A flight from London to Tokyo, as described by a pilot

Wednesday, 10 June, 2015

An in-depth description of a flight from London to Tokyo, aboard a Boeing 747, written by British Airways pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker… that is quite possibly a more enjoyable experience than flying is, or has become.

It’s been dark for hours now. There are three pilots on a flight this long and now it’s time for my break. A colleague takes my place in the right-hand seat of the cockpit. Before I go to the bunk, located at the rear of the cockpit, I stay for a moment by one of the side windows, to gaze out and up. If you look into the night sky from an airplane for more than a few minutes you may well see a shooting star. My eye catches something. I look, smile and say to myself, There’s another one. I don’t even mention them to a colleague; another will be along soon enough.

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The Cozy Suite, a more comfortable way to fly for middle seat flyers?

Tuesday, 19 May, 2015

Thomson Aero Seating Cozy Suite

Now here’s an airline seating format that could make air travel a lot more comfortable.

The Cozy Suite, developed by Thomson Aero Seating, not only makes sitting in a middle seat less bothersome, it also allows passengers to recline their seat, by way of a forward-sliding pan system, one that doesn’t intrude on the space of the person in the seat behind.

The seat also features a fixed-back shell with a pan seat recline. This means you won’t feel the passenger behind you bumping or kicking your seat and, if you recline, the forward-sliding pan means you won’t be invading that person’s space.

As a bonus, the format also allows more seats to be fitted in an aircraft, surely making them a win for everyone. So, what are the chances of seeing these seats on flights any time soon?

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52 places to travel to in 52 weeks

Monday, 19 January, 2015

Might this be a bucket list item? Visit fifty-two places across the globe, over the course of a year, while spending as close to week as is possible in each? Here are the fifty-two places. Now to find a round-the-world air ticket that makes it possible to visit all these places on the one trip…

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This is the captain speaking, is an Instagram photographer aboard?

Friday, 19 December, 2014

In NSW, and I dare say in many other places, motorists are not permitted to handle their mobile phones whatsoever while they are driving. They are however able to pass their device to a passenger, but that’s about all. Needless to say taking Instagram photos is clearly out of the question.

Airline pilots appear to be bound by similar regulations, though as this collection of images goes to show, they don’t always seem to adhere to them, unless of course another crew member, someone who is non flight deck personnel, is actually taking the photos.

Perhaps airlines could consider assigning someone the role of flight photographer… many of these pictures, by sheer virtue of the circumstances in which they are taken, are stunning.

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Flying, not the most profitable way to make money

Thursday, 11 December, 2014

Of all the businesses you might want to start, an airline may not be the best idea… how, for instance, does a profit margin of just four dollars per passenger, grab you?

Despite incredible growth, airlines have not come close to returning the cost of capital, with profit margins of less than 1% on average over that period. In 2012 they made profits of only $4 for every passenger carried.

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A guide to the extensive, and varied, controls of a aircraft cockpit

Monday, 8 December, 2014

We’ve all seen photos of aircraft cockpits seemingly crammed with controls and instruments, but are all these dials and buttons for real, or do only a few matter? Needless to say, all are important, and do indeed serve a purpose.

The engine information shown: On the top left are two dials; they indicate the N1 setting for the left and right engine. N1 is a measure of engine power – at 100% N1, the engine is producing maximum power (right now the engines are at 22.5% N1). The second row shows the engine’s EGT (exhaust gas temperature, currently 411°C), another measure of engine power and also an important thing to monitor – if the exhaust gas is too hot, you’re in trouble. To the right of the dials is a grid where engine warnings would pop up. On the bottom right are the fuel gauges; it shows the fuel in each of the three tanks and the total fuel onboard (40,200 gallons).

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When Concorde used to fly over the houses in Barnes, London

Tuesday, 2 December, 2014

For a time I was living under one of the approach paths to London’s Heathrow airport. Jumbo jets lumbered overhead from early morning until the nightly curfew kicked in during the late evening. Yet we barely noticed them. Concorde, however, was another matter.

Flights only landed into Heathrow twice daily, but there was no missing them. Not only could they be heard approaching miles away, literally, the house trembled as they passed overhead, so noisy were the engines. Still, pilots liked flying them, and passengers generally enjoyed being aboard, so I guess that’s what matters.

Apparently, Concorde “handled very well” and was easier to fly than other aircraft such as the Boeing 747. It is “a pilot’s plane, but also a passenger’s plane”, according to Andrew, and Concorde did turn out to be a favourite, at least for those who could afford it. Passengers may have enjoyed a choice of four different champagnes to wash down a sumptuous three-course meal, but if you think Concorde’s interior was the height of sophistication, think again. Compared to your average Airbus, Concorde was decidedly cramped.

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On folding up a world record paper airplane

Tuesday, 25 November, 2014

Because, when you build paper aeroplanes, you should strive to build the best paper aeroplanes.

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The best time to fly? Well it’s the early birds who get home sooner…

Monday, 17 November, 2014

Since I’m buzzing about the place at the moment… when it comes to avoiding delays while flying, especially domestically, taking flights that are scheduled for earlier in the day, rather than later, might be the way to go.

Like buses and trains, aircraft are also prone to hold ups as the day progresses, as they move from place to place, so travelling first thing, where possible, looks to be a plan.

The later you leave, the greater the average delay you will face until around 6PM when things flatten out and 10PM when we see benefits in leaving later. It makes sense that delays increase as the day goes on because, we understand, the primary cause of delays is waiting for the plane to arrive from another city. The first flights out in the morning don’t have this problem.

Based on US research, but I imagine same principle applies elsewhere.

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Timelapse footage from this year’s Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta

Friday, 7 November, 2014

I don’t think they actually move through the sky quite as quickly as they appear to… timelapse footage of several hundred hot air balloons launching at dawn, at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, held in the US state of New Mexico.

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