All posts by Air Help

Beijing’s New Mega Airport Will Challenge Air China’s Dominance

Like ancient warlords, China’s three biggest airlines have dominated their regional cities: Air China Ltd. controlling Beijing, China Eastern Airlines Corp. holding sway in the financial center of Shanghai, and China Southern Airlines Co. ruling the roost down in export gateway Guangzhou. Until now.

Rising on a plain south of Beijing is a mega airport that is about to change the balance, bringing all three head to head in the capital as it becomes the world’s biggest aviation hub.

The new airport, due to open in 2019, has been designated by authorities as the hub for members of the SkyTeam alliance, a global group of airlines that includes China Eastern and China Southern. The two Chinese carriers will each be allowed to capture 40 percent of the airport’s passengers, gaining coveted time slots to Europe and the U.S. in Air China’s backyard.

An artist rendition of the Beijing New Airport Terminal building.
Source: Methanoia via Zaha Hadid Architects

“This is an absolute game-changer for China Eastern and China Southern,” said Corrine Png, chief executive officer of Crucial Perspective in Singapore. “Having all the SkyTeam alliance members under one roof will enable seamless flight connections.”

The invasion of Air China’s regional rivals has repercussions beyond China. As well as dominating their home bases, the big three Chinese players have each carved out a position abroad. Air China, through its Star Alliance ties with Deutsche Lufthansa AG and United Continental Holdings Inc., commands many of the routes to Europe and North America. China Eastern is the biggest carrier to Japan and South Korea. And China Southern is strong in Australia and Southeast Asia.

With access to more slots in Beijing, China Southern and China Eastern would potentially get more access to lucrative North American routes while their SkyTeam partners would get better access to the Chinese capital. In addition, China Southern, the nation’s biggest airline, would be able to draw traffic from its Southeast Asian links to fly via Beijing to the U.S.

Until then, they have to fight for slots at the existing airport which is close to capacity. Air China, part of Star Alliance, whose 28 members include United, Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa, controls 38 percent of the slots at Beijing Capital International Airport, which handled 94 million passengers in 2016—close to the maximum of 96 million.

“There are demands to add hundreds of flights in Beijing every day that get refused because we’re running out of resources,” said Liu Xuesong, general manager of Capital Airports Holding Co., the operator of Beijing’s existing airport. “The city is capable of running dual hubs.”

The new $12.9 billion airport in the southern suburb of Daxing, which was approved in 2014, would accommodate up to 100 million passengers a year with as many as seven runways. Liu estimates that by 2025, the two Beijing airports would share 170 million passengers, including 25 million on international flights.

Beijing is joining a select list of major cities with two or even three international airports, including London, New York, Tokyo and Paris. Unlike in Beijing, though, those airports usually take complementary roles, such as one serving international or intercontinental routes and the other focusing on domestic or regional flights.

“So far in history we haven’t seen any city or city clusters having two hubs of the same scale,” said Ma Chongxian, vice president of Air China’s parent company, China National Aviation Holding Co., at a conference in Beijing in May.

That’s because it’s usually airlines, rather than the government, who choose which airport to fly to, said Steve Saxon, a Shanghai-based partner at McKinsey & Co.

“China is different,” Saxon said. “The government has substantial influence over the three largest carriers,” which will help Beijing build two connecting hubs where other cities have failed.

China Southern has said it will deploy more than 200 aircraft at the new airport by 2020—about a fifth of its planned fleet by that time.

China Eastern will have “a remarkable advantage” by being a hub carrier both in Shanghai and Beijing as the capital is better positioned geographically as a connecting point for Europe and North America, said Will Horton, a Hong Kong-based analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation. China Eastern already accounts for 50 percent of the market for the top 10 international flights from the country’s financial hub Shanghai.

The construction of the new Beijing airport isn’t all bad news for Air China. Its airport is closer to downtown, about 25 minutes in smooth traffic to the main business district in the eastern part of the capital, or the same time by train.

Planned road and rail links from the new airport would also whisk travelers into Beijing in about half an hour, but to the southwest, a part of the city that’s less convenient for most business executives, especially during the capital’s notoriously congested peak traffic times.

“Air China is likely to win share on key business routes,” said McKinsey’s Saxon, “similar to how British Airways benefits from the privileged position it has in the more convenient London Heathrow.”

That could affect the lucrative Beijing-Shanghai route, where China Eastern commands nearly 60 percent of the market, data compiled by Huatai Securities Co. show.

An artist rendition of the Beijing New Airport Terminal building.
Source: Methanoia via Zaha Hadid Architects

The division of Beijing’s airports by alliance leaves out the third-biggest group, Oneworld. Members of the group, started in 1999 by Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and four other carriers, are instead relying on individual links with the Chinese airlines.

Oneworld member American Airlines Group Inc., announced in March a 2.7 percent stake purchase in China Southern for $200 million, and will deploy some of its flights at the new Beijing airport as part of the deal. The U.S. carrier had to postpone the launch of a Los Angeles-to-Beijing flight earlier this year as it failed to secure a time slot.

Delta Air Lines Inc., which has a 3.2 percent stake in China Eastern, should also earn more slots at the new airport.

A representative for Cathay didn’t respond to an email seeking comments.

Chinese authorities have committed to preserving slots at the current and new airports for carriers that already fly to Beijing, Oneworld said in an e-mail. It said 10 Oneworld members serve the city with a total of 163 weekly flights from 16 international destinations.

One major effect of all the expansion will be some very congested skies over China, which has some of the most constricted airspace in the world because of priority for military planes.

Bloomberg

CAPA estimates that only about 20 percent the airspace over China is open to civilian flights—one of the reasons for Chinese airlines’ spotty on-time performance record.

“There is no point opening another massive airport without addressing the restricted airspace issue,” Crucial Perspective’s Png said.

Fascinating Air Travel Secrets Your Flight Attendants Do Not Tell You

Flying has brought about a revolution in the way people travel. What used to be a risky and costly endeavor has become a normal means of transportation today. And it’s no surprise because who would really prefer driving for days or weeks when you can now simply fly your way to your intended location in just a few hours?

But did you know that a hundred years after aviation was introduced, many aspects of plane travel still remain a mystery to the majority today? Well, that’s because there are things airlines do not really disclose openly. Of course, there are many things that regular passengers aren’t privy to, but here are the juiciest air travel secrets you need to know that flight attendants do not tell you.

Those tiny holes in select aircraft windows are for your safety.

If you ever gaze out of your window during your flight and you spot a tiny hole towards the bottom, there’s no reason to be alarmed. That wouldn’t cause the plane to crash. In fact, it’s there to help keep the plane intact.

Called ‘bleed’ or ‘breather’ holes, the openings are designed to help with the air pressure inside the plane cabin. At a cruising altitude of 35,000 feet, the air pressure is so low that anyone would pass out if they were exposed to it, so a plane’s cabin must be pressurized to be able to breathe. Good for us passengers, yes, but not for the aircraft. Enter the mysterious window holes, the only way to release some of the strain pressure puts on the plane.

Another of its function? It also keeps the window fog-free so you can enjoy the view of the scenery below.

What are flight attendants for?

They may look like they’re simply air waitresses, but there’s really more to being a flight attendant than just that. Business Insider says one of the main purposes of deploying them aboard the plane is because they are the ones announcing whether or not the plane is about to crash.

“The captain will give you the same information that we know if there is time and then we will begin emergency landing procedures,” the anonymous flight attendant said. “My job is to make sure we all get out alive, so of course I would want you to be as prepared as possible.”

They are also there in case of medical emergencies. Flight attendants are actually trained to do CPR, use a defibrillator, and deliver a baby, among others. So the next time they smile at you, know that there is a lot more going on behind the scenes that you’d hope they’ll never need to do.

They dim the lights during takeoff and landing for evacuation.

If you thought its just to urge you to put your book or phone down, you’re wrong. The cabin lights are dimmed so your eyes are adjusted to the dark in case you need to find a way out.

“Imagine being in an unfamiliar bright room filled with obstacles when someone turns off the lights and asks you to exit quickly,” Chris Cooke, a pilot with a major domestic carrier, told Independent.

And in a true crisis—if the plane is filled with smoke or the power goes out—it’s easier to see the emergency lights in the aisle and the exit signs in a darker cabin. Safety during emergencies is also the reason why flight attendants ask you to put up tray tables and seats at takeoff and landing; so the person sitting by the window can get out quickly.

Not turning your phone off or putting it in flight mode can really cause a crash.

This is a plea we hear at the beginning of every flight which the vast majority comply with, even if they’re not 100 percent sure why. Most of us assume its signal could interfere with navigation instruments, possibly causing a crash. This is technically true, but it’s not safety critical.

Pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, says it’s more of an exercise of caution. “Can cellular communications really disrupt cockpit equipment? The answer is potentially yes, but in all likelihood no,” he said in an interview. The main issue is phone signals interfering with the airplane and causing more work for the pilots during critical phases of flight. Although it affects in a small degree, Smith says “Airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are merely erring on the better-safe-than-sorry side.”

Airplane pillows/blankets are reused.

Yes, airlines change the pillow cases and blankets every day, but not every flight so that blanket you’re sleeping under may not be so fresh. Most of the time, airlines just refold and re-use them on flights, according to ex-flight attendant Fatihah Sudewo.

“It depends on how cheap the airline is, but I’ve had my share seeing them [the cleaning team] refolding the blankets for the passengers on the next flight to use,” she wrote. “At least they were generous enough to replace the pillow covers and the headrest covers.”

Flight attendants dress the pillows with new covers and take the old ones alongside the blankets at the end of the day with them to be the washed. Fresh ones then come on the first flight in the morning, so if you’re flying midday or late night, be sure to stock up on that Vitamin C and hand sanitizer before hitting the tarmac. If that’s still gross to you, you may ask for a new blanket in a plastic bag or not use one at all.

Plane water is gross.

If you want to drink water, make sure it’s from the bottle. Avoid getting coffee or tea because chances are the water used to make them comes from the craft’s water tank located under the plane which is probably not very clean.

And so are the lavatories and other cabin surfaces.

Plane bathrooms are much worse. Not only do they have constricted spaces and unflattering lighting, they are very dirty also that even flight attendants avoid them if possible. Most of them only use the lavatory to wash their hands or if they really need to go to the bathroom. If it’s a short time, they oftentimes wait until they can use the bathroom at the airport.

Other cabin surfaces like food trays are not guaranteed clean either. Diapers have been laid on them and sometimes they’re even smeared with poo. They are not regularly washed and sanitized. Most people get sick after flying not because of what they breathe but because of what they touch and food trays are one of the culprits.

Pilots can’t eat the same meal at the same time.

The pilot and co-pilot are served different meals which they cannot share. Why? So that if it causes food poisoning, there will be someone left to fly the plane. However, New York Times says it’s not FAA regulation, but rather each airline decides their own rules.

Flight attendants, on the other hand, are a different case. Depending on the airline, sometimes they have the same meal as the passengers or have a much better one. In Sudewo’s experience, she says: “Our meals are slightly better than the passenger meals. While the quality of food varies by airline, she said that there’s “at least a trolley dedicated for the crews” with fresh fruit, bread rolls, desserts, drinks and more.

Those oxygen masks only give you 15 minutes of air.

That’s right. If there is an emergency and the cabin is depressurized, the oxygen masks that come down from the ceiling are attached to tanks which typically have only 15 minutes worth of supply per person. That amount of time seems short, but 15 minutes is plenty of time for the pilot to get the craft to a safe altitude where the oxygen masks are not needed anymore. This nightmare scenario will hopefully not happen to you, but if it does, at least you know how much oxygen supply you have, right?

Which air travel secrets fascinated you the most? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments below.

Queen rocker flies into a rage over BA first class: Guitarist Brian May furious that recliner seats are no longer next to the windows

Queen guitarist Brian May is preoccupied with minor changes to the seating plan when he flies first class on British Airways

Amid the seemingly endless bad news of terrorist attacks and disasters, one man apparently has more pressing concerns.

Queen guitarist Brian May is preoccupied with minor changes to the seating plan when he flies first class on British Airways.

The 69-year-old, who is married to former EastEnders star Anita Dobson, is furious that the recliner seats have been reconfigured so they are no longer immediately next to the windows.

‘Travelling on planes has for years been something I have had to do, as part of my job,’ explains May.

‘As I fly today with British Airways, I wonder if I am the only person left in the world who likes to relax in a comfortable seat and dreamily turn my head to the window and get lost in the ever-changing wonders of the planet as they drift by?

‘I wonder this because I’m not aware of anyone except me complaining about the new way the seats are configured in BA First Class.’ May, who memorably performed a guitar solo on the roof of Buckingham Palace at the start of the Queen’s Golden Jubilee concert, wails about the seating changes: ‘I hate it. It costs an arm and a leg to travel this way and I feel that we no longer get our money’s worth.

‘In the old days you sat right next to the window and the view was wide and spectacular.

‘Now they sit you about three feet from the window and so low down all you can see from your seat is a small patch of sky. It’s boring — frustrating.’

He adds on his personal website: ‘If anyone out there agrees please let me (and British Airways) know — OK?’

It is just the latest in a string of frustrations that May has voiced publicly over recent years.

Last year, he attacked ‘b*****d basement builders’, claiming the digging of multi-level ‘iceberg basements’ was turning his West London neighbourhood into a ‘hellhole’.

An outspoken opponent of fox-hunting, he criticised Theresa May for saying during the General Election she would allow a free Commons vote on ending the ban.

 HM and Duke enjoy a surprise day off
The Queen appeared to be wearing jodhpurs and headscarf with a light beige jacket and gloves as she rode a horse in Windsor

She was supposed to be in London yesterday for the State Opening of Parliament.

Now that it has been delayed until tomorrow, the Queen took advantage of the fine weather to go for a ride in the grounds of Windsor Castle.

The 91-year-old Monarch was joined by a male companion on the hottest day of the year.

The Queen appeared to be wearing jodhpurs and headscarf with a light beige jacket and gloves.

Meanwhile, her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh, could also be seen taking his coach and horses out for a ride through the sprawling estate.

Philip, 96, has been an avid carriage driver since 1971, when he took up the activity — which he described as a ‘geriatric sport’ — after giving up polo, aged 50.

He was instrumental in helping to establish it as a sport in Britain.

He enjoys regular outings with Prince Charles’s old friend Countess Mountbatten, formerly Lady Brabourne.

Prince Philip once said: ‘I thought it would be a nice weekend activity, rather like golfing.’

Kate’s touching tribute to her Porridge star father 

A heart-warming message from film star Kate Beckinsale, who celebrated Father’s Day with a poignant tribute to her late father, actor Richard Beckinsale.

In the photo she posted on social media, a young Kate lies on the floor while her father lounges on the sofa.

The Porridge and Rising Damp star died of a heart attack in 1979, when he was 31 and Pearl Harbor beauty Kate was just five.

Kate, now 43, writes: ‘I miss you so much. Happy Father’s Day. Thank you for teaching me love, and funny, and that both last forever.’

Kate Beckinsale posted this photo  on social media, a young Kate lies on the floor while her father lounges on the sofa

Outspoken cannabis critic Jeremy Clarkson once admitted: ‘If someone lights a joint within 20ft of where I happen to be, my face goes like parchment and I faint.’ 

Now his daughter Emily, who shares his views, reveals she was forced to risk getting involuntarily high in the heatwave. 

‘Our neighbour is smoking a joint outside our window,’ explained the 22-year-old, who lives in Notting Hill. ‘We have to choose between melting or accidentally getting us all (dog included) stoned.’ 

Theresa May has held private prayer sessions with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, it was reported at the weekend.

But her predecessor was less devout. David Cameron memorably once described his faith in terms of an unreliable radio signal: ‘Like Magic FM in the Chilterns, it comes and goes.’ When Welby was asked if he used to pray with fellow Old Etonian Cameron, he replied: ‘I used to pray for him.’

source

The glorious history of the best plane Boeing has ever built

This week in 1994, the Boeing 777 airliner made its first flight – kicking off a career that would revolutionize the airline industry.

Once every few decades, an airplane comes along and simply redefines what a modern airliner is capable of delivering for airlines and its passengers. In 1957, Boeing changed the game with its first jet-powered airliner, the 707. In 1969, Boeing turned the airline industry upside down with the introduction of the 747 jumbo jet. In 1994, Boeing did it again with the 777.

In the two decades since its first flight, the 777 has become the trusty long-haul workhorse for the world’s international airlines. Through May of 2017, Boeing has sold a whopping 1,911 777s – making it the best wide-body airliner in company history.

Here’s a closer look at the history of the Boeing 777.

Get the latest Boeing stock price here.

With more than two decades of service under its belt, the 777 is getting ready for a major makeover, In 2019, Boeing will introduce the next generation 777X. As expected, half of the 777X pre-orders have come from the Dubai’s Emirates.

With more than two decades of service under its belt, the 777 is getting ready for a major makeover, In 2019, Boeing will introduce the next generation 777X. As expected, half of the 777X pre-orders have come from the Dubai's Emirates.

In fact, Emirates has accounted for 15% of all 777s ever sold.

In fact, Emirates has accounted for 15% of all 777s ever sold.

Over the next two decades, Emirates would become a global aviation powerhouse. In the process, the airline would operate a fleet of more than 120 777s — the largest in the world.

Over the next two decades, Emirates would become a global aviation powerhouse. In the process, the airline would operate a fleet of more than 120 777s — the largest in the world.

However, the 777 has no greater customer than Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. In 1996, the Sheikh’s small Dubai-based airline received its first 777-200.

However, the 777 has no greater customer than Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.  In 1996, the Sheikh's small Dubai-based airline received its first 777-200.

… Turkish Airlines.

... Turkish Airlines.

… Air New Zealand and,…

... Air New Zealand and,...

… Air Canada,…

... Air Canada,...

… Air China,…

... Air China,...

… Air France,…

... Air France,...

… Etihad,…

... Etihad,...

… Qatar,…

... Qatar,...

… Singapore,…

... Singapore,...

… United,…

... United,...

…. Delta,…

.... Delta,...

Today, the Boeing 777 is one of the most popular long-haul airliners in the world. It’s in service many of the world’s most prominent airlines including American,…

Today, the Boeing 777 is one of the most popular long-haul airliners in the world. It's in service many of the world's most prominent airlines including American,...

Also known as the WorldLiner, the 200LR can carry 301 passengers nearly 11,000 miles.

Also known as the WorldLiner, the 200LR can carry 301 passengers nearly 11,000 miles.

In 2006, Boeing introduced ultra-long-range 777-200LR.

In 2006, Boeing introduced ultra-long-range 777-200LR.

In 2002, Boeing rolled out the extended range version of the Dash 300 called the 777-300ER. With more than 800 sold, the 300ER is by far the most popular version of the 777.

In 2002, Boeing rolled out the extended range version of the Dash 300 called the 777-300ER. With more than 800 sold, the 300ER is by far the most popular version of the 777.

In 1998, Boeing’s stretched the 777 to create the 550-seat 777-300.

In 1998, Boeing's stretched the 777 to create the 550-seat 777-300.

In 1996, Boeing rolled out a more potent version of the 777 with an even greater range called the 777-200IGW. It would later be renamed the 777-200ER for extended range.

In 1996, Boeing rolled out a more potent version of the 777 with an even greater range called the 777-200IGW. It would later be renamed the 777-200ER for extended range.

… The state-of-the-art Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental could not stop the success of the 777.

... The state-of-the-art Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental could not stop the success of the 777.

Even the record-breaking Airbus A380 superjumbo and the…

Even the record-breaking Airbus A380 superjumbo and the...

Along with the twin-engine Airbus A330, the Boeing 777 has decimated four-engine jumbo jet sales.

Along with the twin-engine Airbus A330, the Boeing 777 has decimated four-engine jumbo jet sales.

The rule change rendered modern three-engine airliners like the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 obsolete overnight. They simply couldn’t match the four-engine jumbo jets’ people carrying ability. Nor could they match the twin-engine jets’ lower cost and increased efficiency.

The rule change rendered modern three-engine airliners like the McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 obsolete overnight. They simply couldn't match the four-engine jumbo jets' people carrying ability. Nor could they match the twin-engine jets' lower cost and increased efficiency.

With the 777, Boeing was able to convince the government to give the plane an ETOPS 180 rating.

With the 777, Boeing was able to convince the government to give the plane an ETOPS 180 rating.

In 1985, the Federal Aviation Administration softened its restrictions on the routes twin-engine jets can fly by giving the 767 an ETOPS 120 rating. That allowed the 767 to operate routes up to 120 minutes of single-engine flying time away from the nearest airport. This rule change allowed the 767 to cross the Atlantic: opening up a host of new opportunities for its operators.

In 1985, the Federal Aviation Administration softened its restrictions on the routes twin-engine jets can fly by giving the 767 an ETOPS 120 rating. That allowed the 767 to operate routes up to 120 minutes of single-engine flying time away from the nearest airport. This rule change allowed the 767 to cross the Atlantic: opening up a host of new opportunities for its operators.

At the same, early twin-engine wide-body jets such as the Airbus A300B2 were relegated to medium-haul routes.

At the same, early twin-engine wide-body jets such as the Airbus A300B2 were relegated to medium-haul routes.

…. The Lockheed L-1011 Tristar became en vogue.

.... The Lockheed L-1011 Tristar became en vogue.

As turbofan technology improved, smaller three-engine airliners such as the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and …

As turbofan technology improved, smaller three-engine airliners such as the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10 and ...

… Later the Boeing 747 all had multiple engines. After all, if one engine fails, there are three more to keep the plane in the air.

... Later the Boeing 747 all had multiple engines. After all, if one engine fails, there are three more to keep the plane in the air.

… Douglas DC-8, and…

... Douglas DC-8, and...

Traditionally, the prevailing logic in long haul flying has been that there’s safety in the number of engines a plane has. As a result, planes such as the four-engined Boeing 707,…

Traditionally, the prevailing logic in long haul flying has been that there's safety in the number of engines a plane has. As a result, planes such as the four-engined Boeing 707,...

In June 1995, the 777-200 entered service with United Airlines— marking the start of the plane’s game-changing career.

In June 1995, the 777-200 entered service with United Airlines— marking the start of the plane's game-changing career.

The resulting aircraft could carry 305 to 440 passengers up to 8,270 miles. The Dash 200 could cruise at 615 mph and fly at 37,900 ft.

The resulting aircraft could carry 305 to 440 passengers up to 8,270 miles. The Dash 200 could cruise at 615 mph and fly at 37,900 ft.

On June 12, 1994, all of Boeing’s hard work came to fruition with the first flight of the Boeing 777-200.

On June 12, 1994, all of Boeing's hard work came to fruition with the first flight of the Boeing 777-200.

In the back, passengers are treated to a more comfortable and quiet ride with greater in-flight entertainment options.

In the back, passengers are treated to a more comfortable and quiet ride with greater in-flight entertainment options.

Premium cabin passengers were treated to lie-flat seating.

Premium cabin passengers were treated to lie-flat seating.

The 777-200 featured a state-of-the-art two-person digital cockpit.

The 777-200 featured a state-of-the-art two-person digital cockpit.

Here is one of the 777’s signature triple axle main landing gears.

Here is one of the 777's signature triple axle main landing gears.

The jet’s high bypass turbofan engines built by Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and GE are the largest engines ever installed on an airliner.

The jet's high bypass turbofan engines built by Rolls-Royce, Pratt & Whitney, and GE are the largest engines ever installed on an airliner.

Even though the 777-200 was smaller than the 747, it is still a massive airplane at 209 feet long with a 191-foot wingspan. The airplane weighed 506,000 lbs.

Even though the 777-200 was smaller than the 747, it is still a massive airplane at 209 feet long with a 191-foot wingspan. The airplane weighed 506,000 lbs.

To produce the 777, Boeing selected its Everett, Washington production facility.

To produce the 777, Boeing selected its Everett, Washington production facility.

Using 3D computer graphics, Boeing was able to digitally pre-assemble the 777, foregoing the need for costly and time-consuming clay models.

Using 3D computer graphics, Boeing was able to digitally pre-assemble the 777, foregoing the need for costly and time-consuming clay models.

From the start, Boeing knew the 777 would be special. It was the first airliner to be designed completely using a computer.

From the start, Boeing knew the 777 would be special. It was the first airliner to be designed completely using a computer.

During his eight years in charge of Ford, Mulally successfully guided the company through the dark days of the financial crisis without the need of a government bailout. The former 777 project manager is generally considered the best CEO in Ford history not named Henry Ford.

During his eight years in charge of Ford, Mulally successfully guided the company through the dark days of the financial crisis without the need of a government bailout. The former 777 project manager is generally considered the best CEO in Ford history not named Henry Ford.

Leading the 777 program was its general manager Alan Mulally. In 2006, Mulally left Boeing to become the CEO of the Ford Motor Company.

Leading the 777 program was its general manager Alan Mulally. In 2006, Mulally left Boeing to become the CEO of the Ford Motor Company.

… But smaller than the iconic 747 jumbo jet.

... But smaller than the iconic 747 jumbo jet.

The Boeing 777’s journey began in October of 1990 with an order from United Airlines for a twin-engine wide-body airliner larger than Boeing’s 767…

Airbus to add winglets to boost A380 sales: sources

PARIS (Reuters) – Europe’s Airbus (PA:AIR) plans to upgrade its A380 superjumbo with fuel-saving wingtip devices, or winglets, in an effort to boost slow sales of the mammoth jet, two people familiar with the matter said on Friday.

The latest modifications to the world’s largest airliner will be announced at next week’s Paris Airshow, they said, proceeding with a program of efficiency improvements first reported by Reuters in March.

“We have always said the A380 has further efficiency upside potential,” an Airbus spokesman said, declining further comment.

The A380 has suffered a dearth of sales as airlines switch to slightly smaller models with two engines, which are easier to fill and cheaper to maintain.

The project to make the double-decker A380 more attractive to buyers has already led to the scrapping of its “grand staircase” in favor of a more compact structure, leaving more room for seats.

The combination of the improved aerodynamic wing performance and increased seating to more than 600 would lower the operating cost per seat, a key barometer for airlines.

Airbus Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier confirmed last week that Airbus was considering improving the A380 with winglets to make it cheaper to fly.

Such devices cut fuel consumption by reducing drag, but they can involve a weight penalty because the wing may have to be strengthened.

Industry sources have estimated that the overall makeover would improve fuel efficiency by about 2 percent.

The Airbus A380 Superjumbo May Get Even Larger With New Wings

Airbus SE’s A380 superjumbo may sprout extended wings as the European manufacturer intensifies studies into the addition of curved extensions aimed at reducing drag and boosting efficiency.

The so-called winglets, which on the A380 would each measure as much as 5 meters (16-feet), could reduce fuel burn by up to 4 percent by dissipating the vortexes of rapidly spinning air created by the plane’s wings.

Airbus’s commercial aircraft chief Fabrice Bregier said Friday there’s a good chance that the company will opt to upgrade the smaller wingtip fences currently fitted on the A380. The switch, together with improved engine efficiencies, could help win orders while avoiding the greater expense of a Neo upgrade featuring new turbines and changes to the double-decker’s airframe.

“We will not launch an A380neo, there’s no business case now to do that, this is absolutely clear,” Bregier said. “But it doesn’t prevent us from looking at what could be done to improve the performance of the aircraft. So having a little bit more efficiency from the engines is clearly an option, and looking at whether we could bring new winglets is also probably a good possibility.”

Adding the extensions would require only minor modifications to the A380’s wings, with no need to strengthen the center box where they join to the plane’s fuselage, Bregier said in an interview at Airbus’s headquarters in Toulouse, France. That was a cost the company sustained when adding winglets to its A320-series single-aisle planes.

Emirates Interest

Enhancements to the A380 could help lure buyers after the world’s biggest passenger plane drew an order blank last year, and Airbus will only go ahead with the winglets upgrade if there is commercial interest, Bregier said.

Emirates, the biggest superjumbo customer, is in early talks over a deal for 20 more A380s, people familiar with the discussions said this week. The Dubai carrier told Bloomberg that while it has no plans for a purchase right now, it regularly engages with manufacturers on “product updates and enhancement.”

Didier Evrard, Airbus’s commercial programs chief, said studies into the winglets are progressing and stem from technological advancements as well as the need to make the A380 more efficient. “Ten or 15 years ago we were not able to design winglets with the right balance or drag,” he said, adding that the existing wingtips “are not the most optimal part of the A380.”

The model was formally launched in December 2000, had its first flight in 2005, and entered commercial service with Singapore Airlines Ltd. in 2007.

Even a 1 percent fuel saving would be significant for the superjumbo, which carries 200 metric tons of kerosene for a typical long-haul flight, according to Evrard, who on Monday said Airbus would need to consider slowing the A380 build rate to less than one jet a month without new contracts this year.

Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc, which is supplying engines for the outstanding A380s from existing Emirates orders, could provide range and fuel-burn improvements for the Trent 900 turbine that it makes for the model. It referred questions about potential upgrades to Airbus.

As part of its push to make the superjumbo more attractive to airlines Airbus has also devised half a dozen cabin modifications in order to accommodate more than 80 additional seats. The changes include removing an upper-deck stowage area, re-positioning the main staircase and moving to an 11-abreast layout on the main deck.

Boeing is set to deliver a refueling tanker that can gas up a jet in midair in complete darkness — the first of its kind.

Boeing is set to deliver a refueling tanker that can gas up a jet in midair in complete darkness — the first of its kind.

The U.S. Air Force is buying 179of the new KC-46 ‘Pegasus’ tankers, which are set to begin delivery at the end of this year.

The Air Force has had stealthy jets for decades, but even they have to turn on their lights when refueling in the sky. The KC-46’s ability to gas up an aircraft in complete darkness is a first for any military.

The new jet is part of a $44 billion program to begin replacing hundreds of the Air Force’s KC-135 tankers, which have been flying since the Eisenhower Administration.

Boeing showed off the new Pegasus for the first time in May, inside a hangar north of Seattle.

Adapted from Boeing’s twin-aisle 767, each matte gray KC-46 bristles with missile defenses, high definition cameras and infrared lights for flying under the cover of night.

The military brass were skeptical that refueling in pitch black could be done at all. Boeing’s chief test pilot for the Pegasus, Ron Johnson, said it took years to prove it was possible.

Boeing and Air Force test pilots first used the KC-46 to perform a refueling in total darkness in December. The pilots switched off all visible lights and donned night vision goggles, and an enormous C-17 cargo plane crept up behind the KC-46. The pair linked up, and history was made.

The KC-46 is designed for combat. Airmen can sprint to the jet and press a single button on its exterior to start its onboard power systems, bringing the aircraft to life. The crew ascends through a hatch underneath the jet’s nose and is flying in 10 minutes. No stairs needed.

A refueling boom pumps 1,200 gallons every minute to Air Force jets, enough to fill a passenger car in less than a second. Two underwing pods unfurl hoses to refuel Navy, Marine and allied jets with 400 gallons per minute. The KC-46 carries just shy of 32,000 gallons of gas.

Pilots have been guiding tankers using a porthole view used for the last 60 years, but that’s not so with the Pegasus. Instead, this jet has a high-tech workstation with high definition stereoscopic cameras that give a 185-degree view of everything between the wingtips. 3D glasses give the boom operator a perception of depth.

The jet can operate around chemical and biological attacks and is designed to withstand the pulse of a nuclear blast. It has room for 114 troops, or 54 patients or 65,000 pounds of cargo.

But the KC-46 is behind schedule and way over budget, according to the Government Accountability Office. Boeing was originally supposed to deliver the first 18 tankers by August, but that deadline has slipped and the GAO warns that additional delays are possible.

Despite the cost overruns, the taypayer isn’t on the hook. Boeing won the contract to develop the KC-46 at a fixed price of $4.9 billion, and is on the hook for any costs beyond that. The manufacturer has already had to write off $2 billion due to extensive changes it has to make in the 120 miles of wiring that each jet contains.

Mike Gibbons, the 33-year Boeing veteran who quietly took over the KC-46 program last August, says the program is done with the expensive write offs. But Boeing and the Air Force said they’re again reviewing the schedule.

Still, Gibbons said in May he won’t give the Air Force its jet unless it’s ready.

“Our number one goal is to make sure that we don’t deliver aircraft until they are fully capable and they will require no [modifications] after they deliver,” he said.

Forget Supersonic. Hypersonic Is the U.S. Military’s New Speed

In the future, military dominance will depend partly on how fast you can fly and how quickly you can get into space. That’s one of the guiding principles behind an advanced Pentagon project to build a spacecraft able to launch smaller payloads into low-earth orbit on short notice, and at lower cost.

Boeing Co.’s XS-1 (Experimental Spaceplane), which the company dubs “Phantom Express,” got a green light this week by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa. The XS-1 is designed to quickly lift satellites as heavy as 3,000 pounds into orbit for $5 million or less, launching from the ground, deploying a small upper-stage module, and then landing like a traditional airplane—the key to reuse and lower operating expense. Darpa also has a separate program aimed at launching 100-pound satellites for less than $1 million per launch, using conventional aircraft.

“The XS-1 would be neither a traditional airplane nor a conventional launch vehicle but rather a combination of the two, with the goal of lowering launch costs by a factor of ten and replacing today’s frustratingly long wait time with launch on demand,” Jess Spoonable, a Darpa program manager, said in a May 24 statement.

The Phantom Express will be powered with an Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. AR-22 engine, a newer version of the main engine trio that served on NASA’s Space Shuttle. Boeing will design and build the aircraft through 2019, including 10 engine ground firings over 10 days, followed by 12-15 flight tests in 2020. A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment on the project’s cost.

This Is A Bathroom On An Airplane

Let’s have a bit of fun and compare my bathroom to the one on a Boeing Business Jet, which the company has been showing off at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, or EBACE, in Geneva to make us all feel bad about ourselves.

In an effort to give into Boeing’s clear attempt to make me feel like a good-for-nothing “poor,” I just compared my own bathroom (which is built in the proper habitat for bathrooms—on land) to Boeing’s water closet in the sky.

As you can see, the Boeing bathroom—which is just a temporary restroom for occasional bowel movements during business travel—has a nice wide sink counter probably made of elephants’ tusks, tons of shelving and closets probably made out of the middle class’s hopes and dreams, a big wide mirror probably made of diamond, and a fantastic faucet that pours out tears from suckers known as taxpayers.

Plus, unless Boeing found a shrunken bar of soap and a bunch of smurf-sized bottles of shampoo, that bathroom looks enormous. By contrast, my bathroom—which isn’t temporary, and in which I have no choice but to have the vast majority of my bowel movements—is so small, the only way I could get the whole thing in the frame was to take this photo through the doorway. Look at this pathetic thing:

And what you see through the doorway is pretty much all there is. There’s a sink, a toilet and a shower, all far too close in proximity to one another. That means when I sit down to engage in human weight savings, my feet are right up against the sink, and when I get out of the shower, I’ve got to somehow squeeze between the sink and the sliding pane of glass—a move that has sent me on my ass a number of times.

That’s not even mentioning the disaster that lies behind those no-longer-transparent sliding glass panes—it’s bad. I should probably clean it. Plus, just look at the “tiles.” My walls are literally held up by screws:

So to Boeing, I say: I get it. Your little jet bathroom is better than mine (and frankly, my entire house) in every way, and I’m a worthless little poor.

The rest of the jet is pretty nice, too.

The Next Big Boeing-Airbus Battle Comes Into Focus

Boeing and Airbus seem to have very different notions of what a “middle-of-the-market” jet should look like.

For the past quarter-century, Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Airbus (NASDAQOTH:EADSY) have competed viciously in all of the biggest segments of the jet market.

The Airbus A320 family squares off against Boeing’s 737 family (and previously, its 757 family) in the market for single-aisle jets that mainly fly short-haul routes. Meanwhile, Boeing’s 767, 777, and 787 widebody families have faced Airbus’ A330 and A350 families (and in prior years, the A300 and A310) in the market for jets with intercontinental range.

Their next big battle looks like it will cover a market segment that barely even exists today. Boeing and Airbus are looking to bridge the gap between single-aisle jets and widebodies in order to capture the “middle of the market.” So far, they seem to have very different ideas of how to attack this new “MoM” segment.

Airbus is starting with an advantage

In recent years, the middle of Boeing’s product lineup has been a big weak spot. Its largest single-aisle jet (the 737 MAX 9) and smallest widebodies (the 767-300ER and 787-8) have fallen out of favor — or never became popular in the first place. Meanwhile, Airbus’ A321 and A321neo have become extremely popular with airlines.

A Delta Air Lines Airbus A321

AIRBUS’ A321 HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY DOMINANT IN ITS MARKET SEGMENT. IMAGE SOURCE: DELTA AIR LINES.

In recent years, Airbus has moved to extend this advantage by offering a longer-range variant of the A321, known as the A321LR. The A321LR, which will be available starting in 2019, is expected to have enough range to fly from the Northeast to many of the major cities in Western Europe.

Boeing plans to introduce a slightly larger single-aisle model (tentatively called the 737 MAX 10X) next month, in an attempt to compete more effectively with the A321neo. But the A321LR is still virtually unopposed for airlines that want to operate transatlantic flights without stepping up to a full-blown widebody. (The 737 MAX 8 can only fly the shortest transatlantic routes.)

Boeing mulls a new plane; how will Airbus respond?

While Boeing hasn’t committed to anything yet, it seems increasingly likely that it will launch a new “797” MoM aircraft in the next year or two.

The 797 would be a twin-aisle plane but would have a smaller cargo hold than a typical widebody, thus reducing weight and boosting fuel efficiency. Two different versions would seat 220-260 passengers in a standard multi-class configuration and have a stated range of up to 5,000 nautical miles. (Effective range is typically lower in reality.)

Unfortunately for Boeing, it could easily cost $15 billion to develop the 797 family. Meanwhile, airlines are demanding low acquisition costs, making the business case shaky.

By contrast, Airbus’ most likely plan for the MoM segment is to stretch the A321LR to boost its passenger capacity and equip it with a new wing to give it more range. This “A322” would be relatively cheap to design and build, allowing Airbus to undercut Boeing on price by a wide margin. It would probably be almost as large as the smaller 797 variant, but might be limited to 4,500 nautical miles of stated range.

These concepts will appeal to different airlines

One of the most interesting aspects of this looming middle-of-the-market battle is that Boeing and Airbus are approaching it in very different ways. Boeing is leaning toward an all-new twin-aisle design; Airbus is thinking about a single-aisle derivative. As a result, the 797 and A322 could end up appealing to different groups of airlines.

The 797 is likely to be significantly more popular among legacy carriers. Indeed, executives from both Delta Air Lines (NYSE:DAL) and United Continental (NYSE:UAL) have spoken favorably about the concept, despite initial hesitations.

One potentially large advantage for the 797 is extra range. Carriers like Delta and United are perfectly happy with their current options for domestic routes. They want a plane that can replace 767s — and, to a lesser extent, 757s — on as many international routes as possible, while potentially making new routes viable by reducing trip costs.

A Delta Air Lines Boeing 767

DELTA AND UNITED ARE LOOKING FOR A PLANE TO REPLACE THEIR AGING 767S. IMAGE SOURCE: DELTA AIR LINES.

The difference between 4,500 nautical miles of stated range and 5,000 nautical miles of stated range is significant in terms of the number of routes that would be feasible. (This factor could also convince some low-cost carriers to opt for the 797.)

A second major advantage for the 797 — from a legacy carrier perspective — is that it would probably offer a much better customer experience. In recent years, offering flat-bed seats with direct aisle access has become an absolute must for international business class. Delta Air Lines has met this standard for its entire international widebody fleet since 2014. United Continental is on the way there.

However, it’s hard to offer direct aisle access for every business class seat on a single-aisle plane (at least without wasting a lot of space). That’s a big point in favor of a twin-aisle design like the 797. Economy class passengers would benefit, too. A twin-aisle 797 would have more window and aisle seats, and the cabin would have a roomier feel than a hypothetical A322.

On the other hand, Boeing will never be able to match Airbus on pricing for a 797 vs. A322 battle. Additionally, Airbus would be able to offer commonality with its hugely popular A320 aircraft family. This would make the A322 a sure winner with low-cost carriers, especially as many of them already fly A320-family planes. Legacy carriers also might adopt the A322 for 3,000-4,000 mile routes with light demand and fewer business travelers.

Boeing and Airbus seem to have quite different ideas of what a MoM plane should look like. It will be interesting to see whether either of these concepts becomes a clear winner with airlines, or if Boeing and Airbus fight to a draw in the middle-of-the-market segment.

[via fool]