Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!

On behalf of the APF Staff I would like to wish everyone (that celebrates it) a very Happy Thanksgiving 2011. I hope the Turkey was more stuffed than you!

Happy Thanksgiving and Cheers
Michael Carter  

Boeing helping airlines save on fuel costs

Boeing is getting more involved in airline operations by communicating directly with pilots in flight to help them better manage fuel use, a global priority in an industry looking to cut costs.

The plane maker is promoting a new program that funnels real-time updates on wind and routes to cockpits, where crews can tweak their flight plans to shave minutes and reduce costs.

"It taps a different aspect of the business that airlines haven't yet tapped into," said Derek Gefroh, program manager for Boeing's InFlight Optimization Services.

The program, which monitors flights continuously, features two components, Wind Updates and Direct Routes.

Wind Updates features more accurate and current wind conditions than those that were known prior to the flight. Direct Routes recommends small course adjustments based on weather and traffic to improve efficiency. With these services, pilots can tweak course, speed and altitude to save fuel.

"Once that airplane takes off, there is a limited amount of optimization," Gefroh said. "In fact, for most airlines there's no additional optimization that takes place while the airplane is in the air to take advantage of emergent opportunities to save time and fuel."

Boeing already tracks all of its planes so it can respond to service needs.

Alaska Airlines, which flies an all-Boeing 737 fleet, has been testing Wind Updates and is optimistic about the potential.

"We are leaving no stone unturned in looking at ways to improve fuel efficiency," said spokeswoman Marianne Lindsey.

Sean Cassidy, an Alaska Airlines 737 captain and a senior official of the ALPA union, said crews now receive extensive route, weather and air traffic briefings before each flight.

Once airborne, pilots consult on-board radar, communicate with controllers and work closely with airline dispatchers to optimize efficiency by improving routing or finding more favorable winds.

The ideal scenario is good planning and a predictable flight path. But real-time information can improve in-flight decision-making to save fuel. Winds present unexpected challenges that affect the cost of operations.

"Those are times when you do make decisions to climb or descend," Cassidy said. "You do those things and you factor in how they will affect fuel consumption."


Savings on fuel, the biggest expense after labour for airlines, are more important than ever this year to maximize revenue in a softening economy. Fuel represents about a third of airline operating costs.

Even though flights are full and US carriers expect to fly 23 million people during the Thanksgiving holiday period, overall passenger volumes this year are expected to be down 2 percent from 2010 and down 12 percent from their 2006 peak.

While revenues for the first nine months of the year for major US airlines were up 12 percent, expenses grew nearly 16 percent and net income fell 66 percent, industry figures show. Fuel expenses jumped 38 percent.

The International Air Transport Association has launched an initiative to help airlines cut one minute off each flight to save fuel. The global trade group for airlines says carriers, on average, spend USD$100 per minute per flight.

"Given higher energy prices and the outlook for continued higher energy prices, anything airlines in general can do to mitigate fuel costs is obviously hugely positive," said Helane Becker, an analyst with Dahlman Rose.

Boeing, the world's second-largest commercial plane maker after Airbus, began marketing its InFlight Optimization Services last year. It would not disclose the number of subscribers or the cost of subscriptions. InFlight Optimization is available to airlines that fly non-Boeing planes as well.

Boeing says Wind Updates alone can save 100-300 pounds of fuel per flight. A typical flight for the narrow-body Boeing 737 and the wide-body Boeing 777 may consume 15,000 pounds (6,800 kg) and 250,000 pounds (117,000 kg) of fuel, respectively.


Michiel van Dorst, a pilot and executive vice president of flight operations at KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, said pilots receive Wind Updates on displays in the cockpit. No additional equipment is necessary and the communication occurs through existing channels.

"I'm a hundred percent sure that the fuel and emission savings outweighs the investment," he said, referring to the cost of a subscription to the Boeing services.

Van Dorst said any airline can benefit from Wind Updates or Direct Routes, but the greatest fuel savings can be derived on longer routes.

KLM, which helped Boeing develop the program, expects to reduce its fuel consumption by 0.1 percent en route by using Wind Updates, saving about EUR€100 (USD$135) per flight, van Dorst said.

In the United States, the Federal Aviation Administration manages certain routes, especially into New York, that can be modified as needed to take advantage of favorable winds and improve air traffic efficiency on the busiest days.

The US military opened up East Coast air space to commercial traffic on Tuesday to help carriers use more efficient routes to reduce congestion and save fuel during holiday travel.


(Photo by Airbus)

Airbus has completed installation of the first set of sharklet wing-tip devices on the company’s A320 development aircraft (MSN 001), preparing for the flight-test campaign in the coming weeks.

The A320 fitted with sharklets reduces fuel burn by up to 3.5%, corresponding to an annual carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft.

The new wingtip devices are around 2.5 m., or 8ft. tall and will replace the aircraft’s current wingtip fence. Offered as an option on new-build aircraft, as well as being standard on A320neos, sharklets will also enhance the aircraft’s payload-range and take-off performance, Airbus said.

Jetblue will be the launch customer for retrofitted sharklets.

(Karen Walker - ATWOnline News)

New Bill could ease airline bag fees

As the height of the holiday travel season nears, one lawmaker is trying to ease the burden on travelers with a new bill that would limit airlines' abilities to charge customers for checking bags.

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., this week introduced the Airline Passenger BASICS Act (the "BASIC" stands for Basic Airline Standards to Improve Customer Satisfaction) - which would mandate that airlines allow fliers one free checked bag within certain weight limits per flight, and would guarantee passengers "certain minimum standards," according to a statement by Landieu's office. It would also require airlines to disclose any luggage fees they may have to pay in advance.

"When an airline advertises a flight, that is how much it should cost, plain and simple," Landreiu said in the statement. "Passengers should not be charged additional fees for checked or carry-on baggage, drinkable water or other reasonable requests. Air travel can be a stressful experience for many reasons, but unfair fees for basic amenities should not be one of them."

Landrieu, who argued that passengers "have been nickeled and dimed for far too long," said she also planned to introduce the Fair Airline Industry Revenue (FAIR) Act, which would punish noncompliant airlines with additional fees.

Proponents of the bill contend that the imposition of bag check fees has led travelers to carry on their luggage rather than check bags - which can lead both to shortages of overhead storage space on the plane, as well as increased inspection requirements at security.

Testifying at a Senate appropriations subcommittee on homeland security in March, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the baggage check fees were costing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) $260 million a year.

"When you have to pay to check a bag it increases carry-on luggage, and that means there is more to inspect at the gate," she said.

Landrieu pointed to a recent study by the U.S. Travel Association, which shows that, when asked to list their top frustrations with air travel, 72.4 percent of respondents cited "people who bring too many carry-on bags through the security checkpoint."

She argues that her bill will combat that frustration - because Americans will no longer feel compelled to carry on all of their luggage to avoid fees.

"Many airlines consider checking a bag not to be a right, but a privilege - and one with a hefty fee attached. The Airline Passenger BASICS Act will guarantee passengers one checked bag without the financial burden of paying a fee, or the headache of trying to fit everything into a carry-on," she said.

A representative for the Air Transport Association, however, says that imposing regulations on what airlines can or cannot charge for is "the wrong way to go for the government" and that it would ultimately limit the scope of choice available to travelers.

"We don't think it's appropriate for the government to tell or dictate to private industries what services they can or cannot offer to the consumer and at what price," said Steve Lott, spokesman for the Air Transport Association, in an interview with Hotsheet. "We would argue that in fact that would reduce choice and competition for the customer."

Lott noted that some airlines, such as Southwest and Jet Blue, do not have baggage-check fees -- and that's what makes them competitive to some customers.

"They've made a decision not to charge for the first bag as a point of differentiation for the competition," he said. "Today there is intense competition and a lot of choice in the airline industry -- and that's the way that the market should work."

He argued that rather than imposing more stringent regulations on airlines, the government should be focusing on streamlining the airport security process.

"The government imposing its judgment about competitive services will not improve wait times," he said. "Rather than having Congress limit choice and regulate what airlines can or cannot offer to passengers, regulators should focus on the efficiency of the checkpoint."

It is unlikely that Landrieu's bill will get a vote before the end of the year, given the tight congressional calendar -- but whether it will gain traction beyond that remains an open question.

(Lucy Madison - 

Delta Airlines brings A319 to Long Beach

Delta Airlines has commenced Airbus service at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB). Delta Express has operated into Long Beach for several years but this is the first time that Delta Airlines has operated mainline aircraft into the airport since it's return a few years ago. Delta Airlines A319-114 (c/n 1659) N334NB holds short of Rwy 30 as it prepares to depart for Salt Lake City Airport (SLC/KSLC) on November 17, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter) captured at Orange County John Wayne

Alaska Airlines 737-890 (30020/1738) N548AS "" taxies on "alpha" at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) to parking on November 21, 2011.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Singapore Airlines A380-861 (c/n 45) 9V-SKJ is captured departing from Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 22, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

G-IVSP (c/n 1266) VP-BOL (ex-N77D, N77DY, & N91LA), arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on November 5, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Boeing 787 pays San Francisco a visit

Boeing 787-800 (40693/4) N7874 arrived at San Francisco International (SFO/KSFO) on November 21, 2011 at 21:39 pst from Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI). The aircraft was on the ground for 33 minutes departing back to Boeing Field at 22:12 pst.
(Photo by Mark Durbin)     

United/Continental squeeze Boeing and Airbus for a great deal on a 150 airplane order

Airbus and Boeing are bidding to sell around 150 jets to United Continental as the airline joins an industry-wide scramble for fuel savings, people familiar with the matter said.

The merged giant has become the latest battleground as Boeing tries to close a recent sales gap with its European rival and extend the advantage of a huge Indonesian plane order unveiled by US President Barack Obama last week.

The roughly USD$15 billion deal could include 130 revamped narrow-body jets, designed to cut airline fuel costs, and up to 50 of the plane makers' existing models.

Talks could be completed by late December but may slip into 2012, the people said, asking not to be named.

"It is not guaranteed but there is a good likelihood, I'd say more than a 50 percent chance, of a deal before the end of the year," said a source involved in the negotiations.

Another person familiar with the discussions cautioned the deal may take longer than the few weeks remaining until the end of the year to finalize, while others noted that volumes can also change as major aircraft purchases fall into place.

"Negotiations are well underway," a further source said.

Boeing declined comment. An Airbus spokesman said, "We are always in discussions with current and potential customers and these discussions remain confidential".

United Continental was formed last year from a merger of United parent UAL and Continental Airlines, creating a hybrid fleet containing both Airbus and Boeing jets.

A spokesman for the Chicago-based group said it had ongoing talks with plane makers about its fleet needs, but declined to comment on a potential narrow-body order.


Despite fears of recession, the world's leading plane makers have had a harvest of plane orders this year after moving to upgrade their best-selling models -- the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 -- with new engines capable of saving 12-15 percent fuel.

Airbus moved first by promising to introduce the revamped A320neo from 2015 and has sold more than 1,000 of the aircraft, making what it claims as the fastest-selling launch.

Boeing responded with the 737 MAX, due to enter service in 2017, and has accumulated more than 700 provisional orders even before finalizing the aircraft's design.

Demand from cash-pinched airlines for fuel savings was highlighted last week with the record sale of Boeing jets to Indonesia's Lion Air, months after Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia handed a similar order to Airbus.

Whereas major US carriers used to dominate the world's aircraft industry, the rise of Asian and Middle East airlines and shift of economic power to emerging markets has generated a sudden scramble to get hold of fast-disappearing stocks.

With jet makers running out of production slots, and some banks avoiding the aircraft market due to Europe's debt crisis, Airbus and Boeing are expected to scour the world's leasing firms to find enough aircraft to pull together a United deal.

Even then, supplies are becoming so scarce that the two rivals may have to make do with only part of any deal depending on the timescale United wants for deliveries, analysts said.

"This could be an interesting order. Although United flies Airbus narrow-bodies, Continental flies Boeing and the Continental management team has been happy to source its aircraft from Boeing over the years," said Rob Stallard, aerospace analyst at RBC Capital Markets in New York.

"United Continental is now a very large airline, and given the scale of its fleet replacement requirement and its experience with flying a mixed fleet, we would not be surprised if this order is split," he added.

The outcome could affect the balance of power between the plane makers since it is seen as a relatively open race.

Apart from a 460-plane order at American Airlines that saw wins for both plane makers, most deals for the new planes so far have involved upgrading existing customers.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Historical Flight Foundations DC-7B makes emergency landing in Charlotte

The #3 engine smokes badly as she climbs from Rwy 18L.

Short final to Rwy 18C with the #3 prop clearly feathered.
(Photos by Jay Selman) 
Historical Flight Foundations Eastern DC-7B (45345/928) N836D was flown from Opa-Locka Airport (OPF) to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport (CLT/KCLT) yesterday (November 18, 2011) by famed USAirways pilots, Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and First Officer Jeff Skiles. The visit was part of an event publicizing the Carolinas Air Museum and it's recent acquisition of USAirways A320-214 (c/n 1044) N106US which landed in the Hudson River on January 15, 2009 following a double engine flame-out due to bird ingestion.
As this historic DC-7B was departing Charlotte on it's return flight to OPF, the #3 engine started smoking badly and the captain elected to shut it down and return to Charlotte, landing on 18C.

The aircraft remains on the ramp at the museum as the Foundations aircraft mechanics determine the cause of the problem.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

New/used G550 departs Long Beach

G550 (c/n 5251) N251GV ex-N351GA is captured holding short of Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on November 17, 2011 as it readies to depart for Tokyo (Haneda) International Airport (HND/RJTT). The aircraft was originally delivered to a Saudi customer as HZ-ALFA in 2010 but returned to Long Beach in October 2011 and re-registered as N251GV.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Private C-17A air Show at March Air Force Base

Climbs into the blue skies above March AFB.

"Positive climb, gear up" as she performs a missed approach.

A lovely look at the gorgeous C-17A!

Performing another missed approach, she climbs above three idle March AFB C-17A's.

March AFB C-17A (P-139) 05-5139 her mission accomplished, rolls out as she returns home. Myself, Doug Kerr, and Matt Cornell enjoyed our private air show while we were visiting the March Air Field Museum on November 16, 2011 as this C-17A performed numerous touch and go's and missed approaches, we felt very privilaged to be sure.

(Photos by Michael Carter)  

KC-135R action at March Air Force Base

Climbs into the desert skies at March Air Force Base.

Climbs above two March AFB C-17A's as it performs a missed approach.

U.S. Air Force KC-135R (717-148) (c/n 17539) 57-1468 smokes the mains as it completes it's mission of missed approaches and touch & go's at March Air Force Base on November 16, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)
U.S. Air Force KC-135R (717-148) (c/n 17734) arrives back at March Air Force Base (RIV/KRIV) on November 16, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Mexican carrier Volaris signs MOU for 44 A320 aircraft

Volaris A319-133 (c/n 3069) XA-VOE "Erick" taxies from Rwy 25L following it's arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 5, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for 44 eco-efficient Airbus A320 aircraft, comprising of 30 A320neo and 14 A320 Family aircraft. The order makes Volaris the first airline to order the A320neo in Mexico. Engine selection will be announced by the airline at a later date.

Since starting operations in 2006, Volaris has become one of the top three airlines in Mexico having quickly expanded their network throughout the country and into the United States. The new 44 A320 Family aircraft are expected to help Volaris continue their expansion and renew their fleet. The airline currently operates 33 Airbus aircraft and has a backlog of 15 more.

“Fuel efficiency and reliability are critical to keeping Volaris among the top low-cost carriers in Mexico,” said Enrique Beltranena, CEO of Volaris. “These new A320s will allow us to maintain the youngest fleet in the country, while further improving our environmental performance.”

“We are very proud to see Volaris, an all Airbus operator, grow into one of the leading airlines of Mexico,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “Volaris will now be among the first customers in Latin America to benefit from the A320neo’s increased capabilities, including a 15 percent reduction in fuel burn and emissions.”

Over 8,100 A320 Family aircraft have been ordered and nearly 5,000 delivered to some 340 customers and operators worldwide reaffirming its position as the world’s best-selling single-aisle aircraft family. The A320neo has over 95 percent airframe commonality making it an easy fit into existing fleets while offering up to 500 nautical miles (950 kilometres) more range or two tonnes more payload at a given range.

The A320neo is a new engine option for the A320 Family entering into service from 2015 and incorporates latest generation engines and large "Sharklet" wing tip devices, which together will deliver 15 percent in fuel savings. The reduction in fuel burn is equivalent to 1.4 million litres of fuel - the consumption of 1,000 mid size cars, saving 3,600 tonnes of C02 per aircraft per year. The A320neo NOx emissions are 50% below CAEP/6, whilst also having a much smaller noise footprint.

(Airbus Press Release)  

Boeing and Lion Air announce massive 737 order

The United States announced a massive order for Boeing jets from Indonesia's largest domestic airline, Lion Air, to be showcased as US President Barack Obama winds up an Asia-Pacific tour.

The sale of 230 short-haul 737 jets, worth USD$21.7 billion, is the largest commercial order in Boeing's history, toppling a previous record set just days ago as the industry taps in to relentless demand in emerging economies.

Obama will attend a signing ceremony on Friday for the order, which the White House said would support more than 110,000 jobs at Boeing and suppliers across the United States.

The deal includes options for another 150 aircraft valued at USD$14 billion, bringing its potential total value to USD$35 billion.

"This represents one of the largest trade deals between the United States and Indonesia in history," the White House said.

The White House is seeking to underline the US jobs potential from Obama's efforts to increase engagement in the Asia-Pacific region, including trade with emerging powers in Southeast Asia.

Deals announced during the president's trip are expected to total more than USD$25 billion and could support 127,000 jobs.


The order is a boost for Boeing's efforts to develop a revamped version of its best-selling 737 as it tries to narrow a gap with a model produced by its European rival Airbus.

The deal includes 201 revamped 737 MAX aircraft, due to enter service in 2017, and 29 Next-Generation 737-900 extended range planes.

Boeing said the Lion Air order, when finalized, would be its largest ever "by both dollar volume and total number of airplanes."

Alex Hamilton, managing director with EarlyBirdCapital in New York, said the strong order confirmed that the commercial aerospace sector was bouncing back despite a skittish global economy. He said he expected more aircraft orders as oil prices top USD$100 a barrel.

"The pace of the recovery is probably better than most would have expected," Hamilton said. "The reason (airlines) are ordering these new aircraft is because of the technology and the need for fuel efficiency."

High oil prices are spurring orders worth billions for fuel-efficient aircraft, re-energizing the rivalry between Boeing and Airbus, the two biggest plane makers.

Oil prices fell on Thursday on worries about the European debt crisis. Brent crude was down USD$3.50 at USD$108.38 a barrel, while US crude was USD$3.06 lower at USD$99.53.


The 737 MAX is an upgraded version of Boeing's best-selling 737 that will include new fuel-efficient engines and begin delivering in 2017. It is designed to compete with the Airbus A320neo in the narrow-body aircraft segment, which is expected to produce USD$2 trillion in sales over 20 years.

Boeing said this week that it had 700 provisional orders for the 737 MAX.

The deal marks the second time in a week that Boeing has broken its company record for commercial plane deals after bagging an USD$18 billion order for 50 wide-body 777 jets from Emirates at the Dubai Air Show.

The Boeing 737 is the backbone of many airline fleets and helped drive the growth of the low-cost travel industry.

Airbus has been outselling Boeing this year after promising to upgrade its competing A320 family of aircraft, but is lagging behind Boeing in the market for bigger jets such as the 777.

Middle East and Asian travel demand is helping to prop up demand for aircraft despite concerns over the Western economy, helping to generate well over USD$30 billion of deals for Boeing and Airbus in the past week.


Boeing opens South Carolina delivery center

Boeing has opened its new South Carolina Delivery Center in North Charleston, S.C. The 58,000 sq.-ft. facility includes three floors of offices, conference rooms and food operations. On the second floor, two passenger boarding bridges provide airplane access to customers, the first bridges to be used at a Boeing delivery center. The facility will ramp up to produce three 787s per month by the end of 2013.

(ATWOnline News)

LOT Polish Airlines wet leases another 767-300/ER

LOT Polish Airlines will wet lease an additional long-haul Boeing 767-300ER aircraft from the Ukrainian carrier, AeroSvit, until Jan. 15. The aircraft will fly LOT’s routes to Toronto and Hanoi. The first flight, from Warsaw to Toronto, launched Nov. 13. The aircraft is configured with 23 business- and 182 economy-class seats.

(ATWOnline News)

TAM 777-300 long haul fleet to receive all-new cabin

Brazil’s TAM Airlines will revamp its Boeing 777 aircraft by installing an all-new cabin configuration with the delivery of its fifth 777-300ER next year.

“We will get four new 777s in 2012, two in 2013 and two in 2014,” featuring new products in all classes, “including lie-flat seats in business class,” TAM president Libano Miranda Barroso told ATW on the sidelines of the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Assn. (ALTA) conference in Rio de Janeiro. He did not confirm if TAM will also install a fourth class, premium economy section.

TAM offers first-, business- and economy-class on its long-haul 777 fleet, which will increase to 12 aircraft by 2014. “The aircraft will fly on North American and European routes. Our A330 fleet will also be featured with the new product,” TAM holding group CEO Marco Antonia Bologna said, noting that the airline needs to improve its brand.

Barroso saidthe airline must strengthen its visibility in the market, and that membership in an alliance will “help to improve our brand outside Latin America.”

TAM has approximately 30 aircraft on order, scheduled for delivery through 2022. “In 2016 we expect the first A320neo delivery—the A350, beyond 2015,” Barroso said, noting that a six-month delay should have no impact for the carrier. “The A350 is still in our [time delivery] plan,” he said. Bologna doesn’t believe that very large aircraft, such as the 747-8 or A380, have a market in Brazil. “There is no consideration of this type of aircraft,” he said.

The company reiterated last month it is still on track to close the merger with LAN Airlines by the 2012 first quarter.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Hawaiian Airlines orders 5 additional A330-200 aircraft

Hawaiian Airlines A330-243 (c/n 1114) N381HA "Hokule' A" captured on short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 5, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Honolulu-based Hawaiian Airlines (HA) has grown its Airbus A330-200 order by five aircraft. HA now has a commitment of 22 A330 aircraft, including four that are leased. The airline operates five A330-200s.

HA president and CEO Mark Dunkerley said, “Adding these additional A330-200s to our fleet over the next four years will support the continued expansion of our network and replacement of our current 767-300s. Our guests have responded enthusiastically to the cabin comfort and amenities of the A330-200.”

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Unidentified 777-300ER customer turns out to be Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines (SIA) confirmed it is the customer for eight previously unidentified 777-300ERs.

"This order is part of our ongoing fleet expansion and modernization program, which enables us to offer our latest cabin products to our customers," SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong said. "The additional 777-300ERs will also help us further strengthen the Singapore Airlines’ network, providing our customers even more travel options."

The order, valued at $2.4 billion, was first announced Aug. 10, SIA has ordered 85 777s, to date with 27 being the 777-300ER.

The engine value at list prices on the GE90-115B engines powering the eight 777s for is more than $450 million, GE said.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Aviation Capital Group (ACG) commits to 35 Boeing 737 Max jets

Aviation Capital Group (ACG) announced Thursday an intent to order 35 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, and a firm order for 20 737-800NextGens.

Newport Beach, Calif.-based ACG is the first leasing company to commit to the 737 Max. The CFM International Leap-1B is the exclusive engine on the Max.

A Boeing spokesman said the Max order was not yet firm because the lessor still had to work out specific configurations.

ACG Group MD and CEO R. Stephen Hannahs called the 737 “one of the prime building blocks of our portfolio strategy,” and said the new 737NG and 737 Max aircraft will “continue our long-standing strategy of providing our customers the most fuel efficient, most capable airplanes with the lowest operating costs."

With today's announcement, ACG has ordered or committed to a total of 151 Boeing airplanes made up of 111 Next-Generation 737s, 35 737 Maxs and five 787 Dreamliners. This includes 15 737NGs for which ACG acquired delivery positions from another airline in 2006.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Global 5000 (c/n 9209) N828CC operated by Versey Air LLC is captured rolling for departure on Rwy 19R at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on November 13, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Monday, November 14, 2011

New Terminal C opens at John Wayne Airport

John Wayne Airport opened the new Terminal C to the traveling public today. The $543 million Airport Improvement Program, funded without the use of tax dollars, opened on schedule and within budget.

Terminal C includes six new bridged aircraft gates, two new commuter terminals, more security checkpoints and new dining and shopping options. The Improvement Program adds 282,000 square feet of new space to the existing 448,000 square feet in Terminals A and B at the Thomas F. Riley Terminal.

Unveiling the JWA logo in Terminal C Airport Director Alan Murphy, members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors and Southwest Airlines Senior VP of Operations Greg Wells. Pictured left to right: Alan Murphy, Supervisor Janet Nguyen, Greg Wells, Chair Bill Campbell, Supervisor Patricia C. Bates, Vice-Chair John M.W. Moorlach, November 13, 2011.

"Terminal C brings passengers more convenience and customer service amenities; we are now one of the first U.S. airports to offer travelers a universal system to check in and print a boarding pass for any airline from any self-service kiosk throughout the Thomas F. Riley Terminal," said Alan L. Murphy, Airport Director. "To top off this milestone day, we are thrilled to learn that Southwest Airlines (via AirTran) intends to launch service to Mexico City and Cabo San Lucas from Orange County next year, utilizing our first-ever international facilities," said Alan L. Murphy, Airport Director.

For the time being, Frontier and Southwest Airlines – who will be moving into Terminal C – will continue to support departing customers from their current locations in Terminal B. While Terminal C and the adjoining Parking Structure C are open and operational, passengers flying Frontier and Southwest Airlines who need to check their luggage should use these carriers' existing ticket counters in Terminal B. Those not checking bags can check-in, print boarding passes and go through security screening in Terminal C.

Other enhancements to John Wayne Airport's Riley Terminal include:

New, easy-to-read flat screen monitors throughout the airport, featuring flight and baggage information for all airlines.

Five new passenger security screening lanes.

Customer Service desks located in each terminal across from gate areas allowing airlines to easily rebook passenger flights; airport staff will be able to provide additional face-to-face customer service from these locations as well.

In addition to the new terminal, the Airport Improvement Program includes a new parking structure with more than 2,000 parking spaces and advanced parking technology:

Digital signage to help travelers know how many parking spots are available in real-time.

Kiosks that allow travelers to pay for parking as they exit the airport (pay-on-foot), before getting to their cars, for greater convenience.

New restaurants and shops have already opened and others will begin serving customers in the weeks ahead – bringing a combination of Orange County and well-known national brands to the airport.

New Orange County-based or-themed restaurants include:

Anaheim Ducks Breakaway Bar & Grill
Hobie Sand Bar
Jerry's Wood-Fired Dogs
Ruby's Diner and Ruby's Grab N' Go (opening in 2012)
Fresh Market by Laguna Culinary Arts (opening in 2012)

Other food and beverage options include:

La Tapenade Mediterranean Café
Ciao Gourmet Market
Vino Volo
California Pizza Kitchen
Carl's Jr./Green Burrito
Pei Wei
McDonald's and McCafé (being remodeled in 2012)
Creative Croissants (operating at the Airport since 1990)

Retail, news and gift options include:

CNBC News Orange County
Discover Orange County/Tech on the Go
Hudson News Newswall
Sunglass Hut/Rip Curl
CNN Newsstand Orange County
Beachfront News and InMotion Entertainment store
CNBC News Express
South Coast News
OC Travel Mart

According to an economic impact study conducted by the Orange County Business Council in 2010, the John Wayne Airport Improvement Program resulted in nearly $1.2 billion of economic benefit for the local community. For every $1 invested in the program, more than $2 circulated back into the economy. And it created approximately 6,670 much-needed jobs over the life of the project.

(JWA Press release)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Emirates fast out of the gate at the Dubai Air Show with 50 777 jet order

Emirates placed an order for 50 Boeing 777 jets at the Dubai Air Show on Sunday, underscoring the confidence brimming among fast-growing Gulf airlines despite growing fears of stalling global growth.

The Dubai government-owned carrier, expanding its role as the world's largest operator of the 777, said the deal was worth USD$18 billion, the largest commercial order by value in the US plane maker's history.

"This order represents a milestone -- it is the single largest dollar value (order) in the Boeing history," Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al Maktoum said at a press conference, before signing the deal with Boeing representatives as Dubai's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, looked on.

"(The) 777 has served Emirates very well in terms of seat costs... especially when we see the fuel price is quite high."

Fuel costs took a big toll on the airline's first half profits, sending them down 76 percent.

Emirates said it had adequate financing in place for 2012, and planned no new bond issue. Sheikh Ahmed said the airline, which launched a heavily oversubscribed USD$1 billion bond in June, would consider a bond if needed and if the timing was right, adding "we don't have a push."

Including options to buy 20 more of the twin-aisle aircraft and other agreements, the total deal is worth USD$26 billion, Emirates and Boeing said.

The airline planned to look at a mix of funding options for the order, including Islamic finance, he added. Delivery of the aircraft is due to begin in 2015.


Gulf airlines and lessors are set to splash out on Airbus and Boeing jets at the November 13-17 air show, underscoring the region's role as the industry's chief paymaster amid Europe's worsening sovereign debt crisis.

Qatar Airways is expected to place a USD$6.5 billion order for 50 fuel-saving A320neo jets and five A380s from Airbus, and Kuwait lessor Alafco plans to boost a provisional order for 30 Airbus A320neos, industry sources said.

A muted air show two years ago came days before Dubai lurched into its own property and financial crisis in 2009, but the city state has been recovering after a bailout from Abu Dhabi.

Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed spent hours at the airshow, looking at commercial and military planes and touring the floor before taking a seat at the Emirates news conference, underscoring the keen interest that the emirate has in the success of its airline and ambitions for Dubai to become a major hub.

Demand for passenger aircraft has been remarkably robust led by rising numbers of middle classes in Asia and the Middle East and a shift of economic power from the West, but some analysts fear a contagion from Europe's debt crisis.

"Nothing goes up forever but we really believe the demand for airplanes is driven by world GDP," Boeing commercial planes chief executive Jim Albaugh said on the eve of the show.

"It goes up by about one and a half times GDP, and while you have spikes... the long-term direction is pretty positive."


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Transaero to add 4 747-8I to fleet

Transaero Airlines (UN) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Boeing for four 747-8 Intercontinental aircraft, making it the first customer in Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe for the passenger version of 747-8. The deal is valued at $1.32 billion at list prices. The aircraft will be delivered in 2016.

The aircraft will feature a four-class cabin layout (first, business, premium economy and tourist) seating about 460 passengers, according to UN.

“In 2005 we became the first Boeing 747 operator in Russia, the CIS and Eastern Europe. Following our traditions we chose modern and efficient 747-8 Intercontinental,” Pleshakova said during the signing ceremony. AirBridge Cargo is Russia’s first customer of 747-8 cargo version, which will receive its first aircraft at the beginning of the next year.

The carrier last month signed an MOU for four Airbus A380s. At the MAKS Airshow in Moscow this summer, UN CEO Olga Pleshakova said the A380s/747-8s would be used to replace older 747s and expand the carrier's fleet from 2015 onward.

The carrier operates nearly 70 aircraft, including 747s, 777s, 767s, 737s and Tupolev Tu-214s. UN specializes in long-haul flights on tourist destinations developing its route network both from Moscow in Saint Petersburg and also flies on the domestic long- and medium-haul routes from these cities.

(Polina Borodina - ATWOnline News)

Monday, November 7, 2011

It's official, Southwest and AirTran pilots approve seniorty integration

Pilots at Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways approved an agreement combining their seniority lists, clearing a hurdle as Southwest looks to fully integrate AirTran into its operations after acquiring it earlier this year.

Pilots from Southwest, represented by the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, and those from AirTran, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, both approved the pact by more than 83 percent.

A pilot's position on the seniority list can determine factors such as earnings, city base and days worked.

There are more than 6,000 Southwest pilots and 1,700 AirTran pilots. AirTran pilots will spend the next three years transitioning to Southwest operations.

Southwest closed the purchase of AirTran in May, positioning itself to challenge bigger rivals in key US East Coast markets such as Atlanta.


Friday, November 4, 2011

Photo of the Day / Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F

Lufthansa Cargo MD-11F (48783/627) D-ALCC "Karl-Ulrich Garnadt," is captured at Manchester International (Ringway) (MAN/EGCC) taxing towards departure and sporting the special "100 Years Air Cargo" livery. The aircraft was delivered to the carrier on August 13, 1998 becoming the third of the type in the carriers cargo fleet.
(Photo by Nik French)  

British Airways World Cargo receives first 747-8F

British Airways World Cargo (Atlas Air/Global Supply Systems) 747-87UF (37561/1442) G-GSSD departs Paine Field (PAE/KPAE) bound for London-Stansted (STN/EGSS) On it delivery flight November 3, 2011.

(Photo by Boeing)

British Airways World Cargo has just taken delivery - through cargo wet-lease specialist Atlas Air - of its first Boeing 747-8F freighter.

Based at London Stansted, the 747-8F is due to enter service on, November 8.

Unlike the 747-400Fs Atlas has previously operated on wet-lease for BA, this aircraft is in the airline's full "Union Flag" colour scheme - and looks fabulous. (The purists will point out that one Atlas 747-400F did briefly appear in BA colours, but this was the Utopia scheme with the "English Rose" tail colours.)

The red, white and blue 747-8F brings back memories of the airline's brief dalliance with the 747 freighter variant in the early 1980s. BA took delivery of a single 747-200F "G-KILO" from Seattle, which was named "British Trader".

In those days things were slightly different at BA's cargo division though. G-KILO was integrated into the airline's large 747-100/200 passenger fleet, and the flightcrews expected a seamless service whether they were flying freight or "self-loading cargo" (ie passengers). So each cargo flight operated with a stewardess on board to ensure the flightdeck team had the service they were used to on the passenger flights - coffees, teas, meals and that legendary cheese board!

So perhaps it was no wonder that the economics of BA's single 747-200F operation didn't work out, and the aircraft was disposed of fairly pronto to Cathay Pacific?

(Max Kingsley-Jones - Airline Business Blog)
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise has converted five of 15 Boeing 747-8 freighters it has on order to the smaller 777 freighter.

According to its weekly order update, DAE now holds orders for 10 747-8F aircraft. Prior to the conversion DAE had eight 777F orders, with three aircraft delivered. The outstanding 777F order has now risen to 10.

Boeing said the conversion brings DAE's total unfilled aircraft order to 20, split evenly between 747-8F and 777 aircraft.

The conversion also places the 747-8 family in the net negative for orders in 2011, with an overall reduction in the backlog of one aircraft.

Boeing has also added two additional 777 aircraft from an unidentified customer, bringing the 2011 gross order total to 134 of the twin-engine aircraft, with two recorded cancellations.

Boeing has delivered four 747-8Fs to three customers -- Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Cargo and Atlas Air.

(Jon Ostrower - FlightGlobal News)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Another new G550 arrives in Long Beach

Arrives on Rwy 12.

The old Douglas (DAC) commercial ramp is seen in the distance.

Building 80 (DC-9/MD-80/MD-90/MD-95) and Building 84 (DC-8/DC-10/MD-11) can be seen just under the nose of this lovely G550.

G550 (c/n 5352) N152GA arrives from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) at 16:45 pst on November 2, 2011 with the historic Long Beach Airport Terminal in the distance.
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Photo of the Day / Allegiant Air MD-83

Allegiant Air MD-83 (53469/2116) N876GA which now sports the new "Travel is our deal" livery holds short of Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) prior to departing to Las Vegas McCarren International Airport (LAS/KLAS) as "AAY551" on October 26, 2011.

The MD-82 was originally delivered to Korean Air on July 31, 1995 as HL7237 with whom it served until 10/18/2002 when it was returned to Boeing as N224BA and convereted to an MD-83. On November 15, 2002 new Canadian carrier Jetsgo leased the aircraft and operated it as C-GKLR until going out of business in early 2005. Allegiant Air leased the aircraft on September 23, 2005 and still operates the MD-83 today.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The decline of Ontario International Airport

The following is great article on Ontario Airport (ONT/KONT) which appeared in the L.A. Times on Monday October 31, 2011. Cheers Michael.

It's the middle of the business day and the cavernous baggage claim area in Terminal 2 at L.A./Ontario International Airport is deserted. Upstairs, the food and beverage shops are closed. At the information desk, a volunteer quietly waits for travelers who never come.

Out at the curb, Miguel Del Valle of Moreno Valley arrives for a flight to Colorado, looks at the empty terminal and asks an idle skycap if the place is closed.

"No, no, no. Come on in," the skycap assures him, reaching for his luggage.

"I was shocked," said Del Valle, the only passenger at the United Airlines ticket counter. "I called my wife and told her that I've only seen five people here."

After three decades of steady growth and earning a Forbes magazine nod as one of the nation's top "alternative airports," Ontario International is now among the fastest-declining midsize airports in the country.

A pillar of pride for the Inland Empire, which rode the housing boom to a colossal bust, the sprawling facility owned and operated by the city of Los Angeles lost a third of its 7.2 million annual passengers between 2007 and 2010.

The airport is on track to lose an additional 200,000 this year — setting it back to 1987 levels, when Ronald Reagan was president and the Dow was below 3,000. Nationally, only Cincinnati is shedding travelers at a faster pace.

The economic pounding suffered by the Inland Empire, where unemployment peaked at more than 14%, is a significant factor in the airport's decline. In addition, the highest fees in the region for air carriers, and fares that can be twice those at other Southern California airports, have driven airlines and hundreds of thousands of passengers to other portals, particularly Los Angeles International Airport.

But Inland Empire leaders suspect something more insidious is at work. Increasingly, they are convinced that Los Angeles World Airports, which operates both LAX and Ontario, has become an absentee landlord bent on a multibillion-dollar modernization of LAX at the expense of its weaker stepchild and potential competitor 56 miles to the east.

"It really smacks of economic warfare against the Inland Empire," said John Husing, an economic consultant with a local business coalition. "Los Angeles officials cannot be trusted.... They have done everything in their power to ruin this airport."

Los Angeles officials counter that Ontario is a victim of economic forces largely beyond their control and might not recover until travel demand returns to pre-recession levels.

"It's really an unhappy situation," said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports. "We have the Great Recession combined with related structural changes in the airline industry."

Inland Empire officials aren't buying it, noting that while Los Angeles County has had 12.4% to 13% unemployment, LAX has grown.

Their disenchantment has fostered an effort to regain local ownership of the airport, which Los Angeles acquired at no cost in 1985 after operating it since 1967. The idea has the backing of 20 other cities and the Southern California Assn. of Governments, an influential regional planning agency.

Under the current management, Ontario officials say, an estimated 8,000 airport-related jobs and $400 million in yearly business activity already have been lost. For travelers, Ontario was a popular discount fare portal before the economic crash. Now there are 47% fewer flights, about 60% fewer destinations, a dearth of discount carriers and often sharply higher airfares.

"Today, I can fly to Paris out of Miami for the same price as flying into Ontario," said Scott Schroeder, a West Palm Beach attorney, who regularly used the Inland Empire airport until rising ticket prices forced him to switch to LAX.

Unless there is a quick turnaround, Ontario officials say, Los Angeles will squander an aviation asset with the potential to serve 30 million passengers annually. That's partly because it is unencumbered by the court-ordered passenger caps, noise restrictions, outdated facilities and community opposition that have slowed growth at LAX and other local airports.

Ontario City Councilman Alan Wapner complains that Los Angeles officials have not reduced airport staff and costs in line with the passenger drop, which he says has kept Ontario's overhead too high for airlines.

Last year, the fees that Ontario charged air carriers per passenger averaged $14.50, about seven times those charged at Burbank, more than twice those at Long Beach, 45% more than Orange County's John Wayne Airport and 31% higher than LAX.

"It's been a dog-and-pony show at Los Angeles World Airports for the past 11/2 to 2 years," Wapner said.

Since 2008, Ontario's annual marketing and advertising budgets of up to $1.5 million have been slashed nearly 90%, and the airport manager's job was reduced to a part-time position. In the latest blow, Los Angeles airport commissioners recently awarded a new advertising contract to L.A. Inc. —the city's visitors and convention bureau — that focuses on LAX and eliminates money to promote Ontario.

Three years ago, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said savings from closing Palmdale Regional Airport — an estimated $7 million annually — should be directed to Ontario. But that hasn't happened. Lindsey said she has not spoken with Villaraigosa about the matter and needs more direction on the use of the money. The mayor's office could not explain the delay but indicated Villaraigosa would agree to use some of the Palmdale funds in a joint marketing effort with the city of Ontario.

Lindsey also said Ontario's expenses and staffing have been reduced, lowering this year's per-passenger fees for airlines to $11.73 — although they remain the highest in the region. Efforts to attract airlines are continuing, albeit unsuccessfully, and advertising for Ontario can be purchased as needed, she said.

But Ontario city officials say Los Angeles has not been aggressive enough in promoting the airport with air carriers. They point to a 1967 agreement that calls on Los Angeles to "exercise its best efforts" to obtain air service for Ontario. And they note that a 2006 court settlement requires Los Angeles to spread the growth in air traffic around the region to reduce the impact on areas around LAX.

Since the settlement, however, LAX's market share compared with the five other commercial airports in the region has increased from 69.6% to 74.1% and its passenger volume is up about 5.6% this year. Ontario's market share has fallen from 8.2% to 5.4%. Only Palm Springs and Long Beach have realized slight gains.

"Regionalization is not being realized," said attorney Barbara Lichman, who represents Ontario as well as Inglewood and Culver City, two plaintiffs in the lawsuit that put limits on LAX growth. "A great deal of resources are being expended on modernization. They don't want to divert airlines from LAX."

That theme was echoed by a consultant hired by Los Angeles World Airports to develop a strategy to spread air service among other cities. She accused the airport department of mismanaging the regionalization effort and thwarting her work.

"The result was nothing was accomplished, and the burden of blame has fallen on me," according to emails obtained by The Times that were sent to Lindsey from consultant Peggy Ducey.

Lindsey said she is reviewing Ducey's final report and defended her department's years of effort to decentralize air traffic and promote Ontario. Ducey declined to comment.

If they can regain control of the airport through a simple transfer of ownership, Ontario city officials say they would aggressively market it and create incentives to lure new airlines, including slashing carrier costs to below $4 per passenger — less than a third of current fees.

Operational savings can be achieved, they say, by deeper reductions in airport staffing, paying employees lower wages typical of the Inland Empire and eliminating an $8-million-to-$9-million annual administrative fee charged to airlines.

But Ontario officials face a formidable opponent in Villaraigosa, who wants L.A. to retain ownership as well as political control of the airport. Organized labor could weigh in on any plan that could cut wages, though Ontario officials say they have had encouraging communications with professional associations representing airport workers.

Lindsey has renewed an offer supported by Villaraigosa to let Ontario officials handle the airport's advertising and marketing — a compromise rejected by Inland Empire leaders as incapable of solving the airport's many problems.

Such a limited fix, said Ontario City Councilman Jim W. Bowman, "makes no sense and offers no benefit to anyone."

(Dan Weikel - Los Angeles Times)

Wright-Patterson AFB C-17A comes home to Long Beach

On a very short final to Rwy 30.

Smokes the mains on Rwy 30.
C-17A (P-20) 93-0604 "Wright-Patterson AFB, 445th AW," arrived home at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on November 1, 2011 at 11:49am following a flight from Wright-Patterson AFB (FFO/KFFO) located in Dayton, Ohio. This early build C-17A was originally delivered to Charleston AFB on June 16, 1995. 
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

New G550 arrives from Savannah

G550 (c/n 5349) N949GA arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at 12:11 PST on October 31, 2011 following a flight from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) as "GLF51."
(Photo by Douglas Kerr)

More LAX Action!

FedEx MD-10-10F (46633/297) N358FE, short final to Rwy 25L on October 8, 2011.

American Airlines 767-323/ER (29432/709) N395AN arrives on October 8, 2011 sporting the carriers "One World" livery.

Delta Airlines 757-231 (28479/742) N705TW is a second ex TWA machine to wear the carriers "SkyTeam" livery and is captured arriving on October 28, 2011.

American Airlines 767-323/ER (33084/906) N345AN departs from Rwy 25R on October 13, 2011 sporting "Winglets."

AirTran 737-7BD (33943/2552) N338AT is caught on short final to Rwy 25L on October 28, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines announces new OAK/SJC - Honolulu service

Alaska Airlines today announced new daily nonstop service between Honolulu and Oakland and Honolulu and San Jose, Calif., marking the latest in a series of new Hawaii routes introduced by the carrier this year. The Honolulu service begins April 10, 2012, and complements Alaska Airlines' existing daily nonstop flights from Oakland and San Jose to Hawaii's other three major destinations: Kona, on the Big Island; Lihue, on the island of Kauai; and Kahului, Maui.

Alaska Airlines is offering a special introductory fare of $149* each way for tickets purchased by Nov. 4, 2011, for travel between April 10 and June 9, 2012.

To celebrate the new service, Alaska Airlines is partnering with Bay Area radio stations to give away an airplane's worth of tickets**. The "Nuts for Honolulu" campaign, which launches today, invites listeners to participate on-air for a chance to win 160 tickets to Honolulu, Kona, Kauai and Maui throughout the week. Details about each day's contest are also available by using the Twitter hashtag #nuts4honolulu.

Customers can tune in to these radio stations for complete contest information: Alaska Airlines offers nine daily flights to Hawaii from Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento including the new service announced today. During the peak winter travel season, Alaska Airlines offers 24 flights a day to Hawaii from Anchorage and seven West Coast cities, including Bellingham, Seattle, Portland, San Diego as well as Oakland, San Jose and Sacramento.

"These new flights provide customers in the Bay Area with convenient daily service to all four of the major Hawaiian Islands, including the Big Island, Maui, Kauai and now Oahu," said Joe Sprague, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing. "We're nuts about Hawaii and thrilled to be giving away a plane's worth of seats to the Hawaiian Islands to celebrate."

Summary of flights:

 Oakland-Honolulu 8:55 a.m. 11:20 a.m. - Daily

 Honolulu-Oakland 1:55 p.m. 9:55 p.m. - Daily

 San Jose-Honolulu 10:30 a.m. 12:55 p.m. - Daily

 Honolulu-San Jose 12:20 p.m. 8:20 p.m. - Daily

**All times based on local time zones.**

(Alaska Airlines Press Release)

jetBlue at it again, stranding passengers for hours on diverted aircraft

Being stuck for hours on a stuffy, stinky plane at the airport - every passenger's nightmare - was supposed to be a thing of the past, thanks to the U.S. government's threat of huge fines against the airlines. Well, dream on.

Last weekend's snowstorm stranding of hundreds of New York and New Jersey-bound travelers, some for as long as seven hours, on an airport tarmac shows that the effectiveness of federal rules designed to protect passengers from such ordeals is limited, say industry officials and consumer advocates.

Under Transportation Department rules that went into effect in April 2010, most tarmac delays at U.S. airports are limited to three hours for domestic flights and four hours for international flights. Exceptions to the time limits are allowed only for safety, security or if air traffic control advises the pilot that returning to the terminal would disrupt airport operations.

But a consumer advocate with airline industry experience says that despite the risk of fines as high as $27,500 per passenger, at least one airline - JetBlue Airways - apparently didn't make the kinds of arrangements most carriers make to protect passengers from hours and hours of sitting in cramped airline seats with little food and limited bathrooms.

A rare October snowstorm and equipment problems at Newark's Liberty International Airport and John F. Kennedy International Airport forced 23 planes to divert to the much smaller Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut. Passengers on at least three JetBlue planes and one American Airlines flight from Paris reported being confined for seven hours or more. Food and water ran out, toilets backed up and tempers snapped.

The captain of JetBlue Flight 504, which was diverted en route to Newark from Fort Lauderdale begged for help to get his plane to a gate.

"We can't seem to get any help from our own company," the captain can be heard pleading with authorities over his radio.

"I have a paraplegic onboard that needs to come off. I have a diabetic on here that's got an issue," he said later. "It's a list of things. I just gotta get some help."

The Transportation Department said in a statement that it is investigating whether JetBlue's handling of Flight 504 violated the department's three-hour limit on how long airlines can hold passengers in planes on tarmac or face fines.

The department is also looking into several other possible extended tarmac delays of more than three hours, the statement said.

JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Croyle declined to comment on the pilot's remarks or whether the airline had arrangements in place in case of a diversion to Bradley.

"We are conducting an investigation and we are prepared to support the DOT's investigation," Croyle said.

JetBlue is the major airline operator at Long Beach Airport, where JetBlue operates several daily flights to Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. Airport officials said that delays there as a result of the snowstorm were minimal, airport officials said.

"The biggest problem we heard about was slight delays, maybe a few minutes, and mostly from the thick fog here (in Southern California)," said Kerry Gerot, Long Beach Airport Spokeswoman. "But we didn't have anybody stuck overnight at the airport or experiencing some of the problems they reported in Connecticut."

Bill McGee, a travel adviser for the Consumers' Union, said a confluence of events made the situation extraordinary: the snow, the large number of diversions to Bradley, a power outage at the airport during the storm that may have hindered refueling, and not enough customs officials on duty to handle a diverted international flight.

But weather affects all airlines equally, he noted.

"How well airlines respond to it is a test of how well airlines treat their passengers," said McGee, a former airline dispatcher. "Their responsibility is to be prepared for situations like this and to have handling agreements in place" with companies that work at airports like Bradley for just such "irregular operations" as last weekend's diversions.

Steve Lott, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association, expressed frustration with the three-hour tarmac rule.

"The way the rule was written, it was targeted at the airline industry as if airlines were the only parties involved," Lott said. "This should be a shared responsibility between airlines, airports and government agencies like TSA or customs."

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has praised the tarmac delay rule as a success. During the first year the rule was in effect, delays of three hours and longer fell to 20 from 693. But the Government Accountability Office said in September that the government's effort to eliminate longer delays has made it 24percent more likely that airlines will cancel flights as they approach the three-hour ceiling.

(Joan Lowy - Associated Press / Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)