Archive For May 31, 2011

Pre-Paris Air Show Discussion

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Live online, Friday June 3 at 9am PDT for 30 minutes. Ask our team questions about PAS 2011. Guest panelist Richard Aboulafia.

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India’s Jet Airways Joins Arab Air Carriers Organization

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In an interesting move, India’s Jet Airways has joined AACO, the Arab Air Carriers Organization.  This is the first carrier outside of the Arab League countries to join AACO, and reflects the increasing importance of trade between the subcontinent and Arab countries.  Why would an Indian Airline want to join and Arab Airline association?





AACO has been innovative under the leadership of Abdul-Wahab Teffaha, developing joint distribution products with Amadeus, joint fuel purchasing arrangements, and a number of training programs.  Jet could benefit from these and these and other programs currently underway.  In addition, Jet could benefit from favorably publicity in the Gulf states and with the Muslim community within India, which is sizable.

With the failing state carrier Air India once again reducing prices and creating fare wars reducing prices to unsustainable levels domestically, Jet needs to focus on its international routes.  Cooperation with AACO can help it reduce costs and potentially coordinate schedules to provide connecting service with other carriers to Indian destinations.

This is a bold move for Jet, and one that expands the geographic reach of AACO eastward, and hopefully will be the start of a successful relationship for both entities.

Of course, the geo-political impacts of this move will be carefully watched as well, and open up a whole new line of questions regarding India’s relationship with, and potential growing influence of the Middle East.  We’ll let the political pundits discuss that.  But from an aviation standpoint, it appears to be an economic win-win.

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Alaska Airlines goes for the iPad

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Alaska Airlines is issuing iPad computers to its pilots. The 1½-pound iPads replace up to 25 pounds of paper flight manuals pilots are required to carry when they fly.

The iPads are being distributed to all Alaska Airlines pilots, a process that will be complete by mid-June. This follows a successful trial by 100 line and instructor pilots and Air Line Pilots Association representatives, who evaluated the feasibility of using iPads as electronic flight bags this past winter and spring.
Alaska Airlines is the first major domestic airline to use the iPad to replace paper manuals.

The iPads contain an app called GoodReader that is loaded with PDF versions of 41 flight, systems and performance manuals, reference cards, and other materials. The electronic manuals include hyperlinks and color graphics, enabling pilots to find information faster and easier. Updating these reference materials can now be accomplished with one tap on the iPad screen instead of the former, labor-intensive process of replacing individual pages with new ones. The iPad is considered a Class 1 electronic device, meaning it is stowed during takeoff and landing under FAA regulations.

Alaska Airlines is exploring the replacement of paper aeronautical navigation charts with electronic versions on the iPad, eliminating the need for every pilot to carry their own copy.  And so the inexorable technology continues to impact aviation.

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BEA Publishes Note Regarding Speculation on AF447 Crash

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[Update Podcast with an A330 type rating instructor discussing the BEA AF447 information]

Update: MSNBC has a three minute video with two former NTSB investigators discussing the accident.

Citing inaccuracies and errors in media reports on the crash of AF447 off the coast of Brazil, the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’aviation civile in charge of the investigation released a note on the crash this afternoon. (more…)

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A Visit to Shorts in Belfast

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Shorts of Belfast is a company with an impressive history.  Bombardier acquired this company in 1989, adding to its growing base of aerospace expertise. The Belfast operation is impressive. It has 5,000 employees and more than a century of aviation experience. Indeed, Shorts is the largest manufacturer in Northern Ireland generating 10% of the region’s manufacturing exports on its own. Bombardier’s investment in the operation is almost £1.6bn since 1989 and an additional £520m investment is under way to support the CSeries wing production. Shorts is Bombardier’s center of excellence for fuselages, nacelles, wings, composites and after-market support. (more…)

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In Praise of Service

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The air travel business is a tough place to trade in.  Airplanes are about equal and it is difficult to make the travel experience “special” or different.  Yesterday we saw first hand how an airline can stand out by using its key asset – its people.

If you have flown Virgin Atlantic then you know of what I speak. If you have not, allow me to encourage you to try. Yesterday I flew VS007; LHR-LAX.  The flight was on an A340-600.

The aircraft was surprisingly quiet. By the time we were on board, my sense of the brand was established.  The in-flight crew served to underscore what I had already discovered on the ground. This airline employs really good people.

Arriving at Heathrow in the early morning after an eleven hour flight (CPT-LHR) does leave one a tad burnt out. Changing terminals along with thousands of others; standing in security lines, waiting for transfer buses.  It gets a bit much real fast.

Imagine then walking into the Virgin Atlantic Club House in Terminal 3 to be met by a person such as this (Paula) – who saw me struggle to connect to the free WiFi. She took my Blackberry to get it sorted out and returned with a warm latte.  She steered me to the hair salon (did I really look that bad?) and also ensured I got a massage appointment.  Service like this? From an airline? Wow.

Looking behind the lady above you get a sense of the Club House. If you have to get stuck at the airport, this is the place to do it. Warm meals, made to order. Drinks made to order. Staff everywhere making sure you are comfortable and have what you need/want.  The place is spotless. Since there was an ash cloud thing going on at the time, it did occur to me that being stuck at the Club House would be entirely bearable. Fortunately the ash cloud did not interrupt service from London to the USA. Every staff member at the Club House was truly warm and exceptionally hospitable.  I can’t wait to go back.  Even the barber said I needed to come back in six weeks!

Back to the flight, here you see the lay out of the seating in Upper Class on the A346.  It looks more crowded than it feels.  While not sure of being faced away from the window, which I like looking out of, a word about the seat is in order.  It is a clever design and folds into a flat bed.  But it is narrow – too narrow.  That said, the IFE was excellent.  Both in content selection and GUI. Certainly as good as anything I have seen. There may have been a power supply but I did not see it.  And I did need it.  Also, for an airline so advanced in its customer focus, the absence of WiFi is sort of glaring.  On an eleven hour ride the small things like a narrow seat and no WiFi become not so trifling.

The airline offers something really nice though – an in-flight stand up bar.  Since I found the seat tight, the flight attendant serving my area suggested to eat at the bar. So I had space and a really impressive meal high over the North Atlantic. (Did you know they serve soup? I have not seen that in-flight before.) Once again, a small thing like service making the other physical constraints of space disappear.

The takeaway from yesterday’s experience is that this airline is really something.  Its people relish in customer satisfaction and I am most impressed. And I want to fly them again, soon.

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