Lufthansa, Frankfurt & a surprise or two

No less than 7 new models are in transit so I have this one chance to slip one of the most exciting passenger transits I’ve ever had through Frankfurt Airport.  You’ll have to forgive me for my somewhat childish enthusiasm, and an iPhone 6+ camera – the 7+ didn’t arrive until after we were back, and I’d love to have tried out it’s new 6-lens image stabilised camera, which would have been great in these very circumstances.

SAS arrived into a very wet Salzburg after days of 30C+ heat

One of the awesome things about this return transit, was because I hate being rushed through airports we had a 4 hour lay over – Lufthansa seem to think it’s entirely feasible to get from A3 in T1 to B47 in around twenty minutes, including the infamous underground tunnel, the slow, painful passport readers, and depending on which way you’re flying, another round of security (UK into Germany requires passports, connecting flights require a security line from UK into Germany/Schengen, but not on the return).

These are all being replaced with ATR-72-600’s over the coming years, Swedish airline BRA at Salzburg

This gave us the opportunity to enjoy the long bus ride from the hard stands – almost a 20 minute journey with compulsory stops on route for aircraft to pass, then the long walk from the remote Austrian Airlines permanent gates (it’s almost an Austrian mini-hub as many long haul destinations require a Vienna/Salzburg/Innsbruck/Graz-Frankfurt flight before onward transfer on Lufthansa).

This brought about a stunning opportunity to see aircraft up close and in their working environment. 99.99% of passengers couldn’t give a flying monkey about what passes them by or its significance, but to me it was like being ten years old and let loose in a giant airport play pen!

I love two airports more than any other, Heathrow and Frankfurt. They couldn’t be more different and have one thing in common, a giant dominant airline, though Lufthansa Group does have almost 75% of the slots at Frankfurt, and IAG,through BA/Iberia/Aer Lingus and Vueling, only 60% of Heathrow’s.

Frankfurt has more cargo, with vast parking areas and dedicated infrastructure that Heathrow can but envy. However Frankfurt is covered in operational “litter”, hundreds, if not thousands of items from stairs, ladders and luggage lifts, trailers, tractors, tow bars, generators, you name it, the entire airport, and almost every last space seems, crammed with operational detritus just randomly left lying about. There just isn’t room at Heathrow for such haphazard behaviour!

We’d left Salzburg on a Fokker 100, probably the last time I’ll ever get to fly on one as Austrian are slowly taking delivery of Lufthansa’s old ERJ’s as they get new CRJ900’s.

Fokker 100’s are fast, rapid take off, surprisingly comfortable, but have this odd pulsing humming sound that comes from the rear, giving them this odd atomic age reactor hum. They seem so dated externally, but internally they were modern and comfortable.  As we came out of cloud on the way into FRA, I fully appreciated why I keep my seat belt done up – we drop-slammed about five feet with a jolt that took everyone by surprise. If you weren’t belted you’d have hit the overhead’s, and it would have hurt – a lot.

Austrian F0kker 100 ‘Yerevan’ FRA-SZG

These are far from being “spotting quality” images, but I can’t help it at airports, I get carried away with the detail, vehicles, the buzz of it all. The organisation, systems, controls, efficiency that has to function relentlessly, automatically, every minute of the day or it all falls down. One break of a rule, one out-of-order process or routine, and the whole system can start to jam. It’s awesome. And yet most passengers take it for granted, not having a clue at what happens to make flying so easy.

The return trip on F-100 ‘Krakow’ in Star Alliance livery. The interior lighting and finish was not as good as the outbound aircraft.

Now and again we get to see the inside of it all, even just for a few minutes. I can’t help myself. I snap hundreds of photos in the hope of getting something decent, and I don’t care who gets in the way, one chance to see something I may never see again cannot be missed. Just to give you an idea – these are the boiled down versions – of 465 photos. Even I was a bit surprised at that total!

Four things really put me into school boy hyper mode; the new China Airlines 773ER B-18007 in Dynasty Dreamliner livery. I first saw her on her maiden flight into SFO back in May, then on the way out to SZG in the distance, but this time she was virtually on top of us. The bus had to stop to let her pass. I just couldn’t believe my luck! Nothing is like being that close, I could barely contain my excitement. My better half just puts up with it and looks at me with a smile that makes me feel like a small child being indulged with some special treat.

The second was the 748i, then the A343 in Star Alliance livery. Last but not least Air China’s first 787-9 B-7877 – and the model hasn’t even arrived yet!

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When you’re so close you can only get half of it in the frame, the enormity of it all, even though you know it, just really hits home. Having just reviewed it as a model, makes me see how poor the models can be at times.
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Everywhere you travel around Frankfurt there is some sort of airport  gubbins lying about. I just wanted to see what 757-300 D-ABOF had as extra livery tiles near the door! Something about the best Airport in North Germany.
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A320-200 D-AIZN
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777F  D-ALFE
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A330-336 D-AIKK a 2008 aircraft
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The one in the distance is D-AIKA – many models have been made of this now rather tired looking A333.
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Just for the colour reference and the detail, the opportunity to see things like this with your own eyes really helps with reviews
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Historical precedent has given Condor a tranche of slots at FRA Lufthansa would love to get hold of.

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Under the wing of the 748i – just amazing!
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Under the tail, I just never expect to get that close!

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The A320 Neo wing and P&W’s troublesome engine

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Air China’s brand new 787-9 B-7877 – much more of this when the model arrives!
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Lufthansa is committed to keeping its 748i’s only until 2022-24.

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First time I’ve ever seen a United Star Alliance in the metal

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With a liscence to export Boeing and Airbus to Iran now confimed these old birds will soon be on the scrap heap
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Lufthansa has the second largest fleet of 744’s after BA, but they are only around for another 6 years at most.
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Spot the difference? I’d never noticed it before!
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How many times will I be able to see a soon to vanish United 744 (FRA-SFO) with a Lufthansa one like this. It excuses the image quality on grounds of passing historical moment!

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Always strikes me as odd that an A380 (B43) should be in such a confined space as the B satellite, there’s no room for that many passengers!
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The Qatar A350 and Namibia A332 stay out on those stands for several hours until called back in to use the gates for their return flights.
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Superb looking vintage Condor livery – need the model now!
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Would love a model of this

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Everywhere you go….

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Still in the old livery…
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Getting a little dark now, but with just 2 of these in service, and FRA their only destination, Air Namibia still keeps links alive to Germany, even though as  German SW Africa, it hasn’t been a German colony for almost 100 years. Need the model!
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Love ANA’s livery on a 777, looks superb.

So apologies for indulging myself with some mediocre photos and a long list of aircraft, but I so rarely get to see this much so often…models next week should be here Monday, so plenty of reviews in the pipeline….have  great weekend!

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