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 Casablanca Mohamed V International Airport is located approximately 25 kilometers outside of the city of Casablanca in Morocco. This airport in Morocco is the hub for Royal Air Maroc, Air Arabia Maroc, Jet4you and Regional Air Lines. The Casablanca Mohamed V Airport in Morocco has an average of 6 million passengers pass though the terminals in a year .
The Mohamed V Airport has two asphalt runways that are both 3 720 meters in length and are both used for take offs and landings. There are many airlines that operate flights in and out of the Mohamed V Airport, including airlines such as Kuwait Airlines, Tunisair, Qatar Airlines, Fedex, Royal Jordanian, Syrian Arab Airlines, Air France, Emirates Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, British Airways, DHL Air, Air Malta, Lufthansa, Regional Airlines, UPS and Egyptair.
The airport in Casablanca has many facilities available to passengers that include banking facilities, a foreign exchange service, ATMs, public telephones and clean and hygienic restrooms. Duty free shops, gift shops, newsstands, cafés and restaurants are available. For passenger convenience, the airport has a postage service and a business center. The business center allows passengers to make photocopies, send important faxes or log onto the internet to check on their e-mails. There is also a prayer room, pharmacy, medical center and first aid facilities that include an ambulance service. The airport in Casablanca has specially adapted restroom facilities and lifts to accommodate disabled passengers.
Transport from the Casablanca Mohamed V Airport to the city center of Casablanca, is available through taxi services, shuttle services, buses and railway. Car rental companies such as EuropCar Hire, Hertz Car Rentals, Budget Rent-a-Car and Avis Car Hire are located in the airport building. The airport has 1 600 parking bays in its long term parking area, and approximately 880 parking bays in the short term parking area, that is located outside of the Arrivals hall.
The Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport is the biggest airport in Sweden, and is located approximately 28 kilometers outside of Stockholm. During a year, the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport assists and accommodates approximately 17 million passengers, but has a capacity to deal with 25 million passengers a year. Originally, the airport was built in 1959 for practice flights, but in 1960 the airport was turned over for civilian use and commercial airline traffic.
There are four terminals at the Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport. All international flights and their passengers are taken care of by Terminal 2 and Terminal 5. Terminal 3 and Terminal 4 are used for all domestic flights and passengers. During 2003, a central building was erected, namely the Arlanda North. This new building connects Pier 14 with Terminal 5. Arlanda North is utilized by the international flights that are managed by Star Alliance and SAS. The building that stands between Terminal 4 and Terminal 5, is called Sky City, offering a shopping center for passengers and serving as a railway station for the main line. In total, between all the terminals, the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport has 64 passenger gates. The airport also has five hangars, five cargo terminals and three runways. This makes the Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport extremely impressive in size and the facilities that they offer. The three runways that are used for both take offs and landings are the 2,500 meter 08/26 runway, the 3,301 meter 01L/19R runway, and the 2,500 meter 01R/19L runway, with the first two being concrete and the latter runway being asphalt.
The facilities available at various airport terminals include restaurants (of which there are approximately 33), a wide variety of stores, ATM’s, banks, bars, a pharmacy, a chapel, conference facilities and hotels. The lounges are all fitted with power points, so travelers are able to recharge their cellular phones, or work on their laptops. Parking areas around the terminals are available in different categories such as long and short term parking, multi-storey parking garages, indoor and outdoor facilities.
Transportation to and from the Stockholm-Arlanda International Airport is well taken care of. The Arlanda Express runs between the Stockholm Central Station and the Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. Bus services are available and it is the cheapest way to travel. Taxi drivers are required to ask a set price when leaving the airport, to ensure that all taxis are asking the same fare. Car rental agencies such as Hertz, Europcar and Avis operate directly from the airport.
The Stockholm-Arlanda Airport has gone to extreme measures to ensure that the airport is accessible to everyone, including disabled travelers. The Sky City building has text telephones available for hearing-impaired passengers, and all restrooms, lifts and parking areas are accessible to wheelchairs.
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’.