Wednesday, October 28, 2020

HISTORICAL INTEREST: Five Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28's that flew as Military Transports / LADE

Eleven F-28's Served with the Argentine Government & Military

* The Fuerza Aerea Argentina flew five F-28's in the military transport role and with the state airline Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE).

The FAA also flew three F-28's as VIP+Presidential transports, one of which also operated as a military transport and with LADE. 

* The Armada Argentina (Navy) flew three F-28's.

This posting will cover the first five aircraft noted above with two postings to follow this one covering the other six planes.

Five Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Military Transports / LADE

The FAA took delivery of all five of these F-28's in 1975.  

Their military transport duties included flying supplies between Air Force bases in Argentina plus emergency medical and foreign airmail flights.  Notably, the F-28's supplied Argentine forces in the Islas Malvinas / Falkland Islands throughout the 1982 South Atlantic War.      

With LADE, the aircraft operated flights to remote locations in the southern Patagonia region of Argentina plus, starting in 1977, services connecting Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD) with Puerto Argentino / Port Stanley in the Malvinas / Falklands.

The last F-28 flight operated in any capacity by any entity in Argentina was thought to have been flown by Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-53 (c/n 11020), in August 2019 shortly before the aircraft's time limit for undergoing heavy maintenance.  However, Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-52 (c/n 11074), operated a flight between Mendoza (MDZ) and Villa Reynolds (VME) as recently as 05Oct20.  

Individual Aircraft Histories:

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-51 (c/n 11076), in the factory delivery color scheme.  Date and location unknown.  (Phil Perry Collection)   

F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-51 (c/n 11076), was delivered by Fokker, the aircraft's manufacturer, on 13Jan75, the same day as Aerolineas Argentinas' first of three factory new F-28's, LV-LOA (c/n 11085) was handed over to the Argentine national airline.     

TC-51 joined the 1st Aerial Brigade based out of El Palomar Air Force Base and flew for Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE). Unlike the other four F-28's operated by the FAA, TC-51 was never modified with a cargo door, always flying only passengers in the main cabin.  

The aircraft continued in steady service for the FAA until it suffered an accident on 16Aug89.  TC-51 was departing from Bariloche (BRC) to Neuquen (NQN) in marginal weather when it partially departed the left side of the snow-covered runway.  The pilot was able to regain control of the aircraft but it was not able to take off properly, "struck an ILS aerial, crossed a ditch and ended up against a dyke". 

The aircraft was apparently flying for LADE as it had 65 occupants onboard, some of whom were reportedly seriously injured but all survived.  TC-51 was "damaged beyond repair" and finished its career with a total of 14,002 hours and 18,255 cycles on its airframe.        

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-52 (c/n 11074), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), apparently in November 1998. (Phil Perry Collection)

F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-52 (c/n 11076), was delivered new from the Fokker factory to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina on 30Jan75, promptly joining the force's 1st Aerial Brigade, also flying for Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE).  

The aircraft also gained the Argentine civil registration LV-RCS in 1991, flying for Dinar Lineas Aereas, an Argentine regional carrier of the time, for two years after which it was re-registered back to TC-52 in 1993.     

Like three other F-28's operated by the FAA, TC-52 was later modified with a cargo door.

As of 31Aug18, TC-52 had accumulated 23,666 flight hours over 27,292 cycles and, as of this writing, is the sole F-28 still flying in Argentina and perhaps the entire world.

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-53 (c/n 11020), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 15Aug14 in the most recent Argentine Air Force color scheme, also sporting a "100 Years" emblem on the tail commemorating the 100th year anniversary of the FAA.  (Phil Perry Photo)    

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-53 (c/n 11020), at Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) on 17Dec19 with its tail painted in red colors and sporting its unit insignia in commemoration of the retirement of the F-28 type from FAA service in August 2019 (except that TC-52 continues to fly for the FAA until this day).  (Phil Perry Photo)

F-28 Mk-1000, (c/n 11020), first flew in 1970 with Fokker delivering it to its US marketing partner Fairchild Hiller Corp. as N283FH in June 1970.  Fairchild Hiller manufactured the Fokker F-27 as the Fairchild F-27 and a stretched version as the FH-227, with the production run of both types totaling 206 airframes.  

The company apparently operated N283FH as an executive transport until 1975 when a cargo door was added converting the aircraft to an F-28 Mk-1000C and the plane was delivered to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina as TC-53 on 07May75.  The aircraft promptly joined the 1st Aerial Brigade and Lineas Aereas del Estado where it flew until wing cracks were discovered on 16Aug19 leading to its retirement only two weeks before its airworthiness certificate was set to expire on 31Aug19.

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-54 (c/n 11018), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP), reportedly in March 1996.  (Phil Perry Collection)

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-54 (c/n 11018), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 24Oct10 in the last scheme that it wore.  (Phil Perry Photo)

This aircraft was delivered to Fairchild Hiller Corp. in March 1970, operating for the company until April 1975 when it was converted to a cargo version with the addition of a cargo door and subsequently delivered to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina as TC-54 in July 1975.   

TC-54 joined the 1st Aerial Brigade and Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE) until August 1992 when it acquired the dual civil registration of LV-VCS, apparently flying for Dinar Lineas Aereas.

By 1994, the aircraft was back flying full time for the FAA / LADE, finally being retired in 2016 with 21,415 hours and 24,515 cycles on its airframe through October of that year. 

Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-55 (c/n 11024), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on an undetermined date.  (Phil Perry Collection)

This aircraft's history closely parallels that of TC-54 / (c/n 11018), having been delivered to Fairchild Hiller in 1970, converted to a cargo version in 1975 and  continuing on to the FAA / LADE later that year where it joined the 1st Aerial Brigade and LADE. 

The aircraft soldiered on with the FAA / LADE for four decades being retired in 2016 with 20,036 hours and 23,497 cycles accumulated on its airframe at that time.  


Saturday, October 24, 2020

ROUTE UPDATES: Regularly-scheduled domestic flights resumed in Argentina on 22Oct20 after a seven month suspension

Aerolineas Argentinas takes off again ! ! ! 

Argentina went into quarantine related to COVID-19 on 20Mar20 resulting in the suspension of all regularly scheduled domestic and international flights.  While there have been many "special" flights operated worldwide by both Argentine and foreign airlines, mostly to repatriate Argentines stranded overseas and foreigners marooned in Argentina, these flights have typically not been available to the general public.  They have usually been approved by the various governments only a few at a time, typically with just a couple of weeks' notice. 

However, a first step back to regularly-scheduled service took place on Thursday, 22Oct20 when Aerolineas Argentinas operated four domestic flights from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Jujuy (JUJ), Mendoza (MDZ), Tucuman (TUC) and Ushuaia (USH).  This was followed on Friday, 23Oct20 with service from EZE to Cordoba (COR), Neuquen (NQN), Posadas (PSS), Resistencia (RES) and Salta (SLA).  

The flights require passengers to apply for government authorization online but the permissions appear to be more like registrations rather than a process that requires an approval. 

The flights are being operated out of Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) and not Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) because the latter airport's runway is being widened by 20 meters (65 ft.) and extended by 615 meters (2,000 ft.) with the facility expected to reopen in February 2021.      

More destinations are expected to be added from EZE in the coming weeks.


Sunday, October 18, 2020

FLEET UPDATE: Fuerza Aerea Argentina continues to operate one F-28, TC-52 (c/n 11074)

The Argentine Government has operated a fleet of Fokker F-28's as government / military transports since 1970 when the first aircraft, F-28 Mk-1000, T-01, (c/n 11028), was delivered to the Fuerza Aerea Argentina as a VIP presidential aircraft. 

The last F-28 flight operated in any capacity by any entity in Argentina was thought to have been flown by Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-53, (c/n 11020) in August 2019 shortly before the aircraft's time limit for undergoing heavy maintenance.  However, Fuerza Aerea Argentina F-28 Mk-1000C, TC-52, (c/n 11074) operated a flight between Mendoza (MDZ) and Villa Reynolds (VME) as recently as 05Oct20.  

A total of 17 F-28's have operated in Argentina; in airline service with Aerolineas Argentinas, American Falcon, Austral, DINAR, and LAER and with the nation's Air Force, Navy, Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE) and as a VIP / Presidential transport.

The blog editor will soon make three postings with a short history of each F-28 flown by the Argentine government in its various roles. 


Friday, October 16, 2020

HISTORICAL INTEREST: Fuerza Aerea Argentina / LADE retired F-27 fleet in September 2016 after nearly 40 years in service

Lineas Aereas del Estado - LADE, an arm of the Fuerza Aerea Argentina, retired its last F-27 from service in 2016 after over 40 years flying the type.  F-27-400M, TC-79 (c/n 10575), marked the end of an era in mid-September with a week-long tour of 19 cities where the aircraft flew during its career.  

The aircraft was painted in a special scheme for the occasion as noted in these links to the Rollout Spotting blog and short YouTube video:

Celebrations greeted TC-79 everywhere it flew starting at Parana (PRA) and continuing to El Palomar (EPA), Mar del Plata (MDQ), Bahia Blanca (BHI), Trelew (REL), Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD), Puerto Madryn (PMY), San Antonio Oeste (OES), Gobernador Gregores (GGS), Puerto Deseado (PUD), San Julian, Santa Cruz, Rio Gallegos (RGL), Rio Grande (RGA), Ushuaia (USH), El Calafate (FTE), Esquel (EQS), Bariloche (BRC), and Neuquen (NQN).  Most of these airports are located in the Patagonia region of southern Argentina famed for its lakes, glaciers, mountains and wilderness.

LADE's F-27 fleet additionally operated flights from Comodoro Rivadavia (CRD) to the Islas Malvinas / Falklands Islands during the 1970's bringing medications and other supplies to the archipelago.  It also flew 309 missions to the islands in support of Argentine forces during the South Atlantic War of 1982 transporting men and materiel without suffering any losses.   

The Fuerza Aerea Argentina operated a total of sixteen F-27's with all or nearly all of them having flown passenger service on behalf of LADE.  

The aircraft had a poor safety record flying for the FAA / LADE, probably reflective of the rugged Patagonia region where it flew with frequent bad weather, especially in winter, and airfields that were often minimally equipped with navigational and other aids.  

Nine of the sixteen F-27's were involved in incidents ranging from serious, such as a gear collapse upon landing, to devastating accidents with the loss of all passengers and crew, which happened twice.         

Specifically, the following aircraft were involved in the listed incidents / accidents:  

F-27-600, T-42 (c/n 10346) - Gear up landing in Rio Gallegos (RGL) on 18Apr72 with no victims.  

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-71 (c/n 10403) - Nose gear collapsed upon landing in Lago Argentino on 06Feb75 with no victims.

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-73 (c/n 10407) - Left main landing gear collapse followed by runway excursion and collision with the airport terminal building in Jeremie Airport, Haiti while flying a United Nations peace mission on 16Jun95. No victims.      

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-77 (c/n 10416) - Landing accident at the Marambio Base in Antarctica on 02Dec69 resulting in the W/O of the aircraft but with no victims.    

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-74 (c/n 10408) - Collided with a generator while starting to taxi at the Military Aviation School in Cordoba on 07Feb73 resulting in one death.  Cargo door opened while in flight over Cordoba on 04Oct74 with one death.     

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-75 (c/n 10411) - Collision with terrain in the Quebrada del Rio Congas 200km northeast of Lima, Peru while performing a humanitarian aid flight. Loss of 4 crew members with 4 passengers seriously injured.     

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-76 (c/n 10412) - Collision with terrain after an abrupt turn during take off followed by fire at Mendoza (MDZ) on 17May11 with the loss of 4 victims. 

F-27-400M Troopship, TC-72 (c/n 10404) - Collision with Mt. Pilcaniyeu while on final approach to Bariloche (BRC) on 16Mar75 with the loss of 52 victims. 

F-27-500, TC-72 (c/n 10619) - Collision with terrain in stormy conditions including rain, turbulence and strong winds near Mt. Champaqui in Cordoba on 08Nov95 with the loss of 53 victims. 

Sources: via Carlos Abella via Carlos Abella    

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

ROUTE UPDATE: KLM replaced 777-300 with 787-9 on Amsterdam (AMS) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Santiago (SCL) route in approx. mid 2019

KLM replaced its 408-seat 777-300's on the Amsterdam (AMS) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) - Santiago (SCL) route with 294-seat 787-9's in approx. mid-2019.  The equipment change apparently continues to this day as the Dutch carrier has operated the type on its authorized "special flights" on this route several times recently (regularly-scheduled flights have not returned to Argentina yet).

The change effectively reduced the number of Economy Class seats operated by KLM to Argentina and Chile while maintaining the quantity of Economy Comfort and World Business seats as the 777-300's have 334, 40 and 34 seats in each class, respectively, while the 787-9's have 216, 48 and 30 such seating.

The economy class seat reduction might be to balance out the increase in number of flights by KLM on the route in recent years from 4x/weekly to 6x/weekly.  The consistent number of premium cabin seating probably reflects the importance of business travel on this route.  



Sunday, October 11, 2020

ROUTE UPDATE: Iberia added the A350-900 between Madrid (MAD) and Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 25Feb19

Iberia Airlines started operating the A350-900 on the Madrid (MAD) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) route on 25Feb19, the first Latin American airport to see service with this type by IB and the second overall after New York Kennedy (JFK).  The type was scheduled to operate one of Iberia's two daily flights between the Spanish and Argentine capitals. 

The equipment change apparently continues to this day as the Spanish  carrier has operated the type on its authorized "special flights" on this route several times in the past week (regularly-scheduled flights have not returned to Argentina yet).

Iberia was scheduled to receive a total of 16 A350-900's by 2021, although the delivery schedule might have been pushed back due to COVID-19. 


Friday, October 9, 2020

ROUTE UPDATE: LATAM Brazil added Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) - Cordoba (COR) - Mount Pleasant (MPN) (Malvinas / Falklands) on 20Nov19

LATAM Brazil inaugurated Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU) - Cordoba (COR) - Mt. Pleasant (MPN) service on 20Nov19 linking Brazil's largest city and Argentina's second-largest community with the Malvinas / Falklands Islands, subject of the territorial dispute between Argentina and the UK that led to the South Atlantic War of 1982.

The service was scheduled to operate GRU - MPN nonstop 3x/monthly and GRU - COR - MPN 1x/monthly with all flights operated by 767-300's but was presumably suspended in March 2020 when all scheduled flights to/from and within Argentina were suspended due to COVID-19.  

The new route complements the flights operated by LATAM Chile and predecessor LAN Chile since 1999 using A319's and A320's between Punta Arenas (PUQ) Chile and Mt. Pleasant (MPN) nonstop 3x/monthly and 1x/monthly with a stop in Rio Gallegos (RGL) in Argentina.

Both the new and existing flights serve to connect the islands with the South American mainland and the world beyond, giving islanders more access to supplies and important services, such as medical treatment.  767-300's were chosen for the route on the basis of their cargo capacity, which by itself was expected to make the route profitable.