NEWS 2005/4


NEWS Archive


December 2005

30/12 - Charleroi and Oostende Airport operations disturbed by snowfall.

Air traffic at Charleroi Airport was severely disrupted by heavy snowfall. Ryanair-flights from Dublin and Valladolid had to be diverted, 1 Ryanair-flight to Rome was cancelled. At Oostende Airport the Jetairfly flight from Tenerife (TUB5188) had to be diverted to Köln/Bonn while a MK Airlines flight had to be cancelled. Sources: Luchtzak and Westwings

28/12 - Sadly, positive advice was given for the demolition of the historical important Haren terminal buildings.

Despite a lot of protest from different associations including BAHA, the Brussels "commission de concertation" has given its approval de demolish the historical important terminal buildings of one of Europe's first international airports at Haren. The buildings have to make way for a vast building project which in the future should house the expanded NATO organisation. In almost all the surrounding countries (UK, France, The Netherlands, Denmark, Germany) the original terminal buildings of the first airports have been preserved but alas apparently Belgium is not an "air-minded" country (at least not on political level).

26/12 - Virgin Express launches Brussels-Palermo route

As from 1st April 2006 Virgin Express, the Belgian low cost carrier, will fly a new route between Brussels and Palermo (Sicily). The initial frequency for the new destination is set a 2 flight per week on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Palermo is the 4th destination that the Belgian low fare carrier serves in Italy and the second on Sicily aside from Catania.

23/12 - Lithuania Bloc 11: Belgian F-16's at Siauliai between December 2006 and March 2007.

Four Belgian Lockheed F-16's will deploy for the second time to the Lithuanian base of Siauliai from December 2006 until March 2007 to fulfil the request by NATO to organise a "Quick Reaction Alert" (QRA)  in order to guard the airspace over the three Baltic states Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia. See also the BAHA special feature "Operation Baltic Air Policing".

23/12 - Seaking makes precautionary landing at Oostende airport.

A Seaking helicopter of the rescue service at Koksijde Air base had to make a precautionary landing at Oostende Airport during a training-flight. The helicopter was 6 km out over the sea when the pilot noted a technical problem. Not taking any risks he immediately headed for the nearest landing area which happened to be Oostende Airport. As it turned out to be only a minor problem the helicopter was already operational again in the afternoon. Of the 5 Seaking helicopters in service with the Air Component 2 are undergoing deep maintenance at Gosselies and Koksijde while the three others are operational. Source: Het Nieuwsblad.

22/12 - Neil Burrows (Virgin Express) appointed Chief Executive Officer of SN Brussels Airlines for one year.

Neil Burrows (61) has been named Chief Executive Officer of both airlines SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express. It is the first time since the merger that both airlines get the same Chairman. The two boards must still approve the nomination. Burrows is currently Chairman of Virgin Express, which has been recently acquired by SN Airholding, the parent of SN Brussels Airlines. He flew as a pilot for the (British) Royal Air Force, as well as for private companies and worked for Alitalia and Qatar Airways before joining Virgin Express. Source: SN Brussels Airlines

22/12 - Contract signed for the acquisition of two M-class frigates from The Netherlands

The Belgium government has acquired two M-class frigates from the Netherlands. Belgian Defence Minister André Flahaut and Dutch junior defence minister Cees van der Knaap have sealed the deal at a festive signing ceremony in the military museum in Brussels. Belgium's Council of Ministers approved the military spending of more than EUR 1 billion back in July to pay for the frigates and to upgrade its fleet of jeeps and armoured vehicles. The Netherlands is selling off its four M-class frigates and will replace them with smaller patrol vessels that can operate in shallower waters. The frigates may continue to operate mainly from the Dutch port of Den Helder as the Dutch sold the ships on the understanding they would be part of the joint Belgian-Dutch naval unit. Pictures.

22/12 - Major-General Gerard Van Caelenberge new Commander of the Belgian Air Component

During a ceremony held at the "Esplanade" in front of the Royal Army Museum, Lt. General Fréderic Vandingenen has installed the new Commanders of the Air-, Marine- and Medical Components of the Belgian Defence.  On that day Major-General Gerard Van Caelenberge became the second Commander of the Belgian Air Component. Major General Van Caelenberge has a very solid experience in the field of the F-16 fighter and its systems and has exercised many Staff positions including the all important function of Wing Commander of the 10th Tactical Wing at Kleine-Brogel. The General also has a vast knowledge of Belgian aviation history and is member of the Belgian Aviation History Association (BAHA).  Source at NL and FR .

20/12 - Former Lt Avn Alouette II A-23 helicopter registered as N577AG in the United States.

Former Light Aviation SE.313B Alouette II A-23 (OT-AAQ, c/n 1666) which was sold on 1997 and registered F-GPEP, F-WQIV and later HB-ZBE on behalf of Air Zermatt (link) in Switzerland was cancelled from the Swiss civil register on June 24th, 2004. A few months later, on October 18th, 2004 it was registered as N577AG on behalf of Aircraft Guaranty Trust Llc Trustee, 515 N Sam Houston Pkwy E Ste 305, Houston, TX 77060-4023, United States. Source E-BAHA forum.

20/12 - Brussels - Zaventem airport, sustained passenger growth on scheduled flights

In November 2005 the number of departing passengers on scheduled flights outside the European Union was 13.1% up on November 2004. This growth was driven by the launch of Etihad services to Toronto and Abu Dhabi. The number of passengers on intra-EU flights was 4.3% higher. Charter traffic decreased by 13.6% in November, mainly due to reductions in charters to typical winter holiday destinations that were hit by the tsunami and to the Red Sea resorts.  In total, about 1.2 million passengers used  Zaventem Airport in November 2005, an increase by 3.3 % on the same month of last year. Source :

20/12 - AIR COMPONENT - Top brass end of year proms.

As every end of year, the Belgian Monitor has published the list of the Officers promotions. For the Air Component, it was decided that Sub-Lieutenants K. Vandersmissen, J. Lete, C. Van De Gaer, M. Gerckens, A. Fabry, and Lieutenant D. Boddez were transferred with their grades from the Army's Light Aviation to the Air Force flying personnel. Major General Michel Audrit will retire as Commander of the Air Component and will be succeeded from January 1st 2006 onwards by Major General Gerard Van Caelenberge.

20/12 - Interesting aeronautical art exhibition by Panamarenko at the Brussels' Fine Arts Museum

“The Aeromodeller” registered OO-PL1 will not be found in the records of our Belgian Civil Aviation Administration. This piece of art is part of the exhibition devoted to the work of the Belgian artist Panamarenko in the Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium (  It is very remarkable and amusing that both young children and experienced aviation engineers can walk together through the exposition with lots of admiration for the large collection of extraordinary identified flying objects and for the outstanding selection of drawings, sketches, models and projects.  Do not miss this very nice retrospective to celebrate the 65th birthday of Panamarenko, exhibition till 29 January 2006 (Koningsplein 3, 1000 Brussels.)       

20/10 - "Windkracht 10", the Movie.

Ten years ago when the first year of the immensely popular TV series « Windkracht 10 » (“Gale Force 10”) was finished it was the producers had the intention to make a movie around this interesting subject related to the life of the Koksijde Rescue team and their Seaking helicopters. Finally director Hans Herbots received the go ahead to start shooting on January 16th 2006.   Some of the TV series actors such as Ludo Busschots and Vic De Wachter will also take part in the movie which should be in Belgian theatres by the end of 2006. Source: Het Nieuwsblad &

19/12 - Neighbourhood evacuated after discovery of a WWII bomb at St-Michiels - Brugge

The major part of a residential area at Sint-Michiels near Brugge was evacuated when an American 1000 pound bomb dating from the Second World War was discovered on a construction site. The bomb disposal unit of the Belgian Defence cautiously disarmed the non-exploded device by the evening. Source: Het Nieuwsblad

19/12 - Former SN Brussels Airlines chairman Rob Kuijpers to become Aviapartner Group non-executive chairman
Zaventem based handling and airport services group Aviapartner has announced on December 19th, that Rob Kuijpers (former Chairman of SN Brussels Airlines Management Committee - see BAHA News of September 19th, 2005) will be, from January 1st, 2006, the new non-executive chairman of its board of directors. Sources: Luchtzak & l'Echo
19/12 - Migration of stored A109BA Hirundo's between Bierset air and Zutendaal Deposit Centre

Some stored A109BA Hirundos of the Belgian Defence were recently observed at Bierset airbase covered by a thermoformable plastic coating/protection. On December 19th, the H-11 was transported in its new packaging from Bierset to the Zutendaal DisC Mat/CDis Mat while H-09 left Zutendaal by truck for Bierset air base. On December 20th H-17 also arrived in coccooned state at Zutendaal while H-10 left for Bierset to to be treated similarly.  Source:  E-BAHA  Pictures of Zutendaal: 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, and 06

17/12 - Boeing 737-300 OO-VEX is the first Virgin Express airliner equipped with blended winglets

As announced on last November (see BAHA News of November 1st, 2005), SABENA Technics is upgrading Virgin Express (VEX) four Boeing 737-300 fleet  (OO-VEX, OOVEG, OO-VEH & OO-VEN) with blended winglets. The first modified VEX B737 OO-VEX (c/n) made its test flight from  Brussels-Zaventem airport on December 17th before flying to Amsterstam-Schipol where it received the new company livery. Source NL and FR  and  Picture

15/12 - DH82A Tiger Moth OO-EVT returns to the Royal Army Museum at Brussels.

The former Centre National de Vol à Voile (CNVV) de Havilland DH82A Tiger Moth OO-EVT (c/n 84875) has been brought back to the Brussels Royal Army Museum/Aeronautical Department collection where it will be placed on public display. Transferred some years ago to the Sabena Old Timers association, this vintage biplane has been carefully restored in its original Royal Air Force guise as T6534. Source & Pictures: KLM/MRA

15/12 - Lieutenant Colonel Steve Vermeer is the new Commanding Officer of 80 UAV Squadron
In a ceremony held at Elsenborn air base, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Marchal has passed command of the 80 UAV Squadron to Lieutenant Colonel Steve Vermeer on December 15th, 2005. Source:
14/12 - Ryanair expands at Charleroi Brussels-South Airport

On December 14th, the Irish discount airline Ryanair reaffirmed year earnings forecasts despite easing fuel prices and announced it had signed a 10-year deal for expansion at Brussels-South Charleroi Airport where it would add five new routes from April next year and base a fourth aircraft. This expansion would deliver 250,000 extra passengers to the airport a year, bringing the airline's annual traffic to Charleroi to 2.3 million. Charleroi, one of Ryanair's main European hubs, was at the heart of an EU Commission ruling earlier this year, ordering Ryanair to repay some 4 million euros ($2.7 million pounds) in illegal subsidies. Sources: Business Scotsman 01 & 02

13/12 - Post Crash Management exercise at Bierset air base

On December 13th, the Wing Heli of Bierset has organized a Post Crash Management (PCM) test. The scenario was an A109BA Hirundo crash in the base approach after engine fire and with a crew of four (three wounded, one killed). The exercise involved several military as local emergency services (fire brigades, police etc.). One of the "surviving" crew was transported by a Medevac configured Hirundo to the Liège-Citadelle hospital while the crashed helicopter was figured by the airframe of the withdrawn from use A109BA H-03. Sources: RTL & Condroz

13/12 - NHIndustries welcome Belgium as the 14th country to select the NH90

On December 13th NH Industries officially welcome Belgium as the 14th Country to select (and 12th to order) the NH90. It is the intention of Belgium to acquire the NH90s and relative support through the NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA), which represents the Governments that launched the Design and Development of the NH90 Helicopters in 1991, namely France, Germany, Italy, and The Netherlands, joined by Portugal in 2001. NAHEMA manages and controls the overall NH90 Programme. The helicopters will have to provide Belgian Armed Forces with comprehensive Search and Rescue (SAR), maritime and transport capabilities. The NH90 back-log totals today 357 firm orders, 120 options and the announced selections log now more than 73 announced selections by 18 Armed Forces of 14 Countries overseas. Source: NHIndustries

12/12 - Inauguration of the SABCA-Haren A380 assembly hall

On Monday 12th December, SABCA-Haren has officially inaugurated its A380 assembly hall - of 3000 sq meters - in the presence of the Crown Prince Philippe of Belgium. This hall is dedicated to the assembly of the so-called Center Read Lower Shell (CRLS), a major subfloor structure of the new Airbus giant of the air being 11,5 metres long and five metres wide. Designed and manufactured by SABCA engineers, a total of twenty CRLS has already been delivered for fuselage integration to Airbus plants at Saint Nazaire (France). More & Source La Libre & RTL

12/12 - SN Brussels Airlines CEO, Peter Davies, left the company

Since the resignation of Rob Kuypers, chairman of SN Brussels Airlines Management Committee, it has been rumoured the CEO of SNBA, Peter Davies, too would have to follow in his steps and leave the airline (see BAHA News of September 19th, 2005). On December 12th Peter Davies confirmed in a mail to all SNBA staff members he had to quit the Belgian carrier after 4 years of hard work together. SNBA board has now to appoint a new CEO which will run both SNBA and Virgin Express. Source:
 More on Peter Davies:

12 > 16/12 - Air and Land Components conduct low level flying exercise Poppy 08 over the Ardennes

Air and Land Components will conduct low level flying exercise over the Province of Namur and Luxembourg under code name "Poppy 08" between 12th and 16th December. The purpose of Poppys type exercise is to train Air Component's F-16 pilots and Land Component's Forward Air Controllers (FAC) in working together. All the Poppy 08 targets and Low Level Flying Areas (LLFA) are located around Humain, Roy, Bande and Wavreille. Source NL & FR. BAHA info.

10/12 - Very successful 8th Annual BAHA meet at Erembodigem

The 8th Annual meeting of the Belgian Aviation History which was organised in the BAHAAT's "Broken Wings" Museum attracted over 50 members who were privileged to listen to the sometimes very emotional stories of two Flight Appui Feu pilots Frank Swietek and Guy Depypere. Both pilots flew armed Harvards during the Congolese rebellion following the independence from Belgium. In the afternoon Major "Patja" Stams gave the audience a taste of his formidable air-to-air photography and included some professional tips and tricks. Unfortunately we also learned that Col. Raymond "Cheval" Lallemand could not attend the meeting as he was hospitalised. BAHA wishes him a speedy recovery. Pictures here and here.

09/12 - Two Belgians perish in the crash of a Cessna light aircraft at Clinge (NL)

Two Belgians perished on December 9th evening in the crash of their light aircraft, a Reims-Cessna F.152-II (OO-ACS c/n F15201758) of Sanicole Aeroclub (link):  , at Clinge polders, between Hulst and Axel in Dutch Zealand, during a navigation flight towards Stabroek near Antwerpen. The contact was lost one hour after take off from Sanicole-Leopolsburg (EBLE) airfield. The wreck of the aircraft was found on Saturday 10th. The pilot was Martin Lenaerts (72) and his passenger Julien Jacobs (60), both from Peer (Limburg). The cause of this dramatic crash is under investigation. Source: Het Nieuwsblad.  Picture here.

09/12 - The Belgian government approves the purchase of ten NH90 helicopters

As agreed on last July (see BAHA news of June 15th & 19th and July 20th, 2005), the Belgian government has approved the purchase of ten NH90 multirole support helicopters through an international cooperation procedure with the NATO Helicopter Management Organisation (NAHEMO). This helicopter replacement programme would include three helicopters for the replacement of the current Seaking fleet (see BAHA News of January 18th, 2005), two helicopters for the replacement of the Alouette III of the Heliflight and a batch of five helicopters to provide the Land Component a better aeromobility capability. The contract value of this programme is estimated at about € 320 million. Belgium will be the 12th customers of the new biturbine, ten tons class helicopter of NH Industries. Sources FR & and NL, VRT & Het Laatste Nieuws

09/12 - The Belgian government has approved the MOD's military operation planning for 2006

On Friday 9th December, the Belgian government has approved the MOD's provisional international military operation planning for 2006 excluding participations to eventual European Batlle Group and Nato Reaction Force (NRF) operations.
Quoted in this provisional programme:

-          Deployment of a Wing Heli detachment dedicated to the EUFOR operation Althea in Bosnia-Herzegovina from April 2006 onwards

-          Deployment of a C-130H Hercules transport aircraft  for supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRT) in Afghanistan from September 2006 onwards

-          Deployment of C-130H Hercules transport aircraft for supporting the military partnership programmes (like the FCC : Formation Continuée de Cadres) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC)

-          Deployment of a SA.316B Alouette III helicopter for fight against drug smuggling in the Carribean sea

-          A four months deployement of four F-16 fighters to Lithuania for protecting the Baltic states airspace from December 2006 (link).

More info NL  & FR & La Libre

09/12 - "Gift of War" from Air Britain lists the Spitfires presented by the Belgian Congo Fighter Fund

The last book to date by Henry Boot and Ray Sturtivant: "Gifts of War - Spitfires and other Presentation Aircraft in Two World Wars" (ISBN 0 85130 248 3), published by Air Britain, includes a listing of 37 Spitfires presented by the Belgian Congo Fighter Fund, including detailed individual histories of the 20 that have been identified by serial number. Link to Air Britain

07/12 - Uzbekistan airspace and territory ban to NATO  will affect the work of the Belgian military aircraft supporting ISAF detachment in Afghanistan

Last November decision by Uzbekistan to no longer allow European NATO members to use its territory or airspace, as a rear base for their peacekeeping operations in neighbouring Afghanistan will affect the Belgian military transport aircraft supporting the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). The ban will take effect from January 1st, 2006 and it is being viewed as a response to an EU decision to impose visa bans on several top Uzbek officials and an arms embargo on Uzbekistan, following the mass killings in the eastern Uzbek city of Andijan in May 2005. Two alternative routes are under consideration, one through Dushanbe in Tajikistan (where the French Air Force has a Forward Operating Base) and another one through Islamabad in Pakistan. These new routes should have a limited impact on Belgian flying operation evaluated at about 15 supplementary minutes per flight for the Defence Airbus strategical aircraft and 20 minutes for the C-130H Hercules tactical aircraft. Source: De Kamer - See also BAHA News of April 26th, 2005.

07/12 - A total of 14 MLU upgraded Belgian F-16s are reported for sale by the MOD

Answering a Member of Parliament question about the recent rumours of sales of Belgian F-16s to Pakistan, the Minister of Defence, M. André Flahaut, has once again denied sales negotiations with the United States or Pakistan (See BAHA News of November 25th, 2005). He has also specified that a total of 14 withdrawn MLU Belgian F-16s are currently proposed for sale. So most probably the 12 F-16AM stored at Weelde (FA-58, FA-60, FA-61, FA-65, FA-66, FA-73, FA-74, FA-75, FA-76, FA-78, FA-88, FA90) and two F-16BM (FB-01 & FB-08 on store at SABCA Gosselies?). Source: La Chambre

06/12 - Boeing 737-400 OO-TUI is the first TUI Airlines Belgium aircraft to receive the new Jetairfly titles

Boeing B737-400 OO-TUI (c/n ) is the first TUI Airlines Belgium aircraft to receive the new Jetairfly titles (Picture). On 23 November 2005 the German TUI Aktiengesellschaft (AG) has decided the unification of all its Belgian activities under the flag of its local subsidiary and market leader Jet air, though the change of name of TUI Airlines Belgium into Jetairfly (see BAHA News of November 23rd, 2005).

06/12 - 80 Squadron B-Hunters UAVs tested from Koksijde air base in the coastal waters patrol role

As announced a month ago (see BAHA News of November 5th, 2005), the 80 Squadron of Elsenborn deployed three of its B-Hunter UAVs (271, 273 & 281) and support systems at Koksijde air base in the framework of a live coastal waters patrol test between 5th and 9th September 5th. On November 8th the B-Hunter were presented to the press. That day the Minister of Defence, M. André Flahaut, and his colleague in charge of the North Sea, M. Renaat Landuyt, have expressed them firm will to see soon - early 2006? - the B-Hunter regularly engaged against the pollutants of seas. In spite of this political will it seem that various technical, administrative and operational problems will have to be resolved before seeing B-Hunter monitoring in a regular way over Belgian coastal waters. Sources: NL & FR , Het Nieuwsblad  1  &  2. Pictures: & BAHA 

06/12 - Oneworld appoints Belgian manager Filip Lemmens as Commercial Director

The global airlines alliance's sales and marketing organisation Oneworld™, bringing together American Airlines, British Airways, Qantas, Iberia, Cathay Pacific, LAN, Finnair and Aer Lingus. Malev Hungarian and Royal Jordanian, has appointed Belgian manager Filip Lemmens to the new post of Commercial Director at the central alliance team's head office in Vancouver, Canada. Aged 35 and born in Belgium M. Lemmens is Graduate of Antwerp University. Before he joined Oneworld five years ago, he worked in various sales and marketing positions in Europe with the alliance's founder member American Airlines. Source: Oneworld

06/12 - About 100 hectares of Koksijde air base will be put up for sale

About 100 hectares of the currently oversized airbase of Koksijde will be put up for sale by the MOD in close coordination with the local authorities. The Mayor of Koksijde has already a lot of projects for these new lands, including a shorter way to link Koksijde to Veurne as well as a War museum. More: Het Nieuwsblad.

05/12 - Intercontinental passengers must check-in earlier at Brussels Zaventem Airport

From 2006 onwards the passengers travelling on intercontinental flights from Brussels International Airport, will have to check in earlier. This measure will allow more time for security controls. New enhanced security procedures had already caused longer waiting times and hundreds of passengers have missed their flights lately. Source: Luchtzak

05/12 - TUI Airlines Belgium Boeing 767 OO-TUC once again in the news for technical problems

Boeing 767-300 OO-TUC "Discover" (c/n 24844) of TUI Airlines Belgium is once again in the news. On December 5th the 250 passengers of tour operator Jet Air were forced to overnight in hotels near the airport after the postponement of their early morning flight to the Dominican Republic. Reason: another OO-TUC technical problem. Obtained from Brazilian airlines Varig (ex PP-VOL) in late 2004, this fifteen years old airliner is a notoriously troublesome (see BAHA News of February 9th & September 18th, 2005) in spite of the recurring denials of the spokesman of TUI. Pictures: here and here.  Source: Het Nieuwsblad

03/12 - Melsbroek airbase taxiway blocking Antonov An-124 Ruslan finally left Brussels.

The Antonov An-124-100 Ruslan (c/n 97773054359139) UR-82073 which was parked on the platform between taxiways A1 and N6 left Zaventem/Brussels airport on 7 December 2005 at 12.03 local. On Sunday evening 4 December a technical crew arrived at Melsbroek to prepare the aircraft for the return flight to its homebase Gostomel (Antonov Airfield, Ukraine.) The freighter owned by the Ukraine plane manufacturer Anotonov Design bureau was seized at Zaventem/Brussels airport since 18 August 2004 following a lawsuit by a company called TMR based at Cyprus.

02/12 - Jean-Pierre De Bruyne edits DVDs over the disappeared Belgian national carrier

Former regional executive for Hawker Siddeley in charge of French speaking Africa and former owner of ARTVideo (Antwerpen) a studio specialized in aircraft production films, Jean-Pierre De Bruyne edits DVDs over the history of the bankrupted Belgian national carrier (Available: Film n°2 DC-3 SABENA / SABENA in Africa/Air Brousse  - Film n°3 Junkers 52 - Lockheed Lodestar in Congo 1939-1945). More info can be found in M. De Bruyne homepage.

01/12 - Famous British warbirds collector and pilot Ray Hanna passed away

On December 1st, 2005, veteran British pilot Ray Hanna passed away in his sleep at his home in Switzerland. With his son Mark, who was tragically killed flying a Me109 six years ago, he built up a vintage warbird collection at Duxford which ultimately became the renowned Old Flying Machine Company (link). M. Hanna was undoubtedly one of the finest warbird display pilots, and regarded by many as the best of the best. M. Hanna displaying his famous Mk.IX Spitfire MH434 - ex SM-41 of the Belgian Air Force - (link) was a joy to behold, and a sight which will be sorely missed on the display circuit.

01/12 - Belgian pilot, Patrick De Roeck, flies the Airbus A380 for Emirates Airlines

The leader of the Emirates Airlines Airbus A380 integration programme, Belgian Patrick De Roeck was the very first commercial pilot to fly the A380 on the Dubai Air Show, escorted by the Patrouille De France. Source and pictures at Luchtzak.

November 2005

30/11 - Boeing begins production retrofit on NATO AWACS fleet

Major mission system enhancements are being installed on the first of 17 NAEW&C E-3A AWACS aircraft as part of the $1.32 billion Mid-Term Modernization Programme. The third and last amendment to date to the programme - concerning the new Infra-Red Counter Measures (IRCM) system - was approved by the Belgian government early September (see BAHA News of September 2nd, 2005). EADS, as subcontractor to Boeing, is performing the work at Manching, Germany. It's expected to be completed in November 2006 with the entire fleet scheduled to be upgraded in 2008. Boeing also will upgrade the two NATO AWACS mission simulators into the mid-term configuration. The improved mission system will provide NATO AWACS aircraft with the ability to receive modified mission orders digitally from a remote location after a mission is underway and electronically integrate the new orders into the mission computing system. A multi sensor integrator provides an improved recognized air and surface picture with the integration of data from various sensors, as well as from other sources, and an increased capacity in the number of targets it can track. More info: Boeing

29/11 - TNT Airways will launch passenger flights from Liège-Bierset airport

TNT Airways will launch passenger flights from Liège-Bierset regional airport starting in April 2006. The Bierset based carrier primarily offers cargo services but also offers charter passenger service from Brussels with 737-300s in Quick Cargo configuration. TNT currently flies to 67 European cities, plus 10 intercontinental destinations and has contracts with several major tour operators including Thomas Cook, Club Med and Interconfort for its Brussels service. Liège destinations will include Ajaccio, Barcelona, Monastir, Palma and Ibiza. TNT General Manager Niky Terzakis said the move will create jobs for up to 100 new pilots in the next year. Sources: xPATs and La Libre

27/11 - Severe disruptions at Brussels Airport due to snowfalls and inoperative instrument landing-system

Several morning flights from Brussels airport were cancelled and other services delayed due to the night snowfalls, poor visibility and a reported inoperative Instrument Landing System. Most flights departed with a delay up to 3 hours as they had to wait for de-icing and push-back from the gate. A few airlines had to divert to other airports. Source: Luchtzak

27/11 -  Minister of Defence's visit to Central Africa delayed by Air Component Airbus A310 breakdown

One Sunday November 27th 2005, the military Airbus transporting the Minister for Defence suffered technical problems at Melsbroek. The malfunction was detected little before take-off for a visit by Minister Flahaut to Central Africa. To repair the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), technicians had to remove some 8 tons of fuel to enable the Airbus to land safely in Frankfurt, German were Lufthansa could undertake the necessary repairs. The plane was then to fly to Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, after a technical stopover - for a supply in Niger.  Later this week the Minister is also visiting the Democratic Republic of Congo. Source: La Dernière Heure

26/11 - Myanmar (Birma) authorities briefly detained a Belgian paraglider pilot

Two paragliding enthusiasts having taken off from Thailand accidentally strayed on to mountainous Burmese territory on Saturday November 26th and were arrested by Burmese troops. Kris Coppieters, a 31-year-old Belgian, and Aude Piercy, 28, from France, returned to Thailand via the border pass between Tachilek and Mae Sai thanks to the coordination of the township border committee of Thai and Burmese local authorities. Mr Coppieters said he and Miss Piercy had been in tambon Mae Salong's Ban Pang Mahan village in Mae Fa Luang district seeking places where they might be able to take off and take photos. At noon on Saturday, troops arrested them. Mr Coppieters said it was his fault for trespassing and the troops had treated them well. Source: Belga & Bankok Post

26/11 - The Brussels seasonal captive balloon destroyed by snowfall

The Aerobrussels (link) seasonal captive balloon, better known as Brussels Belgacom balloon, was seriously damaged by snowfall on the early hours of Saturday November 26th. The weight of the accumulated wet snow pushed down the balloon that bounced abruptly three times on its nacelle. The cable with the winch then got tangled and jammed. The balloon got damaged against a nearby building some fences bursting its envelope. It was therefore decided to deflate it without delay. The future of this popular attraction is currently under review (See also BAHA News of April 2nd and October 10th, 2005). Source: Het Laatste Nieuws

25/11 - Belgium to change flight procedures.

Belgian Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt, has announced a new draft law to regulate the procedure for regulating flight procedures. This law should depoliticize decision-making and might permit to find a balanced solution for flights over Brussels city. Belgium's political parties, split along linguistic lines between French and Dutch speakers, have long fought over flight routes from Brussels International Airport, located at Zaventem in Flanders, just outside the boundaries of the Brussels region. Mostly French-speaking residents of Brussels region, and their political parties, accused air authorities, and Brussels International Airport, which is located in Dutch-speaking Flanders, of choosing routes across Brussels, rather than Flanders. The draft law foresees three criteria to determine flight procedures: security, capacity and health questions but has a long road ahead, first being checked for legal and constitutional aspects. Source: Euro-reporters

25/11 - Well known Belgian aviation writer André Van Haute has passed away

On Friday November 25th, the well known Belgian aviation writer André Van Haute passed away. His last main productions were two books, published by the Krijger, about the Hawker Hunter and Republic F-84F Thunderstreak in Belgian service. Our condolences to his widow and children.

25/11 - Pakistan newspaper stated its country is looking to acquire 26 Belgian and Dutch F-16s

Despite the Pakistan government's decision to defer until April next year the acquisition of 76 F-16 from the United States in order to divert resources to last month earthquake relief fund, the Pakistan Observer (link) has stated its country is now looking to acquire 26 surplus F-16AM/BM from Holland and Belgium. Top official sources told Pakistan Observer that while the deal with US for F-16 is on hold, the 26 F-16s will be available to Pakistan Air Force in a matter of months. For its part the Belgian MoD has immediately denied any negotiation with Pakistan. Several Belgian political parties and associations have already announced their strong opposition to such a deal with a country engaged in a conflict with its neighbours and that has not signed the non nuclear proliferation treaty.

24/11 - Former Belgian Air Force De Havilland Dominie D-7 restored to flying condition in New-Zealand

Belgian Air Force De Havilland DH.89A Dominie C.1, D-7 (RAF NR777, c/n 6853) was struck off charge on 8 July 1955 and ending up stored away in a hangar at Deurne airport. Although this was known to the aeronautical world not all that many people had seen this aircraft before it was sold in 1994 to Ron Sough in the UK. In 1995 however a group of aviation enthusiast around Benno Tissi acquired the D-7 which was shipped from Southampton to New Zealand. Restoration started in Mandeville, NZ, with Croydon Aircraft Company, but it had to move from there in 2001. The project is now in hands of Southair of Taieri, Dunedin, NZ. Since then the aircraft is ready to fly, engine runs have been performed, and the owners are waiting anxiously for clearance from the NZ CAA to make a second first flight, 51 years after it last flew. At one stage Mr. Tissi planned to fly the aircraft to Switzerland (were it would fly in Swissair colours for the Fliegermuseum Alternheim) but financing has fallen apart and he is now very much in doubt that this epic journey will take place. The syndicate is now building a hangar for D-7 in Hawkes Bay, (NZ). For pictures of this marvellous Dominie click here and here.

23/11 - TUI Airlines Belgium is to change its brand name into Jetairfly

The German TUI AG (link) has decided the unification of all its Belgian activities under the flag of its local subsidiary Jet Air nv/sa. Jetair is the Belgian branch of World of TUI and the market leader in the Belgian tourist industry  proposing holidays by air, by car, city trips and coach holidays under the brand names Jetair, VIP Selection,, VTB Reizen and Seagull. Direct result of this new marketing and brand strategy TUI Airlines Belgium is to change its name into Jetairfly. All the aircraft of the airlines (B-767: OO-TUC; B-737: OO-TUA, OO-TUB, OO-TUI, OO-VAC, OO-VAS + Fokker 100 OO-TUF) should receive very soon the new appropriate titles. Source Jetair  

23/11 - Belgian investigators have called Ryanair executives for questioning

Belgian investigators had called Ryanair Chief Operating Officer Michael Cawley and Bernard Berger, head of flights development, for questioning as part of a fraud investigation at a local promotional company partly owned by the Irish low cost airline. Charleroi public prosecutor said the examining magistrate was looking into suspected fraud and misuse of funds allocated to the promotional company, known as Promocy, from the Walloon regional government. Promocy is in charge of publicising flights and fares in Belgium. The investigation did not imply any wrongdoing on the part of the executives or the airline. Pierre Fernement, spokesman for the airport operator, Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA), said it was collaborating with the investigation and some of its executives had already been questioned. BSCA denied any wrongdoing, he said. Source: Reuter

21 > 25/11 - Air and Land Components conducted low level flying exercise Poppy 07 over the Ardennes

Air and Land Components have conducted low level flying exercise over the Province of Namur and Luxembourg under code name "Poppy 07" between 21st and 25th November. The purpose of Poppys type exercise is to train Air Component's F-16 pilots and Land Component's Forward Air Controllers (FAC) in working together. All the Poppy 07 targets and Low Level Flying Areas (LLFA) were located around Rochefort (North Zone) and Tenneville (South Zone). Source NL , FR , BAHA Link.  

21 > 24/11 - Belgium's Reaction Forces exercise Deployed Falcon organised at Beauvechain air base.

Belgium’s' Reaction Forces (RF) training exercise was organized at Beauvechain air base - acting as Foreign Operating Base (FOB) - between November 21st and 24th under code name Deployed Falcon. This exercise was a preparation for a NATO evaluation to be held in June 2006. It involved no less than 700 people, eight F-16 (five from N°10 Wing and three from N°2 Wing) as well as five A109BA Hirundo (four + one spare) and one SA.318C Alouette II from Wing Heli. Two more training exercises of the same type are foreseen at Beauvechain air base, one in February and one in April 2006, before the final evaluation of June. Sources FR , NL  & Scramble.

20/11 - Amougies airfield flying activities in danger.

Political involvement and action committees of all kinds have won the support of the Walloon Minister of agriculture Benoît Lutgen. Amougies airfield doesn’t succeed to obtain an operations license for engine aircraft anymore. In spite of favourable advice of the commune and province, the minister decided to stop all motorised activity on the site. For the moment, ULM’s are not concerned by this decision. However, the motorised ultra-lights are almost certainly the next victims. One of the consequences of this situation is that gliders cannot be towed any more. As the runway at Amougies is not long enough to use a glider-winch, the survival of the glider-sections of the clubs KFC and GAC is in danger. After EBKT and EBAM these two clubs have nowhere to go. Members of both clubs have decided to fight for it and for this reason they need your assistance to make hear their voice and break this vicious circle which threatens us all. Pleas help us to gather a maximum of signatures in favour of gliding in Amougies.  If you want to support this action please contact:  Guido Sergeant  -  Mussestraat 18a  -  9680 Etikhove

18/11 - Fog disrupted flights in and out of Charleroi Gosselies airport

Flights to and from Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) were severely disrupted on November 18th and 19th as fog covered Belgium. Several flights were diverted to Liège-Bierset and Lille (France) airports. Sources: Het Nieuwsblad  &  Le Soir  

18/11 - Belgian Captain Xavier Lesceu first non test pilot to fly the Airbus Industries new giant A380

With three prototypes now flying, the new giant Airbus A380 started a series of commercially inspired public appearances all over the world. The third prototype (c/n 001 - 004 and 002 had already preceded it in the air) which made its maiden flight on 10 November 2005 was also involved in one of such presentation tours which brought it to Singapore - first customer of the A380 -, Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne in Australia, and finally Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. During this tour, Commander Xavier Lesceu, head of the A380 conversion department at Airbus had the privilege to fly 001 on the return flight from Kuala Lumpur to Toulouse, thus becoming the first non test-pilot to fly the plane. Duration of the flight: 15h02, distance Kuala Lumpur - Toulouse, 11400 km. Source and picture:  La Libre Belgique  &

18/11 - The Belgian Government has authorized the purchase of two M-frigates

On November 18th, the Belgian Government has authorized the purchase of two second-hand Dutch multipurpose M-frigates. These two ships will improve the escort capability of the Marine Component. They should be delivered in March 2007 and 2008 and would board the two NH-90 class fleet support helicopters included in the Defence investment planning programme 2006. These two helicopters should replace the three current obsolete SA.316B Alouette III of the Koksijde based Heliflight (See also BAHA News of June 19th and July 20th, 2005). Source NL and FR

18/11 - SA.318C Alouette II A-43 of Wing Heli transferred to Zutendaal Deposit Center

After serving faithfully for over 38 years with the Light Aviation of the Belgian Army and later the Wing Heli of the Air Component, SA.318C Alouette II A-43 (c/n 1960) has been withdrawn from use and transported for long term storage to Zutendaal Distributiecentrum Hoofdmateriaal/Centre de Distribution Matériels Majeurs (DisC Attritie/CDis Attrition) on November 18th. Source: E-BAHA forum.

17/11 - Reported to its GNP and its population Belgium is the 1st European aerospace investor

Reported to its GNP and with nearly € 16.00 spent per inhabitant , Belgium is the number one of the European aerospace investors and the n°2 in the world. This year’s budget of 180 million Euros will even be increased by 12% for 2006. Thanks to a “return” principle Belgian space industry which employs 1.600 people has a 7% participation in the Ariane-5 rocket which is the main European satellite launcher operated by Arianespace. Unfortunately the European Space Agency (ESA) of which Belgium was one of the founders, will revise its operations and financing, including dropping the “return” principle in order to increase competitiveness. Unfortunately this could also mean the loss for Belgium of a lot of space “know-how”. For this reason, VLD-senator Luc Willems, has filed a resolution to prevent this from happening and Minister of  Science policy, Marc Verwilghen will plead at the December 2005 ESA summit to maintain the “return” principle. Source:   Het Nieuwsblad 

17/11 - City of Lommel is studying the creation of an heliport

The city of Lommel (Limburg) is studying the creation of a heliport in the industrial area of Maatheide. Some test flights were conducted on Friday 17th under the control of the local Mayor. More info and source:  Het Laatste Nieuws

15/11 - Prematurely end of mission for the Belgian Helicopter Ddetachment assigned to EUFOR in Bosnia-Herzegovina UPDATED

The Ministry of Defence has decided the prematurely end of the mission of the Belgian Helicopter Detachment (BE Heli Det) assigned to EUFOR operation Althea in Bosnia Herzegovina. Deployed to Tuzla air base in January 2005 the BE Det Heli was to remain in Bosnia until January 15th, 2006. From unofficial sources this decision was motivated by the poor winter weather conditions in the area, hampering most of the flying missions, the technical inspection and maintenance of the deployed helicopters as well as budgetary constraints. On Tuesday November 15th, three A109BA Hirundo (H-01, H-23 and H-43) of Althea III BE Heli Det left Tuzla towards their home base of Bierset where they arrived on November 16th after a night stop in Austria. Suffering some minor technical problems, the fourth and Medevac Hirundo (or A109BA/UH(L)-AE) of the detachment, the H-04, was brought back home on November 16th by a N°15 Wing/Tactical Transport Flight (TTF) C-130H Hercules. It is also to note that the H-04 was briefly backed up during its maintenance work at Tuzla, by the temporary deployment in Bosnia of another Medevac configured ship, the H-05, between October 26th and November 3th, 2005. Source: Belga

12/11 - Oldest Belgian glider pilot Hubert Mojet has passed away

On November 12th the oldest Belgian glider pilot, M. Hubert Mojet, has passed away. M. Mojet was 88 years old. He had learned to fly before WWII during a flying camp organised at the historical gliding school from Wasserkuppe in Germany. For years he was instructor pilot at Grimbergen, Saint-Hubert and later at Temploux. More info and sources: E-BAHA forum &  Het Laatste Nieuws.

11/11 - Frans Van Humbeek and Paul Van Caesbroeck announce their new book "Cockpits en Piloten"

Well known aviation writer Frans Van Humbeek and Photographer Paul Van Caesbroeck announced the release on 17 December 2005 of their new book in Dutch language called "Cockpits en Piloten". By means of Paul's superb "art" photographs of famous aircraft cockpits Frans brings a lively aeronautical history from the pilot's point of view. Click here for more information.

11/11 - Morkhoven tracks down families of lost RAF crew

On August 24th night in 1942, Lancaster R5610 of 83 Squadron came down over the village of Morkhoven (Province of Antwerpen). Four crewmembers were killed (Sgt Peter Squires, Sgt Harold Quintrell; Sgt Edward Norman and flight-lieutenant Robert Buchan) while two crew members were captured and pilot, flight-lieutenant Oliver Matheson, managed to escape, with the help of a local resistance man. As the years pass, fewer are alive who remember the events of the fateful night and it was decided to create a record of the courageous tale so it could be kept alive. Locals also decided to hold on November 11th a special service to mark the crew's sacrifice and spent over 18 months searching for relatives of the men in Britain. Several relatives of the death crews attended the event. More info and Sources: Yorkshire Post  &  Het Nieuwsblad.

11/11 - A reported drunk passenger tried to open the door of a flying SN Brussels Airlines airliner

On November 11th, a 29 years old and reported drunk passenger tried to open the door of a SN Brussels Airlines (SNBA) plane while in-flight from Istanbul to Brussels. Two police officers, who happened to be on board, managed to stop the man. During interrogation, he claimed suffering psychiatric problems and not remembers what he had done. Source :  RTLNieuws

08/11 - Emergency Response Plan exercise at Kleine Brogel

On November 8th, N°10 Wing of Kleine Brogel has organized a post-crash and terrorist attack management exercise. In accordance with the new terrorist threats, the last edition of the biannual Post Crash Management (PCM) tests was transformed into an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) exercise. The scenario of the exercise was the crash of a towed F-16 immediately followed by the explosion of a car bomb near a sensitive aircraft shelter (equipped with a WS3 vaults for nuclear weapons) killing and wounding several US soldiers. The exercise involved military as local emergency services. Observed participating aircraft was a SAR Seaking helicopter (RS-02) of 40 Squadron. More info and Source: be in NL  &  FR.

05/11 - Before the end of the year 80 Squadron B-Hunter UAVs will patrol the Belgian coastal waters

Early December 2005 the Minister of Defence and his colleague of Transport, André Flahaut and Renaat Landuyt, are to assist, from Koksijde air base, a live demonstration of 80 Squadron B-Hunter UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in their new coastal waters patrol role (see also BAHA News of February 21st and August 18th). In the same time they should present the 2006 Belgian Defence UAV programme over the North Sea and elsewhere. N° 80 Squadron has just returned from Bosnia-Herzegovina where its B-Hunters were engaged successfully in Air-to-Ground Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions (see also BAHA News of February 21st and August 18th). B-Hunter pictures. Source: Le Soir

02/11 - Sabena Flight Academy fleet expansion

Sabena Flight Academy is adding four additional Piper PA-28R-201 Arrow (N201WE c/n 2837055; N9175R c/n 2837012; N9180N c/n 2837016; N9180R c/n 2837017) aircraft to its Scottsdale-based fleet. The aircraft will mainly be used for advanced IFR training and preparation for the CPL skill test. The aircraft have already arrived in Scottsdale and are undergoing final preparations before coming online. Source:  Sabena Flight Academy

01/11 - Sabena Technics will upgrade four Virgin Express Boeing 737s with blended winglets

The first operator to purchase classic series 737-300 Blended Winglets looks to enhance low cost advantage. Virgin Express, the Brussels-based low cost airline, will upgrade its first 737-300 with Blended Winglets in December at Sabena Technics. The remaining 3 Blended Winglet options will be installed at Sabena Technics during 2006. Payback, in fuel savings alone, is anticipated at about 2.5 years. Aerodynamic improvements resulting from the Blended Winglets produce greater lift with lower thrust thereby improving obstacle clearance. Utilizing less thrust allows engines to remain on the wings longer between overhauls, significantly reducing engine maintenance costs. Although Virgin Express leases its Classic Series 737s from GECAS, Blended Winglets will be purchased directly by the carrier. Sources: Luchtzak,  Aviation Partners Boeing  and Virgin Express.

October 2005

31/10 - SN Brussels Airlines starts winter season with five new destinations

SN Brussels Airlines (SNBA) offers this winter five new destinations. Toronto, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Glasgow and Aarhus (Denmark) figure for the first time in the airline winter timetable. On Monday 31st October, SNBA has launched a new non-stop service between Brussels and Toronto (Canada). On Tuesday 1st November, the very first flight between Brussels and Abu Dhabi (Emirates) has taken off. Both new routes are operated by SNBA¹s partner Etihad Airways. SNBA not only connects capitals but also major dynamic regions and important business centre like Glasgow (Scotland) and Aarhus in Jutland (Denmark). These flights are operated in cooperation with British Airways and SunAir Scandinavia. Finally, this winter season, SNBA will put its Turin service in the spotlight. The North Italian city will host the Olympic winter games in 2006. Additional flight frequencies are scheduled during the Games. Sources: SNBA press releases here and here.

30/10 - Seventy-four Air Cadets of promotion 2005 received their wings at Saffraanberg

On Sunday 30th October, at the Royal Technical School of Saffraanberg, the Major General Michel Audrit, Commanding Officer of the Belgian Air Component, has handed their Wings to 74 Officer Cadets (62 boys and 12 girls) of the promotion 2005, which the new young glider pilots will concern proudly on their uniform. This also means that they are now fully entitled as Air Cadets. The Ministry of Defence award was handed to Air Cadets Aurélie Jerôme and Clémence Bury for their dedication to the association activities, their flying skills and their outstanding group spirit. The President of the Executive Committee award for the best Officer Cadets was handed to Timo Arnaults for his general performance and spirit during his training. Also awarded, with the Belgian Air Cadets President prize, was glider instructor pilot Jos Craenen. The Belgian Air Cadets counts currently about 500 members among 200 people of the training and support staff and 300 young (Senior) Air Cadets and Officer Cadets. Every year it welcomes 75 new young people of both sexes, aged of 15 and 16 years old and allows them to follow a three of four years training of gliding.

28/10 - First complete test run for the Europrop TP400-D6 destined to power the future Airbus A400M

On Friday October 28th a successful test run of the first Europrop TP400-D6 engine destined to power the future European tactical transport military aircraft A400M took place at MTU¹s Berlin-Brandenburg facility in Ludwigsfelde, Germany. A total of ten TP400-D6 engines will be used during the test programme, covering all aspects of the performance envelope. A full engine test run, complete with the propeller, is due to take place early in 2006. For improving Belgium's force projection capability, the Belgian Air Component is to replace its ageing fleet of eleven C-130H Hercules tactical transport aircraft with seven Airbus Military A400M from 2014-2015 onwards. Source:

28/10 - While taking off from Florennes a USAFE F-15C participating at the TLP suffered a minor mishap

While departing Florennes air base on October 28th, a Nato Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP 2005-5) participating USAFE F-15C (86-0165) of 48th FW/493rd FS from RAF Lakenheath (UK) suffered an underwing fuel tank crack when pulling up hard at the end of the runway. A fuel trail was immediately visible behind the airplane. The pilot resumed his full afterburner climb followed by a roll. After some 20 minutes of fuel dumping it landed back safely at Florennes. The airplane stopped at the end of the runway, the pilot stopped both engines and jumped out the plane. After a check by the base fire fighting service its aircraft was towed back to the TLP platform. Source and pictures  01 - 02 - 03: Luc Dujardin

28/10 - VLM Airlines welcomes 500.000th passenger this year

On October 28th VLM Airlines welcomed its 500.000th passenger this year on a flight from London City to Luxembourg. In December of last year the 500.000th passenger marked a record for VLM Airlines, as it was the first time the airline reached half a million passenger in a year. Today, two months earlier than last year, VLM Airlines has again reached this mark, indicating another steady growth in passenger numbers across the airline's network. In 2004, VLM Airlines transported a total of 554.000 scheduled passengers. On Tuesday, 1st November, VLM Airlines will be adding on another destination out of London City, offering day-return flights to the Isle of Man. Source: VLM 

28/10 - Cdt. John Vandenbosch F-16 demo-pilot's farewell at KB   

On Friday October 29th, Belgian Air Component F-16AM demo pilot John Vandebosch performed for the last time his presentation in front of his colleagues and friends at Kleine Brogel airbase. Cdt. Vandenbosch was the official Belgian demonstration pilot for the F-16AM for the last three airshow seasons. He will be succeeded for the 2006 airshow season by Cdt. Michael “Mickey” Artiges from Florennes based N° 350 Squadron. You can find more info and pictures of Cdt. Vandenbosch last performance in this BAHA Special Feature.

27/10 - Swiss Air Force is considering to send its young fighter pilots to the French-Belgian Advanced Jet Training School (AJeTS)

In the framework of the French Minister of Defence, Mrs Michèle Alliot-Marie, visit to Switzerland, the Swiss Air Force has expressed its interest to send its young pilots to the French-Belgian Advanced Jet Training School (AJeTS) at Cazaux. By the end of the year, Cazaux isexpecting the arrival of two German students and one from Spain. With other countries joining the ranks, it lappears the AJeTS is becoming the prototype of a truly European fighter pilot school. Source:

24/10 - End of mission for the 80 Squadron UAV detachment assigned to EUFOR operation Althea in Bosnia Herzegovina

The 80 Squadron UAV detachment assigned by Belgium to EUFOR operation Althea at Tuzla in Bosnia-Herzegovina since early July (see also Baha News of June 22nd, July 7th, 9th, August 18th, 24th, October 4th) came back home at Elsenborn air base on Friday October 28th. The 80 Sqn six IAI/Eagle B-Hunter UAVs (v/c n° 271, 273, 276, 277, 281, 282) and 53 support personnel were mainly engaged in Air-to-Ground Surveillance and Reconnaissance (AGSR) aimed to detect and disrupt organized crime and illegal activities all over Bosnia Herzegovina. During this first ever operational deployment the new Belgian UAVs logged over 400 flying hours. Link for a picture of an operational UAV at Tuzla airbase.  Sources: on in FR and in NL

24/10 - N°10 Wing took over N°2 Wing Eastern Eagle F-16 detachment at Kabul (Afghanistan)

On October 24th a N°10 Wing detachment of Kleine Brogel took over from the N°2 Wing of Florennes at Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan. This N°10 Wing detachment is composed of about 65 people supporting four F-16AMs (FA-98, FA-116, FA-121 & FA-125) and should remain in Afghanistan until early 2006 in the framework of operation Eastern Eagle/ISAF VIII (see also BAHA News of July 7th & 12th and October 5th). Their main task is to provide Close Air Support (CAS) for the Provincial Reconstruction Teams present in the Western part of Afghanistan. See also BAHA special feature about operation Eastern Eagle:

24/10 - Officer's Cross of the Order of the Crown conferred, posthumously, upon Cdt. Fabrice Massaux

The October 24th issue of the Belgian Monitor, has announced that the Officer's Cross of the Order of the Crown is conferred, posthumously, upon Capitaine-Commandant Fabrice Massaux with effect on September 16th. Cdt. Fabrice Massaux is the pilot of n° 1 Squadron who was killed in the crash of his F-16AM (reported as FA-112) in the Waddenzee (The Netherlands) on September 9th, 2005 (see also BAHA News of September 9th). Link to a picture of the unfortunate pilot taken last July at Florennes airbase. The Ministry of Defence has already announced that Cdt Massaux will also be promoted posthumously to the rank of Major.

23/10 - SN Brussels Airlines pilots to get aero reference via datalink.

SN Brussels Airlines (SNBA) has modified 38 of its aircraft to enable the receipt of worldwide aeronautical reference information via D-OTIS (digital operational terminal information service) datalink. D-OTIS was created in cooperation by Eurocontrol, Belgium's Belgocontrol and SITA INC. With this system SNBAs' pilots are able to request and receive information for their flights from the cockpit, using information stored in the European Aeronautical Information Services Database or EAD. D-OTIS is part of Eurocontrol's CASCADE program, which is coordinating the implementation of a second generation of CPDLC (controller/pilot datalink communications). Source: Flt Tech Online

23/10 - Tiger Meet Of The America's

Dirk Geerts who regularly contributes to the BAHA website is touring in the United States for the moment and has forwarded us some very interesting U.S Air Force “Tiger” aircraft pics taken during the recent Tiger Meet of the Americas (TMOTA). Not directly linked to our subject "Belgian Aviation" we however think you might be interested to see some of his photographs here and here. Enjoy.

22/10 Three MiG's and one TF-104G at the Belgian Military Radio & Communications Museum at Lanaken. UPDATED

From one of our Dutch correspondents we've learned that no less than three MiGs and one former German TF-104G Starfighter are preserved in the private Belgian Military Radio and Communications Museum of Lanaken-Zutendaal (Besmer). Property of Dhr. Driessen this rather unusual collection of various radio and communication systems, military vehicles as well as aircraft is not yet open to the general public. Lanaken-Zutendaal, "Belgisch Militair Radio en Communicatie Museum", Grensweg, Besmer.
 TF-104G    28+22 c/n 5952        Ex Luftwaffe & Marineflieger 28+22

 MiG-23UB  2059   c/n A1038221 Ex East German AF 107

 MiG-21MF  9312   c/n 969312     Ex Hungarian AF 9312

 MiG-21MF  9513   c/n 969513     Ex Hungarian AF 9513             Source: Pieter Plomp/Soesterberg

Click here for an aerial picture of the aircraft by Tom Brinckman of

22/10 - NATO requested the Belgian Government to demolish the two original terminal-buildings oof Haren dating from 1924 and 1929.

NATO requested the Belgian Government to demolish the two terminal-buildings or “aerogares” of Haren, dating from 1924 and 1929.  The Brussels Government recently refused to list these buildings as part of our national aviation heritage.  Of course there is a lot of political pressure from the NATO-headquarters and the federal government but ­unfortunately we might lose a very important part of our civil aviation heritage.  At Lelystad (The Netherlands) a replica of the first terminal of Schiphol has been specially constructed, here in Belgium we will demolish our first TWO original airport terminals of Haren. Already at Oostende a contemporary terminal building has been silently demolished and now this again. It¹s a shame!  Additional information can be found in the Dutch and French speaking Belgian newspaper and E-BAHA the official BAHA forum.  

21/10 - Passenger traffic increase at Brussels' Zaventem Airport in September 2005

Passenger traffic at the Brussels' Zaventem airport increased by 3.9% (compared to one year earlier) to 1.6 million passengers in September 2005. The increase is 11.8% for passengers on scheduled flights to/from outside the European Union and 2% for passengers on scheduled flights to/from EU destinations. Charter flights carried 2.9% more persons thanks mainly to new destinations outside of the EU.  The number of movements (23,035 take-offs and landings) increased by 3.2% in September, but remained stable for the 12 last months. (Source: Luchtzak

21/10 - Two more Boeing 737's for TNT Airways

Liège based TNT Airways will lease two more B737-300SF freighters (Baha-picture). The group owns a fleet of 21 BAe146, 6 Airbus A300-B4F, 5 B737-300F and is planning to increase its fleet by the end of 2005. (Source: Luchtzak) - TNT fleet composition here

19/10 - Ryanair and Virgin Express face legal action in Belgium over pricing policy

The minister for consumer protection, Freya Van den Bossche, has decided to start legal action against Ryanair and Virgin Express on the basis of a lack of transparency regarding pricing policy. The Minister said that both companies ask more for a ticket than the advertised ticket price. "Sometimes you need to pay 200 euro extra because you pay with a credit card or because you take luggage" she continued. Ryanair and Virgin Express said they believe they show sufficient transparency in their tariff policy although both companies did already pay a penalty for this reason. (Source: Forbes)   

19/10 - Sollution for ground-noise at Melsbroek military airbase.

Steenokkerzeel, the village situated the nearest to Zaventem airport (700 m) and who's inhabitants are far less complaining about aircraft noise than those living up to 20 or 30 km away will have one less worry. The testing of mainly C-130 turboprop engines is to be relocated more centrally on the airport giving far less noise disturbance. This was made possible thanks to an agreement between BIAC (the airport management company) and the Ministry of Defence. (Source Het Nieuwsblad)

18/10 - Airbus of Portuguese president arrives over Brussels escorted by two F-16's

The arrival at Brussels of the Portuguese president Jorge Sampaio on state visit to Belgium raised some concern amongst people living nearby Zaventem airport. As is custom with official state visits, the president's Airbus A310-304 CS-TGU of SATA International (picture) was escorted on its arrival by two Air Component F-16 fighters. The runway in use at that moment was 02 bringing (a decision  taken by Belgocontrol) the three aircraft and their relative high noise levels over some densely populated Brussels communes at the exact moment that a lot of discussions are going on about lowering the noise levels around Brussels airport.

17/10 - Belgian pilots participate at the Weapon Instructor Meeting at Ørland (Norway)

Four Belgian F-16AM (FA83, FA84, FA86and FA91) with their pilots as well as their colleagues of the Dutch and Norwegian Air Forces are participating at the three week long "Weapon Instructor Meeting" held at Ørland, Norway. This course will prepare the participating pilots for the Fighter Weapons Training (FWIT) which is to be organised at Leeuwarden airbase in The Netherlands in May 2006. The FWIT is an annual international exercise organised at Leeuwarden lasting 6 moths which and aims at training experienced pilots as weapon instructors. The graduated weapon instructors are experts in the systems and armament of the Mid-life Update F-16 and the tactics linked to them. They pass on their expertise to younger les experienced pilots.  (Source KLu, follow this link)  

17 > 21/10 - A rare RAF "Open Skies" BAe (HS) Andover PR.1 on mission at Melsbroek airbase.

The very rare camera equipped British Aerospace (Née Hawker Siddeley) HS780 Andover PR.1 (XS596) arrived on Monday 17 October at Melsbroek airbase near Brussels in the framework of the "Open Skies" treaty. A number of missions will be flown over the Benelux countries over the week. Click here and here for some pictures of the Andover upon its arrival at Melsbroek.

16/10 - Fatal crash of a paramotor near the Waterloo Lion's Mound

Fatal crash of a paramotor at Braine-l'Alleud, near the Waterloo Lion's Mound, on Sunday October 16th at 19h30 local. The cause of the crash is under investigation. Source: Het Nieuwsblad

14/10 - New Wallonie Aerotraining Network (WAN) building inaugurated at Gosselies

On October 14th, the Walloon Minister of Professional Training, Mrs Marie Arena, has inaugurated the Wallonie Aerotraining Network (WAN) ( new building in the Gosselies Aeropole. The WAN aeronautical skill center was established in April 1999 to meet the needs of qualified manpower for airports, airlines and aerospace companies. Source in Le Soir.

14/10 - Belgium supports participation of its aerospace industry in the new Airbus A350 programme

After the formal European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS - which owns 80 percent of Airbus) go-ahead to the new passenger long-range Airbus A350 aircraft on October 6th, the Belgian government has decided to allocate € 150 million in support of the Belgian aerospace industry’s participation in the newest Airbus programme. This public support consists of refundable loans. Thanks to these loans, companies can participate simultaneously in several programmes and obtain easier additional financing. Source NL and in FR.

12>13/10 - Belgian OCU F-16B OCU in DACT exercise with Czech Air Force Grippen and L-159 fighters

In a friendly encounter 4 F-16B's of the Kleine Brogel based Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) headed for Caslav AFB in the Czech Republic on 12 October to practice Dissimilar Air Combat Tactics (DACT). On both 12 and 16 October missions were flown against the brand new Czech Air Force Saab J39C Grippen and the more familiar Aero L159 ALCA. The Belgian F-16's were manned by an instructor pilot and a trainee -pilot each and the DACT missions flown are part of the regular OCU training syllabus. Click here and here for some are to air pictures taken by the OCU’s CO Major Peter "Patja" Stams.

11/10 - A new Chief Executive Officer for the Brussels International Airport Company (BIAC)

Belgian economic newspaper De Tijd has revealed that Wilfried Van Assche would become the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Brussels International Airport Company (BIAC) in a few weeks, succeeding to former minister Luc Van den Bossche who would become Chairman of the Board. Source:

10 > 21/10 - Belgian F-16AM on training at Vidsel airbase in Northern Sweden

Eight Belgian F-16AM fighters deployed to the Vidsel Missile Test Range in Northern Sweden for a "Block Training" which concentrates on night flying. Not an easy task in extremely cold temperatures and in a pitch dark Nordic environment.  Pilots are drawn from 31 Squadron of the 10th Wing and 350 Squadron of the 2nd Wing while all technicians come from Kleine Brogel. The Vidsel Missile Test Range is the largest training area in Western Europe (1.650 km²) and consists mainly of uninhabited forest land… almost an invitation to do some low level training. (Source: “Bij ons in Kee Bee” 10/05)

10/10 - Spacebel to conceive & develop the on-road software for the new European probe LISA Pathfinder

Following the success of the first European probe SMART-1 (Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology), the European Space Agency (ESA) is preparing number 2 of the series of small satellites planned in order to test new space technologies destined for future scientific missions to distant planets of the Universe. SPACEBEL, the Liège based European leader in the field of Space I.T., is to conceive and develop the on-board software for this new European probe named « LISA Pathfinder». To be launched in 2009, the small space vehicle will have to experiment innovative equipment and technologies, which will be implemented in the framework of the LISA mission. LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna) aims at improving our knowledge of the Universe. More & source:

10 > 14/10 - Air - and Land Components will conduct low level flying exercise Poppy 06 over the Ardennes

Air and Land Components have conducted low level flying exercise over the Province of Namur and Luxembourg under code name "Poppy 06" between 10 and 14th October. The purpose of Poppys type exercise is to train Air Component's F-16 pilots and Land Component's Forward Air Controllers (FAC) in working together. Poppy 06 is the sixth FAC training exercise of the year. A total of twelve such exercises are programmed in 2005. All the Poppy 06 targets and Low level flying areas (LLFA) were located around Beauraing (Zone West) and Rochefort (Zone East). Source FR  and NL. Baha-Link:

07/10 - The Sabena archives are presented at the Fotomuseum of Antwerpen

Until January 8th, 2006, the Fotomuseum of Antwerpen is presenting several posters, photographs and other material forming the Sabena archives in an exhibition entitled Sabena Air Nostalgie. This expo presents a rather interesting look on the 78 years of existence of the bankrupted national airline. More info:  Fotormuseum, Waalse Kaai 47, B-2000 Antwerpen, +32-3-2429300.

07/10 - First Belgian Day at Tours (F.) airbase.

On October 7th, the Belgian detachment of the French-Belgian Advanced Jet Training School (AJeTS) at Tours airbase celebrated its first year of existence by organizing a "Belgian Day". That day, the Tours' Belgian military community presented their hosts a selection of Belgian specialities in a friendly atmosphere. Since last year France and Belgium team up to train their fighter pilots. In the framework of this agreement the future Belgian fighter pilots perform the phase III of their flying training or Advanced Flying Training (AFT) in common with their French counterparts at the command of the French Alpha Jet E at the École de l'Aviation de Chasse 314 of Tours-St-Symphorien.

           Current Air Component Fighter Pilot training:

·         Phase I: Air Academics

·         Phase II : Primary & Basic Flying Training - 5 Sqn with SF.260 Marchetti at Beauvechain airbase

·         Phase III : Advanced Flying Training (AFT) - French-Belgian AJeTS of Tours in France with Alpha Jet E

·         Phase IV: Initial Operational Training (IOT) - French-Belgian AJeTS of Cazaux in France with Alpha Jet 1B+

·         Phase V: OCU F-16 at Kleine-Brogel air base

Source in NL and in FR

06/10 - A New commercial director for Virgin Express

Virgin Express, the Brussels based low cost airline, announces that Mrs Ursula Silling will be joining Virgin Express on 17th October as Commercial Director. She brings with her more than fifteen years in the aviation and tourism industry, the majority of which had been at senior management and executive level in both traditional and low fare airlines. Until recently Mrs Ursula Silling was Commercial Director at Hapag Lloyd Express. Before that she was Director Account Management for Lufthansa Systems and has also worked as Commercial Director for Deutsche BA. Source: Virgin Express

06/10 - The dismantling process of 31 old Belgian F-16A/B at Rocourt has entered in its final phase

The dismantling process of 31 old Belgian F-16A/B Fighting Falcon (FA-02, FA-09, FA-10, FA-16, FA-17, FA-18, FA-19, FA-20, FA-21, FA-23, FA-26, FA-27, FA-28, FA-30, FA-31,  FA-32, FA-34, FA-36, FA-37, FA-40, FA-43, FA-45, FA-46, FA-47, FA-48, FA-49, FA-50, FA-51, FA-53, FA-55 & FB-07) at the Arsenal of Rocourt is reported nearing completion (see Baha News of November 22nd and December 22nd, 2004 as well as January 13th and March 20th, 2005). See also Baha special feature "Rocourt: where Falcons go to die"   Source in FR and in NL.    

05/10 - The seasonal captive balloon of Brussels is looking for a new sponsor

After a rather disappointing commercial season - due to last summer bad weather - the Aerobrussels (link captive balloon (see BAHA News of April 2nd, 2005) is looking for a new sponsor. The commercial contract with its current supporting company, Belgacom Group (the leading telecommunications company in Belgium), expires in March 2006. Furthermore Aerobrussels would like to find a better location (closer to the city centre) for its attraction. Some contact sound to have been established for a possible European Union support in the framework of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Rome Treaty (1957). Source:

05/10 - Belgian Duo win the 2005 Gordon Bennett Gas Balloon race

Belgian balloonists Bob Berben and Benoit Simeons have won the world's most prestigious gas balloon race, the Gordon Bennett 2005, with a flight of 3400 km, starting at Albuquerque Fiesta Park (New Mexico-USA) and finished about 200 km north-east of Quebec (Canada). Using a balloon borrowed from Albuquerque balloonist Troy Bradley, they have broken two records in the process, including the Gordon Bennett distance record that has stood since 1912. Berben and Simeons also set a record for distance in a balloon in their size class. They were guided by the Belgian meteorologist Luc Trullemans (IRM/KMI). This victory also means that the Gordon Bennett 2006 will be held in Belgium.

05/10 - Belgian F-16s deployed to Kabul (Afghanistan) performed their first life ground support missions

On Wednesday, October 5th, the Air Component F-16AMs deployed to Kabul (Afghanistan) in the framework of the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) operation Eastern Eagle (see BAHA News of July 6th and 12th) performed their first life close air support missions near Bagram. At the request of the Dutch ground troops, the Belgian F-16s were engaged to protect field reparation work on an unserviceable ISAF vehicle.
Source in NL and in FR. See also the BAHA special feature on operation Eastern Eagle.

04/10 - Walloon Minister of Territorial Development cancelled the Bierset runway lengthening permit.

Following a negative advice of the State Council, the Walloon Minister of Territorial Development, M. André Antoine, has cancelled the permit authorising the Bierset airport main runway lengthening. A new building permit procedure will be reinitiated taking in account the Flemish authorities requests. According to SAB, the Bierset airport operator, the lengthening works will be probably delayed for a period estimated between four and six months. Source:

04/10 - The N°80 UAV Squadron Eagle B-Hunters logged 300 flying hours over Bosnia-Herzegovina

Since their arrival at Tuzla Eagle base late June (see Baha News of June 22nd, July 5th and 9th, 2005) the six N°80 Squadron B-Hunter UAVs (v/c n° 271, 273, 276, 277, 281, 282) has logged over 300 flying hours all over Bosnia-Herzegovina. Deployed in the framework of the Eufor operation Althea, the Belgian UAVs are mainly engaged in operations aimed to detect and disrupt organized crime and illegal activities. This first ever operational deployment of the new Belgian UAVs is programmed until late this month. Source in FR and in  NL. Link for a picture of an operational UAV at Tuzla airbase

03/10 - Russian President Putin visit to Brussels involves no less than three Il-62 and one Il-76MD

On October 3rd Russian President Vladimir Putin paid a brief official visit to Belgium on his way to a European Union-Russian summit in London. On this occasion he met the highest Belgian authorities and attended the opening of Europalia-Russia cultural festival in Brussels. This short but unusual visit of this large and high level Russian delegation brought to Brussels Zaventem airport no less than three VIP Ilyushin Il-62 "Classic" RA-86467, RA-86559 & RA-86561 of the Russian Federation Presidential fleet as well as one Cargo Il-76MD "Candid" RA-78830. Link for pictures:

03/10 - Brasschaat Army Aviation School gate guardian Auster AOP.6 "A-16" moved to Bierset airbase.

On October 3rd, the Brasschaat Army Aviation School gate guardian Auster AOP.6 "A-16" (in fact the former A-15 completed with parts of A-22) moved to Bierset air base were it has joined the aircraft collection of the future Belgian Light Army Aviation museum. Click here for a picture of the Auster "A-16".

02/10 - Successful Open Factory Day at Propeller bvba at Wevelgem

Propeller BVBA, the Wevelgem based Flight Training company specialized in instructor¹s training, air publicity and incentives also participated the national Open Factory Day. Most of the company's aircraft were successfully displayed on the ground as well as in the air. A 40 Squadron SAR Seaking helicopter of Koksijde also performed two fly by for the great pleasure of this small event visitors. Noted that day on the static display and in the Propeller bvba hangar: D-EXKV Extra EA.300L; OO-BOM MS.893E Rallye 180GT; OO-CJD Robin HR.200/120B; OO-FLZ Socata Rallye 180T Galérien; OO-FWA Robin R.3000-160; OO-JMB PA-32R-300; OO-NUE Pitts S.2A Special; OO-OUI MS.893A Rallye 180GT; OO-PRN Reims-Cessna FA.150K Aerobat; RS-02 Westland Seaking Mk.48 - 40 Sqn (2X fly-by). Sources: Het Nieuwsblad and Luchtzak

02/10 - Open Factory Day at SN Brussels Airlines attracted some 8000 visitors

On Sunday, September 2nd, about 8000 people took the opportunity of the national Open Factory Day to visit SN Brussels Airlines (SNBA) workshops and Maintenance hangar at Zaventem/Brussels Airport. Read more on this unique event in the special feature of Dirk A. Geerts here.

News section by Daniel Brackx & Vincent Pirard

NEWS Archive

Last updated 16/11/08 12:07   Daniel Brackx