Airport Information Network (AIN) – What is this?

On 29/10/2012, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

The environment and circumstances surrounding aircraft moving about on the ground at an airport is nothing short of puzzling. An almost random mix of legacy technology and procedures and state of the art innovation, an airport is a place where aircraft, already out of their element, meet special challenges and unique dangers.

On average, there are in excess of two noteworthy runway incursions in Europe every day. Yet, even at the few places they have been implemented, we are still working almost exclusively with systems that warn of impending incursions in the control tower rather than directly in the cockpit! Strange thinking that stems mainly from the cost of equipping aircraft with means of receiving the information carrying the warning directly in the cockpit…

But moving further in from the runway, negotiating the taxiway system is no easy task and some airports, like Paris CDG or Chicago ORD, are notoriously difficult to taxi on due to the complexity of the taxi routes. While most of our cars are equipped with on board navigation systems that can take us to specific house numbers in most big cities, pilots still rely in most aircraft on paper charts and blue, green and red lights and taxiway markings and signs to find their stand. At least things are slowly changing in this respect and aircraft costing hundreds of millions will finally get the ground navigation capability cars have had for almost a decade now.

If we move a bit more towards the terminal, we cross an important boundary. The runways and even the taxiway system are under the purview of air traffic control at most airports (though this is not universal and there are places where the taxiways are actually under the control of the airport itself). The aprons on the other hand are the domain of what is commonly termed “ramp control”, usually run by the airport.

In this article we will cast an eye on this critical and often messy area to see what is cooking there to make airline operations more efficient.

The apron is unique in as much as multitudes of aircraft are parked there, surviving on ground power and surrounded by people and ground service vehicles, all rushing to the moment when the doors are finally closed and they are ready to start engines for the next flight. There is also a constant stream of arriving aircraft keen to move into empty or just vacated stands to start their own process of turnaround.

Click here to read the full article


Ferihegy Airport – the beginning of the end?

On 27/10/2012, in Perspectives, by steve

Not many things seem to be working in Hungary these days. With a right wing government that seems to make a sport of creating enemies all around it, from the European Union to the IMF, the small Central-European country has now reached a point where the economy has nowhere to go but down. This of course has an impact also on air transport and the airport of Budapest.

Ferihegy Airport (which was renamed Liszt Ferenc International Airport by a name-change crazy city administration) was hit simultaneously by the crisis in the aviation world and the collapse of the Hungarian economy. The demise of Malev, the once-proud Hungarian National airline earlier this year left the airport with a huge gap in revenues. It also started a chain of events that is nothing short of amazing.

When long-loss making Malev disappeared from the scene almost overnight, they set a record as the only airline from former communist times to go bankrupt. The result of many years of mismanagement and a total lack of vision on the part of its various owners, the bankruptcy nevertheless opened up the field for other players, particularly low-fare companies, to take Budapest by storm.

Wizzair, Easy Jet and Ryanair were on the spot right away, ready to take up some of the slack left by the exit of the legacy carrier.

Click here to read the full article


Painful regrets… The Transformation of Ferihegy in Words and Pictures.

On 25/10/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

Very possibly I am risking my job by broadcasting my pain, but I am unable to keep myself from doing it. I guess any reader would do the same thing if he were to be stripped of his home but still forced to continue living there. This complicated frame of mind is exactly what I feel about to-day’s Ferihegy. There used to be a time when I liked coming to the airport more than going home. When the first fire-arms appeared on the field under the guise of security, I started to worry. What will become of my home? In the past, we had peace, now constant threats. To-day I rarely set foot outside of the tower when we are on duty to avoid having the so-called security services jumping on me from all manner of unexpected corners.

However, this is all nothing compared to what is being done to my “home” in the name of cost-efficient airport operations. On an impulse I decided to record it all in the hope that in a few years’ time this will be but a bad dream. I made a few photos to show you how Ferihegy is turning into “third class”… how we are transitioning from airport to fish-market.

I always though this apron was going to be teeming with aircraft…


…then the first barriers appeared and the corral started to take shape.


Click here to read the full article


David McMillan, EUROCONTROL Director General, Assumes Chair of Flight Safety Foundation

On 23/10/2012, in Just to let you know..., by steve

The Flight Safety Foundation  is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to be the leading voice of safety for the global aerospace community.

It was announced today that EUROCONTROL Director General David McMillan has become the new Chairman of the FSF Board of Governors. McMillan welcomed the attendees to the 65th annual International Air Safety Seminar today in Santiago, Chile as one of his first actions as Chairman. He is the first FSF Chairman from outside the US.

“With his world-wide reputation, David brings a wealth of experience in representing the sterling FSF brand,” said William R. Voss, FSF President and CEO.

“We’re particularly pleased to have David take the helm,” said Dave Barger, JetBlue President and CEO, and FSF Treasurer, “The Flight Safety Foundation will benefit greatly from the perspective David will bring, as its first truly international global leader.”

McMillan is currently the Director General of EUROCONTROL, a role he will continue until the end of 2012. Prior to his time there, Mr. McMillan was the Director General Civil Aviation at the UK Department of Transport and served in the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office as a diplomat in various postings.

In accepting the Chair position, McMillan said: “We cannot rest or become complacent in aviation safety. The Foundation’s key global advocacy role is more important than ever in today’s economic climate. I call on everyone with an interest in aviation safety to consider contributing to the important work of the Foundation.”


QF32 – Saving an A380

On 21/10/2012, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Capt. Richard De Crespigny
Publisher: Macmillan Australia
Text-to-Speech: Activated
X-ray: Not activated

We have brought you reviews of several books over the years and in each case we were talking about flesh and blood, sorry, paper and printing ink volumes, that is to say, traditional books. When I started searching for QF32, Capt. Richard De Crespigny’s account of the A380 engine failure incident, I found an interesting situation. Amazon was selling the paper book but for UK customers only. Amazon in Germany also had it in stock… but only in electronic format for the Kindle reader!

Since I have been carrying my ICAO and other documents as well as some books on a 7 inch Samsung tablet for some time now, I decided to give this a try. Since Samsung was kind enough to provide a Kindle reader in software as part of the tablet’s basic complement of applications, the only expense involved was the price of the book itself, which, at 11.99 Euros appeared to be very reasonable. Not to mention the fact that you can have the electronic book delivered practically instantaneously free of charge!

The transaction went through without a hitch…

Of course it was no surprise that this book would get written. After the all engines-out landing on the Hudson river, the story of how an Airbus A380 was saved by its Australian crew when one of its engines had an uncontained failure was a natural.

I for one enjoyed reading this book and I guess you will too. The description is not limited to the actual event itself. The years before that fateful day are covered through the life history of Capt. De Crespigny and this helps to understand why, when the plane was mortally wounded, the crew could still decide the best course of action in the circumstances and eventually lend the 380 safely.

Airmanship is not a word these days we necessarily and readily associate with terms like cockpit automation, envelope protection and so on. Yet, it was supreme airmanship that saved the lives of passengers and crew on QF32. This is the main message of Capt. De Crespigny also: automation is no substitute for superior airmanship.

Happy reading!


A Pragmatic Approach to modernising Europe’s Air Traffic Management Systems – SJU Press Release

On 16/10/2012, in SESAR's Palace, by steve

Just a few days after the rather damning speeach of the European Commission’s Transport Commissioner, blasting Europe for 10 years of essential inaction on the Single European Sky (SES), the SESAR Joint Undertaking published the press release you can find below. The SJU strikes a rather more optimistic tone although the dissonance between these two communicatons is in itself something that is food for thought for those trying to understand where Europe is going with its Air Traffic Management system. If you want to see an account of the ATM Master Plan story that is a bit more ciritcal, click here before reading the SJU piece. Then judge for yourself…

“Europe’s Single Sky modernisation is taking further shape with the update of the European Air Traffic Management Master Plan. This is the newly agreed strategic plan providing technological and operational roadmaps to all aviation stakeholders. It allows for timely, coordinated and efficient deployment of new technologies and procedures in the timeframe to 2030. Its content has been aligned with International Civil Aviation Organisation’s Aviation System Block Upgrades (ASBU), in order to secure global interoperability and synchronisation.

At its core, the Master Plan is performance-driven, responding to the four Key Performance Areas (KPAs) of environment, cost-efficiency, safety and capacity. These criteria, set by the European Commission, form part of the wider set of ICAO KPAs.
First drafted in early 2009, the Master Plan is intended to evolve with time. This 2012 version helps to better achieve the high level goals of Single European Sky (SES), as set by the European Commission. Key features of the new Master Plan are:
1. A revision of the performance objectives contributing to SES’ high level goals.
The results achieved so far in the R&D programme have helped determine intermediate performance targets feeding into SES High level goals. These revised targets correspond to the contribution of SESAR, one (for technology) of the five SES pillars (the other four are Performance, Safety, Airports and Human factor).
In its first of three change steps, SESAR will contribute to:
o -2.8% in fuel efficiency
o -6% in cost efficiency
o -40% in accident risk per flight hour
o +27% in airspace capacity

Click here to read the full article


The Single European Sky: 10 years on and still not delivering

On 15/10/2012, in SES News, by steve

We bring you here, in full and unedited, the speech of Mr. Siim Kallas, European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Transport delivered at the Single European Sky conference at Limassol, Cyprus, on 11 October 2012. As Editor of Roger-Wilco, I would only like to add a few words: how many times have we warned that things were not going the way they should???? Now read what the EC had to say!

Ladies and gentlemen
Almost one year ago, I sounded an alarm bell about the poor progress made towards
achieving the Single European Sky. That is the reason why I chose a particular title for
my speech today: “10 years on and still not delivering”.
The Single Sky is the logical partner to Europe’s single transport market on the ground.
This flagship project is a concrete example of where Europe can make a difference to its
citizens by raising capacity, improving safety and cutting costs.
This was the original ambition more than a decade ago. Frankly, we remain a long way
from creating a single European airspace. The project is still not delivering – but I believe
that we have the tools to make it a success.

Air traffic control is still far too expensive. We are still hampered by a high level of
delays. This is the situation today, mirroring the same situation last year.

So where do we stand today?

Click here to read the full article


First manned supersonic flight – 14 October 1947

On 14/10/2012, in Anniversaries, by steve

1947 was a tumultuous year for the US armed forces. The U.S. Air Force was created as a separate service in September and on 14 October Captain Charles “Chuck” Yeager broke the sound barrier in the first manned supersonic flight. At the controls of an XS-1 rocket plane, built by Bell Aircraft. The plane was named Glamorous Glennis after Chuck’s wife. It was launched from the bomb-bay of a B-29 Superfortress and after accelerating to 1299 km/h peak speed, it glided to a landing on a dry lake-bed. Over course all this was top secret but nevertheless, the story was leaked to the press and Aviation Week carried an article on this ground-breaking event on 20 December 1947.

The rest is history…


Past and present

On 14/10/2012, in Picture stories, by steve

Sometimes the past and present meet in the strangest ways. Here is a USAF C-17 at the Papa air base in Hungary and a battered, old, East-German Trabant passenger car that had its heyday decades before the C-17 was born.


Low-fare summer, low-fare Ferihegy

On 05/10/2012, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

Well, we are over one more summer. The sinking of Ferihegy took a new turn when after about ten years of operation, Terminal 1 once more closed its gates. Since traffic at Terminal 2 dropped precipitously following the sad demise of Malev earlier this year, this was an unavoidable step. Low-fare airlines were moved to Terminal 2, alongside Ryanair, who have been operating from there for some time already. There was some grumbling among the low-fare guys but in the end they made the move and have been using T2 ever since.

This has changed our work also, I could even say it was made easier with the runway usage becoming simpler. Almost everyone was landing on one runway and taking off from the other. The banking of the traffic also changed, the early morning incoming peak was replaced by an outgoing one, as practically all the low-cost flights departed between six and half seven in the morning. Mixed in with them were the few odd one outs who spent the night at Ferihegy, still operating to us in the old order. One thing is sure, the night shift did not have an opportunity to be bored during the last hour of their duty. They cleared out the airport for the incoming crew who, in the old times, would have started the day with the first departure peak. So, day shifts were off to an easy start and this provided an excellent opportunity to review the various work orders, which was there in abundance (but this is another story).

Click here to read the full article


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