Brussels Airlines – Belgium’s flag carrier and part of the Lufthansa group – was forced to shut down operations completely during the first wave of the pandemic last year. Since reopening they’ve been gradually ramping services up again. And to keep the momentum going they recently revealed a complete livery redesign.

It’s a spin on the Eurowhite look that’s been increasingly popular around the world: a white background without solid colors or cheatlines on the fuselage. There’s no more dotted “B” on the tail either, but dots still make an appearance on the tail and the front of the fuselage. The nine orange dots in a 3×3 grid (the new core logo) are all different sizes, representing the diversity of the airline’s crew and customers.

I think the colors are the strongest part of the new design. The gorgeous deep blue text goes nicely with the red on the tail. The new fonts are an improvement too. But all those dots? I think they work better on the longer A330 (see the lower-right pic above). But on the A320 they cover more of the fuselage, and the plane ends up looking like it has technicolor chicken pox. Your overall opinion of the livery likely depends on your attitude towards the Eurowhite look. But compared with the dated prior livery, it’s definitely a change for the better. Another clear win is that white paint is lighter and reflects more heat, which offers a degree of environmental benefit.

Comment below to let us know what you think of the new look, livery enthusiasts!

All images courtesy of Brussels Airlines. 

A French Bee A350 gets pushed back from the gate at Paris Orly airport

A French Bee Airbus A350 gets pushed back from the gate at Paris Orly Airport

With the United States government’s new policy for international travel starting November 8, we talked with French Bee President Marc Rochet about how that airline will be handling the changes, as well as how they’ve been managing their operations during the pandemic.

“In light of the recent travel ban lift announcement, we will be resuming our flight operations in San Francisco, which connect passengers to Paris-Orly and Tahiti, in November. During the pandemic, we shifted operations to fly through Vancouver and then Toronto to continue the route. We plan to relaunch this popular route three times per week beginning on November 10,” Rochet said.

BONUS: An Economically Elegant Flight to Paris With French Bee

French Bee had originally planned to launch its New York to Paris route in 2020, but put it on hold during the height of the pandemic. Instead, they launched the route to coincide with Bastille Day on July 14, 2021.

“We are very happy to see the U.S. traffic open to French passengers and are ready to put more demand on the Paris to New York route. We will fly at least three times per week from Paris-Orly to Newark. We are preparing to fly at least four times per week in December for Paris-Orly to Newark, and then planning three times per week from SFO to Tahiti,” he said, adding that if there is high demand, they can add more flights.

Paris is slowly opening back up to tourists

Paris is slowly opening back up to tourists

Asked about current consumer travel behavior for international travel bookings, especially to France, Rochet said that, “at this time, only American residents have been able to travel to Europe. Even with these restrictions, we have made a load factor of 60-62% by the end of September, which was really good. We achieved this by arranging cargo flights from Europe.”

Travel rules have been changing frequently over the course of the pandemic. “People are not entirely clear on the travel restrictions yet so there is some hesitancy in booking international trips right now. There’s a lot of clarity missing, but once we have a better understanding from the U.S. administration, we believe we will see a big demand to travel again,” he said.

BONUS: Big Fun During a Behind-the-Scenes Ops Tour at Paris Orly Airport

Looking ahead, Rochet said he “thinks we need to add new Airbus airplanes to our fleet each year because we do anticipate a big demand at the end of the pandemic. We anticipate that business traffic will be low. We expect bookings to increase with families traveling back and forth, as well as students and travelers.”

Paris' Orly Airport, photographed in 2019

Paris’ Orly Airport, photographed in 2019

Asked about how has the pandemic affected marketing efforts, especially when trying to get brand recognition in the U.S., he explained that “When we outlined the Newark to Orly launch plans, we knew we were taking a risk despite the restrictions in place. Since July 2021, we were surprised we have seen so much response from the U.S. market as we are not very well known and new. Our low-fares are important to our customers, so we are satisfied. Most of our travelers were coming to Paris perhaps for family reasons to Paris or the other provinces.”

A French Bee A350 is parked alongside sister airline Air Caraibes at Orly Airport

A French Bee A350 is parked alongside sister airline Air Caraibes at Orly Airport

As many airlines have been doing, French Bee has arranged more cargo flights from Europe using its Airbus A350s, and Rochet said it has provided “a strong avenue for us to continue our flight operations and remain at viable costs.”

“To be specific,” he continued, “the cargo side is quite good one-way (ORY-EWR). For instance, we recently had a flight from Orly to Newark with 12 tons of cargo on board. We have the capacity to carry up to 15-16 tons of cargo but we have a volume constraint. We typically focus on 10-12 tons of cargo at a time. The general trend we are seeing is where the cargo is more volume instead of weight because there is a big demand in e-commerce. To be clear we did not break even or make money. But when you look at the viable costs we are positive (fuel, maintenance, crew), this means we are not losing cash.”

Lastly, when discussing which measures French bee has put in place to ensure customer confidence, Rochet said “We want customers to trust that their safety and health are a top priority at French bee airline every step of their journey. All of our tickets are 100 percent changeable and refundable for all bookings made for travel through March 31, 2022. Additionally, COVID assistance is offered for all trips booked through December 31, 2021. We are also heavily focused on recommending that our airline crew and staff are vaccinated. Today, more than 90 percent of French bee’s crew and staff are already vaccinated.”

A Cessna 182T looks quite similar to a C172; it's just a bit larger overall and has a more powerful engine with a three-blade constant-speed propeller. It's rated for 230hp vs 180hp in a 172SP.

A Cessna 182T looks quite similar to a C172; it has a slightly larger cowling and a more powerful engine with a three-blade constant-speed propeller. It’s rated for 230hp vs 180hp in a 172SP.

Learning opportunities are endless in aviation, and that’s one of the best parts of being a pilot.

Seemingly no sooner did I get checked out in the Diamond DA-40 than Galvin decided to sell off both of their DA-40s. I do love to fly the C172, but I also adored the DA-40. Learning to fly that aircraft, which is more complicated than a C172 with its constant-speed propeller, set me up well to transition to the Cessna 182T Skylane, which has the same style propeller, albeit a three-blade version. The T in 182T stands for turbo, which does wonderful things for the plane’s performance as well as increases pilot workload a fair bit.

The turbo essentially makes the engine think it’s at or close to sea level all the time, which means performance doesn’t taper off with altitude as with naturally-aspirated engines. The tradeoff is that not staying on top of managing the engine temperatures makes it easy to damage the engine or the turbo due to the high heat generated by the turbo and its operation.

The 182T’s engine also has 50hp more than the C172SP I’ve been flying for a couple years now, 230hp vs 180hp. FAA regulations require a high-performance logbook endorsement from a flight instructor to fly aircraft with more than 200hp, so that’s also part of the checkout training for the 182T. Galvin’s house rules require a minimum of five hours flight training time with an instructor for this plane, plus a bit of ground training to be sure the pilot knows the aircraft systems and operating procedures.

Besides being a bit faster than a 172, the 182T has a considerably greater load-carrying capacity and can fly much higher – 20,000′ vs 13,500′ for the C172. The 182T is equipped with a supplemental oxygen system for flying at high altitudes.

Despite all that, the 182T handles much like a 172, if a little nose-heavy due to the larger engine. This particular model has vortex generators on the leading edges of the wings and horizontal stabilizers. This makes it surprisingly difficult to stall. Carl (my very thorough and ever-patient CFI) had me fly it during a power-on stall such that the airspeed read zero on the indicator yet we were still flying and the stall hadn’t broken yet. Super fun.

There are additional controls to manage related to managing the propeller and engine and turbine-inlet temperatures. That makes things like takeoffs, landing approaches, and pattern work quite busy for the pilot, as there’s a lot of new stuff to learn. But with practice, it all becomes manageable.

I’m currently about halfway through the checkout process. The Pacific Northwest fall weather has made flying a game of last-minute weather cancellations. Once things clear up, the next step will be a cross-country flight to an airport I’ve not yet been to, around 100 miles away from Seattle. I have several routes planned out, and the exact choice will be driven by which has the best weather along the route. Stay tuned.

Zara Rutherford after landing in Seattle from Redding, Calif.

Zara Rutherford taxies her plane after landing in Seattle from Redding, Calif.

Piloting a single-engine plane through the mountainous regions of the Pacific Northwest and onward to Alaska in the autumn can be daunting, with plenty of weather and terrain challenges.

Then consider that it’s just one short portion of a round-the-world journey, crossing oceans and landing in more than 50 countries across five continents.

She’s also not instrument rated, which means she is doing the whole trip via visual flight rules.

Zara Rutherford is a 19-year-old Belgian pilot, flying a high-performance Shark Aero ultralight aircraft. If she succeeds in her journey, she will become the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, as well as the youngest person to fly solo around the world in a microlight.

She departed Belgium in August, 2021, and stopped in Seattle Sept. 19, before heading north toward Alaska a couple days later.

A tired, but smiling, Zara Rutherford arrived in Seattle Sept. 19. King County International Airport officials presented her with a gift bag on arrival.

A tired, but smiling, Zara Rutherford arrived in Seattle Sept. 19. King County International Airport officials presented her with a gift bag on arrival; the local apples were apparently well received.

She we greeted by a small crowd of supporters, including representatives from the airport, Museum of Flight and several businesses from the airfield. Shortly after talking with the group of well-wishers, she was taken on a private tour of the museum.

Appropriately enough, we got a chance to chat with Zara in front of the museum’s replica of Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Electra. We only had time for a brief chat, as she was tired from the long flight and still needed to move her plane to its overnight parking location.

Asked about her decision to do the circumnavigation without instrument rating, she simply replied, “why not?”

“I wanted a challenge. I wanted to see the world – not just fly around at X thousand feet,” she said. “If you’re in the overcast you can be anywhere – you can be in Egypt or in Russia – it doesn’t really matter.”

And, something close to this AvGeek’s heart – I wanted to know why she chose this particular light-sport aircraft for such a journey. Her reply was appropriately businesslike: “It has a good cruising speed, good fuel consumption, and good range. And I received a business proposal where they would let me use the plane in exchange for the publicity.”

You can learn more about Zara’s record attempt and follow along here.