City Triangle 3: MHS Aviation Dornier 328 to Hamburg
Posted: Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:15 pm
During a recent trip to Hamburg I organised a day excursion to London. I got there flying KLM and CityJet via Amsterdam. For the return sector I chose BA CityFlyer for a particular reason: I wanted to fly the Dornier 328. This report covers that flight.
Map courtesy of gcmap.com. Copyright: Karl L Swartz
Having arrived into London City Airport, I follow the signs for transfers and arrivals only to find they ended up at the same place. Never mind. I am directed to one of the automated passport scanners and in no time I emerge into the entry hall of the terminal. I decide to step outside so that I can say that I was actually in England for the first time in ten years. After a few minutes I go back inside and up the stairs to the departures area. This involves going through security first but the queue is dealt with efficiently and it doesn't take long.
The terminal, while small, is busy. Much of the space is taken up with franchises and the principle if you want to sit down, you pay. There is public seating available but there are few vacant places. There are the usual eateries, a bookstore, a chemist and inevitable duty free store. The scrolling news panel has the habit of changing colour, casting a green, blue, red or black hue over the space below.
Dotted around the place is a number of destination boards showing flight times, departure gates and status. Most flights won't show up until thirty minutes before departure, as is indicated.
Whenever I'm at an airport I try to see what aircraft are about. From one of the restaurants, I see a plane from flybe and go to take a shot, only for a young man to break from eating and helpfully suggest taking it from through some doors. He shows me the way and indeed the view is better. Thank you, Sir.
The aircraft registration is appropriate enough - G-FLBE - although when delivered it was painted in Olympic Air colours, to whom it was leased for a year. It was ferried YYZ-YYR-RKV-BHX on delivery in October, 2009. When returned to flybe it was ferried ATH-AOI-EXT and is now named Spirit of Exeter.
The only other aircraft that I can get a clear shot of is also a Bombardier 402Q with flybe. This originally had the test registration C-FDHP, is equipped with two PWC PW 150A engines and was delivered on the 19 March, 2004. It carries the name Spirit of Edinburgh.
Boarding is called and passengers are invited to go to Gate 3. At the moment there are construction works in progresss so the passage isn't all that glitzy. Once complete there will be additional departure areas offering about 600 seats. But for now I follow the crowd down the stairs to a room where a gate agent checks my boarding pass and wishes me a pleasant flight.
Boarding isn't immediate but from within the room, with its full-length windows, I can see the awaiting Dornier that will carry me to Hamburg. Passengers' checked-in bags are being loaded. I can also see a Swiss Tail and a Puffin.
The door is opened and as passengers walk across the apron I see the Swiss Tail is departing. It is a British Aerospace Avro RJ100, powered by four LY LF507-1F and configured CY97. It was originally with Crossair but was inherited by Swiss in 2002.
Also leaving is G-LCYJ, an Embraer ERJ190-100SR. I do like the way that BA has managed to incorporate the airport code into some of its aircraft. This one flies for BA CityFlyer, having been ferried SJK-REC-TFS-EXT on delivery in early March, 2010.
There is something about the lines of a Dornier 328P that I like. D-CIRI, although painted in BA livery and serving a route marketed as BA CityFlyer, is operated by MHS Aviation. Air Engiadina, KLM Alps, Swisswings, Lions Air, City Star, Cirrus, Rhein-Neckar Air and Sun Air of Scandinavia have all at one time or another made use of this aircraft.
A smile and words of welcome as I board and make my way to seat 3A. For a single passenger the A seats are ideal: they offer both a window and direct aisle access. My window gives me a view of one of the two PWC PW119B engine housings and the propellor. I can also see that Puffin again. It is another aircraft that has been around the traps since it was first delivered in October, 1999.
While boarding continues I check out the contenst of the seat pocket. There is the multi-lingual safety card and a couple of magazines: high life and business life.
On the flight deck the right seat waits patiently while the captain carries out some checks. Soon an announcement is made welcoming us on board, informing us of the expected flight time and the weather conditions on the way. This is followed by the safety demonstration, given in English and German, pointing out the clearly marked exits and the lighting that will guide the way if needed.
As we begin to move forward, I notice that the Puffin has gone and I can now see the aircraft that was next to it. It is a cleanskin ATR 42-500 that was first delivered to Cimber as OY-CIL in late November, 1996 and operated for Lufthansa. It then became part of the Cimber Sterling Fleet until they went belly-up. Stored for a year it is now with Sparrow Aviation and operated by Danish Air Transport.
The Dornier taxis to Runway 27, along the way cutting off the nose of an Embraer. The Puffin in front of us about to commence its take-off roll is with Aurigny and is an ATR 42-500. It has seen service with Contact Air, TRIP Linhas Aéreas and AZUL Linhas Aéreas Brasileiris before moving to Guernsey in April, 2015