Around the World

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

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An Inside Look at TAM Airlines’ Uniform Shop

The different uniform choices in the TAM uniform shop

The different uniform choices in the TAM uniform shop

One large task of an airline is to make sure that all their employees are dressed properly. Typically, each position within an airline will have a different dress code. From the fancy outfits that flight attendants often wear to the more mundane look of those who work behind the scenes and away from passengers. They each have their purpose and it is quite the feat to make sure that every employee has a proper uniform.

The uniform shop is a three-story facility with employee lounge on the first floor

The uniform shop is a three-story facility with an employee lounge on the first floor

TAM Airlines has a specialty uniform shop, located in Sao Paulo, where all 22,000 employees can go and pick up their uniforms.  The process is quite the task.

The facility is unique in that not only do employees come in person, but the airline wants the uniform process to be a part of their culture. I was excited to see what it was all about — I had never seen a shop quite like it.

Continue reading An Inside Look at TAM Airlines’ Uniform Shop

Video: Southwest Airlines Paints a Boeing 737

After watching this video my first thought was, “holy cow that is a lot of blue.”

When I first saw the leaked photos of the new Southwest Airlines’ livery I was not a fan. After seeing full photos of the new livery, it has started to grow on me, but I wouldn’t say that I am excited about it.

If Southwest wanted to keep their full low-fare personality, I think I could get behind the new livery a bit more. But with going after more business travelers, the design says more “party,” than “all business.”

Although I do have to say that I am quite fond of their new heart logo — one might even say that I LUV it  (it seems like Southwest is a fan too).

Maybe the excitement will come when I see on of these newly painted birds in person. Has it started growing on you?

When the Pressure is Gone

Socata TBM 900 N900KN in better days. Photo: scotch-canadian -

Socata TBM 900 N900KN in better days – Photo: scotch-canadian –

Throughout the past 35 years, there have been several high-profile cases of aircraft crashes due to cabin depressurization, with one of these being an airliner. Aircraft pressurization is actually a pretty simple process on modern aircraft, and is almost always computer-controlled. Aircraft are pressurized through the use of compressed air that is either supplied by bleed air tapped off of the engines, or, as in the case of smaller piston engine aircraft and the Boeing 787, by a compressor on board the aircraft.

This pressurized air is regulated through the means of outflow valves that help to maintain cabin pressure to the design limits of the airframe. Most commercial aircraft are pressurized to an altitude of 8,000 feet, with the main exception being the 787, which is pressurized to 6,000 feet. In very rare cases, however, things go wrong, as was experienced in the tragic loss of a Socata TBM 900 off the coast of Jamaica on September 5th.

ANA's first Boeing 787 Dreamliner is being delivered on Monday.

The Boeing 787 is designed to be pressurized at 6,000 feet

At roughly 10:00 a.m. Eastern time, TBM 900 N900KN, the first of its type to be delivered, was last heard from by ATC as it made its way from Rochester, NY to Naples, FL. Approximately 40 minutes later, two F-16s from McEntire Joint National Guard Base in South Carolina intercepted the aircraft and found all of its windows frosted over, and according to audio from the fighters, they could see the pilot slumped over in the pilot’s seat, and reportedly he could “see pilot’s chest moving, hopes he regains consciousness as unresponsive plane descends.”

It is not known at this time what exactly happened, but the frosted windows are one indication of a rapid depressurization of the cabin. The aircraft continued on the last heading programmed into its autopilot for roughly 1,200 miles before finally running out of fuel. Tragic as it is, this type of incident is not unheard of, as it has happened before with very similar results. Continue reading When the Pressure is Gone

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

Real-time air traffic map courtesy

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

Frontier Airlines Shows Off New Livery (With Classic Features)

Frontier Airlines' new livery, which draws upon their history - Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Frontier Airlines’ new livery, which draws upon their history – Photo: Blaine Nickeson | AirlineReporter

Frontier Airlines, the Denver-based carrier which has recently been pushing towards “ultra-low-cost carrier” status, today revealed a new livery which draws upon their history.  The animal tails remain, but the Saul Bass-designed 70’s-era “F” returns, along with the cheat line arrow off the original DC-3s from the 1950s. (While the “F” is cool, my favorite Saul Bass livery still has to be the United tulip – I want to see a United 787 painted that way!) Continue reading Frontier Airlines Shows Off New Livery (With Classic Features)