Tag Archives: 787

GUEST POST: The Boeing 787 Dreamliner Is A Revolutionary Airplane – Even If You Do Not See It

28 Mar

By David Parker Brown, AirlineReporter.com

Up close is ANA’s second 787 Dreamliner (JA802A) and in the distance is their first (JA801A) sitting at Narita, Tokyo. Photo by David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com.

It has been a few months since All Nippon Airways (ANA) put the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner into service and there have been mixed reviews on the aircraft’s experience.

The 787 has been heralded by many (including myself) as being a revolutionary aircraft, but it seems that only some see it as a smaller evolutionary change.

When airlines started to switch from prop aircraft to jets in the late 1950’s, it was quite obvious that the change was a revolution for airlines. Passengers could see, feel, and hear the difference: they were quieter, smoother running, and flew the route faster. How the 787 is different is not as obvious as it was from props to jets, but it doesn’t mean they are any less important.

I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to fly on the 787 Dreamer and I can see where people might not realize how different the aircraft is from current airliners. You walk on the plane and notice some fancy lighting and larger windows, but essentially it’s still just an airplane with windows and seats. And that is where the 787 fools you: the revolution comes from things that most people are not able to see.

All the windows on the 787 Dreamliner can be dimmed by the flight attendants with one button. Photo by David Parker Brown / AirlineReporter.com.

In the game of airlines, weight equals money. The more an aircraft weighs, the more it costs to fly it around the world. Most previously built airliners are produced by bolting a bunch of aluminum panels onto a heavy frame, but the 787 is constructed using mostly composite materials, which are much lighter. The savings in weight results in—you guessed it—saving money. And saving money allows them to improve their operation.

Another aspect that will probably go unnoticed is the pressurization of the cabin. Current airlines fly with a pressurization equivalent to breathing at 8,000 feet, while the Dreamliner is 6,000. The improved pressure level has been shown to reduce jetlag, making the flying experience that much better – especially on those long flights. The Dreamliner’s ventilation system also allows there to be more humidity in the cabin than other aircraft there by reducing the dryness that most passengers experience during flight.

In my opinion one of the biggest changes is the 787s ability to fly new, long distance routes that do not make economic sense using current airframes like the Airbus A330 and Boeing 767. Japan Airlines (JAL) has already announced a new route between Boston and Tokyo, ANA has announced using the Dreamliner on new flights between Seattle and San Jose to Tokyo and Continental (before the United merger) announced a flight between Houston and Auckland. These are all new routes that were not economically viable before the 787. As a result airlines will continue to offer more direct flights because of this aircraft. Passengers will not have to experience as many layovers, which can last multiple hours for international flights. The Dreamliner allows airlines to offer more point-to-point flights like never before.

At first glance, one might not realize how different the 787 Dreamliner is from current aircraft, but it will change how airlines fly their passengers and how passengers interact with the flying experience. I have no question that the Dreamliner truly is a revolution in the skies and I cannot wait for more to start flying passengers around the globe.

Top Five Interesting Stories Of The Week

27 Feb

Let’s get right to it, shall we?

  1. Last July, I flew to Chicago O’Hare to celebrate United Airlines passenger Tom Stuker flying his 10 millionth mile. My blog post on that event is here. During the event, United CEO Jeff Smisek presented Stuker with several gifts, including a Boeing 787 model. And in his remarks congratulating Stuker, Smisek made a not-so-subtle dig at Boeing over its delay in delivering the aircraft.  And now it seems the gloves are off.  The airline filed an SEC 10-K report that noted it was seeking damages for the aircraft’s delay, reports Aviation Week.
  2. Before filing for Chapter 11 in late November, American Airlines had been working hard to cut its labor costs.  In mid-November, the carrier’s  Allied Pilots Association rejected a contract, and less than two weeks later, the airline filed for bankruptcy protection in order to cut labor costs and slash debt.  American has already announced it was cutting 13,000 jobs; now management is warning its labor groups that it “needs concessions from its labor groups in a matter of weeks, not months, in order to emerge from Chapter 11 in the near term,” reports Reuters.
  3. Back in late August 1997, I flew down to Memphis to do some articles on Express Airlines II, now known as Pinnacle Airlines.  The company, which flew as Northwest Airlink, had been privately held, but was bought by Northwest Airlines. Its headquarters had just moved from Atlanta to Memphis, and then-CEO Phil Trenary, who had been brought in to take the airline to the next level, was optimistic about the future. Fast forward to now, where the airline is teetering on the edge of a Chapter 11 filing, reports the Commercial Appeal.  “Unless we have long-term agreements in place, the best way for us to improve our financial performance and ensure a viable future for our company may still be the court-supervised Chapter 11 process I explained earlier,” wrote CEO Sean Menke in a letter to Pinnacle’s employees.
  4. I want to thank Huffington Post for this story on why we really need to keep our cell phones off in flight.  The International Air Transport Association (IATA) wrote in a confidential report that was leaked to ABC News “that between 2003 and 2009 errant electronic signals caused 75 incidents of “possible electronic interference” on airplanes, 40 percent of which were attributed specifically cellphones.”
  5. I’m a big fan of KLM’s efforts to incorporate social media as a way to reach out to their customers.  When I flew the carrier from Washington Dulles to Geneva in May 2010, I sent out a tweet about watching movies on the flight. The airline tweeted back a link to their movie selection and continued to check on me via Twitter until the end of my flight.  But I’m not sure about this latest initiative, which allows passengers to use Facebook or LinkedIn profiles to help select their seatmate, reports the New York Times.

Last week I wrote two posts on Pinterest – one on how I’m using the boards to show off my love of travel and one on what travel-related Pinterest members you should be following.  Since the second post, some of my favorite aviation/travel folks have joined up.  They include:

 

Top Five Interesting Stories Of The Week

6 Feb

What a week it was! We saw the demise of another European carrier — Malev Hungarian; we saw American Airlines unveil its expected job cuts as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing; and a manufacturing issue forces Boeing to inspect its flagship 787.  So let’s go onto the news!

  1. When I worked at Delta Air Lines, we worked on initiatives designed to avoid a Chapter 11 filing. One of those was a project I spearheaded — media outreach on our effort to have Congress enact pension reform.  One of the highest cost legacy carriers faced was the pension obligations to retired workers. We wanted to stretch out our payments — kind of like refinancing a mortgage, and avoid ending those plans, which is what happened with United and US Airways in the 1990s. Those pensions were taken over by the federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC). Fast forward to last week, where NPR’s Planet Money blog posts about how PBGC Director Josh Gotbaum is urging American Airlines to look for every alternative before it decides to punt the pensions of 130,000 retirees and employees to the federal agency. According to the blog, if American does dump its pensions on PBGC, it will be the largest claim since United got rid of its pensions in 2005.
  2. Another day, another issue with the Boeing 787.  Regular readers know my favorite aircraft of all time is the 747, but the 787 has faced more than its fair share of woes. In the latest issue, “Structural stiffeners were found to be improperly joined to the composite skin in the aft sections of the aircraft, causing parts of the aircraft’s carbon fibre structure to delaminate, confirms the airframer,” reports FlightGlobal.
  3. The week before last we saw the demise of Spain’s Spanair. Last week, flag carrier Malev Hungarian, which was created in 1946, was the latest to have the plug pulled.  Regular aviation watchers knew this was only a matter of time after the European Union ruled that the troubled carrier had to pay back millions in loans given illegally between 2007 and 2010, reports Aviation International News.  And when the government refused to offer any further aid, the decision was made to stop flying, on Feb. 3.
  4. Talk about balls. Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.-based Spirit Airlines, in protesting new Department of Transportation rules that requires transparency in fares and gives consumers 24 hours to change their mind on a ticket purchase and get a refund, according to USA Today’s Today In The Sky blog.  The ultra low-cost carrier said in a statement the “regulation requiring airlines to hold fares for 24 hours after booking without penalty comes with unintended consequences and is costing consumers millions.” So what is Spirit’s solution? Charge passengers a $2 DOT unintended consequence fee. All I can say is — really?
  5. I know it’s their job, but I have to give a BIG shout out to the reporters at the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram for their blanket coverage of the American Airlines Chapter 11 filing on its SkyTalk blog.  Last week alone reporter Andrea Ahles held a reader chat about the latest news, while the newspaper covered the announcement of the layoffs of 13,000 employees from the management and labor side and the reaction of North Texas officials and the Allied Pilots Union about the cuts. Oh — and they also covered the start of new service to Dubai by Emirates.

It was also a banner week for this blog. I had a post in CrankyFlier.com with my five picks on airports doing great things with concessions. I also had a post in the Airline Passenger Experience’s Editor’s Blog on the advent of mini airport hotels. I thank eidtors Brett Snyder and Mary Kirby, respectively, for the exposure.

 

Top Five Most Interesting Aviation Stories Of The Week

21 Nov

So I managed to finish my first week on the new job. LOVED it!!  Now, onto the week’s aviation news.

  1. Ted Reed of The Street.com wrote two interesting airline pieces last week.  In the first piece, he writes about how the lack of a deal between American Airlines and its pilots could cause the Dallas-based carrier to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, the last of the legacy carriers who have avoided this fate.  In his second piece, Reed notes that Phoenix-based US Airways has two goals for 2012: cut its presence at New York’s LaGuardia Airport and upgrade its aging fleet.
  2. Plans for a supersonic business jet have been floating around for decades.  The latest player to enter the market, U.K.-based HyperMach used last week’s Dubai Air Show to tell Aviation International News that its 20-seat SonicStar will be able to fly at speeds up to Mach 4.0, allowing to fly from New York to Dubai in only 2 hours 20 minutes.
  3. Regular readers know I am  a fan — and student — of all things dealing with first and business class travel, as witnessed by the Facebook group I created: I Love Sitting In 1st/Biz Class (my Dec. 15 blog post about the group is here).  So I’m passing along Jaunted’s review of Delta Air Lines’ Economy Comfort product.  My view? I’d pay extra for the room.
  4. My 6-year-old daughter has become addicted to video Skype.  She loves chatting with her grandparents and her aunt.  So I’m betting she’d love being able to check in for her flight via Skype, which you can now do at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo International Airport, reports the Wall Street Journal.
  5. Trust me, I am NOT a regular reader of Perez Hilton.  But I could not resist when I saw his hysterical rant about Spirit Airlines pop up on my Google Alerts.  He rambles on about all the fees charged by Spirit.  You won’t see me flying on that airline — ever — but I admire their business model.  They charge ultra low fares, but charge fees up the ying yang.  Don’t like the fees? Don’t fly the airline.

I’m a bit behind on my Airplane Geeks episodes, but I thoroughly enjoyed Episode 171, which featured former Air Force pilot Mark Jones. He had some great stories about training at Edwards AFB. At one time, my dad was deputy base commander there, and my sister worked on the flight line, so I was reliving all that when Mark was chatting.

And finally, I am a sucker for aviation/airline commercials.  When they come on, I stop and watch in rapt fascination.  Recently I saw one featuring the folks who build GE Aviation engines, where they got the chance to fly to Boeing Field Seattle to see their product hung on the 787 Dreamliner and actually fly on the 747, my favorite plane.  And yes, I got a tear in my eye as they watched the fruits of their labor in total awe.  Enjoy!

Five Interesting Aviation Stories

14 Oct

Kids, I must confess — I was so busy with this week’s National Business Aviation Association annual conference that I barely had time to keep up with the rest of the industry.  But I did manage to find five interesting stories I’d love to share with you.

  1. Back on July 9, I got to take a day trip up to United Airlines’ Chicago O’Hare hub for a party being held for Tom Stuker, who accumulated 10 million (yes, million) Mileage Plus miles (my AvWeek blog post on that is here).  One of the gifts given to Stuker was a Boeing 787 model. During his remarks at the festivities, United CEO Jeff Smisek said the 787 would be in the fleet by 2012.  He also quipped about how he had been waiting four years for the delayed plane.  And now, my Aviation Week colleague Darren Shannon writes about how another 787 production delay has caused United to cut its 787 delivery schedule from six to five of the type.
  2. Are you one of those people who use websites to manage all of your frequent flyer miles (I’m not one of them)?  if you’re using sites including AwardWallet, MileWise and GoMiles, you may be facing some trouble, according to the Wall Street Journal.  Southwest Airlines and American Airlines have sent “cease and desist” letters to these companies over their activities.
  3. SmarterTravel’s Ed Perkins gives us the skinny behind the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck trusted traveler program, which is quite similar to the old registered traveler programs (which were privately run).  But he also asks some very good questions about the program, including cost, locations and enrollment.
  4. My friend Sandra Gonzales, a multimedia journalist in New Orleans, shot this piece on how Louis Armstrong International Airport has become one of 8 American approved airports to fly to Cuba.
  5. As you know, the nostalgic aviation geeks had been waiting with bated breath for the new ABC-TV series “Pan Am.”  You can see my review of it in this Sept. 26 post.  Which is why I enjoyed this post from travel expert Peter Greenberg’s thoughts on the real Pan Am.

DC-3 prop in Susan Elliott's Delta social media office Photo by Benet J. Wilson

I’m still catching up on my Airplane Geek podcast episodes.  I just listened to Episode 166, featuring Delta Air Lines social media guru Susan Elliott.  It was a great episode., and you have to love a woman who has a genuine DC-3 prop and a white leather sofa in her work space!!  And I got to guest host Episode 168, with Lori Ranson, he America’s Air Transport Editor at Flightglobal. And don’t forget to read this week’s edition of Strange But True Aviation News!

I have one more week to go at Aviation Week.  And I thank you all for your kind tweets and emails.  But as a result, there will be some changes on my blog.  Mondays will now be my top stories of the previous week.  Tuesdays and Wednesdays will remain the same.  Thursdays are for Random Aviation Photos and Friday will be Strange But True Aviation News.    I hope you’ll continue to support me here!

Top Five Aviation Stories Of The Week

30 Sep

It has been a busy week for me.  I started out recovering from two journalism conventions where I had the chance to speak (and raise my aviation geek flag), and it ended with me cranking out stories for my day job.  So here are my picks for the week.

  1. I’m giving props to my Aviation Week colleagues Guy Norris and Mike Mecham, who led our team coverage of Boeing’s first 787 delivery, to Japan’s ANA.
  2. Speaking of 787s, I was at United’s Houston hub on Tuesday (a separate post is coming out about that) and I saw a mock-up of the 787  in the E Concourse.  CEO Jeff Smisek tells the Chicago Tribune that his carrier’s first 787s are coming into the fleet by the second half of next year. He couldn’t resist a dig a Boeing, noting he’s been waiting for the plane since Continental ordered it in 2004.
  3. JetBlue CEO David Barger used an appearance on the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley to call the partial shutdown of FAA earlier this summer “criminal.”
  4. I was intrigued by Scott McCartney’s Wall Street Journal story on kids attaining elite status on the world’s airlines.  My daughter, 5, started flying when she was 10 days old. She was one of the youngest children to earn a Rapid Rewards ticket on Southwest Airlines.
  5. I’m a bit behind with this story (Sept. 19), but I wanted to share this Marketwatch story on what the Transportation Security Administration is doing to speed passengers through airport checkpoints.  TSA fought the registered/trusted traveler concept for so long, it fascinates me how now they’re going in that direction.

My beloved Airplane Geeks were smart enough to interview one of my favorite social media peeps, Susan Chana Elliott of Delta Air Lines, in the latest episode.   And we have the usual basket of crazy over at AvWeek’s Things With Wings blog with Strange But True Aviation News.   I’m going to watch episode two of ABC-TV’s “Pan Am” this Sunday, but three strikes and they’re out!

My Top 5 Airline Story Picks For The Week

16 Sep

It was a fast week, with a veritable aviation news smorgasbord to choose from.  But I force myself to pick only five, so here goes!

  1. It seemed like a good idea at the time:  Rep. John Mica, (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation Committee, was the father of the legislation that created the Transportation Security Administration. But 10 years later, he grades the agency he created with a D-, telling Human Events that “the whole program has been hijacked by bureaucrats.”
  2. It was a split order for Air France KLM, which announced plans to buy 25  Boeing 787-9s for KLM and 25  Airbus A350-900s for Air France, reports SeattlePI.  It was the first joint order for the carriers, which merged back in 2004.
  3. The Mercury News writes about how the city of San Jose has been fighting to get a direct flight to Japan from Mineta San Jose International Airport, including hosting officials from ANA and having Mayor Chuck Reed lobby for the flight during a trip to the Asian nation. The carrier plans on putting a display of its Boeing 787 seating in city hall for two days, seen as an encouraging sign.  But the airport faces stiff competition against more established Asian hubs, including Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
  4. Talk about King Solomon’s choice! The folks running Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport faced a difficult decision after one of its higher-paid employees was arrested for a non-work-related crime: let him continue to come to work or pay him to stay home.  They chose the latter, reports the Star-Tribune, who notes the airport doesn’t have a formal policy to handle this type of issue.  What would you have done (put me down for stay home)?
  5. My airport soul sister Harriet Baskas uses her MSNBC Overhead Bin column to discuss airbags on commercial airline flights.  The airbags are used for passengers in bulkhead seats.

I was pleased as punch to guest host episode 164 of the Airplane Geeks podcast.  And the bonus? The guest was my good friend Henry Harteveldt, who just partnered with 2 other gentlemen to create the new aviation consultancy Atmosphere Research Group.  And we can’t end the week without my Strange but True Aviation News column for Aviation Week’s Things With Wings blog.  Enjoy the weekend!

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