NEWS 2007/1

 

NEWS Archive

 

March 2007

30/03 - Belgian Air Component completes second successful participation in Operation Baltic Air Policing

In a ceremony organised at the Lithuanian airbase of Siauliai the Belgian detachment participating in Operation Baltic Air Policing transferred its tasks to a detachment of the French Armée de l'Air's Escadrille de Chasse 01.012 "Cambrésis", based at Cambrai (Northern France). For the Belgians who in 2004 were the first to take on a 4 month guarding tour in the Baltic it was the second successful mission, the French delegation is at Siauliai for the first time with 4 Mirage 2000C fighters. The fact that the Baltic states consider these types of missions as extremely important was underlined by the fact that Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus assisted at the ceremony. More on this ceremony and today's Lithuanian Air Force in a BAHA Special Feature. Pictures: 1/  Belgian F-16AM FA-115 and Armée de l'Air Mirage 2000C 117/12-KQ during hand-over   2/   Lithuanian President Valdas Adamkus receives information about the F-16AM FA-94 cockpit by the Belgian DetCO.

30/03 - Sabca almost doubles profits over 2006.

The Belgian company S.A.B.C.A. specialised in Aerospace Design, Manufacturing and Customer Support has booked a net profit of 6.57 million Euro, almost double the 2005 result (3.75 m €). Due to the flexibility of the company "dangerous situations" such as the problems with the A380 production have been compensated by higher production rates on other programme's such as the Falcon business jets and the Airbus A330. The defence branch of the company also was successful thanks to modernising projects for foreign customers. In the space business it was the Ariane 5 launcher which was responsible for an increase in the planned production rhythm. Sources: De Standaard and l'Echo.

29/03 - Refurbishment plan of the Brussels Army Museum Aeronautical Department is not yet established

The aviation hall of the Aeronautical Department of the Royal Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History ( KLM/MRA link) at Brussels is definitely in need of a thorough refurbishment. Paint is peeling off everywhere, birds enter the building through broken windows and the enormous variations in temperature chase away even our most enthusiastic visitors. The Aviation Hall looks like a large hangar rather than like a modern museum. The authorities have now decided to grant absolute priority to the restoration project. A constructive dialogue has already been established between the Régie des Bâtiments/Regie der Gebouwen (owner) and the KML/MRA and preparatory study is in full swing. Definite plans, concrete projects or precise dates have, however, not yet been established. It is not clear when and to what extent the Hall will have to close down. The KLM/MRA management hopes to take the first concrete steps towards restoration in the summer of 2008. Source: Royal Army Museum.

29/03 - New Belgian Navy frigate with on-deck helicopter landing pad named F930 "Leopold I"

On March 29th, Queen Fabiola named F930 "Leopold I" the Belgian Navy's newest addition, a reconditioned ex-Dutch Navy type M frigate (F-827 "Karel Doorman "), at a ceremony at Zeebrugge Naval Base. The Leopold I is one of two ships the Belgian Navy has bought from the Dutch on December 22nd, 2005 (see also BAHA News of July 7th, 2006 and December 22nd, 2005). The ship, which is nearly twenty years old, has been refitted and will enter into active service later this year. One big difference between the Leopold I and the Belgian Navy's E-71 frigates, such as the Wielingen and the Westdiep, is the ship's on-deck helicopter landing pad. This means that the Leopold I will be able to embark a helicopter when it goes out on operations. The dedicated 40 Squadron flight operates three vintage SA.316C Alouette III and should receive in the future - the still to order... - two brand new NH-90 in its NFH version. Sources: VRT-Flandersnews, Mil.be NL & FR

28/03 - Brussels Airport improves service to passengers with reduced mobility

As from Saturday 31 March, Brussels Airport will be the first airport in Europe to implement the new European regulation concerning the assistance of passengers with reduced mobility (PRM). From now on PRM will be helped as soon as they get to the airport (train station, bus station or car park exits) whereas before passengers could only be assisted after they had checked in. In doing so Brussels Airport is the first airport to provide this service, thus anticipating the new EU Regulation that will come into force mid-2008. Every year about 60,000 passengers with reduced mobility use the airport. To ensure that they get the assistance they require, Brussels Airport chose to work with Intergom Airport Caddy, a subsidiary of the Facilicom Services Group (FSG) that operates in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and the UK. The company will provide new employment for about 60 persons at Brussels Airport. The assistance is provided free of charge to passengers who are unable to climb stairs or walk long distances, passengers who travel in a wheelchair or on a stretcher, passengers who are visually or hearing impaired and require assistance, or passengers with an intellectual handicap. Source: Brussels Airport.

28/03 - EasyJet chooses Aviapartner for handling at Brussels Airport

The Belgian airport service company Aviapartner Group will be in charge of passenger handling at Brussels Airport for British budget airline EasyJet that is to launch a service between Brussels and Geneva starting from June 29th this year (see BAHA News of February 6th, 2007). Source: De Standaard

28/03 - First centre wing box delivered for A400M final assembly at Seville in Spain

The first centre wing box, the "structural heart" of the A400M future European military transport aircraft, has been delivered from the Airbus Nantes site in France to Seville in Spain, where it arrived on March 28th. Deliveries of major structural sections for the first A400M military transport aircraft to the final assembly line in Seville, Spain, started at the end of 2006 (see also BAHA News of March 19th-20th, 2007). This particular part of the aircraft structure is capable of absorbing forces of over 200 tonnes which can be encountered during different phases of flight. In addition, significant weight savings have been achieved through 50 per cent of the centre wing box being produced from carbon fibre composite components. The seven A400M ordered by Belgium are intended to replace from 2018 onwards the C-130H Hercules of Air Component's N°15 Transport Wing/Tactical Transport Flight (TTF or ex-20 Squadron). Source: EADS

28/03 - The Air Cadets close their gliding centre of Zoersel-Oostmalle and open a new one at Bertrix air base

On April 15th, 2007, at the end of the traditional Easter camps, the Belgian Air Cadets gliding centre of Zoersel-Oostmalle will be closed and its local Squadron (EBZR Sqn) disbanded. The NATO reserve air base of Zoersel-Oostmalle (EBZR - link http://www.scramble.nl/airports/publish/ebzr.htm), is mainly used for recreational purposes and houses an Air Cadet centre/unit since May 1961. Anyway the Belgian Air Cadets will activate a new gliding centre and a new squadron (EBBX Sqn) at another Belgian NATO reserve air base the one of Bertrix on April 21st, 2007 (see also BAHA News of December 12th, 2006).

27/03 - Post Crash Management exercise at Bierset air base

On March 27th, the Wing Heli of Bierset organised a Post Crash Management (PCM) exercise. The scenario of the day was the crash of an A-109BA Hirundo helicopter during a maiden-flight with six on board during the Belgian Helidays. Such exercises are organised on a regular basis as to evaluate and assess the PCM-plan in order to further improve the co-ordination, co-operation and communication between the services involved. A realistic training that involved the Hirundo H-24 and most of the services of the base. Source, details and pictures:  http://www.sbap.be/news/pcm/07_1/pcm07_1.htm and http://www.sbap.be/news/pcm/07_1/photo.htm

26/03 - Operation BENHELI: Belgian A.109BA Hirundo in Benin no longer flying

The two Wing Heli A.109BA Hirundo helicopters (H-20 and H-45) that were being deployed on November last (see BAHA News of November 17th, 2006) in Benin - officially to practice flying training in tropical weather conditions -, will kept on the ground until further notice. This was announced by Belgian Defence Minister André Flahaut. The two helicopters had in fact been put at the disposal of the country's president, Thomas Yayi Boni, together with 17 members of the Belgian Air Component as it was in Mr Flahaut's intention to sell four of helicopters of the type to Benin. Recently, the two helicopters were only being used to transport the president on the eve of the elections in Benin (see BAHA News of February 28th, 2006). This way, President Boni was given the opportunity to travel to different places across the country to support local candidates. Opposition members in the country were starting to ask questions about where the Belgian support for the president was coming from. Both the helicopter crew and technicians were pressurised into continuing the flights even when the helicopters showed technical problems. The Belgian crew compiled a complaint report which was next handed to Mr Flahaut. Sources: VRT Flandersnews, De Gentenaar and  Mil. Be FR & NL.

26-30/03 - Air & Land Components to conduct low level flying exercise Poppy 03/2007 over Ardennes

Air and Land Components will conduct low level flying exercise over the Province of Luxembourg under code name Poppy 03 /2007 between March 26th & 30th. 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 03/2007 targets and Low Level Flying Areas (LLFA) will be located in the Remagne zone (Lavacherie - Flamierge -Bras and Blanchipont). Air operations will be lead during day-hours and depending weather conditions. Sources: Mil.be FR & NL  and the Baha Special: - Low flying exercise "Poppy Red"-  by Jos Schoofs

26/03 -06/04 - Operation Southern Gladiator: 350 Squadron deploys for training at Istres (France)

On March 26th, half a dozen of F-16s (FA-57, FA-71, FA-83, FA-84, FA-117 & FB-17 - pictures: http://www.foxalpha.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=12520) and 80 personnel of 350 Squadron left their home base of Florennes towards French Armée de l'Air BA125 of Istres (near Marseille in France) for a two weeks training period under name Operation Southern Gladiator. During this deployment - the second of the type at Istres - they will participate Composite Air Operation (COMAO) with Mirage 2000C and N of EC 2/12 "Picardie" and EC 3/4 "Limousin" as well as with the brand new French fighter Rafale. Night and day flights are on the programme of the 350 Sqn pilots with use of the newly delivered Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS – link to Boeing Co). Source: Belga

25/03 - Wevelgem Airport is 90 years old!

Also known as International Airport Kortrijk-Wevelgem (EBKT), this domestic airport was first established at Kortrijk-Bissegem by the German occupation forces in 1916. Between 1924 and 1940, the airfield became the home base of the Belgian Aéronautique Militaire Flying School. During WWII it was once again a German air base and later an allied airfield. After WWII it housed between 1946 and 1970 some Belgian Air Force support units. Since 1973 the airport is full property of the local authorities. On March 25th the Airport authorities celebrated the 90th anniversary of its establishment. A commemorative plate was unveiled in presence of the Commander of the Air Component General Gérard Van Caelenberghe (Picture). A small static display including some Belgian military aircraft was also organised. Were observed on that day: A-68 SA.318C Alouette II of Wing Heli, F-GPCJ Fouga CM170 Magister, F-PXDT Rotorway Executive 162F, G-15 MD520N Federal Police, LX-VAZ Cessna 550 Citation II, M-3 SA.316C Alouette III/40 Sqn, N129EW Piper PA-28R-200 (crash landing!), OO-AWC Cessna F152, OO-D98 ATEC Zephyr 2000C, OO-FBI Robin DR400/120, OO-GTS Robin DR 400, OO-ISE Cessna T303, OO-JDA Robinson R-22B, OO-LVT Mooney M20J, OO-PAJ Schweizer 269C, OO-RBBRobison R.44, OO-RDN Bell 206B JetRanger II, OO-TMT Piper PA28-161Warrior, OO-TUJ Cessna 177RG, OO-VCU Piper PA-28-161 Warrior, OO-WAN Grumman AA5 Traveller, RS-02 Westland Seaking Mk.48 / 40 Squadron, ST-17 SF.260M Marchetti / N°1 Wing (Overview picture). Sources:Airshows.be & Westwings.

25/03 - Inaugural flight for Brussels Airlines.

On Sunday March 25th 2007 Boeing 737-4YO OO-VBR of Brussels Airlines arrived at Brussels Airport at 13h40L after completing the first official flight of the new Belgian airline. Flight SN3814 coming from Lisbon, Portugal flown by Capt. Duvivier and co-pilot De Muylder together with 4 other crewmembers and 151 passengers were welcomed in style at Zaventem, courtesy of the airport's fire brigade. Picture by Dirk A. Geerts.and more here.. This event completed the merger process of SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express or nearly... several aircraft of the company still wearing the SN Brussels Airlines livery (like Avro RJ85 OO-DJP (ASA website) or Airbus A330  OO-SFN were quickly taped with stickers at the color - Fourteen balls B-logo - of the new company. Furthermore this celebration day was soured somewhat by staff taking industrial action. Stewards, stewardesses and other personnel refused to wear their new Brussels Airlines uniforms in protest at changes made to their pay and conditions. Negotiations between management and the trade unions entered an impasse, after Brussels Airlines' bosses insisted on the introduction of shorter turn-around times between flights. SN Brussels Airlines allowed 40 minutes to get the plane ready for the next flight, while Brussels Airlines expects its staff to get their plane ready in just half an hour. The unions say that this simply isn't long enough and want management to reconsider. Sources: La Libre, De Standaard and VRT Flandersnews.

25/03 - Annual open day at the Saffraanberg's Royal Technical School

In the framework of the annual Open Schools Days, the Royal Technical School at Saffraanberg opened its doors to  public on March 25th. The main aim of these open days is to familiarize young people with the different teaching institutes of the Ministry of Defence.  But in the case of Saffraanberg the event also offer the aircraft freaks an opportunity to review the School aircraft instructional airframes. The following aircraft noted this year:

Instructional Airframes
A-27 SE.313B Alouette II
A-72 (marked as 'A53') SA.318C Alouette II  
BA-17 Mirage VBA
FA-03 F-16A Fighting Falcon
FB-03 F-16B Fighting Falcon
FX39 F-104G Starfighter
FX53 F-104G Starfighter
H-14 A.109BA Hirundo
MT-03 (dismantled) CM170R Fouga Magister
ST-09 SF.260M Marchetti
Gate guardian
FX-53 F-104G Starfighter
Display
274 IAI B-Hunter UAV

Sources: LH and  BAHA Forum  Pictures at www.airshows.be :

24/03 - A few helicopters show up on the beach of Knokke for the 'Nacht van Exclusief'

As every year, the commercial event called the "Night of Exclusive", attracted some helicopters on the Knokke-Heist beach on March 24th. Star of the show was 40 Squadron Seaking helicopter RS-02. Were recorded: N443DC R-44 Astro ; OO-HPP EC.120B Colibri; OO-MTM R-44 Raven II; OO-RBB R-44 Raven I; OO-WER EC.120B Colibri; PH-CHC R-44 Raven II; RS-02 Westland Seaking Mk.48. Source:Westwings and pictures on Westwings.

24/03 - Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium is looking to move flights from Brussels to Charleroi airport

Rather unhappy with the Brussels Airport new charge policy and service offer Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium (TCA) has announced it might transfer part of its flights from Brussels Airport to Brussels-South Charleroi Airport where a brand new terminal is under construction. Three airlines have already expressed interest in the site of the old building. TCA is reported being one of them. TCA currently flies from Liège, Oostende and Brussels. The airline represents 6% of the of Brussels Airport passengers. Source: De Gentenaar. 

24/03 - Hijacking attempt by a psychologically disturbed passenger of a Brussels Airlines aircraft foiled

The event took place On March 24th, on a flight from Brussels to Algiers which had a stopover in Toulouse (France). A French passenger suddenly tries to get into the cockpit of the Brussels Airlines aircraft to crash it on the ground. He was quickly overpowered by two other passengers and kept under control until the plane could land. Geert Sciot, the Brussels Airlines spokesman, confirmed the story. "The report from the chief officer on board says the man was psychologically disturbed. He told police that he 'wanted to be closer to God.' He could be sentenced to a maximum of a year in prison and a 1,000-euro fine," says Sciot. The man had no chance of getting into the cockpit, the spokesperson said. Sources: Expatica, La Libre & Het Belang van Limburg.

24/03 - After two days of break Brussels Airlines resumes flights to Kinshasa

On March 24th After two days of break Brussels Airlines has decided to resume flights and sale of tickets to Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), where tension has dropped after the newly elected President Joseph Kabila governmental forces clashed with those of  its challenger Senator Jean-Pierre Bemba. Sources: Het Laatste Nieuws & Luchtvaartnieuws.

23/03 - Brussels Airport breaks through in the low-fare segment and offers 203 destinations

As from the new summer season Brussels Airport is to serve a vast network of no less than 203 direct destinations including no less than 120 low fares destinations. The fact that Brussels Airport since a few years ranks among the best airports in Europe in terms of quality (first in the ACI category Best Airport in Europe 2005, second in the ACI category Best Airport in Europe 2006, ACI "Airport People Award" for 2006 - see BAHA News of March 12th) in no way has lessened the airport's efforts to provide an attractive flight offer to its passengers. The low-fare market segment offering the best passenger growth potential the airport management has offered attractive conditions to  budget and charter airlines like Sky Europe, EasyJet, Corendon, Flybe, Thomas Cook Airlines and JetairFly. For the first time the airport has launched its own low-fare campaign. An extensive poster campaign at the airport and the Brussels Airport website refer to a new brochure in which passengers will find an overview of cheap destinations that are served directly from Brussels Airport. Source: Brussels Airport & De Gentenaar.

23-24/03 - Two 31 "Tiger" Squadron F-16s participate at the Meiringen air base Open Days in Switserland

Two F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Air Component's 31 "Tiger" Squadron (one F-16AM FA-87 (Picture at "Snow Tiger") and one F-16BM  (Picture at Swiss WIngs) participated at the Meiringen air base open days in Switzerland on March 23rd and 24th. The rather special and demanding approach procedures to this Alpine air base, located in the Berner Oberland between Brienz and Meiringen, was prepared by a visit of Swiss Hornets at Kleine Brogel on February 26th, 2007 (See BAHA News of February 26th). Meiringen air base was officially established on December 1st, 1941. Today it is used by the Swiss Air Force Fliegerstaffel 11 "Tiger" with their F/A-18 Hornets and the Fliegerstaffel 8 with their F-5 Tiger II. A report about this event can be found at: www.swiss-wingw.ch.

22/03 - Belgian Military Light Aviation Association President Commandant Maurice de Raikem has passed away

On March 22nd, retired Captain-Commander Air OP, Maurice de Raikem, President and founder of the Belgian Military Light Aviation (Lt Avn) Association, Administrator of the Maison des Ailes/Huis der vleugels and Member of the Vieilles Tiges of Belgium has passed away at the age of 82. Sources: La Maison des Ailes

21/03 - New Air Component Base CO postings in 2007
A list with new postings within the Air Component has been made public and include the following assignments: 1st Wing CO: Col Avi BEM Ir P. Laurent replacing Col Avi BEM T. de Schrevel, 10th Wing TAC CO:  Kol Vl SBH C. Van De Voorde replacing Kol Vl. SBH P. Wouiters, 15th W LuTpt CO: Kol Vl SBH Ir B. Flamang replacing Col Avi Ir J. Lippens.
20/03 - Former Air Component F-16A FA-46 touches down at Techspace Aero plants at Milmort

The airframe of the former Belgian Air Force/Air Component Lockheed F-16A Fighting Falcon FA-46 was transferred by special convoy from the Rocourt's Centre of Competence for Rolling Material and Armament to the nearby Techspace Aero plants at Milmort near Liège. Between March 19th and 22th Air Component's technical teams were busy assembling the machine in order to put the aerospace company new gate guardian in place. So thirty years after setting up in the Hauts-Sarts industrial zone at Milmort, Techspace Aero has been entrusted with the plane for which it made and assembled almost 600 engines (Pratt & Whitney engine F100), not to mention the maintenance carried out on over 5000 engine modules to this day. All this was achieved due to business built up with 14 air forces around the world. In 2004 the Fouga CM170R Magister MT-30 (picture by Jos Schoofs) was placed on the Milmort roundabout, in collaboration with Herstal¹s local authorities and the Belgian defence. Now, this other magnificent aircraft, witness to the know-how of an entire generation of workers, has been put at Techspace Aero¹s disposal. It is also funny to note that the FA-46 was officially delivered to the Belgian Air Force on March 30th 1982 so exactly 25 years ago! Sources: Jos Schoofs. &  Techspace Aero. Picture here.  

20/03 - SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express record combined €14.5 million 2006 profit

In their last year as separate companies, SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express generated a combined revenue of 892 million € and posted a combined operating profit of 14, 5 million €.  These results are considered satisfactory given the strong increase in fuel prices and the highly competitive market environment the SN Airholding stated. On Saturday 24th of March Vrigin Express and SN Brussels Airlines will operate their very last flights ... and on Sunday the 25th of March, Brussels Airlines inaugurates its services despite some social unrest among the merged airline company's staff. Sources:   7sur7, Het Laatste Nieuws  and VRT Flandersnews

20/03 - VLM Airlines denies talking with British Airways about possible sale of the regional carrier

Considering the recently announced British Airways major expansion plan at London City Airport (LCA) some newspaper speculated that it is possible the carrier will launch a bid on the LCA largest operator: VLM Airlines. A rumour quickly denied by Jaap Rosen Jacobson who controls Panta Holdings, the Dutch holding comprising ACMI specialist Denim Air and Antwerp-based VLM Airlines "There has been no negotiation with BA on this subject" and did not want to confirm he held negotiations with BA regarding BA Connect. Source:   Luchtzak & ATW Daily News.

19-20/03 - Final assembly of first Airbus A400M new military transport aircraft due to start shortly

The final assembly of the first Airbus A400M new military transport aircraft is due to start very shortly. Production of components and sub-assemblies at the manufacturing sites of the programme partners around the world are in full swing. The engine test programme is on-going and has made significant progress, including high altitude tests and the achievement of full power. The C-130 aircraft destined as the flying test bed for the TP400 engine is having its wing strengthened and the pylon installed, and the static test facility in Spain is being readied to receive a complete airframe. On February 19th, the central-rear fuselage (IFA) of the first A400M was placed on jigs. This large component of 16.5 ton and 29 meter long is the first fuselage manufactured in Bremen, Germany, for the static structural test to be carried out at the Military Transport Aircraft Division of EADS facilities in Madrid. On February 20th the first complete nose fuselage section of the A400M was delivered from Saint-Nazaire in France to the Getafe test facility in Madrid. This major sub-assembly was transported by a Beluga Super Transport which first flew to Seville with its cargo to undertake manoeuvring and unloading trials at the Final Assembly Line (FAL). The seven A400M ordered by Belgium are intended to replace from 2018 onwards the C-130H Hercules of Air Component's N°15 Transport Wing/Tactical Transport Flight (TTF or ex-20 Squadron). Source: http://www.airbusmilitary.com/press.html and http://www.a400m-countdown.com/index.php?v=5

19/03 - Belgian goverment will support local Airbus subcontractors in A350 programme

On March 19th, the Belgian government has announced that it will give up to 150 million € to support Belgian companies involved in the development of the Airbus A350 carrier. The Belgian government supported the development of the Airbus A380 carrier in 2002, providing 195 million € for a range of Belgian companies. However, the EU believes the support may have been too generous and is currently investigating the case. The government said he would ensure any financial support on this occasion is in compliance with EU rules, so as to avoid a rerun of the problems that arose with support for the development of the A380. Source: http://www.forbes.com/afxnewslimited/feeds/afx/2007/03/07/afx3492107.html

19-30/03 - OCU F-16's deploy to Monte Real airbase in Portugal for training

Between March 19th and 30th, the Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) F-16 from Kleine Brogel will deploy seven fighters (3x F-16AM and 4x F-16BM) supported by 80 personnel at BA.5 Monte Real air base in Portugal for a Conventional Weapon Training (CWT) session. During this two weeks deployment seven student pilots should perform ground attack training sessions while ground personnel (incl. technicians, crew chiefs, medics, armourers etc.) will be retrained and checked. Sources: Mil.be NL & FR

17/03 - Heli Service Belgium adds Eurocopter AS.355F2 Twin Squirrel to fleet

In recent weeks, Heli Service Belgium has added an AS.355F2 registered OO-HSK to its fleet. This is serial 5187, and was purchased from Delta System Air in the Czech Republic, where they operated it for the last eight years as OK-MIA.  The aircraft was originally built as an F1 model, and later upgraded to F2 status. Heli Service Belgium has the largest helicopter fleet in Belgium, and is based at Halle Heliport, near Brussels covering most of the activities you would expect from a large onshore operator - training, sales, maintenance, sightseeing, air ambulance, and so on.  They are the dealer for Robinson Helicopter Co throughout Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg. Source: http://www.shephard.co.uk/Rotorhub/Default.aspx?Action=745115149&ID=ffa251c0-df77-4c7f-ab81-95e44e46aa21 and  http://www.hsb.be/

16/03 - The MoD is to purchase 69.000 cubic meters of F-35 jet engine fuel

On March 16th, the Council of Ministers authorised the MoD to purchase a total of 69.000 cubic meters of F-35 (A1) jet engine fuel. This order should cover the Air Component 2007 flying programme as well as the refuelling of third party visiting aircraft, like those of NATO partners. Sources: Presscenter FR and NL

15/03 - Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen candidates to take over the SAR role from the 40 Squadron

Through some articles in the press it appear that Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV) might be interested in taking over a part of the SAR role currently fulfilled by the Koksijde based 40 Squadron and its famous Seaking helicopters. A rather complex matter as the Belgian SAR organisation has to comply to several international treaties under supervision of the United Nations, especially the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as well as the military (NAT0) SAR-needs. Behind the NHV - still unofficial - offer emerge the sensitive Belgian SAR privatisation debate in the framework of the budgetary difficulties faced in the purchasing process of the new and desperately needed Seaking successor, the NH90. Sources: Het Nieuwsblad & De Standaard.

14/03 - Four former Sabena pilots are the first pilots to be issued a license to fly the Airbus A-380

On March 14th, four former Sabena pilots were the first pilots to be issued a license to fly the new Airbus A-380, the largest passenger aircraft in the world. The four licensees, Xavier Lesceu, Jean-Marc Elias, Patrick Lelotte and Jacques Drappier, have been working for the European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for several years already and helped develop the training programmes for flying the A380. They will start training pilots from Singapore Airlines this summer, the first airline that will be operating the Airbus jumbo jet. The first A380 to be ready for operation will be delivered to Singapore Airlines this autumn. Sources:   Expatica and http://www.mobilit.fgov.be/data/pbs/p070315af.pdf and http://www.mobilit.fgov.be/data/pbs/p070315an.pdf

14/03 - VLM Airlines tops half a million passengers on its Manchester-London City service     

On March 14th, VLM Airlines celebrated another significant milestone by clocking up the 50.000th passenger on its Manchester-London City service. The half-million milestone comes following a recent increase in the frequency of services on the route to nine return flights each weekday, together with the introduction of new routes from Manchester to Antwerp and last month to Rotterdam. Source: http://www.flyvlm.com/emc.asp?pageId=1131

14/03 - Graduation of nine young student pilots at the N°1 Wing of Beauvechain

Nine young student pilots received their licence of Belgian military pilot and the accompanying Wings during a ceremony held at Beauvechain airbase on March 14th, 2007. After their operational training, four of them should become jet pilots (William Daniel, Senne Helsen, Nico Steens, and Steven Van Der Vorst), three transport pilots (Sébastien Delaunoy, Inge Huyghebaert, Pieter Palmans) and two helicopter pilots (Filip Peremans, Robrecht Ulenaers) at the Air Component. This graduation parade ended with a fly-past of some Air Component aircraft including four A.109BA Hirundo, four SF-260D, one C-130H Hercules and four F-16s. For details and pictures, see BAHA Special Feature "Wings for Classes 03 and 05 RMA at Beauvechain" .

13/03 - Second polluter condemned in a few months thanks to MUMM pollution control air patrol

On March 13th the Criminal Court of Le Havre (France) has imposed the owner, the captain and the charterer of the Danish chemical transport boat Atlantic Swan a fine of 200.000 € for illegal degassing at sea with the evidences provided by the Belgian Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM) aerial observers. On August 5th, 2004, the crew of the Atlantic Swan seized the opportunity of cruising alongside the Tricolor shipwreck to degassed oil at sea. But the MUMM Britten Norman BN.2A Islander OO-MMM (former Light Aviation: B-02/OT-ALB) and its crew operating on pollution control mission recorded the crime. The French Court arrest is another great achievement in a few months (see also BAHA News of January 12th) for the Belgian pollution control air patrol system. Thanks to the permanent North-Sea aerial survey programme the MUMM has observed a noticeable reduction in recorded pollution cases over the last few years. Sources: MUMM in FR and NL.  See also Baha Special feature and http://www.mumm.ac.be/EN/Monitoring/Aircraft/index.php

13/03 - Siemens equips Liège-Airport with airfield lighting system

The Siemens subsidiary, N.V. ADB S.A., has received an order from the Fabricom GTI consortium, Belgium, and SM Yvan Paque - VSE, Belgium, to equip Liège Airport with airfield lighting, including a monitoring system. As a result of the modernization, the runways will be brought up to the latest technical standard. ADB will supply the airfield lighting equipment for the new Apron 'North' and all four related taxiways. Completion of the project is scheduled for the end of 2007. Source: http://home.nestor.minsk.by/build/news/2007/03/1305.html

12/03 - Brussels wins the new ACI "Airport People" award

On March 12th, at the annual Airport Service Quality Awards ceremony (held at Dubai), Brussels Airport was rewarded with the "Airport People" award. The Airport People Award is a new award that is granted by Airports Council International (ACI - the representative industry body of the world’s airports) to "airports which cultivate a strong customer service culture among all airport staff, including airline staff, border control staff, airport shop assistants and security personnel". This award acknowledges the joint merit of each and every one of the Brussels 20.000 members of the airport staff throughout the 260 companies that employ them. In the ACI principal category of “Best Airport" itself, Brussels Airport is rated second European airport in 2006, after Zurich. Brussels Airport is also rated fourth in the world ranking of airports that serve 15 to 25 million passengers a year. Sources: Brussels Airport,  http://www.luchtvaartnieuws  and http://www.7sur7.be/

11/03 - Former Belgian Air Force T-6 Harvard H-16 restored to airworthiness in Germany

The April 2007 issue of Flypast announced that North American AT-6D-NT Harvard III 88-15778, registered D-FAML has been restored by Elmar Meier and Robert Schiedung at Freiburg, Germany. It made its first post-restoration flight in December, with Achim Meier at the controls. This machine is thought to have started its military career with the RAF - at least on paper - as EZ214 in May 1944. It also served with the SAAF as 7578 and the Belgian Air Force as H-16. The aircraft was then delivered to Air France and put on the French register as F-BJBH, it was given to a technical school near Paris. At this point, the waters are muddied somewhat, as another Harvard with the same serial number is still at the school. Pictures of the aircraft can be found on the following link, although some report say that the paintwork is still "ongoing":
 http://www.airventure.de/newspics/Jaks_Freiburg_1_07/Freiburg_06_Harvard_D-FAML.jpg and
 http://www.airventure.de/newspics/Jaks_Freiburg_1_07/Freiburg_06_Harvard_Motor.jpg. Sources: Flypast and L.H.

09/03 - Brussels Airlines launches new long haul service to Burundi

Brussels Airlines will operate a weekly Brussels–Bujumbura (Burundi) long haul service starting April 22nd, 2007. This new route is the only direct service between Burundi and Europe. By launching this new service, Brussels Airlines meets the strong market demand for direct air travel between Burundi and Europe. Sources:  Brussels Airlines and 7Sur7

09/03 - Dutch QRA F-16s scrambled to indentify a N°15 Wing C-130H Hercules

On March 9th, two F-16AM fighters of the Leeuwarden NATO-Dutch air-defence QRA were scrambled to identify an Air Component C-130H Hercules (CH-05) experiencing an engine failure and radio-communication problems while flying over the Netherlands towards Oslo (Norway). The F-16 never came to the contact being called back home after the Hercules has turned back to its home base and had a contact with the Dutch air traffic controllers. Source: http://www.luchtmacht.nl/main/actueel/nieuws/2007/maart/20070312_onderschepping.html

08/03 - Etihad to start services to Brussels and Toronto

On March 8th, Etihad Airways said it will begin non-stop flights from Abu Dhabi to Brussels and Toronto beginning in June. The Abu Dhabi-based carrier will conduct its first non-stop flight to Brussels on June 1st, departing three times a week. Source: http://www.gulfnews.com/business/Aviation/10109565.html

07/03 - Aviapartner acquires Dutch company Aero Groundservices

The Belgian airport service company Aviapartner Group announced on March 7th that it is close to a takeover of VCK Holding¹s shares in its cargo-handling subsidiary Aero Groundservices BV. Final agreement will be reached with the approval from the relevant authorities. This acquisition is an important step both for Aviapartner and Aero Groundservices, which integrates its one-station activity into Aviapartner¹s 38-station European network. It will allow both to benefit from strong commercial and operational network synergies. As network deals are becoming increasingly important in the handling market, the integration within Aviapartner's network creates an ideal platform for Aero Groundservices to strengthen its position at Amsterdam-Schiphol and to support its further development focusing on major cargo airports. Source: http://www.aviapartner.aero/eng/news.aspx?mode=detail&id=370

07-13/03 - German Marine Sea King Mk.41 and Army CH-53G on exercise at Koksijde

On March 7th two German Army (Heeresflieger) CH53G (84+68, 84+72) and two German Marine (Marineflieger) Seaking Mk.41 (89+54, 89+58) arrived at Koksijde air base for a training exercise with Air Component 40 SAR Squadron. Source and pictures: http://www.airshows.be/index.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&p=14963#14963

06/03 - Sabena Flight Academy-Development makes simulation feel real

The Sabena Flight Academy-Development (SFA-D), a department of the Belgium-based flight training organisation SFA, has developed a system for making Level D Full Flight Simulator (FFS) motion systems reproduce more precisely the sensation of flying an aircraft. FFSs have always been harder to "fly" than the aircraft they represent, which leads pilots to develop "strategies" for coping with the simulator's motion systems rather than learning the aircraft's flying characteristics. The new system could revolutionise zero flight-time pilot training by making handling more lifelike and effective. The company has applied the "control method", dubbed Lateral Manoeuvring Motion (Lm…), to a 20-year-old Boeing 737-300 FFS. Source: Flight International.

05/03 - VLM Airlines to introduce BAe 146-300 to serve London City ­ Rotterdam route

On March, 5th, VLM Airlines has announced it will introduce a BAe 146-300 into its previously all-Fokker 50 fleet from April 16th and use the jet on four of its 10 weekday Rotterdam-London City flights. The new aircraft will release some of the Fokker 50 capacity for increased frequencies on unidentified routes. Headquartered at Antwerp VLM - that used to be a regional airlines - is the largest operator at London City Airport, offering more than 100 flights each weekday representing 36% of all movements at the airport. The airline currently operates a fleet of 19 Fokker 50 aircraft and will add a further two of the type to its fleet this year. (see BAHA News of February 26th, 2007). The BAe 146 performance will be evaluated over the course of 2007 and, if it integrates successfully into the carrier¹s operation as expected, VLM Airlines will consider introducing additional more BAe 146 jet aircraft on other high-density routes in its network. Source: http://www.flyvlm.com/emc.asp?pageId=1128

05-30/03 - Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) Flying Course 2007-2 UPDATED
Established at Florennes air base since 1989, the Allied Command Operations Tactical Leadership Programme (ACO TLP) Flying Branch organises each year six Flying Course (FC), each lasting 20 working days over a period of four weeks. Usually five of the annual Flying Courses are held at Florennes while the sixth is a so-called off theatre or Deployed Flying Course (DFC). But in 2007 due to Florennes main runway resurfacing works only four courses will be organised from the Belgian air base (see BAHA News of November 16th, 2006). A small incident occurred on February 7th while a Czech L-159A burst a tyre during a landing in formation. The Czech Air Force made their second appearance at the TLP with a contingent of L-159A aircraft. Several landing aircraft were diverted to other bases like Beauvechain. More info: http://tlp.scramble.nl/tlp-main.htm   or http://www.florennes-as.be 

Participants TLP Flying Course 2007 -2  (on 29/03)
  • Czech Republic: 5x L-159A (6049, 6060, 6061, 6064, 6070)
  • France: 3x Mirage F-1CR (604/33-CF, 616/ 33-CX, 655/33-NG), 2x Mirage F-1CT (243/30-SN, 253/30-QU, 262/30-QO), 4x Mirage 2000D (610/3-XX, 624/3-IH, 648/3-XT, 683/3-IV)
  • Germany: 2x Tornado IDS (44+33, 45+46)
  • Greece: 4x F-16C Fighting Falcon (053, 067, 071, 073)
  • Italy: 2x F-16ADF ( MM7254, MM7255, MM7256)
  • Spain: 5x EF-18A+ & F/A-18A Hornet (C.15-15/15-02, C.15-27/15-14, C.15-35/15-22, C.15-37/15-24, C.15-84/46-12,  C.15-89/46-17), 1x Falcon 20ECM (TM.11-3/47-23)
  • United Kingdom: 7x Tornado F.3 (ZE158/FF, ZE204/FC, ZE831/FM, ZE982/FR, ZG755/GL, ZG757, ZG797/C)
  • United States: 3x F-15E Strike Eagle (91-0316, 91-0318, 91-0331), 3x F-16CJ Viper (91-0338, 91-0344, 91-0391)

 More hardware details at http://www.florennes-as.be/tlp/tlp20072.htm and http://www.scramble.nl/databases/tlp/tlp.php?year=2007&period=2

05-09/03 - Air & Land Components to conduct low level flying exercise Green Hill 01/2007 over the Province of Luxembourg

Air and Land Components will conduct low level flying exercise over the Province of Luxembourg under code name Green Hill 01/2007 between March 5th & 9th. The purpose of Green Hill type exercise is to train Air Component's F-16 pilots and Land Component's Forward Air Controllers (FAC) in working together. All the Green Hill 01/2007 targets and Low Level Flying Areas (LLFA) will be located in the Champlon -­ Hubermont -­ Lavacherie-Warempage (North Zone) and Bonnerue - ­ Remagne -­ Ste-Marie-Chevigny-Blanchipont (South Zone) areas. Air operations will be lead during day-hours (between 10h00 and 17h00) and depending on weather conditions. Sources: Mil.be in  FR & NL   and the Baha Special Feature: "Low flying exercise" - by Jos Schoofs.

04/03 - Barco introduces new line of avionics-grade mission display units

Barco in Kortrijk, Belgium, has brought out a new line of mission display units that combine the technology of high-performance cockpit displays with the cost-efficiency of cabin-grade airborne mission display solutions. Compatible with night- and daylight-video cameras, moving maps, computers, and radar inputs, the new display line, named MDU-2000, offers an innovative mission solution for an array of military and paramilitary helicopters and aircraft. Barco's new displays are equipped with active matrix liquid crystal display and advanced backlight technology, presenting cockpit crews with sunlight-readable images. Source: Military & Aerospace Electronics

02/03 - Belgian F-16AM/BM sale to Jordan project is going on

The first four Air Component F-16AM/BM (FA-58, FA-90, FB-01 & FB-08) that will be sold to the Royal Jordanian Air Force left Weelde DisC Mat for the Maintenance Groups of Florennes and Kleine Brogel Wings on February 6th and 9th (see BAHA News of February 6th, 2007 and Special Feature. End of May the second phase will start with the transfer to N°2 & 10 Wings Maintenance Groups of another batch of four F-16AM (candidates: FA-61, FA-88, FA-75, and FA-78). This reactivation and transfer  process will end mid-November 2007 with the ferry-flight to Florennes and Kleine Brogel of  the last  five flyable stored F-16AM (candidates: FA-73, FA-74, FA-76, FA-66 & FA-65). The fourteenth aircraft involved in the deal is the FA-60 damaged on landing at El Centro (CA-USA) on April 20th, 2004. This fighter will be transported by truck to SABCA plants in Gosselies to be repaired and put back to flying condition. According to the terms of this - still to be signed - 70 million euro sale contract is a conversion for six Jordanian fighter pilots in the OCU Sqn at Kleine Brogel and a conversion courses for 80 technicians in the Royal Technical School at Saffraanberg, followed by a field training session in the N° 2 & 10 Wings. Source: http://www.f-16.net/news_article2204.html

01/03 - Avionics display specialist Barco chosen by Thales for Sikorsky S-76D TopDeck avionics suite

The Belgian Avionics display specialist Barco has been selected by Thales to supply advanced Control Display and Management Systems for use in its new TopDeck avionics suite. The new flight deck will debut inside the next generation Sikorsky S-76D civil helicopter. The first TopDeck suite using Barco's CDMS will be delivered before the end of this year.  Source: http://www.barco.com/corporate/en/pressreleases/show.asp?index=1893

01/03 - Jet4you increases frequency on Charleroi Brussels South ­ Casablanca route

From March 30th, Jet4you, the first privately-owned low cost carrier in Morocco (link: www.jet4you.com), will increase frequency from three to six weekly flights Charleroi Brussels South ­ Casablanca. The route was successfully launched on November 1st, 2006. The flights are operated on a code share agreement with Belgian airline Jetairfly. This route is aimed at the Moroccan community in Belgium as well as to the leisure market. Source: Charleroi Airport

01/03 - AIR COMPONENT - SAR Seaking helicopters scrambles of February 2007

Every day of the year two Westland Seaking Mk.48 helicopters of 40 Squadron are on stand-by to take-off within 15 minutes at their homebase of Koksijde. During night time this is only slightly reduced to one helicopter and the possibility to have a second one in the air within an hour. This service towards the population is very expensive to maintain but incredible efficient and continuingly proves to be more than necessary. The Air Component website provides following details over the 40 Squadron SAR Seaking helicopters scrambles of February 2007.


 - Winching and transport to Brugge university hospital of a seriously sick sailor of a lead boot ;
 - Search of a capsized  small boat - alert interrupted;
 - Search of a missing man in the area of De Panne;
 - Amphibious vehicle in distress off Koksijde - alert interrupted;
 - Winching and transport to Brugge university hospital of a wounded sailor of cargo ship "Ocean Dignity"

Sources:  Mil.be  NL & FR  

February 2007

28/02 - Niger shows interest in acquiring some SA.318C Alouette II helicopters from Belgium

In one of his recent interviews, Defence Minister André Flahaut, has announced that Niger is showing interest in acquiring some SA.318C Alouette II helicopters from Belgium for the aerial spraying of pesticides on migratory locust infested areas . A total of nine of these vintage helicopters (A-49, A-53, A-55, A-57, A-65, A-66, A-68, A-78 & A-79) are still operated for liaison duties by the Wing Heli at Bierset while several flying time expired Alouette II's are stored at Zutendaal Deposit Center. The last Alouette II are operated by the Wing Heli Flying Group upon request as its dedicated unit, the Liaison Flight (FL Ln) - that inherited the old Jay emblem of the 16 Esc Lt Avn - , was disbanded on July 25th, 2006. Depending on the different options currently proposed the type should be withdrawn from use with Belgian Defence in 2008 or 2011.

28/02 - Benin shows interest in acquiring four Agusta A109BA helicopters from Belgium

Back in November (see BAHA News of November 17th, 2006), at the express requirement of the MoD the Wing Heli shipped two of its A.109BA Hirundo (H-20 and H-45) helicopters to the African state of Benin allowing the local authorities to preview the type's capacity to fulfil an existing known requirement from the local government for Presidential transport duties. Officially presented as a way to providing flying experience in a tropical environment for the Belgian pilots this deployment was extend on January last (see BAHA News of January 10th, 2007). But the participants to these flying training sessions have quickly discovered that their first mission was the transport of Benin President, so definitely not in accordance to their official mission and the usual salary allowances given, to military on mission abroad. This was publicly revealed through many reports in the daily press relayed by the military trade unions. In the meantime the Minister of Defence has announced Benin interest in acquiring four (and not only two) A109BA Hirundo and 18 M113 armoured personnel carrier from Belgium. Nonetheless the deal is not yet concluded as Benin has offered just 700.000 € per A.109BA while Belgium expects 1,7 million € per helicopter. If the deal is going on it is already programmed to give Benin some Wing Heli operational aircraft, the nine stored Hirundo requiring a long depot-level maintenance and repair work. It is also reported that Hirundo H-02 and H-33 are the first candidates earmarked by Wing Heli specialists for the deal with Benin.

27/02 - New Brussels - Geneva route by EasyJet from June 29th

The British low cost airline has unveiled plans for a new service from Brussels Airport to Geneva in Switzerland (see also BAHA News of February 6th). The new daily service is scheduled to start on June 29th. EasyJet will be targeting business travellers but also holiday makers skiing in the Alps. To start off with there will be one daily return flight. By September 10 there should be two daily return flights. EasyJet is undercutting the price currently on offer from Brussels Airways for the Brussels - Geneva flight (just under 50 euros). In a first reaction Brussels Airlines says that it plans to remain the cheapest on this route and will refund the difference, if need be. Sources: VRT-Flandersnews and De Standaard

26/02 - The second Horizontal Tail Plane for the A400M ready for structural testing

The second horizontal tail plane (HTP) for the A400M future European military transport aircraft departed from EADS CASA plants in Seville, to testing facilities in Getafe, Madrid (see also BAHA News of December 20th, 2006). This second HTP will undergo structural testing required for the aircraft¹s certification. In the meantime the French Armée de l'Air and the Royal Air Force have signed on February 20th at the Waddigton Air Warfare Centre a memorandum of cooperation in the framework of the A400M testing programme. The seven A400M ordered by Belgium are intended to replace from 2018 onwards the C-130H Hercules of Air Component's N°15 Transport Wing/Tactical Transport Flight (TTF or ex-20 Squadron).  Sources: EADS and Armée de l'Air.  

26/02 - VLM Airlines is to add two additional Fokker 50 aircraft to its fleet

At the start of the new Rotterdam ­ Manchester service, VLM-CEO Johan Vanneste announced that the company will add another two Fokker 50¹s to its fleet. One aircraft will come from sister-company (through Panta Holding) Denim Air. The second one is to come from a currently unknown source. After the arrival of both these aircraft the VLM fleet will count a total of no less than 21 Fokker 50’s. VLM Airlines chose the Fokker F50 right from the start, due to their high reliability and their low direct operating costs, especially the low fuel burn. Sources: Luchtvaartnieuws  and ASA.

26/02 - Swiss F/A-18 Hornets on visit at Kleine Brogel airbase.

Two Swiss Air Force F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters (J-5014 & J-5237) paid a visit at Kleine Brogel airbase on Monday 26 February 2006. Their aim was to explain the rather special an demanding approach procedures to their mountainous base at Meiringen as 31 Squadron is sending an F-16AM delegation to the base's Tage der offenen Tür on 23/24 March 2007. On these days the Swiss Air Force Tiger Squadron the Fl St 11will officially unveil its new tigered F/A-18C (J-5011 - http://www.skynews.ch/) Picture of F-18D J-5237 at Kleine Brogel.

25/02 - MUMM pollution control BN.2A Islander adorned with a new tail logo

The Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models (MUMM) Britten Norman BN.2A Islander OO-MMM (former Light Aviation: B-02/OT-ALB) operated on pollution control duties out of Antwerp Airport has received a new logo on its tail (see also BAHA News of January 12th, 2007 and BAHA Special feature). This blue square with Belgian spots is the logo of the federal department of Belgian Science Policy. Thanks to this permanent North-Sea aerial survey the MUMM has observed a noticeable reduction in recorded pollution cases over the last few years. Source: http://www.asa-be.com/ and picture of OO-MMM wearing the new logo on its tail.

23/02 - Brussels Airport Authority under fire for the way it dealt with a bomb scare

BIAC, the company responsible for running Brussels Airport, has come under fire for the way it dealt with a bomb scare there on February 23rd. The airport was startled by a false bomb scare. In the subsequent chaos, it became clear that the airport did not really have an evacuation plan. Many passengers complained they were sent from pillar to post and that they were left without any information about what was going on. Even the airport security staff was in the dark as to the procedures they needed to follow. The Airline Operators Committee that unites all companies at the airport now says there hasn't been a general evacuation exercise in 16 years. Sources: VRT-Flandersnews 01 & 02 and Expatica.

22/02 - Lockheed Martin selects Barco¹s advanced video processing technology for F-35 training systems

Barco announced that Lockheed Martin has selected its advanced video processing technology for the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) training program. Barco¹s technology will be incorporated into the F-35 training simulators to provide the video routing, mixing, and warping capabilities for strike fighter flight training subsystems. Source: Barco

22/02 - Belgian travel agents threaten to boycott Brussels Airlines

Belgian Travel Organisation (BTO), an organisation representing the Belgian travel agencies, threats to boycott Brussels Airlines, which they say is applying double standards by proposing on its website low fares that are not available to travel agencies. The fares proposed through agencies are higher than those available on the airline's website. This comes on top of the zero rate commission in application since a few years. Travel agencies account for 75% of the tickets sold by Brussels Airlines. The travel agents ask for conditions similar to those available on the airline website. Sources: Luchtzak & Het Laatste Nieuws

21/02 - BAHA member Wim Govaerts to release biography of night fighter ace Heinz Schnaufer 

A new book by BAHA member Wim Govaerts on the legendary WWII Luftwaffe night fighter ace Heinz Schnaufer called: “Nachtspook van Sint-Truiden" (Nightly ghost of Sint-Truiden) is expected for the end of May 2007. Since many years Wim has made a very thorough research into the life of this exceptional German pilot and its crew members to bring the ultimate biography of Schnaufer. For this Wim interviewed many wartime colleagues and was granted exceptional and unrestricted access to the Schnaufer archive. A work which should be on every bookshelf of military aviation history enthusiasts. Click here to see the presentation flyer in pdf format.

20/02 - Swissair trial: Sabena's counsel accused Swissair of obliging Sabena to change fleet in 1997

The trial of a whole series of defendants held responsible for the demise of the Belgian flag carrier Sabena continues before Swiss magistrates in Bülach near Zurich (see also BAHA News of January 15th, 2007). In all nineteen people including several leading Swiss business people are being called to account. They stand accused of mismanagement and providing misleading financial information. On February 20th Sabena's counsel Stefan Rutgers addressed the court accusing Sabena's erstwhile partner Swissair of obliging the Belgian company to buy Airbuses in 1997 instead of Boeings to renew its fleet of aircraft. The lawyer maintained that Sabena was made to switch to the Airbus in order to benefit Swissair's maintenance subsidiary, SAirTechnics, which was specialised in this type of aircraft. Sabena's fleet consisted mainly of Boeings and its maintenance division Sabena Technics was an expert in doing work on this type of aircraft. He also accused the Swiss parent company of consciously organising a transfer of funds from Sabena to Switzerland. Source: VRT-Flandersnews.

20/02 - VLM Airlines launches internet check-in and enhances its website flyvlm.com

On February 20th, VLM Airlines has launched an internet check-in facility for its passengers. At the same time, the carrier has enhanced its website at www.flyvlm.com and revealed that it will be introducing check-in kiosks at Manchester Airport. Internet check-in will allow VLM Airlines¹ customers, many of whom are business travellers with hand luggage only, to check-in from the comfort of their own home or office up to 30 hours prior to departure. Sources: VLM, Het Laatste Nieuws and De Standaard.

19/02 - VLM welcomes its 1,000,000th passenger on Antwerp-London City route

On February 19th, the Antwerp-Deurne based airline VLM welcomed its 1,000,000th passenger to London City Airport. The lucky passenger was a woman from Bedfordshire (UK) who was on her way home from a city break in Antwerp. The 1,000,000th client was presented with a bottle of champagne and a gift voucher for a weekend deal in Antwerp as well as 2 VLM return tickets. The very first VLM flight from Antwerp-Deurne to London City took place in 1993. Some 14 years later, the route is used by one million passengers. VLM expects the number of passengers will continue to grow. Source: VRT-Flandersnews and 7sur7

19/02 - Mobility Minister bans flights over nature reserves and industrial estates by ULM, gliders, etc.

After negotiations with the representatives of most of the concerned associations, Minister of Mobility, R. Landuyt, has strictly forbidden  flights over natures reserves, cities & villages as well as industrial estates by ULM, gliders, paragliders and powered parachutes. Sources: www.vrtnieuws.net  and  www.focustv.be

16/02 - International stakeholder forum was held in Brussels to create a European Functional Airspace Block  

Six European States and seven air navigation service providers - including Belgian Belgocontrol - have convened the first International Stakeholder Forum in Brussels on February 16th to inform all parties involved about a future new cross-border airspace structure in the core area of Europe. With the Single European Sky, the European Commission has called for the creation of so-called Functional Airspace Blocks (FABs) in order to respond to the challenges resulting from growing air traffic in Europe. These blocks of airspace would be organised according to traffic flows rather than national boundaries. Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland as well as the Eurocontrol Centre in Maastricht are currently conducting a Feasibility Study to determine how a common airspace block - to be called FAB Europe Central - would meet the goals set by the European Commission. Once the feasibility study has been completed as planned in 2008, implementation can begin. Source: Belgocontrol.

14/02 - Belgian Defence Strategic Plan 2000-2015 half time report available online

The Belgian Defence website has put online the half time report of its Strategic Plan 2000-2015 in form of downloadable pdf files. Despite their advertising aspects the six chapters of this document present clearly the current structure, budget, material, functioning, future and challenges of the Belgian Defence NL & FR.

14/02 - Belgian spaceman Frank De Winne maybe back in space in late 2007

Famous Belgian spaceman and Air Component pilot, Frank De Winne has been appointed as the substitute for French astronaut Léopold Eyharts who will later this year leave with the US Space Shuttle for a 2 months International Space Station (ISS) mission. The specific task of Frenchman Eyharts is to set up a new European space lab Columbus. If for some reason M. Eyharts cannot take part in the mission M. De Winne will take his place. M. De Winne has already participated in an ISS mission between October 30th and November 10th, 2002. On that occasion he joined the ISS aboard a Russian Soyuz TM-A rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome. He was then re-trained in the US on 2005-2006 (see BAHA News of July 15th, 2005). He has also been appointed as a prime member of the longer ISS mission in 2009. In 2009, he is sure to spend 120 to 180 days in the Columbus space craft doing scientific research. Source: VRT-Flandersnews & Het belang van Limburg

14/02 - SkyEurope launches three new services to Brussels

SkyEurope Airlines, Central and Eastern Europe¹s low-cost low-fare airline carrier will launch three new services to Brussels, anticipating an increased demand for low-fare flights when Virgin Express ceases operations on March 25th due to its merger with SN Brussels Airlines. New routes include a daily flight from Vienna, a thrice-weekly from Prague and a four-times-weekly from Budapest aboard Boeing B737-700s. It also will add a fourth weekly frequency to its current Krakow-Brussels service. This last connection being in concurrence with the newly announced Brussels Airlines route to Krakow (see BAHA News of January 3&st, 2007) Source: ATW

14/02 - Bmi regional to launch route between Aberdeen and Brussels

From April 16th, 2007, Aberdeen-based bmi (British Midland) regional airline will launch a direct daily service between Scottish city of Aberdeen and the Brussels Airport. The new service will provide an afternoon departure and a non-stop flight connection between the two cities. The route will be served by Embraer aircraft, with bmi offering business and economy fairs. Source: Opodo Easier Travel

12/02 - New training flight and engine test limits at Walloon regional airports

The Walloon Government has fixed new limits to the training flights for over 6000 kg aircraft at regional airports of Charleroi Brussels-South and Liège-Bierset. Such training flights will be authorised only for companies having a true local activity and only from Monday until Friday between 09.00 and 19:00 at Charleroi and between 09h00 and 21h00 at Bierset. Such flights being of course forbidden during weekends, bank, public and school holidays. Similar limits are also fixed for engine tests at the two regional airports. Source: http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/cgi/welcome.pl

12 > 16/02 - Wing Heli A109BA Hirundo deploy to Canjuers (France) for a live firing exercise

Between February 12th and 16th, eight pilots and 22 support personnel of the Wing Heli deploy to the French Army training camp and firing range of Canjuers (near Draguignan-Var / southern of France) for a live firing exercise - rockets & Helitow2 missiles - with four A-109BA Hirundo helicopters (H-27, H-28 as AH(L)-Rockets and H-42, H-43 as AH(L)-TOW2A). Firing exercises will be performed at day as at night time using Night Vision Goggles (NVG) and Forward Looking InfraRed (FLIR) systems. Sources: Mil.be FR & NL   Pictures of the deployed A109BA during their stop over at Lyon-Bron on February 12th, thanks to ALFaviation photographer:

09/02 - Brussels Airport is considering the construction of a new terminal for low cost airlines

According to an article published in the February 9th issue of the Belgian financial newspaper De Tijd, Brussels Airport is considering the construction of a brand new separate terminal for the passengers of low cost airlines. The new terminal could be built at the place of the former Brussels’ South Terminal. Its general philosophy would reflect the one of its potential customers (Easy Jet, SkyEurope etc.) so without seats, without toilets, in order to reduce costs. No timing has been set yet. Source: De Tijd.

09/02 - Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen's new Oostende heliport is operational

Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV) has opened its own heliport at Oostende Airport. The new NHV facilities are located just outside the airport perimeter fence next to the now closed caravan park "De Kalkaert", south of the airport. The company is specialised in all kinds of helicopter transport and helicopter work in Belgium and surrounding countries. It also provide flights for the Belgian and Dutch Shipping Pilot Service, VIP's, hospitals, using two AS365N3 Dauphins, two AS365N2 Dauphins, two MD Explorer and one EC120B Colibri and one EC145. (link : http://www.nhv.be/). On December 2006 the Flemish Government has allocated NHV a financial aid for the expansion of the company's activities (see BAHA News of December 1st, 2006). Source: http://www.westwings.be/nieuws2007.html

09/02 - The European Air Group organises a Combat SAR course at Florennes in June 2007

The European Air Group EAG (link: http://www.euroairgroup.org/index.htm) organises in cooperation with the NATO-TLP a Combat Search & Rescue (CSAR) course at Florennes air base between June 8th and 21st, 2007. This two week course will be composed out of three days of theory and six days of live missions, one mission a day. It is aimed at all helicopter and fixed wing aircrew that want to gain experience in Joint Personnel Recovery missions. Already announced participants are: AS.332 Super Puma (Spain), EC-725 Cougar (France), Mil Mi-24 Hind (Czech Republic), AMX (Italy) and E-3D (United Kingdom). This last Control & Command aircraft operating most probably from its home of RAF Waddington. Source: http://www.euroairgroup.org/act_JPR_course.htm.  A similar course was already held at Florennes in September 2005 see BAHA Special Feature.

08/02 - QuEST delivers first set of A-380 components to SABCA

On February 8th Quality Engineering & Software Technologies (QuEST) aerospace (link: www.quest-global.com), an Indian provider of engineering services offering end-to-end product development and engineering solutions (link: www.quest-global.com), has delivered the first set of A-380 components to SABCA, a Belgian. The components delivered are aluminium alloy machined parts for the A-380 aircraft fuselage structures. QuEST and SABCA have taken steps towards building a long term relationship to work together in areas of Design Engineering and Manufacturing of aerospace components. At present, QuEST is supporting the tooling manufacturing and machining activities for SABCA¹s requirement of A-380 components. Source: IndiaPRWire

08/02 - Delays expected in opening of the new Brussels-South Charleroi Airport terminal

Some delays are expected in the opening of the new Brussels-South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) terminal initially programmed for the winter 2007-2008. These delays are reported linked to some technical problems in the completion of the infrastructure works having delayed the future shops holder investments. Sources: l’Echo and De Standaard

08/02 - A new Belgian freight carrier 'Cargo B Airlines' launches at Brussels Airport

Former SN Brussels Airlines (SNBA) and DHL chief executive Rob Kuijpers has founded on January 31st a new cargo airline in Belgium (http://www.ejustice.just.fgov.be/tsv_pdf/2007/02/08/07023321.pdf). Cargo B Airlines aims to start operations in October 2007 with two Boeing 747 freighters leased from 3P Air Freighters Ltd. (an investment company controlled by the Belgian investment bank Petercam SA/NV). Cargo B Airlines will carry out flights to the Middle and Far East, Africa and South America. The carrier will operate with a Belgian Aircraft Operating Certificate and intends to attract a predominantly Belgian workforce. The company plans to add a third freighter to its fleet in April 2008. Its intention is to phase out these aircraft from 2010 and replace them with newer, more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly equipment. M.  Kuijpers, who will also act as chief executive officer of Cargo B Airlines, will be assisted by co-founders Niek Van Der Weide (director sales and marketing) and Arno Broes (operations director). Source: AirCargoNews  

07/02 - 40 Squadron SAR Seaking scrambles to search crews of a capsized small sailing boat

On February 7th a 40 Squadron SAR Seaking helicopter was scrambled to support the search and rescue operations launched after the discovery by the Coast Guard of a small capsized sailing boat. Neither crews nor bodies were discovered. The Coast Guard also found in the same area the floating wreck of another small sailing catamaran. They fear the two sailings were stolen by illegal immigrants in an attempt to cross the Channel. Source: De Gentenaar.

07/02 - Sabena Technics, Martinair Sign A320 Maintenance Deal

Sabena Technics, the TAT Group Brussels based subsidiary specialized in civil and military aircraft maintenance has recently signed a 3-year maintenance contract with the international airline Martinair for its entire A320-200 V2500 powered fleet. Under the agreement Sabena Technics will provide full support for this aircraft type. This includes line, light & base maintenance, engineering support as well as component repair services comprising pool access and consignment stock. This contract further reinforces Sabena technics¹ positioning in A320 and Airbus family maintenance services.

07/02 - Ryanair revives Stansted to Charleroi route

The expansion of Irish budget airline Ryanair¹s network cross Europe continues with news that the airline will once again operate flights between Stansted Airport and Brussels-South Charleroi Airport (BSCA). From June 1st passengers will have the choice of 16 weekly flights, with three flights a day operating on selected weekdays. Ryanair dropped the route in 2004 but has increased its presence at BSCA since then, offering a number of routes to European cities as well as flights to Dublin, Prestwick and Shannon (see BAHA News of December 9th & 13th, 2006). Source: Cheapflights 

07/02 - Belgian Defence purchases eight Sniper Advanced Targeting Pods from Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin Corporation has announced it has received a firm fixed-price foreign military sales contract from the Belgian Defence for eight Sniper XR Advanced Targeting Pods (ATP), making Belgium the fifth international customer (after Norway, Poland, Oman and Singapore) to join the USAF and ANG flying with the Sniper. Terms of the deal were not released. Deliveries are scheduled to begin this year. The decision to acquire this ATP was taken by the government on March 2006 (see BAHA News of March 31st, 2006).  The Sniper targeting system will be mounted on Air Component F-16AM/BM to help find targets for missiles and bombs, in addition to aiding troops on the ground. They will complement the 10 or so AN-AAQ-14 Lantirn (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) pods already in use with the Air Component. Source: PR Newswire

06/02  -Last Virgin Express 737 left Belgium to be repainted into the new livery of Brussels Airlines

End of an era on February 2nd, when the last Boeing B737 in the Virgin Express livery OO-LTM (picture at Airlines.net) - also referred as the last Belgian Virgin! - left Brussels Airport on runway 25R at 14.22 GMT for Bournemouth (UK) where it will be repainted in the new Brussels Airlines 14 balls livery. Source: ASA 

06/02 - EasyJet comes to Zaventem

As already announced British budget airline EasyJet will operate from Brussels Airport. According to EasyJet¹s internal newsletter, a service between Brussels and Geneva will be launched from Brussels Airport starting from June 29th this year. EasyJet and Brussels airport had been negotiating for a long time. Meanwhile, for Ryanair based at Charleroi, the arrival of EasyJet in Zaventem will mean serious competition. The same goes for Brussels Airlines, also flying to Geneva. Source: Expatica  

06/02 - Three stored F-16s left Weelde Deposit Centre for overhaul prior delivery to Jordan

The first four of 14 F-16AM/BM fighters which have been acquired by Jordan from the Belgian Government for a reported price of 70 million euro have left Weelde DisC Mat  for the Maintenance Groups of Kleine Brogel and Florennes Wings were the aircraft are to go through a general overhaul (see also BAHA News of December 20th, 2006). On February 6th, FA-58 and FB-01 headed for Kleine Brogel while FA-90 and FB-08 were to go to Florennes. Unfortunately FA-90 suffered a minor technical problem so that its departure to Florennes was postponed by three  days till February 9th. See BAHA Special Feature.

05/02 - AJeTS - An Italian Instructor Pilot joins the French-Belgian AJeTS of Cazaux

In the framework of a French-Italian exchange pilot programme an Italian Air Force Instructor Pilot (IP) of Lecce - Galatina Flying School (61°Stormo SVBIA) has joined on January 2007 the French-Belgian Advanced Jet Training School (AJeTS) of Cazaux (France). Source: Armée de l’Air.

05/02 - Gordon Bennett gas balloon race will start from Brussels in 2007

At a date still to be determined in September 2007, the world's most prestigious gas balloon race, the Gordon Bennett, will start from Bosvoorde/Boitsfort (Brussels) racecourse. The first Gordon Bennett race was organised over 100 years ago and is aimed at flying the longest distance in one straight line between take-off point and landing. The 2005 and 2006 editions were won by Belgian balloonists (see BAHA News of September 9th, 2006 and October 5th, 2005). This mean that if a Belgian team wins the competition for the third consecutive year, the country is to keep the trophy just as it did in 1925. Sources: RTL and Le Soir

05-09/02 - French Armée de l'Air in CAS training over Elsenborn range

From February 5th till 9th, several fighters from Escadrons de chasse 1/7 "Provence", 1/3 "Navarre", 2/3 "Champagne", 3/3 "Ardennes", 2/30 "Normandie-Niémen" and 1/33 "Belfort" take part in a CAS (Close Air Support) exercise over Elsenborn range in cooperation with their colleagues of  Air Component 1, 31 and 349 Squadrons. During these five days, the French Mirages will carry out live canon firings as well as simulated low and medium altitude offensive operations against their targets using laser/IR designators. The aim of the exercise is to provide training for French pilots, and Belgian TACP (Tactical Air Control Party) teams, as well as junior French FACs (Forward Air Controllers). Source: Armée de l'Air

05/02 - Snecma Services Brussels and Orenair sign engine maintenance contract

Snecma Services Brussels, a Belgian subsidiary of the SAFRAN Group, awarded a maintenance contract for the CFM56-3 engines powering Orenair’s (an airline based at the Orenburg airport in Russia) fleet of Boeing 737 "Classic" jetliners. This new contract bolsters Snecma Services Brussels and Snecma Services¹ position in the CFM56 engine maintenance market in Russia, where it already provides services for airlines including Aeroflot, S7 and Ural Airlines. The three-year Time & Material contract awarded by Orenair confirms Snecma Services ability to offer OEM-label quality, along with highly competitive terms. In addition to its engine maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, Snecma Services also provides training for Orenair¹s technicians. Source: http://www.safran-group.com/article.php3?id_article=1610&lang=en

04/02 - AIRLINES - Continental Airlines Brussels-Newark route upgraded to Boeing 777
As from March 28th Continental Airlines is introducing the Boeing 777 - instead of Boeing 767 - on its daily service Brussels-New York/Newark. This aircraft is configured to carry 48 passengers in Business-First and 235 in Economy.
 The company has been operating in Belgium for the past eight years. It has opened a European Call Center in Diegem, near Brussels Airport, on March 2006. Continental Airlines (continental.com) is the world's sixth largest airline and leading U.S. carrier across the Atlantic in terms of the number of cities served.
Source: Luchtzak
02/02 - Colombian Minister of Defence deny interest to acquire ex-Belgian Dassault Mirage 5M Elkan fighters from Chili UPDATED

On visit in Belgium the Colombian Minister of Defence, M. Juan Manuel Santos, has denied the interest of its country for the Chilean Mirage M-5M Elkan. In its last issue the French aviation magazine Air & Cosmos (link http://www.aerospacemedia.com/) announced that Sagem Défense Sécurité, part of the Defence and Security Branch of the SAFRAN group (link), has had some contacts for a re-modernisation programme of 16 Dassault Mirage 5M Elkan of the Chilean Air Force (FACh) in view of their resale to the Columbian Air Force. These former Belgian Air Force fighter-bombers were first modernised by SABCA-Gosselies before their sale to Chile in 1994. The original batch of 20 Mirage 5MA/D Elkan had accumulated in FACh more than 14,000 hours of flight at Antofagasta based Grupo de Aviación Nº 8 and were withdrawn from use on last December 27th (see BAHA News of December 27th, 2006) and are for sale. Source: De Gentenaar 

01/02 - Limburg to use a helicopter to fight against processionary caterpillar summer invasions

The Province of Limburg is to use in 2007 a helicopter equipped with a spray system to fight against the processionary caterpillar summer invasions. A budget of 25.000 euro is allocated to this aerial survey and crop spraying task. The processionary caterpillar is a unique little furry insect moving over the ground in long head-to-tail processions and to sting with urticating hairs anyone who attempts to molest them that has brought the caterpillars to the attention of the public. It is also one of the most destructive of forest insects, capable of defoliating vast tracts of trees during its episodic population surges. Source: Het Belang van Limburg.

01/02 - Seaking SAR helicopters scrambles of January 2007

Every day of the year two Westland Seaking Mk.48 helicopters of 40 Squadron are on stand-by to take-off within 15 minutes at their homebase of Koksijde. During night time this is only slightly reduced to one helicopter and the possibility to have a second one in the air within an hour. This service towards the population is very expensive to maintain but incredible efficient and continuingly proves to be more than necessary (see BAHA News of January 1st, 2007). The Air Component website provides details over the 40 Squadron SAR Seaking helicopters scrambles of January 2007.

  • Search of an in distress ship - alert interrupted;
  • Winching and transport of a wounded sailor of the Belgian Navy Mine Hunter Ship M924 Primula to the Bruges hospital;
  • Medevac - transports of an injured paratrooper from Heusden-Zolder to Sart-Tilman hospital (see BAHA News of January 31st, 2007).

Sources : Mil.be FR & NL

01/02 - AIRLINES - Arrival at Brussels airport of the new Brussels Airlines A330-300

The fourth Airbus A330-300 destined for Brussels Airlines arrived yesterday evening February 1st at Brussels Airport in Air Madrid colours, registered EI-DVB (Model A330-322 /MSN 082 ex-EC-JBT, EI-DVB and future OO-SFP? - see also BAHA News of January 10th, 2006). The aircraft is parked near hangar 41. Source: BAHA and picture at Planepictures.net

January 2007

31/01 - Brussels Airlines to open new service to Krakow and Cagliari and to stop partnership with Iberia

As from March 30th Brussels Airlines is to open a new five times a week service between Brussels and Krakow in Poland and as from April 27th passengers of Brussels Airlines can enjoy 5 weekly flights between Brussels airport and the capital of Sardinia, Cagliari-Elmas¹ airport, located in the south of the island. Brussels Airlines is the first airline to offer a direct service between Belgium and Sardinia. Up till now passengers had to travel via Rome or Milan to get to their destination. The partnership between Iberia and (SN) Brussels Airlines will end on 25 March 2007. At that date Brussels Airlines will provide direct flights to and from Bilbao, Barcelona, Valencia, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, Murcia, Seville and Malaga. Source: Brussels Airlines 01 and 02 and Luchtzak

31/01 - 40 Squadron Seaking helicopter transports an injured paratrooper to Sart-Tilman hospital

On January 31st, two paratroopers were seriously injured after a mid-air collision during training jump from an N°15 Wing C-130H Hercules above the military range of Helchteren. Evacuated to the nearby hospital of Heusden-Zolder the most seriously injured paratrooper was later cautiously transported by a 40 Squadron Seaking helicopter to the Sart-Tilman University of Liège hospital. Source: www.paracommando.com

29/01 - Wizz Air launches service to Katowice from Charleroi Brussels-South

Wizz Air, the Hungarian low-cost airline operating from Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) since summer 2004 will launch three weekly services to Katowice from October 1st, 2007. This fourth destination (after Budapest, Warsaw and Ljubljana) operated by Wiz Air significantly reinforces the attraction of the offer to Central Europe available from BSCA, it is of worth noting that Katowice is a destination of particular interest to the Polish communities in Belgium and in Northern France. Source: BSCA

29/01 - EADS/Socata to retrofit EMB-110 Xingu avionics of the French Military Air Transport Flight School

On January 29th EADS Socata announces the notification by the French military procurement agency (DGA) of a contract for the Avionics retrofit of the fleet of Embraer EMB-110 Xingu of the French Military Air Transport Flight School, based in Avord. This contract of a maximum value of 14.2 millions euros over 5 years is divided in two instalments. The first instalment is a firm contract for the study and the retrofit of two EMB-110 Xingu, one of the French Air Force and the second of the French Navy, to a more modern avionics standard. Its main features are an electronic primary flight and multifunction displays, GPS and a mode S with diversity antenna transponder. Upon the success of the first instalment, the second instalment will consist in the supply of avionics kits to retrofit the remaining 39 EMB-110 Xingu. In service since the end of the seventies the Embraer Emb-110 Xingu is operated to train military transport pilot, flight engineers and navigators from France and some participating countries like Belgium. The first Air Component transport pilots were graduated at Avord on February 2006 (see BAHA News of February 3rd, 2006). Source: EADS.

29/01 - A109BA Hirundo helicopter visits a Kontich school

On Monday January 29th a Wing Heli A109BA Hirundo helicopter and its crew of three - 2 pilots one gunman - landed at the football pitch of the Kontich's Sint-Rita College (Province of Antwerpen). This unusual event took place in the framework of an official visit and the lecture of one of the helicopter pilot Rutger Andries to its former school. Source: http://www.paracommando.com/news.php

29/01 - Famous Belgian pilot Jan van Risseghem passed away

Jan van Risseghem, a military pilot who served with the RAF during World War II, later with the Belgian Air Force and became famous as the pilot of Moise Tsjombé in Katanga has passed away at the age of 83. Jan was also known to have flown the famous Katangan Air Force Fouga Magisters in the early sixties and was a well known character at Deurne/Antwerpen Airport in the seventies flying the Aero Survey Aero Commander and Pilatus PC.6. Source: ASA and picture of Jan, courtesy J-P Sonck.

28/01 - N°10 Wing took over command from N°2 Wing of COMOPSAIR detachment at Siauliai (Lithuania) UPDATED

On January 28th, Kleine Brogel¹s 10th Wing (CO BE-DET 1: Major Mark Meeuwissen) has taken over command from Florennes¹ N°2 Wing (CO BE-DET 2:  Major Thierry Closset) of the COMOPSAIR Detachment at Siauliai (Lithuania) (see BAHA News of December 1st and November 17th, 2006). Since December 1st, 2006, 09h00 local time, and for four months this detachment assume NATO's Air Policing Quick Reaction Alert mission over the Baltic States. This detachment is composed of about 60 people from both Belgian tactical Wings as well as Army and Medical Component equipped with four F-16AM (FA-98, FA-115, FA-124, FA-133) is reported having already performed more than 80 operational missions for a total of over 100 flying hours. Sources NL and FR.

26/01 - Sabena Technics is reported having purchased ex WC-130E N130EV of Evergreen Aviation for the Air Component UPDATED

On January 11th, the MoD has signed a convention with Sabena Technics for the furniture of a second hand Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft as replacement for the one (CH-02) lost at Brussels Zaventem Airport in the Sabena Technics Hangar 40 fire on May, 5th, 2006 pictures: (see BAHA News of January 11th, 2006 and pictures at http://jansaircraft.fotopic.net/c1192151.html). It is now reported that this replacement aircraft will be the ex USAF Lockheed C-130E Hercules with serial 64-0552 (c/n 382-4047), build in 1965 and immediately converted into weather reconnaissance WC-130E (picture in its glory time). It was withdrawn from use and stored on July 13th, 1993 as CF130 at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) of Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. It was purchased by Evergreen Aviation of McMinnville, Oregon (link: http://www.evergreenaviation.com/) in February 1999, registered as N130EV and used as freighter aircraft. Withdrawn from use, this Hercules is currently on display at the Evergreen Aviation Museum and Educational Institute, McMinnville, Oregon (link). It has a total airframe time of 20,361 hours and should arrive for a Depot Level Maintenance (DLM) at the Sabena Technics Brussels plant in April 2007. The aircraft should receive Belgian military serial CH-14. Picture at Airliners.net and more info at Evergreen Aviation (pdf)  and  General Equipment Corporation Inc.

23-24/01 - Croatian delegation visits AJeTS at Cazaux

On January 23rd and 24th, a Croatian delegation visited the Base Aérienne 120 "Commandant Marzac" at Cazaux witha special interest in the French-Belgian Advanced Jet Training School (AJeTS link: Armée de L'Air). Colonel Stjephan Zabcic, Commander of the Croatian Air Force and Commander Goran Huljev, Deputy Commander of the Croation Air Force Flying School, were among others introduced by their French and Belgian hosts to the Belgian upgraded Alpha Jet 1B+.  Source FR. and NL. and  Picture

23/01 - Belgocontrol statistics 2006: more than one million movements over Belgium

Belgocontrol, the autonomous public company in charge of the safety of air navigation in the Belgian civil airspace and at the Belgian public airports, has presented its results for the year 2006. In 2006 Belgocontrol managed a total of 1,075,919 movements, or an increase of 29,753 movements (2.84 %) compared to the previous year.

In 2006, Brussels Airport registered a total of 254,770 movements. A quasi status quo compared to 2005, when 253,257 movements were recorded. However, Brussels Airport has not by far reached the level of 2000 - before the Sabena bankruptcy - , when 326,042 movements were registered.

In 2006, the four regional airports recorded together a total of 278,212 movements. This number is to be compared to the 271,429 movements in 2005. This means an increase of 2.50 %. Regarding the total number of movements controlled by Belgocontrol, Charleroi ranks first with 87,116 movements, followed by Antwerpen with 75,341 movements, Oostende (68,744) and Liège (47,011). It must be reminded that at Liège, Belgocontrol assures the air traffic control only at night during the week and 24/24h during weekends. The movements controlled by the military by day during the week are therefore not included in Belgocontrol statistics.

The CANAC centre manages all movements in the controlled civil airspace above Belgium, from ground level to flight level 245, and above the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, between flight levels 135 and 245. CANAC controlled 542,937 movements in 2006: an increase of 4.11 % compared to last year, when 521,480 movements were registered. As a reminder, there were 588,008 movements in 2000. More details at Belgocontrol

23/01 - The 8th Belgian Helidays new dates: May 12th & 13th, 2007

After setting June 10th as the date of the next Belgian federal election, the organisers of the Bierset International Helicopter Airshow have decided to change the already programmed dates (June 2nd & 3rd) of the event. Unless otherwise announced the 8th Belgian Helidays will be now organised on May 12th & 13th, 2007. Source: http://www.belgian-helidays.com/UK/index.php

22/01 - OO-DWD is the next Avro RJ100 to be repainted into the new livery of Brussels Airlines

On January 22nd, the SN Brussels Airlines British Aerospace Avro RJ100 OO-DWL came back home at Brussels Airport being the first aircraft of the type repainted into the new livery of Brussels Airlines (see BAHA News of January 10th, 2007 and picture). It has been immediately followed in the Amsterdam Schiphol Quality Aircraft Painting Services (QAPS) plant for painting in the new company "14 balls B-livery" by her sister ship OO-DWD. Follow this link for  pictures of the painting process.

22/01 - The wreck of Light Aviation BN-2 Islander B-05/OT-ALE is for sale

The Belgian Defence Sales Service has put up for auction the wreck of the Fairey Britten-Norman BN-2A-21 Islander B-05/OT-ALE currently stored at Bierset air base. This particular aircraft was withdraw from use - with her sister ship B-06/OT-ALF currently on display at the Brussels Army Museum Aeronautical Department - after having suffered structural damages due to corrosive smokes in a hangar fire at Butzweilerhof air base (D) on November 23rd, 1988. Sources: Mil.be FR and NL and the BAHA Special Feature “Islanders for sale”.

20/01 - BAHA's newest publication " Gids voor het Belgisch Luchtvaartpatrimonium" announced.

The newest publication by BAHA "Gids voor het Belgisch Luchtvaartpatrimonium" compiled by Frans Van Humbeek is to be released on 21 April 2007. Giving an overview of some 800 monuments, relics and other artefacts related to the Belgian Aeronautical patrimony this study is unique and a complete new approach towards Belgian aeronautical archaeology. More details can be found on the annexed flyer.

18/01 - Brussels Airport has reported good results for 2006

Brussels Airport, the company that runs Belgium's busiest airport at Zaventem, announces records growth in 2006. More than 16.7 million passengers used the airport during 2006, an increase of 3.3% on 2005. The number of passengers that started or ended their journey at the airport was at an all time high at 15.2 million. Freight tonnage also reached record levels with 719,560 tonnes of air-freight passing through the Airport's cargo zone, Brucargo.  While the number of arrivals and departures remained more or less the same as in 2005, there was a modest increase in the number of destinations on offer. Passengers can now fly direct to new destinations including the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, Palermo (Italy), Krakow (Poland) and Durham Tees Valley Airport in the Northeast of England.  A spokesman for the airport told the Belgian press agency Belga that a number of new destinations are planned for 2007 including direct services to the Indian city of Bombay and Newark in the American state of New Jersey.  Source: VRT/Flandersnews

18/01 - Heavy storms over the United Kingdom caused VLM flight disruption

The heavy storm sweeping across United Kingdom on January 18th has caused flight disruption. VLM Airlines had to suspend several of its flights from Deurne, Brussels & Amsterdam Airport to London and Manchester. However, no delays have been reported at Brussels Airport. Sources: Het laatste Nieuws and 7sur7

18/01 - Dassault Falcon 900B CD-01 equipped with Satcom antenne on top of fin.

Belgian Air Component Dassault Falcon 900B CD-01 has been equipped with a new SATCOM antenna on top of the vertical fin. This equipment enables passengers to use a satellite communications link for internet connections in flight. On the annexed picture, the aircraft is seen on 18 January  at Niamey, capital of Niger.

17/01 - Antonov ASTC opens maintenance base at Leipzig in support of NATO SALIS An 124-100 aircraft.

On January 17th, the Ukrainian company Antonov ASTC (link: Antonov ) has officially opened at the Leipzig-Halle airport (Germany) a AN-124-100 Ruslan transport airplanes technical service base for the maintenance of the aircraft of Antonov Airlines (Ukraine) and Volga-Dnepr (Russia) involved in the NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) programme. The SALIS programme is a partnership between 16 NATO member countries (Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Luxemburg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Sweden and United Kingdom) intended to compensate for the shortfall of strategic transport aircraft in many European countries. It is an interim solution pending the availability of the future Airbus A400M heavy transport aircraft, whose first delivery to Belgium is scheduled for 2018. Belgium joined the NATO SALIS programme on March 2006 (See BAHA News of March 31st, 2006). The An-124 of Antonov Airlines and Volga-Dnepr are regularly seen on Belgian military air bases in support of Belgian Defence forces deployment and international commitments. Source: http://www.logisticsmgmt.com/index.asp?layout=articleXml&xmlId=559944096

17/01 - AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE - Sabena Technics announces the acquisition of EADS Barfield

Sabena Technics, the Brussels Airport based TAT Group subsidiary specialized in civil and military aircraft maintenance (link: http://www.sabenatechnics.com) announces the acquisition of EADS Barfield, industry leader in aviation support, service and component repair and maintenance. This deal for both companies accelerates Sabena Technics’ integration into the Northern and Southern American markets through a pooling of expertise and resources to respond to clients’ needs. Sabena Technics’ pool of rotables and its capabilities on regional aircraft types will complement Barfield’s services. Moreover, Barfield’s ground support equipment (GSE) activity will strengthen Sabena Technics’ offering to its worldwide clients through the integration of this new product. Barfield counts 250 employees at its Miami, Phoenix and Louisville facilities with a total turnover of €50 million ($64.7 million). Following several recent acquisitions, the maintenance activities of TAT Group now generate a turnover of €450 million and employ some 3,300 people worldwide. Sources: Air & Cosmos and ATW

17/01 - Between 1992 and 1997 Sabena airlines bosses received bonuses under the counter

Between 1992 and 1997, Belgian executives of the bankrupt national airline company Sabena were paid bonuses under the counter. This eventually made the headlines three years ago, but in light of the new evidence, including full confession of former company's CEO, M. Pierre Godfroid, during a recent TV programme, there is little doubt that fraud was involved. At this stage it is difficult to ascertain how much each executive director received or if all directors were concerned. Judge Van Espen's investigation isn't over yet and more should come to light over the coming weeks. Despite not directly linked to the bankrupt of the Sabena these practices throw new light on a kind of management and its impunity feeling also perfectly illustrated by the charges rejecting attitude of the Swissair/SAirGroup (Sabena and Swissair merged in 1995) former executives going on trial at Buelach (see BAHA News of  January 15th, 2007). Sources: VRT/Flandersnews, Expatica and 7sur7

16/01 - Flemish Government to invest 17 million Euro in Oostende Airport

The Flemish Government is going to invest 17 million Euro in Oostende Airport management and infrastructures. A new management structure will be created by 2008 with the establishment of an airport infrastructures company and an airport operation company. This last company will be open to private partners such as AG Port Oostende and Zeebrugge MBZ harbours operators and the public local development Company Wvi (see BAHA News of December 12th, 2006). Infrastructures investments will focus on the runway and taxiways resurfacing and an improved sewer system as well as in the safety and security of the airport installations. Source: Het Volk

15/01 - Abertis plays down interest in Liège-Bierset and Charleroi Brussels-South airports

The Spanish leading private transport and communications infrastructure management corporation Abertis Infraestructuras SA is reported eyeing concessions of Liège-Bierset and Charleroi Brussels-South airports. The Walloon minister for airport policy M. Andre Antoine has acknowledging the interest of a foreign company in the two airports. But he declined to confirm or deny that this is Abertis. Wallonia is currently carrying out a strategic review of its infrastructure, which could involve selling off some of its airports. Sources: Forbes and    7sur7 

15/01 - Weelde Deposit Centre started reactivation process of some 14 stored F-16's.

On January 15th the Weelde DisC Mat has officially started the reactivation process of some 14 stored F-16AM/BM Fighting Falcons. On February 5th (with February 6th as reserve day) four F-16 should be ferry flight in two batches of two aircraft to N°2 and 10 Tactical Wing Maintenance Groups for general overhaul. It is also reported that, favourably impressed by the maintenance level of these fighters, Jordan representatives has enlarged their original request of 12 aircraft to the 14 F-16AM/BM stored at Weelde. Anyway it would not be logical to sell only 12 of these stored airframes and to keep only two for sale. Which country might later be interested in purchasing only two aircraft of the MLU/M-2 type fighters? At last, it is dubious that FA-60 might make a ferry flight for its eventual overhaul process as this F-16AM arrived by road to the Weelde DisC Mat after having suffered damage during a crash landing on April 20th, 2004 at El Centro, Southern California, United States (see BAHA News of April 23rd, 2004).  The aircraft involved in the deal should be F-16AM: FA-58, FA-60, FA-61, FA-65, FA-66, FA-73, FA-74, FA-75, FA-76, FA-78, FA-88, FA-90 and F-16BM: FB-01, FB-08. Source: BAHA Forum.

15/01 - Sabena curator acts in the Swissair trial

Sabena curator Christian Van Buggenhout acts without illusions in the Swissair trial starting on December 15th at the Bezirksgericht Buelach court near Zurich (Switzerland). No less than nineteen former bosses from the collapsed Swiss national airline Swissair were going on trial for their alleged role in the dramatic failure of the company in October 2001. The company's ambitious asset-buying spree in the 1990s, with the so- called Hunter Strategy. It involved rapid expansion by buying shares in a number of small European operators such as Sabena, the Belgian airline. However legal experts believe with little evidence of any deliberate fraud, it is unlikely that any individual would receive a prison sentence. Source: Het Laatste Nieuws.

15/01-09/02 - Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) Flying Course 2007 - 1 UPDATED

Established at Florennes air base since 1989, the Allied Command Operations Tactical Leadership Programme (ACO TLP) Flying Branch organises each year six Flying Course (FC), each lasting 20 working days over a period of four weeks. Usually five of the annual Flying Courses are held at Florennes while the sixth is a so-called off theatre or Deployed Flying Course (DFC). But in 2007 due to Florennes main runway resurfacing works only four courses will be organised from the Belgian air base (see BAHA News of November 16th, 2006). The 2007 -1 course marks the first participations of the French Armée de l'Air Rafale B of EC. 1/7 "Provence" from Saint Dizier air base and RAF Typhoon F.2 of 3(F) Squadron from Coningsby (during weeks 3-4). More info: http://www.tlp.scramble.nl  or http://www.florennes-as.be

Participants TLP Flying Course 2007 - 1  

    • Belgium: 3x F-16AM Fighting Falcon (FA-86, FA-102, FA-132)
    • France: 2x Mirage 2000C (14/5-NW, 22/5-ND), 2x Mirage 2000N (304/4-CA, 305/4-CS), 3x Rafale B (317 7-HO,  318 7-HM, 319 7-HN)
    • Germany: 7x Tornado IDS (44+58, 44+64, 44+65, 44+69, 45+01, 45+02, 45+96)
    • Greece: 4x Mirage 2000CG (218, 220, 222, 240)
    • Italy: 2x F-16ADF Fighting Falcon (MM7242, MM7265), 2x AMX (MM7164/51-34, MM7194/51-64)
    • Norway: 4x F-16AM Fighting Falcon (658, 661, 673, 683), 1x Falcon 20ECM (053)
    • United Kingdom: 6x Jaguar GR.3A/T.4 (XX724/EC, XX725/EE, XX-835/EX, XX970/EH, XZ103/EF, XZ398/EQ), 2x Typhoon F.2 (ZJ918/QO-L, ZJ926/QO-Y)
    • United States: 3x F-15C Eagle (84-0004/LN, 84-0010/LN, 86-0165/LN)

More hardware details at:  Florennes Aviation Society and Scramble 

15/01 - SN Brussels Airlines engineers find stowaway body in A330 wheel well after Dakar flight.

On Monday 15th just before 08h00 a human body has been found by a maintenance engineer inside the main gear wheel well Number 1 (left) of an SN Brussels Airlines Airbus A330-300 operating flight SN 204 from Banjul, The Gambia via Dakar, Senegal that landed at Brussels airport earlier  in the morning. In spite of the stop-over that was made in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, the stowaway is believed to have already climbed into the wheel housing in Banjul. The reason for this is that the victim carried Gambian money on him and that furthermore he was wearing a jacket with insignia of Banjul airport. Incidents of illegal stowaways are rare and usually fatal. In 1999, two Guinean boys died on board of a Sabena flight in a similar tragic attempt to come to Europe. Source: Flight, VRT/Flandersnews and De Standaard   

14/01 - Air Component F-16 on display at Hooglede-Gits for the 2007 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships

In the framework of its current active recruitment campaign the Belgian Defence has put it’s withdrawn from use F-16A Fighting Falcon FA-05 static display object at Hooglede-Gits (link: http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooglede) along the race track from the 2007 UCI Cyclo-cross World Championships (link) to take place on January 27th & 28th. Pictures of FA-05 in its new environment by Wim Houquet: See BAHA Forum.

14/01 - Belgian MoD website hacked

In the morning of Sunday 14th the visitors of the Belgian MoD website (http://www.mil.be/) were automatically transferred to a pamphlet page: http://www.richtexteditor.org/demo/my_documents/my_files/64F_index.htm.  In this page a group calling itself "Turk Forcers" or "The Grandchildren of the Ottoman Empire" claimed in poor English their status of Islam defenders and went on to give their views on the Turkish massacre of ethnic Armenians 90 years ago. The Belgian MoD website was taken off-line by the alert service at about 13h30. It came back on-line two days later on Tuesday 16th in the afternoon. No explanation was given as to how exactly the still unidentified intruder(s) were able to hack into the MoD website. Sources: BAHA Forum,  La Libre , De Gentenaar and  VRT Flandersnews.

13/01 - Despite previous reports 40 Squadron Seaking RS-01 will be back on the flightline

In several articles/news over the 30 years celebration of Westland Seaking Mk.48 helicopter in Belgian service (see BAHA News of December 14th, 2006) it was reported that the RS-01 was to be withdrawn from use having only a few airframe flying hours left. But most likely due to the expected delays in the purchase and delivery of the new - still to order - NH90 it is now reported that this ship will undergo the 10.000H+ maintenance and anti-corrosion treatment, after which it would be able to fly another 150 hours. Source: DefensieForum

13-21/01 - A 2007 Brussels Motorshow hall dedicated to ULM, helicopters and flight simulators

The Brussels Expo Park 85th show for light commercial, recreational vehicles and motorcycles also known as Motorshow (link) running from Saturday 13th to Sunday 21st  January 2007 presents a hall (Hall 1) dedicated to aircraft, helicopters, ULMs and flight simulators. Among the displayed aircraft are the mobile static display airframes A.109BA Hirundo (H-16) and SA.318C Alouette II (A-65) of the Air Component. Also of interest are the stands of the Air Component, Brussels Air Museum (AELR), Belgocontrol etc. A List and pictures of what can be seen in hall 1 are available in the homepage Westwings of our colleague Kristof Vandermoere: for a complete list of displayed aircraft:  and pictures:

12/01 - Antwerp based business jets company FlyingGroup to expand its fleet with 4 new aircraft

On January 12th, the fast growing Antwerp Airport based air charter broker, handling agent and fractional business jets ownership company FlyingGroup has inaugurated a brand new hangar of 1.750 square meters (the largest at the airport - see also BAHA News of January 3rd, 2006) able to accommodate up to three Falcon 900 aircraft and four of five Cessna Excell-class aircraft. During the official opening ceremony Flying Group CEO M. Bernard Van Milders, announced the soon delivery of four additional aircraft: one Falcon 2000Easy and three Cessna 525C Citation Jet 3’s. Source: ASA and De Standaard

12/01 - Marine polluters fined thanks to the MUMM pollution control air patrol

On September 1st, 2004, the crew of the MUMM observation aircraft, BN-2 Islander B-02/OT-ALB picture on Airliners.net: (today OO-MMM - see Baha Special feature The eye on the North Sea - North Sea Aerial Survey in Belgium and http://www.mumm.ac.be/EN/Monitoring/Aircraft/index.php) detected a slick of oil pollution in the wake of the Swedish vessel Tor Belgia. The airplane was flying over Danish waters during an international surveillance mission of oil platforms in the central part of the North Sea. The quantity of oil was visually established. It was then decided that Sweden would carry out the necessary investigation. With the evidences provided by the MUMM aerial observers, the chief engineer and the Norwegian owner of the vessel have been late 2006 (so two years later) imposed by Swedish Prosecution Authority (Göteborg) a fine of 19200 €. A great achievement for the Belgian pollution control air patrol system that confirms also the success of international negotiations that have been held in the framework of the Bonn Agreement and that will be encouraged by MUMM in the future.  Source: MUMM (EN, FR, NL

12/01 - AIR COMPONENT - Recruiting campaign 2007 open for 42 candidates student pilot and 13 air traffic controllers

Belgian Defence Air Component recruiting campaign 2007 is open for 42 candidate student pilots (17 through the Royal Military School scheme and 25 through auxiliary pilot officer scheme) and 13 student air traffic controller officers. More info and details: Mil.be NL and FR

12/01 - TNT Airlines will lease its new Boeing 747-400ER freighter to Emirates

The global Dutch express and mail delivery services company TNT Express has confirmed that Emirates will initially fly its second widebody aircraft, a Boeing 747-400ER freighter (OO-THB?), when it is delivered to TNT Airlines in May 2007. It will be leased out to Emirates while TNT develops its long haul network. The aircraft could operate anywhere on the Emirates network with TNT as a priority customer. TNT¹s first B747-400ER, registered as OO-THA, was delivered on December 21st, 2006 at the company integrator's European hub of Liège-Bierset Airport (See BAHA News of December 21st, 2006). This aircraft will be dedicated to China-Europe route but, under the current bilateral agreement between Belgium and China, TNT is limited to two flights a week. Therefore the OO-THA will be part-deployed on the European network until the end of February, when restrictions ease. Source: International Freighting Weekly.

12/01 - The Belgian government approves the MoD's military operation planning for 2007

On January 12th, the Belgian government has approved the MoD's provisional international military operation planning for 2007 excluding participations to eventual European Battle Groups and NATO Response Forces operations. Quoted in this provisional programme the Air Component flying unit participations:

  • The Air Component will assume the NATO's airspace patrol over the three Baltic countries with four F-16 fighters (currently FA-98, FA-115, FA-124 & FA-133) operating from Siauliai-Zokniai air base (Lithuania) until March 31st, 2007. This operation has started on last December (see BAHA News of December 1st, 2006);
  • The C-130H Hercules (CH-08) deployed since November 1st, 2006 to Afghanistan, as part of the Belgian contribution to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) will remain in Afghanistan until the end of February 2007 (See BAHA News of December 5th, 2006);
  • From January 16th a N°15 Wing Tactical Transport Flight (TTF) C-130H Hercules will refuel 8 times and for periods of six days the 4200 litres air transportable Liquid Oxygen (LOX) container provided by Belgium as support to the Dutch F-16AM fighters of the European Expeditionary Air Wing (EEAW) of the (ISAF) in Afghanistan - relocated from Kabul to Kandahar air base on November 11th & 12th, 2006.
  • From October 2007 the Belgian forces will take over the control of the Kabul International Airport (KIAI) and are considering in the same time the deployment for six months of  four F-16AM fighters to Afghanistan like in 2005 for Operation Eastern Eagle (See BAHA Special features:  ISAF VIII - Operation "Eastern Eagle"  and   EASTERN EAGLE 2005 - Mission Accomplished
  • At a still to be determined period the Wing Heli of Bierset might once again dispatch three A.109BA Hirundo helicopters for supporting the Operation Althea of the European Union Force (EUFOR) in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Sources:  Prescenter 1 (FR) &  (NL) and Presscenter 2 (NL) & (FR)  

11/01 - The MoD has signed a convention with Sabena Technics for the furniture of a second hand C-130 Hercules UPDATED

On January 11th, the MoD has signed a convention with Sabena Technics for the furniture of a second hand Lockheed C-130 Hercules transport aircraft as replacement for the one, CH-02, lost at Brussels Zaventem Airport in the Sabena Technics Hangar 40 fire on May, 5th, 2006 pictures: http://jansaircraft.fotopic.net/c1192151.html (see also BAHA News of May 5th & November 21st, 2006). In the framework of this replacement convention Sabena Technics will purchase a C-130 airframe and bring it up to the Belgian Air Component C-130H Hercules fleet standard. The whole operation should take about 18 months. The most likely source for this replacement aircraft is now reported as being one of the numerous former US Air Force C-130E Hercules stored at the USAF Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center (AMARC) Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. Source: Het Laatste Nieuws. http://www.hln.be/hlns/cache/det/art_358244.html?wt.bron=dossierArt1

11/01 - Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt pleads for a direct Brussels-Tokyo route

In the framework of the visit in Belgium of Japanese Prime Minister, M. Shinzo Abe, Belgian Prime Minister, M. Guy Verhofstadt, has plead for the re-establishment of a new direct Brussels-Tokyo route – which disappeared with the Sabena bankruptcy. The apogee of Mr Abe's visit to Europe took place on January 12th when the he rendered a historical visit to the NATO headquarters in Evere (Brussels). This visit was generally considered as a sign of Japan's willingness to strengthen the bonds with the western military alliance. For his European tour the Japanese PM made use of Japanese Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) Boeing B747 serial 20-1101 that was parked on January 11th and 12th at Melsbroek air base. Pictures: 1 and 2 at Airliners.be  Sources: De Gentenaar & VRT/FlandersNews

11/01 - Less training flights at Oostende Airport

Flemish regional Minister for Public Works, Energy, the Environment and Nature, M. Kris Peeters, has decided to limit the training flights at Oostende Airport to a maximum of three touch and go per day between 09h00 and 20h00 and forbid such training manoeuvres during weekends, bank, public and school holidays. In 2006 a total of 68 hours of flying training were performed at Oostende Airport by airlines (18), NATO (2) and military (30). Source: WTV-Focus

11/01 - VLM Airlines passenger numbers up 9% in 2006

2006 is considered as a very positive year by the VLM Airlines management. The airline carried 681,751 passengers in 2006 ­ a 9 % increase over 2005. The Antwerp airport headquartered company attributes its growth to the increase in passenger numbers on existing routes, and the launch of two new routes in 2006. The airline strategy is focussed on passengers travelling for business purposes and offers them time-saving travel solutions, convenient schedules and a true onboard service. Having received the coveted "Regional Airline of the Year for 2006" award from Air Transport World in January 2006, VLM Airlines implemented last year a number of initiatives, such as increased frequencies (up to 13 flights every weekday) on its Amsterdam to London City route and the launch of two new routes: Groningen to London City via Amsterdam, and Antwerp direct to Manchester. At the beginning of November, the airline celebrated another milestone with more than 100 daily flights at London City Airport. Source: VLM.

11/01 - Air & Land Components to conduct low level flying exercise Poppy 01/2007 over Ardennes

Air and Land Components will conduct low level flying exercise over the Ardennes under code name Poppy 01 /2007 between January 22nd & 26th. 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 01/2007 targets and Low Level Flying Areas (LLFA) will be located in the Remagne zone. Air operations will be lead during day-hours and depending weather conditions. Sources: Mil.be NL and FR and  and the Baha Special:  -Low flying exercise "Poppy Red"- by Jos Schoofs

10/01 - Brussels Airlines extends its cooperation with Flightcare

Brussels Airlines is to extend its cooperation with ground handling Company Flightcare at its home base Brussels Airport. As from the March 25th Flightcare will supply handling services to all Brussels Airlines b.light passengers.  Handling services for long haul, medium haul and b.flex passengers will be provided by Brussels Airlines employees. Source: Brussels Airlines

10/01 - AIRLINES - Brussels Airlines expands long haul fleet with a fourth Airbus A 330-300

Brussels Airlines is determined to make 2007 the year where in the expansion of its long haul network will be kicked off.   The airline signed a Letter of Intent to extend the company¹s long haul fleet with an additional Airbus 330-300. The company currently operates three Airbus A330-301 (OO-SFM, OO-SFN & OO-SFO). The contract with the leasing company AerCap (link http://www.aercap.com/intro/index.asp) will be finalized over the next coming months. The aircraft will be scheduled as from late 2007 on the company¹s long haul network. Thanks to this fourth A330 Brussels Airlines will create direct employment for dozens of people in the next coming months, mainly for cockpit and cabin crews. New jobs with the subcontractors in Brussels Airport will also be created. It is currently rumoured that the main candidate for this leasing (future OO-SFT?) is A330-322 MSN 082, ex Air Madrid (EC-JTB).  This aircraft flew until April 2006 with LTU and is currently owned by AerCap (reg. EI-DVB) and stored in Madrid. It has a charter configuration with about 350 seats and is in need to be equipped with flat-bed business class seats and less dense economy class seats. In the meantime it will be used for ad hoc flights immediately after its entry into service with Brussels Airlines. Sources: Brussels Airlines, Luchtzak.be and http://www.planespotters.net/Airline/SN-Brussels-Airlines#Fleet_Overview

10/01 - OO-DWL first SNBA Avro RJ100 to be repainted into the new livery of Brussels Airlines

On January 10th, SN Brussels Airlines British Aerospace Avro RJ100 OO-DWL left Brussels to Amsterdam Schiphol Quality Aircraft Painting Services (QAPS) plant (link: http://www.nag.aero/Smartsite.shtml?id=54384) where it will be repainted into the new 14 balls B-livery of Brussels Airlines. The OO-DWL is expected back home at Brussels early next week. Source: Luchtzak & Pictures

10/01 - Critically injured Russian billionaire transported by Air Component has paid the bill

On November 29th, critically injured Russian billionaire M. Suleiman Kerimov was transported from Marseille to Melsbroek by N°15 Wing Embraer ERJ-135 CE-01 (See BAHA News of November 29th). M. Kerimov suffered severe burns after a car crash and was transferred at the request of the hospital of Marseille to the Neder-over-Heembeek (Military Hospital) Burn Center. Answering an MP question the Ministry of Defence, M. André Flahaut, has confirmed the payment of his air transport cost (5.798,81 Euro) by M. Kerimov on December 11th. He also emphasized on the unusual character of this operation and regretted the legal harassment organised by the company Noordzee Helicopters Vlaanderen (NHV) hampering his project to use military helicopters - Seaking as well as A109BA - for medical emergency and transplant organ transport (see BAHA News of April 19th, May 28th, July 28th, 2006). Source: La Chambre/De Kamer .

10/01 - Two Wing Heli A109BA Hirundo helicopters "prepositioned" in Benin

On November 17th, 2006 two A109BA Hirundo helicopters (H-20 & H-45) of the Wing Heli were deployed to Benin for Belgian pilots flying training at night and in a tropical environment  and at the same time to  demonstrate their capacity to fulfill the Beninian President  transport and liaison duties (See BAHA News of November 17th, 2006). Answering an MP question the Ministry of Defence, M. André Flahaut, has confirmed the interest of Benin to purchase two of the nine for sale Air Component supernumerary A109BA helicopters. The nine currently stored A109BA at the Zutendaal Deposit Center are H-09, H-10, H-11, H-12, H-13, H-15, H-17, H-18 & H-34. Considering the price of the air transport of the H-20 and H-45 to Benin and the Belgian-Benin exercise programmed for next April it has been decided to leave both helicopters in storage (or prepositioned) at Cotonou where in the meantime they will be used to organise some other Belgian pilots flying training sessions. Source: De Kamer/La Chambre 

10/01 - Purchase of 10 NH90 helicopters: before the end of  thecurrent government legal term

Answering an MP question about the still to be signed contract for the purchase of 10 NH90 helicopters (4 NFH for SAR/Navy support and 6 TTH for tactical transport) for the Air Component, the Minister of Defence, M. André Flahaut, has reaffirmed his wish to sign it before the end of the current government legal term - May/June 2007. The decision to purchase these helicopters through an international co-operation procedure with the NATO Helicopter Management Organisation (NAHEMO) was taken on December, 9th 2005 (See BAHA News of December 9th and 13th, 2005). The NATO Helicopter Management Agency (NAHEMA) was then mandated by Belgium to negotiate a contract with NH Industry. The federal Ministry of Finance has expressed some remarks on November 21st, 2006 while the Federal Treasury Inspection Administration has provided its own remarks about the contract project on December 18th, 2006. The final project was proposed to the government on December 21st, 2006 (See BAHA Forum). It is rumoured that the main concern between the governmental partners is the price of the proposed deal reported to be about 350 million Euro so much higher than the initial estimated price of 300 million Euros. This price growing sound to be linked to the choice of improved equipment such as an advanced communication system, floatation gear, etc. Source: La Chambre/De Kamer and Air & Cosmos

09/01 - N°15 Transport Wing cabin crews went on "strike"

On January 9th, most of  the  N°15 Transport Wing cabin crews (stewards, loadmasters and flying mechanics) went on "strike" or more appropriately fall sick altogether, strike actions being illegal for military personnel. Some of their representatives went to the MoD were they expressed their concern about their future status and service primes. As result of this rather unusual action most of the Wing flights of the day were cancelled except an Embraer training flight. Sources:  Gazet van Antwerpen and Het Laatste Nieuws.

08/01 - Antwerp Airport small growth over 2006

During 2006 the Deurne-Antwerp Airport processed 147.849 passengers or 3,6% more than in 2005. Most of these additional passengers come from the increased VLM Airlines flights. With 55.023 aircraft movements in 2006 the airport notes a status quo. For its part the freight activity presents better results: with 4.664 tons processed in 2005 to 6.825 (+46%) in 2006. Sources: De Standaard and Aviation Society of Antwerp (ASA).

08/01 -  Wreck of a rare Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI German giant bomber discovered at Poelkapelle

The remnants of an airplane located in 1981 in an open field at Poelkapelle by Mr. Daniël Parrein, near Ieper, were recently identified as the wreckage of the W.W.I giant biplane bomber German Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI with serial R34/16. After exhumation no further attention has been paid to the pile of the stack of old iron wire, plate and other debris which were later purchased by Mr. Piet Steen an aviation fanatic, member of the local "Georges Guynemer Commemoration Committee" and a former leisure pilot. He has recently identified these pieces with the help of the specialists of the Krakow's Aviation Museum (Poland). The parts have been identified as belonging to the Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI R34/16 plane (only 18 aircraft of the type were produced) of Rfa 501(Riesenflugzeug-Abteilung) based at Scheldewindeke near Gent which crashed on April 21st, 1918 after a bombing mission against the British HQ and main supply base of the Royal Flight Corps at St. Omer in France. It is believed that the plane has been shot down above the sector of the 2nd British Army when trying to cross the front line. Until now it has not been made clear if the giant plane has been hit by ground fire or has been shot down by a fighter aircraft. The seven crew members of the bomber died in the crash. More details and pictures: http://users.telenet.be/mariehelenepetit/zep-sta/press-doc.htm

05/01 - New management structure almost operational at Kortrijk airport.

By the end of next year a new management structure for Kortrijk-Wevelgem airport should be operational according to Flemish Minister of Public Works Kris Peeters. According to Peeters a yet to be finished business plan learns that the airport can be successfully ran by mixed private-governmental enterprise. Source: Het Laatste Nieuws

03/01 - Charleroi Brussels South: 2006 the year for all records

The Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) operator presented 2006 as the year of all records with 2,166,360 recorded passengers, or a 16% increase over the year 2005 which had recorded 1,873,349 passengers. This significant growth results from the launch of no fewer than twelve new destinations during the last twelve months. With 26 weekly destinations, including nine capital cities and over two million passengers a year, Charleroi Brussels South reinforces its position as the N°2 airport in Belgium. The number of aircraft movements recorded at the airport in 2006 reached 66,404, which is an increase of 8.5 percent over 2005. Source: Charleroi Airport and Het laatste Nieuws.

03/01 - US Airways announces non stop service to Brussels from its Philadelphia hub

On January 3rd, US Airways announces several new non stop services throughout Europe including Brussels from its Philadelphia hub scheduled to start in May and June. US Airways will fly one daily year round round-trip from Philadelphia to Brussels beginning June 1st. All flights will operate with either Boeing 757 or 767 aircraft equipped with Envoy business class seating. Source: US Airways and De Standaard.

03/01 -  A NATO report points out that Belgium's military hardware investments are too low

Off all NATO member-states which have an army, Belgium is spending the smallest percentage (5.4%) for the renewal of its military equipment, a NATO report announced.  The largest part (75.4%) of Belgian military expenditure goes to military and civilian personnel. While defence expenditure rose slightly between 2005 and 2006 (from 3.385 billion € to 3.542 billion €) this only represents 1.1% of the GNP in 2006, compared to 2.7% in the period 1985-1989.  Source: Het Laatste Nieuws & La Libre Belgique

02/01 - Less freight but more passengers at Oostende Airport in 2006

In 2006 Oostende Airport handled a total of 98.525 tons of freight. This total is 9% lower than the 108.260 tons handled during 2005. This figure results mainly from the withdrawal from DAS Cargo and Kalitta Air while Egyptair transported less freight than the previous year. The total number of passengers that used Ostend Airport rose with 16% to a total of 146.355 thanks to tour-operator airlines Jetairfly and Thomas Cook who flew from Oostende 11 weekly services to holiday-destinations in Southern-Europe. Sources: Het Laatste Nieuws and VRT Nieuws

02/01 - Brussels Airlines to reopen the Bujumbura (Burundi) route

According to an article published by the economical magazine Trends/Tendances, Brussels Airlines intends to reopen a route to Bujumbura in Burundi. Bujumbura-bound travellers would thus not have to fly with Air France-KLM through Amsterdam and Nairobi. This shows the active involvement of Brussels Airlines in Africa, where it obviously intends to (re)play a major role. Brussels Airlines is also reported actively seeking a fourth Airbus A330. Source: Trends

01/01 - SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express had 8% more passengers in 2006

SN Brussels Airlines and Virgin Express, who are uniting under Brussels Airlines, had 8% more passengers in 2006. The two airlines combined flew 5.942 million passengers from or to Brussels Airport, an increase of 416,000 compared with 2005. The companies said their offers of cheaper flights and better use of the combined fleet allowed for the increase. As of March 25th, the two entities will operate under a common name. One part of the company will offer a no-frills service based on the Virgin Express identity while another will cater to the business community and offer customers more convenience and flexibility. Source: International Herald Tribune and Travel Daily News

01/01 - The SAR Sea King helicopters of 40 Squadron were scrambled 82 times during 2006

The SAR Sea King helicopters of the 40 Squadron were scrambled 82 times during 2006 and rescued a total of 45 individuals. Every day of the year some two Westland Seaking Mk.48 helicopters are on stand-by to take-off within 15 minutes at their Koksijde home base. The Air Component homepage provides details over the 40 Squadron SAR Seaking helicopters scrambles of 2006. Sources: Mil.be FR & NL.

 

NEWS Archive

Last updated 12/09/08 10:12   Daniel Brackx

daniel.brackx@telenet.be