Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 271,099
2013: 330,818

Airline Livery of the Week: Dutch Antilles Express

Dutch Antilles Express Fokker 100 (PJ-DAB) landing at St. Maarten.

Dutch Antilles Express Fokker 100 (PJ-DAB) landing at St. Maarten.

Using this photo is not really fair. Almost any livery is going to look good landing at St. Maarten. When you take a look at her livery on the not-so-exciting ground you can see it really is nothing special.

Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) is a small airline based in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. The airline only has a fleet of five: three ATR 42s and two Fokker 100s.

Even though the airline started back in 2005, their about us section of their website still has, “under construction,” which is not very re-assuring.

Image: TVL1970

Southwest Gives More Details on the AirTran Purchase

AirTran Boeing 737 landing in Atlanta.

AirTran Boeing 737 landing in Atlanta.

As I am sure you know, Southwest is try to purchase AirTran. This is a very interesting process since we are looking at two low cost carriers becoming one and Southwest taking on a new aircraft type: the Boeing 717.

There are still a lot of questions out there about the merger and I was hoping to get some more insight while hanging out with Southwest in Dallas for their yearly media day. Unfortunately at this point there aren’t a heck of a lot more answers, but I at least have a few more pieces of information.

The big thing to remember is that Southwest and AirTran are still separate companies and competitors. Even though it looks like this buy-out should go through with no issue, AirTran is not about to give up all their secrets until the deal is final. This doesn’t mean that Southwest isn’t working hard already, they just don’t have all the answers right now. Southwest currently has 30 different teams in seven different categories to prepare for the new larger company.

The addition of the Boeing 717 to Southwest’s all Boeing 737 fleet is something that definitely piques my curiosity. Southwest stated they feel this will be one of the smoothest transitions. AirTran already has a good system with their 717 and 737 aircraft and they plan to keep AirTran’s current system of organizing the different planes.

When asked about the Boeing 717 and Boeing 737-500, which are designed to serve similar markets, Southwest stated that the 737-500’s will be coming off lease in 2013-2015. At that time, they will want to have a newer small aircraft to replace them. They made it sound like the Boeing 717 would do that perfectly, but I am not so sure. I wonder if the Boeing 717 is the right aircraft type to provide smaller markets. It seems it might be beneficial for Southwest to look at not being an “all Boeing” airline and start looking at Bombardier C-series aircraft.

Another big interest is Southwest being able to start flying out of Atlanta (ATL). They seem very excited to get AirTran’s slots and are already planning to serve at least 24 new destinations from ATL that AirTran doesn’t currently serve. Southwest stated they aren’t looking to directly complete with any airlines in ATL (aka Delta), but am guessing there is more talk of competition behind closed doors. Southwest explained they hope they could offer airfares as much as 40% lower to ATL than the competition (aka Delta). Now that sounds like competitive talk to me. It looks like ATL will become quite important to Southwest. They stated that Atlanta might quickly become the largest city in their network, flying up to 2,000,000 passengers to the airport.

Some media voiced their concern about loyal AirTran passengers who are used to Business Class, Wi-Fi on all their flights and assigned seats. This is a big change to transition to all economy, Wi-Fi on some aircraft (will be all by mid-2013) and open seating. Southwest didn’t seem too concerned. They stated they know there are quite a few loyal Southwest passengers who would love to fly them into ATL, but just can’t do it right now. They also plan to educate fliers to promote Southwest’s unique brand of service.

Southwest stated that they aren’t looking to eliminate AirTran with the buy out, but that they hope to learn from them in every way they can to make a bigger and better airline.  With Southwest announcing they will be flying into larger airports like Newark on top of buying out AirTran, it is anyone’s guess what Southwest might do next. There was talk of flying longer distances possibly Hawaii (which was mentioned half a dozen times), South America and more. I say… game on.

Southwest Airlines Announces $5 Wi-Fi on Their Flights

Southwest Boeing 737-700 (N495WN) that is just hanging out on the ground providing Wi-Fi. That bump tells you it has internet.

Southwest Boeing 737-700 (N495WN) that is just hanging out on the ground providing Wi-Fi. That bump tells you it has internet.

I am currently sitting on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 with Wi-Fi (N495WN). I am on the ground and going no where. I have been spending the day with Southwest at their Dallas headquarters with their yearly Media Day. One big announcement given today is that Southwest will only be charging $5 for Wi-Fi. It doesn’t matter what device you are using (laptop vs phone) or how long your flight is, it will only be $5.

Right now there are only 32 aircraft with Row44 internet installed, but Southwest is in full swing getting their other aircraft installed. They hope to have all their Boeing 737-700’s equipped by the end of 2011 and the entire fleet by the middle of 2013.

This special $5 fee is an extended introductory fee. Southwest says the Wi-Fi will be $5 during the entire installation process and they aren’t sure where it will go from there.

Currently, you will have to pay $5 per leg that you fly, but they hope to have it changed where $5 will get you internet for your whole flight with stops. Also, at this time you can’t see online which flights will have internet, but Southwest will send you and email the night before and let you know you can get internet.

More Photos of United’s New Livery: Airbus A380 & Boeing 787

The photoshopped United Airlines Boeing 747-400 in new livery on the left and original photo on the right.

The photoshopped United Airlines Boeing 747-400 in new livery on the left and original photo on the right. Click for larger version.

So, the photo of the Boeing 747-400 in the new United livery I posted last week is a fake. I apologize, since I didn’t know it when I posted it, but does it matter? It is still cool looking. You awesome airline geeks realized it because the engines were wrong. United flies Pratt and Whitney engines and these engines are GE. Nice catch! The creator of the image, Mark B, wrote to me and confirmed that he did in fact used a photo of an Air Canada Boeing 747-400 to make his photo. He also shared two others of an Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner that I wanted to share as well.

What a United Airline Airbus A380 might look like in the new United Livery. Click for larger.

What a United Airline Airbus A380 might look like in the new United Livery. Click for larger version.

In the comments of my last United livery post and around the internets I keep seeing people hating on the new United livery. I really dis-liked it too when I first saw it, but it is starting to grow on me. Yes, like most of you I would have rather seen a brand new livery, but I understand why they kept the United name, along with the Continental colors.
Even though I am not in love with the new United livery, I really like it on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Click for larger version.

Even though I am not in love with the new United livery, I really like it on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Click for larger version.

I think it is odd for us airline geeks to see the Continental colors with the United name. No matter what decisions they would have made, people weren’t going to be happy. Both airlines have amazing histories, something was going to have to be lost for both. I am just looking forward to a United retro livery shown on this Boeing 747-400.
Original Photo Credits:
Boeing 747: Bailey
Airbus A380: FishAir
Boeing 787: Boeing

Aviation Geek Fest 2010

The group of Aviation Geek Fest geeks in front of a GE90 engine on a brand new Boeing 777

The group of Aviation Geek Fest geeks in front of a GE90 engine on a brand new Boeing 777. Photo by Boeing.

Last Saturday we had our second annual Aviation Geek Fest hosted at the Future of Flight. 50 aviation lovers showed up to experience something special.

The event started off with a presentation on Boeing’s history from their historian, Mike Lombardi (photo). Mike is such a knowledgeable guy with a true passion for history and aviation. It was great learning more about Boeing’s history and hearing aviation geeks chime in with stories of their own. The cool part was when the geeks were able to ask questions of Mike and test his historical skills. I am guessing that Mike easily made 50 new friends on Saturday.

After getting pumped up, it was time to move to the Boeing auditorium for a short video on Boeing and their airplanes (photo). Then it was on to a Boeing bus to check out the factory (photo). Everyday Boeing offers tours of their factory, but this one was different — we got to walk on the factory floor with the planes versus seeing them from the balcony.

That's me in front of my new favorite plane, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental at the Boeing Factory. Click for larger.

That's me in front of my new favorite plane, the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental at the Boeing Factory. Click for larger.

I was excited since I have never had this experience. Before we could go gazing at all the beautiful new aircraft, we had to put on safety glasses and get a safety briefing (photo). There were a lot of things for us to trip on and it would easy to become distracted.

Then the real fun started. We were able to get close and personal with some Boeing 777’s, 787’s and of course the brand new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. Normally no cameras are allowed on the factory tour, but Boeing was pulling out all the stops. David Reese, who works for Boeing, agreed to take photos of our VIP factory tour that we would be allowed to use. This was great since we had to give up all our electronic devices, which is not easy to do. Many of us aviation geeks are also technology geeks and not being able to take photos or Tweet is difficult. However, it was nice to just enjoy the experience and not worry about taking all the right photos.

I have been on the tarmac close to airplanes before, but this was different. There was something special being so close to Boeing aircraft that have never flown before. They were clean, fresh, air virgins that were getting ready to take flight.

Getting close and personal to a new Boeing 747-8 Freighter on the Boeing factory floor.

Getting close and personal to a new Boeing 747-8 Freighter on the Boeing factory floor. Click for larger.

Although seeing some Boeing 787’s up close from the factory floor was pretty sweet, my favorite part of the tour was the new Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental. The 747-8 Freighter has already taken flight, but this is the first Intercontinental and it looked good… it looked damn good.

Before our tour, I wondered if seeing that extended upper deck would be obvious in person and it very much is. No one should have trouble telling the difference between the Boeing 747-400 and the 747-8I.

After checking out the new 747, we were able to check out a Boeing 777 still in two large pieces (photo). It was surreal to take a close look at a flight deck with almost no one in it. We also got to take a look at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner static test bed, which has been putting the 787 to the test for quite some time now (photo).

It was definitely hard to get everyone back on the bus. I am sure most of us could have stayed for hours, maybe even forever. Even though it was time to head back to the Future of Flight we had one last Boeing treat — a drive down the flight line. We got a close look at a bunch of Boeing 787’s, 777’s and 747-8F (photo).

When we arrived back to the Future of Flight, we had the opportunity to check out a demonstration by Laser Motive who have created a way to send a power charge through a laser. They had a helicopter that was flying based on the charge from the laser. It was nice sitting down to some pizza and beer and talk with them about how this technology can be used in the future.

It was very nice seeing the planes, but even better being able to talk about aviation with fellow geeks. I can’t wait until next year!

62 photos from Boeing, me and others of Aviation Geek Fest 2010 and a few more from Shawn Du Lac