Tag Archives: Aviation International News

5 Aviation Journalists You Need On Speed Dial For Plane Crashes

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An Asiana Airlines Boeing 767 parked at Incheon International Airport.  Photo by Benet J. Wilson.

After yesterday’s crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777, I felt the need to do a rare Sunday post.  As an aviation journalist and communicator for 20 years, I’ve seen more than my fair share of general media coverage when it comes to airline accidents.  The crash at San Francisco International Airport showed the sad state of affairs when it comes to covering an accident.

Gone are the days when most major newspapers, television stations and cable news networks had reporters on staff with aviation expertise.  And it showed yesterday. Most of the accurate news came not from my usual news sources — CNN and NPR — but my 10,000 Twitter followers and my network of aviation geeks on private listserves and Facebook.  And the information that was out there was either wrong, or highly inaccurate.

For example, an NPR reporter said yesterday that the aircraft involved was a “Boeing 777, seats around 150 people.”  What?? Does this mean NO ONE at NPR had the 30 seconds it would have taken to go to the 777 section of the Boeing or Asiana websites or even SeatGuru.com to see the actual number on the Asiana aircraft? (it’s 246 to 300 seats).

So now here is my public service — a list of five top aviation journalists who can speak intelligently on the Asiana crash and a whole host of other aviation issues.  And bonus — I know that they are all camera-ready. So take advantage of these folks and their years of knowledge.

1.  Rob Mark, Jetwhine.com and Aviation International News:  besides being a licensed commercial pilot and the writer of the safety section of AIN, Mark has flown every current commercial aircraft from the Airbus A380 on down. He speaks regularly on aviation issues for FOX News and can do the same for you.
2 and 3. Graham Warwick and Guy Norris, Aviation Week and Space Technology: my former colleagues have been in the business for decades. Warwick, AvWeek’s managing editor for technology, has a strong background in aircraft engineering and design. Senior Editor Norris is a long-time, respected aerospace journalist who has written books on aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing.
4. Stephen Trimble, FlightGlobal: Trimble, FlightGlobal’s Americas Editor,  is one of the pre-eminent aerospace annd aviation editors in the field. Want proof? Check out what he’s done in the 24 hours since the crash.
5.  Jon Ostrower, Wall Street Journal: Before Ostrower, a Chicago-based aerospace reporter, came to the Journal, he was the air transport editor for FlightGlobal. Before that, he wrote the independent Flightblogger blog, considered the source of information on all things Boeing aircraft. He’s forgotten more than most of us know about the Seattle aircraft manufacturer.

Aviation Queen Reviews Big Three Farnborough Air Show Coverage

Photo by Swamibu via a Flickr Creative Commons license.

Good friend and fellow aviation geek Ludo Van Vooren used to do these great reviews at Aerospace eBusiness of air show/convention coverage by the big three publications — Aviation International News, Aviation Week and FlightGlobal.  But he hasn’t done a review since the 2011 National Business Aviation Association convention, so now I’m picking up the mantle.

But first, I must offer full disclosure on two of the three publications: I do freelance work for AIN and AvWeek was my employer for 5.5 years. OK – let’s move on. Below, I’m borrowing Ludo’s great chart that breaks down the coverage by the numbers.  I started counting on July 8, the day before the show’s official opening.

AINonline AvWeek FlightGlobal
Online Articles 213 59 315
Blogs 0 14 8
Videos 8 9 14
Photos 104 93 153
Daily
Magazine
4 4 7

Everyone was pretty even on the magazine front, although FlightGlobal did offer three issues of its interactive magazine, which appeals to my inner tech geek.  Having covered several air shows myself, we all tended to show up at all the same press events, so I’ll let the magazines speak for themselves.

FlightGlobal won the crown for the total number of online articles, with a nice mix of military, commercial and business aviation stories. AIN also kept a nice balance of stories, with AvWeek bringing up the rear.

On the blog front, I didn’t find any posts from AINAvWeek had the most blog posts, but seven of its 13 posts were actually links to videos that were also included in their show video section.  I give major props to my former co-worker Rupia Haria-Wincell, who worked hard to keep the AvWeek social media flag flying at Farnborough. FlightGlobal also used its blogs to promote videos, but they did offer more commentary as part of their posts.

I have to give the video crown to FlightGlobal, where Head of Web Michael Targett hosted a great mix of flying displays, executive interviews and the publication’s FlightGlobal Achievement Awards.  And they get cool points from me for working with the Financial Times on putting together a joint interview with IAG CEO Willie Walsh and Emirates CEO Tim Clark on the need to create a hub airport in the UK’s south east.

AIN was next because they were the only one of the big three to do not only a show preview, but a 3-minute daily summary of each  day’s headlines, featuring staff editor Curt Epstein.  It also did a nice job with the interview of Sir Richard Branson and in giving us the details about the bid for Hawker Beechcraft. Their videos have the feel of a professional news package.  The AvWeek videos felt like b-roll with unnamed narrators.

When it came to the show photo galleries, I liked the layout of AIN the best.  Their pictures were laid out in separate folders by event shot.  I especially enjoyed the aerial photos shot by Mark Wagner.  Next came FlightGlobal, which housed its 153 photos in a special section on its special Farnborough website.  While AvWeek has a link to its photo gallery on its Farnborough website, it goes directly to its regular photo gallery.  From there, you go into the Defense, Commercial Aviation and/or Busines Aviation galleries.  But it’s hard to tell where the Farnborough show photos end and the regular gallery begins, although the photos I did see were good.

On the social media front, FlightGlobal won, hands down.  Not only did the team keep folks up to date with their own tweets, it also offered a top five list of editors to follow at the show. If you searched @FlightGlobal on Twitter, you saw what looked like a who’s who of defense, aerospace and aviation retweeting FG tweets and linking to their content.  They only used the #FARN12 hashtag.

AIN used its AINOnline Twitter account simply as a news feed.  They did use the #FIA12 and #FARN12 hashtags, and had a nice amount of feed on their embedded Twitter stream. AvWeek also used its AviationWeek account to do news feeds. Guy Norris did six Tweets, while Amy Butler did one.  The AvWeek Twitter stream only followed the #FIA12 hashtag.

In looking at the overall layout and feel of the special Farnborough websites, I have to give it to AIN, by a hair.  I like the magazine feel of the layout that makes it easy to find exactly what you need — including top stories, photos, videos, the Twitter feed and news, all on the same page.   A close second is FlightGlobal.  I like the tabs at the top that take you where you want to go, but I did get a little dizzy with some of the ads mixed in with the content.  Despite a redesigned website unveiled in April, AvWeek is using the same show website format it has used since at least 2009.

So there you have it.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on which publication you thought offered the best coverage of the 2012 Farnborough Air Show.

 

Pssst-Wanna Buy A Regional Jet Cheap?

American Eagle Embraer ERJ-145s at DFW Airport. Photo by Benet J. Wilson

I covered the regional aviation industry from 1993 to 2001.  During that time, I watched as regional carriers grew up and became almost mirror images of their larger airline partners.

I had a front row seat to the rise of the 50-seat regional jet.  The big players were Canada’s Bombardier, with its CRJ and Brazil’s Embraer ERJ-145.  The major airlines wanted them for several reasons.  One, they were constrained by pilot scope clauses that didn’t allow regional pilots to fly larger jets. Two, they saw the jets as a way bring service to cities that weren’t quite big enough for larger jet or even do some point-to-point hub bypass service.

During the RJ frenzy heyday, regional carriers couldn’t sign contracts fast enough.  Cincinnati-based Comair led the pack, becoming the U.S. launch customer for the CRJ, while Continental Express was the same for the ERJ-145.  Mesa Air Group (my former employer) became the first regional to operate both types in its fleet.

But now, regionals can’t get rid of them fast enough as fuel costs made them more expensive to operate and major airlines began cutting traditional RJ routes.  You can read my May 1 interview in Aviation International News with my former boss, Jonathan Ornstein, on how this affected Mesa.

So where are all those RJs going? An April 30 story in AIN sister publication Business Jet Traveler reports that the current RJ glut “presents a rare opportunity to acquire a relatively new large-cabin jet at near-turboprop prices.”  I wrote a blog post in Aviation Week’s Business Aviation Now on Sept. 11, 2009 on Dubai-based Project Phoenix, a company that turns CRJ-200s into VIP business jets.

According to BJT, by the end of 2011, nearly 400 RJs were grounded in the U.S., many of them less than 10 years old, including BAE 146/Avros; Bombardier CRJ100s, 200s and 900s; Dornier/Fairchild 328Jets; Fokker 100s; and Embraer ERJ-135/145s. And, the publication notes, the Chapter 11 filing of American Airlines could see hundreds more ERJs in the American Eagle fleet be put into storage.

If you’re looking for a pretty nice aircraft that is a little slower but tougher than the average business jet at a bargain basement price, a converted CRJ might be for you.  For a mere $10 million, according to BJT, you can have one with “all the bells and whistles,” with a range of 3000nm carrying eight passengers and bags.  A similarly sized super mid-sized jet, like the Bombardier Challenger 605 (a loose cousin of the CRJ) could cost  more than double.

The bigger question is what will happen to all those smaller regional jets?  Is there enough of a market for them to be a strong alternative to a new business jet? Is there a market for these aircraft in other parts of the world, including China, Africa and South America? Only time will tell.

Top Five Interesting Stories Of The Week

It was a busy week, catching all the news from the Singapore Air Show and Heli-Expo.  We also saw President Obama release his FY 2013 budget and FINALLY sign the $63 billion Federal Aviation Administration authorization bill, which keeps the agency funded through 2015. So here’s what else went on.

  1. As American Airlines parent AMR Corp. continues its stay in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, its labor unions, which have a seat at the creditors table, are doing what they can to keep as many jobs as possible, despite the airline’s recent announcement of 13,000 job cuts.  As an alternative to those cuts, two of the carrier’s largest unions — the Transport Workers Union and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants — has said the company should consider offering lump sum buy-outs, reports Aviation Week.  TWU is proposing $75,000, with health insurance and other benefits retained for 9,000 employees facing the chopping blog. APFA is asking for a year’s salary and current health, travel and pension rights for members with more than 15 years’ seniority.
  2. Anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog or who follows me on Twitter (@AvQueenBenet) knows that I think allowing cell phones during flight is another circle of hell. Do you hear the chatter that starts as soon as a plane lands? Can you imagine hearing that on a DC-San Francisco flight? One provision under the newly passed FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 is that Congress is requiring the FAA to study the impact of cell phones for voice communications on aircraft where such service is currently permitted by foreign governments, reports Mary Kirby (@APEXMary) in her APEX Editor’s Blog. Here’s hoping that the study will continue to uphold the inflight ban on cell phones.
  3. Back when I was in college in the 1980s, I was always trying to find the cheapest way to fly from D.C. home to San Francisco. My savior was PeoplExpress, also fondly known as People’s Distress. They had $99 fares, you paid to check bags and for food/drinks onboard. You even paid your air fare onboard. It wasn’t a luxury ride, but it got you from point A to point B at a pretty reasonable price.  The airline shut down in February 1987 and it was folded into Continental Airlines. Fast forward 25 years later, and it may be coming back. Some of the folks from the original airline are proposing to bring back the low-cost carrier and headquarter it at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport in Virginia, reports the Washington Post.  The carrier plans to initially serve destinations in Florida, New England, the Great Lakes, and Mid-Atlantic regions, then expand to other cities, such as Pittsburgh, Providence, West Palm Beach and Newark, where airline consolidation over the past few years has led to a reduction of non-stop air service.
  4. Like most frequent travelers, I’ve been watching with interest as the Transportation Security Administration continues to expand its PreCheck trusted traveler program. I covered the airport security beat for four years, which gave me a front-row seat to the private sector operated registered traveler program.  You can read my post on the APEX Editor’s Blog about how we got from a private RT program to an effort overseen and blessed by TSA.
  5. It’s Black History Month, and I’ve always had a particular fondness for those who were pioneers in the aviation/airline industry.  My brother from another mother — Greg Gross from the I’m Black and I Travel blog — shared the amazing story of Norma Merrick Sklarek, who died this year at the age of 85. Ms. Sklarek’s claim to fame was that she was the first black woman in America to be licensed as an architect. But her place in aviation history was secured as the leader of the team that designed Terminal 1 at LAX, which received the millions of visitors for the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.  She also designed the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Not bad for a woman who began her career designing bathrooms for the New York City building department.

I was a busy bee last week, with an APEX Editor’s Blog post about JetBlue’s food choices at its flagship Terminal 5 at JFK Airport, two stories in Aviation International News’ Singapore Air Show publication (on Enterprise Florida and Canada’s Manitoba Department of Entrepreneurship, Training and Trade) and a stint as guest host on episode 185 of the Airplane Geeks podcast. And last — but certainly not least — I got to be a judge, along with Henry Harteveldt and Brett “Cranky Flier” Snyder in a 12th anniversary cake contest to celebrate JetBlue’s 12th anniversary, as retold on the carrier’s Blue Tales blog.

Top Five Interesting Stories Of The Week

OK, so I’m here in Baltimore stewing in my own bitterness because all my cool aviation friends are at one of two places — the Singapore Air Show or Heli-Expo 2012.  But the news still continues no matter where we are, so let’s get going with this week’s stories.

  1. Since I can’t be in Singapore, I’ll be following the action from Aviation International News’ (you may see a story or 2 from me) special microsite just for the show.  I’ll probably also look at FlightGlobal’s microsite  (love that design) and my former employer, Aviation Week.
  2. Before and after American Airlines officially filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, rumors were flying over whether the carrier would merge and if they did, who will it be with? And now, American’s unsecured creditors say they want to see the airline talk with Phoenix-based US Airways about a potential merger, reports Reuters.  of course, these creditors want to have some hope of recovering money after the carrier emerges from bankruptcy.  But American’s management seems to be firm about not merging. It will be interesting to see what happens.
  3. In 1997, I flew down to Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, where the Embraer ERJ-145 was built, to take delivery of an aircraft for Continental Express.  On the way home, we spent a day and a half in Martinique.  At the airport as we waited for our ride to the hotel, we saw passengers boarding a CorseAir Boeing 747 to France. Our customs agent asked us to guess how many seats the plane had. No one guessed more than 400. But it was 24 in business class and 558 in coach — all the way back to France. So I didn’t raise an eyebrow when I read that Philippines budget airline Cebu Pacific will cram 400 seats onto its Airbus A330s, which normally seat 300, reports the APEX Editor’s blog.
  4. Back in 2009, I flew AirTran Airways to and from Orlando to attend the National Business Aviation Association convention.  On my flight home, I decided to expense the $12.95 for Gogo Inflight Wi-Fi. I used it to post the last of my show news stories and catch up on email. But would I have paid for it myself? Probably not, and that’s the dilemma outlined in a story in ComputerWorld, entitled “Wi-Fi in flight has yet to soar.”  The article notes that only 7% of passengers pay for the service because they don’t want to shell out the money and many times, they don’t know a plane is Wi-Fi equipped.
  5. Regular readers know that Southwest Airlines is my carrier of choice, because it gets me from Point A to Point B safely, quickly and at a good price.  That good price includes being able to check two bags for free.  But those who can’t or won’t fly Southwest Air have come up with clever little ideas to avoid paying bag fees on other airlines. Some of the ideas outlined in the New York Times included: vacuum-seal bags in a carry-on; Scottevest clothing that holds everything from clothing to an iPad; and signing up for an airline-branded credit card that allows for one free bag to be checked.

I forgot to link to my Feb. 1 post in the APEX Editor’s blog on miniature airport hotels at London Heathrow and Hartsfield-Jackson airports. And look out for the latest episode of the Airplane Geeks, where I’ll be a guest host.