Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 242,760
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,164,361






Memorial Day: Flying a Fallen Hero

Police and emergency services line up to show respect to the fallen soldier. Photo: David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com

Police and emergency services line up to show respect to the fallen soldier at LAX on an Alaska Airlines flight in January of 2014  – Photo: David Parker Brown | AirlineReporter

Excerpt from NYCAviation is written by Eric “Cap’n Aux” Auxier, who is an airline pilot by day, writer by night, and kid by choice. An A320 captain for a major U.S. airline, he is also a freelance writer, novelist, and blogger (capnaux.com).

I recently experienced one of the greatest and most heart-rending honors a modern airline pilot can have: Captaining a flight that is transporting a fallen soldier to his final resting place.

Escorting the hero was a military honor guard consisting of two of the soldier’s comrades, and two young Marines. Also onboard were the man’s father and a lovely, devastated young woman -girlfriend? Wife? Sister? I never found out. I never learned the soldier’s name, either. Or his rank. Or how or where he died.

But it didn’t matter. Because, like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, he was ours. He was us.

Coming on the heels, as it was, of the Aurora movie theatre tragedy, this flight was particularly poignant for all passengers and crew as well.

As soon as our preflight duties were finished, I ordered the gate agents to allow the party onboard. They were escorted down to the ramp, where they presided over a short ceremony as the casket was loaded into the forward cargo hold. Simple, precise, and crisp, the military detail saluted the casket then made a sharp about face to march away, reminding me of the Missing Man Formation often flown by jet fighters.

For six hours as we crossed the country, I contemplated my speech. As Captain of the flight, I was expected to say a few words upon arrival. At Top of Descent, I took a deep breath and keyed the PA:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your Captain speaking. I’d like you to pay special attention to this announcement. (pause) Today we have the great, great honor of escorting one of our fallen soldiers to his final resting place.

Continue reading Memorial Day: Flying a Fallen Hero on NYCAviation.com

VIDEO: Bigger. Better. Checking Out the New Boeing Space Bins Firsthand

Space Bins in the 737 Configuration Studio - Photo: The Boeing Company

Space Bins in the 737 Configuration Studio – Photo: The Boeing Company

During Aviation Geek Fest 2015, a small number of us AvGeeks (seven, to be exact: me, Mal, Dan, Christy, Michael, Michael #2, and Derek  — who didn’t seem to make it into the video, but still was great) were invited by Boeing to preview their new Space Bin design and offer our feedback. It was previously announced that Alaska Airlines will be the launch customer for the Space Bin (first aircraft should be delivered by the end of the year), so as a frequent flier on Alaska, I was very interested to see the overhead bin of the future. (Also, this was probably the closest I will ever come to my not-so-secret dream of appearing in an airline safety demonstration video.)

The Space Bin offers a significant increase in capacity, with each bin holding six standard-sized rollaboard bags, instead of four. According to Boeing, that allows for 194 total bags in Space Bins on a 737-900ER or 737 MAX 9, compared to 132 in the current bin configuration; 174 compared to 118 on a 737-800 or 737 MAX 8; and 130 compared to 90 on a 737-700 or 737 MAX 7.

Continue reading VIDEO: Bigger. Better. Checking Out the New Boeing Space Bins Firsthand

The Evolution of Engine Starting: From Hand-Propping to Button Pushing

Cold cranking an Ilyshilin Il-14 - Photo: Aleksander Markin | Flickr CC

Cold cranking an Ilyushin Il-14 – Photo: Aleksander Markin | Flickr CC

Excerpt was written by David J. Williams, who is a former airline captain and currently involved with aviation safety, on NYCAviation.com.

For many of us, our first understanding on how to start an airplane was when Bugs Bunny started the engines of the “World’s Largest Airplane” in Hare Lift (FF to 2:04). With a simple push of a button, all of the radial engines were up and running. And as ridiculous as that was, in the sixty years since, starting the modern jet engine has become just as simple as that.

In the Beginning

A century ago, when the Wright brothers started up the four-cylinder engine on the Wright Flyer, they did so by hand. This was the method for the farm tractors, motorcycles, and automobiles of the time, as the electric starter was still several years away. Even had the Wright brothers had access to an electric starter, they likely would have rejected it to keep the weight and complexity of the Wright Flyer to a minimum.

Even after the electric starter became available, during the several decades following the Wright’s flight, the majority of the airplanes produced chose to reject the heavy and expensive electric starter and relied on the pilots hand-propping their new airplanes. Though it seems to be highly dangerous, it is a safe with proper training.

Replica of the Wright Flyer at the Museum of Flight - Photo: MoF

Replica of the Wright Flyer at the Museum of Flight – Photo: MoF

When hand-propping an aircraft, the person outside is the one in control, though the pilot will typically direct the sequence. The engine will then be turned over several times with the ignition off to purge the cylinders of stale air and oil, which is especially critical on radial and inverted engines. Gasoline will then be either poured directly into the intake manifold, or injected with a small hand pump in the cockpit. The person propping then checks the security of the brakes by pulling and pushing on the propeller, and then calls “Contact!” instructing the pilot to turn on a magneto. The term contact is often used to better differentiate between the calls of having ignition system on or off; Contact is used to denote Magneto (or Mag) On, and not to be confused with Mags Off.

The propeller would then be pulled through one compression stroke at a time with the magneto on. When the engine started, the pilot would then resume control of the airplane – adjusting the throttle for proper idle, switching on a second magneto, checking oil pressure, and completing the start procedure from memory.

Continue reading The Evolution of Engine Starting: From Hand-Propping to Button Pushing on NYCAviation.com

5 Things That Bags Hate – An Open Letter From the Pan Am Bag

This is how I normally like to fly - in my own business class seat - Photo: Bag's Human

This is how I normally like to fly – in my own business class seat – Photo: Bag’s Human

Dear Humans,

It has come to my attention that many of you complain about the “inconveniences” of air travel. I think that you may not be appreciating what your loyal luggage goes through every time you fly (and thank goodness I’m strictly a carry-on bag – checked baggage has it MUCH worse!) Usually, aviation reporting and analysis is sorely lacking the luggage perspective, but AirlineReporter has given me this opportunity to set the record straight.

Consider the following elements of the passenger experience, and what your bags suffer through for your benefit:

Continue reading 5 Things That Bags Hate – An Open Letter From the Pan Am Bag

Bombardier CSeries CS300 Achieves First Flight

Bombardier CSeries CS300 takes flight for the first time - Photo: Seth Miller

Bombardier CSeries CS300 takes flight for the first time – Photo: Seth Miller | AirwaysNews

The full story was written by Seth Miller on AirwaysNews.com

The Bombardier CS300, the newest commercial aircraft on the market, made its maiden flight just after 11:00 a.m. yesterday at Montreal’s Mirabel airport. The larger CSeries variant follows the smaller CS100, which took to the skies 17 months ago.

For Bombardier, this is a significant step forward for a project which has seen its share of challenges. As a “clean-sheet” aircraft design, such challenges are not unexpected; Boeing and Airbus experienced similar delays with the 787 and A350, respectively. Bombardier’s new CEO, Alain M. Bellemare, described the event as “an inflection point” in the CSeries project, “where we’re finally reaching momentum and we can go to market with a solid product for our customers.”

The first CS300 taxis - Photo: Seth Miller | Airways News

The first CS300 taxis – Photo: Seth Miller | Airways News

The test flight came on the second day of the three-day window Bombardier allotted for the event. Initial plans to run the test flight on Thursday were hampered by cold weather, wind, and snow earlier in the week in Mirabel; that weather prevented final pre-flight testing from happening. It was colder yesterday than earlier in the week – probably the coldest first flight ever – but the low temperatures did not prevent the first flight.

With both the CS100 and CS300 now flying, the company is able to aggressively push towards the completion of the flight test regimen and enter the airliner into service. It is also worth noting that the CSeries plan is somewhat unusual in having both types flying test flights concurrently rather than a sequential process of EIS on the first followed by testing of the second. Delays in the CS100 test program can be blamed in part for these circumstances.

A special CS300 ice sculpture to celebrate the first flight - Photo: Seth Miller | AirwaysNews

A special CS300 ice sculpture to celebrate the first flight – Photo: Seth Miller | AirwaysNews

The CSeries aircraft promises a more comfortable passenger cabin combined with lower costs for the airlines and quieter operations for the passengers and those who live near the airports. While the interior of the CS300 is not yet on display to media, the noise aspect was demonstrated during the first flight departure; the CRJ900 – a quiet plane in its own right – was notably louder than the CS300 flying just ahead of it during the first flight departure.

Continue reading Bombardier CSeries CS300 Achieves First Flight on AirwaysNews.com