Loran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 485 posts, RR: 2 Posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
After numerous requests about a trip report on one of my flights this year, I finally found the time to prepare one. This is my first trip report, I hope you will enjoy reading it and please provide comments/feedback for improvements. Just one note upfront, I have decided not to publish the exact travel dates to maintain privacy of the crew I will refer to in this report.
Background & Preparation
Flying on the DC-10 was high on my list since years. In the 1980’s I have flown on Varig’s DC-10s and return on BCal’s DC-10s from London to Los Angeles, but couldn’t remember anything except that everyone was winging about the food. In 2004, I was booked on one of NWA’s DC-10, but I had to cancel the trip on short notice due to unforeseen work commitments . After reading a trip report from user Airpearl about a flight on BG routing SIN-BKK, I was clear that BG is most likely the last chance for a DC-10 ride. Thanks to user Airpearl, I got recommended a very good (and patient) travel agent in Malaysia, who was able to share Amadeus schedules and book domestic and international BG tickets, which is surprisingly rare. Due to time constraints and visa application procedures, I finally decided to make things easy and book a one-way flight to HKG by just transiting in DAC (the BG DC-10’s are also flying domestically, hence the thought of booking multiple flights as a backup). The disadvantage was a high risk of equipment change, which happens very frequently in BG’s schedules.
After numerous attempts throughout 2009 due to random BG Amadeus schedule changes, I finally found a suitable date for November, and firmly booked the ticket for about AU$ 450 (US$350) one-way DAC-HKG. The trip was to start from KUL, so I booked a MH ticket to get into DAC and continue on BG to HKG. This itinerary still resulted in a transit time of 12h in Dhaka, but in real A.net fashion sacrifices need to be done in order to get on rare aircraft . After some research I found out that DAC airport seems to have improved over the years and is not as bad as one would expect, and it was judged to be ok for an overnight transit.
As mentioned, my inbound flight was on MH, and one of the older A330s:
Delivered: 02/04/1995 to MH
22:40-01:20, flying time 3:40h
The flight was uneventful and it was about 80% full. While approaching DAC, I was observing many blinking orange lights, all across the city. Does anyone know what this could be? Ship 9M-MKE came in on a downwind leg for a Rwy 14 approach. The other surprising thing was that this A330 had a single strobe light on its wing-tips. I had the impression that all Airbus aircraft had double strobe-lights? Also, on departure in KUL, I was not able to obtain a boarding pass for the connection flight on BG. But the travel agent has confirmed upfront that the BG transit desk in DAC will provide me with a boarding pass. To make things easier, I only travelled with carry-on luggage.
Arriving in DAC at about 1:20am, I immediately headed to the BG transit desk, asking when I could obtain a boarding pass. I was told that around 9am they would be able to check me in for a 1:30 pm departure. Shortly after, I started exploring the airport where I would stay for the next 12h. With the knowledge from the internet pages such as sleepinginairports.com, etc I knew that there is not much to expect. I found the airport basic, but ok for 12h. The only but massive problem was mosquitoes. I was wearing a long sleeved shirt, but unable to cover my hands completely. As a result I had numerous mosquito bites after a few hours of dozing on some plastic chairs. The airport was quite busy during the night due to several Hajj departures. I found a spot near a restaurant with a TV, where I was watching Bangladeshi soap operas with some locals but not understanding a single word. But the principle of soap operas is the same worldwide so I was just fine. The owner of that restaurant tried to generate some business by asking me numerous times if I wanted some food, but I kindly rejected. Eventually I was able to sleep for 2-3h, but activity in the airport increased at around 6am.
At around 8am, I headed to the transit desk for the second time, being told to come back at 10am. Then at 9am I made another attempt, and the friendly staff provided me with a boarding pass. At that point, I was able to confirm that equipment type was a DC-10, which gave me some relief. Secondly, I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to get a good seat, but the BG staff member told that today’s flight was a very light load, and that I could move around the cabin before departure.
Now I was a proud owner of a DC-10 boarding pass Disadvantage was that I still had another 4.5h of waiting time to kill. Then, I headed to the front side to check out traffic and movements. I spotted some MGM MD-80s, several BG F-28, and a single BG DC-10 on the remote stand. The atmosphere outside was hazy and sticky, one could tell that Bangladesh is a hot & humid country.
Shortly after, ship S2-ACR was towed to the gate to operate the Kathmandu flight. At the neighboring gate, a BG A310-300 was prepared for another departure, but can’t remember its destination.
At about 12pm and about 90mins before the scheduled departure still no DC-10 was visible to operate my flight, and I was getting a bit nervous worrying about a delay or equipment change. But luckily just then another DC-10 was slowly towed to Gate 4 It turned out to be ship S2-ACQ. You can make out the characteristic DC-10 shape behind this Bangladeshi wild life that I spotted in action:
In parallel, there was some more activity, an Air Atlanta 747-300 (TF-AME) arrived for another Hajj shuttle, and ship S2-ACR departed to operate the Kathmandu flight. S2-ACR departed Rwy 32, although all other traffic used Rwy 14. I also missed a great shot at departure when it was flying just above ship S2-ACQ, but there was some military staff just next to me so I decided to skip this one.
Then, about 70mins before the scheduled departure, an announcement was made that all passengers flying to ‘Singapore’ should proceed to Gate 4, freezing my heart for a moment that this wasn’t my plane. As I walked to Gate 4, I saw that the display said ‘BG 078 to Hong Kong’, so it turned out that the announcement was incorrect. Only then I had the final confirmation that all is according to plan . I was the first one to pass the security screening and get my boarding pass checked.
Waiting at the gate, I was able to grab some clean shots of S2-ACQ. In parallel, the Bangladesh Air Force was flying continuous patterns with its Chinese MiG-21UM alike (Chengdu?) trainers, check out one of them taking off just above the left wingtip.
At that time about 30mins were left until boarding, and the crew arrived. I spotted two complete sets of crews, later I found out why.
Only about 40-50 pax arrived over the next minutes, almost all of them relatively young male Bangladeshis. There were also some wealthy looking Chinese businessmen and only about 1 or 2 females. Boarding took place perfectly on time. While I was entering the aircraft, the most senior cabin staff member greeted me very friendly, asking where I was from. I quickly grabbed the opportunity and asked whether it would be possible to visit the cockpit during flight. I said that I am an Aerospace Engineer and that I am interested in Aviation. He straight said that he will try to arrange something for me.
Pushback was again perfectly on time, and while were taxiing to the holding point of Rwy 14, I grabbed some shots of one of the most interesting parts of an airport: the maintenance area and corrosion corner.
There were two more DC-10s at the maintenance hangar, one in BG colors and one in white. The white aircraft looked like it was stripped for parts, but I couldn’t confirm the reg whether it was one of the four BG DC-10s. Other interesting aircraft included a L-1011, two OX 747 and a former Saudi 747 in a poor condition.
Here are the flight details:
Delivered: 30.11.1979 to SQ
13:30-18:00, flying time 3:30h
At the holding point of Rwy 14, we were holding short for a BG A310-300 arrival.
We then lined up and departed on time. Take-off was interesting and I was paying attention to technical details such as engine spool up, control surfaces, climb performance and the way the aircraft behaved. While thundering down Rwy 14, some MiG-21s were holding short for another sortie.
We then climbed out over Dhaka city heading South-East, followed by a left turn for an eastbound heading.
In cruise, I started grabbing some cabin shots. As mentioned before, the cabin was totally empty. Almost everyone went to sleep even before we took off.
Later, I moved around and took some shots from the left side. From the shade, you can grasp the characteristic shape of the number 2 engine.
About an hour after departure, lunch was served which was quite good. I also got served several drinks throughout the flight.
After lunch I reconfirmed with the flight attendants if it was possible to visit the cockpit. Feedback was positive, and I grabbed my camera and went to the front. The crew was relatively busy while cruising over China. There was another captain on the jump seat who I was chatting to most of the time. The crew was really friendly, actually excusing themselves for this old aircraft type. I straight replied that this was the main reason for being on-board, and that as an Aerospace Engineer, I have more a fable for this generation of aircraft. I was also chatting about BG’s fleet renewal plans and how long the DC-10s will remain in the fleet. They said that the 777s will arrive within a few months, and that the DC-10s will get retired by then, but no firm date was given.
The crew loved the DC-10, the captain was flying them for over 20 years. Other equipment he was working with included the 707 and F-28, as for most of the other crew members on-board. I was also asking about their opinion about the handling characteristics of the DC-10, mentioning the three landing accidents of the MD-11 this year alone. The flight engineer nodded to confirm that he knew about these incidents, but the captain said that he had no problems and said the aircraft is just fine to fly and in particular, to land. After about 30 mins, I was asking if it was possible to stay during landing, but this time the reply was negative referring to authority restrictions.
When I left the cockpit, I got offered from the senior cabin staff to stay in the front section of the aircraft, which I took with pleasure. The Chinese pax and the additional BG air crew were scattered around in that section of the aircraft. It looked like a Business Class section, however seating and pitch was the same as in the rear of the plane (2-5-2). I chose seat 7J on the right, just in front of engine number 3. The senior cabin staff member came for another chat and elaborated how much he liked the DC-10. He said it is such a sturdy aircraft and has served BG well for many years. I also got offered more hot drinks. I have to say that on this flight, I have experienced one of the friendliest crews I can remember, and it was a very positive atmosphere .
At that point we also started to descend, and sun was just about to set. I grabbed some more cabin shots in natural light.
It was completely dark once we dived into the clouds, hence no more photos possible and I lost orientation after the sun was gone. First, it looked like we were going for a downwind leg for a Rwy 25 arrival, but after some turns I figured out that we headed for a Rwy 07L arrival. The approach was quite rough, with lots of fog and clouds.
We touched down in real DC-10 style, it was the heaviest landing I can recall from all flights I have been on. The airframe shook violently, and I think we left plenty of burned rubber on Rwy 07L.
We taxied to the gate, and the few pax of the front cabin got up immediately and waited near the door. The middle and rear economy was still separated by curtains, giving me the chance for some last photos of the then empty cabin (apologies for the lens hood shade, what a beginners mistake).
When I left the aircraft, I thanked the friendly crew one more time. The crew would head back to DAC immediately, explaining while the second cockpit crew was on-board.
While walking down the finger, we were welcomed by a good dozen of Hong Kong policemen for an on-spot passport control. It looked like they were after someone, but I guess it was just a routine check. I headed to the hotel in Hong Kong Island for a well deserved sleep, ready to wake up at 4:30am the next morning to depart on OX203 bound for BKK operated by a 747-100B(SR/SUD). Luckily I had about 10h of time, plenty since the BG flight was perfectly on time. Reading about BGs on-time performance worried me a little before hand, but it seems that today I was lucky with the BG078 performance.
I have to say that I would take the opportunity again anytime if I could; it was such an awesome experience. On this way, a big thanks to user Airpearl for his advice and help, the friendly crew & BG staff and the travel agent who has shown a lot of patience after many date changes. My experience was absolutely positive, and I can recommend this trip to everyone. As I was told by the air crew, BG078 to Hong Kong seems to be a safe DC-10, apparently no equipment change on this route.
Hope you enjoyed reading this trip report, and questions are welcome. Also, I have been on plenty of other interesting flights this year, including Il-96, Il-86, 747 SP (including a jumpseat approach & landing), 727, 747-100, and several Tu-154B/M & Tu-134B. I will try to post reports on these trips soon if you are interested.
HOOB747 From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 425 posts, RR: 0 Reply 2, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Yes please! I would love to hear about your experiences on the SP and -100. I suspect many other A-Netters would as well. You have flown some interesting, older aircraft types, and you are very fortunate. These planes are a piece of history, and carry so much nostalgia for all of us who grew up flying and falling in love with aviation.
You write a very descriptive and enjoyable TR, and I'm pleased you had such a great experience flying the DC-10. And the crew's hospitality is a pleasure to hear. I've flown United and Northwest's DC-10's in my life, in 2000, and found the planes to be very unique to say the least.
How was the ride on your DC-10? Did the plane feel solid, or was there a lot of flutter, or rattling, which I experienced on my DC-10 flights. They just wallowed through the air, and I could feel the ship's age on every turn. Not an unpleasant feeling, but in stark contrast to the tight, solid flying newer 777s.
Abrelosojos From Venezuela, joined May 2005, 4999 posts, RR: 55 Reply 3, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
What an amazing trip report. I am jealous of your experience and am not surprised that you have had such a positive experience with Biman crew. Like Air India and Sri Lankan, you treat them right, they are the best crew you will experience in the world. I hope to do this flight in 2010 ... just need to figure out how to position myself for the same.
Saludos and thanks for sharing this unique report,
ATLFlyer323 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 588 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
LOVED the trip report! Biman seems like a wonderful airline, and your crew seemed to strive to please the passengers.
It would be interesting to fly them on the 777 and see how the service and attitude compared. Are the Biman DC-10 pilots going to get the rating necessary to fly the 777's coming online? (I don't know if you asked them that question)
Ronerone From Jordan, joined Aug 2004, 1642 posts, RR: 53 Reply 7, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
What an excellent first trip report! .. It is always interesting to see something on Biman.
I must say that the cabin seems to be in almost an immaculate condition, from your great pictures!
Also, off-late i am noticing less horrific Biman-style delays, which if true, is a very good thing!
I have been on Syrianair's SP last year, and it was a fantastic ride. It really took me back in time! .. Looking forward to your SP report. If you flew it this year, it must have been Iran Air! .. Perhaps to KUL?
Thanks a lot for sharing! Looking forward to more!
A Stop Away From One-Stop, Is Non-Stop : Airbus A340-500
Lukeyboy95 From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2008, 1071 posts, RR: 32 Reply 10, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
what a cool retro plane... you obviously have an appreciation for the the technical specs of the dc-10. Highlights where the flightdeck, and the lovely big wings. Also the fact that the particular plane has been flying for 10 years longer than I've been on this planet is pretty amazing...
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): I will try to post reports on these trips soon if you are interested.
Reifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1264 posts, RR: 1 Reply 11, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks a lot for this great report! Nice for christmas These airplanes for sure need to be replaced in the opinion for "classic passengers", however I would love to see them in the sky for a long time more.
Loran From Germany, joined Jul 2005, 485 posts, RR: 2 Reply 15, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Thanks a lot for the positive feedback, I am glad you liked the report.
Quoting HOOB747 (Reply 2): How was the ride on your DC-10? Did the plane feel solid, or was there a lot of flutter, or rattling, which I experienced on my DC-10 flights. They just wallowed through the air, and I could feel the ship's age on every turn. Not an unpleasant feeling, but in stark contrast to the tight, solid flying newer 777s.
Very good question, I totally forgot to mention what came out of all my observations of the technical details. The DC-10 indeed had very unique characteristics.
Engine spool-up at takeoff was very slow, the crew stabilized the engines at about 40% N1 and held that rpm for almost 30 sec, which felt like forever. Only then they set take-off thrust, and everything started vibrating and shaking. The port high-speed aileron was also vibrating like hell, I guess it was an age thing. I remember on all the SR MD-11s I have been on, the #2 engine caused a lot of vibration and noise in the rear of the cabin, but I wasn't able to figure out where the vibrations came from in the BG DC-10. Not sure what engines they had, I guess CF6-50s.
Initial climb felt quite wobbly despite low winds, and control surfaces were very busy, including the spoilers. It got more stable after we reached 1500ft for acceleration.
Climb performance was very impressive due to the low weight.
Cruise was very smooth though, and there was not much difference to other aircraft.
The aircraft was in good condition in the first glimpse, a close look revealed some aging parts though. But I never felt unsafe. Interesting was the door design, they do not fold outwards like most other aircraft, they actually came inwards and then were driven up into the fuselage by an electrical engine.
The descend was quite rough, but I guess due to weather. The crew was adjusting the power many times, depending on flap settings and gear status. The landing was as mentioned very heavy, I wish I could have see this one from outside
Quoting Abrelosojos (Reply 3): Like Air India and Sri Lankan, you treat them right, they are the best crew you will experience in the world.
Absolutely right, I had a similar experience on SriLankan, very friendly people and great service.
Quoting Tk747 (Reply 4): Did you have any problems taking photos in DAC?
Not at all, I was discrete though. I usually travel with a pocket camera and a SLR. The gate shots at the airport were all taken with the pocket camera to maintain a low profile. Once I was in the aircraft, I switched to the SLR. Only that one particular shot I skipped while there was some military staff just next to me. I even took some shots of the Chengdu Trainers and nobody seemed to care.
Quoting ATLFlyer323 (Reply 5): It would be interesting to fly them on the 777 and see how the service and attitude compared. Are the Biman DC-10 pilots going to get the rating necessary to fly the 777's coming online? (I don't know if you asked them that question)
Actually I didn't, but the crew looked 'young enough' to switch to another type rating. Only I fear the flight engineer will not like the introduction of 777s. I am unaware though if the 777s are a dry-/wet-lease or purchased and hence if crews are provided.
Quoting AMS (Reply 6): It looks that BG has removed the Business class upfront (I think it was called Maslim Executive class?)
I'm wondering if BG is planning to fly to JFK again?
BG flew many years via BRU to JFK.
Correct, identical pitch and seating throughout the entire aircraft, but the people in the front section looked as if they paid more. But not sure if there were any differences in the service level, as I only upgraded myself after meals were served
Regarding JFK, I think I picked up a rumor somewhere that BG was in the process to re-apply for that route, not sure if that is true and what the status is though.
Quoting Lukeyboy95 (Reply 10): Also the fact that the particular plane has been flying for 10 years longer than I've been on this planet is pretty amazing...
Lol, true. I flew a 727 a month ago which was built in 1974, I wasn't even born at that time
Quoting Gardermoen (Reply 12): I like the pic of the PCU at Dhaka Airport, I'd love to get hold of one of those
Awesome, I loved that piece of equipment. Actually all BG signs were hand-written, a real time machine.
Quoting Fauzi (Reply 14): Are all of BG's DC-10s operated in single Y class?
As mentioned, in terms of seating arrangement yes. But it could be that they provide a higher level of service in the front section. The level of service and friendliness I experienced with BG is nowadays rare on some western airlines.
I will try to post the other reports soon, so please keep an eye on this forum.
Thanks again for the positive feedback and happy New Year to all of you!
Debonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2241 posts, RR: 4 Reply 18, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 1 day 5 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): I headed to the hotel in Hong Kong Island for a well deserved sleep, ready to wake up at 4:30am the next morning to depart on OX203 bound for BKK operated by a 747-100B(SR/SUD).
Airpearl From Malaysia, joined May 2001, 936 posts, RR: 27 Reply 22, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 15 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
Great to see your trip report and fantastic that you finally managed to get on the BG DC10 while we benefit from this rare glimpse into the "glorious" but faded past - I know you've been trying to coordinate your schedules with BG's erratic one for such a long time. Perseverance pays... congratulations!
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): This itinerary still resulted in a transit time of 12h in Dhaka, but in real A.net fashion sacrifices need to be done in order to get on rare aircraft
Ah, the "sacrifices" we make... hehe. But for me, I think it's become the perfect excuse for a crazy decision: "this is all for A.net..."
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): I found the airport basic, but ok for 12h. The only but massive problem was mosquitoes. I was wearing a long sleeved shirt, but unable to cover my hands completely. As a result I had numerous mosquito bites after a few hours of dozing on some plastic chairs
Thanks for the insight into a "transit" at DAC. I have been thru DAC a few times but none for as long as you: and like you found it surprisingly okay but remember the mossies.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): At that point, I was able to confirm that equipment type was a DC-10, which gave me some relief.
That's an under-statement in more ways than one I am sure
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): As I walked to Gate 4, I saw that the display said ‘BG 078 to Hong Kong’, so it turned out that the announcement was incorrect. Only then I had the final confirmation that all is according to plan
I can imagine the anxiety! With BG you're never sure until aboard...
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): After lunch I reconfirmed with the flight attendants if it was possible to visit the cockpit. Feedback was positive, and I grabbed my camera and went to the front.
This is such a rare experience today. Well done! I can't remember ever being allowed into the cockpit since I was a kid. And the pic of the flight engineer's side control panel is priceless! Amazing.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): After about 30 mins, I was asking if it was possible to stay during landing, but this time the reply was negative referring to authority restrictions.
You tried at least.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): While walking down the finger, we were welcomed by a good dozen of Hong Kong policemen for an on-spot passport control. It looked like they were after someone, but I guess it was just a routine check
It's pretty routine at HKG, from what I've been able to observe, on flights originating from the subcontinent. Unfortunately, blatant racial profiling at its worst
Quoting Loran (Thread starter): On this way, a big thanks to user Airpearl for his advice and help,
You're welcome. As I said above, it's great to see the trip finally happen for you. You're a natural at trip reports and I look forward to seeing more of yours. You certainly take more unique trips than most of us, and we'll be enriched by more of these So yes, more please!
Jayeshrulz From India, joined Apr 2007, 1021 posts, RR: 2 Reply 23, posted (3 years 11 months 3 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
I envy you!!
I was just stuck in your report !!
Awesome....must say those are rare birds now.
Quoting Loran (Thread starter):
When I left the cockpit, I got offered from the senior cabin staff to stay in the front section of the aircraft, which I took with pleasure. The Chinese pax and the additional BG air crew were scattered around in that section of the aircraft. It looked like a Business Class section, however seating and pitch was the same as in the rear of the plane (2-5-2). I chose seat 7J on the right, just in front of engine number 3. The senior cabin staff member came for another chat and elaborated how much he liked the DC-10. He said it is such a sturdy aircraft and has served BG well for many years. I also got offered more hot drinks. I have to say that on this flight, I have experienced one of the friendliest crews I can remember, and it was a very positive atmosphere highfive .
how come the biz section was same as Y?
I guess it must be economy...
How come the landing was so hard that the whole frame shook?
But what a fantastic way to fly!!
Long live the DC-10!
And thanks Loran for sharing this report.