Meanwhile at EUROCONTROL…

On 31/08/2011, in Viewpoint, by steve

If the jungle telegraph is to be believed, EUROCONTROL is discovering that they have slimmed down just a wee bit too fast and too much. So much so, that in certain areas of expertise there is a lack of people to do the job.

To cover such cases it appears that they are organizing internal conversion courses. You need a safety expert? Get a radar guy ready for something new, put him or her through a one (!) month conversion course and you have a newly minted safety expert.

Apparently the long standing ban on hiring new people will also need to be  lifted to some degree and there will be new hires, preference being given to young people straight from university. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, except for one thing. When Boeing or Thales hires young folks, their lack of experience is compensated by the environment into which they arrive and the collective experience of those already working there. EUROONTROL has divested itself of most of its talent base and the new hires will arrive in a near vacuum.

Who will guide them to avoid reinventing the wheel?

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SESAR Catch 22

On 29/08/2011, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

When SESAR was launched all kinds of claims were made for why it would succeed where every other project before it had failed. It was certainly bigger and more all-encompassing than its predecessors; there was more, far more, money involved than ever before; and it had the backing of the EU’s Single European Sky initiative. A baby born with such credentials need not worry about the future, right? Wrong!

The one thing SESAR has not yet found a solution for is the age old problem of chicken and egg… Airlines will not equip until there are benefits and it is not possible to provide, even early, benefits until aircraft are equipped. The myth that airlines will equip for improved ATM if there is a clear business case is indeed just that, a myth. First of all airlines will normally spurn any business case, however promising, that does not give them a 2-3 year return on investment and very few, if any, ATM projects can do that. But even if we disregard this, we have seen in the past how otherwise perfectly good business cases were still not enough to make the industry move en-masse. Not that the ground side is much better… As the sad track record of ATM projects in Europe demonstrates, airlines and ANSPs can happily share the honor of being the cause of missed deadlines and missed opportunities.

SESAR has not provided a solution to this yet and if they fail to do so, its jumbo size will mean a bang on a jumbo scale.

However, there is an important difference compared with the past. SESAR has recognized this problem, the SESAR JU is talking about it quite openly and they have a stated intention to find a solution.

Click here to read the full article

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Hurricane Irene pounding aviation’s birth place

On 27/08/2011, in Weather news, by steve

She has earned the moniker “the once in a life-time storm”, slow moving Irene made landfall earlier to-day in North Carolina, heading up the East Coast of the US drenching the ground and dishing out winds in excess of 90 miles an hour.

Airports in the New York area have seen all flights cancelled with traffic not expected back to normal until Monday morning.

A Category 3 hurricane had hit the New York area in 1938, making landfall on Long Island… Irene is expected to moderate to Category 2 or lower by the time it hits New York, but you never know with these things. Getting out of the way is the best advice. Certainly no flying in hurricane territory…

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Metron Aviation Wins NASA Contract for NextGen Airspace Management

On 26/08/2011, in NextGen, by steve

Metron Aviation announced  that it has been awarded a contract from NASA to perform advanced research and development to further NextGen airspace management concepts. This is an interesting twist in the NextGen story… Metron Aviation has been recently acquired by Airbus.

Metron Aviation will support NASA’s NextGen Concepts and Technology Development Project (CTD), as it continues to conceptualize and create Dynamic Airspace Configuration (DAC) concepts for allocating airspace capacity during convective weather events. Metron Aviation will develop DAC concepts and algorithms that incorporate uncertainties in weather forecasts, methods for conversion of convective weather activities into airspace capacity and uncertain pilot, airline and Traffic Flow Management (TFM) responses to weather.

“We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this prestigious NASA contract. Working consistently with NASA to dynamically change Airspace Configuration will not only show immediate results towards harmonization and NextGen, but will also impact the National Airspace for years to come,” said Robert Hoffman, PhD., Principal Analyst and Director of the Advanced Research Group at Metron Aviation. “For years, we have been working with NASA on various airspace optimization projects, and are excited to continue our heritage of innovation to create a more efficient, optimized and safer airspace.”

Click here to read the full article

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No new 737 from Boeing. The 737NE is coming instead

On 26/08/2011, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

When Airbus announced the decision to re-engine the A320 family, as opposed to building an all-new replacement, everyone was looking at Boeing to see how the American giant would respond. Managers and engineers mulled over the issue in Seattle and Chicago while Airbus booked a hefty 1000 orders for the 320NEO (New Engine Option).

Initially it looked like Boeing would meet the challenge head-on and build a completely new 737, the NSA (New Small Airplane) using a lot of composite parts and adopting the 787’s all-electric architecture. In fact, Chairman/CEO James McNerney actually hinted in a speech that for Boeing only the NSA was an appropriate response to Airbus’ re-engined 320 family.

While Boeing could take comfort in the fact that orders for the 320NEO came mainly from existing Airbus operators and no long-established Boeing customers had deserted to the enemy, uncertainty grew over Boeing’s ability to design and manufacture the NSA with service entry around 2015 (when the 320NEO will hit the market). Although the technology that would make the NSA ultra competitive in terms of operating costs is in fact available, bringing it all together is seen as requiring a length of time that is simply not available in view of the Airbus offering’s timing. Boeing’s customers have also signaled that after the initial enthusiasm for a new, advanced aircraft they would prefer to have something earlier even if it was less of jump towards the future.

Click here to read the full article

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Airport CDM officially launched in Madrid Barajas Airport

On 24/08/2011, in CDM, by steve

The Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) Project in Madrid-Barajas Airport (AENA) was officially launched on 26 July 2011 with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the main stakeholders, AENA, AENA Aeropuertos Sociedad Anonimo and Iberia. The signing ceremony took place at Madrid-Barajas Airport Headquarters and was hosted by the AENA Aeropuertos Sociedad.

The signing of the MoU confirms the commitment of the partners at Madrid-Barajas Airport and will lead the way for wider implementation at other Spanish Airports. The benefits to the airport partners are significant both at local and network level as proven by other European airports who have fully implemented Airport CDM (Munich, Frankfurt, Brussels and Paris CDG).

Airport CDM aims to enhance the current decision making processes linked to the turnround process of aircraft and increases airport efficiency. It is a powerful enabler to reduce the delays in Europe by integrating airports into the ATM network.

SESAR has acknowledged the importance of A-CDM as an enabler to achieve the challenging SESAR/EC performance objectives.

The EUROCONTROL A-CDM Implementation team is committed to working in close cooperation with Madrid Barajas and other European airports providing support and advice to accelerate A-CDM implementation across Europe.

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If you have to crash…

On 23/08/2011, in Safety is no accident, by steve

When some 500 personnel of the Canadian Armed Forces set out on their yearly training exercise that included conducting a rescue of survivors from a simulated airliner crash site, little did they suspect that within a few hours they would be doing this very thing for real.

First Air Flight 6560, a Boeing 737-200 was flying from Yellowknife to Resolute Bay with 15 people on board, including four crew, when it hit a small hill in increment weather. 12 people, including all the crew, were killed in the accident.

Personnel of the Canadian Forces participating in the annual Arctic military exercise Operation Nanook were immediately called in to conduct rescue operations. Their nearness was key to saving the survivors. Experts in the area agreed that the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre AFB Trenton would probably not be able to send a team this far North as quickly in normal circumstances.

In any case, the crash has highlighted the need to look into how response times to remote locations can be shortened, officials said.

The Arctic aviation community is a tightly knit family and the crash has hit everyone in the business. First Air provides scheduled passenger and cargo service between 25 northern communities with connections to Edmonton, Winnipeg, Montreal and Ottawa. The airline began in 1946 as Bradley Air Services, offering charter, surveying, passenger and cargo flights across northern Canada.

The Arctic is a very tough environment for pilots. While they perform essential services flying supplies and personnel in and out of those remote communities, the infrastructure is anything but ideal. Things are only made worth by weather. When the air gets warm in the summer, water in the lakes remains cold and air passing over a lake cools suddenly, creating fog that rolls over the place. Resolute Bay is near such a body of water and fog is a frequent visitor as a result.

In spite of the challenging environment, flying in the High-North of Canada has been remarkably safe, a testimony to the dedication of the men and women operating there.

A Canadian soldier watches a CH-146 Griffon Helicopter return from the crash site.

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United Airlines first network carrier to introduce paperless navigation charts

On 23/08/2011, in Airline corner, by steve

United Continental Holdings, Inc. has announced that it is converting to paperless flight decks and deploying 11,000 iPads to all United and Continental pilots. The electronic flight bags (EFB) replace paper flight manuals, and as a first for major network carriers, provide pilots with paperless aeronautical navigational charts through an iPad app. Distribution of iPads began earlier this month, and all pilots will have them by year end.

“The paperless flight deck represents the next generation of flying,” said Captain Fred Abbott, United’s senior vice president of flight operations. “The introduction of iPads ensures our pilots have essential and real-time information at their fingertips at all times throughout the flight.”

Navigational Charting App Breaks New Ground.

Click here to read the full article

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Reinventing Project Management: The Diamond Approach to Successful Growth and Innovation

On 22/08/2011, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Aaron J. Shenhar and Dov Dvir
Publisher: Harvard Business Press
ISBN-13: 9781591398004
ISBN: 1591398002

Projects are the engines that drive innovation from idea to commercialization. In fact, the number of projects in most organizations today is expanding while operations is shrinking. Yet, since many companies still focus on operational excellence and efficiency, most projects fail-largely because conventional project management concepts cannot adapt to a dynamic business environment. Moreover, top managers neglect their company’s project activity, and line managers treat all their projects alike-as part of operations.

Based on an unprecedented study of more than 600 projects in a variety of businesses and organizations across the globe, Reinventing Project Management provides a new and highly adaptive model for planning and managing projects to achieve superior business results.

Here is a reader comment:

Most projects fail because conventional project management concepts cannot adapt to today’s dynamic business environment. This book provides a new and highly adaptive model for planning and managing projects. Aaron J. Shenhar and Dov Dvir explain how to use their “Diamond Framework” to understand the nature of your projects, and diagnose the gaps between your current capabilities and what you need to do to make your projects succeed. Their flexible model provides valuable information for evaluating and managing projects for maximum competitive advantage. This book is recommended for managers who want to strengthen their ability to take charge of projects in a more systematic and compelling way.

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ERAM suffers under FAA shutdown

On 20/08/2011, in NextGen, by steve

En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) is one of the FAA’s flagship projects that was supposed to be fully operational at all of the FAA en-route facilities by the end of last year. Formal acceptance took place in October 2007 and Lockheed Martin, ERAM’s manufacturer could be proud of having delivered the new system on time and within budget. As it turned out, their happiness was a tad premature. The system was running in operational trial mode in Seattle and Salt Lake City and a host of software problems arose resulting in the full-delivery date slipping to 2014. OOOOps!

Last year the US Transportation Department’s Inspector General went so far as to publicly name the problems ERAM was struggling with. These are the interfaces with other ATC facilities, the aircraft data labels on the controller displays and the way handoffs are processed. None of these areas represent revolutionary new ways of working. ATC systems the world over can do such things and one cannot but wonder: what was Lockheed Martin doing wrong so that they do not work well in ERAM? Or were the requirements such that they in fact became a system-designer’s nightmare as they struggled to keep up with the FAA’s requirement creep? Getting things back on track will cost a cool 500 million bucks extra and then we did not consider the extra costs the delay in operational introduction will cause the industry in general.

Click here to read the full article

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