Airlines

Sukhoi Superjet 100 Approaching Certification

I was over a year and a half ago when I wrote about the Sukhoi Superjet 100's first flight. The plane hasn't entered service yet, but it's getting close. In many ways I think this is a good sign, though Sukhoi and their partners are suffering a little because of it.

The Moscow Times just wrote about a big hit that Sukhoi and partners have taken. Italian flag airline Alitalia was supposed to be a launch customer for the SSJ100. This was at least in part a by-product of Alenia Aeronautica, part of the Italian group Finmeccanica, having a 25% stake in the SSJ project. Alitalia is worried about the SSJ timeline slipping too far, so they cancelled an order worth $500 million and decided to lease some planes from Embraer instead.

Book Review: Jet Age

We don’t get many requests to review books here at AviationBull, so I was nervous when the publisher for “Jet Age” contacted me to do a review. I hadn’t even heard of the book, and honestly from the dust jacket excerpt I kind of expected to be reading the running narration from the “Wings” channel. You know, the voice-over accompanying the faded videos of the golden age of flight. What I found instead was a story that drew me into a part of aviation history that I had largely ignored, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

Back In The Saddle?

Runway Girl Mary Kirby was spot on calling these seats "butt shelves." This saddle type seat is a concept floating around for low cost airlines to squeeze more passengers on a flight. I'm hoping that the Italian firm shopping the idea around is calling the seat the "Sky Rider". There's a reason we don't see many saddles floating around, it's because they're uncomfortable!! Seriously, there's no way I'd make it more than an hour in that seat and I don't even want to contemplate turbulence... Let's hope this doesn't catch on.

My Kinda Beach

This sign is just one more reason why I've got to visit St. Martin's Maho beach. The approach end of the runway sits right next to a gorgeous beach, which is pretty awesome to begin with. Add some heavy traffic landing at the airport and just sit back and enjoy the chaos. If you look close you can see the old pilot's laughing their a$$es off at the bar...

Check out more pictures here for the full effect.

Quality or Quantity? 1500 Hours Now Minimum for ATP

The debate of total time versus training is probably as old as aviation itself. In fact, sailors were probably debating this issue centuries before the Wright Brothers ever got anywhere Kill Devil Hill. Would you rather fly on an airliner piloted by two people who have at least 1500 hours of total flight time or by people trained to operate that specific aircraft in all the normal, adverse and emergency situations it might encounter...even if one of them had fewer than 1500 hours? Is that 1500 hour mark magical? In emergency conditions, is a pilot with 1500 hours guaranteed to save your life when a pilot with only 750 might not? Not in the case of Colgan Airlines Flight 3407. The FO was the low-time crew member with over 2200 hours and they still crashed.

However, ever since that accident some people have been clamoring for higher minimum times for all airline pilots. The bill that made it through congress (HR 5900) set that requirement as a 1500 hour ATP rating for all airline pilots, no matter what seat they're in. Though Some Celebrate this the families of those who died on Flight 3407 celebrate this, I worry that the unintended side-effects of this legislation will cause some serious problems for aviation in America. I don't think I'm alone either.

A Shift In Travel Planning?

We don't often delve into the inner workings of the travel industry here at AviationBull because it's very well covered by other sites and better writers... That being said I do travel quite a bit and I pride myself in being able to hunt down a great deal using the myriad of travel search engines that are floating around the internet. This typically involves hitting up the big players and then drilling down into the websites of the individual airlines. Tripbase put together this infographic outlining just how common this deal hunting is for travelers.

I was surprised to learn two things; first that two out of three Americans research travel online and second that Google was looking to buy ITA Software. The implications of the my first revelation explain why Google would go after a company that's behind most of the travel search engines you might use. Orbitz and Hotwire use QPX (that's the engine behind the searching), so if Google breaks into the business they'd be able to immediately leverage that capability into their already comprehensive search results!

To me that means a possible one stop shop for finding the best fare. No need to hit the "deal" sites because I'll have the fare direct from the airline w/o the middle man. The next step would be to integrate user reviews, which is just the angle Tripbase is taking... hence the infographic. Heck, if it saves me time and money I don't really care where the data comes from.

787 Systems

Remember when GPS was new? (I realize I'm dating myself by saying this. If I was cool I'd say, "Remember when NDBs were new?") Most planes had nothing more than a couple VOR/LOC/ILS receivers and an ADF. It was pretty special to find one with DME. A plane with GPS was all the rage and it was amazing what you could do with it...like go direct to a point, as was the extent of my knowledge. Well, aircraft systems have come a long way since then. The toys they're looking at putting on Boeing's 787 Dreamliner in this video are pretty amazing.

Geared Turbofan - Ticket to the Big Time for P&W?

When I think airline engines only two names come to mind: Pratt & Whitney and General Electric. Although they have a huge military market, P&W has been suffering in the commercial airline market in recent years. According to the Wall Street Journal, P&W's new PurePower PW1000G geared turbofan engine may be what it takes for them to break back into this market.

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