Wednesday, 5 October 2011

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1.  Four Aviation Notes, Including Some on TSA and One for Nerds Only

Encouraging news, via NASA and Network World, about successful results in the NASA-Google Green Flight Challenge for an ultra-efficient new airplane. The prize of $1.35 million, reportedly the largest ever in aviation, went to the plane shown at right, which met the following standards:
>>NASA today awarded what it called the largest prize in aviation history to a company that flew their aircraft 200 miles in less than two hours on less than one gallon of fuel or electric equivalent....

[T]o win the Green Flight Challenge, an aircraft must exceed an equivalent fuel efficiency of 200 passenger miles per gallon (mpge). Typical general-aviation aircraft have fuel efficiencies in the range of 5-50 mpge.  Large passenger aircraft are in the 50-100 mpge range, depending on passenger/cargo load. Green Flight Challenge aircraft also must have an average speed of at least 100 mph over a 200-mile race circuit; achieve a takeoff distance of less than 2,000 feet to clear a 50-foot obstacle; and deliver a decibel rating of less than 78 dBA at full-power takeoff, as recorded from 250 feet away.<<

2) TSA department. I have had some bad run-ins myself recently, which I'll describe at some point. The main take-home lesson is: avoid Dulles Airport if you possibly can, although that is tricky if you live in DC. In case you haven't seen it, the most notorious recent TSA- uber-alles account is from Lori Dorn, about how her post-breast cancer prostheses caused a "security" incident at JFK. The TSA is apologizing for this one, sort of.

2A) Placeholder for update later on security-overkill front: Why the FAA and other agencies are wrong to start imposing a system that would, in effect, put absolutely unprecedented limits on Americans' accustomed ability to travel within their own country without being monitored. Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune explained the problem well this summer. More from NBAA, and more in this space soon.

3) There is a lot of other aviation-safety news, from the long overdue AF 447 update to the recent surprising episode involving an ANA flight in Japan, of which there is an animation after the jump. Plus airshow accidents. They are all in the queue.

4) Now, for nerds only: In a small plane that, in the right circumstances*, can get 40-50 mpge, I have been doing a lot of business-related flying in the past few days. (*Right circumstances = four people aboard; "best economy" fuel and power setting; 10 - 12+ mpg for the plane in no-wind conditions;  x 4 = 40-50 mpge.) There was a real weather anomaly on Sunday afternoon, as we came from coastal Massachusetts back to the DC area. The further south we went, the colder it got. The chart below -- which indicates "freezing levels," the altitude at which the surrounding air temperature goes below zero C, at the time of this flight -- shows something fairly unusual. That is the self-contained patch of coldness centered more or less over the nation's capital, generated perhaps by the moral and civic mood therein. It was in the low 70s F when we got in the airplane in Massachusetts and in the low 40s when we got out two hours later in suburban Maryland.

Further note for flying enthusiasts: the trip was IFR on the V16 coastal route -- along the RI and Connecticut shore and over Long Island to JFK airport, then through the center of New Jersey past Atlantic City down toward Dover, Delaware, and then V268 across BWI airport toward Gaithersburg -- and was in the clouds the entire way. Thus the steady fall in outside air temperature as the trip wore on had my full attention, from a comfortable 8 - 10 C in New England to 1 - 2 C near landing time in Maryland. This mattered, of course, because 0 C or thereabouts inside clouds means airframe icing, something very much to avoid. But the light rain hitting the windshield always stayed liquid, and there was never any trace of ice on the wings (which also have the TKS anti-ice system). So I kept considering alternate plans -- climb, land -- but didn't have to employ them. Mentioned just for aviation lore and the oddness of the weather.

2. Historic Swedesboro School receives grant for restoration

The historic Richardson Avenue School will soon receive a facelift with the help of a grant from the 1772 Foundation.
Help, Inc., an organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings in the Swedesboro-Woolwich area, is currently in the process of planning restorations on the Mt. Zion A.M.E Church, which was a stop on the underground railroad; the church’s cemetery, which is the home of 18 civil war “colored troops” soldiers; and the Richardson Avenue School.
The school is one of the last black schools of the segregation era.
“Most of our more important history is not national, but local,” said Benjamin Coates, the executive director of Help, Inc.
The organization has received $10,000 to paint the school’s exterior — the beginning of a restoration project that will see the school brought back to a healthier condition.
“The present paint is decaying and peeling rapidly and exposing a great deal of bare wood,” Coates said. “That is what this grant is all about and what it will be used for.”
The 1772 Foundation, based in Connecticut, provides grants to registered non-profit organizations in order to financially support targeted restoration and agricultural projects throughout the United States.
The members of Help, Inc. are attempting to restore the Richardson Ave. School, along with the Woolwich Church and cemetery in order to preserve the memories of those that came before us and the sacrifices they endured.
“This is for the whole community,” Coates said. “Much of our very important history is local. Our history speaks to us regarding the contribution of our ancestors to motivate us to be the kind of people they were.”
The organization is currently planning with an architect and a paint consultant, and plans to begin work on the building as soon as possible.

3. American Airlines Faces Turbulent Ride

American Airlines' CEO is proud that his company, unlike its biggest rivals, avoided the bankruptcy process to remake itself. Investors aren't so sure.

As the economic outlook darkens, the airline industry is bracing for trouble. Among the biggest U.S. carriers, American has the most to fear. It faces the highest labor, aircraft and borrowing costs.

"They've become old and feeble," says Vaughn Cordle, chief analyst with AirlineForecasts.

American's problems are the kinds that can be fixed under the protection of a bankruptcy court. And some analysts point to the airline's beaten-down stock price — it's fallen 69 percent this year — as evidence that Chapter 11 is not out of the realm of possibility.

On Monday, as speculation about a bankruptcy filing swirled, the stock fell 33 percent. Shares bounced back Tuesday, rising nearly 21 percent.

Executives at parent company AMR Corp. insist a Chapter 11 filing is not in the cards. The Fort Worth, Texas-based company has $4.2 billion in cash and other short-term investments — enough of a cushion to sustain at least another year's worth of losses while it comes up with a plan for growth, analysts say.

While most U.S. airlines were profitable in the first half of the year, American had a net loss of $715 million on revenue of $11.6 billion. The company is forecast to show a loss of $132 million when it reports third-quarter results in two weeks.

FILE - In this June 6, 2011 file photo, an... View Full Caption

American was once an innovative airline. It invented frequent-flier miles and it launched the first computerized ticketing system. Now, that edge is gone.

Ray Neidl, an airline specialist with the Maxim Group, said in a recent note the airline's management is experienced "but they appear to be riding on the storied airline's past."

American's biggest problem is the high cost of labor.

It spends $3,008 on salary and benefits for every hour each of its 616 planes is in the air, according to Cordle. United spends $2,801, Delta $2,587 and US Airways $1,991.

Put another way, if American had the same labor costs as US Airways — which restructured in bankruptcy court in 2002 and 2004 — it would save $2.2 billion a year, Cordle said.

American had hoped that gap would shrink as employees at the other airlines negotiated higher wages in new contracts. But that has yet to happen.

The airline has other disadvantages:

— More than $12.1 billion in outstanding debt, about the same amount as airlines twice its size.

— An unfunded pension liability of $7.9 billion. For the most part, other airlines don't have traditional pension plans.

— High borrowing costs. It agreed to pay 8.75 percent interest on $726 million it borrowed last week.

— The oldest and least fuel-efficient fleet in the country.

USA Aviation NEWS

Middle East North Africa Financial Network
Oct 03, 2011 (AME Info - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- EMIRATES A380 MAKES FIRST FLIGHT TO JOHANNESBURG: Emirates Airline has launched its first scheduled A380 service from Dubai to Johannesburg, to meet the growing demand on ...
Help, Inc., an organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings in the Swedesboro-Woolwich area, is currently in the process of planning restorations on the Mt. Zion AME Church, which was a stop on the underground railroad; the church's cemetery ...
Tucson Citizen
The woman told the 911 operator that her niece, Ame Deal, was found in a box after she had gone missing while playing hide-and-seek. “We were playing hide-and-seek last night and didn't find her. She was in a box today,” the woman said, crying, ...
AME Info
Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of AME Info FZ LLC / Emap Limited. The information comprised in this section is not, nor is it held out to be, a solicitation of any person to ...

Aviation NEWS By
Neha Jain
Aviation NEWS Reporter



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