FAA Reviewing Passenger Use of Electronic Devices

May 21, 2013 by  
Filed under Features

With electronic devices firmly entrenched as part of daily lives for many travelers, airlines are under pressure to allow passengers to use their tablets, laptops, smartphone, e-readers and other devices without restriction during flights. In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been working on a set of regulations to govern the use of these devices on airplanes, but is reportedly far from ready to put any new rules into action, with the delay being attributed to the authority’s desire to put into place a concise set of regulations to deal with current, and even future, technology.

A year ago, the industry working group set up by the FAA noted that, faced with evolving electronic technology, the FAA was reviewing the use of personal electronic devices, excluding the use of cellphones, on aircraft. A full year later the FAA appears to be no closer to resolving the issue and this has drawn sharp criticism from some quarters. Among the critics is Senator Clair McCaskill (D-MO) who recently announced her plans to circumvent the FAA and introduce legislation allowing passengers the freedom to use their electronic devices throughout a flight.

The increasing number of different types of electronic devices brought by passengers onto airplanes is adding to the difficulty of drafting a set of standard regulations. The FAA working group needs to include all these devices and take into account the different modes of operation they offer. Currently a number of electronic devices include an “airplane mode” option, which generally means that they do not send or receive wireless signals, but this is not necessarily standard across all devices with this option. Also, there is concern that FAA’s desire to have rules that will apply to devices of the future may not be realistic given the speed at which technology is developing. The group has apparently also noted concerns over expecting already busy flight attendants to police the use of various devices.

The initial concern with the use of electronic devices on flights addressed, among other things, the issue of possible interference with electronic signals pilots rely on for safe flight. To date, the FAA reportedly has no record of aviation accidents caused by interference from personal electronic devices. Flight attendants note that their main concern is that passengers should not be using electronic devices when the safety measures are presented at the beginning of the flight, as they need to hear and understand what should be done in the event of an emergency.

The FAA anticipates a final report from the working group later this year, with rule changes being implemented by the end of 2013.

Sustainable Biofuels in Aviation

August 28, 2012 by  
Filed under Features

With greenhouse gases and climate change continuing to be in the spotlight, over the past decade aircraft manufacturers have made a number of improvements in aerodynamics and the development of lighter construction materials, all of which make a contribution to fuel efficiency. The Airbus A380 entered service with Singapore Airlines in October 2007, and two months later the CEO noted that the plane dubbed by the media as the Superjumbo was performing beyond the expectations of the airline and the manufacturer, by burning up to 20 percent less fuel per passenger than the Boeing 747-400 aircraft in Singapore Airline’s fleet.

While aerodynamics and composite materials play a role in fuel efficiency, the engines powering the planes hold the key to meaningful fuel savings. Engine manufacturers are also in the position to promote the move to sustainable biofuels. In a recently reported interview, Vice President of technology and environment for US-based engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney, Alan H. Epstein, noted that because the aviation industry has made the drop-in fuel concept a reality, the change to sustainable biofuels can be facilitated without compromising engine efficiency or safety. Epstein pointed out that few people are aware of the fact that jet fuel varies significantly around the world, so when refueling at a foreign airport, an airplane will be making use of different fuel, or a blend of its original fuel and the new fuel. Taking this into account, the biofuel that has been tested may be considered to be a better option than petroleum based jet-fuels, but only if the composition of biofuel around the world is uniform.

The current requirement for biofuel is a 50 percent mix with fossil fuels, and while tests have been run with significantly higher concentrations of biofuels, the 50-50 specification is likely to remain for the foreseeable future. With regard to crops for biofuels impacting negatively on food crops, Epstein noted that defining biofuels as “sustainable” means at the very least that its production will not interfere with food production, food prices and water. Conceding that with current technology it would take land the size of Europe to grow biofuels for Europe’s aviation industry, Epstein said that finding ways of making more biofuel in a sustainable way is up to biological technology, not engine or airplane technology, which is already capable of utilizing biofuels efficiently.

Boeing 737 Aims For Greater Fuel Efficiency

September 27, 2011 by  
Filed under News

In response to increasing demand from airlines, Boeing has launched an improved version of the popular 737 in which a more fuel efficient engine will be used. The Boeing 737 is cited as the world’s best-selling aircraft for commercial use, and this engine upgrade is one of the measures being taken by Boeing to ensure that it retains its market share. Rising fuel costs have become a heavy burden on airlines struggling to remain competitive in the commercial travel market, and engines offering greater fuel efficiency can translate into big savings for airlines.

The new 737 MAX will be fitted with the Leap-1B engine, manufactured by current engine supplier, CFM International – a joint venture between French company Safran and General Electric. The new engines are expected to be up to 12 percent more fuel efficient than the current engines, with changes including a larger fan and design adjustments to allow more of the air entering the front of the engine to bypass the engine core. Moreover, new materials used in the engines are able to withstand more heat and there will be a reduced gap between the tips of the fan and the shell enclosing the engine. According to associate aerospace engineering professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Magdy Attia, all these changes will result in the new engine being more fuel efficient than those in the 737 airplanes currently in service.

It has been reported that Boeing had been considering a complete redesign on the 737, but with Airbus due to release its more fuel efficient airplane in 2015 and up to 1,000 already on order, it was decided to keep the current 737 design, and replace the engine. Research has revealed that airlines are quite satisfied with the current design of the 737 and are willing to support Boeing’s changeover to the new 737 MAX. The new version is expected to go into service in 2017 and Boeing already has a commitment from five airlines to buy 496 of the 737 MAX. Boeing executive vice president, and head of Boeing’s commercial airplane division, was reported as saying with regard to the 737 MAX: “Our customers have told us that they want efficiency, and they want it soon, and they want it with certainty, and that’s what this airplane will do.”

Tips for Choosing a Flight School

March 8, 2011 by  
Filed under Airplane Tips

There are numerous anxious student pilots out there that cannot wait to get into a cockpit and begin their studies to become a qualified pilot. With so many prospects and a demand for pilots across the world, it is a popular career move. Piloting is not only restricted to commercial airlines but also companies that recruit their own personal pilots, small aircraft piloting, cargo, military pilots and even law enforcement makes use of pilots. Deciding what to do once qualified is a daunting task, but even more serious is finding the right flight school that will suit a student’s needs and that is reliable.

Many smaller flight schools close down without warning for numerous reasons and would-be students are therefore advised to do research on their prospective flight school before signing up. First decide what your long term goal is in regard to taking flight training, and then begin to look for a flight school that can accommodate those goals. If a flight school has been in business for a number of years, for example ten or twenty years, it shows that the business is stable enough to continue running through good and hard economic times.

After deciding which flight schools to look at, there are a few important questions to ask and features to look out for. Flight schools that have achieved high ratings will have certificates to display for their competence, and finding out their safety rate in regard to accidents is also recommended. Visiting the flight school and talking to management, trainers and current students will also assist in accessing the flight school. Pilot Examiners and looking into the qualifications of the trainers could be informative. Prospective students can also make use of the internet to search for any additional information or comments in regard to the specific flight school.

Then there is the cost involved. Flight school is not an inexpensive route, and it is therefore vital that prospective students remember that finding the lowest price is not the most important part of finding a flight school. The quality of the program, the amount of flight hours that are included in the package and the type of flight training available is vital. Once a student has found a school they are completely comfortable with, all they need to do is look forward to working towards making their dreams come true.

The Threat of Volcanic Ash

May 12, 2010 by  
Filed under Features

The volcanic eruption in Iceland that brought the aviation industry to a standstill in April has raised new questions and kick-started new research. Thousands of travelers remain grounded and airplane companies are suffering great losses due to the threat of volcanic ash, now over Spain and Morocco. This has led engineers and researchers to consider whether there is an alternative technology that will allow jet engines to operate in such circumstances. Understanding the composition of volcanic ash could allow engineers to develop new technologies and eliminate the danger posed to jet engine aircraft.

In 1982 a British Airways flight suffered considerable damage and the airplane was almost lost due to the crew flying through a stretch on their flight path that was filled with volcanic ash. They were not aware that a volcano had erupted and that ash was being carried into their level of flight. All four engines stopped, leaving the aircraft to plummet for twelve minutes before the engines miraculously gained power again and the flight landed safely. Volcanic ash consists of pulverized rock that has glassy particles, and due to its dry composition and the fact that it is always moving, weather radars cannot pick up this change in the atmosphere. Jet engines rely on the air that is sucked in to cool the turbines, and when volcanic ash is pulled into the turbines, ducts are clogged up by the dust and this leads to overheating. As the heat of the engine increases, the glassy particles can also begin to melt, causing further damage to the engine.

Agencies, such as the FAA, or Federal Aviation Administration, are engaged in ongoing studies to determine the limit of engines that have taken in ash. Working in conjunction the European Union, agencies are sharing vital information with each other to find guidelines and solutions to the volcanic ash threat. Although it is not easy to determine what the yield on ash is for a jet engine, authorities hope that their research will assist them in creating safety measures for the future. For now, the aviation industry relies on the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers that were established by the International Civil Aviation Organization to prevent catastrophe and danger to aircraft.

Network Latin America 2009

November 6, 2009 by  
Filed under Events

The organizers of Network Latin America 2009 will be hosting their exhibition from 6 – 8 December 2009 at the Princess Juliana International Airport. It gives airports from across the world, the opportunity to familiar themselves with Latin American carriers, build relationships with operators and meet various tourism authorities. Guest speakers will be discussing global trends, and private meetings between interested parties and the airlines can also be arranged.

Additional information in regard to the organizers, participants and general exhibition information is available on the official website http://www.networklatinamerica.com/.

Date: 6 -8 December 2009
Venue: Princess Juliana International Airport
City: St Maarten
Country: Netherlands Antilles, Caribbean

In-flight Internet Access Moves Ahead On US Carriers

March 3, 2009 by  
Filed under Features

While airlines have been toying with the idea of in-flight internet access for some time now, decreasing passenger numbers and increasing competitiveness between rival airlines in the US, may prove to be the driving force behind the idea becoming a reality. A number of US carriers, including United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, are either testing or have reached the stage of implementing Wi-Fi access on selected flights, marketing this facility as a draw-card for passengers.

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Haneda Airport (Tokyo International)

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Tokyo International Airport services the Greater Tokyo Area and deals mostly with the domestic flights. The name Haneda Airport was given to the Tokyo International Airport after the Narita International Airport was opened. The Narita International Airport was previously known as the New Tokyo International Airport, which caused some confusion. After the opening of Narita, most of Haneda’s international traffic was diverted to the new airport, thus leaving the Tokyo International Airport, concentrating mainly on the domestic traffic. Neverthless, the airport still deals with approximately 60 million passengers annually, and is therefore one of the busiest airports in the world.

The Haneda Airport was opened as the Haneda Aerodrome in 1931, and at the time, it was the biggest civilian airport in Japan. As with many airports during war time, the Haneda Aerodrome became the Haneda Army Air Base in 1945, as an United States military facility. Japan received half the airport back in 1952, which was named the Tokyo International Airport. The entire airport was given back to Japan in the year 1958. During the 1960s, airlines such as Sabena, Cathay Pacific Airways, Pan Am, Air Siam and Swissair began running frequent flights to the Haneda Airport. In 1961 the instrument landing systems were installed on the Haneda Airport runways.

Haneda Airport operates out of three Terminals. Terminal 1 is nicknamed the ‘Big Bird’, and was opened for use in 1993. The new six story building, complete with shopping areas, observation deck, banks, gift shops and other facilities, replaced the older and smaller terminal that was constructed in 1970. In December 2004, the Haneda Airport unveiled Terminal 2, which features a variety of shops, restaurants, market place and an open-air restaurant that is located on the roof. The Haneda Excel Tokyo Hotel is also situated in this amazing six-story structure. Terminal 3 is a much smaller building and is responsible for chartered, international flights that run between Haneda and the Seoul Gimpo Airport. Haneda also takes care of charter flights during the hours that Narita is not open.

Haneda Airport has three runways, which are all paved and are used for both take-off and landings. The 16R/34L is 3000 meters in length, as is the 16L/34R, with the shorter 4/22 runway being 2 500 meters in length. Transport to and from the Haneda Airport, or Tokyo International Airport, is serviced by the railway service, monorail service and buses.

Cape Town International Airport

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Cape Town International Airport is managed and under the control of the Airports Company South Africa, or the ACSA. The Airports Company of South Africa is in charge of all the vital airports that are located across South Africa. Being the second largest airport in South Africa, it shares the international and domestic air travel load, with the O.R. Tambo International Airport, in Johannesburg. Cape Town International was formerly known as the DF Malan Airport, but changed its name in the 1990’s due to its apartheid-era connotations.

Annually, Cape Town International deals with approximately 95,000 flights and just over 7.8 million passengers, as reported for 2009. The traffic growth has been so phenomenal that it is expected that the airport will accommodate almost 14 million passengers by the year 2015.

Renovations and extensions have been an ongoing project, with new terminals being constructed in 2001 and in 2003. The most recent terminal, opened in 2003, is 21,000 square meters in size and has the capacity to process 1 million passengers annually, and 1,300 during rush hours. The Cape Town Airport operates from five terminals namely the International Arrivals, Domestic Arrivals, International Departures, Domestic Departures for South African Airways and a terminal for Domestic Departures for all other airline services. Airlines that fly to and from Cape Town International include Lufthansa, Air Mauritius, Mango, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Air Namibia, South African Airways, British Airways, Qatar Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Air Botswana and LTU International. The Cape Town International Airport has two paved runways that are 3,195 and 1,699 meters in length, respectively, and are used for take offs and landings.

Cape Town International is approximately 22 kilometers from the center of Cape Town, and transport to and from the airport is serviced by car rental agencies, shuttle services and taxis. Passengers can safely park their vehicles in the parking areas at the airport and there are more than 2,000 parking bays to choose from. A shuttle service between the parking area and terminals is available for passenger convenience. Facilities at the Cape Town International Airport includes ATM’s, banks, postal services, foreign exchange services, bars, restaurants, cafés, various shops and stores and a medical facility. All facilities at the airport are modeled bearing in mind the limitations faced by disabled people, and ensuring that public amenities are easily accessible to all passengers and visitors.

The Cape Town International Airport has proved itself to be one of the leading airports in South Africa, by winning the award for ‘World Travel Awards’ consecutively from 2001 to 2004. In 2005 it came in second for the award, behind the O.R. Tambo International Airport, but secured the ‘Skytax Best Airport in Africa’ award in the same year.

Sunan International Airport

February 9, 2009 by  
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Sunan International Airport (ICAO code: ZKPY; IATA code: FNJ) is a public airport in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. When traveling to this unique country you are likely to arrive at this international airport. Pyongyang has undergone great restoration following the Korean War of the 1950s. Massive buildings line the streets and large monuments catch your eye. When visiting the city be sure to look out for land marks such as the Juche Tower, Rungnado May Day Stadium, Kim II Sung Stadium and the Pyongyang TV Tower.

On arriving at Pyongyang’s Sunan International Airport you are certain to be impressed with the fine facilities including a business center, passenger lounge, souvenir shops, duty-free stores, a bookshop and the Korea Trade Bank. Passengers looking for something to eat or drink can stop by the bar or restaurant. There is also a baggage storage facility available for a small charge.

Sunan International Airport of North Korea is located at coordinates 39º13’26.62″N, 125º40’12.54″E. The airport possesses 2 concrete runways. The first is in a 01/19 direction and measures 13 241ft or 4 037m. The second is in a 17/35 direction and measures 11 480ft or 3 500m. The larger runway handles international flights, whilst the smaller is for civil aircraft and domestic flights. Navigational aids for aircraft at the airport are VOR-DME (VHF Omni-directional Range Distance Measuring Equipment) and NDB (Non-Directional Beacon). Airlines which fly to and from Sunan International Airport are Air China, Aeroflot and Air Koryo. In fact, Air Koryo is the chief airline operating from the North Korean airport. During the Summer months Far Eastern Air Transport and Mandarin Airlines do offer chartered flights for tour groups to Pyongyang from Taipei.

Air Koryo, based at Sunan International Airport in Pyongyang, is state-owned and has scheduled flights to the following destinations: Beijing, Bangkok, Shenyang and Vladivostok. The airline also occasionally organizes chartered flights to other areas of Asia, Europe and Africa.

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