Paris… here we come. SFO-CDG direct flights by United

On 27/04/2013, in Airline corner, by steve

paris1On 26 April,United Airlines launched daily nonstop service from San Francisco to Paris, connecting Bay Area travelers to the City of Light and strengthening the airline’s largest West Coast hub.

“We are excited to offer customers new service between two of the world’s most culturally and economically diverse cities,” said John Slater, United’s vice president of sales – Americas. “Our customers tell us that they value convenient, nonstop service to top business and leisure destinations throughout the globe, and the launch of today’s flight reflects our commitment to meeting our customers’ needs.”

“We are thrilled about United’s new nonstop service between San Francisco and Paris,” said Joe D’Allesandro, president and CEO of the San Francisco Travel Association. “France is one of San Francisco’s most important and fastest growing international markets, and this new service will increase our competitiveness and give potential visitors a new option to visit California.”

Flight 990 departs San Francisco daily at 2:45 p.m. and arrives at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport at 10:45 a.m. the next day. For the return, flight 991 departs Paris at 10:05 a.m. and arrives in San Francisco at 1 p.m. the same day. (All times are local.)

Click here to read the full article


GPS Jamming – eLoran to the Rescue

On 27/04/2013, in Perspectives, by steve

The vulnerability of GPS to jamming and the risks faced by aviation if it became too dependent on GPS have been the subject of discussion for a long time now. Several activities world-wide have also been ongoing to define and agree an alternative/back-up system.

Of course it is not easy to come up with something that offers the required functions and which does so for the same price GPS does. The catch here is that users essentially experience GPS as completely free. They do not need to worry about the fact that the costs of operating the GPS system are picked up by US taxpayers. On the other hand, it is extremely unlikely that any alternative system would be financed in the same way. In other words, the costs of the alternative/backup system would have to be born by the users, resulting in two significant effects: one, the business case for the future, satellite based air traffic management system becomes weaker and two, GPS vulnerabilities tend to be played down by the user community who are, understandably, reluctant to let go even a part of what appeared as the only free lunch in town.

Now, however, North Korea may have helped the aviation industry to dig its head out of the sand and address the GPS issue seriously.

North Korea is well known for its starving people and its love of gadgets. Ballistic missiles and nuclear bombs are high on their agenda but the mischief they can do with GPS jamming has also not passed by them unnoticed.

Originally started in 2010, jamming from the impoverished rogue state has been increasing in frequency and affected an ever larger number of aircraft and marine vessels in South Korea’s airspace and waters. Apparently, the L1, L2 and L5 bands were all at risk from high-power continuous wave jamming signals.

In the past, some experts believed that it would be difficult to jam GPS over large areas at the same time and while an airport with satellite based procedures could face major disruption and a safety issue, the whole ATM system on a given continent would be relatively immune. What North Korea has shown now is that it is possible to have truly large areas blanketed with jamming signals that could potentially deny service on a worrisome scale.

What can be done?

Click here to read the full article


When money runs out… expect delays!

On 23/04/2013, in ATC world, by steve

FAA Statement
Date: April 23, 2013

Contact: Laura J. Brown

Phone: (202) 267-3883

faaAs a result of employee furloughs due to sequestration, the FAA is implementing traffic management initiatives at airports and facilities around the country. Travelers can expect to see a wide range of delays that will change throughout the day depending on staffing and weather related issues. For example, the FAA is experiencing staffing challenges at the New York and Los Angeles En Route Centers and at the Dallas-Ft. Worth and Las Vegas TRACONs. Controllers will space planes farther apart so they can manage traffic with current staff, which will lead to delays at airports including DFW, Las Vegas and LAX. The FAA also expects delays at Newark and LaGuardia because of weather and winds.

The FAA will continue to work with the airlines throughout the day to try and minimize delays for travelers. We encourage all travelers to check their flight status and also to visit for the latest airport delay information.

Yesterday more than 1,200 delays in the system were attributable to staffing reductions resulting from the furlough. There were more than 1,400 additional delays as a result of weather and other factors.


TITAN The Book – Going Beyond A-CDM

On 22/04/2013, in Bookshelf, by steve

TITAN_The_bookTITAN was an EC 7th Framework project which looked at ways of further optimizing the turnaround, a kind of Airport CDM on steroids. During the project it became very clear that although Airport Collaborative Decision Making had been around for quite some time already, a lot of people still did not have a good understanding what it was all about… In the circumstances, talking about further enhancing A-CDM looked like a pretty hopeless exercise, certainly outside the relatively small circle of those in the know.

Since TITAN was also talking about involving new, often off-airport partners, in the optimization process, the need to provide good, easily accessible and understandable knowledge about the subject of CDM in general and TITAN in particular became even more evident.

Our proposal to write a book on CDM and TITAN, in a style that is more enjoyable than the usual rather dry technical material, was accepted and after three months of hard work, the 75 page book was finally put on the table and accepted.

On behalf of my co-author Ana Saez and myself, I am now very pleased to make TITAN The Book available for download here.

If you are interested in a little CDM history and the elements of airport CDM, you will find all this in Part 1. Part 2 talks about how the A-CDM concept can be extended in the new ATM environment and here you can read about the exciting new world of trajectory based operation, SWIM and many other things that make use of collaborative decision making. We also touch on why the focus is on the turnaround… This then leads us into Part 3 in which TITAN is introduced and we learn how events far from the airport can actually have a great impact on the aircraft turnaround and why it is wrong to leave these out from the picture.

We have also included a high level operational scenario in which a passenger is followed from his hotel room all the way to the aircraft seat and the working of the TITAN services is explained.

I have tried to make the style of the book a bit more relaxed than the customary CDM texts in the hope that it will be attractive also for the casual aviation reader.

Get your copy here… and please send us feedback after you have looked at it.

Happy reading!


The Magic of the Aircraft Trajectory

On 22/04/2013, in Buzzwords explained, by steve

photo_bluskyTrajectory based operations or TBO figure frequently in current air traffic management related concept documents and discussions. When asked, most experts will say that they understand what TBO is… but scratch the surface a little and you will find that at best they all have a different understanding and at worst a completely wrong understanding of what TBO really means.

I am not going to bore you with yet another discourse on TBO, I have written more than enough on the subject already. This time I would like to hold a magnifying glass over the trajectory itself and give you what may prove to be a rather unorthodox view of this ever present yet ethereal thing that has many more uses than one would think on first sight.

As we know, trajectory based operations, at its simplest, means going away from the legacy airspace based air traffic management paradigm to replace it with a trajectory based one. In the legacy approach, experts try to guess the dimensions of the airspace required to accommodate the traffic demand and then force aircraft left, right and centre to fly in ways that fit the airspace. What is more, controllers focus on the aircraft with minimum look ahead times to discover and resolve conflicts. It is little wonder that aircraft often end up flying trajectories that have little resemblance to what the airspace user originally intended.

Under trajectory based operations, airspace is designed to accommodate the trajectories without distortions whenever possible and controllers consider the impact of their actions on the entire trajectory still to be flown. With appropriate decision support tools, they select intervention options that result in the least overall distortion of the trajectories concerned.

But what is this trajectory we are so often talking about? One possible definition of the trajectory is the series of points on the ground and in the air that describe the path the aircraft will follow. These points are not navigation aids but rather the kind of points we know from geometry; by connecting the points we get a visual representation of the path the aircraft will follow. We can identify any point on this path by its three spatial dimensions and the fourth dimension, time. This is how we come to know where the aircraft will be and when.

Some seem to think that a trajectory is from gate to gate only and there is no such thing as a trajectory during the turnaround. Here is then the first opportunity to consider the trajectory in a new light.

Click here to read the full article


Being liberated…

On 21/04/2013, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

I think 4 April will continue to be a hotly disputed day in Hungarian history for a long time to come. Were we liberated from Nazi rule on that day or was it the first day of Soviet occupation? Each of us will judge this day depending on our particular outlook on the world. In my humble opinion those who risked or gave their lives on the spring of 1945 to end history’s darkest “ism” in Hungary brought us freedom and not occupation. They were not fighting for ideology, they were not interested in what would happen in the upcoming 45 years. They fought to defeat an enemy.

Perhaps only a coincidence but aerodrome control at Ferihegy airport was freed on the same day this year. Although we are not supposed to talk about this in such terms, but we should never have been put in a situation where we now can talk about being freed. Of course if they had they not used force to take away from us control over the aprons several years ago, I would have nothing to write about now.


I was wondering about the choice of day for returning apron control to the tower, after all, major changes were not normally scheduled for the middle of the week. What is more, it looked liked no everyone was aware of the significance of this day and so our already complicated task was made even more difficult by the closure of one of the runways for maintenance. Since I was not aware of the runway lighting system needing urgent attention, postponing this maintenance operation should not have caused any problem.

Click here to read the full article


FAA Approves Boeing 787 Battery System Design Changes

On 19/04/2013, in The aircraft we fly, by steve

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today took the next step in returning the Boeing 787 to flight by approving Boeing’s design for modifications to the 787 battery system. The changes are designed to address risks at the battery cell level, the battery level and the aircraft level.

Next week, the FAA will issue instructions to operators for making changes to the aircraft and will publish in the Federal Register the final directive that will allow the 787 to return to service with the battery system modifications. The directive will take effect upon publication. The FAA will require airlines that operate the 787 to install containment and venting systems for the main and auxiliary system batteries, and to replace the batteries and their chargers with modified components.

“Safety of the traveling public is our number one priority. These changes to the 787 battery will ensure the safety of the aircraft and its passengers,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

“A team of FAA certification specialists observed rigorous tests we required Boeing to perform and devoted weeks to reviewing detailed analysis of the design changes to reach this decision,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

To assure proper installation of the new design, the FAA will closely monitor modifications of the aircraft in the U.S. fleet. The FAA will stage teams of inspectors at the modification locations. Any return to service of the modified 787 will only take place after the FAA accepts the work.

As the certifying authority, the FAA will continue to support other authorities around the world as they finalize their own acceptance procedures.


United Airlines will reduce fuel consumption and equivalent CO2 emissions through better operations, technology and engineering

On 12/04/2013, in Environment - Without hot air, by steve

ecoskies_unitedUnited Airlines is honoring Earth Month by announcing its new goal to save 85 million gallons of fuel in 2013, equivalent to 828,750 metric tons of CO2 or roughly $275 million dollars at current fuel prices. Fuel is the airline’s single largest expense and its primary focus environmentally, and the company has several initiatives in place that will allow it to achieve its fuel efficiency goal.

“We are committed to reducing our fuel consumption and our environmental footprint,” said United’s Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Smisek. “I am proud of the actions we take every day throughout the year that help shape a more sustainable future for our customers, our co-workers and the communities we serve.”

United has already improved its fuel efficiency by 32 percent since 1994 through programs such as improved flight planning, single engine taxiing, lighter products onboard, and use of ground power instead of the onboard auxiliary power unit to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions while aircraft are parked.

The airline is also investing in a modern, fuel-efficient fleet to replace less fuel-efficient aircraft. In 2012, United ordered 150 brand-new Boeing 737 narrowbody aircraft powered by fuel-efficient CFM engines. In addition to purchasing new aircraft, United is also improving the performance of its current fleet. The airline was the launch customer for the new Split Scimitar winglet, which is an advanced and improved winglet for the 737 Next-Gen aircraft and helps the aircraft consume up to 25 percent less fuel per seat than the 737-500 aircraft the company is retiring. United already has other winglets installed on more than 300 of its aircraft, including its entire Boeing 737 fleet and many of its 757 and 767 aircraft. Winglets reduce drag on the aircraft, ultimately reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions by up to five percent.

Click here to read the full article


A Peaceful Night

On 10/04/2013, in Tower chronicles, by lajos

fire_engineA few days ago with a colleague of mine we were getting ready to pass the night shift as the cuckoos… the guys who stay awake while the rest of the crew takes a rest. As was our wont short before the midnight hour we dragged ourselves to the tower cab to release the chaps who had kept vigil during the past several hours. We plugged in our headsets just in time to say good-by to the last arriving flights of the day. It was at this point that my friend made a big mistake. He happened to make the comment: It looks like we will have a peaceful night.

With the sentence hardly out of his mouth, the phone on the supervisor console started to ring. The Center supervisor was calling to announce that an overflight will be making an unscheduled landing at Ferihegy due to a medical emergency on board. I looked up at my colleague accusingly: why did he have to make such careless remarks. The lie was put to his sentence immediately by this telephone call.

Truth be told, aircraft landing with a sick person on board are not such a rare event. We have a standard procedure for notifying people, the first always being airport handling who will tell us which stand the aircraft should taxi to. We used the procedure also on this occasion and soon found a stand relatively close to the runway. From then on, they knew their business. Next I called the ambulance service, first just to appraise them of the fact that a medical emergency was coming our way, then I called a second time when details of the sick person (gender, age, condition) became known. With this we had done everything we could, from then on the only thing remaining was to wait for the aircraft to land. Which they did without further ado and having completed just over a half of their trip, they taxied to the appointed stand without delay.

However, as the aircraft was about to land, the phone rang again. When I saw that the caller was the fire brigade, I instinctively felt complications coming our way. They do see the aircraft and when they spot something that is not in their list, they come to me to ask… This would be no problem of they would just sit back once I told them that this was not a technical emergency, it was not that I had forgotten to advise them, but simply the aircraft was landing because of a sick person on board.

Click here to read the full article


Aviation’s Servants – Zsuzsa Frick Vereczi’s fascinating new book

On 09/04/2013, in Bookshelf, by steve

By Zsuzsa Frick Vereczi
Publisher: Civil Legiutak a Vilagra
ISBN: 978-963-08-5972-1

Untitled-1It is not often that Roger-Wilco reviews books written in any language other than English. However, every now and then a volume lands on my desk that is not (yet…) available in English but which is so unique and interesting that we are compelled to share the experience with our readers in the hope that one day the work gets translated and then it will be on the wish list of the Roger-Wilco family.

The collapse of Malev Hungarian Airlines in February 2012 has spawned many words in many different publications, most concerned with the reasons and the chances of starting again. While the human element was part of those discourses, it was not center stage.

Zsuzsa Frick Vereczi’s book, “Aviation’s Servants” is different. Coming a little over a year after the Malev tragedy it is firmly in the slipstream of the emotional storm left by Black Friday, this book opens up a totally different world, takes a totally different perspective and even introduces a totally different, fascinating format.

Zsuzsa went out and chatted with the people who have been, and in a way continue to be, the essence of Malev and the operation of aircraft and the required infrastructure, bringing their thoughts, views, opinions, feelings, hopes and frustrations to the reader in a questions and answers format that is impossible to put down once you start reading it.

Flip open the book at any page and listen to the words… Soon, you will hear the whining of the engines, smell kerosene, see the gray paint on the metal cabinets, feel the emotions of the people giving you their heart while talking about the job they loved.

Zsuzsa has been an employee of Malev for decades and what I admire in her work is the trust she had in what her fellow aviation servant’s had to say and the conviction that this would be of interest to us all… I think this book is a must have for the big aviation family as well as those who have ever experienced the wonder of flight and now would like to meet, truly meet, those who made/make it happen.

As I said, the book is presently only available in Hungarian but hopefully one day an English translation will also see the light of day. When that happens, aviation’s servants the world over will get a chance to see just how alike and yet wonderfully different, we all are.

An absolute must have in your aviation library.

By the way, the book’s public presentation will be on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3 p.m. in the STEX-House Coffee and Restaurant in Budapest (VIII. district, Jozsef Blvd. and Barross street corner). There you can meet not only the author but also some of the stars of the book!

To order the book, write to Zsuzsa at


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