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Will Airline Service Get Better or Worse in the Future?

With all of the shenanigans that have been happening with airlines recently I have spent a fair amount of time reading commentary from all different point of views.  The vast majority of whom have no real understanding of how the airline industry works other than getting on a plane and flying from point A to point B.

Now, I will be the first to admit that I am hardly an expert, especially when compared with a lot of other blogs out there like AirlineReporter or AirlineGuys, or AirlineGeeks, etc. but I like to think that I know at least a little more than the average Joe out there.

The specifics of the actual events have been beaten to death with practically no one changing how they feel about the issue because that is what we do in the modern world, we pick a side and stick to it refusing to even listen to what the other side has said.  So rather than continue that useless charade my mind has been drawn to topics that led to some of these events, or at least maybe influenced their occurrence, and will continue to impact the industry as a whole as we move into the future.

One of the biggest topics that I have been thinking about is the level of service that airlines currently provide, and whether that service will improve or deteriorate in the coming years.  The challenge with this topic is that there are so many factors involved it would be practically impossible to come up with an overarching answer for the entire industry.

For example, airlines in the US are significantly different from those that operate in Europe and Asia.  They simply face different challenges and opportunities by nature of the geography in which they operate along with political sensitivities, and the different wants and needs of the passengers whom they serve.

The interesting perspective that I have right now is that recently I have significantly more experience with Asian airlines rather than US-based airlines, while the majority of the commentary that I have read has been related to airlines in the states.  It has been really interesting to see how differently they operate even when it comes to serving a similar customer base in crossing the Pacific.

If you were to compare the services that airlines offer now to those offered 40 years ago, I don’t think anyone would think the service now, as a whole, is better than it was then.  However, 40 years in aviation is nearly half of the life of an industry that has developed exponentially over its lifetime.  What is interesting about that development is that while the technology in the industry continues to improve, the service as a whole has deteriorated.

So why is aviation different from so many other industries in that they continue to offer fewer services while their technology continues to improve?  Shouldn’t increased efficiency and steadily increasing traffic lead to better service and more options?

While there are numerous pieces of this puzzle that play important roles in the overall picture like increased security measures (yes I still hate TSA), I think there is one piece that has driven this decline in service more than anything else, at least in America.

Price sensitivity.

From my admittedly relatively limited experience, Americans are more price sensitive than any other region of the world I have visited when it comes to buying plane tickets.  This is not to say that Europeans and Asians don’t care how much they pay for a plane ticket, they simply don’t allow that to be almost the only factor in their decision-making process.

Maybe someone else can help me understand the actual reasoning behind it, but Asians and Europeans seem far more willing to pay a premium for added service, whereas Americans prefer to pay the absolute lowest price for a ticket, and then wonder why the service is not as good as it once was.

To be fair, there are more and more ULCCs popping up around Asia in particular, but even those airlines offer a more pleasant experience than the ones in the US.  Maybe that is just because they write me off as the stupid American that they don’t want to deal with, but in general it has been a much better experience here than in the US.

I don’t blame the airlines one bit either.  With the need to fly with such high load factors in order to remain profitable, the airlines are always looking for ways to fill empty seats, including overbooking.  The problem is, as you continue to charge less and less for a given seat, you have to find other ways to cut costs, or else that seat becomes a liability rather than a minuscule asset.

I was working on my Bachelor’s in Aviation Management in the years after 9/11 which led to many interesting discussions about how that day had affected the industry.  In that same vein, the industry has continued to adapt in the years since for a number of different reasons so what worked then may not work now.

One of the airlines we often discussed was Continental.  In the aftermath of 9/11 when many of the other airlines were slashing ticket prices, along with their services, Continental seemed to decide they could attract those customers willing to pay a little more to keep the services they were used to.  I am not talking about business travelers who are far less price sensitive, and still get all of the services in First Class, but rather those people who simply appreciated things like a hot meal.  Continental was the last airline I remember serving me a hot meal on a domestic flight for no additional charge.  It may have only been a pretty plain chicken sandwich, but it stuck with me and my perception of the airline sat above the rest.  This is an overly simplistic view of their decision-making process, but I often feel they over think many of these decisions.

Now, all of the airlines are really not that different from each other.  Sure you have outliers like Southwest not charging for checked bags, but by and large they all seem to offer the same stuff, and I don’t really see much of a change coming anytime soon.

The reason I say I don’t see much of a change coming is that there really aren’t that many more services that the airline can take away.  You already have to pay for almost everything other than your seat, and in many cases if you want a window, aisle, or even an exit row seat, you have to pay for that too.

While I personally don’t take issue with the airlines doing this, I would honestly prefer if they would just add that stuff back in and charge me an extra $20-30 for my ticket.  I am often just as price sensitive as the next guy, and the larger my family gets the more this holds true, but at the same time I appreciate a few services.  I can convince myself to pay a little extra for a few of those services when I see it as part of the ticket, but when I see it as an additional charge for some reason I almost never pull the trigger.

The perspective of passengers is an interesting dynamic of this whole discussion, because we all view it differently.  For that reason, there is no one size fits all answer for how an airline should offer its services, but only time will tell if we ever get to a point where we feel like the industry as a whole is improving their service offerings.

April 25, 2017 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

What is The Goal of Aviation?

I am still collecting some videos from Operation Christmas Drop so that post will have to wait a little longer, but there is another topic that has been on my mind a lot recently that seems applicable at this time of the year.

The new year is a time when it is extremely common for people to make resolutions which are really just another name for goals.  People generally think about weight loss, money, and other personal concerns when it comes to setting these goals.  Goals are an important part of any real success in this world which is why it is important to make them and do everything possible to reach them.  This is true for people as well as businesses.

No matter if you are a person, business, industry, non-profit, or any other group for that matter, you must understand what your main goal is if you are to find any level of success.  Once you understand your main goal, you can then set secondary goals to get you to your main goal.  This whole line of thinking started for me a couple of months ago when I read the book The Goal, by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.  There are many great business insights in the book, as well as many other insights that are applicable to individuals as well.  I highly recommend it if you are looking for something to read.  It reads as a novel, not a business textbook so it is actually quite pleasant to read.

The main insight that drives the rest of the story is that a business must first understand what their main goal is, as I already mentioned.  Once we understand the main goal all of our efforts can be focused on accomplishing it, and anything that stands in the way of that goal can be removed or worked around.  Spoiler alert, the main goal of every business is to make money.  If you want to get more details, read the book.  For the purposes of this post I pose the same question for us lovers of aviation who anxiously want to promote its growth.

What is THE Goal of aviation?

For aviation businesses the goal is the same as any other industry, to make money.  Without that they go out of business and any other goals, no matter how noble, are lost forever.

Aviation organizations like AOPA, AAAE, NBAA, WAI, and numerous others all have similar goals of promoting aviation but generally focus on one particular group like business flyers or women.  They all provide invaluable support to their constituents and the industry as a whole, but they are not really unified in working towards one particular goal.  I am not really surprised though because I don’t know that I have seen a legitimate, unifying goal put forth by anyone.

Don’t get me wrong, many have put forth great ideas, but nothing has really been effective, or else I think we would have seen more growth because people generally do pretty well when they have a clear goal set before them.

Dan Pimentel presented a great goal around this time two years ago of increasing the pilot population to 1 million through focusing on bringing more girls and women into the industry, so is THE goal simply to increase the number of pilots?

I also had an interesting discussion with someone last year about creating an incentive program, possibly through AOPA, where participants could get discounts at hotels, rental car companies, entertainment venues, and other businesses that pilots might utilize when flying to improve the quality of the whole experience.  Does that make THE goal a better experience for those who are already flying?

Eddie Rickenbacker is quoted as saying, “Aviation is proof that – given the will – we can do the impossible.”  This has been true from the Wright Brothers all the way up to Elon Musk and his groundbreaking Falcon 9 reusable rocket.  Aviation has pushed the limits of human ingenuity and innovation leading to developments that have benefited all of society.  So is innovation THE goal of aviation?

A few other potential options for our goal could be to transport people and goods, to connect the world in a more efficient manner, to safely accomplish all of the other things mentioned, or even to return the wonder to flying rather than the commonplace occurrence that it has become.

I don’t think that I have THE answer, but I do have a few thoughts that I hope might start a discussion amongst all of us so that we can focus our efforts to achieve this goal rather than to each pursue our own course of action and have our efforts not be as effective, because as we all know, the sum of our efforts can be much greater than our individual parts.

To start I think I may have already established a goal without even really thinking about it, we want to see growth.  Growth could be seen in many areas to include more pilots, more passengers, more planes, more use of airports, or any number of different metrics, and maybe all of them should matter, but what growth would really show is good health in the industry.  While I think my focus is really on general aviation, I don’t think we can segment the industry if we are truly to see growth.  For most people, commercial aviation is their only connection with flying so to exclude them would be to exclude one of our greatest resources.  Military aviation also provides a vital connection to the mass public as it is often what lights the fire in many individuals.

No matter which metric we choose to focus on, growth in and of itself is no guarantee of success.  A business can sell more product or generate more revenue and still go out of business because it is not managed well.  So I think we need to have more organized management of the industry.  Right now everyone seems to be working in their own little niche to “look out for number one” because no one has stepped up to bring us all together.  One would hope the FAA would play some role in that since aviation is their sole purpose, but we all know that will never happen.  But what is it about aviation that we could all rally around with all of our mixed agendas?  Not since the space race has the world as a whole cared more about aviation.  Maybe the new commercial space race will create some unity.

There is also no doubt that we need some innovation on the people front.  There is as much innovation as ever in aviation technology when you look at the 787, A350, and Falcon 9, but have we really changed the way people interact with the industry, maybe ever?  It is people that are going to keep the aviation industry healthy and we need to find a way to get the absolute most that we can out of those people.  It was people that made that first courageous flight at Kitty Hawk over 100 years ago, and it will be people that will keep aviation strong throughout the next 100 years.

I realize I have asked as many questions as I have given answers, but like I said, I would really love to see what kind of ideas we could come up with if we put our heads together.  There is no doubt that we will all be in love with aviation for the rest of our lives, but the question remains, what is THE goal of aviation, and what are we doing to accomplish it?

January 3, 2016 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Discipline and Positivity Will Help Improve the Pilot Population as Much as Anything

Conditions are often not ideal, but when you work amongst positive people you can do amazing things.

Conditions are often not ideal, but when you work amongst positive people you can do amazing things.

There is an article I have seen circulating on social media about the pilot shortage and how airlines have largely brought it upon themselves through the way they treat their pilots.  While I don’t doubt that the airlines couldn’t treat all of their employees better (what company outside of Google couldn’t?), I found the article to be mostly a bunch of whining with a whole lot of contradiction.

The one area that I wholeheartedly agree with is that flying is becoming too darn expensive for the vast majority of people to pursue.  A select few may be able to secure scholarships, have rich parents, or survive a career in the military before going to an airline, but for the rest it will be a massive financial sacrifice to secure a good job flying planes.  No matter how much pride or excitement someone has for flying, if you can’t afford it, it will never happen.  That is the real challenge when it comes to people not becoming pilots.  I know it has been for me.

It all went downhill from there.

She goes on to mention how airline executives talked a lot about discipline in last week’s IATA conference and how that translates into cutting costs and charging passengers more.  However, the definition of discipline she provided was, “requiring punishment for bad behavior…”  So who exactly behaved badly here, the passengers who are being punished with increased fares and fees, or…yeah, I don’t see anybody else mentioned in the following paragraphs except for employees.  That is the real focus of the rest of the article.

I find it interesting that she chose to use that definition of discipline since she followed that up with plenty of examples of employees that could use a little discipline of the type she mentioned.  She also states that, “discipline is something you force, not something you earn.”  Which I completely disagree with because of the definition of discipline that I feel is far more applicable in this situation.  I prefer, “willing behavior in accord with rules of conduct.”  This likely stems from my military background and how I have seen both good and poor discipline affect outcomes. 

"Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world."

“Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world.”

When personal discipline is present amazing things can be accomplished and the organization as a whole functions more efficiently, and with higher morale.  The exact opposite occurs when a lack of discipline is exhibited, which is when her definition of discipline comes into play.  Personal discipline is in fact earned through hard work and determination to do your very best against all odds.  It is exactly the type of discipline that allows the diligent pilot to wade through all of the crap the article mentions to get to that cockpit they dreamed about their whole life. 

If that discipline then fades away because of the actions of an employer, that is an indictment of the individual, not the employer.  So you don’t make a ton of money at first, neither do most people coming out of college with mountains of student loan debt.  You have to spend time away from your family?  So does every military member in the world, and I’m not just talking about deployments.  But that was part of the job I signed up for and I knew what I was getting into.  If you didn’t take the time to understand the demands of the industry you are entering then once again, that is your problem, not your employer’s.

A story is then shared about having a vacation cut short by the company that was scheduled by the company at the expense of the author.  That really sucks, and if I was there when you had to cut your vacation short I would empathize with you, and probably agree with your complaints, and then go about doing my job the right way, because that is the kind of discipline that makes a successful company from the bottom to the top.  Instead she proceeds to describe how she regularly wasted company resources such as fuel by extending flights, provided poor customer service because “why should I care about the passenger who will miss the connection…”, and brags about how, “there are things I could and did do which cost the company thousands…”.

She submits that employees “aren’t doing anything wrong” when they act in these ways but therein lies the problem.  Just because you haven’t technically broken any rules does not mean you didn’t do anything wrong.  In fact the greatest contradiction in the article came right before that last quote, and it was easy to spot because it included the word “but”, “I was proud of my position, and I have a deep appreciation for my comrades, so I would never do anything to harm my professionalism, but there are things I could and did do which cost the company thousands…”

You are not proud of your position when you reject your own personal discipline in favor of petty retaliation that has no impact on the person that upset you.  There is no professionalism in admittedly costing your company thousands of dollars because you didn’t like the way you were treated.  We all have aspects of our jobs that suck, but you deal with it if it means enough to you, or you find a new profession.  Discipline is not just punishment, it is a willingness and determination to do your best and to do the right thing because that is who YOU are, not because everyone else gives you what you want, or what you think you deserve.  That is what true pride in your position entails, standing tall because you did your absolute best despite the challenges you faced.

We live in a world right now where people call foul when everything doesn’t go quite their way, even when they signed up for it.  Many people are quick to point out the shortfalls of an industry or company or person, and want to place the blame for everything squarely on somebody else’s shoulders.  Nobody wants to take accountability for the role they played in the situation no matter how minor.  It is no wonder that we see this in our leaders because so many of us exhibit it ourselves.

Fortunately, she actually provided the answer to her own contradictions near the very end of the article, and I could not agree more with the assessment.  “Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world.”  WOW!  Those are powerful words that could not be more true.

The only way the next generation will be as passionate about aviation as we are is if we exhibited pride in our profession and discipline in our actions.

The only way the next generation will be as passionate about aviation as we are is if we exhibit pride in our profession and discipline in our actions.

If you stop and think for a minute, almost all of us can think of at least one person, if not many, that had a positive influence on our life that changed our world.  Maybe it was a teacher, coach, or family member, but their “positive ideology” inspired us to set and achieve goals that we never thought possible.  We saw the impact they had on us and we wanted to be like them.

We wanted to have an impact for good, but somewhere along the way many of us lost sight of that.  Instead we focus on the things that suck and how we were wronged by this person, or that stupid supervisor, or some company that screwed us over, and that is the ideology we have chosen to sell to anyone that will listen.  The relative anonymity of the internet has allowed us to project that negativity in ways never before possible, but there is absolutely no reason we can’t turn the tables  back in the other direction.

We can look at people like Ron Rapp who is quick to call out the FAA and other organizations when they damage the industry he has such a passion for, but also immediately follows that up with a solution that will meet the intent of proposed changes while at the same time improving the industry as a whole.

Or Eric Auxier who actively promotes the wonders of aviation to anyone that will listen.  He acknowledges the challenges he has faced, and continues to face, but chooses to have a positive outlook and focus on the good.

To quote something attributed to Abraham Lincoln in the movie Pollyanna , “If you look for the good, you will surely find it.”  That is true of everything in life, but is something that can be a great challenge if you never look for it.  It takes a concerted effort to get past all of the crap that happens and choose to focus on the good.

It bears repeating what the author said near the end of her article because it is the message she should have shared instead of the paragraphs of complaining and negativity that she chose to focus on.  I will be the first to admit that I struggle with this same challenge, which is maybe why I was so quick to recognize it, but all of us would be a lot happier, and our industry would be a lot more appealing if each of us would commit to the following phrase:

“Just a few people with a positive ideology can change the world.”

June 17, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

The Germanwings Crash Makes Me Sad

It makes me sad that 150 lives were needlessly lost.

It makes me sad that someone who clearly needed help did not, or could not, get it.

It makes me sad that the actions of one person can tarnish the reputation of an entire industry.

It makes me sad that the media is more concerned with being first than being right, especially when human lives are part of the story.

It makes me sad that some people are more concerned that news networks are using Boeing images where Airbus images should be, rather than the people who lost their lives.

It makes me sad that a tragedy that should bring people together is instead dividing them.

It just makes me sad.

March 30, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Airbus A350: MinutePhysics Shows How it’s Made in 5 Minutes

If you are not familiar with MinutePhysics then I highly suggest you set aside an hour or two to enjoy some simplified science at its finest.  He does a great job of taking incredibly complex things and simplifying them for those people who want to be a little more educated, but not Sheldon from The Big Band Theory.

In this edition, Henry Reich takes a look at the brand spanking new Airbus A350 which had its first delivery today.  While five minutes is not near enough time to show everything I think he does a pretty fantastic job of describing the overall process.  Personally I am just incredibly jealous of the tours that he got.  I think most of us Avgeeks would give body parts to get the access he did.

Until that day comes enjoy the physics lesson.  The second video was released by Airbus and shows more of the tours themselves.

 

 

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December 22, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Is Free Inflight Wifi a Real Possibility?

We live in an increasingly connected world, which has both good and bad associated with it.  Whether we like it or not that connectivity is only going to increase in coming years, and that includes internet access when we are flying.

In-flight wifi is becoming increasingly more common on airlines around the world with various levels of accessibility and cost across the industry.  For basic travelers they are likely only interested in accessing their email or maybe playing around with social media which can be done relatively inexpensively by purchasing an hour or even a day’s worth of access for those with connecting flights.

Business travelers would likely be interested in greater access which naturally comes with a greater cost.  However, their company is probably going to cover the cost so it likely makes little difference to them how much it costs.

A quick search of a few airline sites revealed that lower end access, which should be sufficient for most people, will cost anywhere from about $5-20.  That isn’t unreasonable, but when you consider many people will have just paid $25 or more just to get their bag on the plane, and may be hungry on the flight which will cost them another $5-10, paying another $20 just may not be worth it to check their email.

On the other hand, if it was free, I think most everyone would use it, if only sparingly.  But how realistic is it to expect widespread free wifi?

It probably isn’t too far-fetched considering some foreign airlines already offer it.  Norwegian offers free access on their domestic flights, and Emirates offers the first 10MB for free on their A380s and 777s.  After that they have a tiered model to pay for certain levels of access.

The reason this even came to mind for me is that Emirates is actively pursuing free wifi for all of their passengers.  Naturally there are some technological and cost restrictions that aren’t allowing that to happen yet, but it is noteworthy that airlines are actively pursuing it.

I personally don’t think many US airlines will provide free wifi access across their fleet, but it may become a feature that they attempt to utilize to distinguish themselves from other offerings. In this era of charging for every little aspect of a flight I just don’t see airlines offering a luxury free of charge.  However, we may see one or two that decide that will help them sell more tickets the way that Southwest has with their free checked bags.

It is not surprising that European and Middle Eastern airlines are leading the way in this area as they generally provide a much better service than US based airlines.  I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the US airlines are forced to start offering better service because the foreign airlines start taking away the market share.  Regulation will likely prevent that from happening, but with any luck we will see improvements like free wifi becoming more common and maybe even the standard by which all airlines are judged.

What do you think?  Will free wifi ever come to US airlines, or will we have to fly foreign to receive that benefit?

November 6, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

American Airlines’ New IFE is an Avgeek’s Paradise

I have loved the new livery from day one, but this was my first chance to actually fly in it on this brand new A321S.

I have loved the new livery from day one, but this was my first chance to actually fly in it on this brand new A321S.

There are lots of great sites out there that talk about passenger experience way better than I ever will.  Sites like AirlineReporter, NYCAviation, and APEX (Airline Passenger Experience Association) will all provide much more in-depth and extensive analysis than I will because they get on amazing planes and experience those amazing trips, and most of my flying is done on a C-130 that is 40+ years old.  Definitely no flight attendants on there.

With that being said I just had to share the most amazing In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) I have ever seen.  I had to drop off a plane for testing purposes (more on that later in the week), and so we had to fly back home commercial.  I got to fly on my favorite airline (American) coming home, and this experience just deepened my love.

The great trip started with using TSA PreCheck for the first time.  It reminded me of what it was like to go through security before TSA, long long ago.  It was smooth and fast.  Don’t worry I still am not a fan of TSA.

The real joy started when I got to the gate and saw that we would be on a brand spanking new Airbus A321S that had the new American livery.  I know it has been out forever, and that a ton of the planes have it, but like I said I don’t fly commercial often, and this was my first time.  You never forget your first.

Final approach into DFW looks pretty cool digitally as it is actually flown.

Final approach into DFW looks pretty cool digitally as it is actually flown.

The experience got even better when I got on the plane and saw what was on every seat-back in the plane.  I honestly don’t know the name of the system, who provides it, or any of the system specs even after looking through American’s site to try to find it, but I can tell you that it was awesome.

Everything was handled on the touch screen to include turning on the overhead light, and even ordering your drinks and such which could be used on other flights, though it wasn’t on ours.  There were tons of entertainment options to include music, movies, and TV shows with several different packages to choose from depending on what you are looking for.  I’ll be honest, I’m a cheap skate so I didn’t buy any of it, but there was a free feature that kept me thoroughly entertained when I wasn’t enjoying the company next to me.

For as long as I can remember flying commercial I have always loved watching the digital portrayal of where my flight was headed.  Even though the numbers really don’t change much in cruise I still love to see the altitude, airspeed, time to destination, and other aspects of the flight.  I know all of you amazing Avgeeks get it.

While even a rudimentary map can keep me occupied for hours, this thing is a moving map on steroids.  There were about ten different views that you could switch between including a cockpit view that was accentuated by a heads up display with the associated flight parameters displayed.  You also have the ability to zoom in and out, rotate the map, and tilt the map in any number of ways to get the view you are looking for.  It did take a minute to figure out how to do all of those things, but it was really similar to a lot of tablets.

The plane always looks huge no matter how tight you zoom, but at an airport this big it is fun to watch it taxi.

The plane always looks huge no matter how tight you zoom, but at an airport this big it is fun to watch it taxi.

As you can see from a couple of the pictures that I took it can make for a pretty entertaining experience, especially in the terminal area around the airport.  It was really fun watching a virtual simulation of our approach as it was actually happening.  Even with the slight delay it was a lot of fun.  My friend (a pilot) did point out that we landed a little long based on the moving map, but on those giant runways it really doesn’t matter much.  It was also fun to switch to the overhead view and watch as we taxied to the terminal, though it wasn’t totally precise and it looked like we were taxiing in between taxiways at times.

I know this is far from your typical passenger experience article, but if you love planes and other avgeek stuff as much as I do I really hope that you get a chance to see this system.  I really can’t convey how cool it was through words or pictures.  You really need to get your hands on it and have some fun.  If you have gotten the chance to see it I would love to hear what you thought about it in the comments below.

October 28, 2014 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Jetairfly Takes Delivery of Their First 787 Dreamliner

The Jetairfly 787 during a test flight in Washington.

The Jetairfly 787 during a test flight in Washington.

Despite the problems that continue to arise with the 787 Dreamliner, Boeing continues to deliver the technologically advanced aircraft.  Jetairfly took delivery of its first 787 today which brings the number of operators up to 17 by my count.

Jetairfly is part of the TUI Travel group which includes another 787 customer, Thomson Airlines.  Jetairfly is the first airline in the Benelux region to take delivery of the Dreamliner.  According to the press release below Jetairfly will start revenue flights early this month on short and medium haul routes, with long haul routes starting closer to Christmas and New Years.

Personally, I don’t understand all of the bad press the 787 is getting.  Every aircraft ever developed has gone through growing pains, and the Dreamliner is no different.  In a lot of ways it was even more to be expected because of the massive leap in technology that Boeing is taking.

The biggest problem is the advent of social media and instant news coverage that instantly blows everything out of proportion.  I am sure that in a matter of years we will be looking back at all of this as just small stumbling blocks during the early days of an extremely successful airliner.

Press Release
Jetairfly becomes first airline in Benelux to operate Dreamliner

EVERETT, Wash., Dec. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Boeing [NYSE: BA] and Jetairfly today celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first 787. The airplane departed Paine Field in Everett on Tuesday on its delivery flight to Brussels.

“We are very excited about the Jetairfly Dreamliner entering service as the first and only 787 operated by a Belgian airline,” said Elie Bruyninckx, CEO TUI Belgium. “This aircraft isn’t only a perfect match with our innovative and sustainable philosophy. It is also a great asset in our strategy of offering unique holiday experiences to our passengers, especially when they fly between Europe and the Caribbean.”

The 787 is scheduled to begin flying short and medium haul Jetairfly routes in early December and long haul routes between Christmas and the New Year.

“We are very excited that Jetairfly will be flying the 787 Dreamliner,” said, Todd Nelp, vice president of European Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “The 787 will replace the airline’s 767 and offer the best possible flying and cabin experience.”

Passengers traveling on Jetairfly’s 787 will experience the passenger-pleasing features of the Dreamliner such as larger, electronically-dimmable windows and larger overhead luggage bins. During flight the 787 is pressurized to a lower cabin altitude, has higher humidity levels, advanced air filtration and smoother ride technology to make the flying experience more comfortable and allow passengers to arrive at their destination more refreshed.

The 787 is the most technologically advanced airplane in the sky with composite materials making up 50 percent of the primary structure, including the fuselage and wing. This allows the Dreamliner to use 20 percent less fuel and emit 20 percent fewer CO2 emissions than similarly sized airplanes.

Jetairfly is part of the TUI Travel PLC, the largest tourism group in the world.

December 4, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Bombardier and China Express Airlines Sign Agreement for 16 CRJ900 NextGen Aircraft

CRJ900 NextGenIt might not seem like a big deal that an airline bought 16 regional jets, but considering that China Express Airlines is the only specialized regional airline in the rapidly growing country, I think it is a pretty big deal.  According to the press release below, the airline expects to triple the number of their routes in the next two years.  That is some pretty serious growth in a region that is booming.

It is interesting to see how some of these countries are developing their airlines by learning from what has happened in the US.  They have learned the value of regional airlines, and the important niche that they fill.

It is also fun to see the regional aircraft developing parallel to the much larger aircraft.  It will be interesting to see how they will develop in the future, especially with the development of aircraft like the C-series.

Press Release

Bombardier Aerospace announced today that China’s sole specialized regional airline, China Express Airlines, has placed a firm order for three CRJ900 NextGen airliners, as well as entered into conditional purchase agreements for five CRJ900 NextGen aircraft with options on an additional eight CRJ900 NextGen aircraft. China Express, based in Guiyang, Guizhou provides regional passenger services with its fleet of five CRJ200 aircraft and six CRJ900 NextGen aircraft. The airline made history last year by being the first to operate the CRJ900 aircraft in the country.

Based on the list price for the CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, the firm order is valued at approximately $134 million US. Should the conditional agreements for five CRJ900 NextGen and options on the additional eight CRJ900 NextGen aircraft be converted to firm orders, the value of the contract would increase to $733 million US.

“By 2016, we anticipate that the total number of China Express’ routes will reach approximately 90, three times as many as the number of existing routes, and will cover 60 per cent of China’s regional cities,” said Wu Longjiang, President, China Express. “We are confident that our fleet of Bombardier aircraft will be a very efficient and reliable asset in achieving these objectives.”

“With China’s growing economy, improved support infrastructure and expanding middle-class, regional air travel will be more accessible to Chinese citizens in more regions,” said Mike Arcamone, President, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “As demonstrated by China Express, the outstanding economics of Bombardier’s CRJ NextGen aircraft will allow airlines to profitably enter smaller tier-two and tier-three markets, providing efficient service to a growing demand from business and leisure travelers. We are delighted that China Express has once again put its trust in Bombardier.”

More than 140 Bombardier-produced aircraft, including CRJ Series and Q-Series commercial aircraft, as well as Learjet, Challenger and Global business jets are currently operating in Greater China.

As of September 30, 2013, Bombardier had recorded firm orders for 1,779 CRJ Series aircraft, including 306 CRJ900 and CRJ900 NextGen aircraft. Worldwide, CRJ Series aircraft are in service with more than 60 airlines and more than 30 customers operate corporate variants of the aircraft. The aircraft are operating in over 50 countries on six continents, and on average, a CRJ aircraft takes off every 10 seconds somewhere in the world. CRJ Series aircraft have transported more than 1.4 billion passengers and have logged more than 38 million flight hours and over 32 million takeoffs and landings.

CRJ900 NextGen aircraft
Like other members of the CRJ Series family of aircraft, the light weight and advanced aerodynamics of the CRJ900 NextGen regional jet combine to deliver improved efficiency and reduced operating costs compared to other aircraft in its class. The combination of a larger winglet and other optimizations since the launch of the CRJ900 aircraft, give the CRJ900 NextGen regional jet excellent airfield and en-route fuel consumption. All CRJ NextGen aircraft feature new interiors with larger overhead luggage bins, larger windows, improved lighting and redesigned ceiling panels and sidewalls.

About Bombardier

Bombardier is the world’s only manufacturer of both planes and trains. Looking far ahead while delivering today, Bombardier is evolving mobility worldwide by answering the call for more efficient, sustainable and enjoyable transportation everywhere. Our vehicles, services and, most of all, our employees are what make us a global leader in transportation.

Bombardier is headquartered in Montréal, Canada. Our shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD) and we are listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America Indexes. In the fiscal year ended December 31, 2012, we posted revenues of $16.8 billion. News and information are available at bombardier.com or follow us on Twitter @Bombardier.

December 2, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

35 Years of Deregulation of the Airlines

The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 has had a tremendous impact on the airline industry over the past 35 years.  Beyond the airline industry it has had a tremendous impact on countless other industries as well, most notably the tourism industry.  Before deregulation flying was mostly for the elite or business travelers who could afford the exorbitant fares that existed.  The relationship between the airlines and the CAB had created an excessively inflated system that made the airlines a lot of money, but also kept flying out of reach for most people.

DeregulationThe transportation industry was the first major industry to deregulate starting in the early 1970s, followed eventually by the telecommunications industry, energy industry, and most recently the financial industry.  All of these actions had similar goals at their heart: increased competition leading to a reduction in prices.  The success of each of these industries as it relates to deregulation can be debated all day, but as it relates to the airlines, it is hard to ignore the benefits that have come from deregulation.

Taking a look at the chart on the right shows just how successful deregulation has been.  Granted, you could probably make a chart that is equally convincing regarding the areas that may be seen as failures.  You can even attribute some of those numbers to the natural growth of any industry, but much of that growth would not have come without deregulation.

In an article written for Businessweek, former Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer discussed some of the impacts of airline deregulation.  Perhaps the most telling statistic he presented was this, “In 1974 the cheapest round-trip New York-Los Angeles flight (in inflation-adjusted dollars) that regulators would allow: $1,442. Today one can fly that same route for $268.”

There can be no more clear indication that airline deregulation has been successful than reading numbers like that.  While it is true that ticket prices have risen recently, most of that can be blamed on two things: rising fuel prices, and the creation of TSA.  One of those you can’t do much about, but the other one is, surprise surprise, more government regulation.  I realize security and fare regulation are not the same thing, but it is no surprise that when the government steps in costs are bound to increase.  Just look at the Affordable Care Act.

The aviation industry is as volatile as they come, and we will continue to see prices fluctuate just like any other industry.  Continued energy issues along with the retirement of the baby boomers will likely have impacts that we cannot anticipate, not to mention security concerns and the introduction of more UAVs to the national airspace system.  One thing is for sure though, love it or hate it airline deregulation has lowered ticket prices and made air travel a reality for a lot more people.

November 6, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.