JP Airline Fleets was a highly sought after annual release for Aircraft Spotters that was published by 'BUCHAIR' between 1966 and 2008 and 'Flight Global' between 2009 and 2013.
In 1966, two Swiss Aircraft Enthusiasts identified a gap in the market where aircraft spotters were lacking a reliable source of up-to-date airliner fleet information to aid their regular trips to Europe's major international airports. The early editions sought to provide the basic registration, type and construction number for each aircraft in the fleets of airlines to be seen at European airports and this was gradually extended to cover airlines worldwide. The fleets were arranged by Aircraft type in ascending gross weight order and then numerically by registration number and this basic format remained for the life of the series.
From the very first edition, a selection of representative airliner photos was included and from the 1972 edition onwards, technical specifications for each airliner type illustrated were added to the photographic section. With the introduction of the large format editions from 1979, JP was considered to be ground-breaking. With each new edition Buchair endeavoured to add unique information that both industry professionals and enthusiasts would find useful. Much of this was drawn from the removeable 'Customer Survey Page' that was included in each edition from 1983 onwards.
With the publication of the 1981 edition, high quality colour photos were featured for the first time and each image could be ordered seperately from Buchair if required. These remained an integral part of the publication until the final issue in 2013, long after similar publications had ditched photographic illustrations mainly to save on printing costs. It was therefore recognised as a quality product in its field. 'JP' was unique in that it included information such as passenger/freight configuration and power plant details within the main airframe listings and also a stand alone section providing a full index of Airline Logos, Addresses and Contacts.
A special reprint of the first edition was published in 1988 in the larger format of the later editions entitled 'Buchair Reprint.' This included some excellent nostalgic colour airliner photography. The intention was to release reprints of all the pre-1979 editions in the later large directory format. One must assume that response to this release fell far short of what Buchair had hoped for as the 1966 reprint remained the only one published.
JP Airline Fleets had it's origins in a Swiss publication known as 'Kennzeichen der Verkehrsflugzeuge' published in 1961. This may well have been the first ever airline fleet directory as it preceded those by well known enthusiast organisations such as Air Britain's 'Fleet Operators to be seen in Europe' by six years.
Herrs Bucher and Klee (who later introduced the JPs) assisted the publisher 'World Traffic Editions Vevey' with 'Kennzeichen der Verkehrsflugzeuge,' the english language update the following year known as ''Operator's Aircraft Registrations and Types' and finally the volume entitled 'All The World's Jet Airliner Markings' of 1963, before compiling their first edition of 'JP Markings' in 1966
150 copies of the first 'JP' were printed on a shoestring budget and they rapidly sold out.
The product improved significantly over the next twelve years as more information became available with the help of worldwide correspondents and printing methods improved until finally in 1979, "JP Airline Fleets" in it's large Directory format became standard and was probably the most sought after Airline Fleet Book by Aircraft Spotters for at least the next thirty years.
However, in March, 2008, responsibilty for producing the annual Fleetbook was handed over to the 'Flight Global' organisation and sadly by 2013 the writing was on the wall. The demand for hard copy Airline Fleetbooks was falling rapidly with the increase in free internet resources and 'Flight Global' decided that producing such a detailed hard copy directory would no longer be viable. Spotters were now forced to turn increasingly to the Enthusiast Organisations for their annual hardcopy Airline Fleet updates. Thus ended forty eight years of probably the best and most informative 'Airline Fleet Directory' ever produced.
The complete set of these books provides an invaluable historical Airline Fleet resource for any airline enthusiast or historian and I believe I am one of the few people fortunate enough to possess every single edition, all of them free of Spotter's underlining and notations. As with all examples of this type of reference book, finding copies in good condition without spotter scribblings is extremely hard but well worth the challenge if you can obtain them.
Scroll down to see the images of every edition published. I have also included the three 'World Traffic Editions Vevey' volumes for completeness. The 'JP' images demonstrate very well how the quality of production improved during the first thirteen years of publication.
A highly recommended collection for the serious Airline Buff!
Kennzeichen Der Verkehrsflugzeuge First Edition 1961 published by World Traffic Editions Vevey
In 1988 Herrs Bucher and Klee decided to perform an experiment. They wished to ascertain whether there would be an enthusiast demand for retrospective reprints of their early small format editions of 'JP Markings,' 'JP Aircraft Markings' and 'JP Airline Fleets' but produced in the post-1978 Larger format with a similar layout to those later editions.
The result was a reprint of the 1966 first edition renamed 'Buchair Reprint' - a relatively thin volume as there were obviously far fewer airliners around in 1966 than in later years. The presentation, however, was excellent with some super colour photos of vintage airliners included.
This is a real gem if you can get hold of a copy. Mine came from rural France!
From a personal point of view, I feel it was a real shame that the original intention to reprint all the original volumes from 1966 to 1978 never came to fruition as it would have resulted in a very tidy and impressive looking set on the bookshelf! The contents would also have been amazing from an Airliner Historian perspective.
As it was only the 1966 edition reprint ever saw the light of day. One is forced to say "If only!"
'Buchair' endeavoured to placate the 'Spotter community' (some of whom found the new large format editions less than ideal for carting around airports) with a number of different solutions.
JP Airline-fleets pocket
JP Airline-fleets take along
The 'Buchair Log' was probably the closest they got to a true pocket register. Back in the late 1980s / early 1990s I owned a couple of editions of this version which I took plane spotting with me and these ended up heavily underlined as well they should. My personal copies have long since vanished in the midst if time!
The image to the right is of the JP airline-fleets pocket edition which was essentially the same height as the normal large format edition but significantly thinner as it only included the first four columns of the main edition. While obviously a lot lighter you still couldn't really fit it in a standard coat pocket!
Those of you with a keen eye will notice the square to the left of each registration which was also included in the large standard volumes. This again was another of JP's ground-breaking ideas in 1977 as they were the first to introduce this far easier and neater way of marking off aircraft seen by colouring in the square as opposed to underlining with an (often messy) pen and ruler!
Hi. Flightglobal announced Monday that they are ceasing publication of the JP Airline Fleets Intl book and that the current edition will be the last one. I'm very sad to hear this as I find it very useful. The quality has declined slightly the last few years but it's still the best print fleet book there is. The JP Airline Fleets Intl. book was first published in 1966 and was published by BUCHAIR until about five years ago when they sold it to Flightglobal. Perhaps someone else will take over and use the same name?
I believe it was just a matter of time before that decision would be made. It was always a bit outdated when it was published and this became even more the case with all the data available on the Web. Like for many things, its time is over.
That's OK. I've ceased buying it. More than "slightly." It was never the same after Flightglobal took it over. Shame. I used to look forward every year to the new edition.
Yep. People stopped buying it when they made it because it got less and less accurate. Not to mention the electronic version was not up to much as you couldn't even check off the planes you had seen.
I contacted the editor of 'Skyliner' magazine and figured that he could possibly publish something similar. His reply: "Hi. The former Swiss guys are back on track and will make a decision within three weeks' time they say." So perhaps BUCHAIR will take over again. I really hope that they come through. We'll see what happens.
I hope so too. There's no doubt the book was better all round when Buchair published it.
I bought my first JP Airline Fleets in the middle of the 80s. Whenever I saw a new registration I "clicked" the little box in front of the registration. But as all the others have said before: today I wouldn't even think of using it but simply type in the registration in GOOGLE and check the pictures that appear. At that time, we had a lot of B.707 and DC-8 in FRA and MAC and sub-charter flights. These planes used to change their operators more often than I change my underwear (well not really but you know what I mean). So even at that time it wouldn't help.
Anything on paper is out of date even before it's issued. It's the same reason why very few airlines still issue printed timetables.
Exactly right. These days it's extremely difficult to make a business case for a paper directory, because it doesn't sell. It's too expensive to include all the data available and the selected data which does end up printed is inaccurate before it's out of the door - not because it was bad information but because it can't keep up with the changes the way electronic data can.
It would seem that despite the initial optimism above, Bucher and Klee decided not to take back the reins of production. Thus ended an era!