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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Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Josè Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport was previously known as the Simon Bolivar International Airport, but in 2006 a brand new terminal was erected and renamed in memory of a famous Ecuadorian poet named Josè Joaquin de Olmedo. Being the newest terminal and airport in Ecuador, the Josè Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport hopes to expand its terminal and runway in the future. At the present time, the terminal at the Josè Joaquin de Olmedo Airport is 50 000 square meters and accommodates both international and domestic flights and passengers. It is hoped that in due time, the passenger traffic will increase to approximately 5 million passengers annually, and that more airlines will start operating from the new airport. The Josè Joaquin de Olmedo Airport is located just outside the city of Guayaquil and plans to service this area for the coming 15 years. Although the new airport will use the same runway as the old airport, the new terminal was constructed almost 1 kilometer away from the old terminal.

This airport in Ecuador has one runway that is used for take offs and landings and is 2 790 meters in length. The runway is capable of handling aircraft such as the DC10 and the Boeing 747, but the expansion of the runway will make the Josè Joaquin de Olmedo Airport capable of facilitating a wider range of aircraft and to accommodate the bigger models that are becoming popular for international travel. Airlines such as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, American Airlines, Santa Barbara Airlines, Delta Airlines, Iberia Airlines, Avianca Airlines, LAN Airlines, TACA Arilines, Continental Airlines and Air Madrid, to name a few, are currently operating flights to and from the Josè Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport.

Transport to the Jose Joaquin de Olmedo International Airport and transport from the airport is serviced by public transportation services such as buses and taxis. Rental car companies are located at the airport and information desks are there to assist passengers on any queries they might have. The airport building houses facilities such as forgein exchange services, ATM’s, restuarants and postal services.

Madrid Barajas Airport

February 9, 2009 by  
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Spain’s Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) is the busiest airport in the country. Statistics state that this fine airport handles some 40 million travelers each year, carrying them to both domestic and international destinations. Just 13 km from the center of the city, Madrid Barajas International Airport is convenient to reach and offers a top-notch experience to passengers. Madrid’s airport deals with transatlantic flights and is actually one of Europe’s main airports for offering flights to South and Central America.

Due to the large number of flights handled at Madrid International Airport, a new terminal was added in 2006 along with 2 additional runways. Madrid Barajas Airport has 4 runways now. Two of these run parallel to each other along the north-south axis. The other two run parallel on the northwest-southeast axis. Because of the design simultaneous landings and take-offs are possible and the airport has the capacity for 120 operations per hour.

Airport parking at Madrid Barajas is offered through 7 parking facilities along with a valet service if wanted. The airport has 4 terminals plus a satellite terminal, each with different airlines and purposes assigned to them. The newest building is Terminal 4 or T4. This new section handles international flights. Madrid Barajas International Airport provides an abundance of facilities for the convenience and comfort of travelers. Airport information desks can be seen throughout the airport. Also look out for the “Skycaps” who will be able to assist you. Tourist desks are found in Terminals 1 and 2. In the airport there are 3 banks, several ATMS and a few bureaux de changes. Passengers can also make use of the post office, nurseries, medical service center, pharmacies, travel agencies and beauty center. Madrid’s airport even has 2 chapels. Business travelers have the use of a business center in Terminal 2 as well as VIP lounges. Whilst waiting for your flight you may wish to engage in some shopping at the music shop, duty-free stores, tobacconist, jeweler, clothing store or sport shop. If you are feeling hungry or thirsty there are some 30 restaurants, cafés and bars in the airport. A variety of services and facilities are available for disabled passengers.

There are a number of transportation options available for people traveling to or from Madrid Barajas Airport. Madrid has an excellent Metro system which runs right up to the airport’s 2nd terminal. Outside of all the airport’s terminals are taxi stands. Madrid has a reliable bus service with various buses making runs between town and the different terminals.

Munich International Airport

February 9, 2009 by  
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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.

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