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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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
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.
The Franz Josef Strauss International Airport is situated to the northeast of Munich, Germany. This massive airport serves as a hub for the airlines Lufthansa and Star Alliance and is more commonly known as Munich International Airport. The Munich International Airport is situated so that its four corners each lie in one of four municipalities of the city. These are Freising, Oberding, Hallbergmoos and Marzling. The Munich Airport is currently ranked the 7th most important airport in Europe and it is the second most important airport in Germany.
The Munich International Airport is a public airport that is operated by Flughafen Munchen GmbH. It serves the city of Munich and is situated at an elevation of 1 487 ft (453 m). The airport has two very large terminals. Terminal One caters to non-Star Alliance airlines while Terminal Two caters to Star Alliance airlines. Terminal One currently caters to the demands of 68 airlines. It has 60 stands, 14 boarding stations and 19 aerobridges. It also has six halls which are numbered A-F and can handle roughly 20 million passengers during the course of a year. Terminal Two has 24 aerobridges, 47 boarding stations and two halls – G and H. It has the capacity to handle 20-25 million passengers in a year. Terminal Two currently caters to about 26 Airlines. The airport has two runways, both of which measure 13 123 ft (4 000 m) in length and have a concrete surface.
The Franz Josef Strauss International Airport began operations in 1992 when it replaced the Munich-Riem Airport. Construction on the airport started in 1980 and the small village of Franzheim had to be demolished in order to make space for it. Today Munich International Airport sees thousands of people passing through its doors on a daily basis. The two terminals are connected by a shopping, business and recreation area that keeps passengers busy while they wait for their flights or transportation.
The Luis Munoz Marin International Airport, formerly known as the Isla Verde International Airport, is located in close proximity to the city of San Juan in Puerto Rico. Locals refer to the airport simply as the San Juan Airport even though it was renamed as the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in 1985. The governor at that time was Rafael Hernandez Colon, and he renamed the airport after the first governor who had been elected democratically, namely Luis Munoz Marin.
With the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport being located in the capital of Puerto Rico, it is a very important gateway between San Juan and other domestic destinations such as Ponce, Culebra, Vieques and Aguadilla. It is also of great importance to the traffic that connects Puerto Rico to the United States mainland. San Juan Airport is the hub for the airlines American Eagle and Cape Air. Many other commuter airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, US Airways, Continental Airlines and Air Canada operate from the Luis Munoz Marin Airport.
There are two terminals at the Luis Munoz Marin Airport, one which is used as the main terminal and the other that is exclusively for the use of American Airlines. The terminals are clearly marked to assist passengers in finding their way around, with Concourse D and Concourse E being part of the American Airlines Terminal and Concourse B and Concourse C are part of the Main Terminal. Flights from American Eagle and American Airlines book and check into the American Airlines Terminal. All other airlines and flights need to go through the main terminal. If you are a little impatient to reach your destination, and cannot bear the thought of waiting a moment longer to get there, then you can make use of the services of a local charter service.
The Luis Munoz Marin Airport has two runways. Runway 8/26 is constructed from asphalt and is 3,049 meters in length, while the 10/28 runway is built from concrete and is 2,443 meters in length.
Taxis, busses and car rental companies are available for passenger convenience and the terminals at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport have a variety of facilities, including ATM’s, banking facilities, duty free stores, barbershops, health and beauty salons and gift shops.
Hong Kong International Airport, or the Hong Kong Airport, was established for commercial use in 1998, and is the heart of the transportation industry to East Asia, Southeast Asia and to the mainland of China. The Hong Kong Airport is operational twenty-four hours a day, and ranked fifth amongst the busiest commercial airports in the world. Even though the airport in Hong Kong has not been in existence for very long, it has already raked in many awards for its professional service and passenger facilities. Awards received include the ‘Best Airport’ award that is known and recognized internationally. The Hong Kong International Airport is busy every day, with passengers, air and cargo traffic. On average, the airport in Hong Kong assists almost 750 planes land and take off in a day. At present, the passenger traffic in a year is approximately 40.7 million, with cargo traffic averaging 3.4 million tons annually.
There are just over eighty airlines that operate to and from the Hong Kong Airport and include airlines such as Dragonair, Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airlines, Air India, British Airways, Air China, Emirates, Air Mauritius, Finnair, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, South African Airways, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, Gulf Air, Jetstar Asia and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. The Hong Kong Airport can therefore connect its passengers to about 140 different locations around the world. There are eighteen cargo carriers that operate from this airport. The Hong Kong International Airport has two asphalt runways that are used for take offs and landings. Both runways are 3 800 meters in length.
The Hong Kong Airport operates from two terminals, Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. They are both extravagantly impressive in size and their bathrooms and facilities are always clean and hygienic. If the size alone does not impress you, then the passenger facilities that are located in each terminal definitely will. In Terminal 1, you will find the Hong Kong Skymart. This area has facilities that include arts & crafts stores, audio and visual electronic equipment stores, clothing and sport shops, telecommunication services, jewelry stores, watch shops, eyewear shops, florists, convenience stores, toy stores, photo shops, evening wear boutiques, restaurants, bakeries, fast food outlets, coffee shops, bars, foreign exchange services, ATM’s and banking facilities. Terminal 2 has basically the same facilities as Terminal 1 does, and is called the Hong Kong SkyPlaza. Over and above the facilities already mentioned, the Hong Kong SkyPlaza also has an aviation discovery center, movie theatres, I-Sport, Asia Hollywood, pharmacies, beauty salons and tobacco stores.
Transportation to and from the Hong Kong International Airport is serviced by tour coaches, buses, taxis, limousines, trains, ferry or car rental services. All these mentioned transportation modes are located in the Ground Transportation Centre.