Tag Archives: FlightGlobal

5 Aviation Journalists You Need On Speed Dial For Plane Crashes


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
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.


The Rise And Fall Of The 50-seat Regional Jet

A Comair CRJ at JFK Airport.  Photo by Benet J. Wilson

I covered the regional aviation industry for the now-defunct Commuter/Regional Airline News from 1993 to 2001.  During that period, I had a front-row seat to the rise of the 50-seat regional jet.  I was there when Comair became the first regional airline to take the Canadair Regional Jet into its fleet. I was there when Continental Express took its first Embraer ERJ-145.

And I was there in the 1990s and early 2000s when the regional airlines and their major airline partners went into a frenzy to add the 50 seaters to their fleets.  Regionals loved them because passengers preferred them to turboprops. Major airlines loved them because they could use them for several reasons, including: offering point-to-point service to previously unserved markets; expanding service in existing markets; and serving markets that could not have been flown by turboprops or could not be served profitably by larger jets.  For my aviation geeks, you can read this General Accounting Office report released in 2001.

So of course I was intrigued when I read two recent stories on regional jets — “Comair future uncertain as Delta shuffles regional lift,” in FlightGlobal and “Delta plans to fly fewer 50-seat planes with cramped cabins,” in MinnPost.com. At one point, Comair had one of the largest 50-seat RJ fleets in the world, with nearly 350.

My, how things have changed.  Both stories discuss how Delta Air Lines is negotiating to cut the fleet of its wholly owned subsidiary Comair down to a mere 16 aircraft, a shell of its former self.  The removal of these jets is part of a larger plan to cut 218 50-seat jets from the fleets of all its regional subsidiaries, swapping two CRJs for one with 76-seat jets.

At one point, Comair had its own terminal at Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport, the first ever designed specifically for a regional airline.  Its executives were lauded and showered with awards and accolades for their management of the carrier.  They were so bad-ass that then-GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welsh showed up in Cincinnati for the 100th delivery of the CRJ, which went to Comair.

I think Mesa Air Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein (my old boss) summed it up nicely in a freelance piece I did for Aviation International News in May. “We all thought we had these great airplanes and that our major airline partners would still want them 10 years later. Comair was the first regional airline to get regional jets and look at them now–nearly liquidated,” he said.



Rolling Aviation Thoughts

  • Have you seen the April issue of Airline Passenger Experience magazine?  Editor Mary Kirby has been hitting it out of the park with great content, with stories on the science of aircraft boarding, the fun of onboard retail therapy and the ongoing debate on paid versus free WiFi.  Full disclosure — I have a ball writing a regular column for the magazine (this month, I review the food offerings in JetBlue’s Terminal 5 at JFK Airport).
  • Former FlightGlobal reporter Jon Ostrower hit the ground running in his new gig as the aerospace beat reporter for the Wall Street Journal a day early, writing about how tornadoes in Wichita affected aircraft and aerospace manufacturers.
  • My flight instructor, Alyssa Miller, has a great job.  She spent this week writing for the AOPA Pilot Blog about a major photo shoot of the timed departure of 20 B-25 World War II bombers.
  • Was everyone else geeking out over the last “flight” of the space orbiter Discovery as it made its way to the Udvar-Hazy Air & Space museum yesterday?  I saw a lot of great photos, but the one shot by Steve Trimble of FlightGlobal (from his office in Old Town Alexandria, Va.) was by far the best I saw.
  • I know we all have to get paid, but one has to question the timing of Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines.  Weeks before the carrier filed for Ch. 11 bankruptcy protection on April 2, its board gave two top executives healthy pay raises even as it was asking for employee paycuts, reports USA Today.  Maybe the raises were justified, but the timing was not good.
  • I had to take a flight out of my hometown BWI Airport on Saturday at the crack of dawn.  I was surprised at how crowded both security checkpoints were in Concourse A.  But I saw a small sign posting about a new security line on the baggage claim level.  I scooted down, and the line was practically empty.  I had a good laugh with four other folks who saw me leave and followed me downstairs.  So check and see if your airport has lower level security lines!

I’ll end this rant with the video clip, below.  Mary “Runway Girl” Kirby left FlightGlobal in December and Jon “Flightblogger” Ostrower left last week.  But I always enjoyed their videos from the major air shows.  So enjoy their last one, from the Paris Air Show in 2011.

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.