Category Archives: Airline Passenger Experience

Wireless Streaming Entertainment Comes of Age at APEX And On Your Flight

By John Walton / Published September 29th, 2014


Wireless streaming has been billed as the Next Big Thing in inflight entertainment for years. But last week at the APEX Expo, the big entertainment-focused trade show, a series of developments means airlines will stream more and more — both on their own devices and to your tablet, phone and laptop.

In the US, carriers including American, Delta, United and Southwest offer what’s called BYOD streaming, where they have a server on the plane with entertainment (think a mini Netflix box on board, rather than streaming to the ground). You connect to their Wi-Fi as normal, though you don’t need to use the Internet - just stream from their onboard library.

JetBlue, meanwhile, is taking another track and making the most of its superfast FlyFi Ka-band network, provided by ViaSat’s Exede. Rather than being a content provider itself, JetBlue has the capacity to let you stream Netflix, Hulu, YouTube or whatever you prefer from the ground. That saves the airline a fair bit on royalties, and on having to staff up in order to negotiate getting you those movies.

US airlines who adopted inflight Internet early have a streaming advantage: it’s quick and easy to add streaming to existing installations. If the Wi-Fi is there for the Internet, the Wi-Fi is there for wireless streaming. Internationally, fewer airlines have Wi-Fi, due to compounding factors including a lack of ATG provision outside North America, a dearth of faster satellite capacity in the Ku and Ka bands, and increased scrutiny of satellite radome birdstrike survivability by the FAA and other regulators over the last couple of years. IntelliCabin_4

Tablets are the obvious way to watch streaming content, not least because few economy seats are pitched far enough apart to use a laptop.

That explains why a huge focus of this year’s APEX Expo was the frustration airlines feel about the excessive paranoia by entertainment studios in terms of early-window content (just out of the movie theatres, before the DVD release) being pirated from tablets on the plane. Let’s be clear, content piracy is a bad thing. But it’s highly unlikely that even the most DRM-free tablets would be a significant source of piracy, not least because everything anybody would want to pirate has already been pirated by the time that the early window opens.

A potential solution for airlines to the early window problem is to leverage the eternally increasing size of SSD storage and offer a huge catalog of cult TV and classics. Think of it as a combination of Netflix and Nick at Nite.

The backend tech options also give airlines a significant amount of choice. Some airlines decide to install streaming permanently, while others have a quite literally hot-swappable option. Lufthansa subsidiary LSG Sky Chefs is offering a fully plug-and-play system that slots into a galley oven and creates a plug-and-play option for airlines to provide on some routes. Add the wide reach and supply chain of a global catering business — and perhaps a galley cart full of rental tablets to use with the system — and LSG may be on to a winner. RECARO_CL3710_Concept_13-inch_monitor

Yet seatback screens aren’t going away anytime soon. A quiet focus of this year’s APEX expo was on the options for airlines to maximize advertising revenues from inflight entertainment.

Clearly, the captive audience factor of a seatback screen is a bonus here — and not just on long-haul aircraft where holding a tablet for 14 hours would be a pain. Delta has retrofitted a significant proportion of its domestic narrowbody fleet with seatback IFE, and American is opting for it on many of its newest domestic aircraft as well. It’s a rare international aircraft that doesn’t come with full on-demand seatback IFE these days, with Philippine Airlines’ OnAir streaming an exception.

PAL wireless streaming entertainment

A hybrid solution is embedding tablets in the seatback, pushed particularly by Lufthansa Systems and, in a last-ditch attempt to remain relevant in an iPad world, digEcor, the company that made the pre-iPad digEplayer device. BAe Systems is also offering a Samsung Galaxy Tab-based system that feels very similar to tablets that passengers will already own. Embedding the tablet allows airlines to reduce the time-to-market of seatback entertainment in the fast-paced world where anything appearing on a brand-new seat today is essentially two-year-old technology.

The problem to overcome for embedded systems is safety. One of the reasons that seatback systems take so long to develop is that regulators must be satisfied that they are HIC (head injury criterion) compliant. Options to pass HIC include a protective film (similar in concept, though not materials, to the films many smartphone users use on their screens), a slide-up safety plastic protector that can be raised during the critical phases of flight like takeoff and landing, or a recessed placement to take the screen out of the “arc” of a pivoting passenger’s head.

A complicating factor: current HIC testing is essentially done with an automotive dummy, which measures 5’10”. By extension, passengers whose heights diverge from that standard may well raise questions about their own safety. After speaking with a dozen interiors manufacturers at APEX and elsewhere, the generally secretive interiors industry is quietly expecting a re-examination of the HIC standards and a requirement to use different sizes of safety dummies to ensure that all sizes of passenger are protected to the same standard.) Lumexis-Second-Screen

But the real killer application will be letting passengers use their own devices for dual-screening with a seatback option, whether embedded tablet or traditional screen. IFE systems can do more than ever before, including interactive moving maps, duty-free shopping, ordering food, destination content, connecting flight details, and airport gate info, but nobody wants to stop their movie or TV show to do it.

Making the most of the reduced attention spans of today’s — and tomorrow’s — passenger, and making more ancillary revenue while doing it, is truly the future of IFE.


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PEOPLExpress Temporarily Suspends Operations

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 26th, 2014

Image Credit - PEOPLExpress

Image Credit – PEOPLExpress

PEOPLExpress will be suspending service until October 16, 2014, impacting the travel plans of thousands of customers around the United States and particularly in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. PEOPLExpress, based in Newport News, Virginia, has been struggling with operational reliability for nearly a week after one of its aircraft was struck by a service vendor’s truck. The suspension of operations may prove to be a terminal blow for the fledgling ultra-low cost carrier (ULCC).

PEOPLExpress currently leases a pair of Boeing 737-400 aircraft from Vision Air, a charter airline whose previous attempt at running scheduled operations from Destin, Florida had failed. PEOPLExpress had been in the works since early 2012, but struggled with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification process, eventually launching operations on June 30, 2014 using FAA Part 121 certification.

However, with one half of its fleet out of commission, PEOPLExpress can not continue to fly all seven of its routes, and has been forced to shut down. Normally, small airlines in such dire straits will opt to wet-lease an aircraft (and even crews) to maintain service on most of their network. In failing to do, PEOPLExpress may have blundered, as the goodwill it won from bringing low-cost service to a smaller community will be outstripped by the negative effect of thousands of irate customers – many of whom will likely never fly PEOPLExpress again. The only reasonable explanation for PEOPLExpress decision is that the airline lacks sufficient funds to wet-lease the required aircraft, which does not bode well for its long or even short term prospects.


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Bombardier Commercial Aircraft President Talks CSeries; CRJ Improvements

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 26th, 2014

Image Credit - Bombardier

Image Credit – Bombardier

We sat down with the president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, Mike Arcamone, at the Farnborough Airshow to discuss everything from the status of CSeries program to the improvements of the CRJ-900 Next Gen.

Airways News: So you’ve announced a few orders for the CSeries and unfortunately there was a little snag in the CSeries program a few months ago. But in terms of customer potential, there were a few orders here [at Farnborough]. You have upwards of 500 commitments now, but only in the range of about 250 firm orders. What sort of progress are you making in terms of converting those commitments into firm orders? And will that process accelerate as you enter into service?

Mike Arcamone: We’re very confident. Actually we’ve maintained all along that our goal is 20 customers and 300 firm orders. We’ve reached 20 customers at the show. We have 513 commitments, which include the 210 firm orders. Between now and August, September, as the months go on, we will translate those letters of intent. Some are already more advanced than others towards becoming firm orders. So I’m confident that we’ll obtain the 300 firm orders way before entering the service.

Airways News: In terms of the CSeries’ positioning in the market, vis-a-vis in particular, your biggest competitor in the regional market, they are touting the fact that their E195E2 offers expanding seating, and they’re saying its competitive with the CS100. How would you assess the competitive balance between the C series and E2? Are they chasing different markets or the same market, in particular the CS100 versus the E2? Where does that competitive balance lie?

Mike Aracamone: Well I liked your opening remarks. They’re chasing us. We’re leading with a brand new aircraft. The aircrafts’ structure, avionics, engines, composite wings, it’s all-new. The interior is all-new. We lead with the interior. We have made progress in terms of luggage space, and the whole interior cabin is very friendly to customers. The angle that the bins open, the access of the galleys for flight attendants, the fact that you can move around, wider seats…. The wall of the aircraft, the way it sands, the egg shape so it’s more comfortable. When you put that all together, there’s not another product that comes close to CSeries and it’ll be entering into service next year. By the second half of next year, we’ll have our aircraft entering into service. We have a real product that customers can purchase and will have in their hands. Compared to something that doesn’t exist, what are they going to do? So we’re leading and they’re chasing.

Airways News: And what is the balance in terms of operating economics

Mike Arcamone: Our aircraft is light. We maintain our fuel burn advantage and the position that we’re in right now. In terms of operating costs, we still retain the advantage. We look at the seating capacity gap between the CS100 and the E2, and if customers want to go up to the CS300, we offer extra capacity. So if you can fill 160 seats, with an aircraft that already gives you 12-15% better operating costs, you’re ahead by a lot. You put 160 passengers and with the fuel burn savings and the seat-mile costs improve tremendously, it’s tremendous. And so I’m not afraid of what they might come up with because they’ll still have to figure out how to catch up [with the CSeries] and how to beat it. And we are distancing ourselves with this type of performance.

Airways News: Could you speak a little to the potential of the Q400 as a replacement for regional jet aircraft for the U.S. and around the world? And Mark has heard this question.

Mike Arcamone: Well, first what we’ve done with our current product, which is already used by companies like Horizon that have over 50 [Q400s], West Jet, who actually recently purchased and has continued acquiring Q400s, Air Canada Jazz, Porter that runs on Toronto Island that runs a fleet of Q400 aircraft. It [the Q400] is a great, great regional aircraft if you want it. We’ve listened to our customers and our customers have said, “can you put more seats on the aircraft” and so we’ve launched the E6 seats. So again, why? Because there are areas of the world where passengers want to go from point to point. Within certain regions, we’ve had our customers ask for fewer passenger seats, and more cargo space. So we’ve been responding continuously with a very flexible setup that yes can go up to 86 in the jet areas, but can also vary cargo capacity. The Q400 performs very well: short runways, fast take off, where you can land – you don’t need a runway. So definitely we see growth and as a matter of fact, I think a lot of operators are starting to realize it’s quiet. We do a lot of demonstrations for our customers. We demonstrate how quiet it is. How quiet the turbo prop is… How smooth it is. So the fear of flying in a turbo prop is offset, and airlines can have the speed the Q400 offers, and the ability of a low speed light jet. So definitely in certain markets it can probably replace the low end of jets, absolutely.

Airways News: On Day 1 at this air show, you announced a host of aerodynamic improvements to the CRJ 900. And today’s CRJ series is already about 5.5 percent better than the initial CRJ 900. How much more potential is there for incremental improvements to build on the CRJ 900’s superior economic performance to the E170 and E175, and how much incremental opportunity do you have to push the performance of today’s CRJ 900 so it can compete with the E175-E2?

Mike Arcamone: We have declared that by 2020, within 5-6 years, we’ll be at double digits.

Airways News: Is that double digits from today or from the beginning?

Mike Arcamone: From entry into service. We’re at 5.5%, but we’re going into double digits. So we’ve done half. And there are changes coming, physical changes on the CRJ that will give it the double-digit advantage. We have started to define what thse will be. We will want to look at it as a module as well so we can go back and offer it to our existing customers and customers of our previous generations. But we’re looking at double digits within 5/6 years.


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Wrapping Up the APEX Expo

By Jason Rabinowitz / Published September 25th, 2014

At the Airline Passenger Experience Expo in Anaheim, California last week, a clear message was sent: the airline industry demands better and faster in-flight connectivity, and faster ways to integrate cutting edge entertainment systems into seats.

The show floor opened on Tuesday with a major announcement as Panasonic revealed its next-generation Ku-band satellite antenna. Just as Gogo had announced months earlier at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Panasonic is bringing a super thin antenna to the market,  which is a fraction of the size of those of prior generations.

IMG_20140916_095009980The electronically steered antenna is thinner than the current dual-panel antenna offered by Panasonic, and weighs an astonishingly low 140 pounds. Derived from military grade technology, the antenna promises to be more cost effective for airlines, but with the caveat that it cannot operate in certain geographic regions, such as high latitudes.

While Panasonic did not have a launch customer lined up, Gogo countered with a major win as it announced that Virgin Atlantic has agreed to install, nearly fleet wide, its competing thin antenna platform called 2Ku. Virgin Atlantic, who currently offers slow L-band connectivity on a portion of its fleet, became the first airline to fully commit to 2Ku. AeroMexico had previously announced a plan to outfit 20 of its 737s with 2Ku, while Air Canada and JAL had previously agreed to trial the technology. Despite the deal, Virgin’s nearly ready to be delivered Boeing 787-9 will be delivered with connectivity from Panasonic.

On the entertainment side, passengers and airlines alike are becoming increasingly frustrated over the slow rate of adoption of new technology into seat back systems. It takes years for a new IFE system from the likes of Panasonic to finally begin rolling out onto aircraft. Between aircraft order cycles and rigorous safety standards, by the time an IFE system finally rolls out, its already outdated. Several manufactures were at APEX to demonstrate their solution to get around the red tape.

First up was BAE Systems and its IntelliCabin IFE system. BAE developed its new platform on a IMG_20140916_143027983_HDRthe consumer grade Samsung Galaxy Tab, but has loaded highly customized, immersive software onto the tablet. The visual design and functionality of the system is impressive for its first attempt at IFE. As a part of its broader IntelliCabin offering, BAE designed a very functional seat-back tablet holder, and even more impressive swiveling under-seat power outlet. Anyone who has fished under their seat for a hidden power outlet will appreciate this smart design.

Lufthansa Systems has taken the embedding of a consumer device into the seat-back a step further, utilizing a unique workaround of safety requirements. A part of the reason why embedded systems take so long to roll out is that they must pass rigorous safety test, including impact tests. Embedded systems must be able to withstand the force of a passenger impacting it during an emergency, and consumer devices do not meet this standard.

Lufthansa Systems has a clever solution, however. They have taken a regular consumer grade tablet, embedded it in the seat, but also installed a pull up visor over the tablet which will passes impact tests. It isn’t pretty, but this method will allow Lufthansa Systems to get cutting edge consumer devices built into the seat faster than ever before.


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Airports Share Service Stories at World Routes Summit

By Benet Wilson / Published September 24th, 2014

The 2014 World Routes Strategy Summit in Chicago drew more than 3000 attendees, 300 airlines, 800 airports, 200 tourism authorities and hosted 10,000 meetings between Sept. 21-23. Airports interviewed at the event said that it’s a great venue to tell their stories to airline representatives and continue to make pitches for new and expanded air service.

Ville Haapasaari is the senior Vice President for Finland’s Finavia and airport director at the Helsinki Airport. In a chat at the fresh juice bar his company used lure attendees, he said World Routes was a good platform to conduct meetings with airlines. “We catch up with our existing customers, but visit with a lot of newcomers too,” he said.

Haapasaari boasted of Helsinki’s great location as a Northern European hub that offers a great route to Asia. “We started Japan Airlines service last July to Tokyo. It took a few years of discussions that started at Routes a few years ago,” he said. “That led to the service, which has been doing really well.”

Helsinki is medium-sized airport, serving 15 million passengers a year, said Haapasaari. “Everything is under one roof and compact, which allows for smooth operations,” he said. “We offer the same things most airports offer, but we’re also building an Arctic bar where passengers will be able to feel the wind and snow, giving them the look and feel of Finland.”

Cheryl Marcell is the deputy director of business development for Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport. “Most airlines know about Silicon Valley, but many don’t know that our airport is in the middle of it, surrounded by one of the strongest business markets in the country,” she said. “But we are also a community that can support leisure travel, because we have the higher income levels that support that.”

San Jose knows that it needs information like what aircraft are coming into an airline’s fleet, their ranges and what future routes might be possible, said Marcell. “We know that air service development is a marathon, not a sprint,” she said. “When we meet with airlines, we give them updates and intangibles they may not know. For example, a year ago, the new 49ers football stadium didn’t exist. It is now two miles from the airport.”

The airport’s service from ANA to Tokyo’s Narita Airport is a great example of a successful pitch that started at a past Routes meeting, said Marrcell. “ANA had existing service out of San Francisco when they added a flight here,” she said. “Our service had grown and San Francisco’s hasn’t degraded.”

Customs announces major expansion of pre-clearance program

If U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has its way, pre-clearance locations outside the United States will more than double starting within the next two years, said Kevin McAleenan, the agency’s acting deputy director at the World Routes Strategy Summit in Chicago, Wednesday.

“Pre-clearance expansion offers opportunities from a commercial and passenger experience perspective,” said McAleenan. “It’s part of the U.S. government’s effort focus more on a return on investment from programs.”

Pre-clearance facilities, in operation since 1952, are currently located at 15 locations in Canada, the Caribbean, Ireland and Abu Dhabi. CBP is processing about 18 percent of passengers through pre-clearance, said McAleenan.

“CBP’s pre-clearance operations are an important step in the U.S. government’s effort to prevent terrorism from coming to our borders.” said McAleenan. “Where we can identify foreign airports willing to partner with us, additional preclearance agreements will further protect the safety and security of our citizens while also streamlining legitimate travel and commerce.”

The plan is for CBP to start a process to evaluate and prioritize an initial set of potential pre-clearance locations, said McAleenan. “Foreign airport authorities that are interested in initiating the process to establish preclearance operations at their location are encouraged to submit a letter detailing their interest to CBP,” he said.

McAleenan said his agency would then work with foreign airport authorities, host governments, and domestic and foreign air carriers to look at expansion opportunities.

Facilities in Dublin and Abu Dhabi have been successful, said McAleenan. “We want to be able to pre-clear one third of travelers by 2024,” he said. “We’ve seen 22 percent growth in pre-clearance in the past five years, and we’re doing it with the same budget and staffing.”

Pre-clearance offers a better passenger experience because there’s no waiting after a flight arrives, said McAleenen. “And this could help airlines with quicker turn times and reduced repositioning of aircraft, opening the possibility to operate additional destinations,” he said. “We also see significant security benefits from expanded pre-clearance locations.

“We’ve already had requests from two dozen airports for a a pre-clearance facility, said McAleenan. “We already have efforts in place to transform our business to be paperless, seamless and passenger driven,” he said. “This has been done through programs like passport kiosks and the expansion of [the] Global Entry [trusted traveler program].”

Pre-clearance facilities allow CBP to be proactive against threats, said McAleenan. “We can address security threats before a plane takes off, and we can do this without asking an airport to change the way they do business,” he said.

Airports and airlines can get built-in efficiencies with pre-clearance facilities, said McAleenan. “For example, when an Emirates A380 lands with 517 passengers aboard, they all get off and approach CBP lines at the same time,” he said. “In a pre-clearance world, they can arrive at different times, allowing for a continuous and more efficient flow.”

This workswith efforts like a pilot program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport that is testing the Mobile Passport Control (MPC), which allows eligible travelers to submit passport information and the customs declaration form from a smartphone or tablet, said McAleenan.

“We also continue to grow the Global Entry, program said McAleenan. “We already have 10 foreign partners, and we want to expand and increase the number of countries involved in the program,” he said.

The timeline for airport authorities interested in having a pre-clearance facility is: letters to CBP on adding the program are due by the end of November, said McAleenan. CBP will also do site reviews, study pre-clearance models and prioritize airports it deems are ready for formal negotiations, also in December; and final negotiations will begin in January 2015. A guide has also been released for interested airports.


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Vinay’s Take: Why JetBlue CEO Dave Barger Was Forced Out

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 24th, 2014

Image Credit - Arbitrarily0

Image Credit – Arbitrarily0

JetBlue CEO David Barger is stepping down next February, marking the end of 7.5 years at the helm of JetBlue. He will be succeeded by current president Robin Hayes, also a longtime veteran at the company. The move comes after weeks of speculation, especially on Wall Street, about Barger’s eventual departure. He has overseen a nearly 20% decline in JetBlue’s share price since 2007, and while JetBlue tried to frame his departure as voluntary, it is clear that he was forced out. Why? Because he didn’t give customers what they want. 

Alright, let’s pause for a second so that you all can re-arrange your faces from the shocked expression they just adopted. I’m perfectly aware of JetBlue’s (many) merits; ranging from extra legroom and free first checked bags, to snacks, and friendly employees. They are just a few of the many reasons why I love flying JetBlue. And I would imagine that’s why the average passenger enjoys flying JetBlue too. But loving JetBlue’s customer experience isn’t the same as getting what you want.

A better way to define what customers want is what they are willing to pay for. And that’s where JetBlue’s “customer friendliness” falls apart. Airline passengers around the world (including in the US) have proven time and time again that they choose low base fares, schedule, and network above all else. There is a certain caliber of passenger willing to pay for a true first class product, but that passenger also tends to require the worldwide reach of America’s legacy carriers. So for the class of passenger that JetBlue can reach; those are the three factors that matter. That, at the end of the day, is what airline customers pay for. And the proof is in the numbers. JetBlue’s “great” economy class product doesn’t generate enough of a revenue premium to pay for the opportunity cost of fewer seats and far less checked baggage revenue. For far too long, JetBlue has been operating a premium economy product and charging a normal economy class fare for it.

When I make this point, people like to respond by saying JetBlue is making “enough” profits, and therefore it shouldn’t make these moves to enhance profitability. They also claim that JetBlue will lose a competitive advantage if it adds more seats and checked bag fees. I’ll tackle the second one first.

For JetBlue, adding more seats to its A320s need not be an anti-competitive task. With good (i.e. not United or Evolve) slimline seats, a more powerful booking engine, and compression of seat pitch at the rear of the aircraft, JetBlue could reasonably maintain 30-31 inches of seat pitch (still better than or as good as competitors) with the Even More section for passengers that want lots of extra legroom, and importantly, a middle tier with 34 inches of seat pitch sold at a higher fare (this is where the booking engine with a seat map or clear description comes into play) that frequent flyers and higher value business customers can fly in. This would lower costs, and squeeze more passengers into the plane, while still allowing those that are willing to pay for it, the ability to get those four extra inches of legroom. Competitively, the book-away would be minimal (it’s not as if other airlines have millions of empty seats floating around the system), and would be more than offset by the additional revenue from 8-12 new seats.

In terms of baggage fees, assuming JetBlue starts by marketing them properly (as part of a discounted fare bundle), they will boost revenue by hundreds of millions of dollars. And in terms of book away, the only carrier that a customer can book away to is Southwest. Assuming JetBlue exempts international flying, how exactly will a customer be able to book away to Southwest. Boston and New York have limited Southwest presence and little scope for expansion by any other airline, as does Long Beach. About 50% of Fort Lauderdale (by ASMs) will be Latin America, and San Juan is out of Southwest’s wheelhouse (and lots of Latin America as well). So you’re left with Orlando (which is unprofitable anyway) and about half of Fort Lauderdale. How is JetBlue going to lose substantial amounts of business?

And let’s turn to the idea of JetBlue making “enough” of a profit. Well frankly, no it’s not, especially not when judged against its peers, or against the intrinsic profit potential of the business. And that again comes back to JetBlue not giving customers what they want. A business is most profitable when it is giving customers what they want. And airline customers (in aggregate) want low base fares (price), network, and schedule. Here’s to hoping that Robin Hayes gives them what they want.


Slider image courtesy of JDL Multimedia

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Onboard United Airlines’ Inaugural Boeing 787-9 Flight

By Seth Miller / Published September 23rd, 2014

The Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner entered service with United Airlines Monday, making the Chicago-based carrier the third airline in the world to offer service on the type. The first flight operated from Houston to Los Angeles, a route the carrier has used for 787 training and proving runs since taking delivery of its first 787-8 two years ago. After a short period of domestic flights, the aircraft will enter international service this fall. The first route the 787-9 will serve is Los Angeles – Melbourne, which will be the longest 787 route in the world when it launches in late October. Airways News was a guest of United’s on the inaugural flight.

United's 787-9 parked at the gate as a 787-8 taxis in next door

United’s 787-9 parked at the gate as a 787-8 taxis in next door


For most passengers (and the airline) this was business as usual; just another flight from Houston to Los Angeles. There was no special reception at either end, no balloons and nary a cupcake to be seen. Yet there was still a bit of excitement in the air. For some passengers it was just about flying on a Dreamliner. For others being on the inaugural was a specific goal. Neil Gamrod was up at 4am Eastern to make his way down to Houston for the inaugural flight. Like others he studied the airline schedules and adjusted his plans a few times, just to make it on board. And by the time we wrapped up the day with a celebratory dinner at the In-n-Out adjacent to LAX he was absolutely convinced it was a worthwhile trip, even if he was exhausted. Like many other 787 passengers Gamrod noted the more comfortable cabin comfort and the quieter ride as just a couple of the advantages the Dreamliner brings to the skies.

Neil Gamrod was one of several AvGeeks taking photos prior to the flight and also on board for the inaugural

Neil Gamrod was one of several AvGeeks taking photos prior to the flight and also on board for the inaugural


Those in-cabin benefits – higher air pressure and higher humidity being two of the most significant – are a large part of the draw for the 787 Dreamliner. The 787-9 is no different from the 787-8 in this regard, but it is 20 feet longer which means more passengers will get to enjoy those comforts on every flight. The 787–9 also has larger fuel tanks and engines with higher thrust ratings allowing for greater range even while carrying more cargo and passengers. In United’s configuration the aircraft includes 48 BusinessFirst flatbed seats in a 2-2-2 layout plus 204 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 layout. Of those 88 are in the Economy Plus section offering approximately four inches of extra legroom for passengers. This compares with 219 seats on the 787–8. From a passenger comfort perspective the good news is that nearly all of the additional seats are either in the EconomyPlus cabin (18 seats) or the BusinessFirst cabin (12 seats).

The forward BusinessFirst cabin of the 787-9

The forward BusinessFirst cabin of the 787-9

The seats are nearly identical to those in use on the 787-8 but both the economy and business class cabins have minor differences. In business class the main difference comes in the seat and in-flight entertainment controls. The IFE controller is now a touch-screen LCD offering the ability not only to control the larger display in front of the passenger but also a second screen where certain other features, such as the in-flight map, are available.  The movie collection is still approximately 150 titles with many – but far from all – offering multiple languages and subtitles. Beyond the control differences the business class seat is nearly identical to the version United has had in service for several years now on the pre-merger Continental widebody fleet. This includes subtle differences in the foot-well areas which can make seat choice particularly important for taller passengers.

Showing off the new touch-screen IFE controller with different content than the main screen

Showing off the new touch-screen IFE controller with different content than the main screen

In economy class the design of the seats has changed, particularly with respect to the recline function. The airline has limited the amount seats can recline a small bit versus the –8 version of the plane. Additionally the seat pan is now an articulating recline meaning the bottom slides forward as the top goes back. For the passenger behind the one reclining this is often seen as a good thing, though for the passenger reclining it means a reduction in knee room as they recline. Given the recent spate of spats related to reclining seats perhaps United’s choice on this front will be a viable compromise in the seat reclining wars.

Note the articulating seat design in Economy

Note the articulating seat design in Economy

The new aircraft is also one of the first delivered by Boeing with in-flight wifi connectivity available directly as a line-fit solution. United’s version uses Panasonic’s eXconnect Ku-band satellite-based connectivity and, despite some concerns from the engineers accompanying us on the flight, the internet connection was available on the flight. It was priced at $6.99 for the trip, similar to the pricing United offers on other Panasonic-based systems serving the route. The connection was reliable save for the window of our flight path near White Sands, a limitation I understand to be related to US government policies, and the speed tests I ran offered results similar to other flights I’ve taken using the Panasonic eXconnect system. All future United 787 deliveries are expected to come with in-flight connectivity as a line-fit option; the timing for retrofitting the existing 787-8s without connectivity is not yet clear.

In keeping with the theme of “just another flight” the meal service on board was a typical mid-con lunch offer. United revamped its catering at the beginning of the month so our options were the Asian noodle salad with chicken or the ham sandwich on pretzel roll. I chose the salad which, to me, is much more like a bowl of cold noodles than a salad. It tasted exactly like it did during the taste-test of the new United menu I did on the ground which is a good thing for me as I happen to like that one quite a bit.

Lunch on the Houston - Los Angeles route. This is one of the items added during the menu refresh at the beginning of September.

Lunch on the Houston – Los Angeles route. This is one of the items added during the menu refresh at the beginning of September.

So, yes, this was just another flight for United Airlines. But it is also something of a new beginning for United. The carrier is taking on delivery of the new 787s at a reasonable pace and using them to open up routes which previously had not been considered economically viable. Combine that with the improved passenger comfort levels and lower operating costs for the airline and it is easy to see the appeal for the airline and its customers. Adding the 787-9 to the fleet increases the options available to the carrier and passengers. It is easy to get excited about that sort of development.

Electronically tinted windows mid-flight.

Electronically tinted windows mid-flight.

The crew celebrates a successful first trip

The crew celebrates a successful first trip


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Qatar Airways Takes Delivery of Its First A380

By Ian Petchenik / Published September 17th, 2014

Qatar Airways A380s at a delivery event in Hamburg. Photo courtesy Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways A380s at a delivery event in Hamburg. Photo courtesy Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways has taken delivery of its first A380 nearly four months after it was originally scheduled to do so. The airline was originally slated to begin service to London on the A380 earlier in the summer, but had delayed taking the aircraft due to issues with the interior finishings.

Having resolved those issues with Airbus, Qatar plans to begin flying to London beginning October 10 and will begin service to Paris aboard the A380 shortly after. Qatar will have 4 A380-800 aircraft by the end of the year, and will take delivery of an additional six orders. The carrier also has options for 3 additional aircraft.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer, onboard the airline's first Airbus A380 at the handover ceremony in Hamburg. Photo courtesy Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker, and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO, onboard the airline’s first Airbus A380. Photo courtesy Qatar Airways

Addressing the reason for the delay, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker said,The A380 that we are introducing is not just any A380; we have completely designed every element, giving it a signature touch that has never been seen before on board.” And as far as Qatar is concerned, it needs to be perfect to compete with other carriers flying the A380. Middle East carrier Etihad, which is based in Abu Dhabi, is set to introduce its own A380 in service to London in December. Etihad has won notice for its unique configuration of the aircraft and its introduction of a 125-square-foot, 3 room suite dubbed “The Residence.”


Qatar’s second A380. Photo courtesy Airbus.

Qatar’s A380s are configured with 8 First Class seats in a 1-2-1 configuration. Each seat will offer passengers 90 inches of pitch and convert into a fully flat bed. First class passengers will also enjoy a 26-inch LCD screen. The 48 Business Class seats on Qatar’s A380 feature 52-inches of pitch and also convert to a fully flat bed. There are 461 economy seats split between the upper and lower deck. The economy seats at the rear of the upper deck are arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration, while those on the main deck are arranged 3-4-3. All of the economy seats are 18.5 inches wide and offer 32 inches of pitch.

Qatar Airways A380. Photo courtesy Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways A380. Photo courtesy Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways is also slated to be the launch customer of Airbus’ new A350 XWB. According to Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO, the A350 is on track for delivery later this year.



Clockwise from top left: Qatar Airways A380 First Class, Business Class, Economy Class, and First and Business Class Lounge. All gallery photos courtesy David Flynn, Australian Business Traveller. For more photos, see Australian Business Traveller’s in-depth photo tour.

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Gogo 2Ku Satellite WiFi Coming To Virgin Atlantic

By Jason Rabinowitz / Published September 17, 2014 / Photos by author

On Wednesday morning at the Airline Passenger Experience Expo in Anaheim, California, in-flight connectivity provider Gogo announced an agreement with Virgin Atlantic which will see its entire existing fleet retrofitted with Gogo’s upcoming 2Ku connectivity solution. Virgin Atlantic is the first airline to commit to a 2Ku install, coming several months after Japan Airlines and Air Canada agreed to trail the system.

The Gogo 2Ku antenna under a clear display radome

The Gogo 2Ku antenna under a clear display radome

2Ku, announced last April at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, leverages next-generation “low profile” antennas which have a much lower profile than traditional Ku antennas. Gogo expects the 2Ku system to be able to deliver a 70 Mbps downlink to each aircraft once available in the second half of 2015, and substantially more once newer generation satellites come online.

Virgin Atlantic currently has nearly half its feet outfitted (seven Boeing 747 and ten Airbus A330 aircraft) with in-flight connectivity from AeroMobile, which utilizes an older generation L-Band connection to provide GSM roaming and WiFi services. This expensive, low bandwidth solution does not seem to have met the expectations of the airline and its passengers, necessitating a change.

“We’re always looking at ways to enhance the on board experience for our customers and expanding in-flight connectivity across our fleet is just one of the ways in which we are doing this,” said Reuben Arnold, Brand and Customer Engagement Director at Virgin Atlantic. “We were impressed with Gogo’s connectivity solution and look forward to all of our customers being able to enjoy this service whilst they fly.”

While the Gogo deal encompasses aircraft already in the fleet, what is still unknown is the connectivity solution selected for the airlines upcoming Boeing 787-9. A recently captured photo of Virgin Atlantic’s first 787-9 shows a WiFi radome installed, but the service provider has not yet been disclosed.  It is possible that Gogo rival Panasonic could have secured the 787-9 away from Gogo, as they are currently the only provider to offer line-fit Boeing installs.

Meanwhile, partner and 49% stake owner Delta Air Lines is in the midst of its own international WiFi rollout. Delta is equipping its international fleet with Gogo Ku-band WiFi services using a traditional panel antenna, starting with the Boeing 747 and Airbus A330.

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International Service at Miami Set to Expand in Fourth Quarter

By Ian Petchenik / Published September 15th, 2014

Photo by Chris Sloan

American Airlines Boeing 777-300ER. Image Credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

International service at Miami International Airport will expand in the fourth quarter of 2014, as American Airlines, Lufthansa, and Finnair launch new service. SWISS, Qatar, Air France, Lufthansa, and Virgin Atlantic will augment their service for the winter season.

American will begin service to Cap-Haiten, Haiti, on October 2, it’s second Haitian destination after Port-au-Prince, which it also serves from Miami. Campinas, Brazil (VCF), will also see new service from American beginning December 2, one day after the carrier launches service to Campinas from New York (JFK). Miami-London service for the winter season will also increase to 17 roundtrips weekly, with three flights per day on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. American will continue to fly the 777-300ER once daily between Miami and London, but will up-gauge all of its Miami-São Paulo flights to the 777-300ER variant, effective December 1.

Qatar Airways 777. Image Credit - Ian Petchenik /  Airways News

Qatar Airways 777. Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

International airlines will be responsible for most of the seasonal capacity increases at Miami during the fourth quarter. Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) will operate 14 flights per week between Miami and Zurich, up from 10, beginning October 27. The added flights will operate Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday though March 27, 2015. Qatar Airways, which launched service from Doha to Miami in June, will expand to five weekly flights. The additional service will operate on Mondays aboard a Boeing 777-200LR.

Finnair will bring an Airbus A340 to Miami from Helsinki twice per week from December 16 through January 2, 2015, when it will increase service to three flights per week through March 21, 2015.

Air France will join Lufthansa in bringing the Airbus A380 to Miami, operating its Miami-Paris service on the superjumbo from December 1, 2014 through March 28, 2015, before returning to a Boeing 777-300. Air France flies the A380 in a 516-seat (9F, 80J, 38 Y+, 389Y) configuration. December 2 will launch Lufthansa’s seasonal Miami-Munich service with flights operating five times per week through April 30, 2015. The German flag carrier’s Munich flights will operate Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday.

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United Eyes Improvement at Newark Hub

By Airways News Staff / Published September 15th, 2014

OTG's New York La Guardia Terminal C Interior: Image Credit - OTG Management

OTG’s New York La Guardia Terminal C Interior: Image Credit – OTG Management

United Airlines and OTG Management are partnering to enhance the passenger experience for United customers at Newark Liberty International Airport, with OTG set to invest $120 million to retrofit Terminal C at United’s hub. The wide-ranging refresh will bring updated interiors, new dining options, and technology integration to the poorly rated terminal that houses the majority of United’s operation at Newark.

After the retrofit, customers will have access to more than 6,000 iPads, which they will be able to use to browse the internet, check on their flights, and order food and merchandise. More than 10,000 power outlets and USB interfaces will be placed throughout the terminal as well. Dining options will be refreshed, with up to 55 new dining venues, and food and beverage service at 60 of Terminal C’s 68 gates.

The dank interior of Newark Airport Terminal C: Image Credit - Chris Sloan / Airways News

The dank interior of Newark Airport Terminal C: Image Credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

Customers have complained about the poor passenger experience in Newark for years, and OTG’s refreshed design should replenish Terminal C with comfortable seating, better lighting, and less dingy flooring. OTG also has a presence at several other US airports, including Terminals C and D at New York La Guardia, Terminals 1 and 3 at Toronto Pearson, Concourse G at Minneapolis / St. Paul, and Terminal 5 at New York JFK.  In particular, JetBlue’s Terminal 5 has won rave reviews and several awards for its passenger experience, and United is banking on delivering a similar experience to its Newark customers.


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WestJet to Begin Charging for Checked Bags

By Ian Petchenik / Published September 15th, 2014

Photo Courtesy JDL Multimedia

Photo Courtesy JDL Multimedia

WestJet announced this morning that it will begin charging a fee for checked baggage on Econo fare tickets, for travel within North America. The low cost carrier (LCC) also introduced new levels to its WestJet Rewards frequent flyer program.

Passengers purchasing an Econo fare—WestJet’s base fare—for intra-Canadian travel or travel between Canada and the U.S. will now be charged $25 for their first checked bag. The fee will not apply to Flex or Plus fares, nor any travel outside Canada or the United States.

WestJet estimates the new fee will affect about 20 percent of its customers, a number that could provide close to an additional $96 million in revenue, based on 2013-2014 passenger data through June 2014. The Canadian low-cost carrier’s announcement comes a week after the American low-cost carrier Southwest stated it would continue its policy of not charging for checked baggage as it entertains a possible entrance in the Canadian market in the future.

WestJet also introduced new tiers to its WestJet Rewards frequent flyer program. The new teal, silver, and gold tiers, which are purely revenue-based, offer “milestone” rewards and differential “WestJet dollars” earning rates. Members spending less than $1,500 will earn 1 percent of their fare. Spend between $1,500 and $3,999 will receive 3% and any spend over $4,000 will receive 5%. WestJet’s milestones include free checked bags, priority security screening, and a free companion flight. The tiers will go into effect on October 29, 2014.

Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Sales, Marketing and Guest Experience was optimistic about the change in WestJet’s approach to checked baggage, “Today’s announcements are further evidence of our commitment to our guests as Canada’s low-fare leader,” he said. “As we continue to evolve our fare products, we are creating more value by offering our guests the opportunity to purchase only those services they want.”

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When is a Rebranding not a Rebranding? Parsing the New Southwest Identity

By Ian Petchenik / Published September 2014

Ask any executive at Southwest about the graphic identity changes the company unveiled in Dallas yesterday and they are quick to point out that it is not a rebranding. But if it’s not a rebranding, then what exactly is it and why do it at all?

After Monday’s announcement, Southwest’s marketing and brand executives sat down to discuss why they chose to leave the canyon blue behind and what it means for Southwest moving forward.


Kevin Krone, Southwest’s Chief Marketing Officer, speaking on the brand panel at Media Days. Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Southwest’s announcement of a new livery and company-wide visual identity comes at time when the airline is preparing to change in a number of important ways. The merger with AirTran is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014, the Wright Amendment is set for repeal in October, and new international destinations are on the horizon. Southwest was also contending with a varied and cluttered internal brand identity.

As Kevin Krone, Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer, explained, “We needed a new consistent look. We had the heart, the plane icon, Business Select, Pets, Rapid Rewards,” and a number of other identity pieces. Anne Murray, Senior Director of Marketing Communications was a bit more blunt when she said the new logo meant “no more logo soup.”


Slide from Southwest brand presentation describing multitude of logos. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.



Southwest’s new “Heart” logo. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

Southwest’s goal with the new visual identity is a “simple, keen expression of who Southwest Airlines is,” according to Krone. For this simple, keen expression, Southwest turned to long-time partner GSD&M and Lippincott & Co., a global brand identity consultancy. Lippincott’s previous airline clients include United, Delta, and Avianca. The result of over a year of work is the new Southwest “Heart” motif with a stylized red, yellow, and blue heart squarely at the center of Southwest’s brand identity. Robert Jordan, Southwest’s Chief Commercial Officer, sees the new heart as integral to Southwest’s identity, “It’s our symbol like the Apple logo or the Target logo. It’s what makes us different and drives us.”

Part of the idea behind the brand refresh and rollout is priming travelers who don’t already fly Southwest with an image of a modern airline. Southwest wants the chance to make a new introduction to markets that have consistently viewed the airline as a leisure airline, particularly in New York and Washington D.C., and feels the brand refresh provides that opportunity.

Southwest will also be using the brand refresh to update the interiors of their aircraft. Jordan said, “Change in the cabin is coming, specifically new seats. We have found the Evolve seat has had an issue with durability of the seat bottom.” The new seat bottoms will take about a year to get into aircraft due to testing and certification requirements. The rest of the seat will remain physically unchanged save for the updated color scheme. Passengers can expect a bluer look on the inside of the aircraft, along with the heart logo featured prominently.

Krone also discussed Southwest’s much vaunted “Bags Fly Free.” On the question of that possibly changing, he said, “Free bags are a part of the airline’s DNA. People have a right to take stuff with them on vacation. We don’t see this going away.” He also doesn’t see a place for premium economy style seating in the near term, though Southwest isn’t ruling it out. Krone, however, specifically excluded the addition of in-seat power on Southwest aircraft anytime soon, citing the cost and weight of such systems. While he promised additional passenger experience improvements coming later this fall, he did not specify what those were.


One of Southwest’s new television ads, “Attitude”. Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

But the new identity isn’t just for customers. In fact, much of it isn’t directly for anyone outside the company at all. Nearly all of the accompanying marketing materials feature employees and embrace Southwest’s culture. For an airline that believes its culture is what separates it from its competitors, it’s only natural to rely heavily on that image as the face of the brand. In talking with various Southwest executives it became clear that one of the main drivers behind the new branding was leveraging existing brand equity to project an updated image of an airline that cares about its employees.

It remains to be seen if the new branding will have any effect on Southwest’s culture, employees, and—perhaps most importantly—profits, as Southwest wrestles with rising costs and issues with labor contracts. But one thing is clear: Southwest is going to wear its heart on its belly.


Southwest’s new livery featuring the “Heart” on the belly of the aircraft. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

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Southwest Airlines Unveils New Livery and Brand

By Vinay Bhaskara / Published September 8th, 2014

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 ("Heart Two" / N8645A) in the new livery: Image Credit - Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-800 (“Heart Two” / N8645A) in the new livery: Image Credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Southwest Airlines unveiled a new brand and livery Monday, marking its first brand refresh since introducing its present logo and canyon blue livery in January 2001. In an event dedicated to Southwest employees at its maintenance headquarters, the Dallas-based airline unveiled a new aircraft livery (named Heart), airport experience and logo. The new brand enhancement—which has been in the works for about a year—and a new take on Southwest’s famed “ding” mnemonic were developed in collaboration with advertising and branding partners GSD&M, Lippincott, VML, and Razorfish and Camelot Communications.

The new brand image appears to have been prompted by several substantial changes in the Southwest Airlines business model, including major expansions at Northeast airports New York La Guardia and Washington Reagan, the end of the Wright Amendment in October of this year, the first international flights in the company’s 47-year history, and the completed integration with AirTran Airways later this year. At the event, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly highlighted these developments, also crediting the inspiration for the heart motif to Southwest’s team of 46,000 employees:

Gary Kelly on stage at Southwest's announcement. Image credit: Chris Sloan / AirwaysNews

Gary Kelly on stage at Southwest’s announcement. Image credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

“2014 is a big year and today puts an exclamation point on it, especially with the Berlin Wall of the Wright Amendment coming down in 1 month,” said Mr. Kelly. “The world has changed and we have had to evolve. The heart has stayed the same… and you are the heart. We have a record 2014 and it’s all because of you… Southwest Airlines is built on love by our people and for our people. Our heart is strong and healthier than ever.”


The first plane on display at the event was a newly delivered Boeing 737-800 (registered as N8642E) and dubbed “Heart One,” following the naming convention for all of Southwest’s new and special liveries. A second Boeing 737-800, christened as “Heart Two,” performed a flyby at the event.

Southwest's new branding at Dallas Love Field. Image credit: Ian Petchenik / AirwaysNews

Southwest’s new branding at Dallas Love Field. Image credit – Ian Petchenik / Airways News

Overnight, Southwest also unveiled a new branding concept for airports at its home base at Dallas Love Field. Implementation of the new airport branding will be spread over the next two and a half years through the end of 2016, and integrated into existing and upcoming airport improvement projects so as to remain cost-neutral. Three airports are expected to be converted by the end of 2014. Southwest’s employee uniforms, aircraft interiors, and customer facing brand elements will also be updated to match the new brand image. New service items will be introduced later this fall, while the divisive Evolve seats will begin to be replaced as early as next year. The carrier’s Spirit inflight magazine will be renamed Southwest, and a new edition featuring the new brand will be released on September 15,

Southwest's new airport branding, which was unveiled today at Dallas Love Field: Image Credit - Southwest Airlines

Southwest’s new airport branding, which was unveiled today at Dallas Love Field: Image Credit – Southwest Airlines

Repainting of aircraft is expected to take place over seven years, slower than rivals such as Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines or Chicago-based United Airlines. Southwest operates a fleet of 637 Boeing 737 aircraft, including 136 classic 737-300s and 737-500s, 427 737-700s, and 74 737-800s. It also has 285 737s on order (40 737-700s, 45 737-800s, and 200 re-engined 737 MAXs) with purchase options for a further 227. Given the extended timeline of repainting, it is unclear whether the 737-300s and 737-500s earmarked for retirement will be repainted. However, Southwest’s special liveries such as “Arizona One” will be repainted to incorporate the new Heart paint scheme.

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-200 in the 1971-2001 livery: Image Credit - Chris Sloan / Airways News

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-200 in the 1971-2001 livery: Image Credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

Founded in 1967, Southwest has had just three brand identities in its lifetime. Until 2001, its primarily livery was Desert Gold, red, and orange, with the word Southwest written along the upper edge of the tail, as shown in the photograph at right.

Current Southwest Airlines Livery on a Boeing 737-300: Image Credit – Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren / Airways News

In 2001, Southwest introduced the “Spirit” livery that graces most of its airplanes today, retaining the red and orange stripes on the fuselage and tail but replacing Desert Gold with Canyon Blue. The “Southwest” title remained on the tail, and the aircraft’s belly remained red. The “Spirit” livery is shown at left.

The new livery unveiled today features Bold (not Canyon) Blue, Warm Red, Sunrise Yellow, and Summit Silver. While the two tail colors are similar to the present tail, their order has been inverted, with the lighter Sunrise Yellow placed higher than Warm Red on the tail forward of it on the fuselage. The Southwest title has been removed from the tail and moved to the fuselage; a first for the carrier. Another major change occurs along the belly of the fuselage, where the red line extending the length of the fuselage (and covering the belly) has been eliminated in favor of a simple heart, dedicated to Southwest’s employees.

Southwest's snack options in the new branding.

Southwest’s snack options in the new branding. Image credit – Chris Sloan / Airways News

Southwest’s cabins will also see an update in color and style, but Chief Marketing Officer Kevin Krone stated there are no imminent changes to Southwest’s passenger experience. “Free bags are a part of the airline’s DNA,” he said, “People have a right to take stuff with them on vacation. We don’t see this going away.” He also doesn’t see a place for premium economy style seating in the near term.

The branding in the cabin will get a refresh, including Southwest’s snacks, as seen here. The cabin will include more blue with silver accents and feature Southwest’s heart prominently.


As part of Southwest’s changes, new advertising focusing on Southwest’s employees premiered during Monday Night Football. Other ads, including “More than a Machine,” seen here, will show in markets around the country.


Image Credit -  Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines

Image Credit – Stephen M. Keller / Southwest Airlines

At a panel conducted after the unveiling event Monday, Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Robert Jordan stated that the airline wanted to avoid the “white” and bland liveries that so many other airlines have opted for and retain its “bold” color scheme. Additionally, Mr. Jordan noted that Southwest has several different logos and branding elements in airports, onboard its airplanes, and in advertising. Reducing brand confusion was thus a key impetus behind the redesign. “No other airline can put a heart on a plane and have it look authentic,” said Mr. Jordan, “The heart is now our symbol at Southwest Airlines.”


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Ian Petchenik and Chris Sloan in Dallas also contributed to this report

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Storm Chasing with the Honeywell IntuVue NextGen Radar Onboard a Convair 580

By Chris Sloan / Published August 26, 2014

We are holding short of Miami International Airport’s runway 9R as a slow-moving line storms takes its sweet time clearing the airport. While the ominous dark cloud deck seems to descend to the ground, lightning erupts and thunder crashes all around. ATC crackles with reports of a 55 knot micro-burst at the airport.

In other words, this a fairly typical summer afternoon in storm-laden South Florida. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, MIA and its airport brethren to the North, Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport, experienced 56,508 (39 days) of weather delays just in the first six months of 2014. According to U.S. Travel Association Research, every hour a flight is delayed costs the U.S. economy an average of $3,300 in passenger-related lost economic activity. That means that the direct economic impact of flight cancellations and delays cost the economy $3.5 billion in 2013.

Image by Chris Sloan,

Image by Chris Sloan,

This is a perfect day and perfect place for flying. If you’re going storm chasing, there is no place more reliable then the tropical, flat terrain of South Florida where the Everglades, heat, and sea breeze conspire to reliably produce copious numbers of thunderstorms each day during the area’s rainy season. Ironically, today’s storm chasing flight is delayed over an hour by a ground stop at the airport due to, you guessed it; storms. The airport taxiways and ramps are virtual parking lots as the field comes to a complete standstill. Even though our conveyance is a Convair 580, first built in 1952, we are the first aircraft or “test balloon” allowed to take-off. It certainly helps when up in the pointy end of the plane lies the most advanced weather radar in commercial aviation service today: Honeywell’s IntuVue RDR-4000. While most flights are routed to avoid the worst of weather, our flight crew’s goal today is to seek it out.

Honeywell Convair 580 Storm Chasing Cabin - 6 Honeywell Convair 580 Storm Chasing Cabin - 1

Since its introduction in the 1950s, weather radar had evolved incrementally. Though power, range, and displays have evolved, most systems still utilize the same single or dual scan approach that they did in the 1950s. Most current airborne radars in use only show a single slice of the weather at a time depending on where the azimuth of the radar beam is positioned, rather than a full-range picture of the weather from the ground to the upper fringes of the troposphere, where most weather forms. The manual operation is not only labor intensive for pilots, but it’s as much art as science: operations and interpretation (and thus effective) usage is only as good as the person who’s running it. Most current radar technology leaves out crucial information that makes flying safer, more comfortable, and more cost-effective owing to fewer diversions from the filed flight plan.

ConventionalRadarIntuVueRadarGraphics courtesy Honeywell

As our elderly Convair test bed, under the control of Honeywell chief test pilot Markus Johnson, finally lurches into the foreboding, tempestuous skies, we are about to experience first-hand the advantages of IntuVue. Our vantage point is the open flight deck and mid-century cabin of an original United Mainliner Convair 580, where old meets new. Though the seats are modern and generously pitched affairs, the rest of the heavily vibrating cabin with its hat racks, original passenger service units, and square windows easily convince us we are flying a 1950’s milk run. Snapping us back into reality, is the extensive compliment of test equipment, workstations, and large LCD flat panel screens allowing us to see the radar functioning in real-time, and a live cockpit-view camera. We are seeing what the flight crew sees. From this reporter’s perspective, think of this as United’s Channel 9 taken to a whole other level.

Honeywell Convair 580 Engines Window View - 3 Honeywell Convair 580 IntraVue Cockpit Cam and Radar - 2 Honeywell Convair MIA Aerial - 2 Honeywell Convair 580 Storm Avionics - 2


Turbulence, wind shear, hail, and lightning icons indicated on IntuVue radar with Hazard 2.0 Graphic courtesy Honeywell

The flat panel screens from the flight deck and our scuffed up windows display a virtual atmospheric mountain range of towering cumulus-nimbus clouds. Our Convair is quickly swallowed by the clouds and buffeted by light to moderate turbulence. The magenta painted on the IntaVue confirms we are around the edges of a turbulent part of the storm. “The radar detects movement of humidity and radar indicating turbulence cause by precipitation though not CAT”, remarks Captain Johnson.

Turbulence detection is one of the obvious passenger features of the radar. While weather radars paint the intensity of precipitation from echo returns, the escalating colors of greens, blues, and rains don’t necessarily provide data leading to the safest and smoothest rides. Dangers can be embedded in lighter precipitation areas while conversely more intense areas of convection may actually produce less hazardous conditions. The RDR-4000 goes much further, using predictive algorithms to analyze which storm cells are producing turbulence (up to 60nm in advance), wind shear, lightning, and hail. The radar’s 320 nautical mile detection range gives the pilots valuable decision time with these aforementioned hazard warnings coming at 5-10 minutes in advance based on the current flight plan. Warning icons appear on our screen which are pilots avoid.

Proving the radar’s atmospheric metal, our ride turns nearly smooth as we exit the magenta reading of the display. This being a demo flight, we aren’t subjected to the full gamut of severe weather that Honeywell tests its radar in. “We can get rocked around a bit during testing and certification when we fly into wind shear, hail, and other hazardous weather. What we see on radar in the air is also verified by ground detection systems. The Convair is a sturdy aircraft which suits the mission well”, volunteers Captain Johnson as he picks his way around the edges of another ominous cell. In a move suggesting a bit of humor and caution, Honeywell’s crew begins an in-flight service of water, candy, Dramamine, and barf bags. The company had served us a generous lunch just prior to the flight and wasn’t taking any chances, nor were some of the more nervous flyers aboard.

Honeywell Convair 580 Storm Catering - 2 Honeywell Convair IntaVue Radar Flight Deck - 2 Honeywell Convair 580 Flight Deck in flight - 3 Honeywell Convair 580 Flight Deck in flight - 1

Introduced in 2006, The IntuVue RDR-4000 is the world’s first airborne 3-D weather radar. Beyond hazardous weather detection, IntuVue represents a quantum leap forward in situational awareness and automation. Older generation only display the weather on the azimuth that the beam is scanning. While tilting below or above the flight path, the current weather ahead isn’t accurately displayed. Likewise, weather above and below isn’t painted when the beam is focused straight ahead. It’s obvious that gaining the most complete picture requires lots of manual intervention on the part of the flight crew.

Conversely, Honeywell’s product is fully automated. Rather than focusing on operating the radar, pilots are able to focus on detection and analysis. Honeywell claims the IntuVue reduced operator training as well. The RDR-4000 scans from the ground to 60,000 feet in 30 seconds in an interlaced tilting scans of eight slices up and nine slices downs, and does this all automatically. This ultra-fast scan and a 3-D graphics buffer display a constant complete picture of the weather above, below, in front of, and around the plane out to 320 nm. Weather above and below a 4,000 foot slice of the current flight level is displayed in a crosshatch pattern giving complete situational awareness, but with a focus on the current altitude.

Often radars will falsely indicate black indicating “no weather” behind more distant and intense cells which potentially mislead crew into believing the weather is clear up ahead or providing no or false. IntuVue displays predictions as to what is ahead, but identifies those readings as being of a lower degree of confidence. IntuVue allows for manual over-ride which allows easy to determine storm cell height for example, yet keeps the full buffer display from ground to 60,000 feet displayed on the other pilot’s display.

As we begin our initial descent into Miami, the radar looks quite active, but most of the weather indicated on screen is above us, as indicated by the cross-hatched display. On previous generation radars, it would take a lot of manual tilting and scanning of the radar’s beam along with communication with ground control to determine the actual weather along the flight path. Alleviating the pilot’s workload during the critical aspects of flight such as landing contributes mightily to their appreciation of IntuVue.

Honeywell Convair 580 IntraVue Radar Suite - 7
Ground clutter returns are also attenuated and earth curvature is corrected by IntuVue via use of software tied to Honeywell’s worldwide terrain mapping. As we noted back in May on a flight on this very aircraft in Phoenix, this capability is tied to the company’s Enhanced Ground Proximity Radar System product. This expansive feature allows pilots to make informed decisions earlier for re-routing and altitude changes leading to safer, more comfortable, and more efficient flying.

Honeywell Convair 580 Storm Chase T-ShirtDescending to 8,000 feet with a few cells separating us and MIA’s runway 9L, we are asked to return to our seats. As a testament to the accuracy of the IntuVue, Honeywell has kept the seat belt lights extinguished most of the flight. With the pilots deviating around weather, our flight has been quite smooth. True to its billing, the pilots seem to spend most of their time flying and analyzing the radar with the manual controls only accessed at our request for demo purposes.

Honeywell produced a piece of swag that elicits some guffaws: a t-shirt decorated with a lightning cloud and the words. “I survived storm chasing with Honeywell and all I got was this t-shirt.” Indeed, we did a lot more storm chasing than storm penetrating, though keeping us out of the most hazardous weather was the point.

To date, over 2,200 aircraft are flying with IntuVue radars under the colors of around 70 airlines. Current customers includie Southwest, USAirways (American), British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Korean, and Lufthansa ,with more operators coming online in the future. The RDR-4000 is available as SSFE/BFE equipment on the Airbus A320, A330, A340, A350, and A380 (which utilizes dual motors and receivers for long-haul backup), Boeing’s 757, and now the Gulfstream G650 executive jet. The A320neo and 737 MAX will fly with IntuVue from their entry-into-service.

Surprisingly, IntuVue isn’t offered either as original equipment or a retrofit on the 747-8, 787, or upcoming Bombardier CSeries. No public decision has been announced for the upcoming 777-X. “The split of original IntuVue installations at time of delivery to retrofits of existing aircraft like 757s and older 737s, A330s, and A340s is 80% to 20%”, according to Greg Schauder, Honeywell’s Director of Product Marketing.

Honeywell is perpetually scanning the skies for new opportunities for safer flying into the future. With the move to tablets and electronic flight bags, Honeywell is introducing the Weather Information Network Plus (WINN+). This provides a data-link of weather data to the pilot’s EFB. According to the company, this provides “strategic only in-flight decision making, with respect to weather information by providing up-to-date weather data for selected areas per a flight crew request.” Honeywell claims this leads to reduced fuel burn and emissions, better alternate route planning, reduced maintenance, increased safety, passenger comfort, and reduced delays at the destination.

Honeywell Convair 580 IntraVue Radar Suite - 1Honeywell Convair 580 IntraVue Radar Suite - 2

The next major update, billed as Hazard 3.0 scheduled for 2017 will add cell tracking for diversion planning. Clairvoyantly, this feature will predict if storms will cross the current track at the time of aircraft arrival allowing pilots to plan diversions, thus minimizing fuel burn. While there is much attention paid to high altitude icing, a new IntuVue feature will allow for high-altitude ice detection. These small ice crystals that form at altitudes greater then 30,000 in warmer storms, can cause engine damage and power loss. Trials have been completed with Airbus on an A340.

With both Allison 501D turboprops shut down, we shuffle down the built-in air stairs of Honeywell’s anachronistic steed, the 60 year old Convair. We can’t help what the future holds for this trusty ol’ bird. Johnson points out that though an aircraft with 102,000 cycles and 67,000 hours built before most of its pilots were born won’t last forever but it’s still a great aircraft for the job. “The aircraft’s long 30 inch nose allows us to test different types of antennas. It has instant thrust and lots of lift, and it’s built like a tank.” The CV 580, which has flown for the company since 1991, acts anything like a senior citizen.

It also supports other Honeywell test programs such as its Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, Traffic Collision Avoidance System, and SmartLanding / SmartRunway systems. For other missions such as high – altitude & high speed tests where the 580’s limited 20,000 foot ceiling and pokey 297 kt maximum speed isn’t adequate, Honeywell also uses a Boeing 757, North American SabreLiner, and test equipment mounted on manufacturers aircraft during testing such as the A350. An AeroStar helicopter and Beach King Air are also part of the company’s fleet. Pilots are all cross-trained to fly 3 aircraft in the stable. The 737 and MD-80 are rumored one day perhaps to replace the Convair.

Honeywell Convair 580 Storm Chasing Before Takeoff-1 Honeywell Convair 580 Safety Card

It’s ironic that so much of the future of airborne radar is being tested and refined on a plane that began its life when weather radar was just being introduced. Though Honeywell’s venerable test bed is in its twilight years, Honeywell’s IntuVue technology clearly appears to loom large in the next generation of aviation.

RELATED: Honeywell’s Convair 580 – Testing Tomorrow’s Tech In Yesterday’s Plane

PHOTOS: More photos from the flight!

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Disclosure: Honeywell provided the demo flight in Miami at no cost to Airchive. Our opinions remains our own.

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InFlight Review: Virgin America Economy

By Benjamin Bearup / Published August 5, 2014

Virgin AmericaWhen presented the the opportunity to fly Virgin America from San Francisco to Seattle, I decided that it would be worth forking over a little extra money to experience one of America’s newest and most contemporary airlines. As with many aviation enthusiast, I like to experience airlines that I have never flown on before in order to knock them off of my “bucket list”, and since I am from Atlanta, Georgia (a city not served by Virgin America), I knew this would be a flight that I had to take, but did it meet my expectations?

The Day Before Departure

After flying to San Francisco the day prior to my Virgin flight, I found myself spending a day sightseeing around the Bay Area and spending the night near Fisherman’s Wharf, but all too soon, I was making a little checklist as I always do before a flight. I made sure to check in online, prepay for my checked baggage, and make sure my camera was fully charged. With all things packed and ready to go, it was time for a quick night’s sleep.

The Day of Departure

IMG_6073The morning of departure called for an early wake up call, having to be at San Francisco International Airport by the ripe hour of 4:30 AM. After arriving at the airport, I was able to check my bags, and I was at security in no time. To my surprise, I received TSA Precheck for today’s flight, a first. With its speed and more lax procedures it is worth the price if you are a frequent traveler. After clearing security, I found a restaurant to enjoy a hot breakfast and enjoyed the views before boarding started.

Time To For the New Experience

As I boarded the Airbus A320, I was amazed by the club-like purple and pink lighting aboard. I was seated in seat 22F, a window seat a few rows behind the wing (budget traveling). Shortly after push back, the hilarious and entertaining (as well as educational) safety video was shown, and then we were off to the Emerald City!

IMG_6113 IMG_6085

I tried out the Inflight Entertainment System, RED, on-board once in the air. After using the new American Airlines IFE system the day before, Virgin America’s system seemed outdated and not nearly as user friendly. However, it did offer a wide variety of movies, television shows, music, and my favorite-the “My Flight.” This shows you your altitude, airspeed, heading, and real-time position on Google Maps.

The on-board service was above average, but it was not very special. We were served a choice of Coke soft drinks, coffee, water, alcohol, and several juices. I opted for Diet Coke to wake me up a little. The young looking flight attendants were helpful and professional throughout the flight.

As we started our approach into Seattle, IMG_6101we passed by Mount Rainier. At a peak elevation of 14,411 feet, the mountain peaked out from the clouds below, providing an amazing view that very few airport approaches offer.

The wind gods were in our favor that morning as we landed in a North to South pattern that would give us great views of sites such as downtown Seattle, the Space Needle, the Port of Seattle, and Boeing/King County Airport which is home to much of Boeing’s flight-test program as well as the popular Museum of Flight.

IMG_6116We rolled right into our gate ten minutes early. On the way out I got a good look at the first class seats, which seem very nice. While taking the pictures, the pilot offered for me to visit the flight deck, and he was very informative about the A320 and shared several stories from his previous military experience.

Did it meet my expectations?

Overall, I loved flying on Virgin America. The product offered for the low price of $80 (one-way), along with friendly staff made this experience well worth it. The modern and trendy feel made flying more enjoyable. I will definitely fly with Virgin America again if I have the opportunity (please come to Atlanta soon).

The author’s opinions are his own.

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Delta’s BusinessElite Farm-To-Tray-Table Meals

By Jack Harty; Photos by Chris Sloan / Published July 31, 2014

???????????????????????????????The farm-to-table movement encourages healthy eating, introducing sustainable agriculture practices, and supporting local farmers. It has been widely endorsed by local agriculture, food service, and restaurant communities. Now, it is starting to gain traction for meals served at 35,000 feet.

Meet the farm-to-tray-table movement. It is just like farm-to-table, but the food is served in an aircraft cabin at 35,000 feet. Since there is not a lot of humidity in this restaurant in the sky, the average person loses approximately 30% of their taste.

However, meet Chef Linton Hopkins. Last fall, Delta named him the winner of the “The Cabin Pressure Cook-Off” which was a culinary competition to find the next Delta chef.

He has been hard at work crafting meals with ingredients from local farmers in Georgia to serve to more than 500 BusinessElite customers every night. Currently, these meals are only available to customers flying to Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, and Paris on flights from Atlanta.

Completing this task every day is nothing short of a team effort.

???????????????????????????????Chef Hopkins created Eugene Kitchen with the sole purpose of serving Delta’s premium class customers. The kitchen works with small farm operations and other suppliers who provide fresh ingredients for the meals and to ensure that the supply chain doesn’t become stressed. After the food is cooked, it is off to Gate Gourmet at the airport to be plated and delivered to the aircraft.

While the supply chain can be a challenge, Chef Hopkins must also make sure that the food tastes good at 35,000 feet. He explains that “we don’t lose taste buds at altitude. Traditionally it’s about using more salt to fight dryness.” So, he crafts his food based on what he knows will taste good, and he always asks if he would serve it to his family.

???????????????????????????????But, it’s not just food. Chef Hopkins explains that “this food is sacred and represents friends of mine because we are supporting local businesses.” This partnership with Delta has saved and helped grow many local businesses.

On tonight’s menu, we would have a five course meal that somebody would be having at 35,000 feet.

We started with a Corn Soup with a pickled shrimp salad and Benton’s Bacon. Followed by that, we enjoyed Sturgeon Caviar on top of a french omelette with sauce nantua.

Now, we moved into the main courses with vegetables a la grecque which had ham crisp, parseley pecan pistou, and many fold farm brebis. We continued with beef tenderloin with friend vidalia onion rings and mushroom fondue.

To finish it up, we enjoyed a peach mousse.

To sum up the experience in one word, I would say it was amazing. I realize it sounds cliché, but it was fascinating to learn about how Chef Hopkins is changing airline food. Plus, the food was delicious.

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Disclosure: Delta Air Lines provided round trip airfare for two, meals, and accommodation for us to attend this event. Our story remains independent.

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TGIF: Thank-Goodness It’s Flyday Week-End Wrap Up: August 1st Edition

By Jack Harty / Published August 1, 2014

Thank-goodness it’s Flyday…err Friday, everyone, and Happy August 1st! In this week’s edition we take a look at a documentary coming soon, Southwest and Sea World announced they will end their partnership, a Malaysia Airlines aircraft almost crashes into another jet, and more.

Epic Documentary: The first trailer of an new aviation documentary debuted on Monday, and it quickly won the hearts of aviation enthusiasts.

The documentary will take a look at the first 100 years of commercial aviation, and it is scheduled to debut next year.


Photo courtesy of Jack Harty

Ending Partnership: Southwest Airlines and SeaWorld will be ending their more than 25 year old marketing partnership at the end of the year.

For quite sometime, Southwest has been urged by animal rights activists to terminate the relationship due to alleged animal cruelty cases that SeaWorld has been connected to, and Southwest was approached with a petition that had 32,459 signatures asking the airline to help stop animal cruelty.

SeaWorld officials said the decision was mutual as it plans to focus on growing markets in Latin America and Asia.

As part of the partnership, Southwest has painted various SeaWorld animals on its aircraft with the first unveiled in 1989. With the partnership coming to an end, these aircraft will be repainted with the regular Southwest livery by the end of the year.

Progress: Delta Air Lines has reached a deal with Venezuela to repatriate $15.5 million, but it is still planning its frequency cuts as more than $160 million is still held in local currency by the government.

Close Call: On July 29, 2014, Malaysia Airlines flight 116 was told to slam on its brakes to abort its takeoff to avoid colliding with a Tigerair jet.

Malaysia flight 116 was taking off from Adelaide Airport in South Australia for Kuala Lumpur.

The aircraft landed safely in in Kuala Lumpur a few hours later.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH136 from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur today had a scare when the aircraft was instructed to discontinue its takeoff to avoid colliding with an incoming flight, the New Straits Times (NST) reports.

The flight, which had 167 passengers, was already on the take-off roll when it received instructions from the Adelaide Air Traffic Control to stop.

The NST said the landing plane was in the same flight path as the Malaysia Airlines jetliner.


“MH136 stopped its takeoff safely and waited the required cool-down time on its brakes before departing from Adelaide.”Flight MH136 departed Adelaide at 8.56am and arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 3.15pm.

July has been a tragic month for aviation with three aircraft disasters in the space of a fortnight.

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine.

All 15 crew members and 283 passengers lost their lives in the disaster.

On July 23, TransAsia Airways flight GE222 attempted a forced landing at the Kaohsiung International Airport in Taiwan.

However, the flight crashed in a small patch of empty land a distance away from the landing strip, resulting in the deaths of 48 passengers while 10 others were injured.

On July 24, Air Algerie flight 5017 crashed in Mali after departing from Burkina Faso bound for Algeria.

All 118 crew and passengers of the flight died in the incident. – July 29, 2014.

- See more at:

Malaysia Airlines flight MH136 from Adelaide to Kuala Lumpur today had a scare when the aircraft was instructed to discontinue its takeoff to avoid colliding with an incoming flight, the New Straits Times (NST) reports.

The flight, which had 167 passengers, was already on the take-off roll when it received instructions from the Adelaide Air Traffic Control to stop.

The NST said the landing plane was in the same flight path as the Malaysia Airlines jetliner.


“MH136 stopped its takeoff safely and waited the required cool-down time on its brakes before departing from Adelaide.”Flight MH136 departed Adelaide at 8.56am and arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 3.15pm.

July has been a tragic month for aviation with three aircraft disasters in the space of a fortnight.

On July 17, Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over eastern Ukraine.

All 15 crew members and 283 passengers lost their lives in the disaster.

On July 23, TransAsia Airways flight GE222 attempted a forced landing at the Kaohsiung International Airport in Taiwan.

However, the flight crashed in a small patch of empty land a distance away from the landing strip, resulting in the deaths of 48 passengers while 10 others were injured.

On July 24, Air Algerie flight 5017 crashed in Mali after departing from Burkina Faso bound for Algeria.

All 118 crew and passengers of the flight died in the incident. – July 29, 2014.

- See more at:

Curaçao Here We Come: JetBlue Airways will launch new flights between New York JFK and Curacao this December. Starting December 2, 2014, the carrier will operate twice weekly service on Tuesdays and Saturdays between the two cities.


Photo courtesy of JDL Multimedia

“We are really excited to be able to offer customers the only nonstop route from New York to Curaçao and more nonstop flights to the Caribbean than any other airline,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue’s President. “This well preserved island is our 31st Caribbean destination, and is a favorite among diving enthusiasts for its healthy coral reefs, and is considered one of the nicest Caribbean escapes for discerning travelers thanks to its pristine beaches and clear water. These natural attractions make the island a natural choice for JetBlue.”

“We have been working closely with the team at JetBlue to bring this flight to the island and are thrilled it has come to fruition and we’re able to announce it today,” said Stanley Palm, Curaçao’s Minister of Economic Development. “Curaçao continues to thrive as one of the Caribbean’s most diverse and culturally-rich islands and we look forward to now being able to share it with more visitors. New York is a top market for the island, and we are confident that the new nonstop service on JetBlue will meet the demand we’ve seen from the northeast and international travelers alike.”


Photo courtesy of Jack Harty

Reducing Staffing: United Airlines will reduce its below-the-wing staffing at its hubs in Chicago, Newark, and San Francisco. Dur to changes in its flight schedule as well as new technologies that provide more efficiency, the carrier will need to make staffing adjustments.

It notes that some of the staffing levels are partly due to seasonal schedule adjustments, and staffing levels at Boston Logan will change as it has integrated its operations at the airport.

The carrier is also outsourcing some employees in Denver. It will move all of its de-icing operations to vendor who will be dedicated to the United operation, but the airline is quick to not there will be no pay cuts nor layoffs.

Aer Lingus Plans To Grow in US: Aer Lingus says it is looking at adding service to Dallas/Ft. Worth due to unexpected success of its new routes to San Francisco and Toronto. The airline’s CEO says it is intending on increasing capacity and starting new routes to North America.

There are also rumors that the carrier will begin flying to a new destination in Florida next year.

New Airline: Elite Airways plans to begin flying scheduled passenger charter service between Melbourne, Florida and Washington Dulles on September 8. Initially, the flights will be two round trip flights per week on Mondays and Thursdays. The carrier will utilize a 50 seat CRJ-200 on this route.

Currently, the company operates charter service based out of Portland, Maine, but it does not have the license mandated by the FAA to operate long-term scheduled passenger flights. However, it expects to receive one by the end of the year.

Elite Airways has big growing plans, and it plans to purchase a 757-200 to assist.

In case you missed it, Airchive had a lot of great coverage right here. This week’s stories:

Delta To Launch Salt Lake City-Amsterdam Flights In May

Can Bombardier’s Q400 Save Regional Air Service in the US?

Virgin America Files For IPO

New and Free IFE Options Coming to a Delta Flight Near You August 1

Republic Airlines To Start Flying E-175 Out Of Miami For American Airlines October 2

Video: Departing Miami With A ‘Happy Ending’

United Introduces New Safety Video

ANA Receives Its First 787-9

Delta TechOps: Behind the Seven Story Tall Hangar Doors

Airbus Terminates Skymark Airlines’ Airbus A380 Order

WestJet Reports Record Earnings and Announces It Will Begin Flying 767s

Boeing Delivers 500th 777-300ER

ANALYSIS: JetBlue Reports Second Quarter Profit of $60 Million

Boeing to Build 787-10 in South Carolina

ANA To Fly Its First 787-9 Flight August 7

ANA, Airbus, and Boeing Finalize Major Aircraft Order

Best of Airways: Virgin America – Doing Things Differently

Delta To Make Cuts in Pacific and Retire 25% of Its 747 Fleet This Year

ANALYSIS: Spirit Continues to Generate Excellent Financial Results


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