Looking back at 2021


Aaron’s 2021 Highlights


2021 has been an unusual, yet a crucial year personally with a number of important events, as well as milestones reached so far. I thought it will be fun to select my top 10 spotting pictures based on its rarity or a special occasion.


January - First picture of the year!

I am glad to be able to fly on the first day of 2021, and this is the aircraft in front of me right after clearing security checks. Introducing Sichuan Airlines’ Airbus A330-343X with the rather conspicuous Wuliangye Livery. For context, Wuliangye is known for its liquor production in China and this is one of its marketing methods, aimed towards foreign consumers.


January - Pharma Wing Flies

As vaccines start to roll out, Ethiopian Cargo has been sending in more cargo flights to and from Guangzhou, transporting vaccines and other medical equipments to other countries. Here is ET-ARK departing Runway 01 on a hectic morning towards Liege, Belgium. This 6-year old aircraft also has a “Pharma Wing” sticker on its engine covers to mark Ethiopian Airlines’ specialisation in transporting important medical supplies for the pandemic and beyond.


January - Wait what?

Just as I thought this particular morning is rather uneventful, an unexpected visitor showed up - MIAT Mongolian Airlines Boeing 767-34GER(WL) starting its journey back home after some delays. JU-1021 was only turning 8 at that time, and has been serving the airline on their European and Far East destinations until P2C flights become a thing. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.


April - A Special Flight

After months of inactivity due to personal commitments, we are back for the second flight of the year! With more coincidences and aircraft changes, this is the one - Chongqing Airlines Airbus A320 with their Chongqing Times Livery waiting for me. Interestingly, this is a China Southern flight operated by the subsidiary airline, including the crew members. B-8987 is also one of the less common A320 equipped with sharklets in China, so I am glad to have the chance to fly on this particular version.


April - Home Sweet Home

Time to move home after several years in this bustling city. This is a place that will remain close to me – it gave me the opportunity to grow, especially seeing the Chinese aviation industry that is not often talked about in public platforms. 9M-MTV, an ex-Air Berlin A330-223 taking me home for the second time. I have also posted a review of this flight, see here.


October - Back in Action

Months passed by and here we are again – the highlight of my first spotting day at Kuala Lumpur for the year. The Cargolux Queen, LX-VCI departing runway 14R for a short hop within Asia. One thing that caught my attention was the JAS sticker above the forward cargo door, where it seems to be a logistics company that distributes freight to local areas while Cargolux does the long distance work. If you know about this company, I would love to hear an explanation about this group!


November - Qatari being Qatari (again)

Finally, we’ve got 32L/R operations in WMKK! On this particular day, Qatar Airways sent an unusual visitor again - the Boeing 777-2DZ(LR). This sub-fleet is known for their long haul operations between Doha and Auckland, but for whatever reason it is replacing the usual B77W instead. It is for sure a good catch for the month. Maybe the World Cup B77L next time?


December - Sea of MH

My first visit to WMKK’s indoor viewing deck started with this - an overwhelming number of 737s, where the Negaraku livery outnumbered the standard paint scheme. This was taken right before the morning rush, where all aircraft on a gate were preparing for their respective flights. From nearest to farthest: 9M-MXD, 9M-MXG, 9M-MXL, 9M-MSG, 9M-MXC, 9M-MSF, 9M-MXB, 9M-MLL and 9M-MSA. Also finally a day without Malindo Air photobombing a bunch of MHs.


December - Albino AirAsia?

On the day of my (random) flight, I walked across the terminal and found this – an albino AirAsia docked at the international gate. 9M-RCH is the only aircraft in the entire fleet with the scheme, which was allegedly reregistered from AK’s 9M-AJ* series. Looking forward to see it operating commercial routes shortly so we’ll know its actual identity. Excuse the tinted colour, the particular terminal is just… if you know you know.


December - Farewell A380

Given MH’s financial difficulties, the A380’s fate were at stake. Despite seeing a number of test flights from some of these jumbojets, Malaysia Airlines have announced their retirement during the pandemic. Thus, the entire fleet of A380 is grounded on the quadrant of the Satellite Terminal, as seen here. Some of their paint jobs are even fading, as these jets have not been repainted since delivery (around 10 years as of now). It is a sad sight to behold, but they are unfortunately too inefficient for the Malaysian aviation market.

In short, 2021 is fun and all, but I certainly hope for the virus to become less of a threat so more flights can resume and we can get around places easily. I look forward to 2022 being a better and stronger year, and hopefully comes with more opportunities and some luck! Thank you everyone who have supported me throughout the year. Stay safe, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

And lastly, a huge thank you to some of the people: @LordWizrak, @TheAviationGallery, @Lion_50, @Lotus, @Larerraven and many others who were supporting me, especially about the new VA this year! Hope to work with you all more soon.

Some other highlights that I have not included here:

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What a nice year it’s been regardless of the pandemic. Thanks a lot for all the spotting topics and all the work you put into Airbus Virtual! See ya strong next year :D

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Really cool seeing the pictures from throughout the year!

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Thank you too! It’s been fun working with you (totally 🤡), but definitely hoping to keep the work up in 2022. Enjoy :P

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Thanks a lot for dropping by! It was also fascinating to me when I first organised the post for the year. Cheers!

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