Week of surprising and record-breaking flights

AirImages, shutterstock.com

As airlines around the globe were announcing flight cuts in bulk over the past week, one might be under the impression that movement in the skies is coming under a standstill. Not quite so. Here are the five impressive recent flights that brought awe, wonder, and surprise. 

Reminders what to do during COVID-19 pandemic 

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads, governments are imposing quarantines and urging their citizens to stay at home to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Just in case there are people who might have missed the memo by official channels, some pilots took it into their own hands to issue a friendly reminder on what to do during the pandemic. 

On March 16, 2020, a pilot in Austria drew a message. On March 19, the message was translated to Romanian, as a Pipistrel VIRUS pilot drew “stai acasa” (meaning “stay home”) over Moldova. 

Air Tahiti Nui accidentally breaks the record

On March 15, 2020, the French airline Air Tahiti Nui was operating (technically domestic) flight TN064 between Tahiti island in French Polynesia and Paris. While usually, the flight makes a stopover in Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), due to the coronavirus outbreak the United States had closed its borders for European flights four days earlier. Therefore, this time Air Tahiti Nui flew the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with 130 passengers onboard straight to Europe, breaking the longest passenger flight by traveled distance ever and the longest domestic flight records along the way. 

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 carries Olympic Flame

Japan Airlines Boeing 787 Dreamliner (registered as JA837J) had a very special mission on March 20, 2020. The aircraft was flown to Greece to collect the Olympic Flame and bring it back to Japan ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to start in July. 

The Olympic Flame, a symbol of the Games and their continuity between ancient and modern times, is lit at Olympia, Greece. This marks the beginning of the Olympic torch relay, which will end once the Olympic cauldron is lit at the opening ceremony of the Games. 

To transport the flame from Greece to the host country, in this case Japan, the flame is put in a version of the miner’s safety lamp. For the previous Olympic Games, the Flame to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) was flown by LATAM in 2016; to London (UK) by British Airways in 2012; and to Beijing (China) by Air China in 2008. 

Etihad employs Greenliner to celebrate St. Patrick’s day 

On March 18, 2020, Etihad Airways flew its brand new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Abu Dhabi to Ireland and back again. What is special about the journey, is that it marked Ireland’s National Day, thus the flight was operated mainly by Irish crew and carried out not just on any aircraft, but the airline’s state-of-the-art Greenliner, delivered in January 2020.

Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 and MC-21 test campaigns continue

The Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 aircraft in final, certifiable baseline configuration, completed its maiden flight in Japan on March 18, 2020. The aircraft, known as Flight Test Vehicle 10 (registration number JA26MJ)  took off from, and later landed in, the Prefectural Nagoya Airport (NKM) after a two hours of flight over the Pacific Ocean.

The previous day, on March 17, 2020, Russian airliner-in-the-making, the MC-21-300, completed a test flight with a high-density one-class seat layout. 


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