ETIHAD Airways' first 777-300ER flight to FRA

EY325/326 on February 12th, 2006

Time at FRA: T/D 1715 - T/O 2230




The life of Etihad's 773ER started more complicated than expected. Due to a strike of Boeing's mechanics and later also at the seatmanufacturer Sogerma, France who delivers the seats for Etihad's 77W added up to a delayed 1st delivery of about 4 months. Planned 1st delivery was in October 2005 but due to the strikes the 1st was delivered late January 2006. The official presentation of Etihad's newest fleetmember was held at Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on February 2nd. Although A6ETA has just arrived at AUH two days earlier after an 15h nonstop flight from Seattle. The whole aviationsociety eagerly awaited Etihad's 1st 777 in service. There were a lot of threads about EY's 777s at the forum of airliners.net. Here I've also read that the 1st commercial flight will be to Frankfurt and not as my previous information was to BKK or MNL. I didn't want to believe this at first glance, but some days later I've read it also on Etihad Airways website and so I've planned a spotting weekend in FRA.
On a rather sunny Saturday morning, I packed my spotterequipment (binoculars, notebook, pens, digicam), went to the tramstation near my appartement and waited for the tram to arrive and bring me to Karlsruhe mainstation where I took an ICE to FRA. Everything went fine, except that the ICE had a very high loadfactor, and we only stopped a bit too long at Mannheim because the federal-border-police had to investigate something. On the way the weather was fine and I was hoping it will stay so until tomorrow (it was Saturday noon) evening. After arrival at Frankfurt Airport's long distance train station I went up to the terminal, sadly the visitorsterrace is closed since December. So I spotted a bit at the large windowfront separating FRA's Gateareas B and C in T1. It wasn't much traffic to see, except of some United and Lufthansa planes. So I took the SkyTrain over to T2, where I spotted half an hour more, because I've missed the bus connection to my brother by 3 minutes. But I hadn't expect to get the bus ;-). At T2 I met a guy who was at the airport only for spending his saturday afternoon at FRA. But hey, we spotters are like him. But we go intentionally to the airports. We talked a bit about planes and aviation and by the way I saw my 3rd (1'n'2 were o c/s UA 772) 777 for this weekend, an Emirates 773 with the WM 2006 sticker. Also I saw a Royal Brunei 763ER, Cathay Pacific B744, an ex-OS MD87 (which was flying for Eritrean, I've found out later) and some regionals standing at the remotestands near T2. On time I took again the SkyTrain back to T1 to get my busconnection to Walldorf. While driving to my final destination we have to go halfway around the airport. So I was able to see the long daystoppers at FRA's remote stand near Cargo City North. QANTAS, 3x FedEx MD11F and one A310F and I saw an A346 with Star Alliance colors. Because I didn't see a South African A346, the one which comes from JNB early morning and flying back to CPT in the afternoon, It was clearly to me that the Star Alliance colors must belong to the newly painted SAA A346.
SAA346 SAcs

At my brother's, we had a cup of hot chocolate and ate some Madeleines, before we went back to the airport. Our destination was the spotter's place at Runway 18 West. Because the South African A340-600 always takes off on this rwy. And my brother being an A340-Fan, it was sure for him we had to be there when the Airbus comes. The weather was more dull than sunny, as on my way from Karlsruhe to FRA. Around 5 o'clock our "target" was taxying towards rwy 18, some minutes delayed. At that time a World MD11F had joined the FedEx 11s and an Asiana Cargo 744F was arriving. Earlier the QANTAS 744 was being towed to T2, we wondered why. Normally QANTAS goes back to T2 around 2100. The A346 lined-up shortly and some minutes later it was gathering speed for takeoff.
After this takeoff we waited for the early evening longhauls to arrive, sadly they came from the East. So we just spot them: LAN new colors A340, Air China 744, Korean Air 744 and the last Etihad A332 so far at FRA. Because on the next day it will be switched to the main target for me this weekend, the 777-3FXER.
With the last sunrays having gone now we went back home and watched the Sportschau and cooked the dinner.
On sunday morning we sleeped long enough to be fit for our long day of spotting. The weather was still not better, just little holes in the clouds :( and it was snowing a bit. But I was still confident to get good light conditions when Etihad will arrive. So we took the bus to the airport and payed the windowfront a short visit and later we drove to T2 to take the trail to the spottersplace near the "Airbridge memorial" at the Autobahn A5 direction Karlsruhe *g and Basel. It was kind of difficult for us to find the way, but later we found it and walked to the place. The planes were still arriving from the east and so we saw them some meters above our heads in their final approaches.
approach
Sadly Emirates' comes on saturdays just with the short 777, but wait for laiter *hehe.
After having arrived at our destination, it was still some hours to wait. But sundays are one of the best days for spotting @ FRA. We saw a lot of different planes: KU 300, QR 300, BI 763, LY 752, DL 772, SV 772, CX 744, AI 744, EK 74F, KE 74F, CI 74F, LA 763F,... .
At around 16:30 the first asian planes were arriving; Asiana, Air China and ANA being the 1st ones (normally ANA is the 1st, but hey everything changes in a while *g) after the WOW special colored LH Cargo MD11F arrived the next longhaulers came in(KE 744, LA 343 (o c/s) and a SQ 74F). And so we knew the Etihad 777 isn't far away from FRA. At 17:15 I spotted the lights of her through the trees, being on final approach.
approach1
Those GE90 look very huge even if they are still a kilometer or more away. After having spotted the 77W I swapped my binoculars with my digicam, to make a pile of photos. Sadly the first ones got mostly blurred. Perhaps I was a bit too happy to see her just a few meters aways from me. Because she landed on the southern runway of FRA which is nearer to our position. I was simply astonished by the look of the 77W and the colors of Etihad make her looking even better :-)
Here are some impressions:
side

approach

short

taxying

back

After enjoying the sight of the najestic Etihad 77W we walked back to the terminal, still in mind that another 77W will arrive shortly after Etihad. The Japan Airlines 77W flew above us as we were under the final glidepath of the northern runway.
overfly

Great another 77W seen today!!! Will they park next to each other at T2??? But even if they do so, I can just take a picture of the tails :( at T2. They later were parked 2 gates apart each other. We stopped at a gate near T2 for another view on the mighty 77W.
at gate
The 77W at its gate at T2 after arrival from AUH. They were already working hard to get the Triple7 ready for her returnflight to AUH in 5 hours.
The Etihad 77W is really a beauty!!!
After we arrived again in T2 we walked to the huge windowfront with view onto the tarmac and enjoyed our dinner. By the way we saw the 2nd Emirates flight of the day arriving at FRA, an A340. They fly with a 777 the afternoon flight and with the A340 the evening flight. So, it was jsut an A340 and we thought it is a A343, it was already dark outside and the lights from inside T2 make it harder for me to identify the A340 exactly. After the Airbus taxied back the way to T2 we saw that it is no A340-300 but an A340-500 with ShoppingFestival sticker. How bad, that it was so dark outside. No picture has come out good :(. But here you can see again, if there is something special coming to FRA from one of Emirates' competitors from the Gulf (Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways), there is also a "better" plane from Emirates' fleet arriving at FRA. First I saw that on a day were Qatar Airways send one of its orange A330 to FRA, Emirates comes along in on of their A345. Now Etihad sends its newest fleetmember to FRA, so there was no other way for EK besides sending again an A345. How bad will that look like for the Emirates' passengers to be boarded in a "old" and "tiny" A343 when at the gate next to them there is one shiny, masterpiece of a plane, new 77W ;-). Just a little thougth by myself *hehe

I hope you have enjoyed reading my little report!!!
Thank you!




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