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17 from 2017: What Else Happened in the Sky This Year

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As the year comes to a close, we look back on what we followed through the sky this year. From celebrations to challenges and goodbyes to some impressive sky drawing, here are 17 things that flew—or didn’t—in 2017.

1. Flight 666 to HEL on Friday the 13th

On 13 January, Finnair flight 666 departed for HEL during the 13th hour on Friday the 13th in a 13 year old plane. Sadly, the airline has since retired the flight number.

Flight AY666 to HEL on Friday the 13th in a 13 year old aircraft

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2. The longest flight in the world

After Emirates held the title for a few months with its Auckland-Dubai flight, Qatar Airways inaugurated the world’s longest flight from Auckland to Doha in February.

QR921, currently the longest flight in the world.

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3. Swiss repairs a broken engine like clockwork

After one of their 777s experienced an issue with one of its engines on 1 February and needed to divert to Iqaluit in northern Canada, Swiss set to work getting the passengers to their destination and the aircraft back in the air. The effort involved an A330, an An-124 with a new engine, and a giant tent.

LX40 diverted to Iqaluit after one of its engines automatically shut down after detecting a fault

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4. The 737 MAX signs its name

As part of a test flight in February, Boeing sent its 737 MAX over the northwest United States to sign its name.

The MAX drawn by 737 MAX N8704Q

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5. The Airbus A320 celebrates 30 years of flight

On 22 February, the Airbus A320 celebrated its 30th anniversary in the air. Here’s what a day in the life of the A320 family looks like.

6. The 787-10 takes flight

The longest version of the 787, the 787-10 took flight for the first time on 31 March. The aircraft is set to enter service in 2018.

7. The Boeing 737 celebrates 50 years of flight

On 9 April 1967, the first Boeing 737 took flight. On the 50th anniversary of that flight we tracked 26,000 737 flights. See them all below.

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8. Restrictions on Qatari flights

At the beginning of June, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt placed restrictions on Qatar-registered aircraft arriving, departing, or transiting their airspace. These restrictions have forced Qatar Airways to reroute many flights.

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9. Boeing did this

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10. COMAC C919 first flight

On 5 May, the COMAC C919, the first domestically designed and produced Chinese large passenger jet took flight for the first time. The aircraft completed a 1 hour 18 minute flight that, in a first for any manufacturer, included a publicly available live video feed from the flight deck.

The C919 lifts off for the first time

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11. Constructions fumes

Construction fumes in the Washington ARTCC caused an evacuation of air traffic controllers. Flights in the airspace were dramatically reduced for a time while the facility was vented and controllers were allowed to return.


12. Open Skies

In August, CNN noted the presence of a Russian Air Force jet above Washington D.C. conducting low level flight and news quickly spread. The flight, however, was just a routine flight as part of the Treaty on Open Skies, of which Russia and the United States are signatories.

The Russian Open Skies Treaty Tu-154

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13. Delta goes big, then goes home

In the face of a category 5 hurricane, Delta Air Lines meteorologists, dispatchers, pilots, cabin crew, and ground crew accomplished an incredible feat.. As Hurricane Irma bore down on San Juan, Puerto Rico, Delta sent one last flight to help evacuate a few hundred people from San Juan just before the airport closed.

DL302 departing San Juan in between two bands of Hurricane Irma

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14. Air France A380 engine failure

On 30 September, Air France flight 66 en route from Paris to Los Angeles suffered an engine failure over Greenland, leading to a safe diversion to Goose Bay in Canada. The aircraft remained on the ground until it was repaired enough to fly back to Paris where it continues to undergo maintenance.

The damaged #4 engine on F-HPJE. Photo courtesy BEA

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15. Air Berlin’s final flight

On 27 October, Air Berlin conducted its final flight. As a special send off to the airline, the final flight used the callsign BER4EVR.

A water salute for the final Air Berlin flight

16. Final United Airlines 747 flight

On 7 November, after 47 years of continuous service, United Airlines conducted its final 747 revenue flight. The flight, from San Francisco to Honolulu, departed with special photo pass over the Golden Gate Bridge and arriving in Honolulu to a welcoming giant lei.

The United 747 with special Friend ship titles applied for the final flight

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17. Flights resume transiting Iraqi airspace

After a 3 year halt, international flights resumed transiting Iraqi airspace in November. In 2014, security concerns prompted much of the traffic between the Gulf states and Europe and North America to begin transiting Iran. United Arab Emirates-based airlines were the first to resume the slightly shorter routing through Iraq and other airlines are following suit.

Flights once again transiting Iraqi airspace.

What did we miss?

Year end lists are highly subjective, so tell us what we should have added to our list. Tweet us at Flightradar24 or leave a comment on our Facebook page. Happy new year! Wishing everyone a great 2018.

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