Category: aero

Bidding is Open for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Pr…

Bidding is Open for the Cranky Dorkfest LAX Progressive Terminal Dinner:

I mentioned before that I was trying to put together a small event in the evening right after Cranky Dorkfest on September 7. I’m pleased to report that it has come together quite nicely.

Ten of you will join me behind security on a progressive dinner through LAX starting in Terminal 7 and ending in the Bradley Terminal. United and American have planned some special surprises along the way. To make it even better, half of all net proceeds will be donated to the Flight Path Museum at LAX.

If you’ve read all the details below and are ready to bid, you can do it below or click here. Otherwise, read on below the form for details…

Here’s the current plan which is subject to change if required:

  • Terminal 7 – Arrive by 4:15pm for a visit to United’s LAX operations center followed by a drink in the United Polaris Lounge (courtesy of United)
  • Terminal 6 – An appetizer at a restaurant or lounge to be determined
  • Terminal 5 – Main course and one drink at a restaurant to be determined
  • Terminal 4 – Tour of American’s Admirals Club, Flagship Lounge, and Flagship Dining Room followed by dessert in the American Flagship Lounge conference room overlooking the ramp (courtesy of American)
  • Bradley Terminal (TBIT) – After-dinner drink at a bar to be determined

We’ll spent 1 to 1.5 hours at each stop, so it will wrap up between 10 and 11.
We will all walk together to make sure we keep everything running on time. Oh, and everything mentioned above is included in your bid. What’s not included? If you want more drinks or more food, that’s on you. If you drive, parking is extra at the regular LAX rates.

Since there are so few spots, I’m running this as an auction with half of the net proceeds going to the Flight Path Museum at LAX. Bids are open now and they start at $150, though I’m hopeful it will go up quickly from there so I can write the Flight Path a nice check.

Bidding will remain open until Wednesday, August 21 at 5pm PT. The 10 highest bids will be chosen, and at that point, a link will be sent to each winner to request payment. Payment has to be received by Monday, August 26 or the spot will be given to the next person on the list.

If you’d like to follow along and see how things stand, you can do it here. Or the current top ten is embedded below. Keep refreshing the page to see the updated list.

If you bid and see that you’ve been bumped off, you can either go back to your existing bid and revise it or you can just submit a new bid with the same email address. You can bid as many times as you’d like, but each bidder can only win one spot. No guests are allowed, so if you’re a couple, bid separately.

This is going to be one fun event. I’m looking forward to finding out who will be joining me and to seeing how much we can raise for the Flight Path. Get your bids in before 5pm PT on August 21 for your chance to join the party.

Bid now!

August 16, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

FAA Seeks Stakeholder Input on Drone Tests

FAA Seeks Stakeholder Input on Drone Tests:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Request for Information (RFI) this week seeking to work with stakeholders on the administration of a new aeronautical knowledge test for recreational drone operators.

Section 349 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 requires new conditions to operate recreational small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). Many drones can be flown today with minimal training or knowledge of aviation rules or safety practices. The new statute is an opportunity to educate recreational flyers on UAS safety and to bring new flyers into the existing aviation safety culture.

The law requires that flyers of recreational drones pass an aeronautical knowledge and safety test. The test will demonstrate a recreational flyers understanding of aeronautical safety knowledge and rules for operating a UAS.

The FAA is developing the test content and the training in consultation with stakeholders. The test must be administered electronically by the FAA, community-based organizations, or other persons designated by the FAA. The FAAs objective is to work with third party entities to allow them to administer the knowledge training and test content on various platforms for the recreational flyer community.

The FAA is looking for entities who want to become testing designees, who will administer the training and testing to the widest audience possible, and who will develop a standard electronic record that will be issued to the potential operator upon completion of the test. The entity will provide the potential drone operator with documentation that they passed the test, which may be requested by the FAA or local law enforcement.

Interested parties should review the RFI and respond by September 12, 2019.

August 15, 2019 at 10:08PM News and Updates

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airp…

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airport (Part 2):

If you missed it, yesterday The Cardinal returned to guest post about San Bernardino International Airport and the scandal that led to its commercial terminal being built… and completely unused. Today, he looks into why that is.

At best it seems the San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) commercial terminal was built by people driven by willful wishful thinking. But still, it’s there, it’s ready to go, and any airline will get a heck of a deal. Terminal and landing fees are rock bottom relative to most big airports. A lot of people live near SBD. Put a 25 mile radius circle around the airport, there are 2.7mm people. Put a 50 mile radius circle around it, there are 9mm people. So why hasn’t SBD attracted an airline?

There are problems. While the Inland Empire is booming, the
city of San Bernardino is troubled. 40-50 years ago, it was prosperous – dubbed
an All-American city, it was the place where such American icons as McDonalds
and Taco Bell got their start and the first city you came to on Route 66 after
descending the Cajon Pass into the LA Basin. Today, it’s one of the poorest
cities in Southern California and the San Bernardino brand name isn’t so great
for potential passengers in the LA Basin. Ironically, part of the problem was
the 1994 shutdown of Norton AFB (today’s SBD), which at one time supported a
population (including dependents) of as
many as 22,000 people
. The poverty in the city also means that many of
those who live closest have the least wherewithal to afford air travel.

But the bigger issue is that eccentric development had serious consequences, because the terminal is about as badly located as it could be.

A quick look at a map shows the problem – the commercial terminal is in the center of the rectangle formed by the freeways around SBD – I-215 to the west, I-10 along the south, and CA-210 on the north and east. The SBD terminal is essentially as far as it is possible to be from the freeways, the Southern California circulatory system. Yeah, that’s really dumb, because air travel is in significant part about convenience, and end-to-end travel time matters greatly. Before they fly, passengers need to get to the airport, and after they land, they need to get from airport to home. The shorter that journey, the better.

I-10 is the main east-west freeway through the LA basin, and from I-10 to SBD, the relevant road is Tippecanoe. From the I-10 eastbound exit onto Tippecanoe to the SBD terminal, there are 14 traffic lights and a railroad crossing totaling 15 opportunities to stop on the way to the airport after you exit the freeway. Tippecanoe is surrounded by warehouses, including a gigantic complex for the Stater Bros supermarket chain. So there are trucks everywhere and next to the freeway there’s also a Costco, motels and other traffic generators. Tippecanoe is hardly an empty free-wheeling boulevard down which to dash.

It’s little better from the other freeways. Coming eastbound
along CA-210 to the north, it’s 12 traffic lights before the terminal. Coming
northbound along CA-210 to the east, it’s 11 traffic lights. Coming southbound
along I-215 to the west, it’s 16 traffic lights and a railroad crossing. However
you try to get to SBD from a freeway, Google Maps says it’s 3-4 miles and about
a 9 or 10 min drive from the freeway – and that’s at times of the day without
congestion. That is a lot of street driving through a city with an iffy

By comparison, going westbound along I-10 to ONT, it’s only
four traffic lights from the ONT exit to the ONT terminals – only three minutes
and less than a mile according to Google. Once you get to the ONT I-10 exit,
you’re more-or-less there because ONT is immediately to the south. ONT may be
underserved, but it’s not for lack of access.

Whiffing on the one
good terminal location

To be fair, access to SBD was always going to be challenging
because the Santa Ana River runs along the south edge of the airport, and
there’s a decent distance between the Santa Ana and I-10. The Santa Ana is dry
most of the year, but the river and its “washes” (low lying areas into which it
occasionally floods) are environmentally sensitive. So development to the south
of the airport is tough, even though that’s where you’d want a terminal to be
if you want access to I-10. Indeed, the primacy of access to I-10 was once well
understood – in 1980, while Norton AFB was still in operation, a developer
wanted to build a commercial
terminal at Tippecanoe and I-10
. The Air Force pushed back on this idea to
protect the base – only to have it selected for shutdown in 1988.

There is one exception, however. At the western side of the southern edge of the airport is a warehouse complex immediately adjacent to the runway, most of it occupied by two Amazon buildings. This was constructed starting in 2008-2009. Prior to that, the land was vacant. Actually, back in the Air Force days, it was the base’s 18-hole golf course. Apparently it was important to have a place to relax after a busy day shipping draftees to Vietnam.

This location was, by far, the best possible site for an SBD commercial terminal. The location is a four-minute drive from I-10 along Tippecanoe and involves six traffic lights (and the railroad crossing). It’s even faster from I-10 via the Mountain View exit, but access to the Amazon site from I-10 via Mountain View was actually built as part of the Amazon warehouse project; it didn’t exist in 2008. Nonetheless, that site was still by far the best place for a passenger terminal at SBD in terms of access, and when SBIAA/IVDA started thinking about a commercial service in the early-to-mid 2000s, that land was still vacant.

No doubt Amazon also appreciates being close to I-10, but
boxes don’t mind traffic lights and trucks and warehouses and a few extra miles
nearly as much as does human cargo. The site SBD actually used for a terminal
is surrounded by warehouses, so clearly it was at least within the realm of the
possible to have used today’s commercial terminal location for warehouses and
use the Amazon site for a terminal. Indeed, an air cargo base is being
developed for the north side of SBD for what
everyone assumes is Amazon
. Woulda shoulda coulda. Oh well.

Though it still leaves the question as to whether SBD would ever attract commercial service even if it had good access. But to the extent it does, being close to a freeway is a big factor. “Build it and they will come” is a dangerous proposition, but if you build it where access is easy, you’re certainly better off than building it where access is hard. If they can’t find it, they certainly won’t come.

I tend to believe that as LAX and Orange County (SNA) run out of capacity and/or become more expensive, and as Southern California freeways become ever more congested, alternative airports like ONT and SBD will have their day. But for sure that day will come faster if passenger terminals at such airports are easy to access. ONT is in good shape, but stashing the SBD terminal as far from the freeways as possible was the worst thing the SBIAA could have done in that regard. Eight years of vacant terminal baking in the sun is proof, and there’s every chance it will continue to bake, vacant, for years to come, notwithstanding the bargain rates an airline would get at SBD.

Can anything be done?

It would take major investment to improve access to the
current SBD terminal – to eliminate traffic lights (perhaps some kind of
one-way system?), to increase speed limits, etc. It’s not hard to imagine that
in the end it might cost more than re-locating the terminal elsewhere and turning
over the existing space for more warehouses. It seems pretty unlikely that a
limited-access road (i.e. mini freeway) could be built to the existing terminal
from I-10, and that’s really what is needed to properly address the issue.

But the aforementioned problems with the Santa Ana River
likely make another location a heavy lift. Assuming you could wave a magic wand
and eliminate possible environmental issues, perhaps a site south of the runway at the
east end
, near/next to CA-210 might result in the best access, since in
theory it could be immediately adjacent to a freeway, even if is further away
from the vast bulk of the LA Basin (and Inland Empire) population to the west.
Trading off a few more miles for direct freeway access might be worth it.

And if that’s not possible, then the next best place may be to the north and east of
the runway
, again as close to I-210 as possible, along 3rd St.
But these are at best second-and-third best solutions relative to the one that
the airport foreclosed when they whiffed on the location now occupied by
Amazon, and built, instead, on what is almost certainly the worst location.

It turns out that when you empower people who have no idea what they’re doing, bad outcomes can ensue, even if that’s not their intent. What happened at San Bernardino might not have been criminal, but it was surely a mistake. Eight years of vacant terminal has already shown that.

If you missed the first part of this story, you can find it here.

August 15, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airp…

The Folly of San Bernardino International Airport (Part 1):

Long time readers of the blog may remember reading guests posts written by The Cardinal. He has a long history in the airline industry and has always remained anonymous here, but his guest posts stopped back in 2011. I’m happy to report that The Cardinal is back, and I have a two-parter for you. Today he looks at the bizarre history of San Bernardino International Airport. Tomorrow he identifies the current problems and ponders what can be done to fix them.

and San Bernardino Counties
comprise California’s Inland Empire, two giant inland counties behind Los
Angeles and Orange County on the coast. San Bernardino County is physically
enormous, twice the area of the next largest US county, larger than nine US
states and many countries (e.g. Switzerland or the Netherlands). Riverside is
smaller, but still the sixth largest by area in the US. If you’ve ever driven
from LA to Vegas, almost 200
miles of the trip is in San Bernardino County
, from the time you leave LA
County near Pomona, up the Cajon Pass, through desert cities like Victorville,
Barstow and Baker, and until you come down the hill to Primm, Nevada.

Both counties extend over vast stretches of desert to the Arizona border, but near Los Angeles they are densely populated with 2.5 mm people in Riverside and 2.2mm in San Bernardino. That makes them the 10th and 14th largest counties in the US by population. Each county lies in the LA Combined Statistical Area (CSA) — the broadest view of metro area by the US Census Bureau which also incorporates Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura Counties — comprising almost 19mm people, the second largest in the US after the New York CSA. Despite their heft, the Inland Empire counties are relatively poor compared to their coastal counterparts in the LA CSA.

Despite its over 4.6mm people, the Inland Empire has only two airports with commercial service – Ontario (ONT) and Palm Springs (PSP). PSP is in the Coachella Valley which has as many as 0.5mm people located outside the LA Basin. So over 4mm people in the Inland Empire use ONT for air service – or drive, as many do, an hour or two or more (depending on traffic) to coastal LA-area airports like LA Intl (LAX) or Orange County (SNA). It’s not hard to make the case that the Inland Empire is starved for air service. ONT passengers in 2018 were down substantially relative to 1998, despite 30%+ Inland Empire population growth over the same period.

A complete Inland Empire passenger terminal, unwanted, unused – why?

Against this backdrop, consider San Bernardino International Airport (SBD), located in the city of San Bernardino towards the back of the LA Basin. SBD is the former Norton AFB (many US soldiers departed to Vietnam from Norton) and holds certification from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to operate as a commercial passenger airport.

If you zoom Google
satellite view to the northeast corner of SBD, you will find, baking
in the sun, a passenger terminal complex, with check-in desks, baggage systems
and jetway gates on a second floor, up escalators. There are 2,500 parking
spaces. There are elaborate driveways in-and-out of the terminal, ample space
to pick up and let-down passengers from cars and buses. It’s all empty and has
been since it was completed in 2011. Don’t forget the separate one-gate
international terminal. Over $100mm was spent on this vacant complex. Why is it
there and why is no airline interested?

A bizarre development

As a former military base, SBD had Federal money to convert
it to civilian purposes. In the mid 2000s, the agencies in charge, the SBIAA
(San Bernardino Intl Airport Authority) and the IVDA (Inland Valley Development
Agency), got into bed with a man named Scot Spencer. Scot Spencer is a
convicted felon, who spent years in Federal prison for bankruptcy fraud
connected to the third incarnation of Braniff. The
Federal trial judge not only found him criminal but also incompetent. There’s
more. After serving his time he tried selling charter flights and was lifetime banned
from operating an airline after the US Dept of Transportation determined he was
offering such services without proper authority. For good measure they fined
him $1mm. Articles
paint Spencer as inept and unqualified, but with a serious attraction to aviation.
It’s like an airline nerd went to extreme, even criminal, lengths to get and
stay in aviation rather than cope with their addiction by participating in the civil aviation forum.

Spencer was the man entrusted by SBIAA/IVDA with developing
a commercial terminal and other facilities at SBD. Why Spencer? Well, the airport
noted that while the DOT banned him from operating an airline, he was not
banned from operating or developing an airport. And Scot promised what others
would not – that such a terminal would land commercial service. And he offered
to do the job cheap. The estimate was $104mm. He offered to do it for $38mm. Of
course, by the time he was done, it actually cost over $100mm, but that was to

Reading reports about the debacle, you get the sense SBD and
Spencer were made for each other. Scot painted a rosy vision of SBD success (almost
a million enplanements by 2009
!) and the SBIAA really wanted to believe. In
return, SBIAA gave Scot what he wanted – a chance to be a commercial aviation
player. Despite no relevant experience, he got to develop a commercial terminal,
with all the trimmings. Over time, the SBIAA gave Spencer the keys to the
kingdom through a series of no-bid contracts to develop an FBO (and sell the
jet fuel at the airport) and even, ultimately, to run the airport. Oversight
was minimal, and serial cost increases covered without pushback.

Ultimately, it all came crashing down. The incongruity of Spencer’s increasing power on top of overspending resulted in a grand jury investigation, out of which came a damning 2011 audit report flaying Spencer and IVDA/SBIAA. Later that year, the FBI raided the airport and Spencer’s home. SBIAA management was changed out, and Spencer was ejected from his roles. In 2013, Scot Spencer was indicted by the Feds for activities at SBD.

The wheels of justice turn slowly but in this case without result. In 2018, Spencer’s charges were almost completely dropped. No one went to jail or was fined or otherwise faced criminal sanction, other than having to endure a long legal process. There’s little question the SBIAA/IVDA was grossly negligent to entrust SBD fortunes to Scot Spencer. But the Feds were unable to prove malice on Spencer’s part, or anyone else. And while the audits showed rampant failure to adhere to best practices on the part of Spencer or the SBIAA/IVDA, turns out that however cavalier they were with public money, it didn’t rise to the level of criminality, at least not within the ability of the Feds to prove. It’s not against the law to be stupid the way they were, though maybe it should be.

Scot Spencer is no longer involved with the airport, but the terminal is still sitting there completely unused. But why? The Cardinal will tackle that tomorrow.

August 13, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Stephen M. Dickson Sworn in as Administrator o…

Stephen M. Dickson Sworn in as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration:

Dickson brings nearly 40 years of aviation experience to the job and becomes the 18th Administrator of the FAA.

August 13, 2019 at 01:14AM News and Updates

Three Themes From American’s 2020 Summer Sched…

Three Themes From American’s 2020 Summer Schedule Announcement:

American has gotten into a new routine of lumping summer schedule changes into one big release to try to garner buzz. This year, it tried to add mystery to the process with this… interesting… tweet.

That is Vasu Raja, American’s Vice President of Planning, and I spoke with him right before the 2020 Transatlantic package was rolled out to get some more color. Overall, the moves highlight how American views its hubs, particularly Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, and Philadelphia.

Chicago is a Transatlantic Hub, Not a Transpacific One

When American canceled its China flights from Chicago, leaving only a thrice weekly Tokyo flight as its sole Transpacific presence, people wrongly suggested that American was giving up on Chicago. The thing is, American just can’t get Asia to work from there. Those China flights were horrendously unprofitable, and the Tokyo flight probably only remains thanks to the joint venture with Japan Airlines. But while American has given up on Asia, it has not given up on Chicago at all.

Going over the other ocean from Chicago has done quite well for the airline with a very hefty schedule slated for next summer. American is adding all of these with 787-8 aircraft.

  • Chicago to Budapest 4x weekly from May 7 to October 24
  • Chicago to Krakow 5x weekly from May 7 to October 24
  • Chicago to Prague 5x weekly from May 8 to October 24

This really reflects two different things going on. The Budapest and Prague routes are going to be pure leisure. It’s for Americans going over to those hot spots in the summer. American experimented with those last year from Philly, and it worked. Those will remain, so Chicago is just new service.

Isn’t overflying the Philly hub bad? Not in this case. American has found that pairing Chicago and Philly to a destination actually strengthens the route. Consider Prague.

The Philly flight leaves at 6:50pm and gets to Prague at 9:15am. The return is at 11:20am getting back at 3:05pm. Chicago will leave at 6:50pm and get to Prague at 10:50am with a return at 1:05pm back at 4:05pm. This gives travelers around the US more options to work with. If you live in the Midwest, you can leave later and go via Chicago. Or if you’re returning, you can stay in Prague later before coming back home. It also opens up more single-stop opportunities.

Further, Chicago is only 5 days a week, but having Philly operate daily means travelers can mix and match and still get home easily every day of the week. This is what American has seen with other routes, so the pattern continues.

Second, we have Krakow. This is all about visiting friends and relatives. There is a huge ethnic Polish population Chicago. It’s big enough that LOT Polish already flies this route less than daily. American figures it can get a chunk of this traffic for itself.

This isn’t the only growth. American is lengthening the summer season for existing routes as well. Eventually some of those could go year-round. Chicago may not work for the airline over the Pacific, but over the Atlantic, it’s growing and working well.

Philly is for Transatlantic Experiments, But They Don’t All Work

Philadelphia remains a great testing ground for experimental routes. Last year Dubrovnik was a huge success story, and it will go daily next year. Berlin also gets bumped up to daily service. Bologna, on the other hand, was bad. That one isn’t coming back. Of course, if you don’t try a new route like this, you can’t really know if it’ll work regardless of how sophisticated the models are. Philly’s close proximity to a huge population as well as to Europe makes it an easy place to try new things.

Next summer, the big news is that American will start Africa flying with thrice weekly flights to Casablanca from Philly. The flight will operate from June 4 through September 8, so it’s a very short season. Oh, and it’s on a 757. Yep, Casablanca is that close — even closer than Paris.

This route has been rumored for some time, and it’s a great experiment. Royal Air Maroc will be joining oneworld, and while it doesn’t have much in the way of connecting banks into Africa yet, it will. And with a 757, American can pioneer the route with a good chance of finding local traffic going to that hot spot as well as testing the waters with connecting opportunities. This route is a pathfinder, and it’s a low risk one at that.

Similarly, American will move its Keflavik (Iceland) flight from DFW up to Philly. Consider that another experiment.

Almost Anything Works from Dallas/Fort Worth

As American marched toward 900 daily flights at DFW this summer, the mantra was that pretty much anything can work there. They throw in some routes that seem thin, and then they magically do well anyway. It’s the hub that keeps on giving.

There is a limit to this, however, as we’ve seen with American’s decision to move the DFW-Keflavik flight up to Philly. Granted, there were three airlines (American + WOW + Icelandair) in the past and all of them will be gone. DFW might have worked better this year. But what American realized is that much of the demand was in the east, and DFW was a lousy stopping point for that. This year, it expects to do better from Philly gathering all that traffic.

While that route goes away, DFW will be getting an important new flight to Tel Aviv. This marks the airline’s return to Tel Aviv after pulling out from Philly around the time of the US Airways merger. Whatever TWA debts were out there (as the rumor goes) have been settled, and service is ready to start 3 times a week on a 787-9 from next September 9. It’ll be a year-round route.

This seems like a stretch, but for the same reason American moved its Keflavik flight to Philly, it’s starting Tel Aviv from DFW. See, DFW is very well positioned for connecting traffic flows on this route. If you’re thinking about all the possibilities for connections from the western US, that is certainly a part of it since West Coast – Israel flights are few and far between. But don’t forget Latin America. This will be a really easy way for Latin Americans to get to Tel Aviv in a world where not many great options exist.

On top of that, there is a lot of local traffic in the market. I’m told this is the largest route that American hadn’t flown from DFW. If you’re thinking about Jewish traffic, that’s some of it. But it’s really more about Christian travelers. The Metroplex has a whole lot of Christians looking to go to the holy land.

Overall, this paints a picture of a planning team that is following its successes up with new routes that fit the right pattern. But there is also an element of risk in some of these routes that may or may not pay off. That sounds like the kind of place you want to be as an airline. Take a chance and see what works, then keep duplicating as much as you can based upon what rises to the top.

August 12, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents

Fly Safe: Prevent Loss of Control Accidents:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the general aviation (GA) communitys national #FlySafe campaign helps educate GA pilots about how to avoid loss of control (LOC) accidents.

A LOC accident involves an unintended departure of an aircraft from controlled flight. LOC can happen when the aircraft enters a flight regime that is outside its normal flight envelope and quickly develops into a stall or spin. It can introduce an element of surprise for the pilot.

LOC is the number one root cause of fatalities in GA accidents. More than 25 percent of GA fatalities occur during the maneuvering phase of flight. Of those accidents, half involve stall/spin scenarios.

Stay safe! Thisseries will show you how you can incorporate safety into every flight.

Plenty of Sources

You may think you have more than enough weather information, but having that information available is just part of your decision-making equation.

You need to know how to acquire, interpret and make operational decisions based on that information.

Study and Evaluate

Getting weather information is only the first step. Its important that you study and evaluate the information to understand what it means.

The knowledge tests for most pilot certificates include questions on weather theory and use of weather products in aviation. However, it takes continuous study and experience to develop your skill in evaluating and applying weather data to a specific flight.

You might find it helpful to approach the task of practical, real world weather analysis with several basic concepts in mind.

The three basic elements of weather are:

  • Temperature (warm or cold)
  • Wind (a vector with speed and direction)
  • Moisture (or humidity)

Temperature, wind, and moisture combine to varying degrees to create conditions that affect pilots.

The range of possible combinations is nearly infinite, but weather primarily affects pilots in three ways:

  • visibility
  • turbulence
  • effects on aircraft performance

How Will the Weather Affect You?

One approach to practical weather analysis is to review weather data in terms of how current and forecast conditions will affect visibility, turbulence, and aircraft performance for your specific flight.

Suppose you want to make a flight from Cincinnati Municipal Airport (KLUK) to Ohio State University Airport in Columbus, Ohio (KCMH). You want to depart KLUK around 1830Z and fly VFR at 5,500 MSL. Your estimated time enroute is approximately one hour.

  • Your first step is to look at your weather data in terms of the ways in which weather can affect your flight: turbulence, visibility, and aircraft performance. Organize the information into a format that works for you, and then make the decision. Make an honest evaluation of whether your skill and/or aircraft capability are up to the challenge posed by this particular set of weather conditions.

It is very important to consider whether the combined pilot-aircraft team is sufficient.

  • For example, you may be a very experienced, proficient, and current pilot, but your weather flying ability is still limited if you are flying an older aircraft with no weather avoidance technology.
  • On the other hand, you may have a new aircraft with all the bells and whistles, but if you dont have much weather flying experience, the aircraft cant compensate for your own lack of experience.
  • You must also ensure that you are fully proficient in the use of onboard equipment, and that it is functioning properly.
  • One way to self-check your decision (regardless of your experience) is to ask yourself if the flight has any chance of appearing in the next days newspaper. If the result of the evaluation process leaves you in any doubt, then you need to develop safe alternatives.

Think of the preflight weather plan as a strategic, big picture exercise. The goal is to ensure that you have identified all the weather-related hazards for this particular flight, and planned for ways to eliminate or mitigate each one.

  • Escape Options: Know where you can find good weather within your aircrafts range and endurance capability. Where is it? Which direction do you turn to get there? How long will it take to get there?
  • When the weather is instrument meteorological conditions (ceiling 1,000 feet or less and visibility 3 nm or less), identify an acceptable alternative airport for each 25-30 nm segment of your route.
  • Reserve Fuel: Knowing where to find visual flight rules weather does you no good unless you have enough fuel to reach it. Flight planning for only a legal fuel reserve could significantly limit your options if the weather deteriorates.
  • More fuel means access to more alternatives. Having plenty of fuel also spares you the worry (and distraction) of fearing fuel exhaustion when weather has already increased your cockpit workload.
  • Terrain Avoidance: Know how low you can go without encountering terrain and/or obstacles. Consider a terrain avoidance plan for any flight.

Finally, fly regularly with a certified flight instructor who will challenge you to review what you know, explore new horizons, and to always do your best.

Be sure to document your achievement in the WINGS Pilot Proficiency Program ( Its a great way to stay on top of your game and satisfy your flight review requirements.

More about Loss of Control

Contributing factors may include:

  • Poor judgment or aeronautical decision making
  • Failure to recognize an aerodynamic stall or spin and execute corrective action
  • Intentional failure to comply with regulations
  • Failure to maintain airspeed
  • Failure to follow procedure
  • Pilot inexperience and proficiency
  • Use of prohibited or over-the-counter drugs, illegal drugs, or alcohol

Did you know?

  • From October 2017 through September 2018, 382 people died in 226 general aviation accidents.
  • Loss of Control was the number one cause of these accidents.
  • Loss of Control happens in all phases of flight.It can happen anywhere and at any time.
  • There is one fatal accident involving Loss of Control every four days.

Learn more:

Check out this Pilots Guide for Aviation Weather from the National Weather Service.

This FAA Safety Guide will give you what you need to know about weather briefings and decision-making.

AOPA has a number of helpful weather resources, which you can find here.

Whats coming for the future? Learn about the benefits NextGen is bringing here.

Time is getting short!! The FAAs Equip ADS-B website gives you the information you need to equip now.

Curious about FAA regulations (Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations)? Its a good idea to stay on top of them. You can find current FAA regulations on this website.

TheFAASafety.govwebsite has Notices, FAAST Blasts, online courses, webinars, and more on key general aviation safety topics.

TheWINGS Pilot Proficiency Programhelps pilots build an educational curriculum suitable for their unique flight requirements. It is based on the premise that pilots who maintain currency and proficiency in the basics of flight will enjoy a safer and more stress-free flying experience.

TheGeneral Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC)is comprised of government and industry experts who work together to use data to identify risk, pinpoint trends through root cause analysis, and develop safety strategies to reduce the risk of GA accidents. The GAJSC combines the expertise of many key decision makers in the FAA, several government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and stakeholder groups. Industry participants include the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Experimental Aircraft Association, General Aviation Manufacturers Association, Light Aircraft Manufacturers Association, National Business Aviation Association, National Air Transportation Association, National Association of Flight Instructors, Society of Aviation and Flight Educators, and the aviation insurance industry. The National Transportation Safety Board and the European Aviation Safety Agency participate as observers.

August 08, 2019 at 08:11PM News and Updates

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Takes Us to Our Real Vacati…

‘Ohana by Hawaiian Takes Us to Our Real Vacation in Lana’i (Trip Report):

Only a few days after arriving in Honolulu, it was time for — as I called it on Twitter — vacation inception. My wife and I left the kids with our friends on O’ahu and we went for a vacation within a vacation: 2 nights on Lana’i. I will be writing up my experience on Lana’i separately, but for now, let’s talk about flights.

Since Lana’i was the only one of the six main Hawaiian islands that I hadn’t visited, it was at the top of my list. (My quick turn to try out ‘Ohana by Hawaiian back in 2014 didn’t count.)

We picked up tickets on ‘Ohana by Hawaiian for $168.16 each roundtrip (or actually, the equivalent in Chase Ultimate Rewards). Then, I was fortunate enough to be offered a deeply-discounted travel agent rate for the Four Seasons Lana’i thanks to Cranky Concierge being a Four Seasons Preferred Partner. We paid an average of only about $200 a night for the room, about $1,000 less than the going rate.

It didn’t take long for us to learn that North Shore traffic (where we are staying on O’ahu) is bad on weekends and weekday afternoons… and kind of all the time. It’s so bad that I kept a close eye on traffic before our morning flight just to make sure it wouldn’t cause us to miss the flight. Fortunately, things were moving fine, and it took us just under an hour to get to the airport. We arrived about an hour before our flight, but then things took a turn for the worse.

Legend has it that there is an economy parking lot that’s $12 a day, but the legend is just a myth. Apparently, there used to be such a lot near the commuter terminal, but that was razed. It wasn’t clear to me, however, so we kept trying to find it. The tangle of congested and poorly-signed roads at the airport can make for a harrowing experience. We went around the airport twice and never found the lot. Instead, running tight on time, we gave up and parked in the Terminal 1 garage. It’s strange, but there is no longer any long-term parking at the airport, and there don’t really appear to be many private options either.

The terminal 1 garage is really just a byzantine set of ramps with parking spaces that are regularly full. It took a long time for us to get up to the top level where we finally scored a spot near the airport conference center. Side note: I learned there’s an airport conference center on top of the parking garage.

By the time we parked, it was only half an hour before our flight, and I was getting a little anxious, not knowing what security would look like. We walked in on the mauka (toward the mountain, north in this case) side of Terminal 1 and there was a tiny Precheck checkpoint that didn’t have a long line. We headed in there, and when the woman with a large family in front of us overheard me say to my wife that we were cutting it close, she kindly asked if we wanted to go ahead of them. We made it through and walked all the way over to the ‘Ohana gate on the other side… only to find that our airplane wasn’t even there.

The monitors said the inbound would arrive late at 10:30am, but it didn’t. It got there maybe about 10 minutes later, and they were slow to unload. A delay never posted for our flight, but we didn’t even start boarding until after the original departure time.

I asked the gate agent if the flight was full, and she shook her head saying it wasn’t. We headed down to the ramp to board the airplane from the outside.

July 22, 2019
‘Ohana by Hawaiian 634 Lv Honolulu 1051a Arr Lana’i 1125a
Honolulu (HNL): Gate B1, Runway 8R, Depart 16m Late
Lana’i (LNY): Gate 3, Runway 3, Arrive 15m Late
N801HC, ATR 42-500, Standard Ohana colors, ~85% Full
Seat 1D, Coach
Flight Time 20m

As soon as we boarded the ramp in the rear of the aircraft, I asked the flight attendant, Darren, if there was still an ‘ukulele onboard. It was on my first ‘Ohana flight years ago that I learned of this unique feature, and it is what started me off playing the instrument myself. Here’s the photo I took on that flight when I had no idea how to play it at all.

As I explained briefly to Darren, I’d love to get it and tune it up… give it some love and play a few songs. But he curtly said it was sealed up and I couldn’t have it. Well, ok then.

We took our seats in the next to last row on the left side, row 12, as they got us ready for departure. The gate agent must have a very strange definition of a “not full” flight, because this one only had a handful of seats open. It was filled with laborers and tourists, all going to the same place for very different reasons.

After the safety demonstration, the flight attendant came back and asked those of us in the last two rows if two of us would move forward for weight and balance. The others back there were workers who wanted to stay as close to the exit as possible so they could get off and go to work. My wife and I didn’t care, so we volunteered. At the front, the little lounge area was empty, so we sat on the window facing each other. I took this photo in the same seat I had taken years ago as I strummed the ‘ukulele. This time, my hands were empty.

We took off to the east as usual, and climbed up through the lowest scattered layer of clouds. It was a cloudy day with poor visibility, so we couldn’t see much at all on the way over. We settled just under the overcast cloud deck in smooth skies for our brief cruise. The flight attendant came through with a choice of water or POG juice, and we took the opportunity to toast our mini-vacation.

Moments later, we were descending. It was so hazy and cloudy that we couldn’t even see Maui on our way in.

We landed and, since we were up front, we were the last ones to get off the airplane. The Four Seasons had a van waiting to take us away for our adventure. As I mentioned before, I’ll have much more on the experience on Lana’i in a separate post.

After two glorious nights away, it was time to come back to O’ahu. As we boarded the van at the hotel, one of the staff members was playing Aloha ‘Oe, Queen Lili’uokalani’s famous song which in English means, Farewell to Thee.

We arrived at the airport an hour before our flight, and that seemed entirely excessive. (You may think my lei and hat are entirely excessive as well, but I wore them with pride and appreciated the hard work that went into making them.)

There is nothing beyond security, so we just sat outside on a bench and enjoyed the afternoon. I checked the local timetable on the wall which was surprisingly kept up to date.

Then I pulled up Flightradar24 to find that our airplane hadn’t yet left Honolulu, so I kept tabs to see when it would get in the air. Only when our inbound plane landed did we opt to head through security.

Lana’i does Precheck light where you still need to pull all your stuff out of your bags. They scrutinized everything VERY carefully, far more carefully than you’d think Lana’i departures would require.

By the time we got through, boarding had just begun.

July 24, 2019
‘Ohana by Hawaiian 655 Lv Lana’i 218p Arr Honolulu 250p
Lana’i (LNY): Gate 3, Runway 21, Depart On Time
Honolulu (HNL): Gate B1, Runway 8L, Arrive 5m Late
N805HC, ATR 42-500, Standard Ohana colors, ~50% Full
Seat 11D, Coach
Flight Time 27m

This time we had seats 11C and D, hoping to have a good view of Moloka’i on our way back.

Our flight attendant was again Darren, just as it was on the way out, so I didn’t bother to ask for the ‘ukulele. I already knew his answer.

We started up right on time and headed to the runway, launching to the south over the water. We climbed to the towering height of 8,000 feet and turned toward O’ahu. But then we made an odd left turn out over the water. The pilots came on and apologized, saying that we would have to vector a bit because another plane coming from West Maui had to land before us. I’m not sure why that was the case, but it meant we zigged and zagged a couple times before resuming our course.

We descended fairly early and leveled off at 1,500 feet before we could even see O’ahu. Just after leveling, air traffic control must have told them to speed up, because the props got loud and we picked up speed. It was loud and downright bouncy at 1,500 feet, and it was only slightly unnerving to see the whitecaps dotting the windswept sea not far below us.

Soon, O’ahu came into view. We came nearly straight in, perpendicular to the reef runway, before hanging a right and planting ourselves down on the ground.

Taxi-in was quick, and we almost would have made it on time had we not had to wait for the West Maui flight to unload at the same gate as us.

August 08, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Join Me As I Fly Around the Hawaiian Islands T…

Join Me As I Fly Around the Hawaiian Islands Today with Hawaiian Airlines:

Remember when I took those 8 flights touching 9 airports all within California? Today, two days shy of the three year anniversary of that adventure, I’m doing it again. You can follow along on Twitter with the #HawaiianFlyin hashtag.

Ok, I’m not REALLY doing it again. Instead I’m taking the concept to another state — one of the only other states where it’s possible to fly a bunch of flights without touching the same airport twice. Since I’m spending a month in Hawai’i, I brainstormed with the Hawaiian Airlines folks to see what we could do for one fun day.

Disclaimer: Hawaiian provided today’s flights for me

After studying the schedules, I proposed the idea of spending the day flying to every 717 station without touching the same airport twice (until the end when I had to get back to Honolulu). They agreed, and so today is the day that I get to experience a whole lot of Douglas metal. Here’s the plan:

This one is very different from when I did the California run. It involves fewer, shorter flights, but I’ve built in longer layovers along the way so that I could learn something unique by meeting with people at each station. This is as much about what happens on the ground as what happens in the air.

If you’d like to follow along, I’ll be tweeting as I go from @crankyflier using the hashtag #HawaiianFlyin. I’m not messing around with livestreams or updating this post before and after each flight. I want to focus on learning at each stop along the way. I will, of course, write this up in much greater detail down the line.

August 07, 2019 at 01:45PM Source:

Delta and Others Try to Fix Alitalia, But They…

Delta and Others Try to Fix Alitalia, But They’ll Fail:

After years of delays and failures, the Worst Airline Ever, Alitalia, has a shiny new reorganization plan which will thrust it into the pantheon of the world’s great airlines. I almost wrote that without laughing.

Perhaps I’m overstating things. There is no actual “plan,” or at least none that has been released. Instead, what we have is the line-up of entites that are going to put money into the new, new, new Alitalia in exchange for an ownership stake. I’m sure there will eventually be an actual commercial plan to fix the airline, but that won’t matter. As long as the government continues to prop this airline up and avoid a real, full reorganization, it will never succeed.

You’ll recall this latest attempt at reorganizing started after the last effort led by Etihad went south. Etihad’s strategy to invest in failing carriers would have bankrupted any other airline. But when you’re backed by the government, you don’t have that problem. The thing is, even the Abu Dhabi government has its limits. Alitalia was going to get a divorce from Etihad, but it just couldn’t find a way to live on its own without those deep pockets. It needed to find another beau to survive.

The government funded the airline while it worked on finding a good — ok, “somewhat acceptable” should suffice — option. Late last year, the government finally made a move, sort of. Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane, the national rail company, was tasked with taking over the airline, but it wouldn’t do it alone. It had to put together a group of investors. This process was delayed time and time again, but we now have a path forward financially.

The biggest partner — reportedly with the same 35 percent stake as Ferrovie dello Stato Italiane — is Atlantia, an Italian firm that primarily builds and operates roads and bridges. Depending upon who you ask, Atlantia doesn’t appear to be particularly good at this. Remember the bridge that collapsed in Genoa killing more than three dozen? That was Atlantia’s.

In fact, Atlantia was in hot water after the bridge collapse, and there was discussion about it losing its rights to continue operating much of its holdings in Italy. CBS News noted:

Premier Giuseppe Conte and key ministers said they are launching the process to revoke the concession, citing inadequate maintenance. Prosecutors are investigating both the maintenance and design of the bridge as a cause of the deadly collapse.

Now, let’s say you’re the government. You have a company that has allegedly run a poor operation and put people in danger with inadequate maintenance. How would you punish the company? Oh right, make it invest in Alitalia. That is punishment, though the optics of having a large equity investment from a company that the government recently accused of performing inadequate maintenance is just…. I suppose I have inadequate words to describe this.

So, you have the state-owned railway leading the charge by presumably pushing Atlantia — which I think we can all agree is far too similar in name to Alitalia — to join the coalition. If it doesn’t, well, who knows what repercussions there might be. The government itself will also maintain a smaller stake on its own. It sounds like we have a new “coalition of the willing” in our midst.

But wait, there’s actually one more investor, and this one participated all on its own accord. Delta — an airline that loves stakes in airlines but usually not ones that are likely to fail — is going to put a little money in.

Before you wonder if Delta has gone completely mad, there is a rationale for this. Alitalia is a part of the Delta/Air France/KLM joint venture today, and Delta likes having the feed in Italy, a big and important market in Europe. So that traffic and relationship is worth something right off the bat. It’s worth even more when you consider that if Delta doesn’t step up, that traffic could align with United or American (or one of their partners) and shift it all away from Delta.

We don’t yet know how much of a stake Delta is taking — unconfirmed reports say 15 percent — nor how much they had to put in to acquire that, but presumably they did the math and assumed it was worth a gamble. Now Delta has to just hope that the investment can be recouped before Alitalia goes bankrupt again.

This is far from a done deal, but the pieces are coming together. Once it’s done, then we will presumably hear more grandiose plans about how Alitalia will turn itself around. At this point, however, the troublesome meddling of the Italian government all but ensures whatever the plan is, it won’t work. As if that’s not bad enough, there’s still Air Italy flooding capacity in the market as well as the low cost carriers from easyJet and Ryanair to Ernest.

Alitalia hasn’t really mattered for a long time. If it disappeared, its capacity would just be replaced by others quickly. But pride is a funny thing, and the Italian government can’t admit defeat. The madness continues.

August 06, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: