Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2015: 290,939
2014: 363,407
Total: 1,212,540

Farnborough: Taking a Look at Qatar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Qatar Airways first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the tarmac at the Farnborough Airshow.

Qatar Airways first Boeing 787 Dreamliner on the tarmac at the Farnborough Airshow.

At the Farnborough Air Show, Qatar Airways showed off their first Boeing 787 Dreamliner to an awestruck crowd.

When presenting the aircraft, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker stated: “Qatar Airways has been highly anticipating the arrival of our Boeing 787 aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show, and are proud to share this milestone with the world during the unveiling of our new Dreamliner.”

Welcome on board -- entering the Qatar Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time.

Welcome on board — entering the Qatar Boeing 787 Dreamliner for the first time.

I was excited to check out this Dreamliner. I have previously been in a few of ANA’s Boeing 787s and in one of JAL’s. How would Qatar’s 787 stack up?

Although ANA’s and JAL’s products were nice, Qatar really took the interior of their 787 to the next level — especially with their Business Class product.

The Business Class seats on the aircraft are laid out in a 1-2-1 format, where the 232 economy seats are in a 3-3-3 format.

Business Class seats on the Qatar Boeing 787 is very impressive.

Business Class seats on the Qatar Boeing 787 is very impressive.

This is the first Dreamliner we have seen in a 3-3-3 economy set up, where the ones previously have been a 2-4-2 layout. I was actually surprised how spacious the economy cabin felt, realizing that there was an extra seat in each row. I only sat in an economy seat for about a minute and it seemed fine, but a ten hour flight might be a bit different.

Each seat has an iTouch touch remote control, which accesses over 1000 entertainment options.

The Qatar economy is set up in a 10 abreast seating, but felt roomie.

The Qatar economy is set up in a 9 abreast seating, but felt roomy.

The interior was quite impressive, but seeing Qatar’s Dreamliner flying at the airshow was even more so. Historically, Boeing has not flown any of their aircraft at the airshow, so this was a special treat.

Qatar's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off.

Qatar’s first Boeing 787 Dreamliner takes off.

Living just minutes away from Paine Field (where the 787 is built) I have seen plenty of 787 Dreamliners flying, but never like this. The 787 looked natural flying above Farnborough, completing aggressive maneuvers, showing off. Sure, there were no Tex Johnston style rolls, but it was still inspiring none-the-less.

It looked great on the ground, but a bit better in the air.

It looked great on the ground, but a bit better in the air.

The 787 left Farnborough early to return back to Seattle to have the final touches done before being delivered to Qatar by early September. The airline has 60 787s on order and Boeing is expecting to deliver five of them to Qatar before the end of the year.

After delivery, Qatar plans to use their first 787 flying between Doha to London Heathrow.



Video: American Explains Why the Airline Biz is Complex

This might be a shocker for you, but the airline business is quite complicated. People, planes, luggage, airports, weather and much more can affect how your flying experience goes.

American Airlines has started a new video series called “Behind the Scenes @AmericanAir.” I am not a huge fan of the name (I thought it was a behind the scenes of their Twitter account), but I am a big fan of the concept.

The idea is to answer passenger’s most pressing questions about their flying experience and why sometimes things do not go perfectly.

“Transparency is extremely important to the American Airlines team. This is why we are inviting our customers to take a rare behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to run one of the world’s largest airlines,” said Andy Backover, American’s Vice President of American Airlines Communications. “Our new video series not only shines a spotlight on our operations, but it also allows us to better engage with our customers so we can provide answers that will help us improve their travel experience.”

American wants this to be a two-way conversation and they are listening (or I guess reading the comments). What sorts of things do you want to learn about how large airlines operate?

Currently the other videos are:
* How does de-icing work?
* Why do airfares change so much?
* Where does a bag go after it’s checked?

GE Aviation: Highways in the Sky

A more efficient flight path, as determined in 4DT-based operations. Image from GE Aviation.

A more efficient flight path, as determined in 4DT-based operations. Image from GE Aviation.

This post was written by Steve Fulton, Technical Fellow at GE Aviation for

It’s unusual to find people in the aviation business who don’t have a passion for airplanes and the business itself.  Just as my GE Aviation colleagues Dale Carlson and Steve Csonka proclaimed their love for aviation in their previous guest blogs, I am also exactly where I want to be in my professional work because of my love for all things aviation. My entire professional career has been a combination of flying airplanes, engineering on-board systems and optimizing the movement of aircraft from liftoff to touchdown.

As the aviation industry’s largest trade show concludes in London and the Olympics move to center stage, it is a good opportunity to reflect on how much business people, tourists, local residents, and even world-class athletes depend on air transportation.  As much as I love this industry, I have to concede to our critics that we are not flying as efficiently and predictably as we should.  Airspace planners in the U.S., Europe, and across the world have recognized the need for a major upgrade, so plans have been made and work is now underway.

At GE Aviation, we call this flight efficiency project: Highways in the Sky.

Around the globe, air traffic is managed today using a ground-centric system that grew up around World War II radar technology.   In the 1950s, as more and more planes flooded the sky, ground-based radar was employed to compensate for the limited onboard navigation capability of aircraft in those times.  Over the years, the ground-based infrastructure has become quite entrenched.

There are a number of technical improvements in surveillance, communication, navigation, and networking of information that are necessary for this global upgrade of airspace operations.  The central concept for how these technologies will work together to better manage the flow of air traffic is called “Four-Dimensional Trajectory Based Operations,” or “4DT-based operations.”  Every aircraft has “intent” for each flight, and in the 4DT-based operations, these “intents” are defined as 4-dimensional trajectories that are communicated and coordinated in a strategic way.

To help explain this change in operational philosophy, I’ll use examples from the world of automobiles. First, imagine a scenario where all vehicle traffic in a particular city is directed by human controllers in control towers through a series of voice commands via radio transmissions. In this scenario, the controllers would be overwhelmed, the airwaves would be full of radio traffic, and a lot fewer vehicles would be permitted on the road to ensure safe separation. This scenario seems silly, but it essentially illustrates our current air traffic control philosophy.

Now, let’s contrast this scenario to how the Interstate Highway System actually works. Of course there are no control towers along highways across the country. They would not be necessary because each driver can precisely position and guide their own vehicle along their intended route. Paint markers, reflectors and divided lanes for traffic neatly organize the flow of vehicles and provide a tremendous amount of capacity.

In the same way, the modern aircraft has very precise navigation and guidance capability that can permit them to use defined air routes. When aircraft use this advanced technology to organize the flow of traffic, it is called Required Navigation Performance (RNP), and it results in a variety of substantial benefits. Airspace is being re-mapped around the world with RNP routes, or “highways in the sky.” View the infographic below to see how RNP reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions, saves airlines money and reduces flight time:

For the past 20 years I have been deeply involved in the development and expansion of RNP operations, which provides new routes in and out of airports with improved organization, predictability and efficiency.  These new routes can reduce fuel and emissions 5-15%, reduce noise up to 30%, improve airspace capacity and reduce delays, so it is important that RNP operations remain a priority for corporations and governments alike.

So what’s next? In May 2012, the FAA awarded a contract to ITT Exelis and GE Aviation to develop RNP routes at five U.S. airports over the next two years.  For the traveling public, this means that we are on the way to more reliable and enjoyable service with less noise and air quality concerns.

Tour of Air New Zealand’s Koru Club at LAX

The Koru Club at LAX offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

The Koru Club at LAX offers a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

First of all, I have to be honest and say that I have become a bit of a spoiled traveler. Before starting this blog, I rarely got to see the inside of an airline’s lounge. I thought they were just for the uber elite (either wealthy or status earners). Now, I realize that lounges aren’t this magical land that a rare few can access, they are something that almost anyone can get into (with a fee, of course).

On my recent flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to London’s Heathrow (LHR) (for Farnborough), my ticket did not give me club access. The problem was I had almost a six hour lay over at LAX (after flying in from Seattle) and I didn’t want to do it in Terminal 2 at LAX.

This became my temoporary office for a few hours in the Koru Lounge.

This became my temporary office for a few hours in the Koru Lounge.

Taking a look at what the Koru Club offered and knowing how great lounges can be, I was ready to pay the $55 for a day pass. Don’t get me wrong, I surely don’t have much money to throw around, but the idea of being able to spend a good chunk of my lay over (I arrived at LAX at 10:30am, but the lounge doesn’t open until 1pm), the $55 seemed like a good deal.

When you break down what it might cost to access internet at an airport, buying a meal or drinks, the $55 becomes a good deal quite quickly.

Luckily for my wallet, Air New Zealand reached out and asked if I would like access to check it out and prepare before my flight. Um…yes please.

There is a nice selection of food and drink options at Air New Zealand's LAX lounge.

There is a nice selection of food and drink options at Air New Zealand’s LAX lounge.

Access to the lounge is on the second floor of Terminal 2, past security. It is a lounge operated by Air New Zealand, but Virgin Australia customers are able to get access too.

Some lounges seem too fancy and I feel a bit out of place. Others feel pretty cheap and I would be embarrassed if I was the airline. The Koru Club is a lounge that is just right for my taste. It is not too large, has plenty of seating options, free Wi-Fi, showers, a decent selection of food and drinks.

The lounge offers a sandwich bar. Good thing -- I love sandwiches.

The lounge offers a sandwich bar. Good thing — I love sandwiches.

Another important quality I look for is great views of the airport. During my wait, I was able to spot so many different types of aircraft — MD-11, A380, Boeing 747 — it was eye candy for sure.

As with most places around an airport, I wish they had more power outlets. The four place table, where I spent the majority of my time, only had two outlets and I used both of them the entire time (luckily no one else came to sit down).



Farnborough: Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 Inside and Out

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 flying over the Farnborough Airshow.

Malaysia Airlines Airbus A380 flying over the Farnborough Airshow.

Malaysia Airlines recently took delivery of their first Airbus A380 and brought its second to the Farnborough Airshow to show it off.

Invited guests were allowed to take a tour of the interior and everyone with-in sight of the airport was able to see the A380 perform in the sky.

Like other A380's, the cockpit is huge.

Like other A380’s, the cockpit is huge.

If the livery doesn’t look familiar to you, that is because the airline decided to give all their A380’s a special livery. The livery was a surprise (or a last minute decision), since the aircraft first flew with the standard livery on the tail. When seeing the design in photos, I wasn’t so sure what to think about it, but it really pops in person.

The main problem is the outside color scheme doesn’t match the inside. While the outside uses different shades of blue, the interior uses reds, which is a bit of a mind boggle when first boarding, but I am sure most people won’t even notice.

First Class is found on the lower deck.

First Class is found on the lower deck.

The airline decided to put their eight First Class seats, which are laid out in a 1-2-1 formation, on the main deck, at the front. First Class are mini-suites that contain a lay-flat bed, 89″ pitch, 23″ screen, power at the seat and a personal closet. To create a sense of height (literally), there are not overhead bins in First Class.

I have to say that the product seemed quite impressive, but I was not a fan of the materials and colors. A bit too much red and brown for my taste, but it could be cultural. I think I could probably get over the coloring and enjoy the product.

A Business Class seats in sleaping and eating positions.

A Business Class seats in sleeping and eating positions.

Business Class is found on the front part of the upper deck and is in a 2-2-2 configuration. The 66 full flat seats have a 74″ pitch, a 17″ screen and a power supply.

This Business Class is a pretty standard product out in the industry today — which is not a bad thing. There seemed to be plenty of storage (especially those seats up stairs with the side-bins) and the color I liked.

Each Economy seat has a pretty large screen and a iTouch remote.

Each Economy seat has a pretty large screen and a iTouch remote.

Economy is set up in a 2-4-2 on the upper deck and 3-4-3 on the main deck. They offer 32″ of pitch, seat power, and a 10.6″ screen.

If you are going to be flying in economy, trying getting a seat on the upper deck. Not only do you get to feel special for being on the upper deck, but if you score a window seat, you will be rewarded with extra arm room and a cubby between your seat and the wall.

Flight crew have 12 bunks, three high, located at the rear of the upper deck.

Flight crew have 12 bunks, three high, located at the rear of the upper deck.

One thing you will not find in the First Class cabin or the entire upper deck are baby bassinets. That is because Malaysia Airlines will only allow babies to fly in the economy section on the main deck.

Pilot rest area behind the cockpit.

Pilot rest area behind the cockpit.

Behind the cockpit, there are three small rooms. Two are rest areas for the pilots and one is their private lavatory. The cockpit is located between the A380’s two decks, so it takes a few steps to get in.

The actual cockpit itself is huge. We had about six people in it with no problem what-so-ever. You could really throw a party up there, but it is probably best to just stick with flying.

The Airbus A380 shows its moves at the airshow.

The Airbus A380 shows its moves at the airshow.

It was all well and fun checking out the inside of the A380, but the real impressive part was seeing this beast in the air, doing aggressive maneuvers during Farnborough. I am sure A380 pilots do not get to experience flying the world’s largest airliners like that very often. What a great treat for them and for those of us on the ground.