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Flexible Wings Could Soon Be a Reality for Commercial Airplanes



From Travel Pulse

Flex Wing GIIICommercial airplane designers have been able to significantly improve fuel efficiency in recent years with lighter materials and more aerodynamic shapes. The problem is that the efficiency of traditional airliner designs is already near its maximum. Any future changes probably won't decrease fuel consumption by a meaningful amount.

Are flexible wings the answer?

By Josh Lew

NASA has been testing a new design that features wings with flexible parts instead of the standard flaps that have been a part of airplane wings since the early days of aviation. This new trait could not only increase fuel efficiency, it could also make airplanes much quieter during takeoff and landing.

Best of all, this is a very realistic design. NASA and the US Air Force have already successfully tested a version of the flexible wing on a small passenger jet (a Gulfstream III) over the course of more than two dozen flights. The space agency has said that the wings could be tested on commercial airliners within the next three years.

One smooth surface

The flexible wings have one smooth surface, rather than the separate flaps, spoilers and ailerons that can be seen on today’s commercial aircraft wings. The moving parts help the plane turn, ascend and descend, but they increase drag while doing so. Pilots generally adjust the flaps for maximum efficiency when they are at the ideal cruising altitude.

The flexible wings, however, are able to create the ideal ratio between lift and drag throughout the flight, not only while cruising in perfect conditions. According to the wing’s designers, the fuel efficiency of airplanes with the single-surface wings would be about 12 percent better than planes with traditional wings.

The design, which is being called FlexFoil, acts much like the movable parts on the trailing (back) part of a traditional wing, but the moving features blend seamlessly into the wing. This means that there is one blend-able surface without any gaps.

 

Flex Wing

 

Ideal aerodynamics

In an article discussing the idea behind the design, the project’s main designer, Sridhar Kota, described flying with the less-than-ideal lift-drag ratio of traditional wings as “not unlike riding to the top of a hill on a bicycle in the wrong gear—you may get there, but with considerably more effort than if you’d switched to a lower gear.”

Kota took the analogy a step further by explaining that with the flexible wing, “a plane could switch gears, so to speak, and achieve a more optimal lift-to-drag ratio by changing the shape of its wings.”

Close to reality

The first test flights have been successful, and the promise of quieter planes and perhaps even less turbulence in flight sounds great for fliers and for those who live near airports. There is also a potential that the FlexFoil wings could be retrofitted onto existing planes. This would allow airlines to start using the technology sooner.

Usually, when new technology is first announced and tested, it is still a decade or two away from actually being used on commercial planes. This could be the case with FlexFoil, but airlines are hungry for better fuel efficiency now that oil prices appear to be rising again. This could push development of the wings forward at a faster pace, especially if no other efficiency upgrades are on the horizon.

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Mark
Two related articles:http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/future-airplanes-will-fly-on-twistable-wingshttp://www.popsci.com... Read More
Saturday, 10 September 2016 12:36
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Making Them Fit to Fly

From Aviation Pros

PSA MX

By Tim Botos

The orange and yellow setting sun glared through the open door at PSA Airlines' hangar. The view to the west is only several hundred yards away from the pair of intersecting runways at Akron-Canton Airport.

Throughout the evening, then into darkness, PSA Bombardier CRJ200 and CRJ700 jets, arrived one-by-one. The two-engine jets cruise at about 500 miles per hour but appeared to float like hot air balloons when they showed up above the tree line to the north, then began to descend for landing.

The gray-colored jets are easy to identify. Each is marked with "American Eagle" on both sides. The tails are painted in red, white and blue stripes, similar to an American flag. They came from places like New York City, Washington D.C. and Charlotte, N.C. On board, as many as 75 passengers peered out the windows when the jets glided on to runways, touching down with a plume of burned rubber.

Some jets stopped long enough to pick up another group of passengers before taking off again. Others remained at the airport for the night, or even longer depending on their maintenance needs. The holdovers wind up inside the PSA hangar. Largely hidden from the thousands of people who fly from this airport every day, the PSA facility is the only place on the 2,700-acre grounds where mechanics repair and maintain fleets of commercial jets.

"And you don't just show up here and get to work on planes either," said Steven Albaugh, the operation's maintenance manager, who went on to explain the schooling required to become an aircraft mechanic.

While the rest of the airport largely sleeps away the late night and early morning hours, the PSA hangar is filled with non-stop motion from 9 p.m. until 7:30 the next morning, every day of the year.

*******

On a sticky hot July night, shortly after the overnight shift began, a crew of 12 mechanics, two lead mechanics and two inspectors gathered inside a break room attached to the hangar. The ritual is called "Pass Down." It's where mechanics get work assignments for a 10-hour work schedule ahead.

Seated at a table in front, lead mechanic Jody Kauderer led the meeting. He spoke almost entirely in acronyms, numbers and technical descriptions that made little sense to a casual observer. But all the mechanics, some standing and a few sitting on couches, all nodded their heads as Kauderer zipped through:

"244 is in at 040 ... APU," he said.

An APU is an auxilliary power unit, a jet engine that powers the plane on the ground when it's not using its main engines.

"New Zach, you got the tool room," he said.

There are two mechanics named Zach. One is new; the other has been around for a while.

"Sixty-two is here ... MEL ... 02 cylinder left-hand engine," he said.

MEL stands for minor equipment list.

All scheduled repairs and maintenance items are detailed on printed handouts the mechanics will follow. Much of the work is generated from plans arranged by the home office in Dayton. On a car, there's often no need to replace a fuel filter unless it's clogged. In a jet, it gets replaced according to specifications from the manufacturer, whether it's still good or not. Many jet engine parts have rated life expectancies. If it's 300 hours, that piece gets changed over to a new one at 300 hours, period.

*******

PSA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines, with 2,500 employees. Headquartered in Dayton, the airline operates 113 regional Bombardier-made jets. It has maintenance bases at Akron-Canton, in Dayton, Cincinnati, Knoxville, Tenn., and Charlotte, with another to open in Greer, S.C.

Albaugh took over as maintenance manager three months ago. He began working at the hangar 12 years ago. His training includes a stint at Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. He progressed from mechanic, to lead mechanic, then supervisor, and now into his current role. It suits him fine. He's a self-confessed "aviation nerd." Albaugh recently took a mini-vacation to St. Maarten. Not for the beaches. He timed the trip so he could watch a famed, and somewhat infrequent, landing of a Boeing 747 near the beach.

"So much of what we do here is preventive maintenance; that's the name of the game," Albaugh said, as he watched two mechanics guide a jet into the hangar.

One sat in the cockpit. The other operated a tug, which resembles a glorified golf cart. It tows a jet by the aircraft's front wheel. Jets staying put for the night get placed in the hangar or just outside of it. Mechanics are so used to the process that they can squeeze four 88-foot-long CRJ200 jets, each with a wingspan of 69 feet, into the 28,000 square-foot hangar all at the same time. And they are so proficient at the task, each parking job takes about as long as it would take you to parallel park a Volkswagen bug.

"It's almost an art," Albaugh said. "Some guys love running the tugs; some hate it."

Every night, mechanics fix and maintain five or six jets.

*******

The cavernous PSA hangar is actually quite small, compared to some at larger airports. Back in the day, it was the Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. corporate jet hangar. After that, an avionics firm called it home. It's cramped, but it works for PSA. There are a handful of offices, a parts room and a second-floor parts balcony for larger pieces.

At the beginning of the night, dozens of roll cab-style drawers, chests and toolboxes on wheels were lined up on the east end of the concrete-floored open work area, like race cars waiting for the flag. Red ones. Blue ones. Black ones. All with familiar names, such as Snap-on and Craftsman. Mechanics mostly use their own tools. If they need something special they can likely find it in the hangar tool room, which is filled with an assortment of giant hand tools, oversized sockets and gauges.

By 10 p.m., many of those tool chests were out on the floor.

In one corner, Mark "Mel" Lebel stood atop a step ladder, working to replace an oil and fuel filter on a CRJ200 jet engine. Aside from their enlarged size, they aren't much different than what you'd find on a car.

Mechanics must perform a series of checks on everything they do. Some are Federal Aviation Administration rules. Others are PSA's own policies. The paperwork can take as long as the job itself. Every part that winds up on the aircraft must be double-checked for an FAA 8130 airworthiness tag. And although seasoned mechanics like Lebel have changed fuel filters hundreds of times, he's still required to follow a detailed checklist contained in a computerized manual for that particular job. Later in the shift, the engine will get started outside, to examine it for leaks around the new fuel filter.

In an adjacent corner, mechanic Jeff "Silly" Masiella leaned back in a creeper, wheeling himself beneath the wing of a CRJ200. He used a hand-held eddy current tester to check for cracks in fuel drains. Mechanics at Akron-Canton have never found one -- never. Still, it's part of the required maintenance on the jet.

*******

Mechanics can fix anything on the aircraft. From small jobs, such as replacing light bulbs, to wholesale engine work. Albaugh said he feels the hangar single-handedly keeps UPS and Fedex in business. All day long, new jet parts arrive. Everything from replacement seats to engine fan blades.

Hands down, what needs to be replaced most often are tires.

"They're all filled with nitrogen; it's a lot more stable," said mechanic Lance Stickle.

A stock of dozens of tires is always on standby, stored along the northern wall of the hangar. Nose tires and landing tires. Dunlops and Goodyears in sizes marked for the CRJ200 and CRJ700 jets.

Nose tires last about three weeks; landing tires a month.

The treads on the tires aren't for gripping. The runway itself has a roughed up surface. Instead, the tread is there simply for mechanics to determine how much longer a tire can last. Using a hand-held tread gauge, similar to what you'd use on a car tire, mechanics are looking for tires that have less than three days' use remaining.

If so, they're swapped for new ones.

"I don't even want to know how much we spend on tires in a year," Albaugh said.

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Mark
MEL stands for minor equipment list.....I believe that is supposed to be "minimum."
Thursday, 18 August 2016 13:28
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Deadly Lithium Ion Battery Warning

From Airline Ratings

Lithium Battery Fire

By Steve Creedy & Geoffrey Thomas

Authorities issue warnings that lithium batteries could kill.

AUSTRALIAN authorities have renewed warnings about the dangers of carrying loose lithium ion batteries on aircraft after a passenger’s hand luggage caught fire in a plane at Sydney Airport.

The Montreal based UN International Civil Aviation Organisation earlier this year banned shipments of lithium ion batteries on passenger aircraft due to worries that they are a fire risk and pending a new fire-resistant packaging standard.

The move came after a 2015 report by aircraft manufacturers found firefighting systems on airlines would be unable to suppress or extinguish a fire involving significant quantities of lithium ion batteries.

That danger was highlighted in a 2014 incident in Melbourne which saw undeclared lithium batteries packed into a passenger’s checked bag short-circuit and ignite a fire in an aircraft hold before passengers boarded the flight to Fiji.

The latest incident involved a passenger on a Sunstate Airlines turboprop flight with several batteries in a cabin bag.

Transport Minister Darren Chester said the battery caught fire while the plane was on the ground and the issue was resolved. “Whilst there was no damage to the aircraft, several passengers did report feeling ill. This incident serves as a warning to the dangers of carrying these batteries on flights,” Mr Chester said.

“We are all reminded before boarding of potential items, including loose lithium ion batteries, that should not fly.’’

“Most passengers would be aware of the more obvious hazardous items that should not board an airplane including flammable liquids, dangerous chemicals or compressed gases, but everyday items must also be considered before boarding including toiletries, aerosols and tools.’’

Under most international regulations, spare lithium ion batteries CANNOT be carried in checked baggage under any circumstances but those under 100Wh —  the kinds used to power phones, laptops and cameras — can be carried in cabin baggage.

Batteries bigger than this, such as those used in power tools, either need special permission from the airline or are banned completely, depending on their rating.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority recommends that spare batteries be kept in their original retail packaging to prevent short circuiting. Alternatively, passengers can tape over the battery’s terminals or place each battery separately in a separate plastic bag or protective pouch.

A CASA spokesman also highlighted a potential fire hazard from Lithium ion powered mobile phones being crushed in business class seats.

The phones slip down into the seat, often when a passenger reclines the bed to sleep, and then are crushed when the traveller moves the seat while trying to find the device.

The spokesman said passengers should not try to move the seat or retrieve the phone and needed to call cabin crew to assist them.

According to Flight Safety Australia a new passenger safety video released by Air France addresses the issue of cabin fires, telling passengers not to recline or raise their seat if they lose their phone.

 

Loacation Seat Fire

 Photos of the place a lithium powered iPhone was lost on an Air France 747. Passenger moved the seat to recover causing a fire.

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Too Much Indecision

Just An Opinion

Swiss Air A340

This vid is a few years old now. It was part of a short series called PilotsEye.tv. It seems somewhat ironic that an in-flight engine shutdown occurred during filming.


This video is being thrown out as an example of cockpit confusion and reliance on abnormal procedures references instead of “understanding” the problem.


The #3 engine’s oil temperature is high. More than twice the others. It seems that instead of running straight to the Red Tabs, a quick glance at the rest of the engine parameters would be in order. N1/N2 speeds, EGT, Fuel Flow, and Oil Pressure. No peek at IDG temperature either. It looks like these simple steps were omitted.


The IDG (Integrated Driver Generator) temperature was also high. I’m at a loss as to what would cause both engine and IDG oil temps to be high. Both are cooled by fuel. In what order or if it is accomplished pre/post HMU (Hydro Mechanical Unit or Fuel Control), I don’t know.


The Captain’s first action was to look in Chapter 24 – Electrical, before going to the most pressing issue of Engine Oil – Chapter 79. The First Officer corrected him (2:05). It was only after looking at the engine Red Tabs that the high IDG temperature was noticed.


To reduce the load on the engine, the procedures recommended a generator disconnect first. After the Captain pressed the switch/light, a brief startlement (2:52) was noticed by the First Officer. This was caused by power switching and the short time loss of systems such as Flight Director and Auto-Pilot 2 among others.


The Captain reached up and killed the Master Caution switch/light (2:59). This is somewhat automatic by maintenance and pilots with the aircraft “on the ground”. In actual flight I would think “all” issues would need to be noted before arbitrarily killing the warning.


Anyway, the generator disconnect did not help. The next step was the IDG. Again, it was the First Officer who understood that an IDG disconnect was not reversible (3:31).


After unloading the electrical systems from the engine, oil temp was still high. Reducing power to idle also didn’t help and the engine was shut down. The rest of the crew’s actions seemed proper beyond that point.


During the whole first half of this video, neither crew member seemed to “understand” what the problem was. (I do have to give a few points to the First Officer though.) The Captain seemed to need “backup” for every action. The first reactions were to read the references instead of looking at the big picture. It wouldn’t have taken any time to view all of the aircraft system’s pages first. Of course, this would mean there was some knowledge of the systems involved….. there wasn’t.


This wasn’t a life or death problem, but what if it was? Crews don’t often have the luxury of time to visit the abnormal procedures book. What if comprehension and action was needed immediately? Could this crew handle it? With reliance on “procedures”…. can any crew handle it?

 

 

 

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Mark
Not knowing the history of this problem, nor the fix........ where would be a good place to start troubleshooting if this was a fr... Read More
Monday, 08 August 2016 22:31
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Changing Servers

Rotate

VPS

To the few people who stop by to visit Rotate.... I have always expected a great response to this website.... still do. The "looks" are poor, but the site wasn't set up to be fancy. It's purpose.... as always, is to be an avenue for learning how to troubleshoot and repair aircraft.

The site has been receiving a sizable amount of hits, but no new members. Everything has been put in place for anyone to join and contribute.

Contribution is certainly not required for membership. Everyone is always welcome to just stop by for a visit.

I possibly could be scaring some folks with some blog comments. I've never been afraid to throw the truth out. It hurts sometimes, but it's needed.

Anyway.... hopefully this thing will catch on and become an avenue for folks to use and reference as a tool for repairing aircraft.

That being the case. I'm moving Rotate off of shared hosting on to a VPS or Virtual Private Server hosted by LiquidWeb. This is just another step in the growth process and it will allow for much greater speed and site expansion.

During the transition, the site might not be available. This changeover should not exceed two days. Please give this some time and you're more than welcome to stop back by after the switch is completed.

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Just For Chuckles

From Alaska Airlines

Director Joe Sedelmaier

Video: See Alaska’s quirky 1980s ads that landed director in Advertising Hall of Fame

Image on left: Pausing from a TV commercial shoot back in the day is Director Joe Sedelmaier (front, center). Can you guess who was Alaska’s then-CEO in this photo?

By Marianne Lindsey

The unconventional Alaska Airlines TV ads from the 1980s and ’90s got a little fresh air at this year’s American Advertising Hall of Fame ceremony.

The commercials were directed by legendary ad man Joe Sedelmaier, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in April – and some of Alaska’s award-winning commercials were shown at the gala ceremony in New York.

Sedelmaier did hundreds of ads in his career, including classics such as Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef” and FedEx’s “Fast Talking Man.” He also directed about three-dozen Alaska Airlines spots that seized upon the humor of travel pains – such as Pay Toilet and Talking Ticket.

 

 

 John Kelly, who was vice president of marketing for Alaska Airlines during that era, and later chairman and CEO until he retired in 2003, attended the AAF ceremony.

“We won every award imaginable with those spots over the years, including a number of the very prestigious Cannes International Film Festival Gold Lions,” Kelly remembered. “During that timeframe, our agency, and in particular writer Jim Copacino, developed a string of commercials that pointed out the differences between the other carriers and the personal service on Alaska.”

But it was Sedelmaier’s magic that turned them into instant classics.

“We were just a small West Coast carrier trying to compete against all the big carriers, and those commercials really did a great job of differentiating our service,” Kelly said.

The major carriers were cutting back on inflight food during the era, and adding additional seats that were sandwiched together. So Alaska used humor to point out how it was a cut above.

“It was Joe’s unique approach to humor that really took the spots to a new level, so it was a real pleasure to see him recognized for his genius and inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Kelly said.

While the ads were fun and frivolous, they had a strong strategic underpinning. Alaska, as a young airline, was beginning its expansion into Southern California and Arizona. It was a fresh upstart and was offering a better product – better food, newer airplanes and friendly, caring employees. The ads showed how, at Alaska, things were different. And the airline got noticed.
Voice of Alaska

The friendly voice that narrated Alaska’s TV commercials during their heyday came from renowned actor Peter Thomas. Thomas, whose comforting voice was also behind the NATURE TV series, passed away April 30, 2016 at the age of 91. Kelly credits Thomas with part of the success of Alaska’s commercials.

“I was driving into work one day and heard this announcer for Coca-Cola saying ‘Coke adds life’ – and the way he said it was so unique, and so convincing, that I asked our ad agency to track him down so we could use him,” Kelly said. “He was a pleasure to work with over the years, and such a great talent, as well as a true gentleman.”

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Airlines Pulled in $1.7 Billion in Baggage and Ticket Fees in Q1

From Travel Pulse

WestJet Baggage

By Rich Thomaselli

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today reported that airlines earned more than $1.7 billion in baggage and reservation change fees in the first quarter of 2016.

And that did not sit well with those looking to upgrade the infrastructure of airports.

The American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) is asking, again, why U.S. airlines have refused to back raising the local airport user fee known as the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) that finances the construction of terminal projects, new runways and other airport improvements.

“Airline baggage fee collections are growing as high as the sun in today’s summer solstice sky, and yet the carriers continue to oppose a modest increase in the local Passenger Facility Charge that would allow airports to better accommodate the record number of passengers crowding into checkpoints and other facilities,” AAAE President and CEO Todd Hauptli said in a statement.

According to data released by the DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics, airlines collected nearly $975 million in baggage fees in the first quarter of 2016. That’s up more than $100 million from the same time period last year.

The carriers also raked in more than $745 million in reservation change or cancellation fees in the first quarter. Those gains are on top of the record-level $3.8 billion in bag fees and $3 billion in reservation cancellation or change fees that the airlines collected in 2015.

Airlines have repeatedly said that backing an increase in the PFC is like adding another tax or surcharge to a passenger’s ticket.

Hauptli said that’s a ludicrous thought process.

Since 2008, airlines have collected more than $25.7 billion in baggage fees and more than $20 billion extra in ticket change and cancellation fees. That total of more than $45.7 billion in baggage and ticket change fees does not include other airline ancillary charges such as pet transportation, sale of frequent flyer award miles to airline business partners and standby passenger fees.

In comparison, last year airports collectively received about $3 billion from the PFC, which is an optional charge that must be justified locally, imposed locally and used locally on FAA-approved projects that enhance local airport facilities. The federal cap on the local PFC has not been adjusted since 2000.

“It’s time for Congress to see past airline rhetoric and pass a comprehensive FAA reauthorization bill that prioritizes airport infrastructure investment,” Hauptli said.

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Mark
A long time ago in a land far away...... traveling by airline "was" a fun and pleasurable experience.Now, greed rules the skies (a... Read More
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 12:52
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​ATSB warns of “catastrophic” potential of ATR pitch disconnect

From Flight Global

ATR 72-600 Cockpit

By: Greg Waldron

The Australian Transportation Safety Board (ATSB) has revealed that opposite control column inputs caused a “pitch disconnect” on a Virgin Australia ATR 72-600, resulting in overstress damage to the aircraft’s horizontal stabiliser.

In its June 2014 preliminary report, the ATSB said that the aircraft (VH-FVR) suffered overstress damage to its tailplane during a flight on 20 February 2014, but an overnight inspection failed to detect the damage. The aircraft then flew 13 additional sectors before pitch control anomalies were detected on 25 February, after which an inspection following a suspected bird strike discovered structural damage.

A fresh interim report, using flight data recorder information, reveals a crucial new detail: at one point during the 20 February incident the captain made a nose-up input, while the first officer made a nose-down input. This caused a “pitch disconnect” that damaged the aircraft’s tailplane.

The ATSB summarises the safety issue as such: “Inadvertent application of opposing pitch control inputs by flight crew can activate the pitch uncoupling mechanism which, in certain high-energy situations, can result in catastrophic damage to the aircraft structure before crews are able to react.”

The incident occurred as VH-FVR operated a Canberra-Sydney service. At 16.40 the aircraft was at 8,500 feet on approach to runway 16 Left when the crew noticed airspeed rising quickly. Several control inputs followed, eventually leading to both crew’s making “pitch up” inputs.

“Shortly after, with both flight crew making simultaneous nose up pitch inputs on the controls, the aircraft rapidly pitched up with an associated increase in the g load,” says the interim report.

“The first officer responded by immediately reversing the control input to nose down. Both flight crew noticed that the controls suddenly felt different and ‘spongy’. The crew verified that the aircraft was under control, stable, and in “level or slight descent.”

Several warnings had occurred, including “pitch disconnect,” indicating that left and right elevator control systems had uncoupled. The crew worked through the pitch disconnect checklist to determine which control column was working normally. Both were found to be normal, and the captain landed the aircraft.

“The aerodynamic loads generated during the pitch disconnect resulted in serious injury to the senior cabin crew member and significant damage to the aircraft’s horizontal stabiliser,” says the ATSB. “Although the aircraft was inspected after the pitch disconnect, the damage was not identified until 25 February 2014.”

ATR, in a load analysis, found that several were exceeded. ATR also provided data about several incidents involving pitch disconnects, including three resulting from different pitch control inputs.

“During examination of the aircraft, the pitch uncoupling mechanism was tested in accordance with the aircraft’s maintenance instructions,” adds ATSB. “The load applied to the control column to activate the pitch uncoupling mechanism was found to be at a value marginally greater than the manufacturer’s required value. The reason for this greater value was not determined, but may be related to the damage sustained during the pitch disconnect event.”

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Mark
I've never touched an ATR, but the basic principle of connected yokes "should" still apply.This story leaves a few holes. First of... Read More
Thursday, 16 June 2016 00:48
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Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines Launch Pilot Career Program

From Aviation Tribune

Frontier Airlines Airbus

Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines have entered into a pilot hiring partnership to facilitate pilot career path needs.

Scheduled to launch in June as part of the Frontier Career Pilot Program, the mutually beneficial relationship is designed to remove many of the career uncertainties that pilots face as they begin their airline careers by guaranteeing pilots entering Frontier’s Career Pilot Program a first officer position with Frontier upon completion of defined experience requirements.

Under the partnership, Silver and Frontier will work together in recruiting and interviewing new pilot candidates. Once selected, the pilot needs to remain employed by Silver Airways, upgrade to captain, and build at least 1,000 hours of pilot-in-command time. Once these and other conditions are met such as dependability metrics and a letter of recommendation from Silver Airways, Frontier will guarantee that the pilot will transition to Frontier as a first officer on a seniority basis.

“Pursuing a professional pilot career is as challenging today as it has ever been,” said Silver Airways Vice President of Flight Operations David Lindskoog. “Being able to offer a greater degree of certainty to a new pilot as he or she considers a pilot career is a big deal. This agreement between Silver Airways and Frontier Airlines offers that certainty and provides a great opportunity for our pilots to advance their careers.”

“This career path program is an exciting opportunity for Silver Airways and its pilots,” said Silver Airways Chief Pilot Brandon Press. “The professional pilot job market is rapidly evolving and this will put Silver Airways and Frontier in a highly competitive position, while offering current and future pilots a solid path to a career with a major airline.”

“This program and our partnerships with these highly regarded and respected regional airlines will become an important element of Frontier’s overall strategy to fulfill our pilot staffing needs in the future,” said Jim Nides, Frontier’s vice president-flight operations.

“With forecasted retirements, it’s no secret that the demand for highly qualified pilots will grow over the next several years,” said JP Thibodeau, Frontier’s chief pilot. “This new partnership helps address our future pilot staffing needs while providing pilots entering the workforce a certainty for their careers.”

Pilots who currently fly for Silver Airways will also be eligible and encouraged to participate in Frontier’s Career Pilot Program.

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Mark
You're going to see more companies take progressive moves to insure manpower needs are filled in the future. There is going to be ... Read More
Saturday, 04 June 2016 02:40
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Terrorism the likely cause of the Egyptair MS804 crash

From Airline Ratings

EgyptAir A320

Geoffrey Thomas, AirlineRatings.com

20 May 2016

Terrorism seems the most likely cause of today's tragic crash says aviation expert.

As search and rescue teams continue look for debris belonging to Egyptair MS804, security authorities fear that terrorism is the most likely cause of the crash.

A fireball in the sky, no warning from the crew and its disappearance of all radar including military are tell tale signs.

The plane made "sudden swerves" mid-air and plunged before dropping off radars in the southern Mediterranean, Greece's defence minister said.

Sherif Fathi, Egypt's aviation minister, said the possibility of a terror attack was "stronger" than a technical failure.

Mechanical failure is a extremely remote possibility but only a catastrophic disintegration of the engine with parts flying into the fuselage and wing could result in the loss of this aircraft in this way.

While no group has claimed responsibility it could be the work of a lone suicide bomber.

Another possibility is that a bomb, with timer, was smuggled on in Paris or possibly in other airports that the aircraft plane operated in the 24 hours before the doomed flight.

Prior to the Paris to Cairo flight the aircraft had operated from Asmara in Eritera to Cairo and then two return flights to Tunis in Tunisia from Cairo before heading Paris.

While security at the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport is tough the security at some airports in North Africa is under a cloud.

The aviation industry fears an “inside job” with baggage handlers and catering staff having the ability to load devices onto aircraft.

Egypt assured the world that it had beefed up security after the Metrojet crash in October last year that killed 224 when a bomb was smuggled on board possibly be caterers.

However this year a passenger with mental illness was able to get a fake bomb jacket through security despite being frisked. He then went on to hijack an Egyptair flight to Cyprus and later surrendered.

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Mark
It's WAY to early in this to be screaming terrorism. Hell, EgyptAir had to retract a statement saying that wreckage was found.Wher... Read More
Friday, 20 May 2016 00:03
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Gogo’s Next-Generation of Inflight Wi-Fi Has Gone Live

From Travel Pulse

GoGo's 737 Test Aircraft

By Paul Thompson

For many airline passengers, inflight Wi-Fi is a necessary evil. Perhaps you've used it as a necessity for work, or just out of boredom, but surveys have shown that everyone wants to at least have it available every time they fly. If you’ve used it, and have found it didn’t quite live up to your expectations, there is hope on the horizon! Late last month, Gogo announced that its newest Wi-Fi technology has gone live, with launch customer AeroMexico.

Gogo’s original network was fed by a grid of ground-based antennas, to which the planes connected as they passed over at cruising altitude. While it was a marvel when it was introduced, passenger expectations rose over the years, as they wanted an experience that paralleled the connections they have at home.

The new benchmark for Wi-Fi is, is seen in that perennial passenger question, “can I stream Netflix?” With Gogo’s 2Ku, yes, you can. I flew aboard Gogo’s testbed aircraft last fall with a group of other media members. Onboard, we were able to stream Netflix, YouTube and even live television shows. This was on a flight where every passenger was using one, if not several bandwidth-hogging devices. The trend for airline passengers is that many are bringing their own devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones, so they depend less on bulky and costly screens installed in the back of each seat.

In a statement for the AeroMexico launch, Gogo president and CEO, Michael Small said, “This is a groundbreaking milestone for Gogo as it signifies that the 2Ku era has officially taken flight. Aeromexico was the first to commit to the service and we couldn’t be more excited to have their passengers be the first to experience this game changing technology.”

 

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What exactly is 2Ku? Ku Band is a portion of the electromagnetic spectrum of radio frequencies, over which data can be transmitted. With 2Ku, the aircraft carries 2Ku antennas on the top of the plane: one for the upward (receive-only) link to the aircraft, the other for the downward (return) link to the ground. 2Ku is designed to be compatible with multiple satellite networks, and provide consistent coverage almost anywhere in the world, including over seas. In this case, Intelsat and SES are the satellite operators. The older air-to-ground antenna system prevented coverage offshore.

This Wednesday, Delta Air Lines announced they had increased their commitment to Gogo’s 2Ku for their fleet, on over 600 aircraft. Installation has already begun on their Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A319s. Delta says at least 35 planes will have 2Ku before the end of the year. 2Ku will also be installed on Delta’s upcoming Airbus A350 and A330neo fleets. All of Delta’s domestic fleet has Wi-Fi, as well as much of its international fleet, but much of it has Gogo’s older air-to-ground architecture at this time.

Currently, Gogo’s 2Ku system can bring speeds of up to 70Mbps to the aircraft, but with forthcoming satellites in the pipeline, the company says speeds of over 200Mbps are attainable. In addition, Gogo says its low-profile radomes (those bubbles on the back of the plane that house the antennas) reduce drag in comparison to other radomes, and can save airlines up to $25,000 per plane each year.

 

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Sunday, 08 May 2016 14:22
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Turkish Airlines, The Eurasian Powerhouse

From Airways News

Turkish Airlines 777_110115Story by: Jeff Kriendler

With one wing in Europe and other in Asia, Turkish Airlines (Turk Hava Yollari – THY / TK) continues on a flight plan destined to prove Napoleon Bonaparte correct when he said some 300 years ago: “If the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital”.

Similar to the extraordinary growth of the big three Gulf carriers (Emirates (EK), Qatar Airways (QR) and Etihad (EY)), with whom the Turkish carrier is often compared, TK uses its geo-strategic location to connect continents, but is further advantaged by having a large and mobile home market of over 77 million potential travelers with access to 52 Turkish airports. In addition, its Istanbul (Ataturk) Airport (IST) is within narrow body reach of 55 countries, including over 100 European cities served non-stop.  The airline’s President and CEO Dr. Temel Kotil says that the carrier’s strong growth will continue as it pursues a strategy of building international-to-international transfer passengers to create one of the airline industry’s largest global networks, currently ranked fourth.

Dr. Kotil says that the Turkish carrier serves more countries (108) than any other airline, and also leads the category of international destinations served (219).  It offers the largest number of origin and destination city pairs to and from Africa and the Middle East, and is the second largest to and from Asia and the Pacific. Besides, its main market within Europe—in which it has come into prominence as a key player over the past decade— Turkish has also penetrated thinner European markets, and will continue to expand to many of the continent’s second and third-tier markets which are not economically served with larger aircraft such as Edinburgh (EDI), Liverpool (LPL), Billund (BLL) and Genoa (GOA). Building critical mass is the foundation of the airline’s strategy, he notes, with further market route development planned this year, especially to Asia, Africa and the Americas.

THE PASSENGER IS ‘BOSS’

The Aeronautical Engineer from Istanbul Technical University joined the carrier in 2003 in the technical section and became the CEO in 2005, a year prior to the airline’s partial privatization.  The Turkish government holds a 49.12 percent stake, with 50.88 percent held by the public; its shares are traded on the Istanbul Stock Exchange. Dr. Kotil believes that it is not coincidental that the airline’s dramatic growth and sustained profitability were propelled after the partial privatization.  “Government-owned airlines are like poisoned in some way,” he states.  “At Turkish, the passenger is now the ‘boss’ as it should be.  The object of our attention must be the customer.  Successful airlines will be those that love their passengers – and we do love ours” he says with a smile.

Battling the competition in various parts of the globe, Dr. Kotil points out that the marketplace no longer blindly buys tickets. “Passengers can select any carrier they wish—there is no captive market. If you don’t have the product, forget about it. At Turkish, management wants to support our staff by investing funds in the product, as if we were inviting passengers into our own homes in the true Eastern tradition.” For example, he says that the airline does not consider catering just a ‘food service’, but a true example of Turkish hospitality.  “We want to satisfy our guests in an utmost level and are upgrading our already excellent offerings.  In essence, we are competing with ourselves and are totally concentrated on how we can do it better.”

TWENTY FOUR  ISTANBUL ROUTES ADDED IN 2014

Last year, Turkish added 24 new routes from its Istanbul-Ataturk hub.  The company flies to 101 airports in Europe; 42 in Africa; 33 in the Middle East; 31 in the Far East; and 10 in the Americas, with eight gateways in the United States (New York (JFK), Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Washington Dulles (IAD), Los Angeles (LAX), San Francisco (SFO) Houston (IAH)) Miami (MIA) and two in Canada (Toronto (YYZ) and Montreal (YUL)).  Already the largest non-African carrier to serve the African continent, Turkish will bolster their presence by launching three new points in 2015.

“I believe that Africa will grow to be one of the most important continents in the world,” says Dr. Kotil.  “The region has an enormous potential so we are planting a seed and it may take some time to be fully nurtured,” He notes that Turkey is the third biggest investor in Africa after China and Saudi Arabia and by expanding the network, Turkish will make the region more accessible than ever before.  The strategy is to add international-to-international traffic which reached 14 million passengers last year, more than the total passengers flown by many airlines over their entire networks.

He jokingly refers to the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737-900s as the ‘African Queens’, plying long, thin sectors in a 10/141 configuration. As routes mature, the carrier will upgrade to Airbus A330s to meet increased demand, he notes. TK’s expansion in Southern Africa will increase as the airline gets more wide-bodies capable of flying the route segments non-stop as they are beyond the range of fully-loaded and fueled narrow-bodies.

The Turkish mega-carrier not only has a global route network, it has multi-daily frequencies in key markets to build mass and reduce operating costs by maximizing aircraft and crew utilization.  For example, the carrier has eight daily round trips to London from Istanbul (five to Heathrow and three to Gatwick); six daily trips to Moscow and Tel Aviv; and five or more daily rotations to Frankfurt, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Amsterdam, Vienna, Paris and Brussels.  Its network in Germany numbers 13 cities, serving German business travelers and tourists as well as the large Turkish diaspora which numbers over four million in Germany alone.

The strong market to Germany enticed Lufthansa (LH) to join with Turkish Airlines in 1989 to create a 50-50 percent joint venture, SunExpress (XQ), a LCC which connects cities in Anatolia (the Asian part of Turkey) with popular European destinations using a fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft.  The carrier does serve Istanbul as well, but from Istanbul’s secondary airport Sabiha Gökçen (SAW), which is located about 18 miles (30 kilometers) on the Asian side of the city.  In 2014, SunExpress carried over seven million passengers.  Turkish also established a domestic LCC in 2008 branded Anadolujet, which uses both Boeing 737-800 and 900’s and Embraer 190s as well as Airbus A340s for long-haul missions.

Dr. Kotil points out that his carrier has its sights set on further expansion in the Indian sub-continent and China as well as Australia, but for now the priority will be the Americas and Africa. Currently, Turkish utilizes all the traffic rights granted by the Chinese and Indian bi-lateral treaties, but wants to increase the number of frequencies and destinations it serves. He notes, “India is a large and important market (5th largest domestic air market), as it expands its economic global power. Air India’s (AI) joining Star Alliance will assist our goal of spreading our reach within India.”

Current Istanbul Ataturk Airport_110115

NEW MEGA AIRPORT IN THE WORKS

Turkish Airlines has reaped the benefits of a booming demand for commercial air service in Turkey which has experienced high rates of growth in the last decade.  Although it has tripled over 10 years, Turkey remains under penetrated compared to more mature markets indicating its growth potential.  In 2014, the market grew by 13.5 percent more than doubling the global industry growth rate of 5.1%. A consequence of this rapid growth has caused Turkish to be constrained by capacity limitations at its Istanbul Ataturk hub (Airways, May 2015).  In anticipation of the continued demand for traffic to Istanbul and for international connecting passengers, the government of Turkey has begun work on an ambitious project to build the world’s biggest airport based on passenger handling capacity which is estimated to reach 150 million passengers by 2021.

Located on the European Black Sea coast approximately 20 miles outside of Istanbul, the six-runway project will be delivered in four phases, the first phase being completed in 2017 according to official Turkish authorities with an aim of serving 90 million passengers per year.  Terminal 1 of the new Istanbul Airport will be the world’s largest airport terminal under one roof, with a gross floor area of nearly 1 million square meters. The airport will be highly functional with an architectural design closely linked to the area’s unique character, creating a stunning gateway to Istanbul and Turkey.  In spite of its size, the massive terminal building will be designed and positioned to blend into the landscape. It will replace Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

When completed, the capacity of the new as yet unnamed but generally referred to as ‘New International Airport of Istanbul ‘will be 180 million passengers.  Istanbul is within range of non-stop flights to Europe, Asia and Africa which are located within a radius of 1,800 miles (3,000 kilometers). “Istanbul is a natural hub and it provides the most economic routings due to its strategic location allowing for one-stop connections between any two cities on earth”, the Turkish chief points out. The new airport will likely entice other Star members to begin on-line flights to Istanbul.

While Istanbul is a natural hub to connect continents, it is surrounded by politically unstable countries which have impeded traffic flows.  The airline boss calls the region ‘complicated’.  Turkish has been forced to reduce or suspend services to Libya, Iraq and Ukraine, and it borders Syria and Iran under existing conditions.  The airline is adept at modifying flight schedules and can move aircraft around with ease as political conditions warrant.

FLEET TO NUMBER 434 BY 2021

Dr. Kotil is not sentimental when it comes to fleet discussions. “ To us, they are tools, machines to get the job done,” he states. At the end of 2014, Turkish had a fleet of 261 aircraft with 197 narrow bodies split between 90 Airbus A320’s and 107 Boeing 737’s and 55 wide-bodies  (39 Airbus A330’s and 16 Boeing 777’s).  The carrier also operates 7 cargo aircraft (with an additional four Airbus A330F aircraft ordered last March). By 2021, with the addition of aircraft on order, the fleet of Turkish will total more than 430 units, (including dedicated cargo aircraft), comprised by 350 narrow-bodies, 95 passenger wide-bodies and 10 freighters approximately.  On order are 117 Airbus A320 Family aircraft and 95 Boeing 737’s, the mass majority of which are neos and Maxs. SunExpress, the Lufthansa/Turkish Airlines joint venture, has placed an order for 50 additional 737-800’s and Maxs. Turkish’s Board of Management is constantly evaluating further aircraft options. The airline currently offers a premium economy on its fleet of Boeing 777-300ER’s but there are plans to remove those sections this year, and expand their business class product to meet increasing demand.

With seven dedicated freighters, Turkish also has a growing presence in the carriage of international cargo. Currently the six largest airlines in Europe in terms of freight tonnage, the carrier transported  only 1.0% of the global freight market share in 2009 which rose to 2.0% by year-end 2013. It has set a goal of achieving $1.7 billion in cargo revenues by 2018, , representing 3.4% of global carriage, and about 11% of the airline’s total projected revenues of $18 billion.

MASSIVE LOUNGE AT ATATURK

Turk Lounge_110115

Turkish operates one of the world’s largest airport lounges at Istanbul Ataturk Airport. Sprawled over two levels, the lounge is over 60,000 square feet (6,000 sq meters) and should not be missed by anyone passing through the airport and traveling either in business class or as an elite member of Star Alliance. First conceived as “Lounge Istanbul” in 2011, two major extension projects have two folded the space and  capacity is now 1,100 seated guests, many of whom arrive early to enjoy the sumptuous fare and soothing design.

Within the lounge is a fully stocked library, a children’s playground, pool tables, showers, private rooms for napping and the Golf simulator (Turkish Airlines sponsors the Turkish Golf Open).  Catered by  Turkish Do&Co, the food options are varied and of gourmet quality.  Fresh omelet stations are available throughout the lounge for morning flights and there are plenty of healthy food and drink options including many Turkish specialties. There are a tempting selection of Turkish Meze (bite-size appetizers featuring healthy fare) and desserts are spread out throughout the lounge with numerous tea and coffee stations.

Impeccable in-flight service, gourmet food and amenities with small touches like dinner by faux candlelight (LED) all combine to make the long-haul Business Class experience memorable. The course-by-course cart presentations, including tea and coffee, are the crowning touches. The airline uses famous athletes like football greats Lionel Messi and Didier Drogba to get their message across, and in earlier campaigns contracted US basketball legend Kobe Bryant to underscore the theme that Turkish Airlines is home to the stars.

To get another competitive foot up, all passengers arriving in Istanbul on Turkish Airlines off of  international flights and continuing on another Turkish International flight are offered a free hotel in Istanbul and a complimentary city tour with all transportation, meals and museum fees covered. Visitors are almost unanimous in praise of the tours of magnificent Istanbul—and many choose to return.

As Dr. Kotil ponders his airline’s future, he can be inspired by the words of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the father of modern Turkey, who said, “On the meeting point of two worlds, the ornament of Turkish homeland, the treasure of Turkish history, the city cherished by the Turkish nation, Istanbul has its place in the hearts of all citizens.”  The Turkish CEO would also agree again with Ataturk who predicted “The future is in the skies”, and for Turkish Airlines, that brilliant future has arrived.

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How can aviation be cool again, and save itself along the way

From aviationcv.com

Aircraft Mechanics Training

It’s is no secret that aviation is a safety-obsessed and exceptionally conservative business. At the same time, it’s one of the most advanced hi-tech industries filled with robots, extremely sophisticated software and other fancy and very attractive gadgets young people love. However, in the past several years it seems to be losing its ‘magic’ as more and more talented young people steer their careers towards Google, Apple or other ‘hype’ hi-tech enterprises. And there’s a good reason behind such a trend.

As a matter of fact, in Europe alone, almost a third (28,2%) of all engineering graduates name Apple, Google or Microsoft the most desired employee, while the closest aviation company, the giant Airbus Group, is attractive for just a tad over 4%, according to Trendence. And all of this is happening at a time, when just a month before Boeing indicates the demand for pilots and technicians to be on the rise by 5% (to 1 195 000 pilots and technicians) worldwide.

Hardly anyone would dare to argue against the fact that ‘live to work’ – an expression used to describe the meaning of life amongst the representatives of earlier generations - is absolutely outdated and not suitable for the modern workforce – gen Y. “This particular group will account for 3 quarters of the global employees in just 10 years’ time. Moreover, it seems like the tech giants have figured out how to attract and retain the young talent, while aviation has seemingly decided to take a gap year during the most important part of its existence,” explains Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of AviationCV.com. “Today’s employees or the millennials are not as tech-savvy as media describes them. Instead, they are rather tech-addicted, thus every single step of the way in terms of attracting and recruiting them must be based on the modern-day tools young people use every day.”

According to the data from eMarketer, almost 60% of the gen Y representatives say that mobile-friendly websites or apps are the proper way for companies to reach them. In other words, you or your recruiter has to be able to speak their language, which is mobile. And that’s just the first step in the lengthy and complex process of becoming ‘hype’.

As noted by the executive, the next phase involves not only some serious investment, but also a far-reaching devotion to marketing and building brand-consciousness. “This year Virgin Australia was honoured as the best place to work in the land down under, while Southwest Airlines are always amongst the top 20 organizations to work for in the US. It just shows how much the aforementioned investment pays off. Do poor marketing, and the best of gen Y will turn away from you in a matter of minutes. However, if you do it well, you'll garner the rewards, the same way Google or Facebook does,” comments the CEO.

Nevertheless, attracting and recruiting is just the beginning, as this generation is expected to have an average of 20 jobs throughout their lifetime, while baby boomers or gen X would reach a tad over 10, says Forbes. “Retaining is also part of the process, during which the most important factors are recognition and appreciation. These seemingly simple things coupled with motivating tasks allow companies to retain the most talented millenials”.

“Nevertheless, first of all, most aviation companies must wake up and change their brand image as well as recruitment strategies. And while companies struggle to understand the most important present-day lesson, the more experienced recruiters with the know-how of the modern employee market and their demands remain the only option to challenge the Silicon Valley in finding and attracting the gen Y talent,” concludes Skaiste Knyzaite.

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Bonus question..... What kind of aircraft are these young men training on???It's a 727, but I can't tell if it's a -100 or -200. I... Read More
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World’s Longest Flight, A350-900ULR Coming to Singapore Airlines

From Airways News

Singapore Airlines A350-900ULR

By: Seth Miller

Singapore Airlines is set to retake the title of operating the world’s longest flight. The carrier announced today that it intends to be the launch customer for the Airbus A350-900ULR and acquire seven of the type to bring back service from its hub at Changi airport to both Los Angeles and Newark. Those routes were previously operated with A340-500 aircraft beginning in 2004 but were dropped in 2013 amidst high fuel costs and limited demand.

The new –900ULR will have an increased fuel capacity of 165,000 liters, 17% higher than the base –900 model. That expanded range is below the theoretical –900R which was a possibility when the A350 project was launched but still sufficient for the Singapore Air routes. The announcement also ups the A350 order book from the carrier by four aircraft to a total of 67.

The prior iteration of the flight offered a number of different cabin configurations, including one of the earliest iterations of a premium economy product to grace the skies. At the time it was necessary to keep passenger count (and weight) down so that the A345 was able to make the longer flight. In its final days the route was operated in a 100 seat business class configuration. There is no indication that the A350-900ULR will have similar weight restrictions requiring a lower cabin density. Flying more seats on the route could mean higher revenue compared to the A345 version (no word on the specific cabin interior, other than a rumored new business class seat), plus the A350-900ULR has a lower fuel burn rate. And there’s the part where fuel prices have dropped significantly from their highs in the 2013 time frame. There is a very real chance that the route could once again be profitable rather than simply a prestige service.

Airbus has also indicated that many of the improvements for the ULR model are not contingent on the higher fuel capacity. As such the aircraft can be converted back to a traditional A350-900 configuration should the ULH operations falter. Similar promises have been made about the A321neoLR, with Airbus suggesting that it is a low-risk means for an airline to experiment with increased range operations. This is in stark contrast to the A340-500 or Boeing 777-200LR which are stuck with that LR configuration and the attendant weight other challenges should airlines want to convert them back to short-haul operations.

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FedEx Express Indianapolis Creates Efficiency Through Common Sense

From Aviation Pros

A300 In Hangar

By Tim Kern

The FedEx Express maintenance facilities in Indianapolis (IND) are just like any other jet home, except for a few things. Well, a lot of things; but the principles are the same, and the sheer scale of the operation and the airplanes mandates efficiencies and innovation that can scale down, all the way to the one-man shop.

Most of the FedEx Express fleet of MD-10 and -11 freighters, Airbus 300 and 310, and Boeing 757, 767, and 777 can receive light maintenance and the occasional repair; B-checks are routinely performed on all but the MD-11 and triple-sevens. Michael Sanford, senior manager, field line maintenance, IND Region, runs the East side hangar, where they do the quick turnarounds and routine maintenance (up to and including gear changeouts); Garry Lyons, senior manager, IND hangar maintenance, runs the West side, where the crew performs B-checks, repairs, and the occasional manufacture of parts. “Some of the MD-10 parts are becoming scarce,” he notes.

With well over 100 mechanics, six managers, and a bit of administration on the East side and 250 on the West, the roughly 20 flights a day (and 65 per night) get a lot of attention; a typical 757 B-check takes 24 hours. (The MD models take longer; the 767, less time.) Since the aircraft are of varying ages and sport varied equipment, FedEx Express Indy has to be ready for everything. Cockpits are classic or glass; even airframes differ – a handful of the 767s have blended winglets, helpful in their earlier lives as airliners but a mixed bag as freighters that fly heavier and shorter routes. “They’re another 12 feet of wingspan,” notes Sanford, “and sometimes that’s inconvenient on the ground.” [Note: all but five of the current fleet of 767s were delivered as freighters, without winglets.]

The key to efficiency – FedEx Express runs a lean operation, and it doesn’t have a lot of “extra” airplanes or parts – is to assess problems early, be ready with the necessary maintenance, and to stay ahead of trouble. “The moment the airplane is tied down [the nose wheel is tethered until unloading and loading are complete], our crews are doing a walk-around and post-flight inspection. Of course, the flight crew will let us know of anything we’ll need to look at, while still in the air,” says Sanford. There is one more set of eyes: “Our mechanics also drive the tugs.”

The day shift aircraft start arriving around 11 a.m., and they’re out during afternoon rush hour; the night arrivals are times about 12 hours the other side of the clock. Each shift starts with a “daily work release sheet” and brief meeting, where incoming work is noted, with priorities 0-4 (with zero meaning “now!”). The mechanics pick up tools, safety equipment, and supplies; they’re ready as soon as they can get the airplanes.

Not everything at FedEx Express Indy is scalable. The facility has some giant equipment – gantry cranes, huge, tall forklifts, dedicated platforms for tail-mounted engine changes and maintenance (where the parts bins are already located, restocked and ready for the next job). The facility also has a composites shop, complete with air showers and a clean environment; paint and decals are ready any time maintenance or branding calls for them. FedEx is proud of the corporate image, to the point where it contracts crews to wax the planes. It takes 60 man-hours to clean a wide-body; that’s typically six hours, with 10 people.

And here is where the FedEx Express systems start to be a big-scale model for any maintenance shop.

Starting around 2007, “We did time studies,” Lyons says, “and were astounded how much time mechanics spent, just walking back and forth, getting tools, parts, supplies, consumables. Literally miles a day. We want to run a ‘lean’ operation, and we can’t waste time. Plus, it wears them out – for nothing.” So it made a lot of changes. “Like any change, even if it’s in the right direction, it takes a while for them to settle in. In our case, it took about a year; but now, nobody wants to go back [to the old ways].”

Since all mechanics are trained on all the models, each aircraft can be addressed as it needs attention. “We’re always cross-training,” says Sanford. Still, there are specialists: in avionics (17 positions) and structures (27). “The work there is just too specialized.”

How to do more, with less: that’s always a good question. The answer is in finding efficiencies. Having the tools, parts, and consumables ready, at the airplane saves time and shoe leather.

Picking and assigning tools is simplified through color-coding; each type’s special tools follow a code, making spotting them easy. Dedicated carts – for common tasks, like gear changes – mount every tool needed for the job, from floor mats to creepers, to dedicated crow’s foot end wrenches in the right sizes. They also have a small but handy selection of common hardware items – right-size bolts, nuts, and washers; safety wire; O-rings. The idea is that the mechanic will have everything he or she needs to complete the job, without interrupting work to fetch parts or tools. When the job is finished, the cart goes back to its station, where it is restocked.

A common problem in most shops is the use of consumables – shop towels come immediately to mind. When they are in short supply, things get dirty; when they are readily available, they can sometimes migrate to home garages. Some shops require a cloth, for instance, to be turned in to get a new one issued; paper wipes, though, cannot be accounted for this way. And the mechanic waits while the tool room guy does the dispensing. FedEx Express is soon to implement “vending machines” where the mechanic simply swipes his card, and the consumable pops out. No waiting, and over-use is flagged. “We’re going to see how that works,” says Lyons.

“We’ve kitted over 1,500 rotable parts. When a mechanic goes to, say, replace a starter, they don’t have just that starter; they have the clamps, O-rings, tools – everything they need to do the job. It’s made a huge difference in lowering frustration, in saving time,” adds Greg Hall, senior vice president, air safety and business operations, FedEx Express.

The dedicated tool carts have expanded efficiency. They’re shop-built, to specifications derived from the mechanics’ requests. “If they design it, they’ll use it,” says Sanford, who notes that the cart program is extremely popular. “They really help to get the tools, the mechanic, and the plane together, and to keep them together until the job is done.”

Lyons notes that the carts, built to a common design but specialized for the tasks, are not cheap. “They’re actually fairly expensive to build; they’re all steel. We tried PVC and some other approaches, but the good carts do the job.” Then he discovered something else. “Even with top-quality components, the carts need maintenance, too.” So the carts are on a regular preventive maintenance program.

And in some ways, FedEx Express Indy isn’t everyman’s shop. They have sophisticated CNC and manual machine tools, two engineers, and five machinists.


IT is a tool

While it’s great to have all the parts and tools necessary for a specific task within reach on a cart, it’s also important to perform each task properly. FedEx Express mechanics don’t use paper manuals. Everything they need is available on their issued iPads – current and correct. And communicable across facilities, so that one mechanic in, say Los Angeles can help a mechanic in Indy. They can exchange videos, photos, and personal knowledge.

Scot Struminger, vice president, information technology, FedEx Express, notes that with the iPad, “You can look at the MEL; if you haven’t done something before, you can even look at a short video, right there. Not only are we training in the classroom, we have visual aids for just about any task you can think of. And visual aids are much more powerful than the written word. That keeps us more efficient while staying within the guidelines and regulations.

“Written instructions are great, but when you have a visual, you can do it more easily. They still read the manual for detail, but the videos – and Face Time for Mac – help our technicians communicate with engineers and supervisors. So a guy in Indy can contact a specialist in LA, for instance, at all our service stations, where a number of techs are trained to be specialists – Dallas and Atlanta specialize in engine changes; LAX handles that for the MD-10 and -11. We have specialists on fuel quantity in Atlanta – any tech across the system can get immediate specialist support across the system.

“A journey like this is so interesting. iPads and mobile tech weren’t what we were after when we started; but in the middle of it, it became clear that mobile was what we needed to do; so because of the flexible project plan, we kept our eyes on the goal and entertained new ideas on the way. We created a system that can manage the fleet from anywhere in the world.

“It was a joint exercise between the IT folks and A&Ps, so the IT folks could understand and work with A&Ps. We didn’t build things based on IT; our ideas came from the front lines. Greg and I sometimes couldn’t tell who was the IT person and who was the A&P.”

Still, as with any major shift, Greg Hall notes that “It took a bit of getting used to, going with an iPad instead of a computer.”

But Struminger had an idea, and may have coined a new B-school term: Forced adoption. The concept is easy, he says: “Once the new system is in operation, you turn off the old one. You have to, or you’ll end up with parallel systems. We didn’t want to see green-screens. And we don’t.”


Indianapolis is a popular center

FedEx Express looks for employees internally first, based on seniority. “We get probably 20 bidders for each opening,” says Lyons. “Indy is a popular place to work.”

But while that system leads to an experienced workforce, Sanford notes that “the average age of our mechanics is around 50; our youngest is 39.”

But that pipeline needs to be filled. To that end, FedEx Express has two programs. “We have a maintenance training program,” says Sanford, “for A&Ps with under three years’ experience. It’s a three-year program, working with our most-experienced mechanics.” Graduates are instantly assimilated into the their facilities across the country.

Younger, less, experienced but enthusiastic students at Vincennes University are starting with FedEx Express Indy in a new program, where three students, recommended by the school, are in paid internships at the Indy facility. “We see three students for three months, and we have three rotations per year,” explains Sanford. “They rotate through shifts and lines, and gain a lot of experience.” He adds, “It’s a great resume-builder.”

It all comes together: the lean structure, ongoing training, adoption of ideas from the people who live with them. Senior Vice President Hall sums up: “We believe that everything we do should lead to a safer, more pleasant, more efficient environment. The quality of work is better and more efficient than ever before. We pride ourselves on service, but we also price ourselves on safety. I can’t begin to tell you how proud we are of our workforce, our team.”

Tim Kern, CAM, MBA, has written for over 50 aviation publications, and is a consultant for a variety of companies; www.timkern.com.

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Survey: 40% of Bizjet Pax Plan To Fly More in Next Year

From AIN Online

G650 Gulfstream Takeoff

Survey respondents said that the Gulfstream G650 topped their most-wished-for-aircraft list in the ultra-long-range business jet category. Other top aircraft in other categories included the Pilatus PC-12, King Air, Embraer Phenom 100 and 300, Cessna Citation X and Gulfstream G450. (Photo: Gulfstream)

by Chad Trautvetter - September 30, 2015

Nearly 52 percent of current business jet users plan to fly the same amount over the next 12 months, while nearly 40 percent say they will fly a bit more (32 percent) or a lot more (7.9 percent), according to the just-released results of the Fifth Annual Readers' Choice Survey from AIN sister publication Business Jet Traveler. About half said they flew the same amount over the past year as during the year before, while 21.7 percent flew a bit more and 15 percent a bit less. Only 7.7 flew much less and 5.9 percent much more.

Not surprisingly, survey respondents said “saving time” was the number-one reason that they fly on business aircraft, followed by the ability to fly into airports not served by airlines and the ability to work and hold meetings in flight. Nearly 62 percent of their flights are mostly or almost always for business, while 28.1 percent were an even mix of personal and business flying. Less than 10 percent of flights were categorized as mostly or almost always personal.

According to the survey, the most attractive feature of an aircraft is economical operation, with range, cabin size, aircraft manufacturer and age of aircraft rounding out the top five; baggage space was at the bottom of the list. Respondents’ business aircraft wish list included the Pilatus PC-12 at the lower end and the Gulfstream G650 at the top end. 

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Preparing For The Connectivity Revolution

From Flight Global

Seatback Monitos

In-flight connectivity is the big topic at the moment for anyone who regularly travels by air.

The ability to enjoy the same level of connectivity while airborne as you enjoy on the ground is something of a holy grail for all involved. After all, passengers don’t want their browsing experience to end at the gate.

With improved wi-fi speeds and consistency comes the ability to fully enjoy social media during the flight or for those that need to work, to send and receive emails or continue with vital presentations.

Although slow to take hold in Europe so far, the US air transport fleet is already seeing high take-up of various connectivity systems. And that’s not to mention what’s happening in the business aviation sector either, where customer demand is even greater.

And for aircraft operators there are further benefits from a more connected aircraft, such as real-time weather and flight plan updates or live downloads of system data to enable enhanced maintenance planning.

Whatever the reasons for installation, there are advantages for all involved. These pages will attempt to shine a light on what’s happening in the industry and outline the benefits we may all see.

 

 

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Air Tech Strikes Strange Profile in Cotton Field

From Aviation Pros

Table Rock VOR Station

Sept. 27--While traveling along Hugo Road, cast your eyes to the west and you may see something odd.

Rising out of the cotton sits a rather strange grouping of objects in all-white -- a square base topped by a circular roof, with a cone in the middle.

A building that, upon further inspection, sports warning signs from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Indeed, it's an air navigation apparatus known as VORTAC, operating both the VOR, very high frequency omnidirectional radio range, and TACAN, tactical air navigation, systems. Civilian aviation typically uses the first beacon, while the military uses the second.

The nearly 1,000 VOR systems across the United States began operating nearly 70 years ago as markers along airways, in such a way that it's possible to fly from coast to coast along flight paths determined by the radio beacons. Kinston is one of nine VORTAC locations in North Carolina.

Tuesday, the Alitalia A330-202 carrying Pope Francis from Cuba to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland took a flight path through Kinston and actually had to circle around the Global TransPark and back again to kill time as the Obama and Biden families made their way to Andrews to welcome him.

But the age of VOR systems appears to be on the decline.

According to an April FAA report, "Leonixa Salcedo, (FAA VOR minimum operational network program manager), stated that since the last (aeronautical charting forum), the criteria for decommissioning VORs has been developed by the FAA and (the) MITRE (Corporation). Discussions have also taken place between the FAA and the (Department of Defense), during which the military emphasized that their operational requirements within the (national airspace) require that fewer VORs be decommissioned."

Earlier, plans were for the FAA to decommission 736 VOR sites, including the one for Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro and eight others in North Carolina. Now, that number's set at 308.

Salcedo said the FAA plans on phasing in the VOR MON program over 10 years in three phases, with about 100 VORs decommissioned during each phase.

It's not clear which state VORs are on the new list -- calls to the state Department of Transportation weren't returned as of press time.

In the place of VORs and older flight paths, the FAA's in the process of implementing what it calls the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. For instance, older flight paths from the West to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., would necessitate traveling along the Panhandle before turning south. With NextGen, a jet can cut across the Gulf of Mexico.

"These changes are saving time, reducing costs and improving safety for airlines, pilots and passengers," FAA Deputy Administrator Michael Whitaker said in his 2015 update.

He continued, "We completed nationwide deployment of the ADS-B ground stations. ADS-B is satellite-based air traffic control and is more precise than radar. It opens up new routes to air carriers and increases capacity. For aircraft with the right equipment, ADS-B delivers traffic and weather information directly to the cockpit, giving the pilots more information so they can make safe decisions."

Anticipated savings from NetGen implementation in the Charlotte metroplex -- which includes Charlotte-Douglas International, Columbia Metropolitan, Piedmont Triad International, Greenville-Spartanburg International, Concord Regional and Raleigh-Durham International airports -- over one fiscal year include $9.4 million in fuel costs, $3.3 million gallons of fuel and 28 thousand metric tons of carbon.

Projections also show planes moving from the gate to takeoff 48 percent faster, and major airports putting 8-12 more flights in the air per hour.

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Behind the Scenes: 787 Air-to-Air

Wolfe Air Photography Aircraft

Wolfe Air Aircraft

 

 

 

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Mark
You see the videos all the time but, do you ever wonder "how" they do them?Pretty cool if you ask me.
Friday, 25 September 2015 21:23
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