Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MD-83 (49396/1305) YR-HBE now sports Air Vallee titles with the Medallion Air tail logo. The aircraft is captured at Parma (PMF/LIMP) on December 26, 2011 as it readies to commence daily rotations between Parma and Catania - Fontanarossa (CTA/LICC) on January 14, 2012.

(Photo by Marco Finelli)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

The Aero Pacific Flightlines staff would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

New Southwest Airlines 737NG at SNA

Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (41777/3874) N969WN is the latest aircraft to join the carriers fleet following it's delivery on December 21, 2011. The aircraft is being pushed off gate 19 at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) as it prepares to depart for Denver, Colorado (DEN/KDEN) as "SWA1941" on December 25, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Friday, December 23, 2011

Virgin Australia Airlines 777-3ZG/ER (37943/898) VH-VPH arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 21, 2011 following a flight from Sydney International Airport (SYD/YSSY).

(Photo by Michael Carter)
Astar Air Cargo DC-8-73(F) (46091/519) N873SJ is captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on a gorgeous SoCal morning on December 21, 2011.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Finally Got This One!

Cathay Pacific 777-367/ER (36832/692) B-KPF "Hong Kong - Asia's World City" departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) at 12:08 pst as "CPA885" bound for Hong Kong International Airport (HKG/VHHH).

(Photos by Michael Carter)
Qantas A380-842 (c/n 074) VH-OQL "Phyllis Arnott" is captured under tow from the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The aircraft is the latest A380 to join the carriers fleet having been delivered on December 16, 2011. It arrived at Los Angeles International Airport at 09:09 pst from Sydney Airport as "QFA11" following it's first revenue flight.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

World Airways Cargo 747-4H6(BDSF) (25702/999) N741WA finally gets airbourne at 11:42 pst following a very long take-off roll on Rwy 25L. This lovely aircraft is operating for Cargolux and is destined for Luxembourg International Airport (LUX/ELLX) as "CLX773." 
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Lan 767-316/ER (37801/985) CC-CXJ departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) sporting the carriers "Oneworld" livery at 12:19 pst as "LAN601" bound for Jorge Chavez International Airport (LIM/SPIM) in Lima, Peru.
(Photo by Michael Carter)  
Air New Zealand 777-319/ER (39041/972) ZK-OKP taxies from Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) following it's arrival from Auckland Airport (AKL/NZAA) at 13:26 pst as "ANZ2."

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-867F visits LAX

Cathay Pacific Cargo 747-867F (39243/1447) B-LJF arrived at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) from Ted Stevens - Anchorage International Airport (ANC/PANC) at 10:21pst as "CPA86." In the above photos the aircraft is seen departing LAX at 13:48pst as "CPA87" bound for Vancouver International Airport (YVR/CYVR). This is the latest 747-8F to join the carriers fleet having been delivered on December 12, 2011.
(Photos by Michael Carter)   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

G550 performs customer acceptance flight

G550 (c/n 5346) N946GA tbr M-JIGG arrives back at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) following a successful customer acceptance flight.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Another new G550 arrives at Long Beach Airport

G550 (c/n 5360) N360GA arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) at 10:59 pst as "GLF44."

Photo by Michael Carter)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Boeing delivers 7,000th 737

Yesterday Boeing delivered the 7,000th 737 to come off the production line to Dubai -based flydubai. The airplane is flydubai's 14th Next-Generation 737-800 with the new Boeing Sky Interior. The Boeing 737 is the best-selling commercial jetliner of all time with total orders exceeding 9,300 airplanes, including orders for the new 737 MAX.

"It is incredible to be delivering our 7,000th 737. We thank flydubai and all our customers who have made the 737 the world's most popular jet airliner," said Beverly Wyse , vice president and general manager of the 737 program. "This success is due to the years of expertise that thousands of employees continue to build into every Boeing 737 used in private, government and commercial service."

In November 2010 , flydubai had the distinction to be the first airline in the world to offer passengers an enhanced onboard experience with the brand new Boeing Sky Interior. Today's delivery will be the 21st in flydubai's fleet and the airline has an additional 30 737-800s on order. "We are proud to be a part of this important milestone for the 737," said Ghaith Al Ghaith , CEO, flydubai. "With its
continuous innovations, the Next-Generation 737 brings the right combination of operational and environmental performance to address the requirements of our markets." Ghaith adds, "The Next-Generation 737 is a major cornerstone to flydubai's modern, fuel-efficient and economical portfolio of commercial jets."

The 737 is the most produced large commercial jet airliner in history and continues to hit the record books as the program produces airplanes at record rates. The gap between each record delivery is shrinking. It took Boeing 4 years 8 months between the 4,000th and 5,000th, while the gap between the 5,000th and 6,000th delivery was 3 years and 2 months.

The 7,000th delivery is just 2 years and 8 months after the 6,000th. With 737 production rates increasing incrementally to a record 42 airplanes a month in the first half of 2014 the gap will continue to close.

The 737 MAX is the new-engine variant of the world's best-selling airplane and builds on the strengths of today's Next-Generation 737. Powered by the new CFM International LEAP-1B engines, the 737 MAX reduces fuel burn and CO2
emissions by an additional 10-12 percent over today's most fuel-efficient single-aisle airplane, the Next-Generation 737. It will have the lowest operating costs per seat in the single-aisle segment with a 7 percent advantage over tomorrow's competition.

To date, Boeing has received orders and commitments for more than 900 airplanes from 13 customers for the 737 MAX, while the Next-Generation 737 family has won orders for more than 6,200 airplanes with a backlog exceeding 2,300 airplanes.

With more than 5,400 airplanes in service, the 737 represents more than a quarter of the total worldwide fleet of large commercial jets flying today. More than 358 airlines in 114 countries fly 737s.

(Boeing Press Release)

Friday, December 16, 2011

FedEx announces order for 26 Boeing 767-300F's

Image by Boeing

FedEx revealed Thursday it has placed a firm order for 27 Boeing 767-300 freighters valued at $4.74 billion at list prices, but also has deferred delivery of 11 777Fs. The disclosures were made as the Memphis-based express delivery operator reported a 76% year-over-year lift in net income for its fiscal second quarter ended Nov. 30 to $497 million on a 10% rise in revenue to $10.59 billion.

FedEx will take delivery of three 767-300Fs in its fiscal year starting June 1, 2013, and receive six per year over the following four years. The aircraft will replace the cargo carrier's aging MD-10Fs.

"The 767s will provide similar capacity as the MD-10s, with improved reliability, an approximate 30% increase in fuel efficiency and a minimum of a 20% reduction in unit operating costs," FedEx said in a statement.

It selected GE Aviation's CF6-80C2 engines to power the 27 767-300Fs. It also signed a multiyear OnPoint maintenance, repair and overhaul agreement with GE.

Regarding the 777Fs, FedEx exercised two options but also has delayed the delivery of 11. Two will be deferred that had been scheduled for delivery in the fiscal year starting June 1, 2012, five from the next fiscal year, and one per year in the following four years. FedEx said the deferrals were necessary "to better balance air network capacity to demand." It did not say when the deferred aircraft will be delivered.

As a result of the deferrals, FedEx will place four 777Fs into service in the fiscal year starting June 1, 2012, and two in the following fiscal year. It has 17 777Fs in service.

Executive VP and CFO Alan Graf said the 777F deferrals are a continuation of FedEx's recent efforts "to adjust its network, particularly in Asia, as recent inventory destocking trends have impacted demand." He said the delayed deliveries will enable FedEx "to make appropriately timed international 777 capacity additions over the next decade."

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Southwest Airlines becomes launch customer for the 737 MAX with record order

Southwest Airlines artists impression of 737 MAX 

Boeing bagged its first firm order for the new 737 MAX fuel-efficient, narrow-body plane, as part of a USD$19 billion deal with Southwest Airlines that the jet maker calls its largest order ever.

The order for 208 narrow-body planes includes 150 MAX aircraft and puts Southwest, a loyal Boeing customer, first in line to take delivery of the upcoming revamp of the best-selling 737, which will feature a new energy-efficient engine.

The order reflects robust demand for fuel-efficient planes as the airline industry struggles to rebound from a painful downturn and cope with volatile oil prices. The Southwest deal is also one of the last major aircraft orders up for grabs from US carriers looking to replace older models.

"It's been a very good year for orders, really driven by the re-engined platforms for Airbus and Boeing," said Peter Arment, an aerospace analyst with Sterne, Agee & Leach. "We do expect that to continue in 2012."

He said Boeing would likely garner more orders for its 737 MAX from existing customers, and noted the company was currently competing with chief rival Airbus for an order from United Continental, the world's largest carrier.

Delta Air Lines ordered 100 737-900ER Next-Generation planes in August, following a giant order in July from now-bankrupt American Airlines.

The MAX orders, combined with a strong existing backlog for other 737 models, will allow Boeing to raise production rates to record levels on one of its most profitable planes, Arment said.

"Longer term, it's going to help generate some additional earnings power for the company," Arment added.


Boeing reported commitments for 948 737 MAXs and said the figure could climb to 1,500 by the end of next year. It said the Southwest deal was its largest firm order ever in dollar value and the number of planes.

Private Indonesian carrier Lion Air last month placed an order for 230 planes, including 201 of the MAX that Boeing said at that time was its largest order, but those orders were not firm.

"It truly is Christmas come early," Jim Albaugh, Boeing's chief executive for commercial planes, told a press briefing held in Dallas to announce the Southwest order.

Later on Tuesday, Albaugh said "next year looks like it's going to be a very good year as well" for orders, assuming there is no economic meltdown.

In addition to the MAX planes, Southwest also said it will buy 58 737 Next-Generation aircraft. The traditional discount carrier has a fleet of 699 planes, including 88 Boeing 717s acquired when it bought AirTran this year.

Boeing said the MAX, which is competing with Airbus's re-engined A320neo family, cuts fuel burn by an additional 10 percent to 12 percent over current single-aisle planes. CFM International is providing the MAX engines.

Boeing on Tuesday also announced inaugural list prices for its 737 MAX aircraft. The 737 MAX 8 will sell for a list price of USD$95.2 million, Boeing said on its website, while the larger 737 MAX 9 will sell for USD$101.7 million.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Emirates A380-861 (c/n 28) A6-EDI arrives at London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) on December 10, 2011 sporting special "40 Year State of the Union" markings.

(Photo by James Mepsted)

Etihad Airways announces order for 12 Boeing aircraft

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways will buy 12 planes from Boeing, including 10 787-9 Dreamliners, in a deal valued at USD$2.8 billion at current list prices, the airline said in a statement on Monday.

The new orders makes Etihad the world's largest customer of the fuel-efficient 787-9 with a total of 41 on order.

It also ordered two Boeing 777 Freighters, taking the number of 777s in its fleet to 21.

It was reported last month that Etihad had agreed the deal with Boeing, and the two parties steered clear of announcing the purchase at the Dubai Airshow, which was dominated by Etihad's Gulf-based rivals Emirates and Qatar Airways.

Etihad said on Monday that it also had options and purchase rights for 25 more 787s.

"Both the 787 Dreamliner and the 777 Freighter offer highly attractive operating economics and will facilitate our global expansion plans by allowing us to transport passengers and cargo into new markets from our hub in Abu Dhabi," Etihad Airways chief executive James Hogan said in the statement.

The 787-9 will be initially used on Etihad's routes to destinations including Dublin, Frankfurt, Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Nagoya, Delhi and Istanbul, the carrier said.

Etihad had a muted presence at the airshow in Dubai last month, where more than USD$62 billion in civil aerospace and military orders were placed.

Emirates ordered 50 wide-body 777s at the show in a deal valued at USD$18 billion, which was the Boeing's largest-ever single-order deal.


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Romanian carrier Tend Air now operates this ex-Jetran MD-82 (49139/1091) YR-MDK which is seen arriving at London-Gatwick (EGW/EGKK) on December 7, 2011 from Frankfurt-Main (Rhein-Main AFB) (FRA/FRF/EDDF) operating Air Moldova flight "863."

(Photo by Terry Wade) 

BmiBaby 737-3Q8 (26307/2664) G-TOYD is captured at Birmingham International (Elmdom) (BHX/EGBB) sporting the carriers latest tail livery.
(Photo by Gordon Stretch)

Cargolux convicted of price-fixing, executives face prison time

Two Cargolux Airlines International (CV) executives, including its former CEO, have entered into a plea agreement with the US Dept. of Justice (DOJ) in which they agreed to serve 13 months in prison for fixing surcharge rates on air cargo shipments.

Ulrich Ogiermann, the Luxembourg-based airfreight carrier's former president and CEO who now serves as a special adviser, and Robert Van de Weg, SVP-sales and marketing, “pleaded guilty to conspiring with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and coordinating certain surcharges, including security and fuel surcharges, charged to customers located in the United States and elsewhere for air cargo shipments including shipments to and from the United States,” DOJ said.

The agreement follows their indictment by a US grand jury in October 2010 for alleged violations of US antitrust laws.

CV said in a statement, “While expressing its regret for the executives personally, Cargolux acknowledges their decision to plead guilty as a way to finally bring this matter to a controlled close both for them and the company. The charges against Ogiermann and Van de Weg relate to conduct they undertook on behalf of the company and do not allege that they derived any personal benefit from the activities in question.”

CV itself pleaded guilty in the US in 2009 to cargo price fixing and agreed to pay a fine of $119 million.

To date, 22 airlines and 21 executives have been charged in the DOJ’s ongoing investigation into price-fixing in the air transportation industry. More than $1.8 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and four executives have been sentenced to serve prison time.

(Cathy Buyck - ATWOnline News)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

G550 departs to Savannah

G550 (c/n 5337) N537GA tbr B-8156, departed Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this morning at 10:26 pst bound for Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) for onward delivery to it's new Chinese owner. I have taken photos of this aircraft on a previous "Gulftest" flight but the difference this morning was she was wearing small "Emperor Express" titles on the aft fuselage just in front of the engines.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Friday, December 9, 2011

Today at Victorville (VCV/KVCV)

Boeing 787-800 (40694/5) N787FT which wears the GEnx-1B engines is captured turning onto Rwy 35 as it prepares to depart on one of several test sorties it performed today at Victorville.
McDonnell Douglas MD-95 (Boeing 717-2BL) (55172/5122) N908ME is seen wearing MexicanaGo titles as it rests in the Mojave Desert sun.

MexicanaClick McDonnell Douglas MD-95 (Boeing 717-2BL) (55169/5119) N796BC, ex XA-CLC is seen sitting in storage awaiting a new operator. 

FedEx Boeing 757-236 (28666/751) N952FD, ex British Airways G-CPEN is captured parked at VCV awaiting it's conversion to a freighter aircraft.

FedEx Boeing 727-22347/1708) N280FE rests in the winter sun at Victorville as she awaits her fate having been retired by the package carrier.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Monday, December 5, 2011

"Florida One" visits Orange County

Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (36660/3226) N945WN "Florida One" climbs from Rwy 1L at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on December 5, 2011 as "SWA208" bound for Sacramento Metropolitan Airport (SMF/KSMF) at 07:36. 
(Photos by Michael Carter)

DOT approves Southwest / AirTran Mexico Service

Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (33856/1485) N457WN departs from Portland International Airport (PDX/KPDX).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

OlĂ©, y’all!! We’ve received U.S. DOT approval for our new service to Mexico! Starting May 24, 2012, our subsidiary AirTran Airways will start daily, nonstop service between Orange County, Calif., and both Cabo San Lucas/San Jose del Cabo and Benito Juarez International Airport in Mexico City. In addition, to enable us to keep the AirTran 737-700’s used on the international service “route-able” through the AirTran network, on the same day AirTran will add one daily roundtrip between Orange County and both San Francisco and Las Vegas. At the John Wayne International Airport in Orange County, AirTran and Southwest Airlines flights will operate from beautiful new Terminal 3! And in Mexico City, all of our new AirTran service will operate out of Terminal 1.

Shortly after that, beginning on June 3, AirTran will start daily nonstops between San Antonio and Mexico City as well as four weekly roundtrips between San Antonio and Cancun. This new service “south of the border” is in addition to our existing four daily AirTran flights between Atlanta and San Antonio, all of which operate from Southwest’s gates in Terminal B. And in beautiful Cancun, the new San Antonio service is in addition to our existing AirTran service between the “Mayan Rivera” and Atlanta, Baltimore, and Milwaukee.

To celebrate the new international service, AirTran launched a fare sale today with fares as low as $109 one-way between the new destinations. Customers must book by Dec. 19, 2011, in order to take advantage of these low fares (see Fare Rules below). Currently, all reservations for AirTran flights—including international destinations—must be booked on www.airtran.com, by calling AirTran reservations at (800) 247-8726, or through a travel agent. Southwest Customers can now see AirTran’s nonstop international routes on southwest.com through its new web referral tool which links Customers directly to www.airtran.com. All flights booked on www.airtran.com will be subject to AirTran’s policies and procedures.

We are all SO excited to offer all of this new international service to Mexico—and is a perfect example of how the integration of Southwest Airlines and AirTran Airways is going to let us take our Customers to more places than ever before! So whether your wanting to stroll down the Paseo de la Reforma, body surf in the crystal-blue waters of Mexico’s Caribbean, or go deep-sea fishing for humongous marlin in the Pacific, starting next summer we’re your airline! Schedules and great low fares are available at www.southwest.com or www.airtran.com.

(Southwest Airlines Press Release)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Turkish Airlines "F.C. Barcelona" 777-300 at LAX

Turkish Airlines 777-3F2/ER (40709/909) TC-JJI "EGE" is captured on short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 3, 2011 sporting the F.C. Barcelona livery. The football club is the 2011 UEFA Champions.

(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Photo of the Day / American Airlines MD-82

American Airlines MD-82 (53249/1904) N586AA smokes the mains on Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on a gorgeous afternoon in SoCal.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

New G550 takes to the skies on a customer acceptance flight

Holding short of Rwy 30.

G550 (c/n 5342) N854GA taxies onto Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on December 1, 2011 as she departs on a customer acceptance flight.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Sun Country 737-800 Visits Long Beach

Sun Country 737-8BK (30620/991) N814SY ex Virgin Blue VH-VOA "Blue Belle" rolls for take-off on Rwy 30 as "SCX8606" at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on November 26, 2011 bound for San Jose (SJC/KSCJ). The aircraft arrived earlier in the morning from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU/KRDU) at 10:49 PST and parked at the historical Long Beach terminal.

(Photo by Michael Carter)    
G-III (c/n 375) N375LT operated by the Pacific Institute Aviation Corporation arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at 11:48 PST on November 26, 2011 following a flight from Seattle-Boeing Field-King County International Airport (BFI-KBFI).

(Photo by Michael Carter) 

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 - CBSNews.com) 

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) 

Alaskaair.com captured at Orange County John Wayne

Alaska Airlines 737-890 (30020/1738) N548AS "Alaskaair.com" 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)