An Allegiant A320 in the current livery, seen at Kansas City International – Photo: C.T. Thongklin
Late last month Allegiant announced plans to acquire twelve new Airbus A320s. Airlines make fleet announcements often, but this one was of particular significance for a number of reasons.
Allegiant’s order for new A320s:
First, this order for brand-new planes, direct from Airbus, signals a change in standard operating procedure for the Las Vegas-based ultra-low-cost carrier (ULCC). Historically, Allegiant had shirked the trend of its ULCC peers, both domestically and abroad, of adopting fuel-efficient, modern aircraft. Instead, the airline has had a well-known preference for less costly mid-to-late life secondhand McDonnell Douglas MD-80 series planes. Cheaper planes equate to lower fares, and higher margins. This concept is not new; many budget carriers have used that model and benefited greatly from it (some have not). Allegiant is no exception. The airline is so well known for this preference, in fact, that few realize that the airline began acquiring Airbus aircraft in 2013. I myself was surprised to learn that the number of available seat miles flown by Allegiant’s Airbus fleet is nearly tied with that of their larger McDonnell Douglas fleet. Jude Bricker, Allegiant Travel Company senior vice president of planning, confirms expectations that the Airbus fleet will tip the scales by the close of 2016.
Older, used Airbus planes are known for being attractively priced. This is something Allegiant saw as early as 2012 when the airline announced plans to acquire its first batch of A319s. Then-President Andrew C. Levy stated, “A319 asset values have significantly declined and now mirror the environment we saw when we first began buying MD-80s.” While Airbus has focused much of its attention on pushing its newer and higher priced NEO (new engine option) models, it seems existing Airbus variants and future current engine option (CEO) deliveries are well positioned to become as ubiquitous as the much loved, budget friendly, long-lived MD-80s they are slowly but steadily replacing.
Allegiant’s newest (employee-approved) livery iteration:
Alongside this announcement, the airline unveiled plans for an incremental livery modification. Two final contenders were chosen, and employees were given an option to vote on which would be adopted.
Allegiant announces A320 purchase and new livery candidates – Image: Allegiant’s Facebook
Which did the employees choose?
This is the Germanwings Airbus A320 (D-AIPX) involved in the crash, seen on 3/14/15 at Zurich Airport – Photo: Aero Icarus | Flickr CC
Today, a Germanwings Airbus A320 (registration D-AIPX) crashed in the Alps in southeastern France. The aircraft was carrying 144 passengers and six crew members and there are no survivors. The flight left at about 10:01am local time from Barcelona and was on its way to Dusseldorf. The crash happened near the village of Prads-Haute-Bleaone, at an altitude of about 6,550 feet. The search will be difficult, since the plane crashed in a remote, mountainous area.
The descent of flight 9525 – Image: Google Earth | @GueardedDon
According to FlightAware, it appears that flight 9525 descended in a controlled manner from 38,000 feet at 1500 to 4000 fpm. The aircraft hit cruise altitude at about 10:45am and then started descent at 10:46am and lost contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) at about 10:53am.
The AirAsia Airbus A320 in question (PK-AXC) seen here in 2010. On December 28, 2014, this plane would be used on AirAsia Flight QZ8501 that has now been confirmed crashed – Photo: Bruno Geiger | Flickr CC
On December 28th, at 6:12 am local time, Indonesia AirAsia flight QZ8501, traveling from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore, went missing over the Java Sea. On Tuesday the 30th, wreckage of the plane was discovered in the general area where the last known location was, confirming that QZ8501 had crashed.
The aircraft involved was an Airbus A320-216 registered PK-AXC. Contact was lost with the flight as it was climbing to a higher altitude to avoid weather, which is a standard operating procedure.
There were 155 passengers and seven crew. The cause of crash will likely not be known for quite some time still.
This story will be updated as new information is received. Last updated 12/30/2014 6:40am PST.
Route map of QZ8501 showing it disappearing somewhere over the Java Sea – via Jason Rabinowitz on FlightRadar24
AirAsia Flight QZ8501 Updates
12/30 7:20am PST: The worst has been confirmed, flight AirAsia flight QZ8501 crashed into the Java Sea and officials have found wreckage and the remains of passengers on board. They discovered the wreckage about 100nm southwest of Pangkalan Bun in Borneo. Rescuers will continue to search for bodies, wreckage, and of course the flight data recorder (aka black boxes). The black boxes and parts of the fuselage have technologies so rescuers can more easily discover them.
According to aviation journalist Jason Rabinowitz, the fuselage has Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELTs), which are used to find debris above water and Underwater Locator Beacons (ULBs), which are located with the boxes, are used when they are underwater. “Every commercial aircraft has multiple location technologies on board,” Rabinowitz explained to AirlineReporter. “ELTs are located in several spots on the aircraft. These transmitters emit a signal that can be received by other aircraft, boats, or even satellites. However, they do not work once submerged in water.”
“Attached to each black box is an ULB. These beacons are activated once in water and emit a ping over a very specific radio frequency. The ULB has a very short range, and must be picked up by boats passing over the area. The battery typically lasts for around 30 days.”
AirAsia has released another statement:
SURABAYA, 30TH DECEMBER 2014 – AirAsia Indonesia regrets to inform that The National Search and Rescue Agency Republic of Indonesia (BASARNAS) today confirmed that the debris found earlier today is indeed from QZ8501, the flight that had lost contact with air traffic control on the morning of 28th.
The debris of the aircraft was found in the Karimata Strait around 110 nautical miles south west from Pangkalan Bun. The aircraft was an Airbus A320-200 with the registration number PK-AXC. There were 155 passengers on board, with 137 adults, 17 children and 1 infant. Also on board were 2 pilots, 4 cabin crews and one engineer.
At the present time, search and rescue operations are still in progress and further investigation of the debris found at the location is still underway. AirAsia Indonesia employees have been sent to the site and will be fully cooperating with BASARNAS, National Transportation Safety Committee (NTSC), and relevant authorities on the investigation.
Sunu Widyatmoko, Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia Indonesia said: “We are sorry to be here today under these tragic circumstances. We would like to extend our sincere sympathies to the family and friends of those on board QZ8501. Our sympathies also go out to the families of our dear colleagues.”
Tony Fernandes, Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia added: “I am absolutely devastated. This is a very difficult moment for all of us at AirAsia as we await further developments of the search and rescue operations but our first priority now is the wellbeing of the family members of those onboard QZ8501.”
Photo of the US Airways A320 from @han_horan
US Airways flight 1702 from Philadelphia (PHL) to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) slid off the end of the runway at PHL after an aborted take off. The flight was scheduled to take off at 5:50pm EST with 149 passengers and five crew.
The airport has reported via their Twitter account that the “Nose gear of plane collapsed on runway. The incident is under investigation. All passengers safely evacuated. No reported injuries.” The airport has done a great job keeping passengers up to date with their their situation.
This incident once again shows the power of social media and how stories and photos can quickly circulate around the internet. There has even been a selfie of the wrecked aircraft posted, which has gone viral in both mainstream media and social media.
The airport was on a ground stop while handling the situation.
Just before 8:00pm, US Airways posted on Twitter, “Initial reports flt 1702 PHL-Fort Lauderdale blew a tire on takeoff & takeoff was aborted. We are taking care of our customers & crew.”
The Association of Flight Attendants reports that, “there are no crew injuries and only minor injuries to passengers.”
US Airways released a statement: “Initial reports indicate Flight 1702 from Philadelphia to Fort Lauderdale blew a tire on takeoff and the pilot elected to abort takeoff. Our crew safely evacuated the passengers and one person has requested medical assistance. We are re-accommodating passengers on a new aircraft, which is scheduled to depart later this evening.”
Image of the plane off the runway by @JimmyStyle
This story is developing…