Thursday, March 31, 2011

AirTran Airways introduces "Dolphin 1"

AirTran 737-7BD (36752/2815) N354AT sports the new "Dolphin 1 livery.
(Photo AirTran Airways)

AirTran Airways, a subsidiary of AirTran Holdings, Inc., and Georgia Aquarium today unveiled a custom designed aircraft celebrating their long partnership. The Boeing 737-700 aircraft, named Dolphin 1, is uniquely adorned with dolphins and an aquatic theme to celebrate the airline's partnership with the world's largest aquarium while highlighting the facility's newest attraction, the AT&T Dolphin Tales gallery and theater.

The one-of-a-kind aircraft was introduced to the AirTran fleet with a water cannon salute from the Atlanta Fire Department and festive music from the Tri-Cities High School Marching Band. Executives from AirTran Airways and the Georgia Aquarium gathered with AirTran Airways Crew Members and other guests to commemorate the launch.

Dolphin 1 will serve AirTran's growing national and international network of more than 70 cities and will be seen by millions of travelers. "AirTran Airways is so proud of our long partnership with Georgia Aquarium," said Bob Fornaro, AirTran Airways' chairman, president and CEO.

"We are excited to add Dolphin 1 to the AirTran fleet and look forward to helping raise awareness of this world-class destination in our largest hub city." The unveil is part of the community's celebration of Georgia Aquarium's $110 million dolphin exhibit, which features a 1.8 million gallon habitat featuring bottlenose dolphins. The gallery includes a lobby featuring an expansive underwater viewing window, and an 1,800-seat theater featuring a live production with dolphins, human actors and singers, and special effects and lighting.

To help underscore Georgia Aquarium's commitment to marine mammal conservation and research, in 2008 the Aquarium donated $1.5 million to build a new marine animal rescue, care and research facility, the Dolphin Conservation Field Station at Marineland, Florida.

"AirTran's early commitment to supporting the Aquarium began in 2005, and continues to this day," said Bernie Marcus, Benefactor, CEO and Chairman of the Board of Georgia Aquarium. "We're very grateful to AirTran for their ongoing support and we're very excited to celebrate the unveiling of Dolphin 1."

(Press Release AirTran Airways)

Ryanair announces "Child Free" flights

Ryanair, the world’s favourite airlines, today announced that it will introduce ‘Child Free’ flights from October (winter schedule) after a Europe-wide survey of 1,000 passengers showed that half would pay higher fares to avoid other people’s children.

The survey showed that a third of passengers (36%) have had flights ‘ruined’ by other people’s noisy kids with one in five passengers (18%) urging Ryanair to restrict the number of children on flights. While the survey found that passengers would prefer to avoid other people’s children, it placed ‘blame’ firmly with parents with top gripes being:

1. 50% Parents who expect ‘special treatment’ because they have children.

2. 25% Parents who allow children to annoy those in seats behind.

3. 15% Parents who board late and expect others to accommodate them.

4. 10% Parents who allow children to run in the aisles or kick seats.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “When it comes to children we all love our own but would clearly prefer to avoid other people’s little monsters when travelling. While half our passengers would like us to divide our cabins up into ‘adult’ and ‘family’ areas it is not operationally possible due to our free seating policy, with optional priority boarding. However, with clear demand for ‘child free’ flights Ryanair will introduce child free flights on high frequency routes from the start of our winter schedule in October.”

(Ryanair Press Release)

FAA bill under threat of Obama veto

US President Barack Obama would veto sweeping aviation legislation if Republicans in Congress succeed in gutting a rule favorable to airline and rail unions, the White House said.

"The administration is committed to help working Americans exercise their right to organize under a fair and free process," the White House said in a statement on the multi-billion dollar bill that lays out long-term US aviation priorities.

The centerpiece of the legislation would authorize funding of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control operations and modernization of that system. It is under consideration in the US House of Representatives. The chamber is expected to vote this week on an amendment to remove a provision in the bill eliminating an existing rule that makes it easier for unions in the airline and rail industries to organize.

The National Mediation Board (NMB) last year upended long-standing policy that treated non-votes in union organizing elections as 'no' votes. Victory is now awarded to a majority of only those voting. The change aligned representation elections at freight rail companies and airlines -- covered under the same federal labour law -- with balloting guidelines in most other industries.

Unions and airlines have been lobbying hard for their respective positions ahead of the vote in the Republican-led House, which is expected to be very close. Hoping to influence the outcome, Obama's aides said they would recommended a veto if the chamber votes to change the rule. "The fairest and most effective way to determine the outcome of a union representation election is by the majority of votes cast," the White House statement said.

Major US airlines are heavily unionized. But unions have failed in recent months to organize thousands of flight attendants and other workers at mainly non-union Delta Air Lines. New attempts are anticipated. Unions would also like to organize workers at JetBlue Airways. FAA legislation already approved in the Senate did not include the contentious labour provision.

If it passes the House, the outcome would be determined by congressional negotiators from both chambers who would craft a final bill.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

New ground power units now operational at Long Beach Airport

Commercial jets visiting Long Beach Airport are now plugging into underground electric outlets under a measure expected to cut noise and pollution that drift from waiting planes into nearby neighborhoods.

The electrification allows large commercial jets owned by Jet Blue, Delta, Allegiant and other airlines to hook into outlets on airport ramps instead of using mobile diesel generators and on-board engines to power air conditioning, baggage handling and other services.

According to a 2005 study at Zurich Airport in Switzerland, these power sources contribute up to 50 percent of smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions at the airport and burn large amounts of diesel and jet fuel. Five outlet strips have been completed, with five more expected to be finished by summer, said Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez.

The new tarmac is part of a three-phase, $136-million airport modernization plan that began in 2009. In addition to tarmac, terminal and passenger concourse improvements, the airport is building a $58 million, 1,989-space garage near the airport's entrance off Lakewood Boulevard. The garage is scheduled to be finished as early as August, four months ahead of initial estimates.

An early finish will save the city about $85,000 a month in operating costs of the round-the-clock shuttles now carrying passengers to a leased remote parking lot north of the airport. The lot also costs the airport about $1.8 million annually to lease. When opened, the new garage will generate about $350,000 every month from parking fees, which will be used to pay off garage construction costs, Rodriguez said.

Other sections of the modernization have begun or will launch this summer. A new passenger waiting area currently used by Jet Blue customers, the airport's largest airline, will be demolished in June, with a temporary structure erected until a $45 million, 34,750-square-foot permanent concourse is finished in 2013.

The historic main terminal is also getting $2 million in upgrades, including new paint, lighting, furnishing and other basic improvements. Airport officials are even considering an electric, hands-free toilet seat cover replacement system for women's restrooms, Rodriguez said. The Brill Seat automatically replaces paper seat covers by triggering a wall sensor or pushing a button.

All phases of modernization are expected to accommodate the airport's growing passenger volumes, which have surpassed 3 million annually, more than double the figure just five years ago.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Jet engine contrails could be warming "Mother Earth"

Aircraft condensation trails criss-crossing the sky may be warming the planet on a normal day more than the carbon dioxide emitted by all planes since the Wright Brothers' first flight in 1903, a study said on Tuesday.

It indicated that contrails -- white lines of vapor left by jet engines -- also have big knock-on effects by adding to the formation of high-altitude, heat-trapping cirrus clouds as the lines break up.

The findings may help governments fix penalties on planes' greenhouse gas emissions in a UN-led assault on climate change. Or new engines might be designed to limit vapor and instead emit water drops or ice that fall from the sky. "Aircraft condensation trails and the clouds that form from them may be causing more warming today than all the aircraft-emitted carbon dioxide (CO2) that has accumulated in the atmosphere since the start of aviation," the journal Nature Climate Change said in a statement of the findings.

The study, by experts at the DLR German Aerospace Centre, estimated that the net warming effect for the Earth of contrails and related cirrus clouds at any one time was 31 milliwatts per square meter, more than the warming effect of accumulated CO2 from aviation of 28 milliwatts. A milliwatt is a thousandth of a watt.

Aviation emissions now account for about three percent of annual CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, more than a century since Orville and Wilbur Wright made the first powered flight.


But a key difference is that CO2 lingers for decades while warming from contrails quickly ends if flights are grounded, such as after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, or in Europe after last year's Icelandic volcano eruption. "You can get rid of contrails very quickly.

You can't get rid of CO2 quickly," lead author Ulrike Burkhardt at DLR said. The main climate effect of white lines and related cirrus clouds is to trap heat radiating back from the Earth's surface. They also have a smaller, counter-effect by slightly dimming sunlight and so slowing warming.

Contrails are especially dense over parts of Europe and eastern United States. "This is a breakthrough in modeling and understanding of contrails," Olivier Boucher, of the Met Office Hadley Centre in England who wrote a related article in Nature, said. He said the findings might bring changes in air traffic control, for instance diverting planes from regions or altitudes where air moisture was high and favored cirrus formation.

But a problem was that any benefits of fewer contrails might be cancelled out by higher fuel use on longer routes. He also said that it could spur a novel engine concept that would seek to condense some of the water vapor "before it leaves the engine. The condensed water could be vented in the form of large ice crystals or droplets that would fall quickly through the atmosphere."

The UN panel of climate scientists has estimated that fuel burned at altitude is roughly twice as damaging for the climate as when used at ground level. Boucher said that the study might slightly raise that estimate, adding to potential costs.


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Unconfirmed reports indicate Air India to receive 1st 787 in October

Air India is slated to take its first 787 in October, the first of 27 the carrier has on order, Boeing and airline sources tell ATI and Flightglobal.

The first aircraft, likely Airplane 25, will be registered VT-ANA, and powered with twin General Electric GEnx-1B engines.

According to Boeing's latest Z23 schedule planning, the Indian carrier will be among the four asian airlines to receive 20 787s in 2011.

All Nippon Airways is slated to receive its first in July, with Japan Airlines to follow in October, followed by China Southern in late in 2011.

Air India said at last month's Aero India in Bangalore it anticipated receiving its first 787 in the fourth quarter, in line with the October target, more than three years after its first was expected in September 2008.

(Jon Ostrower - Air Transport Intelligence News)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Photo of the Day / First Virgin Atlantic A330-343E

Virgin Atlantic A330-343E (c/n 1195) G-VSXY "Beauty Queen" taxies at London-Gatwick (LGW/EGKK) today (March 23, 2011). The aircraft was delivered to the carrier on February 24, 2011, ex Airbus F-WWKY.

(Photo by Terry Wade)

747-8F structural wing vibration fix agreed to by Boeing and the FAA

Boeing and the US FAA have come to a final agreement on the regulatory special condition required for the 747-8's outboard aileron modal suppression (OAMS) system designed to dampen out a structural vibration in the wing.

The publication of the 9 March Special Condition is a significant step forward for the delayed 747-8 Freighter programme, which is set to now enter service mid-year with Luxembourg-based Cargolux, about two years after first intended. The 747-8 Intercontinental, the passenger model, will deliver in the fourth quarter to a completion centre for conversion to a Boeing Business Jet, over a year later than planned.

Todd Zarfos, 747-8 vice president of engineering, said in February at the time of the 747-8I's unveiling: "We know [OAMS] will work and now we just have to go through the last aspects of certification associated to that."

"We had long conversations with the FAA on whether existing [Federal Aviation Regulations] covered what we were already doing. I'll just be frank, we thought they did, they characterised it as something "new and novel" and that resulted in the need for a special condition," he says.

The FAA in its special condition addresses this debate saying "the regulations do not anticipate the use of systems to control flutter modes that do not completely suppress them," adding it requires "the airplane to remain flutter free after certain failures".

The vibration - also known as a limit cycle oscillation (LCO) - was observed during flutter testing and saw the aircraft wing tip deflecting ±2.5cm (1in) at frequency of 2.3Hz.

While the FAA says "the sustained oscillation is caused by an unstable aeroelastic mode" the vibration does not intensify and is considered ""stable" if it maintains the same frequency and amplitude for a given excitation input and flight condition", nonetheless "the FAA considers it to be an aeroelastic instability".

The OAMS system, which is built out of the 747-8's roll-axis fly-by-wire flight control system, reduces, but does not eliminate, the "amplitude of the sustained oscillation and control the aeroelastic instability", says the FAA.

When the aircraft enters the area of the observed oscillation, OAMS activates automatically, dampening out the LCO by offering counter loads generated by the outboard aileron.

The FAA has added OAMS to the master minimum equipment list, prohibiting the aircraft from being dispatched with the system inoperative.

In addition to validating the OAMS system, which has been in flight testing for months on the 747-8F test fleet, Boeing must show by test and demonstrate through analysis that the LCO is "stable throughout the nominal aeroelastic stability envelope" when OAMS is inoperative and "must be shown to have negligible impact on structure and system, including wear, fatigue and damage tolerance".

Boeing will be required to demonstrate through flight flutter test that the OAMS system can provide a "proper margin of dampening disturbances above the sustained amplitude of oscillation of all speeds up to" the demonstrated flight diving velocity, and there is no "large and rapid reduction in dampening as [diving velocity] is approached".

Boeing says the OAMS system was not installed on the 20 March first flight of RC001, the first 747-8I, as the aircraft is structurally different enough from the freighter, with is elongated upper deck and tail fuel tanks. The airframer will first conduct flutter evaluations to see if the LCO is present on the -8I as well.

The LCO was one of two primary reasons the delivery of the jumbo freighter slipped from the end of 2010 to mid-2011, along with 3000psi hydraulic pressure spikes that caused the aircraft's non-fly-by-wire inboard aileron actuator to oscillate at certain control inputs.

(Jon Ostrower - Air Transport Intelligence News)

"Firm Configuration" of KC-46A Tanker planned for 3rd quarter says Boeing VP

A top Boeing executive has filled in the date for a key milestone in the development of the KC-46A tanker, saying the deadline for completing "firm configuration" is in the third quarter.

Speaking to reporters in Seattle on 20 March, Pat Shanahan, vice president and general manager for Boeing commercial airplane programmes, identified the milestone, which matches requirements with the engineering needs for the final design for the US Air Force's next tanker.

"The fuse is lit," Shanahan says. "We're off and running."

Boeing was awarded a $4.5 billion development contract on 24 February to modify four 767-based airliners into prototype military tankers. The USAF plans to buy 175 more tankers over a 13-year period, starting with the first 18 by the end of 2017.

"We worked that very, very hard and there were a lot of people that were involved in putting together that schedule, so now it's really about staffing it with the right people that have the right experience, so that on the requirements side and on the engineering side we nail that flat," Shanahan says.

The air force has signed a fixed priced, incentive-fee contract for the KC-46A, meaning the balance of the risk is assumed by Boeing in the event of cost overruns and schedule delays.

Shanahan notes that Boeing recent experiences with breakdowns on the 787 and 747-8 development programmes helped shape the company's proposal for the so-called KC-X award.

"We did a lot of things on the [7]87 that were right and we did a lot of things that we probably should have done differently," he says. We've learned a lot on the [747-8] Intercontinental, so between - those are firm, fixed price development projects - so on this firm fixed-price development program, we put together an executable schedule."

Boeing has still not revealed details of the planned configuration of the KC-46A, including whether the aircraft will mix together elements of different models of the 767.

(Stephen Trimble - Flight International News)

C-17A delivered to USAF

C-17A (P-209) 09-9209 rolls for take-off on March 15, 2011 on a short test hop. (Photo by Michael Carter)

The United States Air Force took delivery of it's latest C-17A yesterday (March 22, 2011) in ceremonies held at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB). The new aircraft will be based at McChord AFB in the state of Washington.

Sun Country 737-800's spotted at Long Beach Airport

Sun Country 737-8Q8 (30032/985) N805SY "The Spirit of Minnesota" on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Sun Country operated two charter flights into Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on Tuesday March 22, 2011. The first flight arrived from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU/KRDU) at 17:58 as "SCX8612," see above photo. The second flight arrived from Tucson International Airport (TUS/KTUS) at 19:34 as "SCX8615." Both aircraft departed bound for Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport (MSP/KMSP) at 19:13 as "SCX8612" and at 20:24 as "SCX8615" respectivley.

Israeli Airline Sun D'Or grounded by government

Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority is revoking the operating license of Sun D'Or International Airlines as of April 1, owing to noncompliance with international aviation standards.

Tel Aviv-based Sun D’Or is a wholly subsidiary of El Al Israel Airlines and operates to mainly holiday destinations in Europe using three Boeing 757-200s. It was established in 1977 as El Al Charter Services and rebranded as Sun D'Or in 1981. “Sun D'Or is currently operating without a full administrative and operational framework as required of every other airline and is relying fully on the infrastructure of parent company El Al,” CAA said in a statement. It added that it had informed the airline over a year ago that it failed to meet aviation standards and that it tried to “repair the faults but the CAA remained unconvinced.” Apparently, the decision follows discussions with delegations from the European Commission, which expressed “reservations about the company's operations” and considered placing operating restrictions on its flights.

(Cathy Buyck - ATWOnline News)

Allegiant Air operates charter flight into Long Beach Airport

Allegiant Airlines MD-83 (49911/1653) N863GA arrived this afternoon (March 23, 2011) from Tucson International Airport (TUS/KTUS) at 14:21 operating as "AAY4508." Following a short stay the aircraft departed Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) bound for it's home airport, Las Vegas McCarren International Airport (LAS/KLAS) at 15:11 operating as "AAY4509."

USAjet DC-9-32 visits Long Beach

USAjet Airlines DC-9-32 (47480/607) N215US operating as "JUS215" arrived on Monday March 21, 2011 from Lincoln Airport (LNK/KLNK) Nebraska at 19:20 and parked at AirFlight. The aircraft departed this afternoon (March 23, 2011) at 14:38 bound for Denver International (DEN/KDEN) as "JUS215."

Southwest Airlines looks to the future and new narrow body aircraft

Southwest Airlines is "anxious to have some answers this year" regarding a narrowbody replacement, Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly said Tuesday (March 22, 2011) at the JP Morgan Aviation, Transportation and Defense Conference in New York, available via webcast.

"It remains to be seen where the aerospace industry is headed in terms of optimizing the size of a narrowbody aircraft, and we're very interested to see where that settles," Kelly said. "What is inevitable is that the next-generation aircraft for Southwest Airlines … may very well be a different airplane, whether it’s Boeing, whether it’s Airbus or whether it’s Bombardier … We don't want eight different airplanes but I think we can handle two or three."

The carrier, which expects to close its acquisition of AirTran Airways in the first half of the year, noted that seniority integration of the two airlines will take some months, and "probably will" extend into 2012, but that it has no plans to change AirTran's network. "We have no plans to close any cities, we have no plans to add any cities," Kelly said, adding that SWA is "excited" about the 717 aircraft type that AirTran will bring to the group. "It's a good short-haul airplane," Kelly said. "The bigger question there is, What's the next-generation 717 solution? And we don't have an answer yet."

Kelly revealed that SWA has had six fare increases so far this year. “That’s a lot in 90 days,” he said, noting that the airline has, at the same time, seen very strong demand and will retain its existing plan to increase capacity 5%-6% this year, excluding the pending acquisition of AirTran.

(Christine Boynton - ATWOnline News)
Gulfstream G200 (Galaxy) (c/n 54) N272JC arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) from Portland - Hillsboro Airport (HIO/KHIO) on March 22, 2011 at 16:42.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G150 makes emergency landing at Long Beach Airport

(Photo by Stephen Carr - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Gulfstream G150 (c/n 232) N928ST carrying eight people landed safely at the Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) Tuesday morning (March 22, 2011) after reporting hydraulic failure.

The plane was about 10 minutes from landing shortly after 11 a.m. when it called the airport to report the hydraulic problem and later told the tower it was also having trouble with the steering and vertical controls.

The plane landed without incident at 11:15 a.m., said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation and Administration spokesman.

Long Beach Fire Department crews said the plane, registered to Flying Bar B LLC in Utah, had no brakes afterward and would have to be towed into a docking space once it was deemed safe to do so.

Long Beach Firefighter Matt Dobberpuhl said the plane landed at 11:19 a.m. and all 22 fire department units called to the scene as the plane was approaching were released by 11:32 a.m.

(Tracy Manzer - Long Beach Press Telegram)

AirTran shareholders approve buyout by Southwest Airlines

The shareholders of AirTran Holdings, Inc., the parent company of AirTran Airways, have voted overwhelmingly to approve the merger of a wholly-owned subsidiary of Southwest Airlines with and into AirTran.

At a special meeting held on March 23 in Orlando, more than 98.6 per cent of the votes cast and 77.5 per cent of shares outstanding were voted in favor of the transaction, according to AirTran Holdings.

“We are grateful for our stockholders’ strong vote of confidence in this merger,” says Bob Fornaro, AirTran’s chairman, president and chief executive officer. “In approving the transaction, our stockholders recognized the value of bringing together AirTran and Southwest to create a platform for increased profitability and sustainable long-term value.”

“We appreciate the confidence AirTran shareholders have in Southwest to continue the good work of AirTran’s hardworking … employees who have made AirTran a successful airline over the past 17 years,” says Gary Kelly, chairman, CEO, and president of Southwest Airlines. “This approval is another important and exciting step toward completing the transaction and beginning the integration of AirTran into Southwest to ultimately serve the flying public as one carrier.”

AirTran and Southwest announced the proposed merger on September 27, 2010. The deal included a definitive agreement for Southwest Airlines to acquire all of the outstanding common stock of AirTran Holdings, Inc., for a combination of cash and Southwest Airlines’ common stock, in a deal with a face value of about $1.4 billion going by the price of Southwest’s share price at the time.

Overall, the deal would cost Southwest as much as $3.4 billion including AirTran’s indebtedness and capitalized aircraft leases, which Southwest would assume. The merger would see the AirTran Airways operation being merged into Southwest Airlines under the Southwest name, though Southwest plans to keep AirTran’s international routes to the Caribbean and Central America intact – thus giving Southwest an international network for the first time.

Southwest also plans to retain AirTran’s fleet of 86 Boeing 717s should the merger be approved in substantially its planned form. This would give Southwest a two-model fleet (of Boeing 737s and Boeing 717s) for the first time. Southwest Airlines has also agreed a deal with Boeing to begin adding Boeing 737-800s to its fleet from 2012, the 737-800 representing the largest version of the 737 ever to be operated by the Dallas-based carrier.

The companies are awaiting clearance on the proposed merger from the United States Department of Justice. The two airlines expect the merger to close during the second quarter of 2011.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Boeing 747-8I takes to the skies

Boeing 747-8JK (38636/1434) N6067E departs on it's inaugural flight.
(Photo by Jon Ostrower)

The largest passenger aircraft in Boeing's 95-year history, the 747-8 Intercontinental, has completed it maiden sortie.

The aircraft - designated RC001 - departed from runway 34L at 9:59PST local time from Boeing's Everett, Washington, facility at Paine Field and landed at 14:25PST at nearby Boeing Field in Seattle, where the company's flight test operations are housed.

During the 4h and 26min flight, the aircraft reached an altitude of 6,096m (20,000ft) and a speed of 250kts (463km/h).

Painted in a bespoke red, orange, gray and white scheme, and powered by four General Electric GEnx-2B engines, the aircraft took to the sky under the control of 747 chief project pilot Capt. Mark Feuerstein and Capt. Paul Stemer.

The first flight of the 747-8I kicks off a 600h-long programme of test flights for the new 747, slated to seat 467 in three-classes. The first of two test aircraft, RC001 is fully instrumented and designed for flutter clearance, flight controls, ride quality, and stability and control evaluations.

A second dedicated test aircraft, RC021, which will be painted in airline launch customer Lufthansa's colours, will be tasked with testing the aircraft's interior, including the galleys, lavatories, smoke penetration and environmental control system.

The first flight caps a trio of maiden sorties for Boeing's commercial operation, making it the third since December 2009's 787 and February 2010's 747-8F's first flight. Boeing plans to deliver all three models before the year is out, the first time it has attempted three model certification campaigns simultaneously.

In contrast to the period leading up to the 747-8F's first flight when the cargo market had plummeted in the wake of the global economic crisis, the near-term economic outlook places the commercial aerospace industry at the beginning of its up-cycle. The US airframer has already taken orders for seven additional 747-8 aircraft in 2011, including two freighters from Korean Air Cargo and five passenger models from Air China.

Though industry leaders worry the larger 747's biggest competition comes from its own backyard.

"In a way, the 777-300ER, they compete a little bit with each other," says Steven Udvar-Hazy, CEO of Air Lease Corporation. "There's quite a bit of overlap and there's many airlines both in the Asia segment and Europe that have shifted their 747 flying to 777-300ERs and they can work with frequency, off-season, it's a little better match capacity-wise."

Though Boeing has moved to marketing the 747-8I as an aircraft in a low-risk niche beneath the 525-seat A380 and above the 365-seat 777-300ER or A340-600, a marketing tactic validated by both Lufthansa and Korean Air, each having purchased both the A380 and the 747-8I to span their large aircraft fleets.

Boeing's 747-8I features a super-critical wing design, expanded use of advanced composites, new engines, an updated flight deck, and lateral fly-by-wire controls of its outboard ailerons and spoilers as well as 12% more passengers over its processor, the 747-400ER. It has a 442,000kg (975,000lb) maximum take-off weight and a range of 14,800km (8,000nm).

At 76.3m (250ft), the -8I is the longest ever built in commercial aviation history, and will only be certified up to 605 passengers in a single-class configuration.

While the iconic design of the 747 features only a partial upper deck, the Airbus A380's complete upper deck allows it to seat up to 853 passengers, despite having an overall length 3.6m (11ft 10in) shorter than the -8I.

The 747-8 programme is running roughly two years behind the original schedule after the programme suffered significant resource starvation, multiple leadership changes, supply chain issues and design changes stemming from the freighter's flight tests.

At the time of its December 2006 launch order for the -8I, Lufthansa expected its first 386-seat aircraft in early 2010, with early 2012 slated for its introduction into revenue service.

Luxembourg-based Cargolux, is expected to take delivery of the 747-8 freighter due mid-year, pushed back from October 2009.

The first 747-8I is expected to be delivered to a completion centre for finishing as a business aircraft for the Kuwaiti Government before the end of 2011.

Boeing holds orders for 108 747-8s including 76 freighters and 33 Intercontinental passenger aircraft, a type due to enter service in late 2011. Pending the approval of the Chinese government, Boeing will add the additional 5 747-8Is from Air China to its backlog.

(Jon Ostrower - Flight International News)

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Asian Heavies at LAX

This past week (Tuesday March 15 and March 16), Joe G. Walker was in town for a visit so we spent a few hours at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX). While there we visited with old friend Steve Griffin at the Flight Path Learning Center and met Andrew Uber on the "Hill." Always nice having friends in town for a visit.
China Airlines 747-409 (33734/1353) B-18210 departs on March 16, 2011 sporting the carriers "Dreamliner" livery.

Japan Airlines (JAL) 777-346/ER (36129/816) JA742J just off the deck........

and climbing from Rwy 25R, bound for Japan on March 15.

Shanghai Airlines MD-11(F) (48543/572) B-2178 climbs from Rwy 25R bound for Anchorage, Alaska on March 16.

EVA Air Cargo 747-45E (27898/1051) B-16406 taxies to parking following it's arrival on March 15.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

APF Seattle Staffer and "Carter Gang" member spotted in SoCal

Yes folks Seattle Staffer Joe G. Walker has gone Canon as we see in this photo taken at Long Beach Airport on March 14, 2011. I would like to thank him for joining the ranks of us Canon users.............welcome Joe.

Taxies on "Lima" towards a Rwy 30 departure.

jetBlue A320-232 (c/n 3119) N657JB "Denim Blue" rolls for departure on Rwy 30, March 15, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

jetBlue A320-232 (c/n 2231) N590JB "Liberty Blue" is captured on short final to Rwy 30 passing over jetBlue A320-232 (c/n 2280) N593JB "I Only Have Eyes For Blue" as it taxies for departure on March 15, 2011 .

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Cargo Action at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on March 15, 2011

UPS 767-34AF/ER (37860/991) N340UP on short final to Rwy 30 as it arrives from Louisville International Airport (SDF/KSFD) as "UPS2916 Heavy" at 17:21.

Taxies to parking following it's arrival.

FedEx A300F4-605R (c/n 789) N675FE "Byron" arrives from Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX/KPHX) as "FDX1351 Heavy" at............

17:38 as it smokes the mains on Rwy 30.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

IAI Galaxy visits Long Beach

IAI Galaxy (G200) (c/n 020) N516CC operated by Morgan Flight LLC arrived at 15:58 from St. Paul Holman Field (STP/KSTP) St. Paul, Minnesota on March 15, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Miami Air in Long Beach (LGB/KLGB)

Miami Air 737-81Q (30618/830) N732MA "Lois Too" arrives on March 15, 2011 as "Biscayne 386" from Spirit of St. Louis Airport (SUS/KSUS) at 15:55 bringing the St. Louis Blues NHL Hockey team in to play the Anahiem Ducks.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Another new Gulfstream 550 arrives in Long Beach

G550 (c/n 5321) N921GA arrives from Savannah-Hilton Head Airport (SAV/KSAV) at 12:07 on March 15, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

C-17A performs pre-delivery flight test

Taxies on "Lima" towards a Rwy 30 departure.

Rolls for take-off on Rwy 30.

Arrives back in Long Beach following a short test hop.

C-17A (P-209) 09-9209 "McChord AFB" on short final to Rwy 30 as she returns from a short test flight on March 15, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

New C-17A on flight ramp

C-17A (P-210) 09-9210 destined for McChord AFB, rests in the midday sun at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on Tuesday March 15, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Trent 900 to power Asiana A380 fleet

Rolls-Royce said Wednesday that Asiana Airlines selected the Trent 900 to power the six Airbus A380s the Seoul-based carrier has on order for delivery from 2014-2017. The contract includes a TotalCare long-term service agreement.

Asiana's selection marks the first firm order for the engine type since the uncontained failure of a Trent 900 on a Qantas A380 on Nov. 4.

Asiana Senior VP-Legal Affairs and Purchasing Yong Wook Lee said, "The Trent 900 will offer us economic benefits … that will maximize the reliability of our Airbus A380s." Rolls Senior VP-Civil Aerospace Jim Sheard added, "This confirms the Trent 900 as the true market leader and engine of choice for the majority of A380 operators." Rolls noted that Trent 900 engines have been selected by 10 of 15 airlines that have ordered the A380.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Lufthansa places USD$4 billion aircraft order

German flagship carrier Lufthansa said on Wednesday its supervisory board had approved orders for 30 new passenger jets from Airbus and five new cargo planes from Boeing.

The total planned Lufthansa order is worth USD$4 billion at list prices, including USD$1.3 billion for Boeing.

Deliveries for the Airbus planes are scheduled to begin in 2016, the airline said in a statement.

Twenty-five A320neo and five A321neo aircraft will fly on Lufthansa's continental passenger routes.

Lufthansa said it would also receive five new Boeing 777 freighters beginning in 2013.

"They will be utilized to seize growth opportunities fueled by rising demand," Lufthansa said.

Lufthansa's fleet comprised 722 aircraft at the end of 2009, including carriers it added in a shopping spree completed last year, such as Austrian Airlines and bmi.

The A320neo -- for "new engine option" -- is a family of revamped A320 passenger planes with more efficient engines that Airbus plans to introduce from 2016.

The plan has sparked a battle with Boeing over strategy in the cash-generating market for narrow-body medium-haul jets.

Lufthansa's order, which remained to be finalized, brings to just over 300 the number of orders for A320neo-family jets in the pipeline on top of firm orders for 30 of the planes.

Boeing has said it is considering building a new version of its popular 737 aircraft to counter the move by Airbus.

Narrow-body jets are the backbone of most airline fleets.


Photo of the Day / AirTran 717-2BD

AirTran Airways 717-2BD (MD-95) (55152/5085) N989AT, ex Boeing N6202S was delivered to the carrier on May 23, 2002. The aircraft was originally destined for Pembroke Capital Aircraft Limited for onward delivery to Mexican carrier Vuelamex as EI-CWK but was not taken-up (NTU). In the not to distant future, this aircraft will wear the livery of Southwest Airlines.

In the above photo, the aircraft is captured arriving at Tampa International Airport (TPA/KTPA) on March 9, 2011.

(Photo by Rick Covington)

C-17A's commence Japan Quake - Tsunami relief flights

Tech. Sgt. Andrew Dunn conducts a pre-flight maintenance inspection before departing on a humanitarian mission to Japan at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The plane will provide support for Japan relief efforts in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Nathan Allen U.S. Air Force)

Following a long history of disaster relief missions, Boeing C-17 cargo jets from across the globe are descending on Japan to aid in the aftermath of a 9.0 earthquake that killed thousands.

Since the March 11 quake, the United States, Australia and United Kingdom have deployed C-17s loaded with food, water, medical gear, sniffer dogs, search crews, doctors and radiation-neutralizing equipment.

The first C-17 mission lifted off from Los Angeles just hours after the disaster with a search-and-rescue team on a direct flight to quake-stricken northern Japan, using a flying tanker to refuel mid-air during the trip over the Pacific Ocean, Air Force officials said.

Another mission left March 13 from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. Both jets landed at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan, one of the hardest-hit regions.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott West, who departed March 12 from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii, said at least 25 airmen were headed to Yokota Air Base with supplies that included several large generators for use in disaster zones without electricity.

"The (Japanese) are resilient and capable," West said in a statement released by the Air Force. "But we'll be there so long as our allies ask us to."

On March 14, Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd announced one of his nation's fleet of four C-17s was en route to Japan loaded with fresh water and an urban search-and-rescue team with dogs.

"In the last 24 hours (the Japanese Government) accepted our offer of assistance for the C-17 aircraft which is on the ground in Japan," Rudd told Australian press. "It has itself (Monday) flown two sorties for the Japanese government ... and we've been transporting all sorts of land vehicles for the Japanese as well as large supplies of fresh water."
Rudd said the search-and-rescue team was "on the ground in one of the most devastated towns called Minamisanriku."

The C-17 has played a growing role in global disaster relief operations in recent years, bringing rapid aid to such catastrophes as the Haiti quake, Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Pakistan floods and the recent temblor in New Zealand.

Designed to take off and land on short, unpaved runways and run on bio-fuel derived from animal fat, the hulking jet can carry cars, trucks, tanks, a fully equipped field hospital, flying medical emergency room or up to 102 people.

First built in 1993, more than 220 C-17s have been built for the U.S., United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Qatar and a NATO-led force based in Hungary.

The United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and India have also ordered C-17s, which are built at California's last fixed-wing aircraft production plant next to Long Beach Airport.

The Japanese temblor, which is being referred to as the Great Earthquake, struck on the afternoon of March 11 off the coast of northern Japan, triggering a huge tsunami, damaging four nuclear power plants and wrecking a major seaport in the city of Sendai.

In addition to the C-17s, dozens of nations are sending medical personnel, cash, nuclear specialists, tents, food, water and other needed supplies.

The U.S. has deployed nine Navy ships to help in the relief effort and work with British and Japanese engineers and nuclear physicists at the power plants, where radiation leaks have been detected.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Singapore Airlines puts launch of LAX A380 service on hold

Singapore Airlines said on Thursday it will delay the launch of Airbus A380 services to Tokyo and Los Angeles as there was less demand for travel to Japan.

"In view of the developments in Japan, Singapore Airlines is postponing the introduction of Airbus A380 services on flights SQ11 and SQ12 between Singapore and Los Angeles via Tokyo Narita until further notice," the Singapore flag carrier said in a statement.

"The flights will continue to be operated with Boeing 747-400 aircraft."

An SIA spokeswoman said the decision was made due to "lesser demand" for flights to and from the Japanese capital.

SIA had originally planned to launch the A380 service later this month.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Update on King Air 200 crash at Long Beach

Five people died Wednesday and one man was critically injured after the twin-engine plane they were flying in crashed shortly after takeoff, erupting into a fireball at the Long Beach Airport.

Four of the victims were identified as prominent real estate developers Tom Dean and Jeff Berger, bicycle advocate Mark Bixby, and Bruce Krall, who was Dean's banker. The pilot also died in the crash but has not yet been identified.

The lone survivor, identified by sources as Pacific Retail Partners owner Mike Jensen, was rushed to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center where he remains in Critical Condition.

The Beechcraft King Air, owned by Dean, crashed and burst into flames on the southwest portion of the airfield at 10:30 a.m., authorities said.

(Photo by Steve Gritchen -Long Beach Press Telegram)

Firefighters battled flames for about two minutes before using metal-cutting saws to pry open the twisted remains of the fuselage and free the survivor, said Long Beach Fire Department spokesman Steve Yamamoto.

Authorities said the plane had taken off but was circling back for an unknown reason when it suddenly crashed and skidded across the field, leaving a trail of scorched debris.

Witnesses described hearing a loud thud followed by a burst of fire and smoke.

"I heard a bang and the building shook," said Rob Ryan, whose office is located about 600 feet from the crash. "I came out and the plane was completely engulfed in orange flames and black smoke. After it died down a bit you could see fire coming out of the cockpit. It was pretty horrifying."

One witness, who asked not to be identified, said he saw the crash seconds after the aircraft hit the ground.

"It was just a big ball of fire sliding across the grass," he said.

Los Angeles County Coroner's Lt. Ed Winter said victims' identities were still being officially confirmed late Wednesday and it would likely take time due to the condition of the bodies.

However Dean's spokesman, Mike Murchison, confirmed the well-known developer was aboard the plane and died in the crash the along with Berger, Krall and Bixby. Bixby, who worked for Jensen, is a member of one of the city's founding families, for which the Bixby Knolls neighborhood is named.

Allan Crawford, a friend of Bixby, said the group was headed for Park City, Utah, to go skiing.

Several distraught family members and friends, including Murchison and City Councilman Gary DeLong, rushed to Long Beach Fire Station 16, where the plan's charred remains could be seen about 300 yards away.

By mid-afternoon, coroner's investigators were on the scene pulling the burned bodies from the wreckage.

Murchison also confirmed the plane was owned by Dean, who owns most of the Los Cerritos Wetlands in southeast Long Beach. Part of the wetlands was traded last year to the city of Long Beach in exchange for most of the city's public service yard in a controversial land swap.

Berger is his business partner. Bixby is known especially for his bicycle advocacy in Long Beach and as recently as March 13 had talked about participating in the Tortuga 500, a 500-mile, 4-day bike trek from San Jose to Long Beach, on his Twitter account.

Crawford said he had just gone bike riding with Bixby and other members of their regular riding group that morning. He and Bixby are members of "Off the Front," a bicycle advocacy group, and were working on a forming a new bicycle non-profit group.

Bixby is survived by his wife, Theresa, and their three children, the oldest of whom is a junior in high school, Crawford said.

"Mark just believed in the idea that cycling is a way to connect people and to connect communities," Crawford said. "He saw it as an avenue to improve lives for people throughout Long Beach and the world."

Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster said he had a very heavy heart after hearing about the tragedy.

"These were charismatic men that believed in Long Beach, made a real contribution and worked towards a better community," he said. "Our thoughts and prayers go to their children and their families in this time of unspeakable sadness."

Federal Aviation Administration Spokesman Ian Gregor said that the aircraft was headed to Salt Lake City. He said that the FAA and National Transportation and Safety Board already had investigators at the crash site.

Gregor said the plan crashed just north of runway 25 L, between Taxiway Bravo and Runway 16 R near the AirFlite facility.

Authorities said was too early to tell where all the victims were located in the plane, including the area where the survivor was found, citing the on-going investigation.

Both the FAA and NTSB will investigate the accident with the NTSB serving as the lead investigative agency, Gregor said.

NTSB investigators usually post a preliminary report on the agency's website,, within one to two weeks of an incident. However, it typically takes NTSB months to come up with a probable cause for accidents, Gregor explained.

Airport Director Mario Rodriguez said the incident was a "tragedy beyond repair."

"We did everything that could have been done," he said.

Though the crash is not the first for the airport, it is believed to be the first major crash in more than 30 years, Rodriguez said.

(Tracy Manzer - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Today at Victorville

Aero Pacific Flightlines Seattle staffer Joe G. Walker has been in town the past couple days for a short visit, so this morning (Wednesday March 16) we took a drive up to Victorville (VCV/KVCV) to see what might be out and below are some of the results........enjoy!

Omega Tanker DC-10-40 (46974/274) N974VV which was originally delivered to Japan Airlines as JA8538 on April 4, 1979 basks in the morning sun in the Mojave Desert.

Fresh out of the paint shop UA/CO 777-222/ER (26934/96) N792UA.

Boeing 747-446 (26344/929) N344NA, tbr N459MC, was delivered to Japan Airlines as JA8902 on August 19, 1992.

"Ladies and Gentlemen this is your captain speaking, there will be a slight delay in our scheduled departure as we are experiencing some technical diffulculties, thank you for your patience."

I think it is going to be a long wait as United Airlines 737-322 (24251/1646) N347UA seems to be missing just a few important parts. The aircraft was delivered to United Airlines on December 12, 1988.

(Photos by Michael Carter

King Air 200 crashes at Long Beach Airport, five fatalities are reported

Five fatalities have been reported in the crash of a twin engine airplane at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).

Six people were reportedly on board and five are dead, according to according to Steve Yamamoto of the Long Beach Fire Department.

The plane a King Air 200 (c/n BB-849) N849BM is owned by Thomas Fay Dean, a local developer who owns most of the Los Cerritos Wetlands in southeast Long Beach, his spokesman Mike Murchison confirmed today. Part of the wetlands was traded last year to the city of Long Beach in exchange for most of the city's public service yard by the Los Angeles River in a contoversial land swap.

However, Murchison said he didn't yet know who was on the plane and whether Dean was among the passengers. He said he hadn't been able to get hold of Dean by telephone.

"I can't tell you who was on the plane," Murchison said. "I'm still in the dark."

Ian Gregor, Public Affairs Manager of the Federal Aviation Administration Pacific Division, reported that a twin-engine Beechcraft King Air crashed on departure and that the plane was engulfed in flames.

The aircraft was headed to Salt Lake City, Gregor said.

Fire crews battling the blaze were attempting to cut into the plane to extract the passengers.

The FAA and NTSB will investigate the accident. NTSB is the lead investigative agency.

(Kelly Puente - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Frontier now operating ex Mexicana A319

Having just pushed from Gate 5 at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) this Frontier Airlines A319 prepares to depart for Denver (DEN/KDEN) on March 13, 2011.

Frontier Airlines A319-112 (c/n 4127) N951FR "Grizzly Bear," is late of defunct Mexican carrier Mexicana - N412MX.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

jetBlue action at Long Beach

A320-232 (c/n 1546) N526JL "Blues Just Want to Have Fun" arrives on March 10, 2011.

A320-232 (c/n 2231) N590JB "Liberty Blue" captured on March 1, 2011.

A320-232 (c/n 2415) N608JB "....And Along Came Blue" seen on short final to Rwy 30 March 9, 2011.

A320-232 (c/n 2647) N632JB "Clear Blue Sky" was seen on March 9, 2011 now sporting the carriers "Barcode" tail livery.

A320-232 (c/n 2848) N641JB "Blue Come Back Now Ya Hear" rolls for departure from Rwy 30 on March 10, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Even more photos from Long Beach!

I know! It's a single engine Cessna or as we call it "Ramp Trash" but it is an airplane and it had a somewhat smart livery so I broke down and took a photo of it as it held short of Rwy 30 at "Delta 3." Skylane RG II (c/n R18200951) operated by S D Sky Tales Inc., photographed on March 10, 2011.

Delta Connection (Skywest Airlines) Canadair CL-600 2B19 CRJ-200LR (c/n 7497) N427SW is captured taxing on "Delta" to Rwy 25R on March 9, 2011. Rwy 30 was closed just prior to its departure due to debris on the runway from a blown main gear tire on a U.S. Airways Express CRJ-900 which departed in front of this aircraft.

Allegiant MD-82 (49423/1283) N891GA rolls for take-off bound for Colorado Springs (COS/KCOS) on March 11, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

More Long Beach (LGB/KLGB) Bizjet action

Bombardier BD-700-1A10 (c/n 9031) "Global Express" N724AF taxies to Rwy 30 for an afternoon departure on March 1, 2011.

Jumps off Rwy 30.

"Positive climb, gear up!"

Embraer EMB-500 Phenom 100 (c/n 50000058) N27WP is captured on a very short final to Rwy 30 on March 3, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Interesting Bizjets at Long Beach (LGB/KLGB)

Dassault Falcon 7X (c/n 72) N312P taxies on "Delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure on March 3, 2011.

Rotates from Rwy 30.

Raytheon / Hawker 800 (c/n 258255) N575MR operated by SDC Flight Operations LLC, taxies on "Delta" to Rwy 25R on March 9, 2011. Rwy 30 was closed at the time due to a U.S. Airways Express CRJ900 blowing a main gear tire as it rolled for take-off. The airliner continued to Phoenix (PHX/KPHX) where it made a safe emergency landing.

Learjet 35A/ZR (c/n 35A-358) N108JN arrives in Long Beach on a gorgeous afternoon, March 1, 2011.

Learjet 40 (c/n 45-2057) N616FX climbs from Rwy 30 on March 1, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)