Archive for the ‘airlines’ Category

PAY-woman-has-flight-to-herself

A lucky woman found that she was the only person on a commercial flight back to her hometown after all the other passengers failed to turn up.

The flight had been delayed for 10 hours, and impatient passengers had already taken earlier flights, turning the plane into a charter flight for the lone, fortunate passenger.

The woman, surnamed Zhang, documented her unique experience on social media when boarding the flight after midnight and realising she was the only one aboard.

China Southern Airlines flight CZ2833 from Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province, was delayed for 10 hours because of an unexpected snowstorm, which caused all the other passengers to switch planes.

Before take-off, a flight attendant ushered Zhang onto the plane and told her she would be taking a “charter flight” – meaning she could sit anywhere she wanted for the flight back to her hometown in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei Province.

The flight attendants even took photos with Zhang, who also had the pleasure of sharing an orange with the pilot, who landed the plane safely at 2am.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/worlds-luckiest-plane-passenger-woman-7299162

by Ashley Dove-Jay

The aircraft industry is expecting a seven-fold increase in air traffic by 2050, and a four-fold increase in greenhouse gas emissions unless fundamental changes are made. But just how “fundamental” will those changes need to be and what will be their effect on the aircraft we use?

The crucial next step towards ensuring the aircraft industry becomes greener is the full electrification of commercial aircraft. That’s zero CO2 and NOx emissions, with energy sourced from power stations that are themselves sustainably fuelled. The main technological barrier that must be overcome is the energy density of batteries, a measure of how much power can be generated from a battery of a certain weight.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has said that once batteries are capable of producing 400 Watt-hours per kilogram, with a ratio of power cell to overall mass of between 0.7-0.8, an electrical transcontinental aircraft becomes “compelling”.

Given that practical lithium-ion batteries were capable of achieving energy-densities of 113Wh/kg in 1994, 202Wh/kg in 2004, and are now capable of approximately 300Wh/kg, it’s reasonable to assume that they will hit 400Wh/kg in the coming decade.

Another aspect is the exponential fall in the cost of solar panels, which have already become the cheapest form of power in most US states. The expected 70% reduction in cost of lithium-ion batteries by 2025, and the rapid rise seen in the cost of kerosene-based jet fuel means that there will be a large and growing disparity in the costs of running aircraft that will greatly favour electrification. As is often the case, the reasons that will slow transition are not technological, but are rooted in the economic and political inertia against overturning the status-quo.

Biofuels while we wait

Considering the average service-life of passenger and freight aircraft are around 21 and 33 years respectively, even if all new aircraft manufactured from tomorrow were fully electric, the transition away from fossil-fuelled aircraft would take two to three decades.

In the meantime, biofuel offers carbon emissions reductions of between 36-85%, with the variability depending on the type of land used to grow the fuel crops. As switching from one fuel to another is relatively straightforward, this is a low-hanging fruit worth pursuing before completely phasing out combustion engines.

Even though a biofuel-kerosene jet fuel blend was certified in 2009, the aircraft industry is in no hurry to implement change. There are minor technological hurdles and issues around scaling up biofuel production to industrial levels, but the main constraint is price – parity with fossil fuels is still ten years away.

The adoption of any new aircraft technology – from research, to design sketches, to testing and full integration – is typically a decade-long process. Given that the combustion engine will be phased out by mid-century, it would seem to make more economic and environmental sense to innovate in other areas: airframe design, materials research, electric propulsion design and air traffic control.

Bringing aircraft to life

In terms of the cost of computational power, computer technology is advancing more each hour today than it did in its entire first 90 years. With this in mind we can project that the equivalent of a US$1,000 computer today will by 2023 be more powerful than the potential brainpower of a human and, by 2045, will surpass the brainpower equivalent to all human brains combined.

The miniaturisation of digital electronics over the past half-century has followed a similar exponential trend, with the size of transistor gates reducing from approximately 1,000 nanometres in 1970 to 23 nanometres today. With the advent of transistors made of graphene showing great promise, this is expected to fall further to about 7 nanometres by 2025. By comparison, a human red blood cell is approximately 6,200-8,200 nanometres wide.

Putting together this increase in computational power and decrease in circuit size, and adding in the progress made with 3D-printing, at some point in the next decade we will be able to produce integrated computers powerful enough to control an aircraft at the equivalent of the cellular level in near real-time – wireless interlinking of nano-scale digital devices.

Using a biologically-inspired digital “nervous system” with receptors arranged over the aircraft sensing forces, temperatures, and airflow states could drastically improve the energy efficiency of aircraft, when coupled to software and hardware mechanisms to control or even change the shape of the aircraft in response.

Chopping the tail

Once electric aircraft are established, the next step will be to integrate a gimballed propulsion system, one that can provide thrust in any direction. This will remove the need for the elevators, rudders, and tailplane control surfaces that current designs require, but which add significant mass and drag.

The wings we are already designing are near their peak in terms of aerodynamic efficiency, but they still do no justice to what nature has achieved in birds. Aircraft design templates are a century old – constrained by the limitations of the day then, but technology has since moved on. We no longer need to build wings as rigid structures with discrete control surfaces, but can turn to the natural world for inspiration. As Richard Feynman said:

I think nature’s imagination is so much greater than man’s, she’s never going to let us relax.

http://www.iflscience.com/technology/what-commercial-aircraft-will-look-2050

An American Airlines flight en route from Los Angeles to New York had to make an emergency landing last Thursday because a woman wouldn’t stop singing I Will Always Love You, CNN reports.

The flight landed in Kansas City to remove the woman from the plane.

“The passenger was detained, not arrested, and then released pending further investigation by the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) and federal air marshals,” airport spokesman Tom McKenna said, according to a report from CNN affiliate KMBC.

“I can confirm that she was singing I Will Always Love You as she was escorted off the plane.” McKenna said.

A passenger on the flight recorded video of the woman singing the chorus to the song while police escorted her off the plane.

Dolly Parton released the original version of the song in 1974 and Whitney Houston covered it for the 1992 movie The Bodyguard

http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/WeirdNews/2013/05/14/20820636.html

Fat-Guy-300x260

A tiny Samoa airline is giving passengers a big reason to lose weight: Tickets sold not by the seat, but by the kilogram. Samoa Air is pricing its first international flights based on the weight of its passengers and their bags. Depending on the flight, each kilogram (2.2 pounds) costs 93 cents to $1.06. That means the average American man weighing 195 pounds with a 35-pound bag would pay $97 to go one-way between Apia, Samoa, and Pago Pago, American Samoa. Competitors typically charge $130 to $140 roundtrip for similar routes.

The weight-based pricing is not new to the airline, which launched in June. It has been using the pricing model since November, but in January the U.S. Department of Transportation approved its international route between American Samoa and Samoa. The airline’s chief executive, Chris Langton, said that “planes are run by weight and not by seat, and travelers should be educated on this important issue. The plane can only carry a certain amount of weight and that weight needs to be paid. There is no other way.”

Langton, a pilot himself, said when he flew for other airlines, he brought up the idea to his bosses to charge by weight, but they considered weight as too sensitive an issue to address. “It’s always been the fairest way, but the industry has been trying to pack square pegs into round holes for many years,” he said.

Travelers in the region already are weighed before they fly because the planes used between the islands are small, said David Vaeafe, executive director of the American Samoa Visitors Bureau. Samoa Air’s fleet includes two nine-passenger planes for commercial routes and a three-passenger plane for an air taxi service. Langton said passengers who need more room will be given one row on the plane to ensure comfort.

The new pricing system would make Samoa Air the first to charge strictly by weight, a change that Vaeafe said is, “in many ways… a fair concept for passengers. For example, a 12- or 13-year-old passenger, who is small in size and weight, won’t have to pay an adult fare, based on airline fares that anyone 12 years and older does pay the adult fare,” he said.

Vaeafe said the pricing system has worked in Samoa but it’s not clear whether it will be embraced by travelers in the U.S. territory. Langton said the airline has received mixed responses since it began promoting the pricing on its website and Facebook. Langton said some passengers have been surprised, but no one has refused to be weighed yet. He said he’s given away a few free flights to some regular customers who lost weight, and that health officials in American Samoa were among the first to contact the airline when the pricing structure was announced.

“They want to ride on the awareness this is raising and use it as a medium to address obesity issues,” he said.

Islands in the Pacific have the highest rates of obesity in the world. According to a 2011 report by the World Health Organization, 86 percent of Samoans are overweight, the fourth worst among all nations. Only Samoa’s Pacific neighbors Nauru, the Cook Islands and Tonga rank worse. In comparison, the same study found that 69 percent of Americans are overweight, 61 percent of Australians, and 22 percent of Japanese. Samoa ranked just as poorly in statistics measuring those who are obese, or severely overweight.

Samoa’s Director General of Health, Palanitina Toelupe, said the airline’s plans could be a good way to promote weight loss and healthy eating. “It’s a very brave idea on their part,” she said. She added that flying on the airline may become too expensive for some large people and that the charging system could only ever be a small part of a larger strategy on weight issues. She said she’d be interested in meeting with the airline to discuss working together.

Ana Faapouli, an American Samoa resident who frequently travels to Samoa, said the pricing scheme will likely be profitable for Samoa Air. “Samoa Air is smart enough to find ways to benefit from this service as they will be competing against two other airlines,” Faapouli said.

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57577683/samoa-airline-introduces-pay-by-weight-pricing/

plane

Dutch airline Transavia said it has launched an investigation after a Boeing 737 pilot was locked out of the cockpit and his first officer was later found asleep at the controls.

The incident took place in September, when the airliner was en route from Greece to the Netherlands, a top Dutch safety investigation agency said. The 737 landed safely in Amsterdam as scheduled, the airline said Wednesday.

According to a Dutch Safety Board report released Wednesday, the pilot stepped out of the cockpit to take a bathroom break about 2½ hours into the flight.

When he returned a short time later, the pilot used an intercom to ask his first officer to open the door. There was no answer, the report said.

Eventually, the pilot alerted the crew and was able to open the door himself. That’s when he found the first officer asleep, according to the report.

“It’s a serious incident,” said Wim van der Weegen of the Dutch Safety Board, “What makes it serious is the combination of the pilot being unable to access the cockpit and the first officer being asleep.

“By ‘serious incident,’ I mean the flight was in danger,” he said.

The Dutch Safety Board will decide whether to open its own inquiry when the airline’s investigation is finished, van der Weegen said.

Laws regarding pilot breaks during flights vary from country to country. For U.S. carriers, sleeping while at the controls is a violation of FAA regulations. Flights longer than eight hours require a relief pilot on board to take over when pilots sleep.

U.S. airlines also require a flight attendant to be in the cockpit when the pilot or first officer take bathroom breaks, in case the person flying the aircraft becomes incapacitated.