Air traffic for ZRH/LSZH: A Google maps mashup

The Air Traffic Google maps mashup (provided by ZHAW) that displays departing and arriving planes at Zurich airport has received quite some media attention. It’s not fully real-time for technical and security reasons (fear of terror attacks, as usual) and when observing the airplane lineup during the approach to runway 28 I noticed that some planes were not displayed (I don’t know the reason however). A nice idea nonetheless.

Supersonic travel ever again?

I wonder how long it will take until there will be a supersonic airliner[1] again? I don’t know of anything like a “new Concorde” in the mid-term pipelines of any of the few major manufacturers of commercial jetliners (there are a couple of ongoing “low budget” studies though). Supersonic travel is not so à la mode due to its historical association with high fuel consumption, environmental pollution and high operating costs. However, supersonic commercial travel has distinct advantages from an economical point of view and I can hardly believe that the world can do without it for a long time. Further, technology has made quite some progress since the development of the Concorde (more than 40 years ago!) which may enable future supersonic airliners to overcome some of the deficiencies and disadvantages of their predecessor(s).

Some nice videos about the Concorde:

Concorde Flight to Iceland

Concorde : Thank you for 27 supersonic years

Concorde

Concorde Queen of thesk

Concorde breaking the sound barrier

Adieu supersonic, good bye Concorde!

[1] Commercial “space trips” for fun don’t count ;) They’re certainly a great personal experience, but their importance to world economy is probably negligible.

Airbus A380 first flight successful

Grats to all the involved engineers, test pilots, staff and management! And a hooray on European cooperation ;)

There’s video footage available on the Airbus site:

Airbus.com: Pictures and videos of A380′s maiden flight
Airliners.net: Many pics

Randy Baseler, Vice President Marketing of Boeing (and blogger :), joins the congratulators. Obviously he knows the customs of good PR :)

Steve Fossett: Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer

Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer : Home Page:

Mission Status: HALFWAY. 07:01:33 UTC at Mission Control. Elapsed Journey time: 30 hours 15 minutes 06 seconds. Distance covered approximately 9,841 nautical miles.

Steve has made it halfway, and is pleased with the progress he has made. He is 275 miles west of Kolkatta (Culcutta) and currently traveling at 300 knots/ 345 mph (ground speed).

At 10:03 UTC (93.4°, 300.00 kts, 46,801 ft, E79.05624, N23.23235) he’s right at the border of PR China (Mission Tracking Page). I hope he will make it! I find it very remarkable that a multimillionaire like Steve Fossett is risking his own life for this great challenge. Good luck! :)

Update: He did it, after about 67 hrs in the air! Congrats!

Airbus A380 to be unveiled on Jan 18

Witness the unveiling live: Airbus A380, the largest airliner in the history of civil aviation!

Hopefully, it’s not as underpowered as the A340-300.. a quick’n’dirty calculation:

A340-300: 4*15400(17000)/275000 = 0.224 (0.247)
A380-800: 4*35000/560000 = 0.25

(ratio = total maximum kg thrust per kg MTOW)

Oops :/

(Addendum: Please note that
i) The Antonov An-225 is still the largest airplane on earth: length 84.0 m, wingspan: 88.4 m, MTOW: 600’000 kg
ii) “Underpowering” an aircraft is usually done on purpose for the sake of cheaper operation and better pollution control.
)

[Update 20040118: Oh. Did live streaming work for you? For me, it didn't. In compensation I was promoted to "A380 fleet captain" as I had 15 correct answers in a quiz of 14 questions.. I feel sooo flattered ;))

]

Lugano-Agno: headwind > 10 kts and temperatures above 25° C

Neue Probleme am Lugano Airport in Agno wegen Gegenwind (sorry, in German only)

Alarming, although somewhat strange note.

1st: Maximum take-off weight decreases with increasing air temperature (decreasing air density) and given runway length, but headwind shouldn’t actually be a problem and rather compensate for at least some of the temperature increase as the relevant figure is air speed, not ground speed.

2nd: I didn’t know Swiss Air Lines has Dash 8 planes. According to their web page, they don’t have any in their fleet as their only turboprops seem to be Saab 2000. Well, maybe they had to wet-lease some due to the new, tighter landing regulations for Lugano (AFAIK, the Saab 2000 have never been and still aren’t certified for the angle of attack the approach to LUG requires [1]). It looks like Flyaboo operates with DHC-8-300 Dash 8 however (unfortunately, I don’t have the world-wide plane immatriculation registry at hand, so I can only judge by comparing the pictures).
[UPDATE: CIRRUS Airlines carries out flights from Zurich to Lugano for Swiss (code sharing). They fly DHC-8-300 for that route indeed!]

3rd: In general, DeHavilland Dash planes are known to be pretty good for short runways. For example, the Dash 7 has a specified take-off distance (FAR25/ISA/sea level) of less than 700 m and a Vr (rotation speed) of less than 85 kts, making it an excellent STOL (short take-off and landing) plane. The DHC-8-300 Dash 8 doesn’t has STOL capabilities, but AFAIK it’s still a nice plane for rather short runways. It’s somewhat astonishing they’re having problems with the conditions in Lugano (I’d expect that when taking into account the level above sea level, a runway of 1340 m length should still be sufficient even at a slightly increased temperature, particularly in headwind conditions)

4th: It’s unlikely there have never been such weather conditions in previous years. Any indication that the security measures for take-offs from LUG have been tightened too?

Well, obviously these problems exist and I feel sympathy for Lugano which is experiencing a severe passenger drain (also for economical reasons though). I’m not a promoter of short-distance flights (I think a domestic and pan-european high-velocity metro similar to the unfortunately deferred swissmetro project would make more sense in every respect) but I understand the emotions of the people in Lugano and its surroundings. So far, there isn’t any alternative to planes for travelling fast.

[1] I remember an approach once to Lugano-Agno with a Metro III (then operated by Crossair) as a very scary experience. It has probably been the scariest approach ever for me as a passenger (extreme attack angle for that plane, stormy weather, plane shaking like hell), only followed by an approach to Maui (Hawaiian Airlines, MD-81, hot temperature, steep descent and curves you wouldn’t want to fly without excellent knowledge of the plane’s capabilities and local weather conditions. I really feared a sudden stall), one to Auckland (Air New Zealand, B747-200, miserable weather and turbulence during night) and an emergency landing once in Geneva (Swissair, DC-10-30ER, failure of engine 1 shortly after take-off. It was all under control, but an engine power loss during climb (frightening bang when it was switched off without prior announcement) and an emergency landing aren’t things you want to experience ;). BTW. Some amazing pictures of great (and sometimes pretty scary, too) approaches can be found at the airliners.net top-list.

[ADDENDUM: The cited news agency report is an example of misleading journalism. Regarding wind conditions, the emphasis should have been on "north wind", not on "headwind". "North wind" means that departing flights will use runway 01 (heading north 10°) instead of runway 19 (opposite direction). In this case, the most critical figure is the required climbing rate. For illustration, take a look at the following pics of runway 01: pic1, pic2. BTW The Keystone picture is misleading too as it pictures a A321/320/319/318 ;) FOCA Press release about recent procedures for LUG.]

[ADDENDUM2: NZZ makes the same mistakes, though they at least mention that these weather conditions aren't a new thing]