Flybe focuses on Q400

Dash 8 Q400 G-JECY (c/n 4156) is one of 52 examples of the turboprop operated by Flybe, which is divesting most of its regional jets to focus on the type.

Flybe is to focus its fleet on the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 turboprop and divest its larger regional jets. Europe’s biggest regional airline by both fleet size and passengers carried has completed a strategic fleet review, from which it has concluded the Canadian turboprop “is the best core aircraft” for its current and future needs.

Flybe’s strategy is to reduce its overall fleet size from the peak of 85 aircraft reached in May 2017 to a target of around 70 aircraft by early 2020, and to concentrate on profitable routes only. A statement from the airline said: “The Q400 is faster than the alternative turboprops, with a performance close to jet aircraft over the relatively short sectors that Flybe operates. In addition, with excellent operating economics, including turboprop fuel efficiency, it is cheaper to operate than similarsized jet aircraft and has a much smaller noise footprint.”

The Q400s have a relatively young average age, just over ten years, and Flybe says that where economical the service lives of these aircraft will be extended to “save considerable capital expenditure … by avoiding the requirement to acquire new aircraft”. A consequence of the focus on the Q400s is that the airline’s nine Embraer E195 jets will be phased out of service, although it will take on four previously ordered E175s (to take its fleet to 15) due for delivery in 2019. These will be delivered with new winglet technology to reduce fuel consumption. However, apart from these aircraft, the airline said it is “not planning any additional new aircraft orders for the foreseeable future”. Flybe Chief Executive Officer Christine Ourmières- Widener said the strategy of focusing on Q400s is intended to “make the business demand driven rather than capacity led” and “will be the optimum required for our specific regional route network”. Mark Broadbent

SOFIA returns

The unique NASA/DLR Boeing 747SP N747NA (c/n 21441) Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) taxiing at Hamburg in May following the completion of an extended period of C-check maintenance. The aircraft, which carries a 17-tonne telescope, has returned to the NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center.
Wout Goossens

A321 hybrid

Thomas Cook Airlines Airbus A321-211 G-TCVB (msn 5606) currently wears a hybrid livery that blends the Thomas Cook branding with the colours of its previous operator, the now-defunct Monarch.
Rob Skinkis

Cargo 146

A new UK operator is JOTA Cargo, which will operate a fleet of four former ASL Airlines BAE 146-300QT freighters on aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance charter work. Here G-JOTE c/n E3182 (ex-ASL Airlines EC-MFT) arrives at its Southend base after repainting by Air Livery at Norwich.
Simon Murdoch