TITAN Kicks-off its “Integration in the Air Transport System” and Holds Fourth Progress Meeting

On 31/01/2012, in TITAN, by steve

The EC 7th Framework Program project TITAN is slowly approaching the final leg of its exciting three year circuit looking at improving the aircraft turnaround process. The TITAN partners gathered in Madrid, Spain, on 14-15 December to review progress and to kick-off WP6. I will come back on the significance of this work-package in moment.

Participation, as we have grown used to in this project, was very good and SESAR also sent its WP6 (Airport) leader for good measure.

Participants noted that the general economic malaise was also impacting the air transport industry and it was increasingly difficult to get contributions in kind from airlines and even airports as they themselves were increasingly short of resources. Nevertheless the project partners were calling on their network of experts to compensate this unfortunate situation to the maximum extent possible.

Good news came in the form of the realization that based on the outcome of the gaming exercises run in the fall of last year, only minor changes to the TITAN Concept of Operations will be required. This is important as it confirms that the project has been on the right track from the start and is also the key to the longer term stability of the work.

Click here to read the full article


A Rare Titanic Family – The Caldwells’ Story of Survival

On 27/01/2012, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Julie Hedgepeth Williams

Publisher: NewSouth Books

ISBN: 978-1-58838-282-5

Seeing the cover art and title of this book you may be wondering why I am reviewing something that has little to do with aviation. Well… I could say that it was intercontinental jet travel that killed Europe-US sea travel so we owe this to its memory. But I have a better, much better reason.

Julie Hedgepeth Williams does have an excellent aviation related book to her name which I reviewed a while ago but this is still not the main reason. She has written a new book… A “Rare Titanic Family” is a gem which you should read, weather you are a Titanic fan or not.

This is the story of Albert and Sylvia Caldwell and their son Alden, who all survived the Titanic disaster, and which has never before been fully told in the Titanic lore.

You would think that a shipwreck is the worst thing that can happen to a young couple, even when they survive it, but for the Caldwell’s this was but one episode in an epic journey that took them more than half-way round the world.

The young American couple, Presbyterian missionaries, went to Siam in 1909 but soon they had to leave due to Sylvia’s health problems. Trekking via the Far and Middle East and Europe, they eventually arrived in England as yet unaware of the fateful boat journey that was awaiting them.

Their escape from Siam (current day Thailand) was not without controversy. Other missionaries in their Church believed that they had constructed the medical problems only as an excuse to break their contract and come home before their time. Apparently even taking an unwanted dip in the Atlantic was not enough to dispel this suspicion. Luckily in the end their name was cleared and they had a full life part of which was dedicated to telling their story.

Click here to read the full article


Integrated Robot Loading at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol

On 25/01/2012, in CDM, by steve

With CDM starting to look increasingly towards the land-side of airports to optimize passenger flow processes in order to have a more predictable aircraft turnaround, it is not surprising that hitherto less visible processes, like baggage handling, are also coming under increasing scrutiny to find opportunities for improvements. Long labor intensive, baggage handling is taking important strides towards higher levels of automation, something that will fit nicely into the information managed environment of the future collaborative decision making environment.

The Integrated Robot Loading concept that was implemented at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol’s South baggage hall to create a smarter baggage system, was implemented by Vanderlande Industries and Grenzebach Automation The “Baggage on Demand concept” or pull-concept using batching and automatic baggage loading robots gives airports the ability to manage the growing amount of baggage in an ergonomic and cost efficient way.

Baggage make-up is the loading of ramp-carts and containers, which are driven to an airplane just before departure. In the Baggage on Demand concept, all baggage from check-in and transferring bags are first buffered in a storage facility, and then sent to a robot on demand. The robot loads the ramp-carts and containers automatically. The LTM (Logistics Transport Manager) manages the baggage flows in the system, and the robot replaces the muscle power of the workforce. This concept has first been deployed as part of the 70MB program at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, is future-proof, and is intended primarily to raise efficiency and reduce heavy manual labor. The Baggage on Demand operation handles the bulk of the daily baggage volume.

Click here to read the full article


5th International Conference on Research in Air Transportation — ICRAT 2012. 22-25 May 2012, University of Berkley, California

On 25/01/2012, in Events, by steve

Following the success of its four previous editions in 2004, 2006, 2008, and 2010 ICRAT has now been established as a mainstream biennial event in Air Transport Research, alternating with the USA/Europe ATM R&D Seminar. ICRAT is an excellent forum for young researchers within air transportation to share their work, expand their professional network, and gain new knowledge and inspiration. This fifth edition of ICRAT will include one day of tutorials, two days of technical presentations and a doctoral symposium where PhD students can expose their research problems to get advice from established scientists in the field. ICRAT 2012, in addition to world class keynote speakers, will have panels where senior researchers will provide constructive feedback to the paper presenters. Senior researchers are encouraged to attend ICRAT.

ICRAT 2012 is organized by the FAA and EUROCONTROL. Other co-sponsors include NASA and JPDO. It will be held at the Berkeley International House (I-House) of the University of California, Berkeley on May 22-25, 2012.



Are Airspace Users Really the Centre of ANSP Attention?

On 22/01/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

More than a decade ago I was in the thick of a war raging between airspace users and air navigation service providers. At stake was the forced implementation of Mode S Enhanced Surveillance (ES), something some ANSPs considered to be vital while the airspace users in general considered to be an expensive folly. The business case developed by EUROCONTROL was at best dodgy and the promised benefits were seen as of questionable value.

At the time, Mode S elementary surveillance looked like a done deal. In the end, after having held back the Mode S ES for two years or so, three big ANSPs banded together and went ahead anyway… costing the industry millions without having realized measurable benefits to this day!

But now, Mode S Elementary Surveillance is rising from the ashes, more specifically the problems associated with the SES Implementing Rule (IR) on Aircraft Identification for Surveillance (Regulation (EU) No 1206/2011).

Two Members of the European Parliament have submitted questions for written answer (ref. E-000312/2012). You will find the text of the questions, as published, below in full.

I wonder what the answers will be. The questions paint a sad story indeed….

Click here to read the full article


Flight Safety Foundation Publishes First-Hand Account of Qantas Flight 32, Story and Video

On 20/01/2012, in Safety is no accident, by steve

In an article appearing today in the latest issue of AeroSafety World , editor J. A. Donoghue writes about Qantas Flight 32, as told by pilot-in-command Richard de Crespigny. Capt. de Crespigny was the keynote speaker at the Foundation’s International Air Safety Seminar in Singapore last November and sat down with ASW for a lengthy interview.

QF 32 took off from Singapore’s Changi Airport on November 4, 2010 and experienced an uncontained engine failure as it climbed through 7,000 feet. With the effort of the four other pilots who were in the cockpit with him, Capt. de Crespigny successfully landed the damaged A380 back at Changi; no one was injured.

“While we’ve all read the investigative reports and the news articles about this incident, hearing about the entire experience directly from the pilot-in-command is not to be missed,” commented Mr. Donoghue.

Mr. Donoghue’s entire interview with Capt. de Crespigny is available for viewing on the Foundation’s Web site. “In addition to the gripping story from Capt. de Crespigny, we also were able to sit down with Qantas Customer Service Manager Michael Von Reth,” Mr. Donoghue said. “His story is about keeping 469 passengers and crew members informed about the situation and calm. His actions leading the cabin crew were remarkable. His interview is available for viewing as well.”

The article can be downloaded here.

The videos of the interviews can be seen here.


Airbus Wing Cracks, not as Bad is it Seemed… it is Worse

On 20/01/2012, in Safety is no accident, The aircraft we fly, by steve

Only a few weeks ago Airbus said that the cracks discovered on the wing-rib feet of some A380s were not a threat to safety and they would be repaired as part of the four-yearly maintenance regime.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) does not agree. Carriers with A380s that have accumulated more than 1,300 takeoffs and landings must make the inspections immediately, and any aircraft that have made more than 1,800 trips need to be checked within four days. This translates to the grounding of some 20 aircraft or one third of the fleet within the next six weeks.

The inspection is done visually and takes just a few hours. In practical terms this means that each affected aircraft will be on the ground for a full day.

Although Airbus keeps stressing that while the cracking is “embarrassing”, it poses no danger to the passengers flying on the 380. The EASA Airworthiness Directive paints a slightly more ominous picture: “This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane.”

Click here to read the full article


An Opportunity We Should not Miss!

On 20/01/2012, in The future is now, by steve

I was talking to an old time, well respected colleague the other day discussing his view that instead of forcing the industry to implement yet another expensive capability, full use should be made of what was already there… Once the benefits start to accrue, airspace users would be much more inclined to take the extra steps and accept the costs associated with the extra functionality (assuming of course that there was a business case for it). This discussion was in the context of basic PBN and the addition or not of things like Constant Radius Turns in en-route airspace.

Although I have always preferred a more all-out approach, his pragmatic views make perfect sense and is also something airline bean-counters are likely to accept more readily. Investing in speculative functionality when the existing stuff sits idle most of the time is difficult to justify. Of course focusing mainly on use-what-is-already-there-first will not speed up progress but will make the simpler things happen with a higher degree of probability. Aim for too much, and nothing happens. I hate to admit it, but he is right…

Having given credit where credit is due, my incorrigible drive for wanting the whole thing kept chewing my soul. There was something here that we could turn to our advantage. But what was it exactly?

Then I remembered… The thousands of A320NEOs and Boeing 737MAXs. Airlines have ordered these more fuel efficient versions of the old favorites to basically replace a large part of their fleets almost overnight. Now if only those new babies could come with all kinds of goodies fitted right from the start…

What are we talking about? From an air traffic management perspective, there are three items that I would have on my wish list: air/ground digital link and CPDLC, ADS-B in and out and a full set of PBN capabilities.

I can almost hear opponents shouting: with those new versions not due for another three years or so, what technology should the manufacturers use for ADS-B for instance? Stay with Mode S Extended Squitter or go for something else? But what? Would it not be better to wait until the technology debate settles? We have of course heard this in the past. Waiting is equivalent to doing nothing and missing the boat. We have also seen that in the past… and suffer the consequences in the present day.

No Sire, this time we should be smarter.

Click here to read the full article


The Real Cost of Flying

On 19/01/2012, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Since 2006, we have accepted the norm of zip-top-bagging our liquids, gels and aerosols, and ditching our water bottles at airport security checkpoints. Without going into the issue of whether or not these measures are effective from a security point of view, has anyone stopped to think about how these rules affect our wallets and the environment? Well, eCollegeFinder did and they produced a very interesting infographic which you can access here.

Check it out, the stats are pretty amazing!


Viewfinder View 6 – Helpful Security

On 16/01/2012, in Viewfinder view, by steve

Not aviation related but still very nice…  If a roll of paper from the cash-register needs to be rolled up again, what better resource to use than the security guy. If somebody decided to rob this hamburger joint, throwing the roll against the robber would probably have had the right surprise effect!


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