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.
Schiphol Airport is located southwest of Amsterdam and is the Netherlands’ chief airport. The Schiphol Airport competes with many other large airports such as Heathrow International Airport in London, UK and the Charles de Gaulle International in Roissy, France, for passengers and cargo throughput.
Schiphol Airport has 6 runways made of asphalt and measuring between 2 014 and 3 800 meters. The airport is one large terminal but is sub-divided into three big departure halls. All these halls, concourses and piers are connected, which is part of the airport’s plan to have everything under one roof. Schiphol is the hub for the Amsterdam Airlines, KLM, Martinair, Transavia, Delta Air Lines and Arkefly.
Over the years Schiphol has received many awards for being the best airport in the world, and for fifteen consecutive years it was voted the “Best European Airport” and “Best Business Travel Airport”. Inside the terminal you will find an array of large shopping areas, as well as the Schiphol Plaza, which is the shopping center just before customs. Last of all there is a average-size supermarket that stays open 24 hours, seven days a week for the passengers’ convenience.
Underneath the passenger terminal complex you will find a passenger train station run by Nederlandse Spoorwegen. There is also a bus service available for those wishing to travel to and from the city.
The history of the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport dates back to September the 16, 1916 where it started off as a military airbase, later it was used by civil aircraft and was named Schiphol-les-bains before it was later called Schiphol which means ‘ship hole’.
Phuket International Airport is located in Phuket, providing flights for people in that area as well as from abroad. You will find Phuket in one of the southern provinces of Thailand. The name of the island and of the international airport is taken from the word Bukit, which is Malay, and means mountain. This is because the island is mainly made up of mountain ranges and from a distance it looks like one complete mountain. The airport is only 32 km from downtown Phuket and transport is easily accessible to take you around.
Phuket International is a relatively small public airport and is operated by the Airports of Thailand Public Co. Ltd. The airport is about 25 meters or 82 feet above mean sea level and its coordinates are 08 degrees 06’48″N and 98 degrees 19’01″E. The Phuket International airport has only one runway made from asphalt, being 3,000 meters or 9,843 feet long and 45 meters wide. In Thailand, Phuket airport is ranked second in the amount of passengers and cargo it processes, which has a lot to do with the spectacular beaches and tourist attractions that the island has.
Phuket International Airport services ten different airlines and can handle more then 2,900,000 passengers as well as 12,000 tons of cargo a year. Every hour approximately 10 flights take off, so regular flights internationally and domestically are provided out of Thailand’s biggest island and to other provinces in Thailand. The airport accommodates many different tourists from around the world who enjoy Phuket’s Sino-Portuguese architecture and of course the world-famous beaches.
While you are enjoying the many attractions of Phuket don’t forget to make time to visit the other surrounding islands, namely Koh Phi Phi and the Similan Islands. There you can do a variety of underwater excursions and take time to view the beautiful marine on your day trip out there. If you are planning a trip to the island in October then look out for the Vegetarian Festival where you can sample a variety of non-meat delicacies while enjoying the entertainment provided there.
New Zealand boasts a number of top-class airports, offering travelers fine facilities as they move from one destination to the next. Long distance international flights are mainly operated from Christchurch International Airport and Auckland Airport. Intermediate and domestic flights, with limited international flights, are operated from airports such as Dunedin International Airport, Hamilton International Airport, Queenstown International Airport, Wellington International Airport and Palmerston North International Airport. Domestic flights are serviced by smaller airports, for example Greymouth Airport, New Plymouth Airport, Wanaka Airport and Gisborne Airport, to name a few.
The Auckland Airport is managed by Auckland International Airport Limited, and is by far the busiest and biggest of the New Zealand airports. This airport annually accommodates more than 13 million passengers and is situated near the business district of Auckland. Airlines that operate from the Auckland International Airport, includes Air New Zealand, Emirates, Qantas, Thai Airlines, Virgin Blue, Malaysia Airlines and Jetstar Airways.
The other long distance international New Zealand airport is Christchurch International Airport that was established in 1935. Even though this airport is not as big as Auckland International Airport, it still has just under 6 million passengers walk through its doors in a year, and also has major airlines such as Air New Zealand, Air Pacific, Emirates, Jetstar, Qantas, Virgin Blue and Singapore Airlines operating from its terminals.
Airports such as Palmerston North International Airport are domestic airports with limited international flights. Palmerston North International Airport for instance, handles approximately 550 000 passengers in a year, with about 700 monthly scheduled flights. They have a limited number of airlines that operate from their terminals, such as Air Nelson, Air New Zealand, Freedom Air, Eagle Airways and Mount Cooke Airline.
Wanaka Airport, for example, is a domestic airport. It has a daily flight, once a day, to and from Christchurch, but concentrates mainly on chartered flight operations, chartered helicopter flights, helicopter training facilities and recreational facilities for privately owned aircrafts and skydiving and parachuting enthusiasts.