Sunday, March 28, 2010

Photo of the Day / Prime Air Corporation 727-76 M-FAHD

This lovely Boeing 727-76 (19254/298) M-FAHD now operated by Cairo based Prime Air Group was captured at Birmingham International (Elmdon) (BHX/EGBB) recently. It was originally delivered to Trans Australia Airlines as VH-TJD "Gregory Blaxland" on August 9, 1966.
(Photo by Gordon Stretch)
Continental Airlines today debuted 737-724 (28939/214) N13720 in the carriers "Star Alliance" livery at Houston-George Bush International Airport (IAH/KIAH).
(Photo by Jeffrey S. DeVore)

Alaska Airlines and Apolo Ono go to Hawaii

Alaska Airlines 737-890 (35183/2166) N568AS now sports "Follow Apolo to Hawaii" markings celebrating the carriers new service between Sacramento (SMF) and Kahului, Maui (OGG) which commenced on March 26 using this aircraft. It is seen here taxiing at Orange County (SNA).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Gulfstream action at Long Beach

G550 (cn 5274) N174GA arrives from Savannah (SAV/KSAV) at 1451. (Photo by Michael Carter)
G550 (cn 5259) N959GA tbr VH-LAL arrives back in Long Beach following a pre-delivery test flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Virgin America to add new Routes and Aircraft

Virgin America today announces network expansion plans that position the new airline for strong growth in 2010 and beyond. Today, Virgin America announces it will serve Orlando International Airport (MCO) with daily nonstop flights from both Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO) beginning August 19, 2010. Additionally, the airline announces its intent to serve Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ) with daily flights from both LAX and SFO as early as June 2010. Coming on the heels of the Company's new Department of Transportation-approved ownership structure, Virgin America is poised for major growth in 2010 – with six additional aircraft entering its fleet this year and three additional aircraft scheduled for the first quarter of 2011. By this time next year, the airline's fleet will have grown by almost one-third.

(Virgin America - Press Release)

Virgin America to end Service at Orange County (SNA)

The airline has announced that it will end service to John Wayne Airport (SNA) effective May 26, 2010. Given Virgin America's new fleet plan, the move will allow the airline to immediately launch service into the more lucrative Orlando and Toronto long-haul markets. All of Virgin America's SNA teammates will be guaranteed equivalent positions at the airline's expanding LAX base or in other areas of its growing operation.

"Despite our relatively strong performance at SNA, given our new fleet plan and network prospects, we've made the decision to focus on the immediate long-haul opportunities that the Orlando and Toronto markets provide. We thank the SNA airport leadership and community for supporting us – and our teammates for their dedication," added Cush.

(Virgin America - Press Release)

A Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) Classic in Washington.

(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

Built in 1943, this gorgeous classic Douglas Aircraft Company (DAC) propliner C-53D / DC-3A (cn 11665) "Skytooper" N353MM / NC43XX operated by Thunderbird Flying Service is captured at Puyallup-Pierce County (Thun Field) (PLU) in Washington State. She will be present at Oshkosh this year for the big gathering of DC-3's to celerate the 75th anniversary of this DAC classic.

Friday, March 19, 2010

jetBlue adds Flights at LAX takes Flights away from Long Beach

Beginning July 1, JetBlue will offer one less daily flight between both Long Beach and Boston and Long Beach and New York. The carrier will then double its daily service between LAX and New York, from two to four.

The airline said the decision was based on demand for early morning flights, which have increased considerably since JetBlue launched the LAX route last June.

JetBlue will use the open slots at Long Beach to offer daily flights to Portland and Seattle.

"Long Beach still has two daily (flights) to JFK and one daily to Boston and now has this additional third daily service," said Mateo Lleras, JetBlue manager of corporate communications. "We shifted capacity to offer (early morning) flights to the East Coast for our L.A. Basin customers."

Despite the shuffle, the airline will still use all of its available slots in Long Beach.

"Every time slots have opened up at Long Beach we've applied for them and if we could fly any more from Long Beach, we would," Lleras said.

Airport spokeswoman Sharon Diggs-Jackson said the move could result in less passenger traffic because the Seattle and Portland routes typically use smaller jets.

"The transcontinental flights tend to be high-capacity, so we're not sure (of) the overall impact, but it's likely to have some effect if they use the Embraer 190 simply because it holds less passengers than an Airbus," Diggs-Jackson said.
JetBlue uses the Airbus 320, which can seat up to 180 people, for cross-country flights. The Embraer is a smaller jet with a seating capacity of 110 and is often used for shorter flights.

The airport collects $4.50 on each commercial airline passenger who moves through the facility, a fee that generates millions annually for airport maintenance.
In 2009, more than 2.9 million people traveled through the airport.

The move by JetBlue comes nearly a year after CEO Dave Barger said he was considering leaving Long Beach because of a lack of terminal improvements. The airline later backed off when the airport unveiled plans to improve the terminal and build a parking garage, which began in February.

Lleras said Long Beach would remain the low-cost carrier's primary Southland hub, as has been the case since its launch here in 2001.

"(Long Beach) is a very important airport for us and a great airport to fly to and from, among other reasons because it's an easy and efficient way to shorten short-haul flights," Lleras said.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

NATO 2 Returns to Long Beach

C-17A (F-210) 08-0002 "NATO 2" returned to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon, arriving at 1315 local time.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

jetBlue "10th" Anniversary Plane at Long Beach

On short final to Rwy 30 as it arrives from Las Vegas (LAS/KLAS) as "jetBlue 283."

Taxies on "Lima" for a Rwy 30 departure to Sacramento (SMF/KSMF) as "jetBlue 264."
(Photos by Michael Carter)
jetBlue A320-232 (cn 2075) N569JB "Blues Brothers" now sports the carriers "10" Anniversary livery to commemorate it's 10 years in business.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

New Airport for Alaska

Alaska's small communities cannot escape the "nowhere" moniker.

Construction is expected to begin this year on a $76 million airport and hovercraft for Akutan, a roadless Aleutian island village of about 100 permanent residents and sometimes 900 seasonal workers served by a single nine-passenger seaplane flying a federally subsidized route twice a day. With federal money covering more than three-quarters of the airport's price tag, the parallels with another infamous Alaska project are unavoidable.

"Some people are probably positing, 'Oh, it's another Bridge to Nowhere, except it's an airport to nowhere,'" said Larry Cotter, the chief executive of the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association. "Anybody who says that is really ignorant."

Local advocates like Cotter say the airport is crucial for emergencies and hardens a link between the seasonal labor force and North America's largest seafood production facility on the island.

About 5,500 passengers annually fly the 35 miles between Akutan and the hub town Unalaska aboard PenAir's hardy and historic 1942 Grumman Goose seaplane, airline President Danny Seybert said. Akutan Mayor Joe Bereskin said it's a 20-minute flight or four to six hours by boat.

The commuter airline has known for years that the Goose's retirement -- and the Unalaska-Akutan route with it -- is imminent and inevitable.

"The problem with that airplane, we can't get parts for it, it's very expensive to maintain. At some point, we're going to run out of parts," Seybert said.

Small float planes ubiquitous in Alaska aren't safe to land in windy Akutan Bay. Seybert said half of the Goose's flights are canceled because of bad weather and the limitations of the plane and location.

The 4,500-foot runway and ground support for modern aviation instruments planned on nearby Akun Island will improve reliability and open access to land-based planes, which are cheaper to operate and maintain. Seybert hasn't done the math, but said PenAir might be able to economically maintain service to Akutan without its federal subsidy after the airport opens, expected in 2012.

Like 44 other scheduled commercial air routes in Alaska, the Unalaska-Akutan route is subsidized by the federal government's Essential Air Service program, which was created after Congress's landmark deregulation of the airline industry in 1978. As of January, the program subsidizes 151 routes to small and rural communities around the country to ensure at least a safety net-level of air service.

PenAir gets a $655,000 subsidy for its Akutan route, or about 5 percent of the $12.6 million annually to Alaska carriers. Nationally, the program costs $158 million.

Seybert thinks the Goose has about three years left, but even if it could be kept going indefinitely, Cotter said it isn't good enough.

"The status quo is not realistic either out there. We rely on -- a -- plane," Cotter said.

Bottlenecks at Unalaska Airport certain times of year keep people from leaving the region without months of lead time, Bereskin said.

The state ferry also stops in Akutan about twice a month during the summer as it travels between the mainland and Unalaska.

The city itself has committed a huge chunk of its meager income to the airport project. It relies on a tax on raw fish that yields $800,000 to $900,000 a year, Bereskin said, and has spent about $2 million preparing and acquiring property for the airport. It's committed another $500,000 toward a hovercraft and associated facilities linking the airport to Akutan.

State Transportation Commissioner Leo von Scheben said in November that the price tag sounds high, but is reasonable for building a new airport in rural Alaska. For example, last June, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced a grant covering 95 percent of a $21 million airport rebuild for the interior Alaska community of Takotna, population 46. It's one of 256 airports the state manages; virtually all Alaska villages have one, a state transportation spokesman said.

"It's much cheaper to maintain a (runway) during the Alaska winter than a 50-mile-long road," spokesman Roger Wetherell said in an e-mail.

Akutan's airport is expected to cost the state $500,000 a year to operate. The local borough government is covering the hovercraft operation.

Seattle-based processor Trident Seafoods has also kicked in $1 million for the hovercraft. It operates the island's seafood processing facility, which can employ up to 825 people and crank out 3 million pounds of processed seafood a day. Trident representatives could not be reached for comment, but Cotter, of the community development nonprofit, estimates the plant may produce a billion dollars of seafood a year.

State Sen. Lyman Hoffman, a fisherman and Democrat from Bethel, represents the Aleutian Islands and has said the airport is long overdue.

(Jeremy Hsieh - The Associated Press / Anchorage Daily News)

Friday, March 5, 2010

ACT Airlines A300F Severly Damaged in Afghanistan Landing Accident

Turkish cargo carrier ACT Airlines is investigating a landing accident at Bagram (OAIX), Afghanistan, in which one of its Airbus A300B4 freighters suffered substantial damage. None of the five crew members on the aircraft, which was ferrying freight from Bahrain, was injured.

ACT Airlines identifed the aircraft involved as Airbus A300B4-203F (121) TC-ACB. Originally delivered to Singapore Airlines on February 24, 1981 as F-OGTC and has served with several operators during it's carrer.

The accident occurred at 12:10 today. The aircraft has come to a halt with its left wing and rear fuselage in contact with the ground. Its left-hand General Electric CF6 powerplant has been badly damaged. Flightglobal's ACAS database lists the aircraft as a 29-year old airframe.

Preliminary information indicates that the aircraft was operating a service for DHL in Bahrain, and experienced a hydraulic problem with its landing-gear.

(Photos Steven L. Griffin Collection)

(FlightGlobal - Air Transport Intelligence News)

Allegiant Air to add 757-200 Aircraft to it's Fleet

Allegiant Travel Company today announced it has signed a forward purchase agreement to acquire six Boeing 757-200 aircraft. The introduction of the 757 aircraft will enable Allegiant to expand its leisure travel strategy into Hawaii with flights to be operated by Allegiant Air, LLC, its airline subsidiary.

Allegiant plans to take delivery of these aircraft and place them in service with Allegiant Air on the following schedule:

•Two aircraft delivered within the next two months to be placed into service in the fourth quarter of 2010
•One aircraft delivered in November 2010 and another in January 2011 to be placed into service in the first half of 2011
•Two aircraft delivered in the fourth quarter of 2011 with planned in-service dates in the first half of 2012

The six 757 aircraft are sister-ships and have been in service with a single European operator since original delivery from Boeing. The aircraft come equipped for extended twin-engine operations (ETOPS), as required for long overwater flights.

Allegiant expects to spend between $75 to 90 million through 2012 acquiring and preparing this fleet for service. While Allegiant is able to acquire and prepare the aircraft for cash, it believes it will finance some portion of the purchase.

Allegiant is acquiring this fleet with the express purpose of serving Hawaii, a major leisure destination that it cannot serve with its existing MD-80 fleet. Allegiant Air expects to launch service to Hawaii once appropriate regulatory requirements have been met.

Allegiant CEO & Chairman Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. commented, "Hawaii is the most prominent U.S. leisure destination currently un-served by Allegiant and our small city customers have been requesting this service. We are very optimistic about our ability to exploit the large third party ancillary revenue opportunity we believe exists in Hawaii. We expect the sale of hotels, rental cars, and many attraction and activities popular with Hawaii visitors will provide a very meaningful contribution to the success of the service."

"The 757 is a new aircraft type for Allegiant but we otherwise see this program as consistent with our existing business model," Allegiant President and CFO, Andrew C. Levy, stated. "This transaction will enable Allegiant to extend to Hawaii its strategy of serving large leisure destinations from smaller cities with no existing nonstop service."

Allegiant Air currently operates 46 MD-80 aircraft and the 757 program will not affect its MD-80 growth plans. Allegiant expects to have 54 aircraft in service by the end of 2010 – 52 MD-80 aircraft and two 757 aircraft.

(Yahoo Finance News - PRNewswire-FirstCall)

Catalina Flying Boats DC-3 makes Emergency Landing

Catalina Flying Boats DC-3C N403JB captured on short final to Rwy 25L on 01/14/2009.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

At 0810 Catalina Flying Boats DC-3C (C-47B-45-DK) (cn 34202) N403JB landed safely at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) with the left engine shut down.

Somon Air Orders Two 737-900ER's

Somon Air of Tajikistan placed an order for two 737-900ERs worth $163 million at list prices, Boeing announced yesterday.

The order represents the Dushanbe-based carrier's first direct order from the manufacturer and Boeing's fourth confirmed purchase this year. It also has sold 25 787-8s to United Airlines, 10 737-800s to Ethiopian Airlines and 20 more 737s to an unidentified customer.

Somon was Tajikistan's first privately held full-service airline and currently operates two 737-800s to destinations in its home country, Russia, Germany, Turkey and the UAE. Board member Sherali Kabirov said the new aircraft will allow the carrier "to broaden our network in the region." No delivery date was announced.

(AirTransport World - ATWOnline News)

New G550 at Long Beach Indentified

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G550 (cn 5262) N562GA which was moved from the paint shop with registration and tail logo covered (see above photo) has been indentified as N315RG and operated by Jet Aviation Business Jets Inc.

Atlas Air to Operate Boeing Dreamlifter 747-400's

Atlas Air said it reached an agreement with Boeing to take over operation of the manufacturer's four 747-400 Dreamlifter freighters "toward the latter part of this year." Boeing uses the Dreamlifters to ferry major assemblies for production of 787s. It expects to deliver the first 787 to ANA in the fourth quarter and then begin ramping up Dreamliner production. Atlas and the manufacturer signed a nine-year contract under which the cargo carrier will operate the four Dreamlifters to support the 787 supply chain. Atlas said it "will receive contractually determined revenues for the operation of the Dreamlifter aircraft, with Boeing assuming responsibility for certain direct costs, including fuel." Boeing will maintain ownership of the aircraft. Value of the contract was not released.

(AirTransport World - ATWOnline)

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Photo of the Day / Polet Flight llyushin ll-96-400T

Polet Flight llyushin ll-96-400T (cn 01003) RA-96103 arrives at Manston-Kent International Airport (MSE/EGMH/EGUM) U.K. on a simply gorgeous day.
(Photo by Keith Burton)

"Catch Me if You Can" Pilot Arrested for Flying with False License

"A pilot was arrested in the cockpit of a packed passenger jet just before take-off — for flying for 13 YEARS with a FAKE license." That's the lead paragraph from an article in the British tabloid The Sun, one of numerous media outlets reporting on a story coming out of the Netherlands on Wednesday.

Media reports say the 41-year-old Swedish man was in the cockpit of a Corendon Airlines Boeing 737 preparing to take off from Amsterdam to Ankara, Turkey. Dutch police boarded the jet, which was carrying 101 passengers, and arrested the man on a tip from Swedish authorities. Radio Netherlands Worldwide says "the Turkish low-budget airline was informed in advance and had a second pilot lined up to take over the flight."

CNN says "it's apparently not the first time the man, whose identity was not divulged, has tried to fly without a license. Investigators in Sweden charged the man several years ago with flying with a fake license, but they did not pursue the case because they couldn't find him, said Anders Lundblad, a spokesman for the Swedish Transport Agency."

Radio Netherlands Worldwide adds "the fake pilot says he has been flying for 13 years on a false license and had spent at least 10,000 hours flying hours in the cockpit. He had worked for airlines in Belgium, Great Britain and Italy. Once arrested, he appeared relieved that his deception had come to light and immediately removed his stripes. The man did have a pilot's license, but it was not valid for passenger aircraft, so he had falsified it." Other reports say the man's license had expired and was never renewed.

The Sun says a lawyer for Corendon Airlines tells the paper that the man had "expertly misled the company with his false papers." The Daily Mail of London cites a Dutch police statement as saying: "The pilot said he was relieved that his misdeeds had come to light, and he pulled off his stripes at the time of his arrest."

(Ben Mutzabaugh - USA Today in the Sky)

Republic Airways May Soon Retire Midwest Airlines Name and Logo

Embraer ERJ-190-100LR (19000275) N164HQ arrives at LAX.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
The Midwest Airlines name and logo may finally be set to ride into the sunset. That's according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which writes that "one year after marking its silver anniversary, the Midwest Airlines brand appears headed for retirement, a move that could cut costs and create a more focused marketing approach for Midwest's new owner."

Midwest's new owner is parent company Republic, which bought both Midwest and Frontier airlines last year. It has since been flying the two carriers as stand-alone brands. However, Republic has since mixed some of the two airlines' fleets, meaning that some Midwest-branded flights are actually operated on Frontier-branded aircraft and vice versa. That has led to confusion to among at least some of the customers flying on the airlines. A Frontier flight flown on Midwest jet, for example, would not have the DirecTV service that is a signature feature of Frontier.

Now, Republic officials say they're getting closer to tackling that issue. "We will get to a unified brand," Republic Chairman Bryan Bedford is quoted as saying by the Journal Sentinel during the company's earnings call last week. He did not specify a timeline, but added "we need to work in a path of fusing these brands that retains as much customer loyalty as we can."

How long will that take? The Journal Sentinel writes Republic officials plan to announce a plan this spring for a "unified brand plan." At the same time, Republic says it will wrap up a survey of customers on the subject by mid-March, and the airlines will roll out a single reservation system for both airlines "sometime after Labor Day," the Journal Sentinel reports.

As for the new single name for the carrier, the Journal Sentinel says other Republic officials suggest that "unified" brand name may not be either Frontier or Midwest. Stay tuned......

(USA Today - Today in the Sky)

Hawaiian Airlines looks to Japan for Expansion and Growth

The Honolulu-based carrier is keen to develop its Asia destinations to spark growth, and tapping the Japanese market would be a significant victory. Hawaii is Japan's biggest U.S. destination, topping Guam and California by a wide margin, according to a 2008 Commerce Department report.

While the deal would bring more tourists to the island state, it also would bridge travel between Japan and the U.S. mainland, Chief Executive Mark Dunkerley said in an interview.

Flier's Bill of RightsConsumer protections against lost luggage, long hours on the tarmac and canceled flights are on their way, despite grumbling from airlines, Middle Seat columnist Scott McCartney reports on the News Hub.
"I am confident of our chances. Having looked at the applications, I think Hawaiian's application is the strongest."

Dunkerley added that Hawaiian is the only applicant without a presence in Japan, so winning the slots would bring competition to the Tokyo market.

Hawaiian Airlines serves 16 U.S. destinations, including Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, as well as four foreign markets, notably Manila and Sydney. But just 7% of the carrier's business comes from overseas.

"We have the ability to connect a lot of customers," Dunkerley commented.

Yet there is little hope that the tiny airline will get the gates, according to Forrester Research analyst Henry Harteveldt. Unlike rivals, Hawaiian lacks established operations in Japan and has no alliances with other carriers -- two important selling points for Japan. It's also likely that the company doesn't carry as much political clout.

Hawaiian is a tenth the size of United Airlines parent UAL Corp. the next largest competitor for the Tokyo slots. Also competing for the gates are global goliaths Delta Air Lines Inc., Continental Airlines Inc., and AMR Corp.'s American Airlines.

"The Japanese government won't take an asset as precious as this and give it to an untested carrier," Harteveldt said. "It would be great to introduce a new airline as a competitor, but Hawaiian is too small ... and Japan will likely want to go with an airline that has done business there before."

Altogether there are four daily Tokyo slot pairs up for grabs -- representing times for take off and landing -- as a result of a recent "open skies" agreement between the U.S. and Japan.

Harteveldt thinks they most likely will be awarded to just one U.S. airline each. "This is a game of musical chairs,' he said. "With five airlines and four chairs, someone is going to go home unhappy."

With more than 70 million annual passengers, Haneda Airport is the world's fourth-busiest airport and shares regional traffic with its neighbor Narita International Airport. It's also a major gateway to the Asia mainland.

Japan and the U.S. Transportation Department are currently reviewing the airlines' applications, and Hawaiian's Dunkerley said he expects a final decision in May, with rights to be available by the end of October.

Hawaiian Airlines just wrapped up 2009 as its most profitable year ever, pulling in a net income of $116.7 million, or $2.22 a share, due in large part to falling jet-fuel prices.

The company is hungry for more growth and lower costs. Next month, Hawaiian will take delivery of its first wide-body Airbus A330 to replace its aging, less-efficient fleet of 18 Boeing Co. 767s, used for its long-haul markets. Then beginning in 2017, Hawaiian will take ownership of its first Airbus A350XWB.

Dunkerley acknowledged he is constantly reordering a "wish list" of future destinations for the airline, but is keeping his eyes primarily along the Asian-Pacific Rim, which has the greatest potential for fast growth.

"We are planning for the future," he said. "Having been able to earn profits throughout this recessionary period, we've been able to stay on our long-term growth and development path, [while] our competitors have had to take a fairly substantial number of routes off the map."

The airline does not provide a profit outlook, but Dunkerley noted that things continue to improve after ticket prices were slashed in early 2009, with full-year yields coming down by 10% to 15%.

Hawaiian Airlines is the largest airline in the state of Hawaii, but is 11th among all domestic carriers. About a third of its business serves the inter-island market, with 60% serving West Coast cities and the rest flying to overseas markets.

(Christopher Hinton - MarketWatch)

Boeing to Offer NewGen 767 Tanker

Boeing said it would offer a new 787-based refueling aircraft to win a 35-billion-dollar US Air Force contract, insisting its tanker would be cheaper than one built by rival Airbus.

The US aerospace giant said it would submit its proposal by May 10, within the 75-day period set out in the Pentagon's request for proposals for the contract for 179 planes.

"We intend to bid for the honor to work with our Air Force customer to replace the existing fleet of KC-135 aircraft with a new-generation, multi-role tanker in a fair and transparent acquisition process," said Dennis Muilenberg, president and chief executive of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

Boeing is the first to announce it will bid in the troubled competition to replace a 1950s-era fleet of Boeing KC-135 tankers, which has seen two previous attempts fail amid controversy and scandal.

It remained unclear whether the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), parent of Airbus, and its US partner Northrop Grumman would bid on the contract after accusing the Pentagon of favoring arch-rival Boeing.

The Defense Department on February 24 issued its final terms for the high-stakes competition, known as a request for proposals (RFP), promising a fair contest for aerospace rivals Boeing and EADS.

"Northrop Grumman continues to work toward a bid/no-bid decision through a thorough analysis of the final RFP and discussions with our tanker teammates," Northrop spokesman Randy Belote told AFP Thursday.

"We will announce our decision when the review is completed."

An EADS spokesman, contacted in Paris, said the company was still reviewing the RFP.

"It is still too soon to make a decision," he said, adding that an announcement could come before Tuesday, when EADS publishes its annual financial results. EADS reportedly is pressing Northrop to submit a bid.

Boeing said it would offer the NewGen Tanker, a warfighter based on the company's wide-body 767 commercial airliner and outfitted with cutting-edge systems, because it would "deliver the most capability for the lowest cost to own and operate."

The NewGen Tanker will save billions in taxpayer dollars and create significantly more American jobs than Airbus would, the company said.

"More cost-effective to own and operate than the larger, heavier Airbus airplane, the Boeing NewGen Tanker will save American taxpayers more than 10 billion dollars in fuel costs over its 40-year service life because it burns 24 percent less fuel.

"The Boeing NewGen Tanker program also will support substantially more jobs in the United States than an Airbus A330 tanker that is designed and largely manufactured in Europe," it said.

The Chicago-based Boeing plans to build the tanker at its plant near Seattle, in Washington state, equip it with military technology in Witchita, Kansas, and use US suppliers throughout the nation.

Shares in Boeing leaped 1.71 percent to close at 65.55 dollars in New York, while Northrop Grumman gained 1.22 percent at 63.08 dollars.

Analysts say that because the Boeing and Airbus planes would likely meet the Pentagon's performance criteria, the contract would be decided largely on price. The winner was expected to be picked before the end of summer, officials say.

The Pentagon has struggled since 2003 to get a new tanker built.

A contract was awarded in February 2008 to the Northrop-EADS team, but the deal was canceled after Boeing successfully appealed the decision to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress.

EADS and Northrop offered a modified version of the commercial Airbus A330, while Boeing proposed a 767-based tanker.

In 2003, the Pentagon awarded a contract to Boeing but later suspended it amid an ethics scandal involving a company executive and an Air Force official. The Air Force official was later convicted of criminal conspiracy.
(Veronica Smith - AFP News)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Plane Spotting / Photography in India

Found this very interesting news story from India. I know the video file is long but it is well worth watching. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

US Airways Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger to Retire

Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, who was hailed a hero after piloting the US Airways flight that landed on the Hudson River in January of last year, is retiring.
Sullenberger will fly his final flight Wednesday afternoon with his co-pilot during the Hudson landing, First Officer Jeff Skiles. Sullenberger will end his 30-year career when he lands at his home base at Charlotte (N.C.) Douglas International Airport. He will officially retire at a private ceremony there with fellow pilots and other US Airways employees.

"Thirty years ago last Thursday, I began my airline career. I have been fortunate to have followed my passion for most of my life, working in a profession I dearly love, side by side with thousands of wonderful colleagues, including the man flying my final flight with me, Jeff Skiles," Sullenberger said in a statement.

"Each generation of pilots hopes that they will leave their profession better off than they found it. In spite of the best efforts of thousands of my colleagues, that is not the case today.

"Though I am retiring, I will continue to serve as the same kind of advocate I have always been — not only for aviation safety, but for the airline piloting profession," "I will work to remind the entire industry — and those who manage and regulate it — that we have a sacred duty to our passengers to do the very best that we know how to do."

All 150 passengers aboard US Airways flight 1549 survived the emergency river landing in January 2009 after the plane's engines were hit by birds. The plane landed within minutes of taking off from New York's LaGuardia airport, headed for Charlotte

Since that famous flight last year, Sullenberger has testified before Congress regarding pilot safety, given speeches about education and written a book, "Brace for Impact."
He became a member of US Airways' flight operations safety management team last September.

Sullenberger, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline in 1980.

Flight attendant Doreen Welsh, 59, who was on Flight 1549 when it landed in the Hudson, is also retiring. Welsh, 59, joined US Airways' predecessor airline in 1970.

Capt. James Ray, a spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, which represents US Airways pilots, said that Sullenberger plans to spend more time with his family in retirement. He will also continue to talk to lawmakers about raising minimum qualifications for pilots and work to lower the maximum number of hours pilots are able to work in a single day, Ray said.

(The Associated Press)

Allegiant Air February Traffic Climbs

Allegiant Air released it's February 2010 traffic numbers today. The results show a continued strong growth for the carrier in all areas and this from an airline that utilizes the McDonnell Douglas MD-80 family of aircraft.

AirTran Flight Attendants Object to Sports Illustrated Themed Aircraft

Orlando-based AirTran, which has its largest hub in Atlanta, has adorned one of its Boeing 737 jets with the image of a swimsuit-clad woman in heels, as part of a partnership with Sports Illustrated for the magazine's swimsuit edition.

The promotion is ending and AirTran will remove the image from the plane soon, spokesman Christopher White said.

The AJC has learned that the Association of Flight Attendants at AirTran voiced its objections in a message to members.

"It is our feeling that this is not only contrary to the family image that this company tries to promote, but also potentially offensive to their female employees, the majority of their flight attendants who will have to work on this aircraft," the union said, adding that it "creates a potential for verbal abuse by male passengers."

White insisted the airline's swimsuit decal is "subdued and classy," in a World War II pinup style.

(Photo - AirTran Airways)

"We have the highest respect for all of our crew members, male and female," White said. "We also went to great lengths to ensure that the image that we put on the side of our planes was very tastefully done and very much a family-friendly image."

Last year when Dallas-based Southwest Airlines had the partnership for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, it put a giant picture of a lounging model in a bikini on one of its planes. Southwest and other carriers like Spirit Airlines have a history of using risque marketing tactics, from revealing flight attendant uniforms in the past to racy references in advertising campaigns today.

Patricia Friend, international president of the Washington-based Association of Flight Attendants, plans to send a letter to AirTran management on the swimsuit plane, spokeswoman Corey Caldwell told the AJC.

"As a union, we have fought hard and we have come a long way to bridge the gender discrimination gap," Caldwell said. She said a marketing campaign that features any "lewdness" is "a step backward in this progress."

(Kelly Yamanouchi - The Atlanta Journel-Constitution)

LAN Airlines Resumes Limited Service in Santago

LAN Airlines 767-375/ER (25864/426) CC-CRH arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) sporting the recently installed blended winglet package.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

LAN Airlines yesterday resumed limited domestic and international service from Santiago, where it has helped set up a temporary tent facility for passengers. "The situation is far from normal operations. We are working to be able to resume just 15% of our domestic and international operations," President and COO Ignacio Cueto said Monday. Until Friday LAN will focus on transferring passengers affected by cancellations. Afterward, "operations are expected to begin getting back to normal," the airline said. Saturday's earthquake was centered some 200 mi. to the southwest of the Chilean capital.

(Air Transport World - ATWOnline News)

Photo of the Day / South African Air Force BBJ

South African Air Force 737-7ED BBJ (32627/826) ZS-RSA on short final to Rwy 27L at London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) on a lovely sunny day in London.
(Photo by Terry Wade)

Gulfstream Action at Long Beach 03/02/2010

G-III (cn 469) N469TB arrived at 1422 following a short test flight.

New G550 (cn 5255) N955GA tbr N94924 returns to Long Beach at 1440 following a pre-delivery test flight.

G450 (cn 4116) N516VE arrived from Las Vegas (LAS/KLAS) at 1524.

G450 (cn 4138) N458X rotates from Rwy 30 at 1550 bound for San Jose (SJC/KSJC).
Photos by Michael Carter

Sun Country 737-8Q8 (30332/777) N801SY arrived in Long Beach (LGB/KLGB) from Denver International (DEN/KDEN) at 1424 operating charter flight SCX8700. The flight brought in the National Hockey League Colorado Avalanche who will be playing the "Mighty Ducks" this evening. The aircraft departed as SCX8700 at 1507 bound for Minneapolis / St. Paul (MSP/KMSP). (Photo by Michael Carter)
Embraer EMB-135BJ (Legacy 600) (cn 14501042) SE-DJG (ex PT-SZM) departed Long Beach (LGB/KLGB) at 1449. This was the most unusual visitor we have had at Long Beach Airport in quite awhile. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Early this morning, an ExpressJet ERJ-145XL departed at 0704 as BTA102 bound for Charlottesville-Albemarle (CHO/KCHO). The aircraft which arrived on Monday 03/01 at 1424 as BTA650, parked at Long Beach Aviation bringing passengers in from Tunica Municipal Airport (UTA/KUTA) which is located in Mississippi.

B-17G "Liberty Belle" Visits Long Beach

(Photo by Jeff Gritchen)

B-17G "Liberty Belle" N390TH/297849/O-J (cn 8643) is scheduled to be on display at Signature Aviation this coming weekend (Saturday and Sunday) March 6th and 7th 2010. For information on the Liberty Belle and the Liberty Foundation, go to

(Long Beach Press Telegram)