Around the World

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

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Beyond the Tower: The Controllers That Guide You the Rest of the Way


Real-time air traffic map courtesy FlightRadar24.com

Almost without fail, the question I get immediately following, “What do you do?” is, “Oh, so you work at the tower?” I’ve been a controller for nine years now, and no, I’ve never worked at a tower. I actually work in a big windowless building, nowhere near an airport. While the question irks some of us, it’s easy to see why it’s asked so often: The tower is one of the most recognizable landmarks of the flying experience. Of course the mainstream media almost never gets it right. Any time the news talks about ATC, we are referred to as the “controllers in the tower.” And the alternative misconception, that we are the crews on the ramp marshaling aircraft with the orange sticks, is no better. Let’s see if we can start clearing up just what we do as air traffic controllers.

ATC That You Can See
When you’re at an airport waiting for a flight, you can see all the hustle and bustle going on outside the windows – aircraft landing, departing and taxiing to and from the ramp. There are even other vehicles speeding about all the time. Every one of these is handled by people in the control tower. Even before your plane starts pushing back from the gate, the pilots are in contact with controllers, relaying information back and forth about their flight plan and taxi instructions to the runway.

Finally, with some patience, your pilots hear, “Cleared for takeoff.” The engines of your airplane roar to full power, you get pushed back in your seat, the rumble of the concrete suddenly becomes silky smooth and off you go. Everything beneath you becomes much smaller…and then what? It’s a big sky and the pilots have a flight plan, so they know where to go, right? Sixty years ago that may have been possible, but it is certainly not anymore. The airspace is far too busy and the airplanes far too fast for pilots to go it alone these days.

Continue reading Beyond the Tower: The Controllers That Guide You the Rest of the Way on NYCAviation.com

Boeing and Ryanair Launch the 737 MAX 200

Ryanair 737 MAX 200, based upon MAX 8 airframe - Image: Boeing

Ryanair 737 MAX 200, based upon MAX 8 airframe – Image: Boeing

Boeing and Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair announced this morning that Ryanair will be the launch customer for the Boeing 737 MAX 200.  The order, good for 100 firm orders and 100 options, will solidify Ryanair’s status as an all-737 operator.

What does the “200” stand for?  Well, that’s 200 seats, in a modified 737 MAX 8 airframe. Although Ryanair has decided to configure their aircraft with 197 seats, which is eight more than their current 737-800s. The increase in seats is afforded by the addition of the mid-exit door.

Rendering of Boeing 737 MAX 200 airframe - Image: Boeing

Rendering of Boeing 737 MAX 200 airframe – Image: Boeing

“These new “gamechanger” aircraft will allow Ryanair to lower our costs and airfares, while improving our customer experience with more leg room and the Boeing Sky Interior, as we roll out new offers, particularly for our Business Plus and Family Extra customers. As many of Europe’s flag carriers cut capacity on short haul routes, Ryanair looks forward to using these new Boeing 737 MAX 200s to grow at many more of Europe’s primary airports,” said O’Leary.

Continue reading Boeing and Ryanair Launch the 737 MAX 200

Xiamen Airlines Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Xiamen's first Boeing 787 conducting test flights at Paine Field - Photo: The Boeing Company

Xiamen’s first Boeing 787 conducting test flights at Paine Field – Photo: The Boeing Company

On Friday, another airline took delivery of their first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner; Xiamen Airlines.

This event was special for the airline, since the 787 is the first wide-body to join their fleet. The airline currently operates Boeing 737-700s, 737-800s and 757-200s.

“We are excited to receive our first 787 Dreamliner, which is also the first widebody airplane of our all-Boeing fleet,” said Che Shanglun, president and chairman of Xiamen Airlines. “With the innovative technology and exceptional efficiency, the 787 Dreamliner will be key to our further growth and international expansion.”

The 787 is part of the airline’s plan to grow their fleet to 150 airplanes. On top of the 787, they also have over 65 737-800s, 30 737 MAX 8s, and six Comac ARJ21s on order.

Continue reading Xiamen Airlines Takes Delivery of First Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Video: All-Star Airliners at LAX

There are many great aircraft that come and go from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) everyday. This video, made from our friend SpeedbirdHD,  is a great combination of aircraft from an All Blacks 777 to a Lufthansa 747-8I.

Enjoy!

Developing: Air Algerie Flight AH5017 Crashes in Mali

A Swiftair MD-83 similar to the aircraft that crashed in Mali today. Photo - Aero Icarus

A Swiftair MD-83 similar to the aircraft that crashed in Mali today. Photo – Aero Icarus | Flickr CC

According to the French Ministry of Defense Air Algerie flight AH5017, operated by Swiftair has crashed in Mali.

The MD-83  was flying from Ougadougou, Burkina Faso to Algiers carrying 110 passengers and six crew. Air navigation services lost contact with the aircraft at 9:55pm  ET. The last message received from the aircraft was a request to reroute around heavy rain storms at around 9:30pm ET.

The aircraft involved in the crash was one of two MD-83s that were on lease from Spanish charter-carrier Swiftair. The registration number was EC-LTV (c/n 53190 l/n 2148) and was built in June 1996. In August 2012 and then had some heavy maintenance at Porto Alegre, Brazil, before delivery to Swiftair in late 2012.  During 2013 it was leased to the UN in the Horn of Africa (operated by Swiftair).

The passengers were comprised of 50 people from France, 24 from Burkina Faso, eight Lebanese, six Algerians, five Canadians, four Germans, two from Luxembourg; one from Mali, one Cameroonian, one Belgian, one Ukrainian, one Romanian, one Swiss, one Nigerian, and one Egyptian.

Per the Telegraph; French DGCA (Directorate General for Civil Aviation) inspected the plane  a few days ago in Marseille and found no faults.

This is a developing story and will be updated with new information.