Around the World

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

Flying High at Ground Level – Checking out Alaska Airlines’ New Flight Simulator

The HUD on Alaska Airline's newest flight simulator

The HUD on Alaska Airlines’ newest flight simulator. Notice Mount Rainier off in the distance on the left.

When Alaska Airlines recently reached out to me, asking if I would like some time in their brand-spanking-new Boeing 737-800 flight simulator, I didn’t know if I should reply with just “yes,” or “hell yes.” (I actually think I went for the latter).

The simulator was so new that it hasn’t been added to Alaska’s training schedule (that will start next week). That was a huge benefit, because it allowed me to experience the simulator for over an hour. I have had the opportunity to be in six other simulators, but typically they are in high demand, so the max time in one is about 15-20 minutes. I was excited to give this one a full-on ride.

Taxiing at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. The attention to detail was amazing.

Taxiing at Seattle Tacoma International Airport. The attention to detail was amazing.

Captain Burton, our instructor Dave, PR guru Halley and I had a great time (I felt special that I was given the Captain’s seat). We flew by downtown Seattle, made a difficult approach into Juneau, completed a foggy aborted landing, and more. The only thing Captain Burton wouldn’t let us do is a barrel roll — that’s okay, but I had to ask.

To learn more and follow along with my simulator adventure, check out the full story (with more photos and video) on Alaska Airlines’ new blog. When you are done there, you can also check out more photos of the simulator and Alaska’s flight operations center on our Flickr.

Continue Reading Flying High at Ground Level – Checking out Alaska’s New Flight Simulator

All Nippon Airways Begins Revenue Flights with the Boeing 787-9

The first 787-9 for All Nippon Airways seen at Boeing Field while conducting tests for Boeing - Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter.com

The first Boeing 787-9 for All Nippon Airways (ANA), seen at Boeing Field while conducting tests for Boeing                                 Photo: Mal Muir | AirlineReporter

Several weeks ago, Air New Zealand became the first airline to take delivery of the new Boeing 787-9 — the stretched Dreamliner.  With much pomp & circumstance, they took ownership of their “All Blacks” livery aircraft and flew it away back to New Zealand.

Then, just before the end of July, the second 787-9 was delivered to All Nippon Airways (ANA) (JA830A), and it quietly slipped away into the night off to Japan. At the time, it was unknown who might commence 787-9 flights first.

Photo and press release from Boeing: EVERETT, Wash., July 29, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE:BA) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) today celebrated the delivery of the airline's first 787-9 Dreamliner. ANA will become the world's first airline to operate both the 787-8 and 787-9 variants of the Dreamliner family when the airline launches 787-9 services on domestic Japanese routes in August. "The 787 Dreamliner is a key element in our growth strategy and we are proud to be the first airline to fly both models of the 787 family," said Osamu Shinobe, ANA president and CEO. "The new 787-9 will build on the exceptional efficiency of the 787-8 and will allow us to meet growing demand that is anticipated ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Our customers have expressed their pleasure with the comfort of the 787's innovative cabin features and we are excited to introduce the new 787 variant into our fleet." With this delivery, ANA will have 29 787s in its fleet, more than any other operator in the world. "This milestone delivery adds yet another chapter in our long and successful relationship with ANA," said John Wojick, senior vice president of Global Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "ANA continues to demonstrate the market-leading efficiency and comfort of the 787 family." The 787-9 complements and extends the 787 family. With the fuselage stretched by 20 feet (6 meters) over the 787-8, the 787-9 will fly up to 40 more passengers an additional 450 nautical miles (830 kilometers) with the same exceptional environmental performance – 20 percent less fuel use and 20 percent fewer emissions than similarly sized airplanes. The 787-9 leverages the visionary design of the 787-8, offering passenger-pleasing features such as large windows, large stow bins, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride. ANA has 29 more 787-9s on order with commitments for 14 more. Sixty customers from around the world have ordered more than 1,000 787s, with more than 160 currently in operation.

ANA’s first 787-9 departing Everett on delivery to Japan – Photo: Boeing

Air New Zealand, being the first to take delivery, did not plan to start their 787 on a new route until October when they would begin service from Auckland to Perth.  The Kiwis had decided to operate flights back and forth between New Zealand & Australia to get their crew used to the aircraft (as this is their first 787) and although they were operating flights with crew onboard, there were a few with just friends and family.  Despite that, it was ANA who would challenge the spot as first to operate the newest 787 model.

ANA was the first airline to take delivery of the 787-8, and they originally put it to work on domestic flights within Japan.  The airline is also now the largest operator of the 787, with a total of 30 in service; 29 of those are the smaller 787-8, which is split between a long-haul configuration and a higher density domestic configuration.

The newest arrival to the fleet is set up in a domestic configuration as well, with a whopping 395 seats onboard.  Meant to replace high-capacity 767s in Japan, the new aircraft will run back and forth between the Tokyo Haneda hub and other major Japanese cities like Osaka and Fukuoka.  But could ANA get a 787-9 into service before Air New Zealand?  You bet! Continue reading All Nippon Airways Begins Revenue Flights with the Boeing 787-9

Checking out Southwest’s Culture-Centric HQ


Large models illustrating Southwest's special liveries hang in the atrium of the companies HQ

Large models illustrating Southwest’s special liveries hang in the atrium of the company’s HQ

For years I have connected at Dallas Love Field and peered across the aircraft operations area, staring at the home of Southwest Airlines, hoping to one day visit LUV HQ. In the effort of transparency, I’ve made little attempt to conceal my preference for the airline, and we’ll discuss why I think that they’re the best in a bit. But here’s a hint: It’s the culture.

I have a hand-full of friends who work for Southwest and follow a bunch of their employees on Instagram who occasionally post photos from the inside. My desire for a visit intensified when I became aware that the company had recently opened a large addition to their Dallas footprint, just across the street from their long-standing centralized DAL-based HQ. The building, affectionately known as TOPS (for Training and Operations Support), drastically expands the company’s capabilities and makes room for employees of the largest domestic airline to spread their wings.

Southwest Airlines tail at Oshkosh 2010

Southwest Airlines tail – Photo: David Parker Brown

After 12 years in corporate America, I have become a self-described boring, stodgy, business-type guy. I think that’s one of the reasons I am so attracted to Southwest’s culture.  Because, it’s tough to not have a fun time around people who clearly enjoy their careers and are vested in the mission of their company.

On a recent late-night flight, an attendant came over the intercom to tell us they were turning down the lights and that we were welcome to turn on our overhead lighting. “If you want, push the button with a picture of a light bulb on it.” She continued, “However, pushing the button with the picture of a flight attendant on it will not turn on the flight attendant.”

It was late, we were all tired, and I think it’s fair to say the cabin had let their guard down. This unexpected bit of humor solicited a chuckle from me and a large portion of my 737-trekking peers. It’s these small, unexpected, fun experiences after a long draining day of meetings, charts, and presentations that I have come to rely upon as a part of my decompression ritual.

Continue reading Checking out Southwest’s Culture-Centric HQ

Tales of an Aircraft Mechanic

sometimes you just have to dive in! Photo: Kris Hull

Sometimes you just have to dive in – Photo: Kris Hull

Working for an airline might seem prestigious to most on the outside: a job filled with adventure and travel, with good perks. However, like with most things, reality if very different. For the past nine years, I have spent my time working as an FAA-certified and licensed Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic, or A&P. A&Ps are the lifeblood of civil aviation in the United States.

In short, we are tasked with ensuring that all aircraft in the US are maintained in an airworthy and safe manor. It is not very glamorous, but it sure is fun! I obtained my A&P license by attending an FAA-approved course for two years at a Washington state community college, and then I entered the aviation workforce with gusto and drive, ready to conquer the world; or so I thought!

A NAA PBJ-1J under restoration = Photo: Kris Hull

FAA A&P mechanics can work on anything, including this PBJ-1J under restoration – Photo: Kris Hull

Throughout my ten years in the aviation industry so far, I have worked for four companies; two for a year or less, and the other two for four years each. I have had the opportunity to work on everything from the diminutive (yet mighty!) Piper J-3 Cub up to the newest member of the 747 family, the 747-8. So sit back and enjoy reading this while I recall some of the adventures (or misadventures!) I have had over the past several years!

Continue reading Tales of an Aircraft Mechanic

The Pilatus PC-24 Rolls Out

The Pilatus PC-24 rolled out onto a Swiss flag. Photo - Pilatus

The Pilatus PC-24 rolled out onto a Swiss flag – Photo: Pilatus

On August 1st of this year, Pilatus’ clean-sheet jet aircraft, the PC-24, rolled out of the hangar with a procession of twenty-four horses leading the charge. The horse theme was chosen as this aircraft is being marketed as a “workhorse”.

A side on view of the Pilatus PC-24. Photo - Pilatus

A side view of the Pilatus PC-24 – Photo: Pilatus

The PC-24 may look like a standard medium-light jet (think smaller Cessna Citations if you are unfamiliar with the term), but that is where the similarities end.

Marketed as a “Super Versatile Jet”, the PC-24 is the only medium-light jet aircraft that can do what small turboprops can; for instance, land on unprepared airfields. It is also the only corporate-class aircraft that comes standard with a cargo door. Continue reading The Pilatus PC-24 Rolls Out