Tuesday, February 19, 2019
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BOAC 747-400 – first pictures and video

BOAC 747
BOAC 747 Taken: 18th February 2019 Picture by: Stuart Bailey

The first British Airways retro scheme aircraft, a Boeing 747 in BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) colors, has been unveiled at Dublin Airport.

The retro scheme is all part of the celebrations of its 100-year birthday this year.

The Boeing 747, reg: G-BYGC, left Dublin at 9.17am local and arrived at Heathrow at 10.23am.

Three more aircraft will receive popular designs from British Airways’ past over the coming months with more details to be revealed in due course.

All four aircraft will fly British Airways’ routes, showcasing some of the popular designs as part of the airline’s centenary celebrations.

See our Concorde special 

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said: “So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe. It’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing some classic designs, and what better place to start than the iconic BOAC livery.

“Our history has shaped who we are today, so our centenary is the perfect moment to revisit our heritage and the UK’s aviation landscape through these iconic designs. We’re excited to share details of the other liveries over the coming weeks.”

BOAC 747
The British Airways 747 painted up in BOAC colors.

The 747 has been deliberately chosen for the BOAC livery as it is a later variant of the same aircraft type that adorned the design when it was initially in operation.

The BOAC livery will remain on the Boeing 747 until it retires in 2023. By this time, British Airways will have retired the majority of its 747 fleet, replacing them with new state-of-the-art long-haul aircraft.

This includes taking delivery of 18 A350s and 12 Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the next four years – which feature new cabins and are more environmentally efficient – as well as another 26 short-haul aircraft, all part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers.

British Airways
A livery that may be used is that of BEA, which was merged with BOAC to form British Airways. Here 6 BEA Tridents await delivery at Hatfield in the 1960s. Credit BAE Systems

Brief BA history:

On August 25, 1919, British Airways’ forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris.

In 1924, Britain’s four main fledgling airlines, which had by then evolved into Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways (a successor to AT&T), and British Air Marine Navigation Company Limited, merged to form Imperial Airways Limited.

By 1925, Imperial Airways was providing services to Paris, Brussels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich. Meanwhile, a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started flights and in 1935, they merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways’ principal UK competitor on European routes.

Following a Government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalized in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new airline, British European Airways (BEA) from 1946. BOAC introduced services to New York in 1946, Japan in 1948, Chicago in 1954 and the west coast of the United States in 1957. BEA developed a domestic network to various points in the United Kingdom, including Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

From 1946 until 1960, BOAC and BEA were the principal British operators of scheduled international passenger and cargo services – and they preserved Britain’s pioneering role in the industry. The 1950s saw the world enter the passenger jet era – led by BOAC, with the Comet flying to Johannesburg in 1952, halving the previous flight time.

Additional airlines began to pass into BEA’s ownership and in 1967, the Government recommended a holding board be responsible for BOAC and BEA, with the establishment of a second force airline, resulting in British Caledonian being born in 1970.

Two years later, the businesses of BOAC and BEA were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the separate airlines coming together as British Airways in 1974.

In July 1979, the Government announced its intention to sell shares in British Airways and in February 1987 British Airways was privatized.


MH370 search firm finds missing freighter in 72 hours

Mh370 firm Ocean Infinity freighter
A Hugin autonomous underwater vehicle is launched. Photo: Ocean Infinity.

The company many would like to see resume the search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has quickly found another missing vessel.

Ocean Infinity announced Sunday that it has found the wreck of the  South Korean ore carrier Stellar Daisy 3461m below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean and about 1800 nautical miles (3334km)due west of Cape Town.

Seabed Constructor, the ship that conducted the second search of the ocean floor for MH370, explored about 1300 square kilometres of seabed over 72 hours using four high-tech autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs)  capable of diving to 6000m.

The company said representatives of the South Korean Government, which contracted it to conduct the search, the families of Stellar Daisy’s crew were on board.

“We are pleased to report that we have located Stellar Daisy, in particular for our client, the South Korean Government, but also for the families of those who lost loved ones in this tragedy,’’ OI chief executive Oliver Plunkett said.

“This operation is further testament to Ocean Infinity’s leading, technology led, search capability.

“Through the deployment of multiple state-of-the-art AUVs, we are covering the seabed with unprecedented speed and accuracy.”

This is the second feather in OI’s cap since it ended the search for MH370 without finding the wreckage of the Boeing 777, which went missing almost five years ago.

The company’s technology allows it to deploy multiple, untethered AUVs equipped with a side scan sonar, a multi-beam echo-sounder, a sub-bottom profiler, an HD camera, synthetic aperture sonar and other sensors.

This allows it to sweep the ocean floor much faster than had previously been the case.

In 2018, OI  located the Argentine navy submarine San Juan, which went missing on November 15, 2017.

The submarine with 44 crew on board was returning from a routine mission to Ushuaia at the southern end of South American when it reported a problem with its batteries.

The Stellar Daisy was lost with 24 people on board on March 31, 2017, while transporting iron ore from Brazil to China.

MH370 family members and others have called on the Malaysian government to mount a further search for the missing plane, which was lost on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.

READ: Engineer who called MH370 captain was his cousin.

The calls are intensifying as the fifth anniversary of the tragedy approaches but Malaysian Transport Minister Anthony Loke has said the government would need a “credible lead” to re-open the investigation.

Experts are divided where the plane might be after the search failed to find it at what were considered by officials as the most likely location.



flybmi files for bankruptcy, blames Brexit

BMI regional Embraer

flybmi, or British Midland Regional Limited, the East Midlands-based airline yesterday announced that it has ceased operations and is filing for administration.

Flybmi operates 17 regional jet aircraft on routes to 25 European cities.

In a statement the airline said:

All flights have been canceled with effect from today. Customers who booked directly with flybmi should contact their payment card issuer to obtain a refund for flights which have not yet taken place. Customers who have booked flybmi flights via a travel agent or one of flybmi’s codeshare partner airlines are recommended to contact their agent or airline for details of options available to them. Customers who have travel insurance should contact their travel insurance provider to find out if they are eligible to claim for canceled flights and the procedure for doing so.

A spokesman said:

“It is with a heavy heart that we have made this unavoidable announcement today. The airline has faced several difficulties, including recent spikes in fuel and carbon costs, the latter arising from the EU’s recent decision to exclude UK airlines from full participation in the Emissions Trading Scheme. These issues have undermined efforts to move the airline into profit. Current trading and future prospects have also been seriously affected by the uncertainty created by the Brexit process, which has led to our inability to secure valuable flying contracts in Europe and lack of confidence around bmi’s ability to continue flying between destinations in Europe. Additionally, our situation mirrors wider difficulties in the regional airline industry which have been well documented.

“Against this background, it has become impossible for the airline’s shareholders to continue their extensive programme of funding into the business, despite investment totaling over £40m in the last six years. We sincerely regret that this course of action has become the only option open to us, but the challenges, particularly those created by Brexit, have proven to be insurmountable.

“Our employees have worked extremely hard over the last few years and we would like to thank them for their dedication to the company, as well as all our loyal customers who have flown with us over the last 6 years.”

Bmi Regional employed a total of 376 employees based in the UK, Germany, Sweden and Belgium.


  1. Flights operated by flybmi served Aberdeen, Bristol, Brno, City of Derry, Dusseldorf, East Midlands, Esbjerg, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Jonkoping, Karlstad, London Stansted, Lublin, Milan Bergamo, Munich, Newcastle, Norrkoping, Nuremburg, Oslo, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Rostock/Laage, Saarbrucken and Stavanger.
  2. The airline carried 522,000 passengers on 29,000 flights in 2018.
  3. Customers with bookings should contact their bank or payment card issuer to initiate the process of obtaining a refund. If Customers have booked through Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines or another airline or code partner or a booking agent Customers should contact them directly. Customers who have travel insurance should contact their travel insurance provider to understand if they are eligible to claim for canceled flights and the procedure for doing so.
  4. Flybmi flights operated under codeshare agreements with code partners Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Loganair, Air France and Air Dolomiti.

Passengers can get more details here:


A380: The real reason the super jumbo failed


Much loved by passengers but hated by airline accountants, history will judge the Airbus A380, which was canceled last week, as just another giant aircraft that never really worked.

Only the Boeing 747, designed at the outset as a cargo aircraft, that could carry passengers until the supersonic jets like the Concorde and Boeing 2707 took over has succeeded with sales of 1,572. And it is still in production as a freighter.

Also working for the 747 was that it was the first wide-body and thus its passenger appeal was staggering and for quite some time the jumbo had the longest range.

The 747’s market appeal in the early 1970s was unique with twin aisles.

When the A380 appeared, in the middle of the last decade, it was for most passengers just another wide-body aircraft and it didn’t have the longest range – the smaller and more flexible and reliable Boeing 777-200LR held that trophy.

All through aviation history, giants of the sky such as the Bristol Brabazon, Lockheed Constitution, Convair XC-99, Saro Princess and Howard Hughes’ Spruce Goose failed dismally, largely because they were way too big and could never make money.

The giant eight-engine Briston Brabazon promised luxury but only one ever flew and was scrapped.
The Brabazon brochure extolls luxury with a theatre in the rear.

And it is money – or the lack of it – that drives the airline industry.

Only in the last few years has the airline industry been really profitable with a return on capital and one of the reasons is because airlines are harnessing super-efficient twin-engine jets such as the Boeing 787 and burn 34 percent less fuel per passenger than the A380. And that comparison is for Qantas, which has, at 236 seats, one of the lowest seat-counts on its 787s. Airbus’s latest twinjet the A350 boasts similar numbers.

Airbus sold the A380 on the need to have larger aircraft for giant hub airports such as London’s Heathrow which is severely capacity constrained.

It also sold “the glamour” of lounges’ bars, duty-free shops, and restaurants a pitch that so annoyed Cathay Pacific Airways that it wrote to Airbus demanding it not advertise these features in its home market as they were unrealistically raising passengers’ expectations.

However, for airlines such as Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Emirates growth into London’s Heathrow meant bigger aircraft so they ordered the A380.

READ Sir Tim Clark’s 2016 warning on the need for more A380s

But there had been another significant trend happening that was spreading like wildfire.

Airlines flying from Asia to the UK found that many passengers were actually quite happy – in fact, delighted – to fly to other cities such as Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and even Cardiff.

Although that really should have been of no surprise as many US airlines with limited access to London’s Heathrow or Gatwick airports have been connecting secondary US cities to secondary European cities for decades.

That type of connection is called “point to point” and that has been the number one song on Boeing’s hit parade for the past 30 years.

Ever since the Seattle giant launched is 250-350 seat Boeing 777 in the early 90s its has been singing the virtues of flying nonstop citing the fact that when two cities are connected by a nonstop flight traffic triples on the route.

In November 2005 the twin-engine Boeing 777-200LR set a world record for a 21,602.22 km non-stop flight from Hong Kong to London over the US of 22 hours 40 minutes.

Enabling these twin-jets to span oceans and fly point to point were a new breed of super-efficient and incredibly reliable engines.

Back in the 1960s, when jet-powered aircraft were just entering service twin-engine models, which are way more economical than four-engine types, were restricted to flying just 60 minutes away from an airport on route because of reliability issues.

Thus, most early jet aircraft were powered by four engines.

That rule was born in the 1950s on the experience of complex and unreliable piston-engine planes.

But jets were a whole new ball game and quickly their reliability was turning heads.

One of the first routes to go beyond 60 minutes was Melbourne to Perth for Trans Australian Airlines Airbus A300s in the early 1980s when regulators extended the diversion time to 90 minutes.

Next twin-jets could cross the Atlantic as the diversion time went out to 120 minutes.

Over the next 20 years, the diversion time to an alternate airport slowly increased to 240-minutes as engines became more reliable freeing airlines to cross the Pacific.

Now it’s 350 minutes enabling airlines to cross the South Pole if they desire – none has thus far.

The next dynamic to change was seat kilometer costs.

For decades a reduction in seat kilometer costs required bigger aircraft but the trade-off was that the trip costs – aircraft, crew, fuel – cost were higher.

When the 787 entered service that all changed because of its engine’s efficiency and super light but incredibly strong composite structure and wing.

The 787 offered the lowest trip and seat kilometer costs of all long-haul aircraft resulting in Boeing building the jet at 14 a month to keep up with demand.

By comparison, the Airbus A380 is now being built at around 6 a year.

For Emirates, the writing has been on the wall for some time.

The Qantas nonstop 787 flight from Perth to London is the airline’s most profitable.

Every night at around 1 am a Qantas Boeing 787-9 operating from Perth to London non-stop overflies Dubai at 11,000mtrs at 900km/hour with passengers that were once being carried on its A380 via Dubai on a code-share with partner Qantas.

That flight is operating at 92 percent full and in the premium cabin, 94 percent full.

Sure, it is just one flight but it is the start of an avalanche of ultra-long-range non-stop services by more nimble aircraft.

And soon Qantas – and others including Emirates – will have aircraft that can operate from Sydney to London nonstop with an economical payload – way beyond the capability of the A380.

Since the Boeing 787 entered service the aircraft has opened up 240 new routes and this September All Nippon Airways starts another Tokyo to Perth.

And whereas the A380 comes in one size there are three different models of the 787 with some airlines having all three in their fleets.
















Graphic video shows US jet mayhem after turbulence

Turbulence and Delta
The scene inside the cabin. Photo: Joe Justice/Twitter

The importance of keeping seatbelts fastened during a flight has again been dramatically underscored by a graphic video showing mayhem on a regional jet that hit severe turbulence.

The dramatic upset occurred on a Compass Airlines Embraer ERJ-175 flying from Santa Ana, California, to Seattle on February 13.

Further emphasizing the seatbelt point that same day, 13 people were injured on a Transavia Boeing 737 flying between Lyon and Tel Aviv.

Watch BA 787 captured on video in dramatic go-around

The ERJ  was operating a Delta Air Lines flight on February 13 and was at about 34,000ft over the Sierra Nevada mountains when severe turbulence caused it to drop about 200 feet.

Passenger Joe Justice posted a video of an upended drinks trolley and stains on the ceiling noting: “Crazy turbulence and injuries but @delta crew handled it perfectly”. The drinks trolley hit the ceiling, according to passengers.

The plane with 59 passengers and four crew on board made an emergency landing in Reno, where three passengers and a flight attendant were taken to hospital.

The Transavia 737-800 was about 260 nautical miles west-northwest of Tel Aviv at 37,000 ft when it encountered turbulence, according to The Aviation Herald.

The website said two doctors on board helped the injured while the plane landed safely in Tel Aviv and the injured were transferred to hospital.

While unexpected severe air turbulence is relatively rare compared to the number of flights operated daily, it does happen and experts say they expect the frequency to increase with climate change.

Airlines emphasize in their safety briefings that people should keep their seatbelts fastened even when seated, but the message is sometimes ignored.

Carriers are also working together to achieve smoother flights and offset the predicted climate-driven increase in dangerous severe turbulence by using big data.

The International Air Transport Association has launched a global database aimed at helping airlines avoid turbulent conditions when route planning.

IATA says the availability of accurate turbulence data will enable pilots will be able to make more informed decisions about higher flight levels with smoother air. It also expects to produce more optimal fuel burn and lower C02 emissions.

READ: Airlines will use big data to avoid turbulence.

Although technology allowing aircraft to detect the phenomenon has improved, clear air turbulence remains difficult to distinguish and already costs US carriers an estimated $US200 million annually.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has identified it as the leading cause of injuries to passengers and crew in non-fatal accidents.

FAA safety approval opens up US to Vietnamese carriers

Vietnam FAA safety approval
Photo: Long Nguyen/Wikimedia Commons.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted Vietnam a category 1 safety rating, opening the way for Vietnamese carriers to fly to the US for the first time.

The FAA, which had not previously assessed Vietnamese authorities,  said the decision to award the category 1 status under its International Aviation Safety Assessment program was based on an August 2018 examination of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam.

The move allows carriers such as Vietnam Airlines, VietJet and Bamboo Airways to fly to the US or codehare with US carriers.

There are currently no non-stop flights between the US and Vietnam and both Vietnam and Bamboo have indicated they would like to fly there.

The FAA uses its IASA program to determine whether a country’s oversight of its airlines complies with International Civil Aviation Organization safety standards.

It focuses on eight critical safety elements including primary aviation legislation, specific operating regulations, safety oversight functions and the training and qualifications of technical personnel.

READ: Vietnam Airlines posts solid profit ahead of listing.

It also looks at how a country meets licensing, certification, authorization, and approval obligations as well as surveillance and resolution of safety concerns.

“A Category 1 rating means Vietnam’s civil aviation authority meets International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standards for personnel licensing, operations, and airworthiness,’’ the FAA said.

“With the Category 1 rating, Vietnamese air carriers that are able to secure the requisite FAA and Department of Transportation (DOT) authority can establish service to the United States and carry the code of U.S. carriers’’

Route expert OAG estimated recently that international airline capacity to Vietnam has almost doubled in the last three years, growing from 24 million seats in 2015 to 42 million in 2018.

South Korea is Vietnam’s biggest inbound market and there was strong growth from China, with airlines adding 49 new routes between Vietnam and China in the last three years to reach a total of 93 in 2018.

Other high growth is coming from Europe, the Middle East and Russia.

“For the first time in 2018, there were more airline seats on international routes than domestic ones, boosted undoubtedly by the decision in 2018 to offer visa-free travel to residents from 24 countries,’’ OAG said.

“Over 90 percent of Vietnam’s international capacity currently operates to other destinations in Asia.”

Drones close Dubai Airport

Dubai International Airport. Photo: Emirates

Dubai Airport was briefly closed by a suspected drone sighting Friday.

The Associated Press said the airport  halted flights from 10:13 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. on Friday over “suspected drone activity.”

Flights were later resumed.

The AP said alleged drone sightings have previously disrupted flights into the airport and the UAE is among a number of countries now requiring owners to register.

Passengers tweeted:

 33 minutes ago

Stuck for ages at Dubai airport runway unable to taxi as unauthorized drones have entered the airspace here and all takeoffs have been grounded! This seems to be happening often in airports everywhere

Dubai airport going nowhere due to drone flying around. So thousands of people sitting in planes going nowhere. What is wrong with people flying drones near airports!!!

Drones delay flights in and out of Dubai airport – reports

In December, flights through London’s busy Gatwick Airport were suspended over two days because of drones.


The closure caused extensive disruption to passengers with hundreds of flights canceled or diverted.

Read: World’s Best Airlines for 2019

And in January a drone caused problems at Heathrow Airport.

Last Saturday, a drone reportedly came within meters of a Virgin Australia Boeing 737 approaching Brisbane Airport in the latest scare involving the ubiquitous remotely piloted aircraft.

Flight VA329 was about 4nm from Brisbane at an altitude of 1300ft on Saturday when it narrowly missed the white drone.

“The flight crew from VA329 visually saw a drone on approach into Brisbane Airport on Saturday,’’ a Virgin spokeswoman said.

“VA329 landed safely in Brisbane and the event has been reported to the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.”


Qantas: A380 still an important part of the fleet

Qantas A380 important fleet
Image: Qantas

Qantas says the Airbus A380 superjumbo will remain an important part of its fleet, despite the decision by Airbus to wind down the program by 2021.

Qantas is embarking a significant revamp of its A380s which will see it add more premium seating, a move that caters for the increased demand for premium economy but also boosts yields on the aircraft.

Reconfiguration will now start from July this year and be complete across the 12 aircraft by December, 2020 as Qantas celebrates its 100th birthday.

READ: Airbus to end A380 production as Emirates swaps orders.

The aircraft is going from 484 seats to 485 overall but the airline is taking 30 economy seats off the aircraft and adding six additional business seats as well as  25 more premium economy seats that mirror those on the 787.

That will bring the seat count to 14 first suites, 70 business suites, 60 premium economy seats and 341 seats in economy.

The move will also replace outdated business class seating with the well-regarded flat-bed business suite to standardize its offering across the entire fleet of A380s, Boeing 787-9s and Airbus A330s.

“It really is about making sure our customers know what to expect when they get on board a Qantas aircraft,’’ Qantas International chief executive Alison Webster told AirlineRatings.

Also on the cards is a significant change at the front of the upper deck where two social areas/bars will be installed.

Webster was coy on the details but said she expected the new areas “to surprise and delight customers” and that more space would be opened up.

Industrial designer David Caon, who has been using virtual reality to help tweak the design and work with Qantas,  promised the lounge will be “a beautiful place to be”.

“It’s a bar but it’s also a place you can go and spend time with your friends who might not be in the seat next to you,” he said.

Qantas inadvertently became entangled in the A380’s demise because of the timing of a decision to formally cancel an outstanding order for eight superjumbos.

The announcement added to the growing speculation about the program’s fate, even though the Australian carrier had flagged the move for some years.

Webster said the airline’s 12 A380s continued to play an important role in its international fleet.

“It’s why we’re investing in the reconfiguration and refresh for them,’’ she said.

“They actually play a tremendously important role on some of our long-range sectors:  Sydney and Melbourne via Singapore to London and also to the west coast of the USA.

“The four cabin configuration gives our customers choice and we also know premium economy is incredibly popular on the A380, which is why I mentioned earlier that we’re increasing the premium footprint of that aircraft.’’

She acknowledged that the four-engine aircraft was “challenged’’ in terms of fuel consumption when compared with its twin-engine counterparts.

But she said the Flying kangaroo’s objective was to recognize it had a role to play with the right aircraft on the right route with the right configuration.

“And certainly in slot-constrained airports, it will still be an important aircraft for us,” she said.

Webster said the airline now had the added advantage of being able to use its 787-9s to downgauge capacity to match demand when an A380 was not warranted.

She said it was managing that process well on markets like Los Angeles, Hong Kong and San Francisco (where it mixes 747s and A380s).

“The 787-9 is the liberating piece of the fleet network and we get benefits across both the A380 and the A330 as a result of it,’’ she added.

Despite the end of the A380 program, Webster said Qantas was doing the right things with the aircraft to best add value to its operations.

Passengers also loved the giant aircraft.

“They absolutely love them,’’ she said. “You watch customer reaction when they come out.

“ And some of our customers will only fly on a sector if they know it’s the A380. They’ll consciously shift their day of travel to be on the A380 and that’s why there is a strength in the proposition.”

Qantas is not the only airline still investing in the A380.

Singapore Airlines is also updating its A380 fleet, spending $US850m in an upgrade that includes a striking first class Suites product centered on a unique swivel armchair and an all-new business class seat surrounded by a futuristic carbon composite shell.

The new cabins are the culmination of four years’ work involving extensive customer research, customer focus groups and a partnership with designers and manufacturers.

And Emirates, whose decision to switch many of its A380 orders to twin-engine aircraft sounded the death knell for the program, still has 14 planes to come.

“The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s, and as we have always done, Emirates will continue to invest in our onboard product and services so our customers can be assured that the Emirates A380 experience will always be top-notch,” Emirates chief executive Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said this week.

Skyscanner, Star Alliance partner on bookings

Star Alliance Skyscanner
Photo: Star Alliance

Star Alliance has partnered with travel search experts Skyscanner to allow visitors to its website to more easily book multi-itinerary airfares with its 28 member airlines.

The deal with Skyscanner, which also powers AirlineRatings’ booking process, comes as the global alliance has also refreshed its website to make it brighter and more user-friendly with shorter paths to its most popular features on both desktop and mobile devices.

The new feature sits alongside Star’s popular lounge finder and flight status functions and aims to help customers find global connections that best meet their needs.

“By introducing the alliance carrier fare search feature, made possible through our Skyscanner partnership, we are responding to our alliance customers’ feedback, offering a service which allows our members’ frequent flyers to easily book with Star Alliance member airlines and enjoy Star Alliance benefits”, said Jeremy Drury, director digital & E-services for Star Alliance.

“Anything that is bookable on our member airlines’ websites can now be reached through our site.”

Drury indicated that the alliance intended exploring further opportunities with Skyscanner as part of several digital initiatives being developed with member carriers.

These include services such as interline baggage tracking, interline seat assignment at the time of reservation, lounge and Gold Track security locations, and frequent flyer membership number validation.

Star remains the biggest of the global alliances with more than 18,800 daily flights to over 1,300 airport destinations in 193 countries.

It says it offers coverage to 98 percent of the world.

Members include All Nippon Airways, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Singapore Airlines, Air China, Air New Zealand and Air Canada.

Rival alliance oneworld recently announced it was also bolstering its offering with branded lounges and upgraded technology that allows customers to check-in and obtain online boarding passes for connecting flights.

READ oneworld celebrates 20 years with branded lounges, easier connections.

Oneworld said passengers will see the progressive rollout of a new digital platform that aims to “bring to life the alliance’s core promise of seamless connectivity for customers flying on multi-sector, multi-airline journeys”.



Airlines warned of wake turbulence at Sydney Airport

A380 wake turblence Sydney Airport
Photo: James Morgan.

Airlines have been warned to wary of wake turbulence at Sydney Airport after an analysis by air safety investigators found a disproportionate number of reports compared to other Australian airports.

The analysis by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau also found wake turbulence from big planes landing on one of Sydney’s parallel runways could affect aircraft landing on the other.

Airservices Australia has agreed to introduce changes to the way it handles aircraft landing  at the airport as a result of the findings.

Wake turbulence is primarily caused by a vortex generated by an aircraft wing and can upset a following or nearby aircraft, particularly if it’s a smaller plane.

wake turbulence Sydney Airport
An illustration of wake turbulence. Source: FAA.

It can induce a roll in the following plane and this poses an increased safety risk during flight phases such as landing and take-off.

Sydney is currently the only Australian airport running parallel runways but because the runways are 1000m apart aircraft using one runway are not separated from aircraft using the other by wake turbulence separation standards.

READ: The growing threat of wake turbulence

But the ATSB found evidence that wake turbulence generated by aircraft arriving on one parallel runway could affect aircraft arriving on the other, especially in certain wind conditions.

“Aircraft arriving on Runway 34 Left were found to be the most likely cause for more than half of the Runway 34 Right arrival wake turbulence occurrences,’’ it said.

“A leading Airbus A380 (a super heavy aircraft) probably generated more than one‑third of these occurrences.

“The rate of reported wake turbulence occurrences by arriving aircraft following an Airbus A380 was more than double that of any other aircraft type arriving at Sydney.”

The ATSB review of wake turbulence reports between 2012 and 2016 found that 78 of 179  events were at Sydney, with seven of eight minor injuries reported also at the airport.

The analysis looked only at wake turbulence in incidents classified as an occurrence, meaning they generally resulted in a missed approach or go-around, control issues, a warning activation or an injury.

In addition to the A380 factor,  investigators found the wake turbulence events were also associated with arrival densities of one or more aircraft per minute, especially for flights that arrived on runway 34R, and a wind direction from the west or north-west.

“More than half of the wake turbulence occurrences during arrival at Sydney Airport were associated with one or more of the above three factors,’’ it said.

“Removing all of these factors would halve the occurrence rate and make it more comparable to other major airports, however, the rate at Sydney Airport would likely still be higher than other major Australian airports.

“This suggests other factors beyond the scope of this investigation are also influencing wake turbulence at Sydney.”

Airservices Australia agreed to publish an Aeronautical Circular aimed at warning operators flying into Sydney about the issue, the injuries associated with it and advising cabin crew to buckle up in the earlier part of the approach.

But the ATSB  believed this failed to adequately reduce the risk and issued a safety recommendation that the air traffic controller take further measures to reduce the frequency of wake turbulence events.

AIrservices subsequently agreed to provide a wake turbulence caution to aircraft on approach to 34R that could be affected by heavy or super heavy planes and increase the separation distance from four to five nautical miles for the runways.

It will also apply single runway wake turbulence standard when the leading aircraft is a super heavy such as an A380 and the following aircraft is under 25,000kg.










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