Airbus: Uncle Sam, here we come!

On 29/06/2012, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The best kept secret in the State of Alabama these days is the Airbus announcement expected to come on Monday, 2 July at 10a local time, that they will open their first aircraft manufacturing plant in Mobile, Alabama. Mobile already hosts the Airbus North America engineering center.

Back in the days when Airbus and Boeing were competing in the US Air Force’s race to build the new tankers, Mobile had already been earmarked by Airbus as the site for their US manufacturing operation. When Airbus lost to Boeing, for a time it seemed that Mobile’s dreams of becoming the South’s Seattle were dead in the water…

Airbus has been pondering a US manufacturing plant for some time and there are several good reasons for setting up shop in the States. For one, making costs in building planes in euros and then selling them for dollars is not always a good idea. With the euro down against the dollar this issue is less acute but even at the current rate of exchange, it makes sense to operate completely in a dollar environment. The economics will further improve on account of being free of high European labor costs. Last but not least, an Airbus A320 stamped “Proudly Made in the USA” will probably add just enough additional attraction to swing a few more airlines to buy Airbus rather than Boeing.

Airbus aircraft are popular with US based airlines and seeing a new Airbus plant growing up in their backyard will certainly make the Boeing folks in Chicago think hard on how to counter the new threat.

Competition is good…

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An Air Traffic Management Master Plan with Question Marks

On 27/06/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

If you follow European air traffic management developments, you will have noticed in the news that the ATM Master Plan is undergoing a significant update and the SESAR ATM Master Plan portal promises to have new information on this by mid-2012. About now that is…

There was less discussion about interesting events surrounding the Master Plan update. The original draft updated ATM Master Plan was so poor, the airlines at first proposed that IATA should not support this new version.

As we all know, flatly refusing to support such a cornerstone document does not happen lightly and there must have been serious shortcomings to upset the airspace users so much. Of course it says a lot about the current environment that a Master Plan update, even if only as a draft, can be released at all while containing information that has the potential to rattle the airspace users to this degree.

But what were the real problems as seen by the users?

Let’s first start with a bit of history. As you will see, the background facts are slightly more somber than the rather upbeat news communicated over the official channels during the Master Plan update process.

Click here to read the full article

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60 years of commercial jet travel

On 21/06/2012, in Anniversaries, by steve

If asked which airline from which country had operated the first commercial jet flight, most people would say it must have been American. But they would be wrong. It was British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) which, on 2 May 1952, made history when their De Havilland Comet flew from London to Johannesburg with 36 passengers, landing in Rome, Beirut, Khartoum (Sudan), Entebbe (Uganda) and Livingstone (Zambia) before arriving at its destination. The total trip time was almost 24 hours.

The four “Ghost” engines were tucked away in the wing and the cabin was roomy. With a capacity of up to 44 passengers, the Comet offered comforts not often seen these days outside the most expensive classes of modern jets.

The Comet first flew in July 1949. At first it looked like the Brits had a winning aircraft in their hands and with competing products still some way off, the commercial outlook for the Comet looked bright indeed. Then disaster struck.

Click here to read the full article

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Good news for General Aviation – Light at the end of the EASA tunnel

On 21/06/2012, in General Aviation, by steve

The French-led working group that aims to create a new world of light-touch regulation for European general aviation has produced a set of guiding principles for EASA which will be considered by the Agency’s Board of Management next week. Although the full details are confidential, the basic tenets are that there should be no regulation without a specific safety aim, and every new regulation should be tested with a full risk analysis and a cost-benefit study before it is imposed. The group wants EASA to move completely away from the ‘top-down’ concept of creating regulations for Commercial Air Transport then imposing them on GA, sometimes in a slightly watered-down form. It wants EASA to adopt the ICAO stance, which specifically states that authorities do not owe the same duty of care to GA participants as they do to paying customers of the airlines and uninvolved third parties.

The group is much more than a think-tank, and includes representatives of EASA and the European Commission, who have indicated that they go along with the consensus view. It was set up at the behest of EASA’s Board of Management following a presentation to the Board by IAOPA Senior Vice President Martin Robinson, who sits of the group together with AOPA Germany’s Managing Director Dr Michael Erb.

The general view is that Annex 6, part 1, of ICAO’s Chicago Convention covers general aviation regulation sufficiently well, and if EASA wishes to go beyond it, then it has to be addressing a demonstrated safety problem and its response should be proportionate to the risk and the cost. European states are signatories to the Convention whereas Europe as an entity is not, and the EC does not consider EASA to be bound by its provisions. The states, however, have relied on ICAO for guidance since the Second World War, and it has not been found wanting.

Click here to read the full article

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Boeing joins SESAR as an Associate Partner to SELEX

On 19/06/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Boeing and SELEX Sistemi Integrati, S.p.A – a Finmeccanica company- have entered into a collaboration agreement in support of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program’s development phase

Boeing will cooperate with SELEX Sistemi Integrati with research in flight data modeling and data link communications for all phases of flight, and system-wide information management (SWIM).

“Boeing’s participation as our associate partner will support SESAR towards a globally interoperable air traffic management system,” said Stefano Porfiri, SESAR program manager, SELEX Sistemi Integrati.

The agreement follows a Memorandum of Collaboration signed in October 2011 between Boeing and SELEX Sistemi Integrati in which the two companies agreed to cooperate on the SESAR and U.S. Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) programs.

“We are applying an industry-leading Boeing portfolio of services and expertise to the SESAR program to further the modernization of the global air traffic system,” said Neil Planzer, vice president of Air Traffic Management, Boeing Flight Services.

SELEX Sistemi Integrati is a leading industry supplier of air traffic management and airport systems. They are a member of the SESAR Joint Undertaking and one of the major contributors to the SESAR development phase.

The SESAR program is the operational and technological answer to Europe’s air traffic management challenges. Embedded in the European Unions’ (EU) ambitious Single European Sky initiative, the aim of SESAR is to ensure the modernization of the European air traffic management system by coordinating and concentrating all relevant research and development efforts in the EU.

The Boeing Air Traffic Management team draws on expertise from across the enterprise including Commercial Airplanes, Commercial Aviation Services’ Flight Services division, including subsidiary Jeppesen as well as Boeing Research and Technology and Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

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Aviation can also be a great theme for Bible School!

On 18/06/2012, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Destin is a wonderful little vacation village in sunny Florida, USA. First Baptist Church Destin is a newly reinvigorated congregation that is well known in the region for some of its activities, including the yearly Bible School that kicks off to-day.

Monday morning a helicopter owned by Timber View, a Wellsville, Kansas operator with equipment stationed in Destin providing airborne tours for tourist will set down on the parking lot of First Baptist Church and children from 4 years to 5th grade will start a week of Vacation Bible School.

With arms extended and imaginations pulling wheels up, those who attend will take a tour of the world to see God’s Amazing Wonders.

They’ll rally in the Worship Hangar each morning at nine then they’re off to Bible study at Victoria Falls, Missions Under the Northern Lights, Music at the Matterhorn, Crafts at the Great Barrier Reef, Recreation at the Grand Canyon and Snacks at Paricutin Volcano.

A Timberview Helicopter...

Guests for the week will include a diver bringing video of his Great Barrier Reef dive, pilots with major size model planes from Eglin Air Force Base Aero Modellers, and more.

It’s a week of wonders, cleared for take off, for children to watch amazing things and encounter God, all against the backdrop of some of the world’s most marvelous natural wonders.

This year’s theme: Awesome God! Amazing Power! based on Psalm 147:5 “Our Lord is great, vast in power; His understanding is infinite.

Click here to read the full article

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ATCO Turned Passenger

On 14/06/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

I can hardly believe it myself, but although I flew for the first time 35 years ago, I still feel the thrill and excitement of an upcoming trip. I think this will remain as long as I live. Getting ready at home, packing, hauling the luggage down to the car and then heading to the airport… At that point I start to calm down a little even though one still has to arrive on time, deposit my better half and the bags at the curb of the departure level and drive the car to the airport employee parking. Luckily, we controllers still have the privilege of being able to leave our wheels when needed in this special parking using a temporary pass. In the early days the fact that I could park free of charge at the airport looked like a big deal with which to show off to my partner and my daughter (and her partner of the moment) but by now it has become commonplace.

The above scenario played out in exactly the same way on the evening before our holiday in Tunisia. I searched out a shady place for my little four-wheeler, gave her an encouraging caress and left her behind for the next seven days. I made it back to my partner who had in the meantime managed to drag the bags into terminal 2B. Once at the check-in desk, my “airport family” feeling can no longer be kept suppressed and I play out the well-informed… a trick that sometimes pays off, sometimes does not. But all in all we usually manage to grab good seats on every flight we take. Next comes my all time favorite among tortures invented for travelers, the security check, something I have the honor of enduring also in my daily professional life. However since I started to put a good face on it all, somehow I pass the test with less pain. There was an exception last year when an alert security guard spotted my airport ID and started to make a fuss… But now I make sure this dangerous “state secret” is safely hidden on the bottom of my bag and nobody seems to care any more.

Click here to read the full article

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Is SESAR Doomed to Fail?

On 10/06/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

As some of us will remember, SESAR is not the first attempt to remedy the sad state of air traffic management in Europe. Think EATCHIP and ATM2000+… This latter was especially significant, since the ministers of transport of all ECAC States had signed off on it, promising to implement what was required to make the ATM2000+ concept of operations reality.

Very little, if anything, was realized of the lofty aims of ATM2000+. The best proof of this is that had ATM2000+ become reality, there would have been no need for SESAR… But why did those earlier projects fail? There was nothing wrong with the concept or the technologies proposed. However, everything was wrong with some of the major air navigation service providers in Europe who did everything in their power to block things from happening. In some cases they did this for no other reason than their inability to be ready on time and not wanting to be seen as lagging behind… When we were working on the initial phases of air/ground digital link and controller-pilot digital link communications, it was discovered that one of the biggest States in Europe did not have a digital-link policy, let alone a program to implement it. We practically had to “shame” them into starting work on this, arguing that it would look really bad if they were not involved…

Ministerial signatures notwithstanding, ATM2000+ sputtered, struggled and finally died when everyone started to wait for SESAR (the next big one…) to take over and solve all problems. In fact, what little may have come from ATM2000+ was also strangled because things were put on hold when the miracle watch began.

It is often said that SESAR is different. It is being created under the auspices of the Single European Sky (SES) legislation, it has the power of the European Commission behind it… it will be a success. Well, I am not so sure.

Click here to read the full article

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CANSO ATM Report & Directory 2012

On 04/06/2012, in Bookshelf, by steve

67 ANSPs world-wide are members of CANSO. They handle more than 85 % of world air traffic. CANSO is also in regular contact with those ANSPs not yet members of the organization but which have recognized the value of membership.

CANSO publishes the ATM Report & Directory every year with the aim of providing the world’s most comprehensive source of information on ANSPs.

You can download your free copy of the directory here.

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Quote of June 2012

On 01/06/2012, in Quote of the month, by steve

Humanity either makes, or breeds, or tolerates all its afflictions, great or small.

H. G. Wells

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