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Your Aviation Weekend Reads for November 17, 2016

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In the aftermath of the American Airlines Boeing 767 that caught fire at Chicago O’Hare on Oct. 28, 18 of the 20 passengers injured have filed a lawsuit, reports the Chicago Tribune. According to a statement from the Geneva-based law firm representing the plaintiffs blamed Boeing and GE for having an engine constructed from defective material, and blamed the airline’s employees of being negligent when the airplane was evacuated.

In the case of the Asiana Airlines 777 crash in San Francisco that killed three, 72 of the 304 aboard the flight settled with the carrier for an undisclosed amount in March 2015.

When I worked at the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, one of the top issues being covered by the government affairs department was the safe  integration of drones into the national airspace system. “UAS must be integrated into the NAS in a manner that maintains the level of safety to people and property in the air and on the ground that general aviation currently provides,” according to AOPA.

And now it looks like AOPA’s concerns were real, with a report from the Guardian about a passenger aircraft nearly colliding with a drone. A Porter Airlines Bombardier Q400 turboprop, carrying 54 passengers and four crew, was going to Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport when it had to swerve to avoid hitting a drone about 30 miles out. Two flight attendants sustained minor injuries.

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A rendering of a Boom Technology jet parked at London Heathrow Airport. Image courtesy of Boom Technology

Boom Technology, builder of the newest supersonic jet, went on a major media blitz on Nov. 15. I did a Q&A interview with CEO and Founder Blake Scholl for Airways magazine, where he spoke about why he wanted to do the project, how it’s being funded and when it will come to market. will get public design debut in Centennial

In last week’s Weekend Reads, I wrote about how American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have unveiled true premium economy class products. And now Airways magazine reports that Alaska Airlines is the newest member of this club, with plans to unveil its own product on Jan. 5 on its fleet of Boeing 737-800s and -900s.

United Airlines held its quarterly earnings call on Nov. 15, where it announced it would become the first large U.S. carrier to restrict travelers on basic economy fares to only a single carry-on bag that must fit under a seat, reports FOX Business. It also announced that it was deferring delivery of 61 Boeing 737-700s and converting them to MAX jets, along with buying 24 Embraer E175 smaller jets.

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Image courtesy of JetBlue

I’m the curator of the Retro Airline Liveries Pinterest board, which is my way of showcasing the cool paint jobs of the past. So you know I was delighted when I read on the JetBlue blog that the 16-year-old airline just unveiled its interpretation of a retro livery from the 1960s. “The Retrojet livery—designed by JetBlue’s Design Team—was conceptualized after hours of research at New York City’s Lubalin Archive at the Cooper Union,” according to the blog.

I’ll be on travel this week, so I have more links I think you’ll like to read for the rest of the week. Enjoy!

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.

 

Random Aviation Photo

In April, I had the chance to do a tour of Terminal 3 at Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport. One of the highlights was all the art projects around the terminal.  Below is a butterfly sculpture that, if you look closely, has wings that feature airlines that have served the airport. How many carriers can you pick out? Enjoy!

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Your Aviation Weekend Reads for November 3, 2016

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A KLM Boeing 747 parked at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

In the winter of 2005, I took my first trip to the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. Any #avgeek worth their salt know that this is considered the ultimate vacation. Why? Princess Juliana International Airport is only separated by a two-lane road and a slim stretch of beach, making it the perfect place for plane spotting at the iconic Sunset Bar & Grill. One of the best landings was the KLM Boeing 747, but it made its last landing in St. Maarten on Oct. 28, reports Lens Culture.

In the wake of the uncontained engine failure of an American Airlines Boeing 767-300ER at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, it’s a miracle there were only minor injuries, reports the Runway Girl Network. “The reduction in the rate of incidents also means that the number of real-world data points for further safety improvements is decreasing, increasing the safety value of learning as much as possible from each incident,” writes John Walton. And I wrote a piece for About.com after this accident on why passengers really need to listen to those flight attendant safety announcements.

Last week I wrote about the U.K. government’s approval of a third runway at London Heathrow Airport. Now that the dust has settled, the Economist’s Gulliver Business Travel blog reports that Willie Walsh, head of IAG, British Airways’ parent company and Paul Griffiths, the head of Dubai Airport are not optimistic that the runway will be built anytime soon.  Walsh said he doubted the current Heathrow Airport team could get the runway built, while Griffiths said the decision was 50 years too late.

I recently wrote a post for About.com on the best – and worst — U.S. airports for on-time performance over the Thanksgiving holidays. Airlines 4 America says there will be enough seats on planes to get travelers where they need to go, reports USA Today. “Travelers should rest assured that while more people will be flying, there will be more than an adequate number of seats available,” said John Heimlich, chief economist for the trade group that represents most of the largest carriers.

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An Arik Air Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Photo courtesy of Boeing

When it comes to airlines, Africa has consistently had the worst luck in forming and sustaining financially successful operations. So in a rare bit of good news,  Nigeria’s Arik Air will order Boeing jets in a plan to double its current fleet in the next 10 years, reports Reuters. The privately owned carrier plans to use the aircraft to add international routes and increase services, including daily flights to New York.

As the airlines continue to cut flights to smaller and medium-sized airports, private jet companies like JetSuiteX, Private Fly and Ubair are moving in to fill the gap. And that trend is actually hurting aircraft manufacturers like Cessna and Bombardier, which are selling fewer planes, reports Bloomberg. These companies want to “introduce more people to the convenience of flying without the hassle of commercial airports.”

In last week’s Weekend Reads, I wrote about JetBlue’s investment in private jet operator JetSuiteX. But good friend Brett “Cranky Flier” Snyder is having trouble understanding why the New York-based carrier made that move. “To me, this almost feels like JetBlue is just taking a swing in the dark, hoping to find something on the West Coast that will make it more relevant,” he wrote.

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A rendering of Boom Technology AS2 supersonic jet parked at London Heathrow Airport. Image courtesy of Boom Technology

In the October 20 edition of Weekend Reads, I wrote about how Boom Technology is hoping to bring back supersonic transport that’s been gone since Concorde was retired in 2003. One of Boom’s competitors, Aerion Corp., has pushed back the date of choosing the engine supplier for the jet, from the first half of 2016 to sometime in 2017, reports Bloomberg. The maker of the AS2 has winnowed down its choices from more than two dozen engines down to a civil aircraft power plant that’s already in use, said a company spokesman.

I have a dear friend in the aviation industry who works at an airport in Florida. During a visit, I noticed she had a Delta Air Lines’ Flying Colonel certificate hanging on her wall. The now-defunct program was the Atlanta-based carrier’s super-elite program for its very best customers. United Airlines has Global Services and it looks like American Airlines is getting back into the super-elite game. The One Mile At A Time blog reports that the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier now has Concierge Key, an invitation-only program that is considered the fifth tier of its AAdvantage frequent flyer program even though it’s not listed.

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The entrance to Singapore Changi Airport’s Terminal 4. Photo courtesy of Changi Airport Group

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge fan of airports. If I could live in Singapore Changi Airport, I would be on cloud nine. I had fun doing this piece for About.com of 10 airports I’d love to hang out in during a long layover, including Changi. Now Business Insider has created its own list of 15 airports, and I’m happy to report I’ve been to 12 of them and agree with all of BI’s picks.

I am a 100 percent sucker for heartwarming airline and airport stories, as evidenced by this post I did for About.com on the 10 Best Sappy Holiday Airline and Airport Videos. So I’m going to end the week with this story from the Bradenton Herald about a father wasn’t going to let a cross-country airplane ride stop his three-year-old daughter from missing Halloween. It’s a great read!

Here are another five story picks:

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.

In April 2008, I had the chance to travel to Seoul, South Korea to do a series of stories on Korean Air. After landing at Incheon International Airport, I had the chance to take some photos of the heavy metal parked at different gates. Below is a Northwest Airlines Airbus A330 I snapped. NWA is gone, but not forgotten. Enjoy!

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Your Aviation Weekend Reads for October 20, 2016

An American Eagle Embraer ERJ-145. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

An American Eagle Embraer ERJ-145 regional jet. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

I started covering the regional aviation industry in 1993. At the time, Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer was transitioning from government to private ownership, and it was about to launch a 50-seat jet that helped revolutionize commercial aviation. Since then, it has created a family of commercial, business and defense jets and become the number three aircraft manufacturer in the world, according to Leeham News, only behind Boeing and Airbus. So this story from FOX News questions why Embraer isn’t getting credit for making a successful transition from its first-generation E-Jets to its new E2-series models.

“Impressively, Embraer has managed to land order after order for its current-generation E-Jets over the past three years,” according to the story. “Most of its orders have come from U.S. regional airlines looking to refresh their fleets with the market-leading E175, but it has also received dozens of orders from airlines in Europe and Asia.”

The head of number two aircraft manufacturer Airbus says his company is poised to pull ahead of archrival Boeing for the title of the world’s largest plane maker, reports CNN Money. The remarks came as the French-based manufacturer delivered its 10,000th jet, an A350, to Singapore Airlines. Airbus has a current backlog of 6,700 jets, while Boeing has nearly 5,700.

Ever since the Concorde supersonic jet was retired on November 26, 2003, companies have been trying to fill that gap on the commercial and business segments. Proposed models include Aerion AS2, HyperMach SonicStar, Japan’s Next Generation Supersonic Transport, Tupolev Tu-444 and the Gulfstream X-54. Popular Mechanics reports on the efforts of the latest manufacturer to entry the supersonic fray: Denver-based Boom Technology, which is pushing to build its Mach 2.2, 50-seat jet and have it into service by 2023. The company has funding from  Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic and has experts on staff from companies including NASA, Pratt & Whitney, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman.

A Korean Air Gulfstream GIV business jet. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

 

Back in April 2008, I got the chance to go to Seoul to do stories on Korean Air for Aviation Daily. As part of my tour at the airline’s headquarters at Gimpo International Airport, I got to see one of its maintenance hangars. Inside at the time was a Boeing 737, a Sikorsky S-76 helicopter and a Gulfstream GIV business jet. Korean Air was using the helicopter and jet for private aviation clients, along with executive government transport. FlightGlobal reports that the airline has added a Gulfstream G650ER to its business jet fleet, joining two Bombardier Global Express XRS BD700s, and two Boeing BBJ 737-700s.

A friend recently reached out to me for help to find cheap airfares to Europe for a planned summer vacation next year. Fares for those economy seats were around $2000, which is pretty normal since it’s a high-demand time of year for the airlines. But if you want to fly during the airlines’ shoulder season — which falls between late summer and the holiday travel — now is the time to buy, because fares are at record lows, reports Salon.  The reason? Overcapacity, with too many seats and not enough demand. And United Airlines is feeling that pain, reporting in a filing that the combination of too many seats across the Atlantic, attacks in Europe and a weaker British pound will continue to hurt its results, reports Reuters.  

Emirates just announced its latest U.S. destination — Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami. John Walton of the Runway Girl Network explains the reason why the Dubai-based carrier choose the secondary city: because it’s a focus city for partner JetBlue. “The two airlines can use FLL as another connection point in their joint network. That joint network is big money — and not just within the United States,” wrote Walton. “There’s a significant Caribbean and Latin American network that JetBlue serves from Fort Lauderdale that is still underserved in terms of global connectivity, and adding one-stop partner travel to Dubai is useful both for outbound and inbound traffic.”

In June of 2012, I wrote a post on my personal blog about how Delta Air Lines was testing out Basic Economy fares on routes where it competed with Spirit Airlines. These fares are non-refundable and non-changeable and travelers can’t choose seats in advance. Now the Los Angeles Times reports that Delta is considering adding Basic Economy fares on some international flights to compete with ultra-low-cost carriers like Norwegian Air.

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. Photo by Benét J. Wilson

One of my favorite airports in the world is Amsterdam Schiphol. It’s airy, open, easy to navigate and has plenty to do during long layovers. C/NET created this great photo slideshow that is a visual love letter about the airport that will bring joy to avgeeks and non-avgeeks alike.

I’m a big fan of doing #FlashbackFriday photo posts at my Air Travel column for About.com. I did this one on the Golden Age of Travel, which shows the glamour of flying between the 1940s and the 1970s before airline deregulation. But Ondair.net challenges that notion, pointing out 15 reason why now is the golden age of travel, including record-low air fares; better inflight entertainment options; more comfortable clothing options (no more dressing up); better airports; and a major upgrade of airline’s business and first-class products (shower aboard Emirates, anyone?).

Photo courtesy of Delta Air Lines

Photos courtesy of Delta Air Lines

One of my favorite projects during my time working in Delta Air Lines’ communications department was the unveiling of new uniforms designed by Richard Tyler in February 2005. It made a big splash, especially after the designer included the now-iconic red wrap flight attendant dress in his New York Fashion Week show. And now Airways magazine reports that the Atlanta-based carrier has unveiled new uniforms designed by Zac Posen. “We wanted Delta employees to look glamorous on the job without sacrificing functionality and style,” said Posen in a statement. “I worked alongside employees to understand how they interact with the clothes they wear and developed a look that empowers and excites, because we want Delta’s global workforce to exude the confidence and thoughtfulness that reflects the airline’s brand.”

Speaking of flight attendants, another fun #FlashbackFriday photo post I did for About.com was on their vintage fashions, here and here. So we’ll end the week with this Business Insider story that includes 39 gorgeous photos showing what it was like to be a flight attendant back in the day. Enjoy!
17063335278_0ff7c1c7d5_qEDITOR’S NOTE: Benét J. Wilson is a freelance aviation/travel writer based in Baltimore who’s available for 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.