Goodbye 2021: A Look At Simple Flying’s Top Articles Of The Year

What a year 2021 has been! In the Simple Flying podcast, your hosts Tom and Jo typically take a look at the last week’s top aviation news stories. To celebrate the end of 2022, we decided to do something a little different this year. Instead of looking at the top stories of the week, we looked at Simple Flying’s top ten stories of 2021, based on what you were reading.

Goodbye 2021: A Look At Simple Flying’s Top Articles Of The Year

10. Unresponsive Private Jet Prompted Sonic Boom Over England

A private jet flying from Nuremberg to London lost communications near London in January. Fighter jets were scrambled to intercept the plane, causing a sonic boom to be heard over large parts of England. The aircraft was successfully intercepted and landed a short time later at London Stansted Airport, one of the UK’s designated airports for handling incidents of such nature.

9. Delta Air Lines Reveals Retrofitted Airbus A330-300 Seat Map

In August, Delta Air Lines revealed a new seat map for its Airbus A330-300 aircraft. The retrofitted cabin sees 282 passengers accommodated in four cabins ranging from Delta One seats to standard economy seats. The new seat map was expected to make it harder for some passengers to access complimentary upgrades.

Delta Air Lines, Airbus A330-300, Seat Map
Delta Air Lines revealed a new Airbus A330-300 seat map. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

8. Inside Mark Cuban’s Private Jet Collection

Readers were keen to discover Mark Cuban’s private jet collection in May. Worth $1.96 million, the billionaire has three private jets of various sizes. The smallest is a Gulfstream G550 business jet. This is accompanied by a couple of Boeings, both a 757 and 767.

7. What Are White Tail Aircraft?

This year, there was a fair bit of movement within the white tail aircraft space. Some Boeing 737 MAXs ended up as whitetails as operators failed, and some canceled orders. We also finally saw a couple of white tail Airbus A330 aircraft due to go to Air Berlin and then Rwandair, finally picked up by Air Belgium.

But we haven’t answered the question, what is a white tail. The term essentially describes aircraft the plane makers have started to build but then have been unable to complete the sale of. These planes are typically painted white in place of a livery, hence the name.

Boeing, 737 MAX 8, Dubai Aerospace Enterprise
White tail aircraft are often painted white. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – Simple Flying

6. Televangelist’s Boeing 747 Unlikely To Ever Leave Pinal Airpark

Our sixth most popular article of 2021 was also about a private jet, though this was more about the sad state of a Jumbo Jet. Since March 2018, a Boeing 747 confusingly named Star Triple Seven has been sat at Pinal Airpark in Arizona. It transpired that the aircraft requires some reasonably heavy maintenance and is thus unlikely to fly again.

5. How A New A340 Ended Up Written Off Before It Was Even Delivered

The Airbus A340 has sadly become a dying breed as airlines look to swap four engines for two. While most A340s have become a victim to sustainability, one faced a different fate, ending up written off before Airbus even delivered it. The aircraft managed to leave its position during an engine test and was careered into an airport wall. While there were injuries, nobody died. The plane wasn’t so lucky.

Etihad Airbus A340-600 Getty
One of Etihad’s A340-600s was written off before it could be delivered. Photo: Getty Images

4. The Disruptor? Meet The SE200 – A New Green 264 Seat Widebody

We’ve seen some exciting aircraft concepts launched in 2021. Not all of them will end up flying, though the theme of ideas this year was sustainability. SE Aeronautics (the SE standing for Super-Efficient) created a concept plane with three wings. The aircraft is intended to cut carbon emissions by 80% compared to traditional jets if the idea gets off the ground.

3. American Airlines 737 Reportedly Denied Emergency Landing

We’re into the top three stories, and this one is interesting. Essentially, an American Airlines Boeing 737 declared an emergency but was denied a landing in Costa Rica. The aircraft was reportedly suffering from a fuel emergency. It seems that a lapse in communication meant that airport staff didn’t understand that the plane had declared an emergency.

The aircraft eventually diverted to Guatemala City, having been unable to land at its original destination, San Salvador in El Salvador. Thankfully, the flight was completed without any further incident.

Goodbye 2021: A Look At Simple Flying’s Top Articles Of The Year
An American Airlines Boeing 737 was denied an emergency landing. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

2. Inside Bill Gates’ Private Jet Collection

We’ve already seen that Mark Cuban’s private jet collection was popular, but another collection proved to be even more popular. Bill Gates’ collection. While Gates is a passionate climate activist, his “guilty pleasure” is his private jets.

Gates owns four jets worth close to $200 million. This consists of two Gulfstream G650ERs and a further two Bombardier Challenger 350s. In 2017, Bill Gates took 59 flights by private jet, emitting about 1,600 tonnes of CO2, compared to the global average of fewer than five tonnes per person.

1. The CR929 – The Plane Set To Challenge Airbus & Boeing

Interestingly, our top story of the year was also about an aircraft that is yet to fly. CRAIC, the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation, is currently working on the CR929, an aircraft designed to compete against the Boeing 787 and similar aircraft. With 290 seats, the plane had targeted the first flight in 2021. The first delivery of the type is now expected around 2029.

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