A rendering of the inside of Lufthansa’s Patient Transport Compartment, the “flying ICU” – Image: Lufthansa
Lets face it, nobody wants to need medical care while on board a plane. And yet, with a huge number of people traveling by air everyday, it’s inevitable that it will happen with some regularity. In fact if you travel by air regularly, you have probably heard the flight attendants ask over the PA if there is a “medical professional onboard.”
Any malady that can occur on the ground can happen in the air, and the altitude while on a commercial aircraft can even exacerbate certain medical conditions. That means that some people may be more likely to need medical assistance in the air than they do on the ground.
For German airline Lufthansa, there are about 3,000 passenger medical emergencies that occur on board each year. Of those, an average of 54 emergencies are serious enough that they require the flight to be diverted so that a patient can obtain urgent medical care. I recently had a chance to sit down with the airline and learn how they cope with these situations. Not only is the airline well prepared for any emergency that may arise in flight, they are also ready to treat those who need care before they board the aircraft.
The 1,500th Boeing 747 (70th 747-8) sitting on the flight line at Paine Field
The 747 Jumbo Jet is an iconic aircraft. For years, it was the only double-deck commercial airliner and for many it is a favorite. From its first flight in 1969, the 747 has changed quite a bit. The newest iteration, the 747-8, might sport a similar shape to the original 747 or the 747-400, but it is quite a different beast (more than just LED lighting). This past weekend, the 1,500th 747 was delivered to Lufthansa Airlines. About a week earlier, Boeing took the opportunity to talk about their largest commercial airliner and its future relevance.
LN1500 lining up for take off – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
I was invited to Boeing’s factory in Everett to sit down with Eric Lindblad, vice president and general manager of the 747 program, and we had a down-to-earth conversation about where the 747 has been, where it is today, and where Boeing is hoping it is going.
The big message that Lindblad wanted to get across is, “this is not your mother’s 747.” Not only is the 747-8I a very different aircraft than the 747-400, but the 70th 747-8 is much more efficient than the first one, and they plan to keep making it more efficient.
It is not very often that you see one of these parked on a street corner in Lower Manhattan
Let’s face it, airline food doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation. For many people, it is thought of as bland, mushy, overcooked, or any one of a plethora of other unappetizing adjectives. Those who actually look forward to airline food are few and far between. While I have personally had some delicious food onboard (I’m looking at you, JetBlue and Virgin America), I have also been served things that rank highly on my list of the worst things I have ever eaten.
When it comes to long-haul flying on international airlines, your prospects for getting a quality meal may improve. Airlines such as Lufthansa consider themselves among the premier airlines in the world, and realize that providing a tasty and nutritious meal is an essential part of the passenger experience.
Recently, I had the chance to meet with a team from Lufthansa and its subsidiary LSG Sky Chefs in New York City to learn about what factors go into making a great onboard meal.
Composite image of a Lufthansa Boeing 777-9X – Image: Lufthansa
Today, Lufthansa Airlines announced a major long-haul order split between the Airbus A350-900 and the Boeing 777-9X. The airline stated it would be adding at least 24 777-9X and 25 of the Airbus A350-900 to their fleet starting as early as 2016. The order is worth about $19 billion USD at list prices, although it is very likely that the airline received a substantial discount from both manufacturers.
Of course, the most interesting part of this order is the fact that Boeing has not officially launched the 777-9X.