A nice letter from Air France – KLM

On 11/10/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

klmAlthough BluSky has moved from Air France – KLM to Lufthansa and the Star Alliance as our company’s preferred airline, we are still registered as a BlueBiz member and so get every now and then communications from our old favorite.  Last Wednesday I got a particularly interesting letter from them in my mailbox. I would like to share it with you since this letter shows very well the troubles our industry is facing and how even big companies like KLM are struggling to make a future for themselves. I was particularly struck by the mention of Transavia… this airline, which had seen better days before Air France took over KLM is now slated to compete in the LCC arena. Most analysts believe that this is too little too late and I am afraid they are probably right. Time will tell.

Anyway, here is the letter.

Dear Mr. ZERKOWITZ,

Now that the Air France pilot strike has been ended, we feel it is time for apologies and an explanation and at the same time we want to show you our dedication and appreciation.

First let me begin by offering our sincere apologies for the difficulties caused by the strike. We are sorry if this has affected the activities of your company and your travelers in any way. We are also grateful for the messages of encouragement and support we received from many BlueBiz members.

The issue that lead to the strike situation is the competition AIR FRANCE KLM is facing from low-cost carriers on European routes. To cover the increasing demand for low-cost flights among the public, we need to adapt our offering. A major change that will make us more competitive is the further development of Transavia, AIR FRANCE KLM Group’s low-cost airline. At the same time we will continue to make our large investments in both the Air France and KLM products. The introduction of our new long-haul cabins is a major part of these programs.

More than ever our teams are fully dedicated to a continued and successful partnership into the future with you and your company.

We hope to welcome you and your colleagues back onboard one of our aircraft soon

With kind regards,

Patrick Alexandre
Executive Vice President Commercial
AIR FRANCE KLM 

We wish you luck Air France KLM!

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The absolute bio low cost carrier…

On 31/08/2014, in Picture stories, by steve

blcc

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Birdmen

On 31/08/2014, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Lawrence Goldstone
Publisher: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 978-0-345-53803-1
Also available as Kindle eBook.

birdmenI guess if I asked who the fathers of real powered flight have been, you would answer Orville and Wilbur Wright. OK, some of you may have different ideas, including certain gentlemen from Russia and other places but at the end of the day there can be little doubt that the Writs had a defining role in the early days of powered flight.

Now, if I said that they were the most important blocking factor of major developments in the early days of powered flight, you will raise an eyebrow and ask how come?

But this is exactly the picture we get from Lawrence Goldstone’s book “Birdmen”. This thoroughly researched volume brings a totally credible and mainly never before seen picture of the early days of powered flight and the rivalry between its pioneers in the United States. You will understand how the patents the Wrights took out on every aspect of their Flyer and the subsequent lawsuits they launched against everyone who dared to build similar machines actually stifled innovation for many years.

As it has happened so often with people with a really trendsetting product, the Wrights also failed to develop their aircraft further with the result that it became hopelessly obsolete and in time they were left behind never again to be in the forefront of aviation.

This is must have book for everyone interested in the early years of powered flight who wants to understand how things worked back then and what it took for a new design to succeed or fail. This book is above all about the people who risked death and competed fiercely to make humanity’s oldest dream come too. I can fly…

flyer

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CPDLC is coming to Hungary

On 27/08/2014, in ATC world, by steve

HungaroControl launched its large-scale CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications) project with the aim of developing the Hungarian air traffic infrastructure with the most modern technology in accordance with European integration requirements (Single European Sky, SES). In addition to verbal communication, pilots and controllers will be able to communicate using data link services, by exchanging text messages. The purpose of the high technology programme is to improve flight safety and increase the capacity of Hungarian air navigation by optimising the use of the increasingly saturated radio frequencies. The project’s total budget amounts to EUR 6.8 million, 80 percent of which is financed by HungaroControl Zrt., while the remaining amount, more than EUR 1.4 million will be co-financed by the European Union through the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

CPDLC services will be launched in the Hungarian airspace in February 2015, as a function of the upgraded version of MATIAS (Magyar Automated and Integrated Air Traffic System), one of the world’s most advanced air traffic control systems.

Click here to read the full article

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A foretaste of things to come?

On 26/08/2014, in ATC world, by cleo

questionWe have said a few times on this blog that European air traffic management was in fact existing on borrowed time… Things were not collapsing (yet) not because the new organizations, like the FABs or EUROCONTROL’s new function of Network Manager were doing such an excellent job. No sir, things were running more or less smoothly simply because traffic was still low, well within the capabilities of the ATM system as it was… meaning an ATM system that had not changed much recently no matter what new names and tags were attached to it.

It is therefore interesting to read the July delay figures and its analysis published by EUROCONTROL. To quote from their web-site:

“This July, air traffic was up (good) – but so were delays (not so good). In fact, traffic reached its highest level for the last five years with a 2% increase, compared with July 2013.
High delays were caused by bad weather, staffing shortages and capacity issues. Total air traffic flow management delay increased by 54.3%, compared with July 2013. En route delay was up by 39.8% and airport delay almost doubled, up by 93.8%.”

Of course one needs to keep in mind that the baseline delay figures were rather low and so even a doubling of airport delays does not mean the end of the world… yet. But it is noteworthy that a 2 % increase in traffic could still result in such an increase in delays… One would have expected the new ATM system to absorb this demand growth without batting an eye. Well, it did not.

Among the reasons quoted, bad weather figures prominently and with episodes of crazy weather all over the continent becoming more of an issue every year, the system better gear up to be able to handle this type of issue efficiently.

But there are still the old and well known delay reasons figuring also: staffing shortages and capacity issues. There is no excuse for these!

Check out the July Network Operations Report analysis here or the overview here.

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Ground zero… where it all began.

On 16/08/2014, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

fgIt is with pleasure that I accept a request from numerous readers of mine who have asked me to tell the story of my becoming an air traffic controller. At first sight, the answer seems to be very simple: by accident. Then, thinking long and deep about my early years the question arose: was it really just an accident that I became an air traffic controller?

What about the little guy who was watching with gaping mouth the movement of trains in and out of the stations… Or the kid who would watch for long periods of time how buses tried to turn in the tiny space of provincial bus terminals? And chap who went home and built accurate models of what he had seen. At first I moved my toy cars the way I saw the buses move and later spent hours playing with my model railways. I was not out to have the trains run around as fast as possible… no sir, I built a station and led the trains into it using the witches built into the tracks.

OK, this had nothing to do with aircraft but in the late sixties, early seventies flying for me was still in the category of impossible wonders and so I watched with a total lack of interest as IL-14s plodded above our house.

We shall now make a big jump in time to land in technical school where I am getting ready for the GCE exams. This technical school was anything but a lucky choice for me, a guy with two left hands and zero affinity to technical things. I was constantly fretting about how I will pass my GCE exams. Then one gray winter day a letter arrived in the school announcing the possibility of applying for foreign scholarships. This having been the middle of the seventies, the destinations were exclusively from the socialist neighbors of Hungary and of course the GREAT Soviet Union.

Click here to read the full article

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FAA Announces New York UAS Test Site Now Operational

On 07/08/2014, in UAS, by steve

Drone systems

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration today announced that the Griffiss International Airport unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) test site in Rome, N.Y., is ready to conduct research vital to integrating UAS into the national airspace system (NAS). The site is the fifth of six test sites to become operational.

In addition to providing invaluable information for the integration of UAS into the NAS, the research at the Griffiss test site will evaluate methods for scouting agricultural fields using different types of sensors, including visual, thermal and multispectral equipment, which will benefit farmers regionally and nationally. The research will enhance current methods of monitoring crops and provide additional information for continuing field research efforts.

“We are accomplishing two important missions with the launch of this test site,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “The safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the NAS is our number one priority, but the agricultural research performed in Rome also may have far-reaching benefits to farmers in New York and across the nation.”

The FAA granted the Griffiss International Airport team a two-year Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) to use a PrecisionHawk Lancaster Platform UAS. The Lancaster Platform weighs approximately three pounds and has a wingspan of four feet.

Click here to read the full article

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The New BluSky Brochure is Now Available

On 07/08/2014, in Just to let you know..., by steve

BluSky Services, established in 2003, has long been recognized as a company providing value at acceptable prices to their varied customer base spread all over the world. BluSky Services has always made sure that its portfolio of offerings is constantly updated to meet changing customer demand. They have just published their latest brochure which explains why BluSky Services is the best choice to support their customers and then gives a detailed description of the services being offered at this time.

It is well worth downloading the brochure and keeping it handy should a training need or some other requirement arise. Chances are, BluSky Services will already have a solution and if not, they will be happy to develop a custom solution. Click on the picture or here to download the BluSky Services brochure.

Brochure

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When day shifts are celebrations

On 01/08/2014, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

dayshift

Graphics by David Allen

Although I try to keep track of developments and read all the NOTAMs being published for the airport, when I report for duty in the tower I start the day with a heap of questions. Have anything changed? Is this or that still like it was last time? What is open? What is closed? Any new orders I am not aware of? The poor guy from whom I am taking over is obliged to spend more time explaining things to me. So far they have not taken offence because of this. In any case, they are very nice with me… sometimes I have the feeling that they are just a tad nicer than they should be… But we only laugh about this and agree that the extra kindness is being dispensed only to make sure that if ever I will be investigating an incident in which they are involved, my pencil will be less hard on them. So far they had no occasion to be upset with me. In many vases I was able to set things right when it was clear that the colleague had things under control yet still managed to have a separation infringement of say 0.3 NM. This is such a small infringement that following this up seriously would do more damage than good. After having explained this concept to the colleagues, they stopped worrying about what would happen to them in case things went wrong just a little.

Click here to read the full article

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Roger-Wilco – Five years young

On 22/07/2014, in Anniversaries, by steve

Untitled-1Roger-Wilco went on line five years ago, on 23 July 2009. It was not the first time that my writings appeared in print, every now and again articles were published over the years in various trade fora and they were well received.

From early on my aim in writing had been in part to bring our complicated little world to those who are not directly involved in air traffic management… whether that be the cleaning lady dusting the radar screens or the cabin crew sweating it out while waiting for endless ATC delays to be finally over. I wanted to help them understand the world around them and so make their days more enjoyable.

That the efforts were not in vain was proven many times. On one occasion a cabin attendant on a Malev flight recognized my name and she came to my seat to say how much she appreciated the little articles that made even ATC delays a bit more understandable from them also.

Of course writing a blog and keeping it humming for 5 years is no trivial undertaking. Keeping the readership growing is a major effort in its own right.

I am glad to say that we have managed to do both and the number of visitors on RW per day is very satisfying (around 100). I say we, because Roger-Wilco would not be where we are to-day without the support of our contributors who make sure we are interesting and have a broad swath of subjects covered.

On this anniversary perhaps it is worth recalling what the motivation for Roger-Wilco has been in the first place. There were actually two things that drove the project forward.

Click here to read the full article

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