After more than 15 years in service, SWISS is now retiring its last Avro RJ100, nicknamed "Jumbolino". The Avro fleet, once consiting of four RJ85 and 20 RJ100, operated more than half a million flights in over 700'000 hours of service. It was the backbone of the SWISS Europe fleet and ideal for steep approaches into airports like London City or Florence.
But as they got older, they became less reliable, and despite the high maintenance quality, which raised the "life expectancy" of the Jumbolinos from 40'000 to 60'000 cycles, they had to be replaced sooner or later (more sooner than later however). By the time the first CS100 was delivered, four RJ100 had already left the fleet. And with each additional CSeries, more and more Jumbolinos disappeared from the Swiss sky. By August 2017, only one was left: HB-IYZ.
HB-IYZ's final flights
Monday, August 14: Last commercial flight (LCY-ZRH)
Tuesday, August 15: Last official flight (GVA-ZRH)
Saturday, August 19: Three flights for SWISS employees (ZRH-ZRH)
Sunday, August 20: Charter flight (ZRH-ZRH)
Tuesday, August 22: Ferry flight (ZRH-PIK)
I, together with some members of the press, had the privilege to be onboard the last official flight, which took us from Geneva to Zurich. The outward flight from Zurich to Geneva was operated by a CS300 that day (maybe on purpose) and so we could experience the difference between the newest addition to the SWISS fleet and its predecessor within just a few hours. I won't write too much in this post and let the photos speak more or less for themselves...
So, we left ZRH shortly behind schedule as LX2802 and headed towards GVA, where we landed 32min later.
Our aircraft parked right next to the RJ100 and so we had the chance to take some photos while walking to the event gate. They even rolled out a red carpet!
While the crew was preparing the aircraft for the flight, we gathered at the event gate and enjoyed a small breakfast. The next point on the schedule was a short address from Lorenzo Stoll, SWISS' head of Western Switzerland.
Then it was time to collect our boarding passes and attack the breakfast buffet one last time before we could finally board the aircraft.
Since we had no seat number on our tickets, there was quite a run for the first few seat rows after boarding was announced. I however took my time and enjoyed my red carpet moment. Boarding an Avro like Queen Lizzy!
Boarding didn't take too long and so the remaining time was used for an announcment from the cockpit crew and the security demonstration. The aircraft was flown by Avro fleet chief Michael Weisser and his deputy, Peter Huber.
One last view on HB-JCB before we rolled down the taxiway. Geneva Airport said goodbye with a traditional water salute (turned out my seat wasn't ideal to see it). They even organized a rainbow... how thoughtful.
A few minutes later we took off from runway 05 and made a sharp 180° turn, heading east. It was already pretty clear that this wouldn't be a normal flight to Zurich. And indeed, the cockpit crew informed us about the scenic route, which would lead us over the Pennine and Bernese Alps.
We were now heading south, along the French/Swiss border. The mountains were getting higher...
... and we soon reached the first hightlight: Mont Blanc, Europe's tallest mountain. After passing Mt. Blanc on FL180, we headed Northeast, towards the most photographed mountain in the world: the Matterhorn.
Next stop: the Bernese Alps.
The Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier in the Alps with a length of about 23km. I've seen it from one of the peaks down there and it was impressive. But from above it's just enormous!
The next hightlights were the famous triple peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.
Eventually, we left the Alps behind and headed towards Zurich.
Lake Lucerne on the right...
After landing on Zurich's runway 16, our Jumbolino was watered a second time. At the gate it was expected by SWISS employees and former Jumbolino pilots.
At the gate, we gathered once more and followed the speech of SWISS CEO Thomas Klühr. After trying not to get too emotional, Mr. Klühr and the crew of our flight were available for interviews, discussions etc. Oh and yes... food. A lot.
All in all it has been a very well organized event (as usual) and the flight will definitely be kept in good memory. Farewell little Jumbolino, you will be missed.