787 Dreamliner First Flight!

Boeing made history this week with the first flight of their newest jet, the 787 Dreamliner. The three hour flight included flying up to 15,000 feet and 180 knots and appeared to be as close to perfect as it gets.

Another BioFuel Airline Flight

When Richard Branson flew a jet powered partially by biofuel nearly two years ago I wondered if he was just trying to follow a fad that would disappear when it got too expensive. Now it's starting to look like biofuel may be catching on. KLM recently flew a 747 with one engine using a 50/50 mix of biofuel. This flight was a big deal for two reasons: First, they claim their fuel is "sustainable." Second, they operated the flight with 40 of their execs as passengers.

The other significant part of this flight is it coincided with the formation of SkyEnergy, a consortium that aims to develop biofuel as a realistic and economical jet fuel alternative.

Toward a Passengers' Bill of Rights

A story in today's LA Times reports that the FAA has issued fines totaling $175,000 to three airlines for stranding passengers on board aircraft overnight last August. Three aircraft from Continental, ExpressJet and Mesaba were forced to divert to Rochester, Minnesota, due to weather, but when they got there passengers were kept on the planes for an unreasonable amount of time.

I'm ecstatic to see the FAA trying to combat irrationality in airline practices and government regulations. Hopefully this will get us closer to a "Passengers' Bill of Rights," though we still have a way to go.

Update to 767 Taxiway landing; the Plot Thickens

On Monday 19 October 2009, Delta Flight 60 was enroute to Atlanta’s Hartsfield airport (KATL) when a check pilot on board experienced a medical emergency in midflight. The crew decided to push on to Atlanta and were given clearance to land on Runway 27R. At just after 0600 eastern time the Boeing 767 landed on the parallel taxiway “Mike”, just north of runway 27R instead of runway 27R as directed. Not much has been heard about the taxiway landing incident because it was quickly overshadowed by two other airline pilots missing their destination airport by well over 100 miles because they were BOTH distracted on their laptops.

Airlines: We Want NextGen, But We Don't Want to Pay For It

The United States' airlines are in bad shape. Many of them are rapidly loosing money and some recent incidents have garnered them some bad press. Although I don't agree with some of the ways they throw their weight around or how they treat many of their customers, the airlines are as critical to the United States as roads and waterways. Our economy could not exist as it does without them. As such, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has convened a national panel with the purpose of determining the future of the aviation industry.

I think this is a smart and responsible move. I get the feeling that individual airlines are so busy trying to keep from drowning that they're having a tough time looking at the big picture, let alone trying to help influence that picture in a positive way. Don't worry either, aviation groups such as the AOPA were invited to participate in this forum, so the little guys like many of us have representation too.

Aubrey Cohen wrote about this in his Seattle PI blog and had some interesting, if not startling revelations for us.

Seriously Guys?

The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an interesting story this week. It detailed the experience of several Northwest Airlines passengers who didn't realize that their A320 flown 150 miles past their destination and would probably have flown a lot further if a flight attendant hadn't asked why they were behind schedule. The scariest part of the story is that the pilots were as clueless as the passengers.

FAA Issues More Airline Fines

After a lot of controversy over the FAA issuing fines to Southwest Airlines last spring, the FAA is at it again. According to and the East Valley Tribune, the FAA has given United Airlines $3.8M in fines and US Airways got $5.4M.

Starlings vs. Airliner

Check out this shot taken while this airliner ingests some serious fowl. Onlookers noted that the aftermath was less than pretty, with remnants of the starlings adorning the fuselage after landing. Thankfully we can chalk this victory up to the airliner!!

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