Around the World

Miles flown for stories
2014: 269,302
2013: 330,818

Touring the Restored First Boeing 747 – Make Your Visit on Oct 18th

The City of Everett looks great in her new coat of paint.

The City of Everett looks great in her new coat of paint

For those of you who have previously visited the Museum of Flight, you know it is a world-class facility and well worth the visit. However, it was always sad looking at the first Boeing 747 sitting outside in bad shape.

As the years passed, the condition of the beauty only got worse. Luckily, things have been changing and now there is one gorgeous Boeing 747 sitting out in the museum’s Airpark.

The red on the stripe and tail once again pop

The red on the stripe and tail once again pop

The museum started renovating the interior back in 2013 and then the exterior this July.

The aircraft was not only the first 747 that flew, on February 9, 1969, but it also became a test-bed for 747 improvements and engine developments for the 777’s GE90.

Continue reading Touring the Restored First Boeing 747 – Make Your Visit on Oct 18th

My Challenge to Only Spend $100 for a Weekend in Kansas City

My travel map for the USA... Could I tick an extra state off that list?

My travel map for the USA… Could I tick an extra state off that list? – Image: TravBuddy.com

Each year I set some travel goals for myself; that way throughout all the craziness that may happen during the year, I have a guideline of the things I want to see or do. OshKosh was on my list, as well as my trip home to Australia back in April. I was able to complete those and needed some additional challenges.

I realized fairly late in the year, after returning from New Zealand, that I had left a goal off my list. Being new to living in the USA, I want to see more of this country that I now call home. I had set a goal to add at least one more state to my list of those visited (I was sitting at 42 and I decided that I wanted to make it to at least 43 by the new year).

My colleagues at Airline Reporter found out about this and thought they would have a bit of fun with it. I could check off a state, but I had to do it for less than $100 and make a whole weekend out of it. I accepted the challenge.

Continue reading My Challenge to Only Spend $100 for a Weekend in Kansas City

Delta Unveils a Special “Spirit of Seattle” Livery – Alaska Responds

Delta unveils special "Spirit of Seattle" livery on a Boeing 737 in Seattle. Image: Delta.

Delta unveils special “Spirit of Seattle” livery on a Boeing 737 (N809DN) in Seattle – Photo: Delta Air Lines

In October, we gave our $.02 on the Delta expansion in Seattle, home base of “partner” Alaska Airlines.  Delta had announced new service on a number of routes that Alaska was already serving.  In theory, this was to feed Delta’s growing international gateway from Seattle.  We opined that it was possible Delta and Alaska were going to start playing hardball.  A couple of days later, news broke that Delta pulled the plug on providing ground services at some Alaska remote stations.   Things haven’t gotten much better in the meantime.

This past week, Delta announced a further expansion in Seattle, launching flights to Vancouver (5x daily) and seasonal service to Fairbanks, Alaska (you can guess who also flies there).  Delta and Alaska are now competing on ten routes out of Seattle.

The Spirit of Seattle seen from the air. Image: Bernie Leighton

The Spirit of Seattle seen from the air – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter.com

Last week, Delta unveiled their newest special aircraft, a Boeing 737-900ER named the Spirit of Seattle.  This is a big deal, because it is rare for Delta to do any sort of special livery. But it seems that Seattle is special enough.

“For 80 years, our customers, employees and partners in Seattle have embraced Delta, and our growth here would not be possible without them,” said Mike Medeiros, Delta’s vice president – Seattle. “The Spirit of Seattle aircraft will proudly bear its name as it travels around the country as a representation of Delta’s history in Seattle and a sign of our thanks and commitment to our future here.”  Delta also points out that they’ve spent $14 million enhancing their passenger facilities in Seattle.

Would Alaska respond? Oh yes…

Continue reading Delta Unveils a Special “Spirit of Seattle” Livery – Alaska Responds

Taking a Look at New Seattle Startup Airline Using a Piaggio: Arrow

A Piaggio P 180 Avanti II at Boeing Field (BFI). Image by Colin Cook / Air

A Piaggio P 180 Avanti II at Boeing Field (BFI). Image by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

It’s not every day that you hear about a new airline starting service. With the immensely strong barriers to entry including existing airlines, financing issues, and federal regulations, there are not many new airlines founded today. Anymore, it seems like the industry is consolidating via mergers, but Arrow is aiming to show that new niche airlines can succeed even in this economy. This new airline is banking on people valuing their time and wanting to avoid the hassle of traveling with traditional airlines and long security lines. I had the opportunity to meet with Arrow CEO Russell Belden this past Monday and take a flight from Seattle to Oakland (and back).

Arrow is unique in few ways. First of which is that it is a private club in which people can purchase memberships ($500 per month with a one year commitment) and then have access to purchase tickets on their aircraft. But unlike other private jet services which operate similarly, Arrow will have scheduled services.

They are planning to launch Seattle (out of Boeing Field – BFI) to Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC), which will cost members about $500 each way. The ticket costs are comparable to a first class ticket on other airlines serving similar routes.

Once Arrow receives 200 membership commitments they will purchase their initial aircraft and make plans to begin service within three months (delivery time-frame for a new plane).

The interior of the Piaggio. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

The interior of the Piaggio. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

Arrow has a target market of business professionals who have much better things to do than simply wait in line. Sure, a flight on Arrow might cost slightly more than a typical first or business class ticket, but isn’t a CEO’s time exceptionally valuable?

Arrow believes they will be able to shave off as much as two hours simply due to eliminating the added hassles of the typical airport experience. With on-board Wi-Fi to be installed on their new aircraft, it will also enable professionals to keep in constant contact and be productive at 30,000 feet. While our test flight did not have Wi-Fi on board, we actually had an intermittent signal on our mobile phones throughout the journey.

She looks as good coming as she does going. Image by Colin Cook / AIrlineReporter.com.

She looks as good coming as she does going. Image by Colin Cook / AIrlineReporter.com.

Arrow has selected quite a distinctive aircraft for their new service – the Piaggio P 180 Avanti II. Looking at the plane, one immediately notices the propellers are facing to the rear. The aircraft is often mistaken for being the Beechcraft Starship with their similar layouts.

This technology enables the aircraft to move quite quickly for a propeller driven plane, reduces turbulence, and makes for a quiet passenger experience. The continuous curvature of the fuselage, starting from the very front, actually provides about 20% of the lift which enables the wings to be smaller. Smaller wings ultimately reduce turbulence which is of course a big win. So even though you are flying in a small plane, we encountered very little turbulence on our flight.

Landing the Piaggio Avanti. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

Landing the Piaggio Avanti. Photo by Colin Cook / AirlineReporter.com.

Fun Fact: We should expect such distinctive design from Piaggio given its Italian heritage. Oh, and Piaggio is owned by Ferrari. The largest operator of the Avanti is the Italian Air Force who uses it for various uses including utility transport operations. If you’ve got a cool seven million dollars, I’d highly recommend adding this plane to your collection!

I asked Mr. Belden why they selected Piaggio and he told me this really was the best option for their planned services. The Avanti II is a very efficient aircraft, burning roughly 100-120 gallons (800 pounds) of fuel per hour. Compared to similar sized jets, this represents approximate 30% improvement. Not only is this aircraft highly efficient, but it can certainly keep up with many private jets.

Our cruising speed was around Mach 0.68 or nearly 500 miles per hour. Even though we had a 70 MPH headwind on the way to California, we still made it in just over two hours. And the return flight was a mere 90 minutes — not bad. Combine that with a comfortable cabin and a quiet passenger experience and you have an aircraft that Arrow believes is destined to succeed.

The Avanti II is certified to operate with either one or two pilots, but Arrow plans to operate with two.

Part of their allure is treating customers like they are rock stars. Rather than needing to be at the airport some 60-90 minutes before a flight, Arrow only asks their passengers to arrive 10-15 minutes prior to departure. But that’s not the only way they save time for their clients. Say you need a rental car or town car at your destination? Arrow will have one waiting for you on the tarmac outside the plane.

One might notice that the colors chosen for the new airline (yellow and black) and the font might look familiar with another Seattle-based small carrier: Kenmore Air.

With a limited number of Air Carrier Certificates and the lengthy process required to obtain one, Arrow has hired Kenmore Air to operate their new service. The planes will still have the Arrow branding, but Kenmore will perform maintenance, operate the service, and the flights will have the Kenmore call sign.

You might want to try and use the restroom before take off.

You might want to try and use the restroom before take off.

As far as pilots, Kenmore Director of Flight Operations Thomas Tilson told me that depending on overall demand, they will utilize a 50/50 mix of existing Kenmore pilots and also hire new ones. This is also not the first time that Kenmore has helped other airlines get off the ground (pun intended).

“We get approached all the time,” Tilson explained to AirlineReporter.com. “Kenmore has done multiple contractual and theoretical planning analyses for companies around the world. We really specialize in turn-key planning efforts. Kenmore really is the world’s authority on float plane operations and translating that success to other areas of the world. For example, we have done planning for operations in China and other places in Asia and South America.”

If this route succeeds, Arrow will begin promoting a LA Area to Bay Area service. Similarly to using two less traveled airports in the Bay Area, they are planning to fly into Long Beach and Burbank in the LA area. Future target markets will be big cities that are 300-800 miles apart as they determined that distance really allows for maximum profitability. If they have success on the west coast, they are considering future city pairs of Boston/Washington D.C., Chicago/New York, and Atlanta/Miami among others.

While Arrow will fly into some lesser traveled airports, they are certainly flying into large markets. In another time saving measure, rather than having to taxi to the main terminal after landing, they have contracted with the local Fixed Base Operator (FBO) to handle their aircraft. The FBO will essentially handle all ground operations for Arrow including fuelling, catering, and rental car services. The other nice part is that generally speaking, Arrow won’t have to queue up and land on the main runway that major carriers must use. For example, Oakland has two runways designed specifically for small aircraft that are located near the FBO.

Arrow's infographic showing time saved by flying them.

Arrow’s infographic showing time saved by flying them.

The biggest challenges facing Arrow will come from established carriers already serving the markets which Arrow enters. While they will not have nearly the capacity that many other carriers have (the Avanti II will be configured to seat nine), Arrow still poses a threat to win business travelers with their superior product.

After experiencing their product this week, I wish them nothing but success going forward.

SOME ADDITIONAL TRIP PHOTOS:

This story written by…Colin Cook, Correspondent.Colin is an avid AvGeek who works in finance and is based in the Seattle area. He has an immense passion for aviation and loves to travel as much as possible.@CRoscoe2121

Delta Air Lines Announces Additional Service Out of Seattle

Delta Air Lines is to start Boeing 747-400 service to Seattle next June. Image by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

Delta Air Lines is to start Boeing 747-400 service to Seattle next June. Image by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren.

Today Delta Air Lines and Alaska Airlines made a joint announcement at Seattle Tacoma International Airport regarding increased service. Some (including myself) were hoping for something a bit more substantial, but more options to/from SEA is always a good thing.

The growth and customer enhancements include (from Delta’s press release):

  • Proposed new nonstop Delta service between Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Shanghai Pu Dong International Airport, pending approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).
  • Proposed new nonstop Delta service between Seattle and Haneda Airport in Tokyo, pending DOT approval.
  • The deployment of Delta’s flagship Boeing 747-400 jet on flights between Seattle and Narita Airport in Tokyo, featuring a fully upgraded interior with full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite, individual in-flight entertainment in every seat throughout the aircraft, expanded overhead bins and other amenities.
  • Newly upgraded Boeing 767-300 aircraft on Delta’s flights between Seattle and Paris, Beijing and Osaka, Japan, also offering full flat-bed seats in BusinessElite and upgraded amenities.
  • Additional nonstop Delta service between Seattle and John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
  • Upgraded BusinessElite service on all Delta Seattle-JFK flights to match the product and amenities of Delta’s JFK service from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
  • Sea-Tac airport improvements including a new Delta Sky Club, new power ports throughout Delta’s facilities, expanded ticket counters, lobby renovations and other improvements.
  • An ongoing partnership between Delta and Alaska that includes codesharing in Seattle and shared customer benefits including reciprocal lounge access and frequent flier programs.

“Delta’s expansion in Seattle will link this important West Coast city even closer with key markets in Asia, boosting its economy, creating jobs and providing benefits to travelers across the Pacific Northwest region,” said Richard Anderson, Delta’s chief executive. “This kind of international growth is possible only because of our partnership with Alaska, and customers of both our airlines will benefit from this newly strengthened relationship.”

This will be the third and only US airline to operate the Boeing 747-400 out of SEA starting on June 1, 2013. The others are British Airways to London and Eva Airways to Taipei.