Birmingham Airport (BHX) 31/03/2016

Birmingham Airport (BHX) 31/03/2016

Birmingham Airport (BHX) is not somewhere I normally frequent with my camera, however, the last couple of weeks have seen interest levels rise somewhat, prompting not just one but two separate visits!  This is the story and pictures from Thursday, 31st March 2016. 

So what has changed at BHX?  Well, firstly Emirates has changed one of its three daily 777-300s services to Dubai to an A380 service – and not only that, to date it has been utilising its high-density 615-seat examples on the route!  The aeroplanes are configured with just two classes: 58 business seats and 557 in economy.

OK, so A380s, and particularly Emirates ones, are nothing new to the UK, so this on its own was not enough to get me there.  Commencing brand new services (8x weekly) around the same time was Qatar Airways with its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliners.  Again, nothing new, but slowly but surely BHX is starting to become a more interesting place to visit.  Add in regulars like the daily Air India 787, 4x weekly PIA 777, 3x weekly Turkmenistan Airlines 777 and it starts to make more appeal.

On top of that, Birmingham is lucky to regularly receive visits from a variety of Antonov types operating cargo flights, and this was the deciding factor for the first of my two visits.

Antonov An-12BP UR-CBG of Cavok Air had stayed at BHX overnight, having arrived the previous teatime.  These aeroplanes seldom sit around for too long, so I felt it was worth a punt to head over in the hope that it would indeed move.

Since my last visit one of the big hangars that had previously obscured the view of the runway from the multi-storey car park in the Cargo area had been demolished, so I was also keen to see what that meant for pictures.  Quite simply, you are now able to get an unobstructed view over much of the Elmdon Apron.

The sun position is only good from noon, so I was taking it on trust that the An-12 would not depart before I arrived, but I’d not been there long before I noticed it being fuelled and then crewed.  The sunny conditions when I arrived had by now given way to rather more overcast ones, but fortunately the aircraft managed to find a gap in the cloud when it taxied out to the Runway 33 end, before departing in cloud.

My good friend Tom Gautier had joined me shortly before and he was keen to head to the other end of the airfield for the A380’s departure.  I followed, and we were rewarded with another nice break in the clouds.  The locals really are loving having the A380 operating from their airport and have been out to see it en masse on each of my visits.

Goat also wanted to show me another spot on the approach that I’d never been to before.  We were in position in time for the PIA 777, but the sun was in.  Slowly but surely conditions improved, and there were some nice skyscrapes around – it certainly looked like it would be worth hanging around to take advantage of the lovely early-evening light.

The Air India 787-8 that day carried the Star Alliance scheme – by no means the most interesting ever, but it was the first time I’d seen it carried by a Dreamliner.

There was nothing else desperately interesting, but it had been a decent enough afternoon and there had been some nice pictures on offer.  I could see potential for some taxi shots on Runway 33 as aircraft prepared to line up, and it was that that left that slight nagging desire to return (with steps!) – something which I would do just five days later!

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