Old engine starts for Malev anniversary

On 31/03/2012, in Anniversaries, by steve

Last week marked the 66th anniversary of the establishment of MALEV Hungarian Airlines. Although the national icon has not survived the hurdles of to-days airline world (it went bankrupt two months ago), her people gathered for what may be the last birthday party for the airline to lament the past and express hope for the future.

The party took place at the outdoor aviation museum near Budapest Ferihegy airport and one of the special treats was the coming to life, after more than 20 years of silence, of the left engine on one of the exhibits, an IL-14 in the original Malev livery.

These photos are from one of the organizations dedicated to keep the Malev dreams alive.

Have a look at the video made of this special event here.


ICNS – Washington D.C., USA, 24-26 April 2012

On 29/03/2012, in Events, by steve

With its slogan ”Bridging CNS and ATM” giving ample guidance as to the theme of 2012’s Integrated Communications Navigation and Surveillance (ICNS) Conference, it  will attract the best presenters and the best audience you can find in the industry. A wonderful opportunity to learn new things, network with your peers and ask all the questions you have about CNS, ATM as well as their interaction and future development directions.

Make sure you reserve your room before 30 March as rates will increase after that date.

To register, fill out the form here.

You will find the abstracts selected for ICNS 2012 here.


Will there ever be a new Malev?

On 27/03/2012, in Airline corner, by steve

It is well known now that experts and enthusiasts alike started thinking about a new Hungarian airline almost the day after the sad collapse of the 66 years old icon, Malev. Not much has happened so far, obviously, investing in a new airline is not a high priority for anyone and investing in a new Hungarian airline, with the image of the current government anything but business friendly, is even more of a questionable proposition.

Of course it is not impossible to start a new airline, the Spanish have just done it with a low-fare company that will operate mainly out of Venice in Italy… New airline on the horizon, existing companies struggling… What are the chances for the Hungarians?

For starters, let me quote here the plea of Lufthansa Group member Brussels Airlines made recently to the Belgian government. Brussels Airlines claims that Ryanair has an unfair advantage since they are paying their social contributions according to the Irish rules… even while Ryanair is flying out of Charleroi which is of course on Belgian soil. The jury is still out on this but the situation shows clearly the kind of complications anyone wanting to start a profitable airline will have to face. Why should Ryanair pay the tower-high Belgian rates when they are only flying from here? If Brussels Airlines is unhappy about it, move the company to Ireland… As long as nobody goes against the European Union rules, it is competition, pure and simple.

So, how does one start a new airline in this cut-throat environment and is it worthwhile to try in the first place?

Let’s discuss the second question first.

Having an airline in a given country has advantages way beyond the traditional considerations of tax revenue and traveling convenience. A giant like KLM had spawned aviation related training at Dutch universities, aviation research at the National Aerospace Laboratory and to some extent was the driver for Fokker, the now defunct aircraft builder. It is not an exaggeration to say that there was a whole national aviation culture anchored firmly in the needs of KLM. Even to-day, with KLM owned by Air France, some of the culture remains. Of course not all airlines are like KLM but even a much smaller company can potentially jump-start the aviation culture of a country like Hungary. This culture thing is far more important in the long run than any short term tax revenue! This has to be kept in mind when we consider the how and where of setting up a new airline.

All right, so having an airline is a good thing. But is it financially feasible and sustainable?

Personally I think it is a long shot but not impossible, assuming a number of questions are answered and a number of misconceptions are dispelled.

Government participation

Government ownership in an airline, even if it is a minority one, is a bad thing. Why? We know that both governments and the airline industry work on a boom and bust cycle. Although airlines have learned to smooth their cycles somewhat, they are still subject to the influence of the economic cycles and there is little they can do about that. Governments come and go as dictated by the elections and their priorities are rarely aligned with those of the airline industry.

A good example is Air France which is still 17 % or so owned by the French government. AF is currently in desperate need to slim down and save money but the layoffs this requires are not politically acceptable while France is preparing for its presidential elections. Once that is over, AF will be free to act. In the meantime, Air France-KLM is bleeding red ink.

Click here to read the full article


Standard Inputs for EUROCONTROL Cost Benefit Analyses

On 26/03/2012, in Bookshelf, by steve

All right, I will be the first to admit that creating cost-benefit analyses is not my favorite occupation on sunny afternoons. On the other hand, my company had been the lead for numerous projects aimed at developing the CBA for things like Collaborative Decision Making, among others. As such, I know the value of standard inputs that save you a lot of work by not having to search for the appropriate values which, after all, are the same in most ATM related activities.

EUROCONTROL has published, and keeps regularly updated, a cute collection of such standard inputs available in the form of a downloadable pdf file.

Even if you are not directly involved in cost-benefit activities, keeping this book in the library of your smartphone or iPad is a good idea. How many times have you not wondered about the price of a minute of delay for example? Consulting this book will tell you that and much more.

Highly reommended.

Download your copy here!


The aircraft delivery room

On 23/03/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

Most of us have memories of what it felt like to go to the hospital to pick up our partner and new-borne baby. It is something super special and no matter how many times it happens, it feels each time like it was the first time. However, very few of us have had the pleasure to be on a team sent to accept and fly home a brand new aircraft. Although you pick up aircraft fully grown, the feeling is akin to picking up a new baby.

If you ever happen to be in Toulouse in France or Seattle in the US, do make sure you reserve some time to visit the Airbus or Boeing manufacturing facility there. They both offer tours and it is well worth the time.

Of course the gestation of large aircraft these days is very different from what it used to be. When I visited McDonnell Douglas in Long Beach, California several decades ago, you could actually follow the process from aluminum sheets to fully built DC-9s and the transformation was amazing.

These days, especially for aircraft like the Boeing 787 and the upcoming Airbus 350, fuselage sections, the wing, empennage come from subcontractors in big pieces that are then assembled by Boeing and Airbus. But the assembly process remains an impressive operation nevertheless.

What has not changed is the act of delivery. A spanking new aircraft, shiny and that “”new car” smell permeating the cabin, she is towed to the delivery center, ready for adventure.

Both Airbus and Boeing are planning substantial increases in their monthly output rate in the coming years and this indicates clearly that the delivery centers will be busier than ever.

Click here to read the full article


The Darkest Winter

On 23/03/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

Spring has arrived and we are leaving behind Ferihegy’s darkest winter. Although I could write about weather-related problems or minor aviation incidents, there is something far worse for the storyteller to write about. What has previously figured only in our worst nightmares has become reality on 3 February. I have written about this before and there are scores of other articles on the subject, and not for nothing either. That a national icon like Malev Hungarian Airlines should just disappear from the scene practically overnight was not something anyone working in and for aviation would have ever believed possible.

This is how the morning peak hour looks like since that fateful day…

And this is the noon rush hour.

Click here to read the full article


Boeing and CANSO Call to Accelerate Air Traffic Management Improvements

On 22/03/2012, in ATC world, by steve

Boeing and the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) have called on the aviation industry to accelerate the pace of change in air traffic management improvements by taking advantage of existing aircraft capabilities. At the 6th Aviation & Environment Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, the two entities issued a joint technical paper outlining critical actions necessary to achieve the industry goal of 95 to 98 percent efficiency in air traffic management by 2050.

“The capabilities of today’s high-technology airplanes are underutilized in the current constrained and outdated ATM system, undermining the profitability of the aviation industry,” said Neil Planzer, vice president of Air Traffic Management, Boeing Flight Services. “We are fully committed to supporting long term modernization efforts such as SESAR and NextGen without losing sight of improvements we can make today.”

The publication, titled “Accelerating Air Traffic Management Efficiency: A Call to Industry,” outlines critical actions needed to improve the worldwide air traffic management system. It profiles successful projects from around the world and highlights areas where aviation stakeholders can work together to deliver efficiency improvements.

Click here to read the full article


Viewfinder View 10 – Seat with extra legroom

On 21/03/2012, in Viewfinder view, by steve


Pirate attack developing

On 19/03/2012, in Picture stories, by steve

Although this is not strictly aviation related, the marine radar image is so special, I decided to share it with you anyway.

Somewhere on the Arabian Sea…

The cargo vessel on which the radar is located is in the right hand lower corner, sailing in the direction of the arrow (pointing to the left and slightly down). The group of four ships in the middle were unidentified.

The interesting things are the two triangles to the left of the bigger group. Of the two, the larger one is the pirate mother ship and the smaller to the right and slightly ahead is the skiff, heading towards the commercial vessel.

This is not a simulation… this has actually happened. A few minutes after this photo was taken, the container ship, carrying armed guards, was attacked by the pirates but the attack was repealed.


The new ICAO flight plan – 2012 is the year of change

On 18/03/2012, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

As I wrote a while back, ICAO is introducing new flight plan content effective November 2012. Announced in June 2008 in ICAO State Letter (AN 13/2.1.1-08/50), the purpose of the change as stated by ICAO is the following:

“The nature and scope of the amendment is to update the ICAO model flight plan form in order to meet the needs of aircraft with advanced capabilities and the evolving requirements of automated air traffic management (ATM) systems, while taking into account compatibility with existing systems, human factors, training, cost and transition aspects.”

The contents and syntax of the ICAO flight plan and associated messages had remained substantially unaltered for many years while the environment in which they were being used evolved in many ways. Things were coming to a point where it was no longer possible to convey all the required information using the old formats. Bringing the ICAO provisions up to date was inevitable. You may want to note that these changes represent the absolute minimum that was required at the present time. A completely new flight plan specification is also in the works but that is for the longer term and a lot of work still remains to be done before its introduction can be placed on the agenda.

Click here to read the full article


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