Celebrating 70 Years of the Chicago Convention

On 13/12/2014, in Anniversaries, by steve


In 1944, delegates from 54 nations gathered in the Grand Ballroom of the Stevens Hotel in Chicago at the invitation of the United States of America.

At this event, the participants concluded and signed the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known more popularly as the ‘Chicago Convention’, the defining international agreement which has since permitted the global civil aviation system to develop peacefully and in a manner benefitting all peoples and nations of the world.

Through 2014, ICAO and the global air transport community  commemorated this momentous occasion by convening a series of special events in Montreal and Chicago.

Featuring high-level participation from the host governments of Canada and the United States of America, and representatives from ICAO’s Council and Member States, these proceedings culminated in an Extraordinary Session of the ICAO Council on Monday, 8 December, in the exact same room where the Convention was signed in the Stevens Hotel (now the Chicago Hilton) 70 years ago.

On this occasion, ICAO Council Representatives adopted a Special Resolution paying tribute to the Chicago Convention’s significant contributions to global peace and prosperity through the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation.

The signing of the Convention

The signing of the Convention


United Airlines Bringing Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus On Board for Flight Attendants

On 10/12/2014, in Airline corner, by steve

appleUnited Airlines has announced that the carrier will equip its flight attendants with Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus, putting important safety and service information at flight attendants’ fingertips while enhancing their ability to meet customers’ needs.

The airline will begin distribution to its more than 23,000 mainline flight attendants during the second quarter of 2015. Upon introduction, the devices will have the ability to handle most onboard retail transactions and will enable access to company email, united.com and the company’s Intranet as well as policies and procedures manuals.

Future enhancements include replacing the flight attendants’ printed safety manual with an electronic version on their iPhones and providing real-time reporting and improved follow-up on aircraft cabin issues and repairs. Additionally, United plans to develop a number of customer-focused tools for the device.

“We are thrilled to make this investment in our flight attendants,” said Sam Risoli, United’s senior vice president of inflight services. “iPhone 6 Plus will enable them to deliver an even higher level of flyer-friendly service and will offer our flight attendants simple, one-touch access to valuable work information, enabling them to better serve our customers.”

The deployment of iPhone 6 Plus for United flight attendants follows the airline’s deployment of iPads to pilots beginning in 2011, in a move toward creating paperless aircraft and flight decks. United has renewed the iPad pilot program with iPad Air 2.


Making History

On 08/12/2014, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

In the second half of October 2014 we have been writing history. Controllers from the Aerodrome Control Tower and the Approach Control Unit participated together shift by shift in a half-day training session on incident investigation. Possibly this is business as usual in other countries, but in Budapest it took 30 years to become reality. At long last we have reached the point where the ditch that was dug quite unnecessarily between the two units is finally being filled in.

The need to learn each other’s work better for controllers from the tower and approach units has been hanging in the air for some time. It looks funny in writing and gives one lot’s of food for thought… but how did we work until now? Is this job not all about team-work? Unfortunately the past several decades were all about pulling apart rather than team-work and this was what we got fed up with, with my colleague and friend Gabor Vass. Looking at things from a purely safety perspective, the investigation of a few incidents had made it clear that things had to change, that something had to be done.

In the fall of 2013 we attempted to move things forward, but we only got two hours to discuss together the outcome of several incident investigations. The very positive experience of that event resulted in us getting a full morning this year, something that gave us the opportunity of presenting not only more serious incidents but also interesting cases that fall into the category of improving the quality of air traffic control.

Click here to read the full article


ATRiCS’ Predeparture Sequencing System in Operation at Stuttgart Airport

On 23/11/2014, in CDM, by steve

On 17 November 2014, Stuttgart Airport became the 13th airport to receive Eurocontrol certification for A-CDM and is now operating as a fully compliant A-CDM Airport.


The ATRiCS Pre-Departure Sequencer (PDS) a core logic module of the A-CDM system has been in service at Stuttgart Airport since 22 July 2014. It is a critical module of the Resource Management System provided by the company INFORM and its subcontractor topsystem. After a successful trial period, the system connected to the Network Manager on 24 September 2014.

Stuttgart Airport joins a pedigree group of leading airports including Frankfurt Airport and Düsseldorf Airport who have been running the ATRiCS Pre-Departure Sequencer successfully in their operations for years now.

Nico Ruwe, project manager Airport CDM, Stuttgart Airport said: “During the test phase the ATRiCS PDS performed to our full satisfaction. It is reliable, robust and stable. We are now not only contributing to the efficiency improvement in the European airspace, but can also confidently expect better predictability in flight operations”.

Click here to read the full article


FAA Announces NextGen Upgrade for Washington Airspace

On 23/11/2014, in NextGen, by steve

Just in time for the busy holiday travel season, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that the Washington, D.C. Metroplex is the first in the nation to have three, state-of-the-art, satellite-based highways in the sky running side by side by side, each dedicated to one of the three major airports in the region.


“The national capital region is reaping the benefits of NextGen and this announcement further highlights how the federal government is making a difference,” said US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These new and improved highways in the sky mean increased safety, more on time arrivals and departures, reduced fuel consumption, and reduced pollution-causing emissions.”

Estimates predict airlines will burn at least 2.5 million fewer gallons of fuel each year in the skies above Washington, while emitting at least 25,000 fewer metric tons of carbon dioxide. Using the Environmental Protection Agency’s energy calculator, this is the equivalent of annual greenhouse gas emissions from 5,263 passenger vehicles or 8,961 tons of waste taken to landfills.

Click here to read the full article


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.


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

We wish you luck Air France KLM!


The absolute bio low cost carrier…

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




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…



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


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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