Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 228,152
2013: 330,818

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Lesson in Safety: How Airlines Deal with Thunderstorms

An example of Dispatcher-suggested storm deviation. The green line shows the planned route, and the pink indicates the path actually operated to steer clear of the weather

An example of Dispatcher-suggested storm deviation. The green line shows the planned route, and the pink indicates the path actually operated to steer clear of the weather

Story written by Phil Derner with NYCAviation.com

I have a love-hate relationship with thunderstorms. As a Dispatcher, thunderstorms bring what I feel is the biggest challenge to the job. It is also a Dispatcher’s time to shine and when their pay check is truly earned, making the job fun, rewarding and incredibly satisfying.

The level of challenge sometimes surprises many people because thunderstorms have a relatively short life. Snowstorms present some challenges, but when a blizzard is present, if conditions are that bad, the airport will often shut down in advance or the airline will have canceled enough flights to where the dispatch workload is lighter. Snowstorms are easier to predict and sit over an airfield for a long period of time, so when you can’t get in, you know you’re done for a while. Thunderstorms, on the other hand, tend to pass through a location in about 20-30 minutes. Though fast-moving (average from 25-40mph, or faster!) there are multiple influences that affect the growth, dissipation and speed of the storm, making predicting the time of the storms arrival very challenging. Not to mention that storm cells may be in clusters, where an airport can receive a torrential downpour, while a neighboring town a few miles away can be dry as a bone. Try forecasting that 8 hours out!

Continue reading Lesson in Safety: How Airlines Deal with Thunderstorms

Cathay Pacific Concludes 747 Service to North America

Cathay Cabin crew lined up to bid farewell to their North American 747 operations. Photo - Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay cabin crew lined up to bid farewell to their North American 747 operations – Photo: Cathay Pacific Airways

On August 13, 2014 Cathay Pacific Airways celebrated its last 747 flight of any sort to North America. This is an iconic moment, as Cathay Pacific has been flying the 747 to North America, starting with San Francisco, since 1986. That’s 28 years of daily 747s. Cathay itself has been in the commercial 747 business since August 3, 1979. The actual last 747 flight to San Francisco will take place on August 31.

Cathay Pacific's 747-400 Farewell luncheon took place in San Francisco Airport's museum.  Photo - Cathay Pacific.

Cathay Pacific’s 747-400 farewell luncheon took place in San Francisco Airport’s museum – Photo: Cathay Pacific Airways

Cathay was not going to let this event pass without fanfare. At San Francisco Airport, they hosted a luncheon to celebrate the 747′s service in Cathay’s fleet.

Continue reading Cathay Pacific Concludes 747 Service to North America

Ultimate Airline Livery Challenge #8 – Show Your AvGeek!

How well do you know your airline liveries?

How well do you know your airline liveries?

It is that time again to show how awesome you are at guessing airline liveries. How this works is I give you 12 small parts of an airliner and you need to tell me: #1 what airline does it belong to and #2 what kind of airplane is it?

Some are a little easier and others will be a bit tough, but can you guess all 12? Put your guesses into the comments (don’t cheat and just look at others’ answers). In a few days I will post all the answers with links to the original photos.

Game on!

Flight Review: Experiencing Spirit’s “Bare Fare” Model Firsthand

Spirit's first flight out of Kansas City receives a dual water cannon salute. Photo credit Aaron Wright, KC Aviation Dept.

Spirit’s first flight out of Kansas City receives a dual water cannon salute – Photo: Aaron Wright, KC Aviation Dept.

It’s true, people vehemently despise Spirit Airlines. Just the mention of the company elicits emotion-filled horror stories. Indeed they have a solid 1 out of 5 star rating on TripAdvisor, and they are frequently found at, or near, the top of various “worst airline” rankings. In direct contrast to these ratings and frequent “I’ll never fly Spirit again” claims, the airline continues to grow and increase market share. This begs the question – is the experience really THAT bad? Or, is there something else at play here?

BONUS: The Five Stages of Flying an Ultra Low Cost Carrier (Epic Comic Style) 

In their own defense, Spirit argues that the mass dissatisfaction with them is in large part due to consumers not understanding their progressive, totally unbundled Ultra Low Cost Carrier (ULCC) business model. That assertion seems to hold water. The vast majority of complaints I hear and see are indeed related to “unexpected fees” and being “nickel and dimed” to death. As the well-known cliche goes: “The first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.” Thankfully, Spirit recognizes there is a problem. To that end they recently hired Barkley, a KC-based marketing firm to assist with better educating consumers and promoting what they refer to as a “bare fare.”

"Bare Fare" crop circle spotted in a soy field just north of the KC airport. Photo: Victor Lazo.

“Bare Fare” crop circle spotted in a soy field just north of the KC airport – Photo: Victor Lazo

A few months ago, Kansas City International airport announced that ours would be a new market served by Spirit. Shortly after an unexplained crop circle appeared prompting a lot of curiosity. It turned out the image seen above is the logo for Spirit’s Bare Fare.

I was excited to finally have the opportunity to give them a shot, contrary to the advice of everyone who I’d informed of my intentions. I booked a seat on the first flight out, and this is my honest, unbiased review…

Continue reading Flight Review: Experiencing Spirit’s “Bare Fare” Model Firsthand

The Marines Visit Seattle

A MV-22B Osprey on Approach to Boeing Field

A MV-22B Osprey on approach to Boeing Field

Summer in Seattle means lots of things to locals in the Pacific Northwest.  Long days with the sun setting at 10pm, with Mt. Rainier standing out tall and proud in the skyline.  Blue skies, sun, and outdoor fun, but most of all it means one thing for AvGeeks:  Jet noise!

During the first weekend of August in Seattle is Seafair, and the main attraction has always been the Blue Angels (it also coincides with Fleet Week).  However, this year, things were a little bit different over the skies and on the ground in Seattle.  The United States Marine Corps (USMC) came to town.  They were not going to let the US Navy have all the fun, and this year, it was time to bring Marine Week to Seattle.

The United States Marine Corp takes over the Museum of Flight for Marine Week - Photo: Jennifer Nagle

The United States Marine Corps takes over the Museum of Flight for Marine Week – Photo: Jennifer Nagle

This year the USMC decided to bring Marine Week to Seattle to showcase and honor not only the Marine Corps as a whole, but also how much of a role the Corps has to the local area.  People in Seattle could meet the Marines themselves, learn about what they do, why they do it, and then get to see how they do it.  The biggest part of the weekend would be the Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) demonstration over the skies of Lake Washington.

Continue reading The Marines Visit Seattle