Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 258,704
2013: 330,818

Photo Tour of Emirates Airline Crew Training in Dubai

Yes. The building is designed to look like an airliner. Only in Dubai.

Yes. The building is designed to look like an airliner. Only in Dubai.

It was surreal pulling up to the Emirates Airline training facility in Dubai to find that part of the building was designed to look like an airliner — engines and all. In retrospect, it shouldn’t be too surprising, since this is the land of bigger and better and Emirates Airline seems to fit right in.

Emirates currently has a fleet of over 175 aircraft, flying to 120 destinations and they have no plans to slow down their growth. The airline hopes to hire around 4,000 additional cabin crew by the end of 2012.

Emirates is not an airline that cares only about the number of employees, but also the quality. They hire people from around the world to train to be some of the best flight crew in the world and Emirates Aviation College in Dubai is where every new hire will start.

A Majlis, where students learn about the Emirates culture and the cultures of others.

A Majlis, where students learn about the Emirates culture and the cultures of others.

Each week, about 80-120 near new trainees will start their seven week long educational journey. Each class is comprised of people from around the world, making Emirate’s employees some of the most diverse. At any given time, there are about 130 nationalities represented among the trainees and about 70 among the the trainers.

One of the first steps of every trainee is learning about Arabic hospitality and about the other cultures represented among the company and passengers in a themed roomed call the Majlis room. The crew’s diversity helps them easily interact with many of the passengers that will be flying on the airline.

Flight Stewardesses train how to properly serve passengers in this Airbus A380 mock interior trainer.

Flight Stewardesses train how to properly serve passengers in this Airbus A380 mock interior trainer.

One can only learn so much by reading out of a book or being lectured to. That is why each trainee is given hands on experience in one of the interior cabin mock-ups. From greeting passengers to learning what order to serve them food, to pointing out how to operate the on-board showers, the mock ups provide opportunities for students to learn new ways of doing things and to learn from their mistakes.

Each trainee is taught how each cabin is designed to give their passengers a unique experience. Emirates tries to make first class passengers feel like they are on a private jet, where business class passengers will receive a “my retreat” experience and finally a “surprising treat” type encounter for economy.

Part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess Lisa Williamson works the bar in the Airbus A380 trainer.

Part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess Lisa Williamson works the bar in the Airbus A380 trainer.

One part of the training is learning when it might be best to start weaning a passenger off alcohol, when they have had one too many. This can be more of a challenge when that passenger is in a public space, like the business and first class bar on board an Emirates Airbus A380. Unlike a bar on the ground, a drunk person cannot be kicked out. It takes a certain skill level to cut a person’s alcohol without insulting them. Lisa Williamson, part-time Emirates Trainer and Senior Flight Stewardess, explained how Emirates follows a delay, distract, dilute and then, deny strategy.

Every flight stewardess learns how to properly wear their uniform and wear make-up.

Every flight stewardess learns how to properly wear their uniform and wear make-up.

A group of Emirates flight crew walking in an airport garners attention — and for good reason. Their outfit is one that stands out and each trainee must go through training on how to wear their uniform, style their hair, apply their make up  and of course on how to properly wear their signature red hat.

Emirates Boeing 777 safety trainer is able to move on three axis, providing realistic scenarios inside the cabin.

Emirates Boeing 777 safety trainer is able to move on three axis, providing realistic scenarios inside the cabin.

Although learning how flight crew should properly wear make up is interesting enough, getting to the training pool with a mock up for the Boeing 777, Airbus A380 and A330/A340 is much more aligned with my interests.

Unlike other safety training mock-ups I have seen, both the 777 and A340/A330 trainers are able to move on 3-axis. Due to the size of the larger A380 trainer, it did not move and was stationary.

New trainees practice helping a passenger who is passed out down the slide.

New trainees practice helping a passenger who is passed out down the slide.

In the aircraft training room there is a pool that is surrounded by all three aircraft mock-ups. On one side, crew are able to practice water evacuations, where on the the other side, slides allow trainees the ability to practice sliding to the ground. This can be a mentally and physically challenging part of training and those flight crew that are not able (or un-willing) to go down the slide, are unable to continue the overall training program.

Emirates Airbus A380 and A340/A330 Safety Trainer

Emirates Airbus A380 and A340/A330 Safety Trainer.

Like most other things in Dubai, the aircraft training room was huge — it has to be. There was no shortage of eye candy watching both the A330/340 and Boeing 777 trainers rocking and rolling, hearing trainees yell for their training and seeing them jump out of the slides. I probably could have stayed in that room all day — heck probably all week.

Unfortunately during out visit, there was no one who jumped into the pool.

Who needs Disney Land, when you can take a ride on an Airbus A380 upper-deck slide.

Who needs Disney Land, when you can take a ride on an Airbus A380 upper-deck slide.

The photo above does not accurately convey how steep and long the upper deck slide on the Airbus A380 is from the top to the ground. It made me feel a bit nervous just standing on the ground and I could imagine that some trainees would have some hesitation sliding down for the first time. At first glance, the facility might seem like fun and games, but crews are practicing worse case scenarios on how to keep passengers safe and how to save lives.

From providing the best customer service as possible, to helping passengers in a disastrous situation, the Emirates Airline Crew Training facility prepares everyone to have a successful career with the airline.

SEE ALL 35 PHOTOS OF EMIRATES TRAINING FACILITY

All Nippon Airways to Launch Seattle Service on July 25th Using Boeing 777

ANA Boeing 777. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

ANA Boeing 777. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

Christmas has come a bit early for those of us that live in Seattle. All Nippon Airways (ANA) has recently announced that they will start service from Tokyo’s Narita Airport (NRT) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) a bit early this year.

Previously, ANA announced starting service between NRT and SEA using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner during the second half of financial year 2012 (October 2012-March 2013), but now they will start the service on July 25th using a Boeing 777-300ER. According to a press release, the airline, “has decided to launch the route ahead of schedule in order to capture passenger demand over the busy summer season.” ANA is still planning to change the route to a 787 Dreamliner later in the fiscal year.

The initial Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be configured with a total of 247 seats (85 business class, 162 economy). ANA will configure their 787 on the route with 158 seats – 46 business class seats and 112 economy class seats.

ANA currently operates eight US daily routes and Seattle will become the ninth. ANA will be the first airline to operate the 787 Dreamliner out of Seattle.

United Airlines, a Star Alliance partner of ANA, currently operates a daily flight from SEA to NRT using a Boeing 777-200 and some have questioned if United would reduce or eliminate their service. When I asked United about their future plans for the route, they replied with, “No changes planned.”

Music Video to Commemorate a Lost Bag

To be honest, when I received an email saying a frustrated passenger made a music video to let off some steam after an airline lost his bag, I was very close to deleting it. First off, this concept as been done and secondly — well — sometimes bags get lost and it is by no means is it a good thing, but surely not something to write a story on.

However, I am glad I took the time to click on the link and watch the video. Turns out the bag lost held quite a bit of video equipment worth good money. This meant that the passenger was out his stuff, but he still had the skills to make this classy music video.

Hopefully someday his bag will show up, but until then, enjoy the music.

Love Cuffs and Crustaceans: Top List of Weirdest Items Confiscated at London Stansted

View from inside the terminal at London Stansted International Airport, Feb. 1999. Photo by Hunter Desportes.

View from inside the terminal at London Stansted International Airport, Feb. 1999. Photo by Hunter Desportes.

Story from London Stansted Airport / Reuters

Today’s travellers aren’t up to speed when it comes to airport security liquid allowance, with nearly half (44%) admitting they don’t know the 100ml rule, according to London Stansted Airport.

Despite the 100ml law coming into force nearly six years ago, an alarming number of Brits (36%) still don’t know what constitutes a ‘liquid’ under airport regulations. Three in five (60%) believe baked beans are exempt while a staggering (28%) don’t think water counts as a liquid.

Cosmetics are also a source of confusion, with many believing everyday make-up items don’t need to be placed into a plastic bag for security checks, including lipstick (82%), mascara (60%) and foundation (47%).

Two in five (40%) think the airport security rules are confusing but the uncertainty doesn’t stop with just liquid; travellers are trying to take a number of weird and wonderful items through security.

Top ten most bizarre items confiscated at London Stansted security:
1. Crustaceans
2. Love cuffs
3. Human body fat
4. A sweet jar containing live goldfish
5. Machete
6. Snow globes
7. Drills and sanders
8. Sling shot
9. Dirty nappies
10. Air rifles

The research highlights that this lack of security know-how means that customers are holding up queues at security to declare items. While more than one in five (27%) admit to having had items confiscated once, 20% have been stopped on more than more occasion.

Of those that had to handover items at security, many tried to talk their way out of it with excuses such as “I forgot they were in my bag” (47%), followed by “I didn’t know what the legal size limit was for liquids (26%)” and “I didn’t realise they were actual liquids” (23%).

John Farrow, Head of Terminal at London Stansted Airport, said: “We’re constantly amazed by some of the bizarre items that people try to take through security – some of which simply can’t be mentioned here! With an increasing number of people opting to travel with only hand luggage, we are urging travellers to make sure they take time to understand the security regulations before leaving home.

“As London’s most punctual airport, we pride ourselves on having processes in place that ensure a fast and efficient journey through the airport. However, no one likes to stand in queues so make sure you are ready for the checks at the time of packing to avoid any unnecessary delays in the airport.”

A reminder of the restrictions on the quantity of liquids:
* Liquids may only be carried in containers holding 100ml or less.
* They must be carried separately in a single bag which is:
* Transparent and re-sealable
*No larger than 20cm x 20cm (8in x 8in)
* Able to close properly with all the items inside
* At security control, place the bag in the tray separate from
your other items
* Liquids in containers over 100ml will not be permitted through
security – please pack them in your hold baggage instead

For more information about hand luggage and travelling through London Stansted, please visit www.stanstedairport.com/security

The End Of An Era: The Transition From The Prowler To The Growler

An EA-18G Growler sits at NAS Whidbey. Photo by Alex Jossi.

An EA-18G Growler sits at NAS Whidbey. Photo by Alex Jossi.

I grew up knowing the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler very well — my father flew them for about 20 years. The aircraft was made tough, but all planes need to be replaced sooner or later. Recently, the Navy has started the transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the FA-18 based EA-18G Growler. Reader Alex Jossi had the opportunity to do some photography of the new Growler and was willing to write up a story on the aircraft. Here is his story in his own words:

Thanks to a friend and local aviation photographer, a handful of us guys were able to take photos at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. It was a treat to get some of the CAG birds, many of which have already been retired in the five weeks since we made the trek up north from the Portland area. I have it on pretty good hunch that they had us photograph those particular Prowlers for a reason. It was like saying goodbye to an old friend. But all good things eventually come to an end. For those of you who may not know, CAG birds are aircraft for a unit with special paint jobs, either on the entire aircraft itself or a special design on the tail. Typically, but not always, these aircraft are flown by the commander of the unit for which the aircraft belongs to. Similar terms for CAG birds include: “Show Bird”, “Easter Egg”, “Boss Machine”, and “Head Nuts”.

An older EA-6B that is being phased out. Photo by Alex Jossi.

An older EA-6B that is being phased out. Photo by Alex Jossi.

The United States Navy is slowly phasing out the EA-6B Prowlers in favor of the newer and more advanced EA-18G Growlers. The Prowler’s initial deployment was in 1972 in Asia. It also saw combat later during Operations Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. In 1994, it was selected to become the sole tactical radar support jammer for all services. Today, Prowler aircraft are a high-demand, low density military asset used quite heavily in the war on terrorism.

The new ICAP III System, first delivered in 2005, has performed beyond expectations in its combat deployments during Iraqi Freedom. However, the four-crew electronic attack aircraft (one pilot, three electronic countermeasures officers) are aging, and are less fuel economic than the newer Growlers. They can’t keep getting repaired; therefore, it is necessary and feasible that they be replaced.

As capable as the Prowler is, the Growler is much newer and much more capable. The EA-18G Growler’s ALQ-218 wideband receiver and ALQ-99 tactical jamming system will be more effective in preventing ground-to-air attacks. Its Modular ALQ-227 Communication Countermeasure Set enables it to counter a wider range of communication systems and can readily adapt to current threats.

Reaching initial operational capability in 2009, the EA-18G Growler program leverages proven processes developed through the Super Hornet Program (the EA-18G Growler is a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet) and is recognized as an aircraft that will ensure a low-risk executable program that will remain on schedule, under weight, and an aircraft that will provide significant cost savings.

EA-18G Growler for VAQ-135. Photo by Alex Jossi.

EA-18G Growler for VAQ-135. Photo by Alex Jossi.

That being said, there is still a sense of nostalgia surrounding the Prowlers that will never go away. Those who view retired aircraft of the past with admiration, know what I’m talking about. The Prowler will soon be one of those many “old friends” that we will never get to see again in the same capacity that they can be seen now. It is one of those aircraft joining the ranks of “get them while you can” that will soon be just another “airplane on a pole” as so many aircraft have before.

Check out Alex’s 14 photos and five videos on the EA-18G Growlera nice close up of the Growler and 23 photos and one video of the EA-6B Prowler.