Vietnam Airlines Boeing 777 being towed at Frankfurt
American Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, US Airways, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and UPS have agreed to use up to 1.5million gallons of synthetic diesel made from plant waste per year. The fuel would be used to fuel their ground service equipment at Los Angeles International Airport.
Rentech Inc. will be supplying the alternative fuel starting in 2012, made mostly from urban yard waste and clippings. Image: Thomas Becker
Most people only think about aircraft causing much of the pollution in air travel, but there are thousands of support vehicles at each airport that also cause harmful emissions. Rentech is currently in talks with other airlines and airports to increase the fuel’s usage.
Showing the Alaska RNP read outs. Image from AlaskaAir.com
Alaska Airlines is working on ways to save a few million gallons of fuel per year. The fuel savings will not only trickle down to a passenger’s pocketbook, but it would also cut down on environmental and noise pollutions.
Throughout the summer Alaska has been testing next-generation flight procedures at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) that have been dubbed “Greener Skies.”
The new procedure breaks away from the traditional “stair-step” method of descending into an airport. With current protocol, the control tower will assign altitudes airliners will cruise at. The pilot will descend to the new altitude, increase power to maintain the altitude, and wait for the next step. The new process takes advantage of Required Navigation Performance (RNP). With RNP the decent is a smooth, linear, and controlled approach without the need to level off. Alaska says the new system could save 2.1 million gallons of fuel and 22,000 metric tons of carbon emissions per year.
Elliott Pesut, Twitterer for Alaska Airlines, pointed out to me that Alaska is the only major U.S. air carrier with a completely RNP-equipped fleet and fully trained crews. I am sure Alaska won’t be the last. Southwest Airlines recently announced their entire fleet of Boeing 737-700’s have the new technology and are in process of training their flight crews. Alaska is working to gain FAA approval to start using it by next year.
It is great to see an airline taking the leadership role of bringing this technology to the forefront and motivating others to follow suit. I hope that all aircraft at SEA will use the technology and it will spread to all airports and aircraft in the US.
Alaska Airline MD83 at SeaTac
Alaska Airlines has gotten rid of all the blankets and pillows from all 114 planes in its fleet. The airline states it is in response to the recent Swine Flue outbreak and want to increase the sanitization efforts in its planes. They have also been using a virus killing cleaner inside the cabins to take care of any flu viruses left on their aircraft.
Although I have always been a little un-easy using a “shared” blanket and pillow, I wonder why they haven’t gone the route of some other airlines and allow passengers to purchase their own set of blanket and pillow they can keep? Source: Business Journal Image: sfPhotocraft
We can do silly things to get that internet!
On the ground we live in a world of easy communication. Access to the internet is pretty much everywhere, from Wi-Fi, to phones, to city-wide free wireless access. However, the technology has seemed to take a while to find a foot hold in the sky.
It would seem to make sense. People are willing to pay to use the internet at hotspots on the ground (even at the airports) why hasn’t the technology taken off (heh) in the air?
Connexion by Boeing used to be the beacon of hope. Here was a big name (you probably have heard of Boeing if you are reading this blog) that was to provide internet access to passengers on planes. It went online on May 17, 2004 and only lasted until December 31, 2006. Boeing stated, “the market for this service has not materialized as had been expected.”
Prices varied from $9.95 per hour to $29.95 for unlimited access. Even though this might be a little too pricey for some, it would seem cheap enough to provide enough entertainment, communication, and business productivity for those who are dropping at least a few hundred on a ticket.
So, where is the beacon of hope now? One of the brightest beacons is Row 44. It was also created in 2004 around the same time as Connexion, but unlike Boeing it is still around and with a hopeful future.
Row 44 currently has plans to set up trial runs on Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Unfortunately there was been a little delay due to competition for FCC approval. However they are on track now for testing to start in early 2009. The beauty for those of us in North America, is we might have a chance to use the system (Connexion was not in N. America).
One way or another, I have faith that sometime in the near future we will have seamless internet connection from the ground into the air. Many people have already made it clear they don’t want to be sitting next to someone for a few hours talking on their cell phone (including myself), but I know I would love to be entertained (and gosh maybe even write an airline blog) at 30,000 feet in the air.