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Top aviation stories from 2016 (Video)

Maho Beach is one of the most notorious plane landing spots in the world.

While we said goodbye to some iconic aircraft like the Boeing 747 in 2016, other old birds got new leases of life. 


Maho Beach might not be the Caribbean's most idyllic beach but it was not the white sand tourists turned up for but the roaring arrival of KLM's 747.

Boeing has been making the aircraft since the 1960s.

However, the highly-anticipated flight that attracted plane spotters from all over the world has come to an end. Since October 30, the flights have been operated by the smaller Airbus A330 instead.

Cathay Pacific also bid farewell to its "queen of the skies" after the airline's last Boeing 747 jumbo jet made its final flight on October 1.

Cathay had been flying 747s since 1979, when the introduction of the double-decker jumbo jet allowed the airline to fly much further distances and carry more than 400 passengers - double what the aircraft it replaced, the Boeing 707, could carry.


Cathay Pacific's last jumbo jet has made its final flight.

One 747 that is still going strong is Iron Maiden's jumbo jet

Flown by captain - and lead singer - Bruce Dickinson, the impressive Boeing 747 has the Book of Souls album cover on the tail and lists the 35 countries the rockers will visit as part of their 2016 world tour.

Ed Force One touched down in Auckland in May but no one got a look inside the cockpit. But in June , as part of a promotion with Boeing, Dickinson gave fans and aviation enthusiasts a glimpse inside. 

Take a peak inside Iron Maiden's own Boeing 747


In May, a retired Boeing 747-400 called "Lady Penelope"  was put up for sale with a reasonable price tag of US$299,000 (NZ$445,000).

"Lady Penelope" was destined to see out her final years in an airplane graveyard after a 25-year career as part of the Virgin Atlantic fleet. But the Queen of the Skies is getting a second lease in life.

Lady Penelope was Virgin Atlantic's first Boeing 747.

Virgin Atlantic's first-ever Boeing 747 jumbo jet, which has been listed on auction website eBay, is fully kitted out but its engines have been removed.

Apart from the engines, you'll find the 350 seats intact and the "flying lady" logo still on the tail.

Similarly, a month before, an Irish resort bought a decommissioned, 70-tonne, Boeing 767-200 to add to its already unusual list of accommodation options.

An Irish holiday destination is giving guests the option of staying in a refitted airplane as part of it's list of quirky, transport themed room options.

Meanwhile, China unveiled a new restaurant inside an old Boeing 737, called Lily Airways, in the busy shopping district of Wuhan, Hubei provence.

Businessman Li Yang reportedly bought the retired aircraft from Indonesia's Batavia Air for ¥35 million (NZ$7.2 million) and shipped it to China over four months.

The plane is about 28 years old and has been previously been owned by major airline companies including British Midland Airlines and Mandala Airlines.

Different from the past airplane theme restaurants, this international route cuisine restaurant is the first airplane restaurant in China.


Wellington's first long-haul connection touched down in the capital this year with the arrival of Singapore Airlines flight from Canberra and Singapore.

The inaugural "Capital Express" flight on September 22 saw Wellington become Singapore Airlines' third New Zealand destination.

In 2016 Wellington's first long-haul connection touched down in the capital with the arrival of Singapore Airlines flight from Canberra and Singapore.

Just over a month later. Cathay Pacific's A350, the world's newest passenger aircraft, landed in Auckland with the promise of taking passenger experiences "to a whole new level".

The plane has Rolls-Royce engines, and both business and premium economy class seats were designed by Porsche.

"Even the food will be tastier," Cathay Pacific director of sales and marketing Dane Cheng said in October.

The world's newest airliner - the Airbus A350 - has landed at Auckland International Airport.


In August, a story about Air New Zealand defending the increased use of turboprop aircraft on main trunk routes riled many Kiwis. 

The national airline was forced to respond after an opinion piece called turboprops "slower, noisier, more cramped" and asked if Air NZ think Christchurch travellers are suckers.

Hundreds of people commented on the two articles, showing that regional air services is an issue close to Kiwis hearts.


An Austrian airline has begun what it claims is the world's shortest regular international connection - an eight-minute hop across Lake Constance.

The flight offered by People's Viennaline connects St. Gallen-Altenrhein in Switzerland with Friedrichshafen in southern Germany and costs 40 euro (NZ$60.80).

But if you think that is bizarre, Emirates has announced it will fly the shortest A380 route in the world from Doha to Dubai. 

The flight distance is only 379km, shorter than the distance between Auckland and Wellington (493km). 

What was your favourite aviation story of 2016? Tell us in the comments below.





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