Archive for December, 2007

Best Of AirlineWorld 2007

This is the last day of the year. As billions of people around the world, we also took a look back to what happened in the old year and made some New Year’s Resolutions.

For us 2007 was not a full year as we started our blog in June. It was a nice calm Sunday and Szafi wrote her first post about the Radio Alphabet – a useful tool not just for aviation fans. Balint01 joined her on the 7th with his first post about “Fuller Planes – Good Or Bad?” – a brief explanation of revenue and capacity management of airlines.

A380 

A380 was one of our main topics this year. We could see the a video of an imaginery evacuation of an A380, we reported on that quite unusual initiation that Singapore Airlines sold the first tickets to the A380 on e-Bay and gave the money (USD 1,25 million) for charity. We tried to find out more about the possible cabin configurations and then we reported on the first delivery.

Boeing 787

Boeing 787, the Dreamliner was our other favorite topic. We wrote about it when it was revealed, we put it in our blog header, we reported on the first announcement of delay that predicted 2 months. Now it seems that a 6-month delay is more realistic.

Developments 

Besides A380 and B787 we saw the birth of a Russian jet called Sukhoi Superjet and a Chinese one called ARJ21-700. We kept track of technology trends in aviation. We wrote an article about RFID usage at airlines and airports, about e-ticketing, a new online payment method at Qantas, a weightless flight, a solar powered, unmanned aircraft. Also we were interested in service developments such as the new Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse at London Heathrow Airport, Lufthansa’s new A380 First Class Concept, Boeing’s 747 development to keep up with A380,

Crashes 

Unfortunately again some serious accidents happened. We saw around 200 people dying in a very tragical crash in Sao Paulo, brazil. 19 people died in an accident of Air Moorea on the way to Tahiti. When China Airline’ 737 burst into fire and blew up, everybody could escape in time thanks to the flight crew, who was criticized for being rude – we thought it was better being rude than being inactive. Later it turned out that a loose bolt caused the fire. There was a sad collision of two planes at an Air Show in Radom, Poland. SAS Airlineshad a bad series of crash landings – without serious injuries – of its Dash 8 turboprop planes. Finally they decided on grounding all their Dash 8 fleet. 87 died in One-Two-Go Airlines crash in Phuket, Thailand. A few days later rallye driver champion Colin McRae died in a helicopter crash over Scotland. The most commented article was the weird accident of an Airbus A340 on the ground of the Airbus factory during testing. The last serious accident of the year was an MD-83 crash in Turkey killing 56.

Photo reports 

We received a lot of photos from our friends and airline enthusiasts, so we could show a photo report of a Royal Aircraft in Budapest, Red Bull Air Race in Budapest, an Air Show in Kecskemet and the A340 Airbus crash at the Toulouse Airbus factory.

Innovations 

We criticized airlines and other players of the industry about wrong steps and we were happy to present good initiations of other players. We found KLM’s promotion: a gift of a costmetics set for online bookers a very smart and useful initiation. We loved Iberia’s enviroment-friendly attitude with naming their new aircrafts Royal Owl, Imperial Eagle and other endangered species. We could read funny comments about an interesting topic: Vatican’s Air Mistral. IATA’s initiation of a greener aviation industry was also worth a post.

Sex and rock and roll 

And finally we tried to entertain those not interested in professional matters of the airline business with articles like Sex in an airplane, Sexy stewardess uniforms – with special attention to the self-designed uniform of Easyjet, Superstar pilots, Special aircraft paintings and we learned about where lost luggage end up going.

We also lost a very key figure of the European airline indusry. Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair died on 03 October at the age of 71. Net year we will definately write an article about him, because only a few know about his role in today’s aviation business.

And what is our New Year’s resolution? Well, we’ll do our best to entertain you and draw your attention to the magic world of airlines we so much love.

We both wish you a very happy, successful new year and please keep on reading us! 🙂

By Szafi and balint01
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Low Cost Airline Marketing at AirTran

As I reported earlier in a flight review, I have flown with Atlanta based AirTran about a month ago. Being an airline enthusiast I have kept my eyes open all the way through the booking/boarding/flying experience. I found some of their marketing tools very smart, and some even unrivaled, and have decided to share these impressions and these marketing tricks with you in an article, so here it goes.

A) When arriving to the airport, you may check-in using their ByePass Check-in Kiosks, which offer the possiblity to already purchase drinks for your flight and receive the vouchers, which onboard you can exchange for an alcoholic drink in economy class.
Smart! Less worries for the flight attendants, less change to be carried around, happier passenger who knows while boarding that they will get a nice beer or cocktail, and may sell the drinks easier after all.

B) They offer a few “Rebooking Area“s around the terminal, where you can rebook your flight. The simple, easy to understand text on the huge poster reads: “Enter here to rebook reservation. / Pick up phone. Agent will assist you. / Go to kiosk. Print new boarding pass.
Smart! Sounds very easy, makes the people believe they can do it (it’s simple), and it’s cost effective, AirTran only has to have a few booking agents in a far away, cheap location answering phones, instead of renting high-price ticketing location at the airport, and hire lots of ticketing agents around all locations. And I saw a few people talking on the phone, so it works, too.

C) Business Class advertisements. Even though AirTran is classified as a low-cost airline, they offer business class on all of their flights. A very cool, again simple worded molino I have seen several times around the terminals/gates reads the following: “Affordable Business Class on every flight. / More room. Free drinks. Less explaining yourself to accounting. / Book at airtran.com.
I found it’s a very smart idea to point out a step of a business flight, that most airlines don’t care about: expense reporting to accounting! 🙂 Great way to influence passengers, smart again!

D) At most of the gates, or in between two gates in the waiting area you can find small Coffee Stations, with the following text: “Free coffee. See, we’re always finding ways to save you money. / AirTran.com
Really smart! Another great tool, people feel that a low-cost airline is actually delivering some extra service: coffee on the ground, before the flight (!) which traditional airlines have never offered outside their business lounges. So they pay less, get more, and AirTran makes sure that all passengers realize this with the text shown above. Small costs, big image building, effective!

E) Programs: Co-branded A+ Visa Card, A+ Rewards program for frequent fliers, and my favorite: AirTran U – specially designed for people between ages 18-22, offering standby flights, therefore selling the seats which otherwise remained unsold, in the last minute before the flight closes (http://www.airtranu.com). They even give half credits if the student is a member of the A+ Rewards program!
Most of the other low-costs simply do not worry about cargo, but AirTran uses the cargo holds of its Boeing 717 and 737 fleet by offering cargo services to its customers.
Smart again, using all capacity as much as possible, selling unsold seats at the last minute (with AirTran U), thus reducing losses.

F) My “favorite,” dumbest marketing tool, which may still work, though: the Gourmet Pretzel packaging. While onboard, you receive a small package of pretzels. The basic situation is the following: you’re bored onboard, finally receive the pretzels and start to open the bag. But then you take a look at the bag: what exactly will I eat? And you find the following text on the top side: “How to eat Gourmet Pretzels on a low fare airline. (see back for complete details).” – Just in case somebody would not turn to the back, they place another message at the bottom: “Book at airtran.com for our lowest fares and no booking fees.” Just so that you know. But let’s see the back of the package for complete details:

How To Eat Gourmet Pretzels - AirTran

In the same style as any other packaging, they placed the following text on the left top side of the back of the packaet:
Eating Instructions
1. Think about our wonderful low fares at airtran.com as you open packet.
2. Place pretzel in mouth. With each crunch, be reminded of our low fares.
3. As you swallow, remember again just how low the fares are.
4. Repeat until pretzel packet is empty.
5. Keep empty packet to remind yourself to book at airtran.com for our lowest fares and no booking fees.

Then comes the Nutrition Facts, which are normal.
Pathetic! I was just amazed how an airline can give their name to such a cheesy, baby-like advertising and marketing tool, it’s amazing. But to be honest, I have read it, so maybe other passengers read it as well, and it may work in the end. But I just find it the most dumb marketing text in the airline business ever…

Of course, everywhere they place the “airtran.com” logo, instead of a simple AirTran Airways logo, so you meet with the website address everywhere and you will never forget it (engines on the planes, flight details screen at the gate, any communication material, pretzels, etc.).

And their slogan is: “Go. There’s nothing stopping you.” Not advertising how great their services are, or how high they fly, but urging people to simply “Go.”, or “travel” in other words, which will most probably include a flight. A flight with AirTran. Good general marketing job guys, only those pretzels…!

by balint01

ARJ21-700 – Made In China

China’s first fully homegrown commercial aircraft, the ARJ-21, rolled off the production line Friday (21 December 2007), marking a major step in the country’s aviation program.

ARJ21-700 - Made In ChinaIn a nationally televised ceremony, the Xiangfeng, or “Flying Phoenix,” was towed into a hangar at the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory amid flashing laser lights and rousing band music. “Today, China’s aviation industry has turned over a new leaf,” Lin Zuoming, general manager of China Aviation Industry Corp. I, or AVIC I, said in comments carried on the news channel of China Central Television.

ARJ21-700 cockpitThe maiden flight of the jet is planned for March. It will carry up to 90 passengers and have a flight range of 2,000 nautical miles (2,300 miles or 3,680 kilometers). AVIC 1 expects the jet to get its airworthiness certificate in the first half of 2009 and plans to begin deliveries to customers in the third quarter of 2009, it said.

Here you can find the complete specification with seatmaps and pictures.

 Source: AP

By Szafi 

Batman Is Real – Wingsuit Flying

If you will see Batman flying over above you, don’t think you are mad. It is real. Wingsuit Flyers look exactly like cartoon heros, but they live what we just dream of. Gliding through the sky without a plane, without engines, without any disturbing circumstance that would destroy the feeling of free flying.

What is wingsuit flying?

WingsuitWingsuit flyers are almost like parachuters – in fact they carry parachutes, too – the difference is that they wear a special suit that forms a ram-air wing between their body and arms and between their legs. With the help of these wings they can glide like birds and they can change direction, increase or decrease their speed or altitude by changing the shape of their own body. They carry a regular parachute as well and they open it for landing as the wingsuit does not slow them down to a speed safe enough for landing. Wingsuit flyers can jump out of a plane, a helicopter or they mmight use any base jump points: buildings or cliffs. Wingsuit flying has become popular in the late 90s and early 2000, when this type of uniform was developed by Jari Kousma and Robert Pecnik. They established the first company (Birdman Inc.) that trained people and sold wingsuits for the public.

Wingsuit Flying clubs

The Bridman club remained active in pioneering and their next big step was wingsuit flying with jet engines attached to the feet of the flyer. The Finnish Birdman was able to achieve approximately 30 seconds of horizontal flight with no noticeable loss of altitude. Besides Birdman new clubs and stores were founded like Phoenix Fly or Fly your body or EG Wingsuits. They all experiment and manufacture their own wingsuits. A wingsuit costs EUR 400-1200. Mostly they are around EUR 1000, but you can find special promotions for older versions. On the website of Phoenix Fly you can even find user manuals for the wingsuits and other articles about aerodynamics and the basics of wingsuit flying.

The fun of being Batman

Although many people have already experienced parachute jumping, the two sports are far from each other and in order to become a wingsuit flier, you have to learn both. Also it requires different techniques to jump from a plane or from a base. Therefore it is wiser to contact these clubs and ask for contacts of local trainers before you get started. They say it requires more than 200 jumps with the attention of a trainer to become expert enough to jump without assistance.

Once you get there and try it, please share your thoughts with us here! In the menatime watch some videos of this fantastic extreme sport!

By Szafi

Christmas Fun

Christmas is here and although this is one of the most trafficable seasons of airline industray, we will also be off for a few days.

We would like to thank you for reading us and giving us quite much feedback about the work we do here.

We will be back between Christmas and New Year’s eve with some nice posts for you.

In the meantime Merry Christmas to all of you and watch out, because you might easily get this drunk:

And one more funny video for you:

By balint01 and Szafi

Boeing Outsources Manufacturing To India

The Boeing Company and India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) today signed a 10-year Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) intended to bring more than US$1 billion of new aerospace manufacturing work to India.The agreement, signed in New Delhi by Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, and Ashok K. Baweja, chairman of HAL, also includes sharing key Boeing business and manufacturing tools with HAL.

“I am extremely pleased that Boeing and HAL have agreed to work together for the mutual benefit of their companies and countries. The agreement represents an important step in our efforts to build solid long-term partnerships in India to make Boeing products more globally competitive, while allowing HAL to grow and expand its potential market around the world,” said Albaugh.

“This is a significant step by two aerospace leaders that opens up new avenues and areas of co-operations. HAL and Indian industry gain from this long-term business arrangement in terms of technology upgrade, while Boeing can look forward to a reliable source for its product requirements,” said Baweja.

Under the agreement, Boeing and HAL will explore business opportunities aimed at transferring work packages to India with an initial value of US$10-$20 million annually, increasing in size and complexity as business opportunities develop. Boeing also will support HAL in developing manufacturing processes and capabilities needed for the production of hardware for Boeing and/or its subcontractors. Boeing also will support the training and transfer of Boeing best practices for Lean principles and Supplier and Program Management to the extent allowed by U. S. government and Boeing Corporate policy. Initial training in Lean began in 2006 and will continue through 2008.

Hindustan Aeronautics Limited agrees to offer Boeing competitive pricing, to invest in the required manufacturing infrastructure, and to join Boeing in seeking recognition by the government of India for the value of the work packages and technology transfers in support of credits against existing or future offset obligations.

Boeing’s efforts on this project will be led and managed through its Integrated Defense Systems business unit.

Boeing’s history in India reaches back more than 60 years, marked by success in working with airline customers, parts suppliers, research institutes and others to provide products and services. In December 2003, Boeing established a wholly owned subsidiary, Boeing International Corporation India Private Limited (BICIPL), to support the growing demands of India’s aviation, aerospace and defense industries.

Besides that also today Boeing announced that it has formed a new Intelligence and Security Systems (I&SS) division that will provide ground-based and other integrated intelligence and security solutions for a variety of U.S. government customers.

Source: boeing.com

By Szafi 

Can Lightning Bring Down A Plane?

Lightning is a scary-miraculous phenomenon we admire, we would like to know more about, we take photos of, but we are afraid of it, too. Physicists have been studying this phenomenon intensively for hundreds of years and still we do not know everything about it.

There are controversial opinions if planes are safe in lightning or not.

Pro (it is harmless)

Some say that a plane – just like a car is a Faraday cage, therefore it cannot be harmed by the external electric shock. But what is a faradya cage? According to the definition of Wikipedia a Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conducting material, or by a mesh of such material. Such an enclosure blocks out external static electrical fields. Faraday cages are named after physicist Michael Faraday, who built one in 1836. An external static electrical field will cause the electrical charges within the conducting material to redistribute themselves so as to cancel the field’s effects in the cage’s interior. This effect is used, for example, to protect electronic equipment from lightning strikes and other electrostatic discharges.

Apparently by the laws of physics planes could not be hurt by lightning. So why is it that still airospace control keeps all planes away from areas hit by heavy rainstorm and thunderbolt?

It is not just lightning that can affect a plane in a heavy strom. Lightning itself indicates huge energy, therefore it has dynamical effects as well. So besides tough turbulence caused by strong wind in stormy circumstances, lightning can also shake the plane heavily by hitting it. We took a look at the background of different accidents and it turned out that one of the main causes when a plane crashed following lightning was turbulance that smashed the planes to the ground.

Contra (it is harmful)

Some other physicists say that even though it is a Faraday cage, it is not perfect, because there are antennas for external communication like navigation, radio, etc. These antennas behave as holes on the shield and although lightening still cannot harm any passengers or interior of the aircraft, but the antennas lead this high voltage electricity into the electronic equipment of the aircraft, thus they can harm navigation, computer or electric wiring.

Among the accidents we could see a plane that cought fire following a lightning stroke in and it ignited flammable fuel vapours around the engine, which seems to be another risk factor.

Also some say that a metal object in the middle of a strom even attracts lightning, so planes are at special risk.

Result

LightningAfter all these I prefer saying it is better to avoid stormy weather, but it is not necessarily lethal flying among thunderbolt and lightning, so once you travel and experience that, you do not have to panic. On the other hand the new generation of aircrafts will be made of carbon fibre plastic that does not conduct electricity as metal does, so it will be even less dangerous. Finally we collected some accidents caused by lightning as a critical factor. They all talk for themselves, it is worth to read them through.

Highlights from Aviation Safety Netwrok’s statistics

Dornier 228-202 – Dec, 2003

Kato Air flight 603 departed Røst at 08:23 for a domestic flight to Bodø. A severe thunderstorm was passing over the Bodø area with severe winds gusting up to 40-55 knots as the flight approached the destination. At 08:52 the pilot reported that they had been hit by lightning. Apparently, rudder control was impossible due to damage caused by the lightning strike. Using engine power and elevator trim, the crew attempted to land at 08:58. This had to be aborted, so the plane circled for another attempt. On the second attempt to land, the airplane smashed onto runway 25, causing the undercarriage to collapse. The airplane sustained severe damage to the underside of the fuselage and the center part of the main fuselage was buckled. Luckily everybody survived the accident.

Merlin IV – Oct, 2001

The Spanish accident investigation commission CIAIAC concluded that the Merlin IV that crashed in the Mediterranean in October 2001 killing 10, was probably caused by a lightning strike. The aircraft was on route from Barcelona, Spain to Oran, Algeria, when it encountered a powerful electrical storm with associated rain and turbulence. The lightning strike probably caused the failure of the electrical system after which the airplane lost control.

Lockheed L-1011 Tristar 1 – Aug, 1985

Reason of crash: the flight crew’s decision to initiate and continue the approach into a cumulonimbus cloud which they observed to contain visible lightning; the lack of specific guidelines, procedures and training for avoiding and escaping from low-level windshear; and the lack of definitive, real-time windshear hazard information. This resulted in the aircraft’s encounter at low altitude with a microburst-induced, severe windshear from a rapidly developing thunderstorm located on the final approach course. 134 were killed on board and 1 on the ground. You can read the conversation of the pilots recovered from the blac box here.

Boeing 707-121 – Dec, 1963

Pan American Flight 214 departed San Juan, Puerto Rico at 16:10 EST for a flight to Philadelphia with an intermediate stop at Baltimore. The aircraft, named ‘Clipper Tradewind’ arrived at Baltimore at 19:35 and took off again after refueling at 20:24. After contacting Philadelphia Approach Control the crew elected to wait in a holding pattern along with 5 other aircraft because of extreme winds at Philadelphia. Flight 214 entered a holding pattern west of the New Castle VOR on the 270 radial.
At 20:58 Clipper Tradewind suffered a lightning strike. This caused the initial ignition of flammable fuel vapours inside the left reserve fuel tank. This triggered explosions in the centre and right reserve fuel tanks as well. Fuel spilled and caught fire; the complete left wingtip separated as a result. The aircraft was then seen to crash in flames. A ‘Mayday’ call was received by Philadelphia Approach as the plane was descending out of control.

Handley Page Hastings – March, 1960

The Hastings departed RAF Katunayake at 17:34 for a flight over the Indian Ocean to RAF Gan in the Maldives. Weather near Gan was poor with heavy rain and thunderstorm. The first approach was abandoned and the pilot decided to hold for 20 minutes, hoping the storm would pass. During the second approach a lightning flash blinded the pilots, during which the aircraft descended to a height just above the sea. The aircraft then hit the sea and crashed. Investigations found that the pilot missed some actions to avoid the accident.

By Szafi

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