On February 24 Birmingham Airport, UK, helped to commemorate the retirement of the DC10 airliner from commercial service. Bangladesh Biman Airlines, the last passenger DC10 operator, had originally planned to retire its last DC10 to a museum in the US. To facilitate this, the airline organised a series of special flights. The type’s last scheduled passenger service routed Dhaka-Kuwait-Birmingham, where it arrived on February 20. The aircraft was then tasked with nine enthusiast flights in UK airspace from Birmingham during February 22-24. At the planning stage the airline had hoped it would be given permission to sell seats for the transatlantic Birmingham-New York leg en-route to its museum retirement but permission was not granted. This meant that the last passenger DC10 flight was to be BG008, departing Birmingham for a one-hour pleasure flight in UK airspace on February 24, before the aircraft was positioned empty to the US.
However, the airline was subsequently informed that its intended museum host was no longer able to accommodate the airframe. Bangladesh Biman then accepted the offer of an alternative home for its DC10 from the Bruntingthorpe aviation museum in Leicestershire, UK. However, just days before its retirement, a buyer was found for the aircraft’s three jet engines, meaning the DC10 had to been flown back to Bangladesh empty for scrapping.
Despite this, the post-retirement pleasure flights from Birmingham were unaffected and approximately 1,300 enthusiasts from 32 different nations flew on the veteran airliner over the three-day period.
The last passenger carrying flight was airborne from Birmingham at 15:20 on February 24 and, amongst the DC10 fans on board were some who had travelled from as far as China, the US and Uganda. Both take-off and touch-down were greeted by a warm round of applause on the last flight and the Birmingham Airport fire service provided a water arch salute to mark the special occasion as the aircraft taxied back to stand.
The aircraft, belonging to Bangladesh’s National Flag, carrier Biman Bangladesh Airlines, was the 445th aircraft to be built out of a total of 446, with the first entering commercial service in 1971.
One of the reasons Birmingham Airport was chosen to host the farewell services was because it will become Biman’s newest international destination in the summer when it launches twice weekly flights to Dhaka and New York JFK using brand new wide-bodied Boeing 777 aircraft.
This new long-haul operation has been made possible thanks to Birmingham’s £40m runway extension opening in the spring. Birmingham will become only the third UK airport to have direct flights to New York JFK and offer the only non-stop service between the UK and Bangladesh outside of London.