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Antwerp & London - Turboprop Comparison
Sunday 8 December - Train to Antwerp
With Christmas around the corner we take the NS Intercity Brussels towards Antwerp. Here the big Christmas bonanza is going full swing. It is a great atmosphere and we have a blast. However, this trip will be more than just a turboprop comparison, how about a Christmas festival comparison? We're in!
The night we spend in a hotel close to the airport as tomorrow we fly to London!
Monday 9 December - Fokker 50
We are woken up by the sound of a low flying plane. A brief look out of the window provides the answer to which plane it is: the one and only Air Antwerp Fokker 50. This startup airline is the result of a cooperation between several airlines such as CityJet and KLM. Their only aircraft is a Fokker 50 registered OO-VLS. This plane is leased from the Swedish Amapola Flyg.
It is a quick 15 minute walk to the tiny and deserted terminal. The weather is not that great, but at least it does not rain (yet..). We are quite early, so we have to wait quite some time until we are finally allowed to proceed through security. One other flight is departing prior to our hop, so we enjoy watching all passengers bound for Alicante board a Tui Embraer.
After some time it is time for us to board. In the meantime, it has started to rain heavily and the wind gusts have gained in strength severely. We are almost soaked when we board our little Fokker. First, we chat with the crew and the pilots before heading to our seat. It is a full flight today, but we have great seats with engine view! The engines are started and we taxi to the runway.
The engines spool up beautifully and after brake release we thunder down the runway. The weather is soo bad, it feels like the plane is climbing the stairs instead of flying. Soon we break through the clouds and the air gets a lot calmer, and in no time we start to descent already.
The descent into London City is always spectacular. Today is no exception. The gear is lowered as the river comes closer and closer. The plane touches down gently and after a quick taxi to our gate it is time to disembark. We leave the terminal and walk to our hotel for the night. We spot some nice typical LCY planes on our way in the golden hour and drop our stuff in our room. The night we spend at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Yesterday in Antwerp was good, but this festival is the best!
Tuesday 10 December - DHC-8-400
Today we get up early to fly back to AMS. It's a beautiful morning and as we pass through security we are treated with the best view: London City Airport apron with beautiful red morning skies. It clearly is rush hour as we spot several cool commuter planes flying in and out the small airport. Air Antwerp's Fokker 50 was present as well for the morning leg, as well as a Luxair DHC-8-400, two A220's from Swiss, some BA Embrears and the one and only BA A318 to JFK.
As the sun rises our boarding time gets closer. Our aircraft lands and taxis in. Today we fly Bombardier DHC-8-400 G-JEDR "City of Dublin". We booked a seat fairly in the front of the plane. FlyBe boards in two zones and we are the second and last zone. However, it appears that we are the only ones in zone two... Just 18 other passengers are on this plane, so when we finally get on board, the boarding is completed and the door could be closed. We are one of the three flights that fly simultaneously from LCY to AMS. KLM and BA both operate an Embraer ERJ190 at the same moment.
We taxi out to the end of the runway, and as is it so busy we have to wait for plenty of incoming aircraft such as a Sunair Dornier DO-328J and an Aer Lingus (Cityjet) Avro RJ85. Finally it is our turn to take off. The engines spool up and in no time the light turboprop shoots to the skies. Immediately we bank right sharply and set a course for Amsterdam. The skies are clear and the flight is amazingly quick.
After the flight we land on runway 18R or the Polderbaan. This means that we have to taxi a long time to the gate. Even worse, RWY 18C "Zwanenburgbaan" was open for landings as well. Therefore, we must taxi around it instead of being able to cross it directly. It did not matter as the weather was great and the sound of the big propellor next to us is really enjoyable, so we did not mind some extra plane-time.
All in all this "Dash-8" is clearly more modern than the good ole Fokker 50, but that Fokker has just so much class and nostalgia around it. We could not choose which one is better, but what we do know is that we absolutely love turboprops!