Last night the world had its first look at the latest incarnation of Iron Maiden’s touring plane, Ed Force One.
IronMaiden.com streamed the plane’s landing at Cardiff Airport on the social media channel Periscope. The band’s gear will now be loaded before plane and band embark for Fort Lauderdale, Florida to begin The Book Of Souls World Tour. Again, the plane’s pilot will be Maiden’s very own air-raid siren vocalist Bruce Dickinson, who will be in charge of transporting his bandmates, crew and stage props across six continents.
After being delayed on its arrival from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates, where The Book Of Souls’ artwork was being applied, bad weather didn’t stop plane spotters and Maiden fans alike assembling to see the band’s huge new aircraft in person. So what’s different about the band’s newest private jet?
1. It’s A Lot Bigger
Whereas the Ed Force Ones of the Somewhere Back In Time and Final Frontier tours were not insubstantial 757-200s, the Irons’ latest airborne chariot is a massive Boeing 747-400. Belonging to Air Atlanta Icelandic, the plane’s sheer size, 70.7m long, with a wingspan of 64.4m and weighing 178.8 tonnes (compared to the 757’s 47.32m, 38.1m and 57.84 tonnes), makes the new EFO a real giant of the skies – albeit slightly smaller than the R101 Airship, subject of the band’s 18-minute epic Empire Of The Clouds. The most noticeable difference is that is has four jet engines, double that of the 757, which helps explain why it was so damn loud when it landed.
2. It Hasn’t Been Modified
The previous EFOs were combi aircraft, that had to be heavily modified structurally to enable the band to transport their crew and mammoth, 12-tonnes of gear for their stage production to the four corners of the globe. However, there’s been no need to change anything about their 747, apart from moving a few seats around, as its comfortably big enough to get all personnel, pyro and as many Eddies as are necessary to make The Book Of Souls World Tour Maiden’s biggest yet. Conveniently there’s enough room for passengers to have a row of seats to themselves and indulge in a well-earned kip between shows.
3. It’s Faster
With a cruising speed of 567mph, this mammoth of an aeroplane is actually a few miles per hour quicker than its predecessors (530mph). It may not be the speed of light (see what we did there?), but this will shade a few valuable hours off the total time spent in the air during the Irons’ 88,500km globetrotting trek, especially during the long stretches between their first ever show in China and New Zealand. We’ve calculated that this added speed will equate to Nicko McBrain getting in an extra round of golf during the tour.
4. It Can Go For Longer
Quiet back there! Obviously a big disadvantage of long-haul flights is the time-consuming process of needing to land and refuel before continuing. However, the new Ed Force One has an incredible range of 13,450km, nearly double that of a 757, making the refuelling breaks a thing of the past, much to Captain Dickinson’s delight.
5. It’s Very, Very Expensive
One of the 757s that Maiden previously toured in will set you back around $65 million. But according to our research, the average Boeing 747-400 costs a staggering $250 million! Captain Dickinson, who has just received his brand new 747 rating, better hope that his passengers behave themselves, or we suspect he’ll be looking at a rather hefty bill.
6. The Artwork Is The Best Ever
Aside from the full list of tour dates and even bigger band logo, who else in the world could deck out a commercial airliner with their own skeletal mascot, logos of their brand of beer and computer game, as well as a few Easter eggs for fans to spot? Up The Irons!
Iron Maiden will fly into Donington to headline Download festival on June 12