Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 243,450
2013: 330,818

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United Airlines takes on United Airways – Can we guess the victor?

United Airways Airbus A310

United Airways Airbus A310 with a clear "United" on the left side.

What’s in a name — a lot. Imagine you started an airline in 1926; one of the first in the world. You were uniting other airlines under one umbrella and came up with the name “United Air Lines.” Time marches on, but the name stays (mostly) the same. Other airlines are bought out, mergers happen and United Airlines becomes the world’s largest airline with 48,000 employees and operating about 3,300 flights per day. Now that is a big monster of an airline.

In 2005, while United Airlines was still a large airline, another airline was started in Bangladesh. When starting a new airline, there are a lot of choices when coming up with a name. Many people like to add the word “Air” to the location that the airline is based and call it a day. Unfortunately Air Bangladesh was an airline just going out of business at the time, so now what? United Airways!

For some reason this new airline decided to go with a name that sounds mighty familiar: United Airways. Just try to Google the airline’s website — even with quotes around United Airways gets me nothing. All that comes up is United Airlines. To finally find the website you have to search “United Airways Bangladesh” to get to their site.

According to Flight Global, United Airlines claimed that United Airways had violated their trademark and on June 24th a UK court ruled in favor of United Airlines. The court has demanded that United Airways change their brand and re-paint their aircraft with-in 35 days.

The livery and colors of United Airways are different enough from United Airlines, but just writing this post shows a major problem. Most of the time “United Airlines” is written as just “United” and people know what airline you are referring to. On the United Airway’s livery they have “United” printed on the left side of each aircraft, really causing some issues.

This could be a good opportunity for United Airways to change their brand before they get bigger. They have grown to a fleet of seven aircraft (two MD-83s, two ATR-72s, two Dash8s and one Airbus A310) and fly to international destinations in the Middle East and Europe.

This is not to say that United Airways isn’t a successful airline — probably their success is part of the problem. Around the world airlines come and go, but since it seems like this airline might survive, it is probably time for them to come up with a unique name.

Is this a story of big ‘ol bad United Airlines going after a smaller unknown airline? I do not think so. United Airlines spends a lot of money on their brand and it makes sense to defend it. Sometimes airlines can go a bit too far defending their name (I am talking to you ex-Northwest Airlines/Delta), but this case seems worth while.

Currently, United Airlines is not talking about the situation and an email to United Airways has yet to be answered.

Photo by Josh May via Airliners.net
used with permission

Photo Tour of an Airbus A380 at Lufthansa Technik in Frankfurt

The massive Technik hangar makes the large Airbus A380 look small.

The massive Technik hangar makes the large Airbus A380 look small.

How do you make the Airbus A380, the world’s largest airliner, look small? Put it into the Lufthansa Technik Hangar in Frankfurt Germany that’s how. While in Frankfurt for a 24 hour spiel to celebrate Lufthansa’s first Airbus A380 flight from Frankfurt to Miami, I had a chance to go check out where maintenance is done on the A380.

The Airbus A380 actually sits relatively low, but has lots of wheels.

The Airbus A380 actually sits relatively low, but has lots of wheels.

At the time, I have seen the A380 at a distance and even got to tour the inside. But this was my first opportunity to walk around the aircraft on the outside. It is surreal how tall it is standing next to it, but how at the same time it is so close to the ground. I am 6’1″ tall and my head was touching the bottom of the aircraft when taking the photo above. Closer towards the main landing gear, there is even less head room. From ground to tail, the A380 is about eight stories tall and just the fuselage is about three.

This A380 (D-AIMG) was just having minor work done and I saw her back at Frankfurt Airport the next day ready to fly.

This A380 (D-AIMG) was just having minor work done and I saw her back at Frankfurt Airport the next day ready to fly.

Lufthansa Technik Group is compiled of 30 companies world-wide that help keep Lufthansa and many other aircraft operational. Lufthansa Technik has the ability to perform checks at 60 airports around the world and they are organized into six different operational groups which serve about 750 customers worldwide: Maintenance, Overhaul, Component Services, Engine Services, VIP Services and Landing Gear Services.

Three "out holes" for the A380. The larger ones vent out air, the center will vent liquid.
Three “out holes” for the A380. The larger ones vent out air, the center will vent liquid.

Before Lufthansa took delivery of their first Airbus A380, two large facilities were built for Lufthansa Technik to handle the new aircraft. One was in Frankfurt and the other is located in Beijing. The facility in Frankfurt was completed in December of 2007 and measures about 590 x 460 feet. The hangar is large enough to hold two Airbus A380s and one Dreamlifter as was proven not too long ago.

Can you tell where the fuel tanks are located in the wing of the A380?

Can you tell where the fuel tanks are located in the wing of the A380?

Obviously the Airbus A380 can hold a lot of fuel — about 85,000 gallons worth. Unlike most other aircraft, no fuel is stored in the fuselage and it is all stored in the wings. During the tour I was wondering how I had dripping water on my head and realized that I was being rained on via the condensation from the fuel tanks in the wings.

 

How would you like to climb around the A380 tail? I wanted to, but they said something about liability.

How would you like to climb around the A380 tail? I wanted to, but they said something about liability.

Buying the aircraft and building the hangar is just part of the process. Lufthansa Technik also had to get the tools, parts and people to make it complete. The facility has more than 70,000 parts in their inventory ranging from screws to engines. Outside the hangar there is a jet testing area, which was in use during our visit (but could not take photos since it was a non-Lufthansa aircraft).

This is where the pilots can get a little shut eye during flight.

This is where the pilots can get a little shut eye during flight.

During the tour of the facility we were able to get on board D-AIMG to take a look around. Since I was about to take a 10 hour flight in an A380 in a few hours, I decided to hang out more in the front of the aircraft by the cockpit. Lufthansa’s A380 are designed so there is an external door that leads to a crew sleeping area and lavatory for the flight crew. The crew rest area was actually the largest I have seen in an aircraft and didn’t feel as claustrophobic as others.

Where all the action happens. Hard to believe this large aircraft is controlled by a little joystick.

Where all the action happens. Hard to believe this large aircraft is controlled by a little joystick.

Some folks think first class is the best seat in the house. Although they are nice, they cannot compare to the seats in the cockpit. The cockpit is very roomy and it is hard to get a feeling of the true size of the aircraft. The flight deck is located in the middle of the aircraft, which doesn’t give it the sense of height that the cockpit in the Boeing 747-400 has.

CHECK OUT ALL 19 PHOTOS FROM THE LUFTHANSA TECHNIK TOUR

An Inside Look at Delta Private Jets: Worlds Above First Class

Delta Private Jets have a variety of aircraft one can choose from. No matter the model, expect the red carpet.

Delta Private Jets have a variety of aircraft one can choose from. No matter the model, expect the red carpet.

For many of us, flying first class is what we strive for. The use of lounges, big and comfy seats, decently good meals and of course top-notch service. Most first class experiences are great, but can be a little pricey, costing double to triple the amount on domestic flights to over $20,000.00 on some international flights. For many it is just a dream. Although I have heard many people ask, “how can so many people afford to fly first class?” There is something even pricier for those who almost never have to ask “how much is that going to cost?” — the private jet.

Once you have crossed over from scheduled airlines to the world of business jets, there is still a whole range awaiting you. From your very own private Airbus A380 to renting a few hours on a small Cessna Citation Mustang; the prices vary greatly.

For those people who live in the business jet realm, but still need to be on some sort of a budget, Delta Air Lines offers their Delta Private Jet service, which allows individuals and businesses to fly from first class (well I guess economy if you really wanted to) on a Delta scheduled service to a private jet waiting to whisk you to your destination. This is where we all take a deep sigh and wish life was like that… well, for some it is a way of life.

Delta Private Jets has been around since 1984, but has gone by quite a few different names: Comair Jet Express, Delta AirElite and most recently Delta Private Jets. The organization is based at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), but their aircraft are located around the country to better serve customers. Delta is the only US airline to offer such a service.

First Class has nothing on traveling in a private jet -- so at least I hear.

First Class has nothing on traveling in a private jet -- so at least I hear.

This concept really works well for people who might have to travel via one method (commercial vs private) for business and the other for leisure (or vice versa). One is able to earn miles and have status through Delta Private Jets and Delta Commercial.

“Delta Private Jets provides our customers with a seamless, quality air travel experience and with the resources of Delta Air Lines behind us, we are building a unique product and position in the private air travel market,” Jim Segrave, President of Delta Private Jets explained. “We offer what private jet customers are telling us they want: better value, more options and greater flexibility. Our relationship with Delta allows us to give customers the best of both the private and commercial air travel worlds.”

One indicator of the economy is how private jets are being utilized. If Delta Private Jets is any sign, things are looking good. They have been increasing the number of jet, currently operating 43. Delta does not own most of the jets (they own four). They are owned by outside people and corporations who allow Delta to operate and earn money for themselves and the jet’s owners. Think of it as owning a second home somewhere and allowing a third party vendor to rent it out when you are not using it to bring in additional income.

So, let’s pretend for a moment that we have access to flying jets like this (and if you are reading this and you do, can you take me for a ride sometime — I will bring the snacks). Probably for many people, they aren’t going to care as much what kind of jet they fly in, but for most of us aviation geeks, that is the most important part.

There are three main categories for aircraft: Light Jet, Midsize Jet and Large Jet. What size you want will be determined on how far you are flying, how much you want to spend and of course how envious you want to make your friends and people on the ground. If you are looking to burn some time today, then check out Delta’s website that shows the different aircraft options. Each aircraft shows detail of the layout and how far it can get you and of course a photo.

Once you are ready, you can either just tell Delta when and where you need the plane and they will give you a price estimate and you decide to move forward or not. You also have the option to buy a Fleet Membership Card that is based on the number of flight hours — starting at about $44,000.00 for ten hours of fly time. No matter how you do it, there are dedicated Delta staff to help you through the process — although if you have that kind of money, you might have someone making all these plans for you.

Speed, comfort and no TSA are just some of the reasons people choose private jet travel.

Speed, comfort and no TSA are just some of the reasons people choose private jet travel.

Just to get an idea of what it would be like not using a pre-paid hourly car, I tried to determine how much it would cost to take an extended weekend trip with five of my closest friends down to Las Vegas from Seattle in the middle of October on a medium sized jet — about $40,000.00 (I ask you not play with pricing yourself, just hours after testing it out, I had a Delta representative following up with me). Not cheap, but when you divide that by the six people and if you are a person of means, it starts to look reasonable (maybe?!).

Back to “how can people afford this?” For some individuals, it is just about having a lot of money where dropping this kind of cash just doesn’t matter. For others it is about time, where you can fly into smaller airports, not deal with security and travel to more destinations in one day than on commercial. If you have a business meeting with eight people involved that would all normally fly business or first, then the economics start to make even more sense — especially since they can work together in the privacy of their own jet versus on a commercial flight. If all eight people are travelling to work on a multi-million dollar deal, spending this sort of money is a wise investment in the overall scheme of things.

All Image From Delta Private Jets

Short Take: Trip Report of International Flight of Eastern Air Lines DC-7

The Historical Flight Foundation's Eastern Air Lines DC-7 (N836D) was waiting for us when arriving on Miami's first A380 flight.

The Historical Flight Foundation's Eastern Air Lines DC-7 (N836D) was waiting for us when arriving on Miami's first A380 flight.

When landing at Miami on the first A380 arrival, it was easy to miss that there was a special guest wishing us a warm welcome: a restored Eastern Air Lines DC-7. The DC7 (N836D) has been restored by the Historical Flight Foundation based in Miami, FL and isn’t one to be stored in a museum, it actually flies and quite a bit.

So what does one do when they have a fully restored DC-7 and want to take it for a spin? Well you fly it from Miami to St. Maarten of course and what an adventure. Self-proclaimed aviation geek, Scott Hamilton, got to take the ride and  does a great job documenting the adventure. Please check out his full report.

Thanks TC for the heads up!

 

Video of Ontario Airport in Los Angeles With Some Block Rock’n Beats

This video was shot in Los Angeles, CA at Ontario International Airport (ONT) in 2009. On its own, it is a pretty slick video showing a bit of airport operations and of course aircraft. The video was made by Greg Strasz who is a visual effects art director who has worked on movies like 2012 and soon to-be release Anonymous. Yea, not too shabby work huh? Although he loves video effects, he also loves aviation and shot this video to provide as a reference for his VFX department to the director of 2012. Obviously it worked. If I remember there was a pretty slick shot of the main character flying a plane under a falling building in the movie. Ah yea.

Thanks Greg for sharing.