Category / Airlines

737 Max Confusion

Announcing the introduction of a 200-seat version of its 189 seat 737 Max 8 that will really only seat 199 caused Boeing’s Commercial Airplane team quite some confusion at Farnborough last week. The amusing exchange kicked off when a reporter asked, what should we call the new variant of Boeing’s re-engined narrowbody? “Max 8,” replied Ray Conner, president of […]

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The man who put Helvetica on American Airlines, and your subway map

Every so often I like to explore outside the world of aviation. Flying and good design share many attributes: they’re visually powerful, require precision and need to be pragmatically understandable. I came across news that the incredible Italian graphic designer Massimo Vignelli is ill and spending his last days at home. In his long career, […]

Squadron 216's last two Tristars taxi out on their final sortie. Image: Alan Huse.

Farewell to the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar

As aviation continues its twin engine march, yesterday marked the end of an era for another Trijet with the RAF formally retiring its final two L-1011-500 series TriStars after 30 years of service.

Departing RAF Brize Norton  for a refuelling sortie over the North Sea before one aircraft conducted ceremonial fly pasts to mark the disbandment of the RAF’s 216 Squadron, formed in 1917 and in operation continuously for 97 years. Only 250 TriStars were manufactured by Lockheed, with the nine L1011s that saw service with 216 Squadron previously operated by British Airways and Pan Am joining the RAF in 1984.

Lockheed L-1011 TriStar prototype during its first flight on November 16, 1970. Image: Air Pictorial magazine, January 1971.

The TriStar began as a request from American Airlines for a widebody aircraft that was smaller than the 747, but offered equivalent range and capacity to the recently retired DC-10. The TriStar was a technical marvel in many areas incorporating aerodynamic, avionics, engine technology and a cabin design that surpassed the market offerings of Boeing and McDonnell Douglas. Continue reading “Farewell to the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar” »

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Aviation’s next generation

For years Australia’s aviation industry, indeed the industry worldwide, has tepidly danced around the issue of what to do about the falling number of young people attracted to aviation. It’s not a new issue. But it’s an issue following a repetitive script, with an incomprehensible lack of engagement of the young people walking away to […]

Image: George Lau

ETOPS in action: Perth – Mauritius

I thought a recent flight from Perth to Mauritius provided a great basis to highlight the impact of ETOPS restrictions on airline operations in the Southern Hemisphere. There is no trans-polar or oceanic route in the Northern Hemisphere that requires more than ETOPS 240 approval (four hours from flying time from a suitable airfield), and […]

V Australia 777. Image: Gavin (777 freak) on flickr

Virgin Australia: A decade of international services.

Today marks ten years since Virgin Australia (Blue at the time) launched it’s first international flight, DJ007 between Christchurch and Brisbane on January 29, 2004.

Across the Tasman, Virgin’s competitive bullseye wasn’t locked squarely on the Qantas Group, it was also taking on a newly relaunched and reinvigorated Air New Zealand in its highest yielding market place. Pacific Blue grew quickly, leveraging the opportunity to develop reliable low-cost air services to the remote, developing islands of the Pacific, an area of the world that couldn’t support the high-cost operation of either national carrier.

Virgin’s long-haul ambitions came to fruition in 2009 – the worst time to launch an international airline, but it had little choice – with the launch of V Australia services to the US.

Continue reading “Virgin Australia: A decade of international services.” »

The weekly rollerboard 12 January

AA’s inaugural A321T service. Image: Edward Russell.

This week Australia’s mantle for offering the best transcontinental airline product in the world – which Australian’s unjustifiably love to pick apart as woefully inadequate – was challenged for the first time in perhaps two decades as American Airlines launched its new premium A321T service from New York JFK to Los Angeles.

Compared with the past decade of woefully inadequate product offer onboard American carriers, the product reinvention is a welcome return to the days of glamorous transcon air travel. There will be a 30 per cent increase in the number of first class seats AA offers as business class and economy decline by 13 per cent and 27 per cent respectively. Continued capacity rationalisation carries through to the strategic relaunch with AA’s total New York-Los Angeles capacity decreasing in favour of frequency growth from ten to thirteen services daily.

Continue reading “The weekly rollerboard 12 January” »

B787-9 ZB002 at Alice Springs. Image: Alice Springs Airport.

The weekly rollerboard 5 January

Flying Knight

Her Majesty seems to have taken a keen interest in airline strategy, with Emirates President Tim Clark knighted in this year’s New Year honours for “services to British prosperity and to the aviation industry”. Clark is recognised as an “outstanding British business leader and premier airline strategist”. Clark worked for four years at Gulf Air as a route planner, before joining Emirates in 1985. In 2003 Clark was appointed president and under his stewardship Emirates has grown to become one of the top ten biggest carriers in the world. The Royal Aeronautical Society’s fascinating interview with him earlier in 2013 is well worth watching:

Continue reading “The weekly rollerboard 5 January” »

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