In Photos: How An Airbus A330 Was Turned Into An Ocean Reef

We have seen plenty of unusual uses for retired aircraft over the years – including hotels, homes, and…

In Photos: How An Airbus A330 Was Turned Into An Ocean Reef

We have seen plenty of unusual uses for retired aircraft over the years – including hotels, homes, and restaurants. One of the more surprising though has to be Turkey’s project in June 2019 to sink an A330 in 30 meters of water to create an artificial reef. Similar previous projects with smaller aircraft have proved popular, and it is hoped this will be a big draw for scuba divers.

An A330-300 was sunk in four hours in June 2019. Photo: Getty Images

New life for a retired A330

The aircraft in question is an Airbus A330-300, last carrying the registration TC-OCB. It was originally delivered new to Hong Kong airline Dragonair in 1995 and transferred to the Turkey and Saudi Arabia-based airline Onur Air in 2010. It was retired in 2017, after almost 23 years in service.

Dragonair A330
The aircraft entered service as VR-HYA with Dragonair in 1995 before transferring to Onur Air in 2010. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia

Not uncommonly, there would have been little interest in the purchase of a widebody aircraft at this age. Rather than being scrapped, though, TC-OCB was saved in a joint project with Turkish authorities to sink the fuselage as an artificial reef. This would attract sea life to form a reef, and with it tourists and scuba divers.

Financial contributions for this came from Trans Anatolian Natural Gas Pipeline Project (TANAP). Reports indicate that the company paid around $100,000 for the A330 airframe.

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Sinking the aircraft

Any post-retirement project for a large aircraft is usually logistically challenging. So how then did the new owners go about getting this A330 to its underwater location?

The aircraft was stripped and dismantled in Antalya, Turkey, by the Turkish firm Skyair Shop. As with any aircraft recycling, this would remove many parts that could be reused or resold, as well as components that could be harmful to the marine environment. The result was a mostly empty airframe, with seats and galley components, cabling and electronic and all flight instruments removed.

A330 sinking 2019
The A330 was transferred by road to the port town of Ibrice to await its journey to sea. Photo: Getty Images

By March 2019, this was complete, and the aircraft was ready for transport to sea. The airframe was transported by six road trucks from Antalya to the northern port town of Ibrice in the northwestern Edirne province.

After some re-assembly at the port, it was floated out around half a mile into the sea. This took place with a special launch ceremony on June 14th. To sink the aircraft, floats supporting it were carefully deflated, allowing it to submerge.  According to local media, it took around four hours for the aircraft to become fully submerged.

A330 sinking 2019
The aircraft was taken out on floats and positioned for sinking. Photo: Getty Images

A boost for tourism

The aircraft will act as a diving and tourism attraction for the region. It has been purposely sunk in an ideal 30 meters of water for this purpose. The first dives took place just the day after the aircraft was sunk.

A330 sinking 2019
The potential of a boost to regional tourism was highlighted at the launch event. Photo: Getty Images

Ali Uysal, deputy governor of the province, highlighted the importance of scuba diving to the region during the launch ceremony. According to the Turkish media outlet Anadolu Agency, he explained that whilst an ordinary tourist may generate an income of between $500 and 600, a tourist coming for scuba diving generates between $2,000 and $3,000.

Not the only aircraft for divers

Incredible as this new reef and tourist attraction is, it is far from the first of its kind. The A330 joins several other aircraft in different locations in Turkish water. An A300 was sunk off the coast at Kusadasi in 2016, and a Douglas DC-2 was sunk in 2009.

It is also not the biggest aircraft submerged. In Bahrain, a Boeing 747 was sunk in 2019 to form the centerpiece of an underwater eco-park. This opened to divers soon after.

Underwater diving attractions are certainly some of the more unusual uses for retired aircraft. Have you ever dived such an attraction – or do you plan to visit this one? Let us know in the comments. 

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Chair Airlines Leases Enter Air 737 To Plug Capacity Gap

The small Swiss airline, Chair Airlines, has announced plans to lease one Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Polish airline…

Chair Airlines Leases Enter Air 737 To Plug Capacity Gap

The small Swiss airline, Chair Airlines, has announced plans to lease one Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Polish airline Enter Air. This comes as flights services resume after the pandemic, but Chair Airlines finds itself missing one of its three Airbus A319s following a maintenance accident in 2020.

Chair Airlines operates just two A319 aircraft – these will be joined over summer by one 737-800. Photo: Firat Cimenli via Wikimedia

Chair Airlines and the A319

Chair Airlines is a leisure carrier based at Zurich airport. It started service in 2014, under the brand Germania Flug. Since 2019, and after the bankruptcy of Germania, it rebranded as Chair Airlines. This was certainly a quirky choice of name. According to the airline, it represents both the seat that you book and the Swiss connection with the ‘ch.’

Germania A319
HB-JOG was operated by Germania in 2015. Photo: dxme via Wikimedia

The airline operates scheduled flights from Switzerland to several holiday destinations across Europe, as well as Egypt and Tunisia (10 destinations in total according to ch-aviation.com). Fleet-wise it operates just two Airbus A319-100 aircraft – with registrations HB-JOG and HB-JOJ. These were both acquired second-hand by Germania before being taken on by Chair Airlines.

Loosing one Airbus aircraft in 2020

Before the pandemic, Chair Airlines had a slightly larger fleet of thee A319 aircraft. A third aircraft with registration HB-JOH had a similar history but was lost in July 2020. This was the result of an unfortunate accident when undergoing maintenance at Naples airport. According to the airline, this happened following an impact with the door of a maintenance hangar, and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.

Chair Airlines A319
HB-JOH was the A319 written off in 2020. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia

Leasing a Boeing 737-800

Dropping to a fleet of two aircraft would clearly be impactful for such a small airline. With the slowdown in traffic seen in 2020, there was no immediate need to replace it. This has changed now that traffic is once again increasing.

Chair Airlines is leasing one Boeing 737-800 aircraft from Polish airline Enter Air. According to aeroTELEGRAPH, the 737, with registration SP-ESE, will occasionally fly over the summer on a wet lease arrangement. The Enter Air branding will be temporarily covered with the Chair Airlines logo. The aircraft was ferried to Zurich on July 21st and flew its first service the same day (from Zurich to Skopje).

Enter Air 737-800
An Enter Air 737-800 – similar to that being leased. Photo: Mark Harkin via Wikimedia

Chair Airlines and Enter Air

The choice of airline to lease from is no coincidence. Enter Air owns 49% of the shares in Chair Airlines. It is likewise a leisure airline, based in Warsaw and founded in just 2009. It took a share in struggling Germania Flug in March 2019.

Enter Air operates an all-Boeing fleet, with 24 Boeing 737-800 and two 737 MAX 8 aircraft (according to ch-aviation.com). It has a further six 737 MAX 8 aircraft on order.

Simple Flying reached out to Chair Airlines for further details on its plans for the 737-800 aircraft but had not heard back at the time of publication.

Have you ever flown with Chair Airlines and its small A319 fleet? Do you think this wet lease deal will work for the airline, or will it look to purchase its own aircraft as the market picks up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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