Archive for the ‘airlines’ Category

How the Giant Airbus A380 is a Fuel-Hungry Dinosaur and How Smaller Mammals are Eating Its Eggs – The 80 Meter Box

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

Here you go, let’s take a look at two recent flights out of SFO.

An Airbus A380:

7J7C2367 copy

And here’s a Boeing 777, which is an older design, but it’s not yet a flying dinosaur:

7J7C2326A copy

Here’s why. What are the differences you see? Doesn’t the A380 look sort of stubby to you? Part of that has to do with the 80 Meter Box, which is the reason why the wingspan is 79 point-something meters. The wings were made as long as possible, so they just barely fit inside that box. The result is a design that isn’t aerodynamically efficient. Also the wings were made too big and too strong* in order to accommodate anticipated future stretched models. So that means that if the A380 never gets stretched, then it will be burdened by too short, too strong wings for its whole life. (And look at the A380’s huge tailplane in the back – that’s another sign of its stubbiness. It’s too close the wings, so it needs to be bigger and heavier, ala the even-stubbier Boeing 747SP.) Future 777s will have folding wingtips, the better to be long and thin in flight, but easier to move about the gate area. Mmmm…

Also, four engines vs. two. Well, if you want to build big big big, then four engines is the way to go, but why would you want to build so big? Well, efficiencies, but landing slots at big international airports aren’t as precious as Airbus anticipated. If you think that international flight will grow spectacularly and that the hub and spoke system will dominate, well then, yeah, it’d be nice to get as many passengers as possible into the limited number of flights you’re allowed. But that’s not the point we’re at now, so maybe Airbus built the A380 “too soon?” It’s sure looking that way. And then Airbus is stuck with four older-style engines sucking up fuel. Unless, they want to hang newer style engines off of the wings, but that change would take a long time and cost a lot of money. But then it’d still be too stubby.

It’s incredible how it is was billed as some kind of revolutionary “green” aircraft just eight years ago. Anyway, that’s the fuel-hungry dinosaur part.

Now, where are the smaller mammals? Well they’re coming, they’re the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350. Look at what you can do with them – you can more easily avoid those those big, crowded airports, right?

So we’ll just have to wait and see how things go for the A380. Maybe the world will change soon enough for the A380 to start making sense, despite its shortcomings. But until that happens, the A380 is nothing but a superjumbo jobs program, something the Euros can waste $20 billion of development money on, to put workers to work, all over Europe and in a few American states as well.

(It’s like the Concorde program all over again, spending big bucks to sell thirsty four-engined aircraft at less than cost.)

Oh well.

IMO, if Airbus wanted a big hub and spoke airliner, it should have built a big big twinjet, which would have fit into the 80 meter (or whatever) box more efficiently.

Boxes are efficient for watermelons, but not for jetliners – that’s how it works.

It’s halftime for the A380 and it’s down by three touchdowns.

Oh well.

Maybe it was just a bad idea…

*Or I should say designed too strong. The wing crack issue is there, but it doesn’t go to show how the A380 was fundamentally a bad idea for its time. It was just something that happened. My point is that the wings on the current and only A380 don’t really match the rest of the current and only A380, even leaving aside the 80 Meter Box

Cowboy Pilots, Air Safety and the Metric System: A Modest Defense of Fox News on AirAsia Flight QZ8501

Monday, December 29th, 2014

So cue the outrage here.

I don’t watch the cable TV news myself, but here are a few points:

1. American-style measurements are all over the aviation industry, like measurement of speed (in nautical miles per hour) and altitude (in feet). Pilot confusion with differing measurement systems has killed passengers and crew IRL.

2. And yes, international travel isn’t as safe as domestic travel, for a host of reasons. American pilots have better training, on average, and they have an easier job of it, not having to deal with the Intertropical Convergence Zone and Russian paramilitaries, for starters. Not a single passenger has died due to a crash on a domestic flight on a large (we’re talking about something bigger than a private jet or a regional airliner) jet since 9/11. And if you want to talk about international flight on 100+ seat jets either going to or coming from America, we’ve lost a total of three passengers (on an Asiana flight at SFO) since 2001, that horrible year.

3. And the thing about cowboys – that’s a reference to the Boeing / American approach to automation vs. the Airbus / international approach. So a “cowboy” pilot has greater power to do something stupid, but also a greater ability to get out of trouble. A “cowboy” is more likely to have military experience. A cowboy is the opposite of a “college boy.” Oddly enough, the computer-assisted cowboy and cowgirl pilots are doing better, on average, than the auto pilot-reliant college boys and girls.

The job of these hosts is to be appealing (by looking good in a suit or a fuchsia(?) minidress(?), to look somber (due to the tragedy) and to goad the invited expert into saying what s/he knows in an interesting way. Seems as if they were getting that job done.

So yeah, asking about the metric system sounds like a stupid question, I’ll agree. But everything the hosts were talking about comes from real life, it comes from someplace. It’s not just Fox News waving the flag.

IMO.

So laugh at Fox if you want, but they’re doing their job better than Jezebel / Isha Aran is doing its job of debunking Fox News. And, bonus, Fox News consulted an expert and Jezebel, which doesn’t know much about aviation, did not.

So, Fox News 1, Jezebel 0.

The End of an Era: 2014 is the Last Time Any Airline Will Boast of Its Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets – Air China’s 747-8

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

I was surprised to see this ad:

Air_China copy

Here’s how things looked back in 1968:

747 copy

And here’s how things looked back in 2008 for Boeing’s jumbo jet competition, the Airbus A380.

Where’s our jumbo jet scorecard?

Boeing 747 1st Generation = SUCCESS! Unquestionably, but now obsolete

Boeing 747 2nd Generation = SUCCESS! Unquestionably, but pretty much obsolete

Airbus A380 1st Generation = FAILURE! Pretty much. A big money pit for Airbus

Boeing 747 3rd Generation = FAILURE! Approaching obsolescence faster than expected 

See a pattern here?

Here’s How Larry Ellison Runs His Hawaiian Airline: $4000 Bonuses Paid to Pilots at “Island Air” Being Recalled

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Why would you give people a bonus right before the holidays and then take it back right before the holidays?

And then you plan on giving the money back* again next year, maybe?

What a mess!

Hey, here’s a solution for LE.

Why not just sell your POS Toyota LFA and then use the proceeds to fund the bonuses?

Oh, here it is, parked on Van Ness in front of the House of Prime Rib:

IMG_0822-copy

That would cover it.

(Now, here’s the thing about the LFA. The suits at Toyota felt the program was taking waaaay too long, which it was, so they said, “Forget about the tranny, just finish that car!” So they slapped in a slushbox** and called it a day. That “awful” transmission totally doesn’t match the rest of the car. Oh well! But don’t take my word for it… [“One big giant squirrel.” “Awful transmission.”]

Anyway, this is the kind of thing what makes up your Legacy, Larry.

Don’t you care about your Legacy, Larry?

Or, if not, do you care about unnecessarily pissing off all your pilots? 

*These bonuses weren’t exactly Christmas Bonuses, they were WE’RE FINALLY GETTING NEW AIRPLANES Bonuses. So I guess the Island Air people weren’t happy with the Airbussy prop planes they bought, so now they want to switch over to the Canadian competition? And then there was some kind of bonus for the pilots connected to that. Which planes would be best? Well, you just don’t know. You’ll never know, actually. Perhaps Island Air just doesn’t make sense as a bidness? I’ll tell you, back in the 1990’s people’d be trying to start up inter-island airlines just for the PR value, just to have fun. The idea would be to lose money on the airline (ooh look, we have all-jet aircraft!) to build up goodwill to use for another purpose. It didn’t work out..)

**Look at all those words in Wikipedia about the chassis and engine and then there’s just one line about the awful transmission…

What’s This – Asiana Airlines is Actually Happy About Its Recent 45-Day Ban from SFO? And Its Stock Price is Up?

Monday, November 17th, 2014

Man, this recent report on Asiana Flight 214 from Anadolu Agency, the official press agency in Turkey(!), sure is informative – every line is pure gold.

Check it:

“We have two weeks to appeal and nothing is set in stone, but we are still considering what to do because to be honest we have got off light,” said the man, who did not wish to be named given the sensitivity of the case.

Well gee, this is true or somewhat true or not at all – how do you prove it? IDK. But man, this is not good for Asiana to have an employee/insider celebrating like this, for various reasons.

Three people died – one of them run over by a fire truck responding to the scene – and more than 180 of the 307 passengers and crew on board the Boeing 777 were injured when it clipped a sea wall and crashed into a runway at San Francisco airport on July 6 last year.

The SFFD gets a lot of criticism over its performance on that day, at least from outside of SF. (Here’s the rosier view from inside SF, FYI.)

United States National Transportation Safety Board officials have accused the pilots of mismanaging the landing due to a failure to manage speed and altitude, along with a reliance on an automatic throttle they didn’t fully understand.

Yep. It could be that it’s especially hard to learn on a modern Airbus and then switch over to the Boeing system. People should be looking into this…

“We can choose when to start the suspension, and if we do it during our off-peak season the damages will be greatly reduced,” he added.

Again, it’s OK to think this, but you shouldn’t come out and say this, IMO

The source said that he expected Korean Air – Asiana’s main rival – to be furious with the decision. As evidence, he highlighted that its services to Guam were stopped for more than four years after a 1997 crash claimed 228 lives, and that it was one of only two airlines that fly into South Korea’s Incheon International Airport that had refused to petition for leniency for Asiana – the other being its budget division Jin Air.

Sounds kind of petty, Korean Air.

Asiana had argued that suspensions had not been shown to improve safety.

Mmmm… I’m inclined to agree. I’m not sure about the effectiveness of this old school-style punishment.

The company’s stocks rallied on the local KOSPI bourse on Friday, rising 4.58 percent as the lighter-than-expected suspension was announced.

Did not know that.

You know, there are still a lot of stories to tell about Asiana 214. Like what about the people that received serious injuries – how are they doing?

On it goes…

Whoa: Asiana Airlines Flights To and From SFO “Likely” to be Suspended for as much as Four Months – Punishment for Flight 214

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

From San Francisco-based military writer Kyle Mizokami comes word of a plan to temporarily suspend Asiana Airlines flights between Incheon International Airport (ICN) and SFO:

Asiana Faces Suspension of San Francisco Flights

“Under the plan, the ministry will ask Korean Air to use larger aircraft on the Incheon-San Francisco route to increase the number of seats, bring in chartered planes, or channel passengers on transit routes. A senior ministry official recently visited concerned lawmakers at the National Assembly to brief them on the plan.”

Does this seem real to you? It seems real to me. Or perhaps elements of the Republic of Korea are trying to scare Asiana straight after the Flight 214 disaster?

Korean Air currently uses Boeing 747 and 777 aircraft on this route – might it be tough for it to expand capacity just for a few months? IDK. I can’t think of too many options for KA to use planes larger than these, excepting for one or two of their ten newish double-decker superjumbo Airbus A380’s, but it’s not like those aircraft are just sitting around waiting to be used this way.

This suspension idea doesn’t make sense to me – I suppose we’ll find out tonight…

[UPDATE: Well, a 45 suspension just got handed down, but Asiana wants to appeal the decision.]

It’s Finally Happening: Emirates Airlines Launches Daily Airbus A380 Superjumbo Service Between SFO and Dubai December 1st

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014

Well I just saw a banner ad, so consider that confirmation that, as of December 1st, 2014*, Emirates is finally offering daily flights to and from Dubai out of SFO on its shower-stall equipped** Airbus A380 double-decker superjumbos.

So, chalk that up as a victory for SFO.

Here’s your Emirates A380, equipped with a horseshoe bar in the back, upstairs, for Business and First Class passengers only:

img_0322-copy

It was back in 2008 that Emirates brought a then-new A380 to town, to show it off. Get all the deets on that visit right here.

But, IRL, they ended up using the smaller Boeing 777-300ER twinjet instead. When asked, the Emirates people said they were “considering” the A380 for daily flights to and from SFO. Well, six years later, the day has come.

Oh, here’s my take on SFO + A380 readiness right here. IMO, the A380 was, is, and will continue to be Just Another Airplane. Sorry.

Oh well.

*The writer is saying that the new, longer-range A380’s are lighter?  Uh, I think he should have said heavier instead. More fuel = more range, right? That’s the case here. It’s still a very heavy aircraft, one that’s still heavier than designed…

**What happens to your used shower water after your five-minute-max spritz is over? Emirates wanted to dump it out in-flight but I don’t think they got permission to do that. So, there’s a holding tank that gets emptied out after landing. So, Emirates needs to burn more fuel to carry a useless load of soapy water waste water. Not too “green,” huh? Oh well.

I’ve Never Seen an Aircraft Flying Around Without a Registration Number – And Yet This Was Over the Stanford Game

Monday, September 15th, 2014

This is new on me:

7J7C6708 copy

Boy, this aircraft/banner combo seems familiar:

7J7C6709 copy

Here are some of my other beefs against the flying banner ad biz in the bay area.

A380 Superjumbo Update: Where’s Your Messiah Now, SFO? Things Just Aren’t Working Out with the Big Airbus

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Even back six years ago, even back in aught-eight, this kind of press release from SFO seemed more optimistic than average.

Anyway, we spent a lot of money getting ready for the Airbus A380 double-decker and we do get a handful of flights* every week, but things just haven’t worked out.

Oh look, it’s a Lufthansa A380 filled with German tourists going home after their summer vacations in the bay area, high above Daly City: 

7J7C6438 copy

Click to expand

I’ll tell you, the reason why we still use a lot of four-engined Boeing 747-400 jumbos at SFO is because we already have them. They’re there, hundreds of them. But they guzzle a lot of fuel, so, not too long ago, the A380 was considered to be The Future. But it’s a guzzler too. So The Future now belongs to large twin-engine aircraft like the Boeing 777 models (present and future) and the slightly smaller twin-engined Airbus A350 line.

So all that hype coming out of SFGov about the A380 being “green,” well that was a lot of hogwash. The A380 was/is just another jetliner and SFO took steps to accommodate its massive size and that’s fine, but it wasn’t/isn’t/will never be a game changer the way the people at SFO were hoping for (or lying about – I still can’t tell why they were so excited as late as 2008, when the promise of the A380 was already being questioned).

Anyway, here’s the update:

A380 Continues To Pose Challenges For Heathrow – The A380 was tapped to help capacity-strapped airports, but could it end up hurting them?

Arguably, the A380 was specifically designed for Heathrow, which has a runway shortage and a NIMBY neighbour problem. So great, here’s a giant plane that’s really quiet – isn’t that great? Well, read the link above to see how things are working out when the rubber meets the tarmac.

SFO also has a runway shortage and a NIMBY neighbor problem, but our airport is a lot smaller and, as stated, those A380’s aren’t really working out and nobody’s really buying them anymore, so we’re not going to have to deal with Heathrow’s problems. No no, we’ll just muddle through.

But the skeptics have already been proven correct, after just six years.

One wonders what SFO’s next overhyped fad will be…

*More so in the summer, when the French and the Germans really pine to come here, so they can stay “Near Union Square” in a fleabag hotel only to get bitten by bedbugs, only to be told that said fleabag hotel doesn’t have bedbugs so GTH. On behalf of San Francisco, I wish to say, “Sorry, French and German people.”

Is This Piper Cherokee Over San Francisco Operating at Minimum Safe Altitude? You Make The Call

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Was this airplane at least 500 feet above Pacific Heights as it journeyed north the other day?

I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Planes is dangerous.