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.

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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]

10 Important Things to Do If There’s a Terrorist Attack While You’re Traveling

When it comes to travel in 2017, 84 percent of people said they are somewhat concerned about their safety, according to a recent survey conducted by Global Rescue, a provider of medical, security, evacuation, and travel risk management services. Not surprisingly, Europe, along with Africa and the Middle East, has emerged as a top-three destination in terms of concern level.

In the wake of recent attacks in Paris, Nice, Berlin, Brussels, Istanbul, and Sweden, terrorism remains top of mind as a perceived travel threat, despite accounting for about three percent of U.S. citizen deaths overseas. In fact, 55 percent of survey respondents ranked it as either first or second on a list of greatest threats they see while traveling in 2017; 44 percent rated health and medical issues as a top-two threat; and 37 percent ranked crime as a top-two threat. Traffic incidents — the leading cause of death for U.S. citizens abroad — came in fourth, with 23 percent rating it as a top-two threat. The good news is that nearly all participants (96 percent) said they are still likely or very likely to hit the road this year.

Still, there’s no doubt the world is an unpredictable place. “We all know we can’t avoid a terrorist attack,” says Patricia Aguilera, director of American Citizen Services at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs. “They will come without warning.” With that in mind, we spoke to both Aguilera and Scott Hume, director of Security Services at Global Rescue, about what people should do if they find themselves traveling when a terrorist attack strikes.

Photo courtesy of Niels van Reijmersdal via Flickr
Photo courtesy of Niels van Reijmersdal via Flickr

1. Do your homework.

Precautionary measures should begin before you book your trip. The first and foremost thing a traveler should do is check for safety advisories on the destination. Head to travel.state.gov to familiarize yourself with the current conditions in the country, and load up on other country-specific information, such road safety and entry requirements. If you see a travel warning or alert, the U.S. State Department recommends reconsidering or postponing travel to the destination. “There are plenty of places that have travel warnings and have pockets that are safe, but for the most part, we recommend reconsidering if that’s the destination you want to visit,” says Aguilera.  “Carefully read those travel warnings because each one is different. It’s tailored to the situation on the ground — some are for high crime, and some are based on the possibility of being kidnapped. Everyone’s comfort level is different — and our goal is to inform.”

2. Enroll in STEP.

Once you’ve picked your destination, Aguilera recommends registering in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This provides travelers with localized real-time updates and security announcements. It also offers information on demonstrations and protests, so you can plan accordingly. Should something occur, travelers will be notified on which areas to avoid.

3. Share your itinerary with loved ones.

It’s crucial to share your itinerary with your loved ones, including where you’re going, who you’re traveling with, and where you’re staying, so they may reach you in the event of an emergency. Don’t forget to communicate any changes to travel plans, too.

4. Avoid high-risk areas.

If you can, take a direct flight instead of stopping in a place that may have a travel warning, Aguilera suggests. Another tip: Minimize the time spent in areas of the airport where it’s less protected, and make sure you get to a secure area as quickly as possible. “Based on the terrorist incidents in the last couple of years, the [attacks] have happened outside the secure area,” she says. Hume also recommends using a taxi or ride sharing service to reduce exposure to crowds and large gatherings while traveling within a city.

Beyond location, vacationers should also consider when they’re traveling. Plan a trip when it may be less frequented by tourists, Aguilera suggests. “Terrorists want to have a high value impact,” she says. Visiting during an off-peak season means your surroundings will likely be less congested. Last but not least, consider the hotel — make sure to choose a property that has high security standards, as well as Wi-Fi.

5. Make an exit plan.

Before you go, make a note of where the safe havens are located — police stations, hotels, and hospitals, to name a few. If you’re traveling with other loved ones, formulate a plan of action in the event that you are separated and cell coverage is spotty. Pick a designated meeting spot and time, Aguilera suggests. Hume also notes that establishing and reviewing a rally point with travel companions each day can be helpful. Of course, knowing the layout of a city is also vital.

6. Carry cash and a paper map.

“Always have local currency and an ATM or credit card available. This will allow you to pay for transportation and other needs in the event of an emergency,” says Hume. Hume also recommends carrying a paper map in case cell service or internet connection is limited and you need to navigate the city. Ensure your travel companions are using the same map. Local maps are often provided by hotels.

7. Purchase travel insurance.

Part of preparing also means investing in insurance. “Each traveler should look at the fine print as to what they’re getting insured,” says Aguilera. “When you purchase an airline ticket, they might insure you to return without any penalties or fees in case of an incident. There’s also insurance to be medevacked out in case of a medical emergency. Medical insurance is perhaps the most important thing that people should consider spending an extra few dollars on.” As medical evacuations can be a costly procedure, it’s best to be safe.

8. During the attack, run or get low.

Travelers will have two options if they find themselves in the midst of a crisis or terrorist attack. Assess the situation — if you’re not immediately in the vicinity of the attack, run, Aguilera says. If there’s a shooter in place, drop to the floor or get as low as possible in order to get out of the line of fire. Once you know the danger has passed (and you’re not harmed), get to safe place — a hotel nearby, friend’s house, police station, hospital — as soon as possible.

“If a traveler should find themselves in a dangerous situation, remember to move away from the area as quickly and safely as possible. Follow all instructions from emergency personnel, and do not attempt to return to the scene to help or gawk. Remember that your life is not worth recovering luggage or capturing a cell phone video,” says Hume.

9. Listen to local media.

Aguilera advises that everybody tune into the local media to find out what the local authorities are saying. They will likely advise you as to the next best steps to take, whether it’s to stay put or avoid transportation.

10. Don’t contact the embassy unless you are injured.

“We recommend taking the phone number of the closest embassy to you, so you’re able to call if you’re injured,” says Aguilera. That being said, the embassy will focus on those who are injured. It’s important to have a plan to communicate with someone back home. “If you are safe and physically unhurt, call your loved ones,” says Aguilera. “During an emergency, cell phone service can be spotty and landlines can be locked, so get word back to your family members.”

Consider a satellite phone or utilize and internet connection to communicate via email, messaging app, or social media, Hume suggests. But make sure to have another way to communicate as well. “Cellular networks can become quickly overwhelmed, as was the case in Brussels and Paris immediately following the attacks, so having alternate means of communication is a must,” says Hume.

There is an unlikely legal loophole that lets stateless undocumented immigrants stay in the US

Undocumented immigrant from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia or Dutch Antilles? A 2001 Supreme Court ruling says you’re in luck.

President Donald Trump’s long-promised deportation force is getting to work. Last Monday, Feb. 13 the Department of Homeland Security announced that 680 people were detained over the past week as federal agents raided homes and workplaces in Austin, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and other cities. But there is one category of undocumented immigrant that the Trump administration will have trouble deporting: stateless people whose home countries no longer exist.

The loophole dates back to the bizarre case of Kestutis Zadvydas, who was born to Lithuanian parents in a displaced persons camp in 1948 in post-war Germany and later emigrated to the US as a child. The US government sought to deport him in 1994 after he served a two-year sentence in Virginia for possessing a half-kilo of cocaine. But both Germany and Lithuania denied that he was a citizen of their countries, and he was detained for three years. The US Supreme Court later ruled, in Zadvydas v. Davis, that the government cannot indefinitely detain immigrants under order of deportation whom no other country will accept–or if their home country has simply vanished.

New countries pop up with some frequency. South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011, and Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. The globe is littered with aspiring nation states: Scotland, the Caucasian breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Catalonia in northeastern Spain, and Veneto, the watery, city-state dream of gondoliers and bankers. Every time a country is born, it means decades of headaches for officials at US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a division of the Department of Homeland Security.

This predicament will sound familiar to viewers of the 2004 film “The Terminal.” In the movie, Tom Hanks’ character, Viktor Navorski, lands in New York hours after a coup in in Krakozhia, his fictional Balkan homeland. Now a stateless man, he spends the better part of a year in the international departures terminal at John F. Kennedy Airport. Navorski cheerfully makes the best of his time in immigration limbo, earning quarters by returning luggage carts and wooing a pretty flight attendant.

The film’s villainous customs supervisor is alternately perplexed and infuriated at his inability to deport him–a frustration common to law enforcement officials dealing with real-life Victor Navorskis.

“People think we can just put someone on a plane and then kick them out in Moscow or wherever,” a Homeland Security official told me last fall. In reality, Homeland Security often spends years negotiating with countries to convince them to accept aliens that may not technically be their citizens, such an ethnic Serb born in Yugoslavia.

Just how many stateless people like Viktor Navorski are in the US? The figure is unclear. In a December 2012 report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugee found that between 2005 and 2010, there were 1,087 asylum requests in the US from people listed as stateless. Between fiscal years 2009 and 2014, records show that ICE succeeded in removing hundreds of people with obsolete passports, including the Soviet Union (309), Czechoslovakia (168), and the Netherlands Antilles (24).

But statelessness plays a part in only a small percentage of Zadvydas cases, an ICE official told me. The most important implication of the Supreme Court’s decision is that aliens typically cannot be detained for more than six months while awaiting deportation. Cuba, Somalia, China, and India are among the countries that Homeland Security tags as the slowest to accept their citizens back, which then lets them walk free.

Immigration hardliners have railed against Zadvydas for this reason for years. Since 2013, 8,275 criminal aliens were released under this judicial precedent, according to statistics touted last year by the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform.

“The decision has been a flash point for anti-immigrant forces,” says Judy Rabinovitz, who masterminded the litigation strategy that won the Zadvydas v. Davis case in 2001 and is now a deputy director of the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

What will be the next independence movement to raise a flag, declare a new country, and confound ICE agents for decades?

Your move, West Papua.

[via QZ]

German air force jets intercepting Jet Airways 777

VT-JEX, one of the Boeing 777-300ER planes of Jet Airways, had a loss of communications over the German airspace near Cologne earlier this week while operating as 9W 118 from Mumbai to London. This lead to the German Air Force scrambling two Eurofighter Typhoon jets. It is usual protocol to scramble jets to check in on the cockpit in case someone stops responding to the radio, to be able to visually communicate with the aircraft pilots and in case something is wrong in the plane, take further steps according to instructions from the ground.

A British Airways plane, operating on BA 2042, was trailing this flight and the pilot managed to capture the footage on his mobile camera. Someone even managed to click the entire chase from the ground.

The first video posted shows the planes catch up with 9W118, and second one shows them disengaging and flying away. It’s good to watch them in succession with audio on! The pilots on the British Airways plane are chatting in a very calm manner as they see this unfold in front of them, and that itself indicates that this is not an out of the ordinary situation.

The second part of the video has a lot of chatter and eventually the fighter jets go away and it ends with a view of the cockpit.