Category: flights

FAA Inks Aviation Agreements with Brazil and C…

FAA Inks Aviation Agreements with Brazil and Canada:

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has signed separate agreements with Brazils Agncia Nacional de Aviao Civil (ANAC) and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) that will make it easier to approve each countrys aircraft and aviation products for their growing aviation markets.

For many years, the FAA and Brazils ANAC have been cooperating to enhance aviation safety, security, and other areas. Brazil is a member of the quadrilateral Certification Management Team (CMT). They have responsibility for Embraer, the preeminent Brazilian aircraft manufacturer.

The first FAA-ANAC Implementation Procedures Agreement (IPA) was signed in September 2006, with two amendments thereafter, most recently in February 2016. The revision signed today expands the IPA to include Part 23 (General Aviation Aircraft) and provides risk based decision criteria for the U.S. and Brazil to validate each others aviation products.

The latest revision maximizes reliance on each countrys certification authorities and reduces redundant validation activities and resources. It also more closely aligns the IPA with the bilateral agreements of the other CMT partners (the European Union and Canada). The ANAC IPA revision has a 3-month implementation period, which provides much-needed time to familiarize all stakeholders with its content.

The FAA and TCCA also continued their long tradition of cooperation. The two agencies signed a Shared Surveillance Management Plan that defines the process by which they recognize each others surveillance of manufacturers and their suppliers in the United States and Canada.

The Plan ensures manufacturers, certificate holders, production approval holders and suppliers are complying with the responsible countries applicable regulatory requirements. The plan requires manufacturers to comply with an approved quality system and ensure their subcontractors and suppliers also meet the applicable requirements and adhere to quality standards

The result will be less need for FAA and TCCA aviation inspectors to travel to each others facilities to do surveillance. Previously this was done on a case-by-case basis.

September 21, 2018 at 11:56PM News and Updates

3 Links I Love: Interviewing United Execs, Ram…

3 Links I Love: Interviewing United Execs, Ramping Up Against Gulf Carriers, Sun Country Look Back:

Tomorrow is Dorkfest!  Hope to see some of you at In-N-Out by LAX between 11 and 1p…

This week’s featured link:
How United’s Working to Right the Ship: An Interview With UA LeadersThe Points Guy
Chris Sloan did an interview with United COO Greg Hart and CCO Andrew Nocella.  It’s a long read and worthwhile, but I found it interesting that some of the comments made seem to go against what Scott Kirby told me and others at Boyd this year.  In particular, the COO says the airline is investing in the Dulles facility while Scott Kirby sounded like that wasn’t the case.

Two for the road:
American CEO on Gulf Carrier Pact: ‘Someone Is Cheating Already’ – Skift
I listened to the A4A summit and heard the whole interview with Doug Parker.  As Skift points out, there’s already some talk about whether the Gulf Carriers aren’t holding up their end of the bargain on the recent agreement between the US and UAE.  Of course, the agreement itself was entirely nebulous and nothing is really being broken here, but it sounds like it might be time for rhetoric to start up again.

Former Sun Country owner learned a lesson: ‘Don’t fly under the radar’ – Minneapolis StarTribune
A few interesting nuggets as the former owners talk about owning Sun Country.

September 21, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Fee Regulation: Congress Should Give Up and Ai…

Fee Regulation: Congress Should Give Up and Airlines Should Shut Up:

Fall must nearly be here.  The air is crisp, leaves are changing colors, and Congress is trying to regulate airline fees.  It’s a time-honored tradition, and one so dependable that I was able to reuse the image below from a previous post.  Even some of those faces are the same.

As usual, I think this latest plan is a bad one, but I also wish American would stop throwing around threats about what will happen if this comes to fruition.  It’s not helping.

The plan this time (aka Fee Regulation Act #3,958) comes from the Senate.  The idea is to regulate the level of fees that can be charged by airlines.  Specifically, it’s in section 3129 of the Senate FAA re-authorization bill.

…the Secretary of Transportation shall prescribe regulations–
(1) prohibiting an air carrier from imposing fees described in subsection (b)(1) that are unreasonable or disproportional to the costs incurred by the air carrier; and
(2) establishing standards for assessing whether fees described in subsection (b) are reasonable and proportional to the costs incurred by the air carrier.

The fees in question are those for changes, cancellations, checked bags, seat selection, same day change or standby… and “any other fee.”  So, yeah, it’s broad.  Even though the Senate is telling the DOT to figure out how to do it, it’s not leaving much to chance.  The guidelines demonstrating exactly what needs to be considered in determining the costs involved are quite detailed.

This idea is, to put it bluntly, stupid.  In what industry are the players forced to price based upon costs?  You think your iPhone is sold as a reasonable mark-up over the cost of sweatshop labor in Asia?  No, it’s priced based on what the market will bear.  That’s the foundation of a free market.

There must be limits to this, of course.  That’s why we have rules around things like monopoly pricing power and gouging.  It’s hard to define that in the airline industry and previous cases have often resulted in no action, but an attempt to define and regulate that wouldn’t be objectionable.  That is absolutely not what’s happening in this proposal.

Why is this bad?  Well, let’s look at change fees, for example.  I find the standard $200 change fee obnoxiously high.  We can argue whether there’s collusion on that or not and whether it should be challenged.  But the proposal here would require airlines to charge change fees based solely on:

  • The net benefit to the airline after considering the ability to anticipate expected cancellations and changes, ability to fill a seat after someone changes off a flight, the difference in fare paid for a ticket sold to fill that seat vs the original value, and the likelihood that the changing passenger will fill another seat on another flight
  • The costs of processing the change electronically
  • Any related labor costs

This is completely ridiculous.  So the airline will have to build some sort of interactive model that updates in real-time to determine the valid change fee? Or do you just have to take a random average over time throughout the network and then apply that number across the board?  Neither solution makes sense.

Fortunately, this probably won’t happen.  Last I checked, the House version didn’t have this in it, and I assume it will quietly disappear if there’s ever a final bill.  Considering how bad Congress is at putting together any FAA re-authorization, it remains to be seen if we’ll see any bill pass at all.

But let’s pretend it does happen.  Then what?  Well, unless the airlines can magically make their models reflect the existing change fee as being valid, fees are going to have to go down.  Hooray, victory for consumers, right?  Of course not.

This can go a couple of ways.  Airlines need to make a healthy profit.  Fares are low on a historical level, but much of that is true because of all these optional fees that have sprung up in the last decade.  Change fees alone are big business.  In the first half of this year, DOT-reporting airlines took in more than $1.3 billion in change fees alone.  American had the most with $450 million.

If these fees get cut in half, do you think American is going to just say “aw shucks, that’s a bummer”?  Of course it won’t.  American has decided to speak out about its plans.  CEO Doug Parker told a group in Texas this week that it would consider eliminating the ability to change tickets at all if this were to happen.  That may sound like a valid threat, but to me it rings hollow.  When Doug used to talk about the 3-hour tarmac delay rule, he used to say that the airlines brought it upon themselves by having so many bad incidents.  This is the same situation.  If American opted to retaliate against bad legislation by banning changes, then it would find itself facing worse legislation due to its actions.  I wish American wouldn’t say stuff like this, because it just makes people angry at the airline.

What’s more likely is that fares would rise.  The airlines want to maintain healthy margins.  If fee revenue drops significantly, then they have to pick it up elsewhere.  With fees regulated across the board, the only place to gain is via increased fares.  It’s just moving the money around, but it will likely result in reduced service.  If fares have to go up, demand will go down.

This whole thing is a bad idea, but American isn’t helping things by speaking about it.  Just work the halls of Congress and let it die the quiet death it deserves.

September 20, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

3 Links I Love: Sabre Warms to NDC, OneJet and…

3 Links I Love: Sabre Warms to NDC, OneJet and WOW Air Face Trouble:

This week’s featured link:
Sabre Agrees to Pilot New Technologies With American Airlines and Other Travel GiantsSkift
Distribution-giant Sabre spent a long, long time fighting against the use of NDC to modernize airline distribution, but under Sean Menke, the company has finally lurched forward and joined the party. That’s a good thing, because it would have been left behind if it continued down its previous self-destructive path. This announcement shows Sabre partnering with the right people to try to make the changes that airlines and agencies have pushed for time and time again. Considering the company’s track record, I won’t believe this until I see it, but for the first time I’m cautiously optimistic. Sabre is a tough company to change, but it feels like there’s progress being made for the better.

Two for the road:
Pittsburgh sues OneJet for $763k+ due to contract breachch-aviation
It looks like OneJet’s plan to take advantage of generous airport/city support has run into a snag. OneJet pulled out of most of its Pittsburgh markets (or didn’t start them) before it was allowed to, and now Pittsburgh wants its money back. It gets worse, yesterday the acquisition of Ultimate Jetcharters fell through. This isn’t sounding good at all.

WOW Air seeks investorsiceland monitor
WOW is private, so we don’t know much about its performance… until now. It’s losing money, unsurprisingly, and it needs to raise more. What I’d like to know is whether it makes money during the summer and then loses it all in the winter OR if it just doesn’t make money at any time. It’s hard to know if there’s a sustainable airline buried in there or not without seeing more detail.

August 17, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

If You Think Fares Are Confusing for Travelers…

If You Think Fares Are Confusing for Travelers, What About the Poor Pricing Analyst?:

When I first came out of college in 1999, I started work as an analyst in pricing & tariffs for America West Airlines. I realize I sound like an old man when I say this, but back then it was a simpler time. When I left in 2002 to go to grad school, the industry had changed but pricing really hadn’t. A la carte pricing had yet to take hold, and the fare was still pretty much all people paid to travel. Since then, of course, things have changed rapidly. While it is obviously hard for travelers to keep up with these changes, I hadn’t even thought about how it would be for those doing my old job. A press release about a patent that ATPCO just received got me thinking.

ATPCO is the airline-owned Airline Tariff Publishing Company. For decades, ATPCO has been the clearinghouse for airline fares and rules. Airlines would file everything with ATPCO, and then it would compile and distribute that information to travel agents, distribution systems, other airlines, etc. As a one-stop shop, it just made it easy to propagate changes to everyone who was selling tickets. Now I know I acted like times were simpler back then, but they were never really simple. When fares combined with rules, airlines could put last ticketing dates, restrict travel dates, pick only certain days/times where a fare was valid, limit availability to specific flights or combinations of flights with other airlines, add seasonal restrictions, apply surcharges, require an advance purchase, apply minimum and maximum stays, use blackout dates, and restrict by routing. There was a lot in there, but when it came to the consumer making a decision, the only real difference within any single cabin was whether the fares were refundable or not. The rest of the product was the same.

Now, different fares bring very different product offerings with them. To make some sense of this, airlines have organized fares into various fare families, but these aren’t standardized. It can be very difficult to compare apples to apples. Consumer-facing websites have done a truly lousy job of displaying product differences between fares, though there has been some effort to fix that. I just wrote about how American was adding a carry-on bag back to the Basic Economy fare, because Google Flights put a simple filter that allowed consumers to request only fares that included a carry-on in the price. When people selected that, American was not competitive with Delta, an airline which includes a carry-on in its Basic Economy fare. That seemingly simple ability to categorize fares into what people want has materially impacted American’s ability to make money, and so American had to change its product to align with the market. But now think about it from a pricing analyst perspective.

I looked up fares from LA to Frankfurt in November and found far more than 650 different fares filed. (It caps at 650 unless you narrow it down further, and the 650th fare was still a low coach fare for under $2,000 roundtrip.) Just look at the dizzying array of fare families from some of the European carriers:

  • Aeroflot – Economy Saver, Economy Classic, Economy Flex
  • Air France/KLM – Economy Standard, Economy Standard Plus, Economy Full Flex
  • Alitalia – Economy Classic, Economy Flex
  • British Airways – Basic Economy, Standard Economy, Economy Fully Flex
  • Finnair – Light, Standard, Flexible
  • Iberia – Basic, Optima, Flexible
  • Lufthansa – Without Bag, Including Bag
  • SAS – SAS Go Saver, SAS Go, SAS Go Flex
  • TAP Air Portugal – Basic, Classic, Plus

How the heck is an analyst supposed to keep this straight? Airlines do use sophisticated tools to analyze pricing in the marketplace. Some airlines have developed their own tools while others purchase them off the shelf. Presumably some are better than others (it’s been years since I’ve looked at one), but there’s always room for improvement. This, apparently, is the focus of this patent from ATPCO. The press release is fairly vague, but I did have the chance to speak with John Murphy, VP of Technology, Navid Abbassi, Chief Architect, and David Peart, R&D Innovation Architect so I could try to wrap my head around what they’re doing.

So far there aren’t a ton of tools that are out there using this patented technology, but ATPCO has started to develop some. Here’s a look at the Total Price Comparison tool which is the most interesting so far.

This looks at the lowest fare by airline in each market over time, and it includes all surcharges and taxes. Presumably this will also have the ability to do it by fare attribute (carry-on bag, etc) over time. The idea behind the patent is that it can deconstruct and compare fares to each other in real-time based upon the attributes.

ATPCO isn’t interested in this patent just so it can sell some tools, however. This is really a play by ATPCO to remain relevant any way it can. The base functionality of ATPCO as a fare and rule aggregator is a relic from another time. That’s not to say the function isn’t useful, but there’s so much technology today to allow disintermediation that ATPCO has to find a way to stay in the game. It is planning on not only developing its own tools using this technology but also allowing others to develop off this.

I know what you’re saying… “this makes it easier for a pricing analyst, but what the heck do I care?” Well, if pricing analysts can get better information and get a true sense of the dynamics of the market in real time, it should allow them to keep their airline more competitive with others. That doesn’t guarantee fares will come down, but increased competition usually pushes things in that direction.

August 16, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Drones and Wildfires Don’t Mix-Period

Drones and Wildfires Don’t Mix-Period:

If you fly your drone anywhere near a wildfire, you could get someone killed.

Thats the stern warning the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. wildland fire agencies have for pilots of unmanned aircraft (UAS, or more popularly drones) who interfere with fighting wildfires. When firefighting aircraft have to be grounded due to an unauthorized drone flight, there are serious risks not just to first responders but also to anyone in the fires path.

Authorized drone missions by the proper authorities can yield valuable information to firefighters by detecting hotspots, charting a fires spread and the progress in controlling a blaze. But when an unauthorized drone is spotted, they may have to stop all helicopter and airplane operations. Unauthorized drone flights create collision hazards to firefighting aircraft and can distract pilots who are operating in stressful and challenging conditions. Wildland fire agency reports give a sense of how a single errant drone can disrupt operations:

Drone spotted by pilot at eye level during [helicopter] bucket work spotted a drone over fire. All helicopter operations shut downUAS incursion stopped aerial firefighting assets UAS intrusion into TFR (Temporary Flight Restriction). Helicopters disengaged from fire.

If you own a drone, DO NOT fly near or over a wildfire, said FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell. Its against the law, and firefighting aircraft could be grounded, disrupting time-critical firefighting efforts. Your hobby is not worth another persons life.

Most members of the public would never dream of standing in front of a fire engine to stop it from getting to a wildfire, but thats essentially what theyre doing to aerial firefighting aircraft when they fly a drone over or near a wildfire, said Jennifer Jones, spokesperson with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

If unauthorized drone operations interfere with wildfire suppression, law enforcement, or emergency response efforts, those drone operators could face civil penalties that exceed $20,000 and potential criminal prosecution.

Anyone who witnesses or has information about an unauthorized drone flight over or near a wildfire should immediately contact local law enforcement.

Deterring interference with first responders, as well as giving way to other aircraft in the sky, becomes more important as drone use expands exponentially. The FAAs rules for flying unmanned aircraft are clear. Keep your drone away from other aircraft operations, including aerial firefighting missions.

You just might save someones life.

August 15, 2018 at 10:06PM News and Updates

FAA Establishes Restrictions on Drone Operatio…

FAA Establishes Restrictions on Drone Operations over DOD Facilities:

At the request of its Federal security partners, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations 99.7 Special Security Instructions to address concerns about drone operations over national security-sensitive facilities by establishing temporary flight restrictions specific to unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).

In cooperation with Department of Defense (DOD), the FAA is establishing additional restrictions on drone flights up to 400 feet within the lateral boundaries of the following Federal facilities:

  • National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) West near St. Louis, MO
  • NGA Next West near St. Louis, MO
  • NGA Arnold near St. Louis, MO

These changes, which are highlighted by FAA NOTAM FDC 8/7350, are pending until they become effective on August 30, 2018. Note that there are only a few exceptions that permit drone flights within these restrictions, and they must be coordinated with the individual facility and/or the FAA.

Operators who violate the flight restrictions may be subject to enforcement action, including potential civil penalties and criminal charges.

Information on the FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), which defines these restrictions, and all of the currently covered locations, can be found on our website.To ensure the public is aware of these restricted locations, this FAA website also provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other important details. These restrictions also are depicted in the FAAs B4UFLY mobile app.

Additional, broader information regarding flying drones in the National Airspace System, including frequently asked questions, is available on the FAAs UAS website.

The FAA continues to consider additional requests by eligible Federal security agencies for UAS-specific flight restrictions using the Agencys 99.7 authority as they are received. Additional changes to these restrictions will be announced by the FAA as appropriate.

August 15, 2018 at 08:10PM News and Updates

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 the best practices to calculate and predict aircraft performance and to operate within established aircraft limitations.

A Loss of Control (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.

Heads-Up! Did You Know

  • More than 25 percent of general aviation fatal accidents occur during the maneuvering phase of flight, which is turning, climbing, or descending close to the ground.
  • More than half of the stall or spin accidents occur in the traffic pattern, usually too close to the ground for recovery.

These are ample reasons why you need to brush up on your maneuvering skills.

As a pilot, maneuvering flight operations deserve your full attention, especially during:

  • Take-offs, landings, and go-arounds
  • Stalls and spins
  • Formation, aerobatics, and training
  • Forced/emergency landings
  • Photography

Training is Important

Remember your stall and spin training? You need to revisit it frequently. Try practicing stalls, or approaches to stalls, at a safe altitude with an experienced instructor.

Remember that turns, either vertical or horizontal, load the wings and increase the stall speed.

Other ways to avoid stalls include:

  • Avoid target fixation Focus on flying the airplane, not what is on the ground. Too much focus on the ground can lead to a stall, and you may not recover!
  • No buzzing! Flying low and fast over a target in order to show off your piloting skills is NEVER a good idea and can easily lead to a stall. Buzzing is the cause of 32 percent of maneuvering accidents. Worse yet, theyre usually fatal.

Keep Your Priorities Straight

Finally, here are some maneuvering tips to remember:

  • The slower you go, the more you need to focus on flying the airplane.
  • Minimize distractions, especially when taking off, approaching, descending, and landing.
  • Review all requirements, procedures, and numbers BEFORE you need to use them.
  • Watch your airspeed, and keep your head in the game.

Message from Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell:
The FAA and industry are working together to prevent Loss of Control (LOC) accidents and save lives. You can help make a difference by joining our #Fly Safe campaign. Every month on, we provide pilots with Loss of Control solutions developed by a team of experts some of which are already reducing risk. I hope you will join us in this effort and spread the word. Follow #FlySafe on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. I know that we can reduce these accidents by working together as a community.

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 2016 through September 2017, 247 people died in 209 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:

This FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Fact Sheet has more information about maneuvering flight.

The FAA Safety Briefing has two articles on maneuvering flight: Getting It Right in Maneuvering Flight in the March/April 2010 issue (pdf page 17) and Slow, Steady, Sure in the March/April 2011 issue (pdf page 22).

Pilots may think that maneuvering flight only includes hazardous operations such as buzzing. But, when you fly in the traffic pattern youre also performing maneuvering flight procedures. This AOPA Safety Advisorwill explain the risks and show you how to avoid them.

The FAA Safety Team (FAASTeam) Wings Pilot Proficiency Program is always worth a second look. You can also get WINGS credit for taking the FAASTeams online course, ALC-34 Maneuvering: Approach and Landing, at

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 15, 2018 at 06:59PM News and Updates

The Grave Threat Posed by Aircraft Thieves (or…

The Grave Threat Posed by Aircraft Thieves (or Not):

When I first heard that a non-pilot had stolen a Horizon Air Dash-8 Q400 and flew around Seattle for an hour, I couldn’t help but be impressed. How could someone who doesn’t have a license to fly figure out how to choreograph that entire event? If you haven’t seen the video, it’s stunning to watch what he did.

It appears that my reaction was not the norm. Judging from the stories I’ve seen and emails I’ve read, many people went into panic mode. This was a national security threat and major changes needed to be made yesterday or we’d face the grave threat of stolen airplanes dive-bombing all over the land! While I don’t doubt that changes could benefit aircraft safety (as is always the case), I just have a hard time seeing this as the huge threat others do.

I think Patrick Smith sums up my view fairly well. Once you start thinking about who could actually pull off something like this, you start to understand that it’s not as big of a threat as some might think. Think about it this way…

  • You would need access to a secure area of the airport where passengers can’t go. That means you would need to have a SIDA (Secure Identification Display Area) badge issued by the airport. This eliminates anyone except employees who frequent an airport enough to have been badged at that location specifically. (Here we had a guy who worked for Horizon in Seattle so he had access.)
  • The aircraft would need to be in a location where you could easily evade security and other employees. You would also need to be able to avoid other aircraft traffic. (Here the airplane was at the far north end in a maintenance/cargo area that was right near the edge of the runway for easy access.)
  • You would need to know how to start up the airplane, taxi it, and then fly it. (Here was a guy who was trained to tow aircraft, so he had better knowledge than most. The rest he figured out possibly through video games, though I’m not sure we know for sure.)
  • If you were looking to do damage to people or landmarks as a terrorist might, you would have to have even better flying skills to actually reach your target.

When you think about it this way, the question becomes… could additional security measures help all that much? I’ve seen some shocked to find that airplanes don’t have “keys” that prevent unauthorized access. But that’s proven to be mostly unnecessary because of just how hard it would be for anyone to actually do anything with that airplane if he or she snuck onboard. Of course, this Horizon crash shows that under the right circumstances someone can still pull this off, but it’s exceedingly rare that all the stars align to allow it to happen.

The biggest concern in the news is that a terrorist would sign on with an airline or contractor, go through extensive background checks, get a SIDA badge, learn not only to fly but also to taxi and takeoff, find an aircraft parked in a convenient spot, and then execute the plan to kill a bunch of people on the ground or bring down a landmark. The chances of that happening are incredibly minute for all the reasons already discussed. There are plenty of security checks in place along the way to make this truly unlikely. That’s not to say it can’t happen, but it would take a great deal more coordination and work than what happened on 9/11 — bringing some legal box-cutters on to a mostly-empty airplane and hijacking it once in flight.

Perhaps the biggest concern here shouldn’t be terrorism but rather the mental health of people who have access to these areas. It’s the same thing I wrote about in 2015 when that Germanwings pilot crashed his airplane into a mountain and killed everyone onboard. I’d like to put my faith in the background checks as being adequate, but that doesn’t help when it comes to evaluating ongoing mental health issues over time. If there’s one takeaway for me after this, it’s that we need to pay more attention to mental health and well-being in this country, especially at a time when rates appear to be rising. This isn’t news, and this particular incident doesn’t really change anything. It just shines more light on the problem.

Adding additional security to aircraft? Sure, it could be useful to prevent the one-in-a-million chance of something sinister occurring, but it’s hard to imagine that being worth the cost. Still, fear-mongering is easy and it unfortunately gets clicks. I can only hope there’s no knee-jerk reaction to this.

August 14, 2018 at 01:45PM Source:

Tokyo Hub? Who Needs a Tokyo Hub?

Tokyo Hub? Who Needs a Tokyo Hub?:

For many years, Delta seemed like an airline in search of an Asia strategy while its competitors pushed forward definitively. Now that the Korean Air joint venture is in place, however, the combined Delta/Korean efforts looks like an airline on a mission. They have plowed forward, most recently with a new Boston-Seoul flight that Korean will operate. Long having the weakest relationships in Asia, Delta is quickly working toward building the best of the big three, but this isn’t just a story about Delta. It’s also about Korean Air, Incheon’s amazing airport, and Tokyo’s problems.

Go back a few years, and Delta’s Asian strategy was basically Northwest’s old strategy. It served markets that it could fly nonstop from the US, but the real strategy focused on connecting people via its Tokyo hub. That proved unsuccessful in a changing world and Delta didn’t wait long before dismantling it. The Tokyo hub shrunk quickly as Delta moved to make Seattle a hub and Asian gateway, but a long-running rift between Delta and its obvious partner Korean Air left the airline without a major Asian option. That gave United and American a real opportunity.

United, of course, had the strongest position in Asia. It previously had a Tokyo hub as well, but more importantly, it had San Francisco, the best Asian gateway from the US. The Tokyo hub shrank down to nothing on the back of that San Francisco hub as well as the joint venture with ANA. Why would United need to fly beyond Tokyo when it could use its partner ANA to do the heavy-lifting? American had virtually nothing in Asia, so it decided that it would build up Los Angeles as its gateway. After a close call during a restructuring, American was able to keep Japan Airlines (JAL) as a joint venture partner.

While those Tokyo-focused joint ventures were nice, they had problems. The biggest issue was around capacity constraints. Tokyo’s preferred airport, Haneda, was only relatively recently reopened for international service, and it was further restricted on US flights to night-time hours until even more recently. While some US flights are now into Haneda, most are still sent into Narita due to a variety of restrictions. Narita was a thriving international hub, but it’s an airport that’s increasingly focusing on leisure travel business from low cost carriers. It’s far less convenient than Haneda for most of Tokyo. Plus, it has this problem…

I don’t need to rehash all the Godzilla-related issues, but the point is that Tokyo still has a split airport system and that makes it tougher to build and develop new service especially when that new service has to go to the airport that’s falling out of favor. Early on we saw Japan Airlines and ANA build up service into secondary US markets like San Jose, San Diego, and Boston. But they’ve been relatively stagnant since those early days.

In the meantime, Delta has done nothing but shrink Narita. Today, the only flying Delta does from there to non-hubs is to Singapore, Manila, and Honolulu. Many of the flights have moved to Haneda, when possible. In other words, it’s not really a hub anymore. At the same time, the Seattle hub has struggled to support all the service Delta wanted there. Most recently, the airline walked away from Seattle to Hong Kong. Delta needed something to fix its Asian issues. It needed Korean.

The joint venture between Delta and Korean should have happened long ago, but relations soured under Delta CEO Richard Anderson. As soon as Ed Bastian took over, it was like a switch flipped. Ed had tended to that relationship even during rocky times, and now with Richard gone, the joint venture was a no-brainer. The thaw began two years ago, and the joint venture launched this year.

The airlines have not wasted time since then. Delta previously served Incheon via Detroit with Seattle being added in the build-up back in 2014. In June 2017 in anticipation of growing ties, Delta added Atlanta to Incheon to complement Korean’s existing service. The airlines rapidly expanded codesharing to get maximum benefit.

This summer, fresh off the opening of its brand new, sparkling Terminal 2 at Incheon, Korean bulked up its schedules into the US where it was already the largest Asian carrier. Dallas/Ft Worth went from four to five weekly flights. Seattle went from five weekly flights to daily service. But this was a just an appetizer for the real growth which begins next summer.

Delta announced it would start flying from Minneapolis to Incheon in April of next year while Korean would begin flying from Boston. Why Korean and not Delta? Well, its 787s are the right aircraft to make that work, but it only works with the Delta customer base being onboard.

These early moves make a great deal of sense as the two airlines begin to mesh their networks, but will this just be an early push that flattens out like most of the other joint ventures? It doesn’t seem like it should end that way. Incheon’s new Terminal 2 is an incredible facility, and the airport has capacity for growth. That Boston flight will feed into dozens and dozens of destinations beyond Incheon. Meanwhile JAL’s Boston flight has to deal with the declining options at Narita for feed. But what may be most remarkable is that even with this just being a start, Delta/Korean already have a lead.

It’s still mind-boggling to me that JAL/American and ANA/United haven’t tried to penetrate more into the US as has been done through partnerships over the Atlantic. But JAL/American still can’t even justify a 787 into the Phoenix hub, and ANA/United haven’t added a new dot in the US from Tokyo since 2013 when San Jose joined the network. (JAL is expected to start Seattle next year, but that’s hardly inspired.) Even though Korean/Delta are years behind in developing their relationships, the others have squandered their leads.

These early moves by Delta and Korean are easy fill-in-the-blank efforts. But as time goes on, I imagine we’ll see them get even more creative.

August 13, 2018 at 01:45PM Source: