04/22/2011

Large visitors this month

This April the aircraft spotters may have seen several large, unusual and often noisy aircraft coming to Geneva, including two massive Lockheed Hercules. How do they know in advance?


A quick check of large fixed-wing visitors to Geneva airport this month shows several that will have delighted the spotters and photographers at Geneva airport. When these are jet aircraft they are generally classified in the three noisiest classes (I, II and III) of the 5 which are specified by the Swiss federal civil aviation office, OFAC, and they will have paid landing fees which vary according to the class. Surprisingly, however, the actual recorded noise may often vary considerably, with those of the noisiest class not actually producing the most noise. Even more surprising is that large Turboprop aircraft may be very noisy yet appear to pay no noise surcharge!

The case of a Turboprop is the Lockheed Hercules transport aircraft. This massive aircraft, powered by 4 turboprop engines, was first built back in the 1960s. According to Wikipedia it exists in a military and a civilian version, but don't ask me what is the difference. According to Wikipedia, there are about 70 such aircraft in operation, of which half are civilian and half are military. Interestingly, Libya is reported to have some of each, but it is doubtful if these are flying at the moment!

Geneva has seen what appears to be one of each this month. On 15 April we saw the departure of one, registered as 7T-WHB and supposed to belong to the Algerian Air Force. Then, on 20 April, one registered as HZ-129 and belonging to Saudi Arabian Airlines, left just after 10pm. Whilst the Algerian one was not particularly noisy (taking off over the lake), the one of Saudi Arabian Airlines (taking off over Vernier) was the equal loudest of the whole day, registering 89 dBA (the other equal one was the Boeing 767 of Continental Airlines, which left in the morning) .

That observation rather makes a mockery of the noise surcharge regulations, which appear to apply only to aircraft with a MTOW (Maximum Take-off Weight) of at most 8618 kg. It is actually true that there would have been a noise surcharge for the takeoff after 10pm: a massive (!) 50 CHF. That would have been added to the normal airport charges of just under 1000 CHF for such an aircraft: hardly likely to have a serious effect on the finances of Saudi Arabia.

There have also been some interesting large jets this month, which would not have appeared on the arrival and departure screens, but I will detail these in another blog. However, I could already ask any spotters who read this blog, and who always seem to know in advance about such aircraft, the simple question :-

How do you know about them before they arrive?

 

 

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