Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 25,266
2014: 363,407
Total: 946,866

7 Steps to Write a Meaningless, Yet Viral, Aviation Story

Are you ready to hit the big time (and the big bucks) as an aviation writer? Photo -D Ramey Logan

Are you ready to hit the big time (and the big bucks) as an aviation writer? – Photo: D Ramey Logan

You may think that it’s easy to come up with great content for AirlineReporter. Go to a new country! Fly on a new aircraft! Attend a media event and report on an advancement in aviation technology! All those things are hard – they also aren’t things you can do all the time. Us aviation writers have a system for making great content that is guaranteed to get us not only respect, but also hopefully some views. My peers are going to despise me for sharing this insider’s guide to making viral aviation content, but I don’t care about them – the world has to know.

Here are my seven easy steps to create a viral aviation news story that’s ready for stardom!

Continue reading 7 Steps to Write a Meaningless, Yet Viral, Aviation Story

The Tupolev Tu-95, 62 Years Old & Still Going Strong

A Tu-95MS off the coast of Scotland. Photo - United Kingdom Ministry of Defense.

A Tu-95MS off the coast of Scotland – Photo: United Kingdom Ministry of Defense

If it is possible to have a favorite aircraft, mine would be the Tupolev Tu-95.

The story of the Tu-95 goes back to 1944. During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviets watched with both awe and horror as the Boeing B-29 Superfortress devastated Japan. It was decided that the Air Force needed an aircraft of similar heft and range, lest the Soviets be held hostage by an American bomber gap. At the time, other than the Petlyakov Pe-8, the Soviets had limited bombing capability outside the tactical arena. Sure, they had Li-2s and obtained the occasional B-24 or B-17, but in terms of presenting a threat, there was nothing of the sort.

Three TU-95s fly over Russia in 2012 - Photo: Andrey Belenko | FlickrCC

Three TU-95s fly over Russia in 2012 – Photo: Andrey Belenko | FlickrCC

The Air Force went forth and tasked Andrei Tupolev and Vladimir Myasishchev to design their own heavy bombers. Little was written of Myasishchev’s “objects 202 and 302″, other than that they were similar to B-29s in many ways. Tupolev parried with something commonly referred to as “object 64.” Imagine a fatter B-29 with a twin-tail and 23mm cannon in place of 50 caliber machine guns. Was it a copy of the B-29 – absolutely not. It’s just what engineering doctrine of the time would have you do. “Object 64″ would have had a range of about 2,500 miles and a payload of about 10,000 pounds.

The designs of both Myasishchev and Tupolev progressed nicely. However, due to the exigencies of the war, sourcing the materials needed to produce any of the three designs was proving difficult. Stalin saw this. Stalin, after all, saw pretty much everything.

Now, when this decision was made is a bit of a historical question- however, it was decided that the B-29 was already the ideal strategic bomber. So, why not directly copy it?! Luckily, that same year (1944) some U.S. Army Air Corps B-29s had made emergency landings in the Soviet Far East. Due to neutrality in the Pacific Theater, the Russians impounded these aircraft. Copying them could never have been easier.

Continue reading The Tupolev Tu-95, 62 Years Old & Still Going Strong

An Airbus A321 with a 97-ton Maximum Weight — Where Can I Get One!?

An American Airlines A321-231 on final at LAX. AA could be a potential customer for the new A321 variant. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

American A321 on final at LAX. AA could be a potential customer for the new variant – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Airbus has done what analysts have been expecting for the past few months; announce a version of the A321 with the ability to fly a greatly extended range and finally match (and exceed) the capabilities of a Boeing 757-200 with winglets.

The 97-ton maximum weight will be achieved by the addition of a fuel tank in the forward baggage compartment and some fairly low-cost reengineering of the wing. Air Lease Corporation is the launch customer, with a memorandum of understanding for thirty frames. They have not, yet, stated where these aircraft will be placed.

To achieve a 4000-nm range, Airbus has envisioned a configuration carrying 206 passengers (16J and 190Y). They have also stated that, due to the extra fuel tank and limitations of the design, it is unlikely for this aircraft to be able to carry much cargo. This may, immediately, appear as a source of consternation if your airline relies on flying long sorties on narrow-bodies full of fresh fish. Otherwise, is it really a big deal? I would say no.

Continue reading An Airbus A321 with a 97-ton Maximum Weight — Where Can I Get One!?

Rant: Making Cents at the Cost of Dollars

Economy class in EVA's new 777 is still nine abreast - Photo: EVA Airline

Economy class in EVA’s new 777 is still nine abreast – Photo: EVA Airline

You’ve really got to hand it to our friends over at Runway Girl Network. Earlier in the week, I read an article by Gavin Werbeloff that made me shout gleefully (something a lot more impolite than “YES! This man is correct! Give him cookies and accolades!”) I actually shouted it out loud and confused my wife.

Regardless, it sparked my creativity. I’m leading up to a point here- so do bear with me.

It seems to me that the industry gets obsessed with fads. I’m so old that the fad I was beginning to notice was going 10Y on 777s. The thing is, I never saw it as a move purely designed to increase unit revenue while decreasing unit cost. I always saw it as a way of psychological warfare directed at frequent flyers. As a professor drilled into my skull, it’s an airline’s duty to extract as much money from each customer as possible.

Frequent flyers often fly on someone else’s money – part of me honestly believes that making economy into an insufferable torture space was designed to increase premium revenues by inciting revolts within corporate middle-management to force the purchase of premium economy or higher fares. It never happened, but the results are the same. Economy cabins are denser and more miserable than ever.

Continue reading Rant: Making Cents at the Cost of Dollars

A Demonstration Flight Aboard the First Airbus A350 with Qatar Airways

The A350 flight deck being shown off by its joyful flight crew. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

The A350 flight deck being shown off by its joyful flight crew – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

For press, the delivery ceremony completion usually means it is either time to drive back home, or return to the hotel and pack for the flight.

Not this day.

Airbus and Qatar Airways decided that it would be a great way to enhance the press experience if everyone was given a demonstration flight aboard the Airbus A350.

This was a great idea, so there had to be some kind of drawback! For a demonstration flight that would last an hour with pre-selected passengers, all 200 of us present had to go through security screening. A process that felt like it took longer than the flight itself. What a surprise, no one had any contraband or ill intent!

Rant aside, after what felt like an eternity, I finally made it onto the jet bridge to a crowd that was more akin to being in the last row of economy on a domestic narrowbody. I realized then and there that taking any kind of photographic imagery was going to be a challenge.

Door L1 on Qatar Airways' first A350 XWB, long after the crowd had dispersed for lunch. Photo - Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

Door L1 on Qatar Airways’ first A350 XWB, long after the crowd had dispersed for lunch Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter

We boarded via a choice of either L1 or L2, I chose L2 as I wanted to see the lovely dome light and the in-flight bar. The doors themselves do not create any temporary feelings of claustrophobia. In the case of L2, you immediately walk into a spacious and open atrium. The ceiling is higher than one has come to expect on regular passenger aircraft, the walls more vertical. Continue reading A Demonstration Flight Aboard the First Airbus A350 with Qatar Airways