud old planes which became completely abandoned!.


James May's Toy Stories: Model AIRPLANE across the SEA | Reel Truth Science [59:48]

James May looks at the nation's childhood love affair with the model plane and attempts the first cross-channel flight ever achieved by an engineless, homemade supersized toy.
Such an ambitious undertaking is not without its problems and James soon has issues with planning regulations, an interior designer who can't get her Lego furniture to stay in one piece and a structural engineer who tries desperately to stop everything from coming crashing down.

James May is out to prove why traditional, old fashioned toys are still relevant today when he pushes them to the limit in spectacular, supersize challenges


Pilots landed at the Wrong Airport!! Mentour Pilot explains [17:22]

Why do pilots some times land at the wrong airport, what drives  these types of mistakes and are they dangerous?
In todays video I will be covering the wildly publicised BA flight which landed in Edinburgh instead of Dsseldorf and I will also discuss some more serious incidents, involving pilot mistakes that have happened during the last decade.

[Newshound] Surely this couldn't happen to any of our pilots! Lol.



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Compilation Of Michael’s Best Jokes About Planes And Airports | Michael McIntyre [10:37]

Boarding a plane, passports, seat recliners, when fellow passengers become competitors in the race to customs.


Why people believe weird things | Michael Shermer [14:11]

Why do people see the Virgin Mary on cheese sandwiches or hear demonic lyrics in "Stairway to Heaven"? Using video, images and music, professional skeptic Michael Shermer explores these and other phenomena, including UFOs and alien sightings. He offers cognitive context: In the absence of sound science, incomplete information can combine with the power of suggestion (helping us hear those Satanic lyrics in Led Zeppelin). In fact, he says, humans tend to convince ourselves to believe: We overvalue the "hits" that support our beliefs, and discount the more numerous "misses."


Happy Easter

Did you know?
The Easter Act... was first passed in Parliament in 1928, meaning a fixed date for Easter was established - the Sunday following the second Saturday in April. Although the Act was passed, it has yet to be implemented!

  • QUIZ

    Ten Things I know about you

    1) You are reading this.
    2) You are human.
    3) You can’t say the letter ”P” without separating your lips.
    4) You just attempted to do it.
    6) You are laughing at yourself.
    7) You have a smile on your face and you skipped No. 5.
    8) You just checked to see if there is a No. 5.
    9) You laugh at this because you are a fun loving person & everyone does it too.
    10) You are probably going to send this to see who else falls for it.

  • Q1 What Device Was Originally Created for NASA?
  • Q2 Coffee Was Originally Decaffeinated Using What?
  • Q3 Who first crossed the English Channel in an airplane?



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