A window at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson
During the election season, President-elect Donald Trump and Secretary Hillary Clinton really didn’t say much about their aviation policies, according to an opinion piece in AirwaysMag.com. When Trump did speak about it, his focus was on improving the country’s “third world” airports, while Clinton pushed for a $250 billion infrastructure spending plan that included funding NextGen to modernize the national airspace system and building “world-class” airports.
Bloomberg’s Justin Bachman reports what the aviation priorities are as the former owner of the Trump Shuttle takes office. They include: transferring air traffic control from the FAA to a new not-for-profit entity similar to the one used in Canada; stopping further expansion of the Big Three Middle East carriers, Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways; and slowing of further expansion diplomatic relations in Cuba.
Christine Negroni is a respected aviation safety journalist who has released her new book, “The Crash Detectives,” which looks into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 8, 2014. The book offers Negroni’s theory, based on the Malaysian government’s report about the crash, about what happened after the aircraft, on its way to Beijing Capital International Airport, leveled to 35,000 feet.
The Boeing 787 Dreamliner production line. Photo courtesy of Future of Flight
We have heard all the warnings about an impending pilot shortage caused by a wave of mandatory retirements at age 65, along with new flight hour rules making it more expensive to earn certifications, as outlined by the Wall Street Journal. But what’s not being discussed is an impending shortage of the people who build the aircraft that pilots fly, reports Bloomberg.
Using the example of John Rothery, a tool-and-die maker at Boeing, it notes that the manufacturers’ most experienced workers are retiring during “critical upgrades” of its two largest profit-drivers: the 737 and 777, driven by age and changes in the company’s pension plan. “The dilemma could be especially acute for Boeing, where about 35 percent of the 29,645 machinists in the Seattle area are 55 or older. By contrast, only 23 percent of the 15.3 million Americans working in manufacturing are in that age group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,” wrote Bloomberg.
I’ve written extensively about how airports sometimes have to battle with municipalities to get new or upgraded terminals built, as outlined in this story I did for Airport Business magazine on the battle at Kansas City International Airport. Voters in Los Angeles County approved a ballot measure that gives the green light to the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to build a replacement 14-gate terminal at Hollywood Burbank Airport, reports the L.A. Times. The airport authority has been trying to replace the terminal, built in 1930, since its inception in 1978.
When traveling internationally, it’s always great if you’re departing from one of the 15 foreign airports in six countries that offers U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance, a program that screens travelers overseas, saving time when they arrive in the U.S. The agency announced an initiative in October 2014 to more than double locations outside the United States, as I wrote for AirwaysMag.com. Stockholm Arlanda Airport will participate in the preclearance program by 2019, reports USA Today. Others negotiating to offer the program include Mexico City, Rome, Bogota, Colombia Buenos Aires, Edinburgh, Scotland, Kansai, Japan, Milan, Italy, Reykjavik, Iceland, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paolo, and St. Maartin, the #avgeek paradise.
When I worked as an editor at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, all kinds of interesting aircraft landed at Frederick Municipal Airport across the street. One of my personal favorites was the MetLife blimp. Thanks to a simple tweet from my @AvQueenBenet account, I got to take a tour of the blimp and do a story for AOPA on what it takes to learn to fly one. And the Runway Girl Network interviewed a female blimp pilot, which it wrote “are rarer than astronauts and, if we’re talking about a woman, even rarer still.”
Photo by Benét J. Wilson
In March 2016, Skytrax released its 2016 World Airport Awards, with Singapore Changi topping the list based on passenger surveys. What was noteworthy was that no U.S. airport made the top 10, and none made the list until number 28, Denver International Airport. The Points Guy crunched its own numbers and came up with the top 30 U.S. airports based on three categories: timeliness, accessibility and amenities. The best, according to TPG, was Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport; the worst (no surprise) was New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
Airlines have discovered that passengers are willing to pay extra for a premium economy product, so the race has been on to install that cabin. I wrote posts for About.com on what’s being done in the U.S. and internationally. American Airlines on Nov. 3 deployed premium economy on its Boeing 787-9 fleet, the first product offered by a U.S. carrier, reports AirwaysMag.com. Amenities include more legroom, wider, adjustable leather seats, enhanced meal service with free wine, beer and spirits, AC power outlets and USB ports at every seat, extendable foot, leg and head rests, amenity kits, noise-reducing headphones and a free checked bag.
Delta’s premium economy product. Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines
Not to be outdone, Delta Air Lines unveiled its own premium economy product, Delta Premium, that will be featured on the carrier’s new Airbus A350 fleet, reports USA Today. It also includes a larger seat with a foldable foot rest, a dedicated flight attendant, Sky Priority boarding, a Tumi amenity kit, premium food, snacks and beverages and a Westin blanket.
With the holiday travel season fast approaching, we’ll end the week with a story from the L.A. Times on how to wind up in the airline jerk hall of fame during the holidays. Fly Guy columnist Elliott Hester called out smelly passengers, those who carry on too much, non-parenting parents and aggressive seat recliners. And don’t forget to read my About.com post, “10 Actions That Will Get You Kicked Off a Plane.” Enjoy the weekend!!
There’s never enough time to write about everything I read this week, so here are four stories I think also deserve a read.
- A (premature??) celebratory merger livery
- The most heroic airline pilots of all time
- Singapore Airlines shops for world’s longest jet
- Dubai deploys a ‘drone hunter’ to keep its airport open
EDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who is available for your writing and branded content/content marketing projects. She’s the Air Travel Expert for About.com. Follow her travel-related magazines on Flipboard: Best of About Travel, a joint curation venture with her fellow About Travel Experts; Travel-Go! There’s Nothing Stopping You, all about the passenger experience on the ground and in the air; and Aviation Geek, a joint magazine sharing everything you need to know about the commercial aviation industry. Check out her travel-related boards on Pinterest and follow her on Twitter at @AvQueenBenet, on her Aviation Queen Facebook Page and on Instagram at aviationqueen.