New Airline for Hungary… Dreamers or Lunatics?

On 28/09/2012, in Airline corner, by steve

Hungary is in dire straights these days. A government with two-thirds majority in parliament having declared a fight for freedom and the desire not to be a colony of the European Union (yes, there are such weirdoes in the world), the economy in ruins and capital fleeing the sinking ship, their national airline, Malev was only one of the many casualties of this march to annihilation.

In the circumstances, anyone thinking of establishing a new Hungarian airline would probably be seen by the business community as ready for the lunatic asylum from which the current government has so obviously escaped in a moment of voter inattention.

Yet, this is exactly what a small group of enthusiastic folks seem to be doing. They have now established a company under the name Hungarian World Airways Inc. which boasts a five member board of directors and a three member supervisory board. There is not much else to the company yet and as such it may feel like a bit top heavy, but hey, before the incorporation of this new company, there was even less in the way of a new airline for this spectacularly unsuccessful former socialist country.

But what is this new airline initiative about? The figures they keep presenting at various meetings designed to attract also small investors are enough to make the mouth of any existing airline water while they will also shake in fear of this new competition. 10 million passengers in the first year with 9 billion bucks of revenue and a profit of 260 million from the third year… These guys must know something that has totally escaped the big network carriers who are, as we all know, perennially loss making.

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On 19/09/2012, in Just to let you know..., by steve

Elrey B. Jeppesen is probably one of the best known names in aviation. True, some of us tend to associate his name with charts or the famous flight bag, but it was Elrey the man and pilot who left his indelible mark on making aviation safer. You can read more about his story and the famous black book here.

We visited Jeppesen’s European headquarters near Frankfurt recently as part of a film project. His larger than life statute greets the visitor, immediately setting the mood. The statute’s base is adorned by a plaque with his famous words:

“I didn’t develop the charts to get famous, I did it to stay alive”.

Doing so, he also helped thousands of other pilots stay alive too.


Radars… the end is near. Hopefully.

On 12/09/2012, in The future is now, by steve

If you are a bird flying over Europe, finding yourself slowly being roasted by radars is not something unexpected. In an effort to achieve radar coverage that is at least double and in view of the fragmented nature of the air traffic management system, this effort has resulted in triple+ coverage in some places. This might be a heart-warming feeling for air traffic controllers and radar manufacturers but for the users of the ATM system, it is more of an expensive overkill than a good thing per se.

Luckily, the time of those expensive, clunky and not too accurate surveillance tools is coming to an end. The replacement? ADS-B.

Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast is a technology that has been with us for some time now and with the required standards in place, adoption is underway. ADS-B equipped aircraft broadcast their GPS (or other GNSS) derived position and certain other information about once a second. The broadcast information is then received by antennas on the ground and forwarded to air traffic control centers and other users. The data is processed into moving position symbols and labels that look just like traditional radar displays. An important difference is the rate of update. Currently only ground control radars work with such short update cycles, terminal and en-route radars typically provide a 10 second or more update period. Displays being fed by ADS-B data exhibit smooth movement and of course accurate and current information.

Building an ADS-B system, comprising the ground receivers, network and the equipment on board the aircraft is typically cheaper then creating the equivalent surveillance capability with conventional radars. ADS-B offers the added advantage of being deployable in circumstances where radars could never be placed. The antennas are modest in size and fit easily on existing structures, like oil drilling platforms for instance. This characteristic brings surveillance and the associated lower separation minima to areas not previously covered by radar.

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NORAD pilots talk flight restrictions, intercepts with civilian pilots

On 05/09/2012, in Safety is no accident, by steve

Sometimes you need pilots to talk to pilots…     

Working under this premise, three pilots from North American Aerospace Defense Command, the binational U.S. and Canadian military organization charged with intercepting aircraft that violate temporary flight restrictions, attended the AirVenture air show in Oshkosh, Wis., July 23 – 29, to talk face-to-face with general aviation pilots on how to avoid TFRs and what to do if they’re intercepted.

A pair of F-15 fighters performing an intercept and escort during an exercise over the Pacific Ocean.

General aviation aircraft make up the majority of over fifteen hundred intercepts NORAD has made since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and the command is attempting to cut down that number through outreach and education programs.

“The ultimate goal of the pilot outreach is to educate civilian pilots on how to avoid TFRs and on what they should do if intercepted,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Roethe, one of the NORAD officers who conducts the outreach operations.”

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Quote of September 2012

On 01/09/2012, in Quote of the month, by steve

We can often do more for other men by correcting our own faults than by trying to correct theirs.

Francois Fenelon


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