Book Flights
Home Blog Page 255


This stunning video shows off perfectly wake vortices on an Emirates Boeing 777-300ER. Patrick Smith from Ask The Pilot explains;

At the wings’ outermost extremities, the higher pressure air beneath is drawn toward the lower pressure air on top, resulting in a tight, circular flow that trails behind the aircraft like a pronged pair of sideways tornadoes.  Under the right combination of temperature, pressure and humidity, moisture in the cores of these vortices condense and become visible, writhing behind the plane like gray vaporous snakes.  The vortices are most pronounced when the wing is working hardest to produce lift.  Thus, prime time for noticing these trails is during approach or departure.

Moisture will condense around other spots too, such as the flap fairings and engine attachment pylons. You’ll witness what appears to be a stream of white smoke pouring from the top of an engine during takeoff. This is water vapor caused by invisible currents around the pylon. Other times the area just above the surface of the wing will suddenly flash into a white puff of localized cloud [as per the video below].  Again, this is condensation brought on by the right combo of moisture, temperature and pressure.

Not only can you sometimes see wingtip vortices, but even cooler, you can often hear them from the ground.


Pilot hijack

A co-pilot has been arrested after he forced the Ethiopian Airlines plane he was helping to fly from Addis Ababa to Rome to divert to Geneva

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET702, a Boeing 767-300 carrying over 200 passengers, landed safely at Geneva and all passengers and the remaining crew were released.

The overnight flight was hijacked over Sudan and circled Geneva at least six times while being escorted by military jets and was in danger of running out of fuel before touching flown at 6am local time.

According to a Geneva Airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli the co-pilot said he seized his chance when the pilot went to the bathroom and locked the captain out. “He said he felt threatened in his country and wants to seek asylum in Switzerland,” Mr Staempfli told AFP.

 The man, born in 1983 and an Ethiopian citizen, contacted Geneva Airport and said “he needed to land to fill the [fuel] tank. “Then he announced the hijacking,” Staempfli said.

After the landing the co-pilot left the plane by scaling down the pilot escape rope from the cockpit window. Apparently the co-pilot did not have a weapon although by locking the captain out of the cockpit he didn’t need one. He will face a Swiss Court late Monday local time.

Ethiopian Airlines said it is making “immediate arrangements to fly its customers on-board the flight to their intended destinations.”

The alert was raised after the Ethiopian Airlines 767 squawked 7500 the hijack radio code. According to LiveATC tapes there was mention of low fuel warnings and the world “asylum” is used several times.

In 1996 three men hijacked Ethiopian Airlines flight 961, another Boeing 767 and tried to get the pilot to fly to Australia.

ET961 had taken off from Addis Ababa for a flight to Abidjan via Nairobi, Brazzaville and Lagos.

Shortly after entering Kenyan airspace the men seized the plane. However they refused to allow the pilot to land to refuel and the plane ran out of fuel and crashed just off the Comoro Islands, east of Mozambique.

The pilot attempted to carry out a controlled ditching in the shallow, sheltered waters 500m off Le Galawa Beach but one wing tip and the engine hit the water first and the 767 broke up. Tragically 127 of the 175 passengers and crew on board died in the crash.

18 dead in Nepal crash

There are no survivors from the crash of a Nepal Airlines DHC-6-300 Twin Otter, performing flight RA-183 from Pokhara to Jumla (Nepal) with 15 passengers and 3 crew.

According to AFP Nepalese police have found the wreckage of a missing Nepal Airlines plane carrying 18 people in the country’s mountainous west but there are no survivors.

“The plane crashed into a hill, police have found its wreckage in a village, but no survivors,” Bimlesh Lal Karna, chief air traffic controller at the country’s largest airport in Kathmandu, told AFP.

According to the flight departed Pokhara at 12:43 local time but radio contact was lost about 30 minutes later while the aircraft attempted to divert to Siddharthanagar’s Bhairahawa Airport.

The aircraft did not arrive at Jumla at the estimated time of arrival of 13:45 local or Bhairahawa Airport, and a search was initiated but hampered by bad weather. says that “local residents reporting a burning object and a helicopter located the burning wreckage of the aircraft in the jungles near Khidim about 64km southwest of Pokhara and about 40km north of Siddharthanagar.”

One of the passengers is from Denmark, according to airline spokesman Ram Hari Sharma.The rest of those on board – including Manab Sejuwal, a local politician from the ruling Nepali Congress party – are from Nepal. Neapal Airlines has been downgraded from a two-star airline to one-star by  as a result of the crash.

Ash chaos

The spectacular eruption of the Mt Kelud volcano in east Java on Thursday night is causing flight cancellations and significant delays for flights between Australia and South-East Asia.

At least two people have died, hundreds of thousands of Indonesians have been evacuated and four airports have been closed after the volcano erupted hurling red-hot ash and rocks.

The ash cloud was covering the entire island of Java and reached an altitude of 55,0000ft — well above the cruising altitude of 40,000ft.

It has now moved in a south-west direction and climbed as high as 65,000ft. It now threatens flights between the Middle-East and Australia.

Planes cannot fly through thick ash because it can clog the engines.

According to the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre, the ash cloud covered all of Java on Friday.

Yesterday, Virgin Australia said it was “very sorry for the inconvenience however the safety of our customers is the highest priority”.

“Our meteorologists are continually monitoring the weather situation, in consultation with the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre in Darwin, and we will recommence normal operations as soon as the volcanic ash cloud safely allows it,” an airline spokesman said.

It recommended passengers check their latest flight status information online the airline website.

Garuda Indonesia said that all its international flights were still operating normally but disruptions might occur.

Indonesian authorities have closed the domestic airports of Jogjakarta, Surabaya, Malang and Solo.

Indonesia Air Asia is continuing to operate normally.

In June 2011, air travel in Australia and New Zealand was thrown into chaos by ash from the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano in Chile which swept over southern Australia and New Zealand.

The ash cloud went around the world twice and disrupted travel plans for hundreds of thousands of travellers.

In May 2010, thousands of flights were grounded in Europe after Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted.

The most extraordinary encounter with an ash cloud was in June 1982 when a British Airways 747 flying from London to Perth via Kuala Lumpur operating Flight BA9 with 263 passengers and crew had total engine loss after it flew through volcanic ash caused by the violent and sudden eruption of Mt Galunggung in Indonesia.

Capt. Eric Moody and his crew, in an amazing display of skill, cleared the engines of ash by putting the 747 into a steep dive.

The engines were restarted when the aircraft reached about 12,000ft.


Miracle escape

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. We have a small problem. All four engines have stopped. We are doing our damnedest to get them under control. I trust you are not in too much distress.”

The chilling address delivered calmly by Capt. Eric Moody over 30 years ago has become the greatest airline passenger announcement of all time and is brought back to life by the eruption of yet another Indonesian volcano.

For the 263 passengers and crew aboard flight BA9, a British Airways 747 flying through a moonless night from Kuala Lumpur to Perth on June 24, 1982, death was only a matter of time.

Initially, they were in awe of the strange, static electrical light show outside but that quickly turned to terror as the jet’s four engines glowed white, spurted flames and halted. It was 9.43pm.

“Horrific, ” is how passenger Arthur Ewen, of Scarborough, described the feeling in this 2012 interview. “It still affects me and Shirley today. The cabin was quiet, people were praying. We just hugged and held hands.”

The 747 had blundered into the ash cloud from the sudden eruption of Mt Galunggung, 110km south of Jakarta.

The passengers and crew faced an agonising 42 minutes before the 747 touched down in Jakarta.

Capt. Moody was on his way to the toilet.

“Suddenly I was summoned back to the cockpit, ” he told Australian Aviation. “On the way back, I noticed puffs of smoke billowing out of the floor vents and there was an acrid smell or ionised electrical smell.”

When Capt. Moody entered the flight deck, he saw the most intense display of St Elmo’s fire — a blue-glowing form of atmospheric electricity — dancing across the windshield.

Senior First Officer Richard Greaves and Senior Engineer Barry Townley-Freeman were already taking action.

“Richard pointed out the glow from the engines and what could only be described as tracer bullets streaming towards the cockpit, ” Capt. Moody said.

What worried Capt. Moody — and terrified the passengers — was the smoke billowing out of the air-conditioning system.

The air was then punctuated by a chilling call from the engineer: “Engine failure number four.”

Within seconds the problem became worse. “Engine failure number two, three’s gone . . . they’ve all gone.”

The crew was faced with a bewildering array of confusing dials and amber caution lights. They noticed a slowing of airspeed and put the 747 into a slow descent.

Capt. Moody instructed FO Greaves to put out a mayday call: “Jakarta, Jakarta, mayday, mayday, Speedbird 9. We’ve lost all four engines.”

But it took some time for the full gravity of the message to get through because the static around the 747 was interfering with radio transmissions. “We had absolutely no idea what had happened, ” Capt. Moody said. “We had to think outside the box — it was so confusing.”

At 26,000ft, the cabin pressure warning sounded and the crew donned their masks. But the FO’s mask fell apart in his hands, forcing Capt. Moody into an emergency descent.

Mr Ewen remembers the passengers were numb with fear, which turned to horror as repeated failed attempts to restart the engines sent fuel spewing out the back, which was then ignited by the St Elmo’s fire dancing over and around the wings.

As the 747 reached 14,000ft, Capt. Moody said he started to consider a water landing. “I think we had another 10 minutes of glide left. My pondering was broken by the jubilation of the rest of the crew as number four started.”

Within 90 seconds the other three engines had come back to life.

Speedbird 9 was cleared to Jakarta but there was a complication Capt. Moody recounts.

“We had great difficulty picking up the lights and what we didn’t realise is that the front windows were almost opaque from the ash.”

The landing — despite many problems — was smooth and was greeted with “thunderous applause and cheers from the passengers”, Mr Ewen said.

Reflecting on the incredible events Capt. Moody mused: “When I learnt to fly in the 50s, flying was dangerous and sex was safe. “When I retired in the 90s, that had gone the other way around!”

The Beauty of Safety

Air New Zealand has unveiled what it calls the world’s most beautiful safety demonstration video. The video was Filmed in the picturesque Cook Islands in collaboration with Sports Illustrated’s iconic Swimsuit franchise on the eve of its 50th anniversary.

Chrissy Teigen, Ariel Meredith, Hannah Davis and Jessica Gomes all star while one of the original supermodels and three time Sports Illustrated cover girl, Christie Brinkley, makes a cameo appearance.

“The behind the scenes video has generated much conversation around the world about our brand and the Cook Islands as a destination since it was released last week.  It’s exciting for us to release the full video today and we hope it will encourage many viewers to consider a trip to the Cook Islands,” said Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says Safety in Paradise is an exciting component of the magazine’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

“Our partnership with Air New Zealand is brilliant in every way.  We were able to create a raucous safety video in the true spirit of SI Swimsuit and our Kiwi friends,” said Ms Day.

The Cook Islands is a key Pacific Island destination for Air New Zealand.  The airline has operated flights there for more than 40 years and in 2013 alone carried almost 200,000 people to the island paradise from Auckland, Sydney and Los Angeles.

To celebrate the launch of Safety in Paradise Air New Zealand is giving online viewers the chance to win one of five trips for two to the Cook Islands.



Asia to lead the world


The numbers are stunning but not surprising for anyone who follows aviation but they come with a warning. The Asia Pacific region will need an additional 12,820 aircraft valued at US$1.9 trillion, representing 36 percent of the world’s new deliveries, over the next 20 years.


Boeing’s marketing guru Randy Tinseth told that over the next 20 years, nearly half of the world’s air traffic growth will be driven by travel to, from or within the region. “The Asia Pacific fleet will nearly triple, from 5,090 aircraft in 2012 to 14,750 in 2032, to support the increased demand,” said Tinseth.


And the warning? Will the necessary infrastructure be built? Tinseth is reasonably confident that “most” airports will cope over the next ten years but after that he says “we hope they will do the right thing.”


Boeing produces internal reports every two years on airport capacity and where it sees a problem, visits the airport to discuss the data. “We generally get a good reaction,” said Tinseth.


Often, Tinseth relates, airports react when they seen another hub taking traffic away. And super hubs such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai are demonstrating what economic power a good airport can deliver.


Tinseth believes that airports and governments are now starting to understand the economic importance that can be generated when there is a coordinated policy and infrastructure plan surrounding an airport and airlines.


And putting more pressure on airports, Boeing like Airbus see the biggest market segment being single-aisle aircraft such as the 180-seat 737 and A320 families.


“Single-aisle [types] will represent 69 percent – or 8,845 – of the new aircraft in the region,” said Tinseth. “New low-cost carriers and demand for intra-Asia travel have fueled the substantial increase in single-aisle aircraft,” said Tinseth. “Fuel-efficient aircraft like the Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX [and A320] help the growing number of low-cost carriers operate more efficiently and provide affordable fares to the emerging middle class.”


In the long haul space, Boeing forecasts twin-aisle aircraft such as the 747-8 Intercontinental, 777 and the 787 Dreamliner [as well as A350, A330 and A380 from Airbus] will account for 28 percent – or 3975 – of new deliveries.


Recently key Asian-based airlines were involved in kicking off new twin-aisle programs for Boeing. Singapore Airlines ordered 30 787-10s at last year’s Paris Air Show and Cathay Pacific recently order 21 Boeing 777-9X aircraft. Both these airlines have also been key A350 XWB customers for Airbus.


And as impressive as the numbers are, Tinseth says they are conservative. “Typically we under estimate the growth.” In 1994 Boeing forecast a world fleet (over 90 seats) of around 13,000 by 2013 but the fleet is now just over 16,000.


Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers John Leahy on Airbus’ forecasts for the region said that “there is no doubting the importance of the Asia-Pacific market both today and in the future.”


Airbus highlights that the increasing urbanization from already high levels in the region means that 25 of the 89 mega cities in 2032 will be in Asia-Pacific. “In this period, Asia Pacific will be home to 90 cities with more than one million passengers. Traffic will increasingly concentrate around these cities, with larger aircraft providing the most efficient means of meeting demand while overcoming airport constraints,” said Airbus.


And this is the key difference between Airbus and Boeing with the former seeing greater demand for very large aircraft – like the A380 – to get around a lack of investment in infrastructure – such as runways – by airports.


On the fuel to power the dramatically increasing number of aircraft Tinseth said that the industry had provided the technical springboard for bio fuels to take over from traditional fuel.


Tinseth highlighted that Boeing and others were finding more innovative and local solutions to the fuel supply like “gutter oil” in China. Gutter oil is cooking oil discarded into street gutters after use.
















London to Australia in two hours?

Virgin Galactic will be ready for blast off ‘within months’ according to Virgin boss Richard Branson.

According to Mr Branson was speaking at a UAE government summit and said the launch is within sight after years of testing. He said that he should be granted approval for commercial flights within months. Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShip 2 recently completed a third successful rocket-powered test flight over the Mojave Desert in California.

The company has sold over 700 tickets for the first commercial flights, at a cost of over $200,000 each according to

Sir Richard told the summit that the “ultimate end-game for Virgin Galactic” is to run flights between London and Australia cutting flight times by over 80 per cent.

“Obviously if we could fly to Australia in a couple of hours that would give us a massive advantage over anybody else” he said, cautiously adding that the reality of point to point Virgin Galactic flights is well over a decade away.

“I would say that Virgin Galactic point-to-point travel would be about 12 years away.”

But there are doubters. In an interview with Al Arabiya News Aviation analyst Saj Ahmad of, claims “the technology to do it just isn’t mature, robust or reliable enough to do it – and that’s before you consider the astronomical costs too.”

“The concept, while novel, is a tad beyond the realm of reality,” he told Al Arabiya News.

Ahmad was also skeptical on the likely profitability of Branson’s ‘space tourism’ venture.

“Those with five- or six-figure sums of cash that is burning a hole in their pockets will likely be the only users – so how it could be profitable remains a mystery,” he said.

“The costs involved seriously outweigh the planned or perceived revenue forecasting – the chasm has a huge disconnect so profitability is not going to happen anytime soon either.”

45 years young!

The 747 just before its roll out.

Forty five years ago on February 9 the aircraft  that made travel affordable for all took to the air but its birth almost bankrupted the three leaders in commercial aviation at the time.

Ironically, the 747 wasn’t supposed to carry passengers for very many years as the world looked to supersonic travel with the Boeing SST (see picture) and the Concorde.

Boeing has now sold 1,537 747s and it’s still in production with a new model wowing passengers.

But giving life to the aircraft that changed the world was a challenge that brought the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing, the then biggest engine make Pratt and Whitney and the legendary Pan Am to their knees.

In the late 60s Boeing’s resources were stretched to the absolute limit as its engineers grappled with the complexities of its US government sponsored 2707 super sonic transport, which was eventually scrapped by Congress on May 20, 1971, despite commitments for 115 from 25 airlines.

At the time the 747 was considered only an interim solution before the world’s air routes were taken over by supersonics but fortunately Boeing had appointed Joe Sutter, a brilliant young designer, to the project and he was to father the classic of the jet age.

Mr Sutter, who still has an office at Boeing, is extremely modest on this role.

“I was the only qualified person available. All the smart guys, Maynard Pennell, Bill Cook, Bob Withington and many others were tied up on the SST, while Jack Steiner was heading the 737 program,” Mr Sutter said in a 2009 interview.

And the 747 was designed at the outset to be a freighter as everyone thought the 747 would be relegate to cargo routes.

“That’s what Boeing’s marketing people thought; they estimated we’d probably sell 50 or so 747s for passenger use.”
The 747 was a mass travel dream of Pan American World Airways founder Juan Trippe and Boeing chief Bill Allen.
Mr Trippe had started mass travel in 1948 when he introduced economy class onto 70 seat DC-4s.

But the 747 was far bigger. It would carry over 350 – almost double the 707 – and would slash fares.

It is impossible to find anyone who recalls if there was a definitive business plan for the 747. But traffic was booming for the airline industry which had enjoyed growth of 15 per cent a year through the early 1960s as passengers flocked to jet aircraft.

Mr Trippe was a man on a mission.

He wanted to make travel affordable for everyone and he believed that the 747 with the new high bypass turbofan engine could do just that.

Pan Am ordered 25 but most airlines were terrified of the jumbo’s size. Qantas ordered 4, British Airways 6, while many airlines just ordered 2 or 3 just to stay in the jumbo race.

However the trickle of orders wasn’t the major problem it was the 747’s weight.

Initially it was to weigh 250,000kg but this leapt to 322,000kgs by the time it flew because of design changes impacting range, altitude, speed and fuel burn. A solution, to run the engines at higher temperatures to give more thrust, was found and within six months of entering service the jumbo was performing at acceptable levels.

Despite the many problems encountered in its manufacture, the birth of the 747 was an amazing feat. Pan Am took delivery of its first aircraft just 3-and-a-half years after its order was placed and that included a 10-month flight-test program.

Because the 747 was so big airlines splashed out with lounges. There was the upper deck lounge (see picture) and many had lounges at the back of economy (see picture). However a Boeing proposal for a lower deck lounge – called the Tiger Lounge, because of the fabric design used in the mock-up never made it.

The spacious age however was short lived with airlines responding to a demand for cheaper and cheaper travel in the late 1970s by adding more seats.

Today the 747 is till the Queen of the Skies to many and for billions of passengers it is the plane that enabled them to see the world. 

Safety in Paradise

Air New Zealand will release what it calls the world’s most beautiful safety video next week.

And if the airline’s past safety videos are any guide this one will be stunning – and very funny!

The airline has partnered with Sports Illustrated’s iconic Swimsuit franchise to produce Safety in Paradise, which was shot in the amazing Cook Islands and features some of the biggest names in modelling, including Chrissy Teigen, Ariel Meredith, Hannah Davis and Jessica Gomes.

Making a special guest appearance in Safety in Paradise is one of the original supermodels, Christie Brinkley, who famously appeared on three consecutive Sports Illustrated Swimsuit covers.

Safety in Paradise will be released on February 12 NZ time to coincide with the start of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit’s 50th anniversary global celebrations.

Air New Zealand and Sports Illustrated have today released a preview of the video, which the airline expects to not only engage customers more than ever in core safety messages but drive passenger traffic on its Auckland-Rarotonga and Los Angeles-Rarotonga services in 2014.

The video can be viewed here<VIDEO>.

Air New Zealand Head of Global Brand Development Jodi Williams says working with the Sports Illustrated franchise, which reaches more than 70 million people worldwide, was a phenomenal opportunity to further lift the airline’s brand on the global stage and to promote a key Pacific Island destination the airline has been flying to for more than 40 years.

“Sports Illustrated Swimsuit has a massive worldwide television, online and print campaign to celebrate the 50th anniversary and we’re incredibly excited to feature in that activity.  The magazine alone has more than 61 million readers annually and the safety video shoot with Air New Zealand will feature in the special anniversary edition.  This is money can’t buy global attention focused on a key destination and our airline,” says Ms Williams.

Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editor MJ Day says collaborating on Safety in Paradise was a special chapter in the magazine’s five decade history.

“Our partnership with Air New Zealand is brilliant in every way.  We were able to create a raucous safety video in the true spirit of SI Swimsuit and our Kiwi friends,” says Ms Day.

Supermodel Christie Brinkley says it was a privilege to be asked to appear in Safety in Paradise.

“I’m grateful to be included in Air New Zealand’s safety video.  I loved the playful script that contains a lot of unexpected moments for a safety video.  It features so many SI beauties celebrating SI’s 50th anniversary of the swimsuit edition, that it may even have folks on the ground reaching for their oxygen masks!  Thanks SI and Air New Zealand for including me,” says Brinkley.

Safety in Paradise will be released online on February 12 (NZ time) and will be progressively rolled out on board across Air New Zealand’s fleet from the end of February





Cookie settings