Archive for June, 2008

In 2007, Forbes had an article for the priciest private jets (with a slide show).

The world’s priciest private jets are –
Airbus A380
$300 million-plus
Unnamed Middle Eastern Head of State (Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud?)
New York-based jet-interior expert Edése Doret is doing the interiors for $100 million

Boeing 747-8
$270 million-$280 million
Four people (subjet to FAA’s non commerical approval)

Boeing 767
$118 million-$165 million
Chelsea football club owner Roman Abromavich and Google founders Larry Page and Serge Brin.

Boeing Business Jet 3 (also 737-900ER)
$68 million
8 Ordered already

Bombardier BD-700 Global Express
$45 million

Embraer Lineage 1000

$40.95 million

Gulfstream G550
$36 million
London-based billionaire Lakshmi Mittal

Dassault Falcon 900
$33 million-plus
Billionaire Sergio Mantegazza, president of Swiss tour company Globus & Cosmos, is a confirmed Falcon owner.


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Four airlines have pleaded guilty and agreed to pay a total of $504 million on charges that they conspired to fix prices for air cargo.

Facts –

From Washington Post

“The guilty pleas are the latest to arise from a multinational antitrust
investigation into the air transportation industry by investigators on
both sides of the Atlantic. In yesterday’s filing, the government
accused the carriers of trying to artificially set prices for base
cargo rates as well as fuel and other surcharges in e-mails and during
meetings in the United States and Europe.”

“O’Connor said the conspiracy, which began as early as 2001 and
continued through 2006, affected billions of dollars in shipments of
consumer goods, including electronics, clothing, produce and medicines.”

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Reuters reports that around 50 pilots in India each year get grounded because they are found to have consumed alcohol before their flight. India has one of the fastest growing airline industry with about around 5000 commercial pilots. Though, the number is 0.01% of the total (and even lesser for the number of flights affected since these seem to be isolated incidences), it does raise some concerns on safety.

This issue seems to have got attention after a pilot of Jetlite airline was caught inebriated on Saturday June 21st 2008 Morning and as a result caused the cancellation of the Delhi-Patna flight.

More cases had been reported recently like – (from here) –

This is not the first time, though, that airline crew and pilots have been found intoxicated while on duty.

An Air Deccan pilot was found inebriated on 12 April, 2006, by a DGCA team during a random test.

On October 12, 2007, a Kingfisher Airways pilot had been grounded for three months after being caught at IGI Airport.

On October 28, 2007, an airhostess of a
Mumbai-bound Jet Airways flight, tested alcohol positive during
pre-flight testing. She was grounded for three months.

I think there is a need for increased random checks and harsher punishments (even prison time for repeat offenders) before this issue causes some serious accident!

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British Airways (CEO Willie Wash) and BAA (CEO Colin Matthews) have called for the construction of a third runway at London’s Heathrow Airport. This statement came after a business group, London’s First, has called for “drastic action to end the problems of “Heathrow hassle“”. The group has called for scrapping of some flights at peak time (read here).

From Forbes

BA chief executive Willie
Walsh told a transport conference in London that the London hub needed
a short extra runway and mixed-mode operation on its existing two
runways, which would create more take-off and landing space.”

Walsh said the absence of
spare runway capacity had caused Heathrow’s global network to shrink
from 227 destinations in 1990 to 180 today. ‘This is a cycle of decline
that must be reversed,’ he said.”

I am little worried about more construction at the airport for the following possible reasons (you might agree with one or two of them) –

  • A patch to a bigger problem – The problem at Heathrow is capacity constraints, not just at the runway level but at Gates, etc. I think the best alternative would be to make another airport?
  • Bad Record – Terminal 4 has caused us all to believe that expansions can result in chaos!!!
  • Environmental Impact – Though I do not consider myself an environmentalist, but still I feel this should be studied, esp. with all the wide body planes at Heathrow.

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Last weekend, I had to fly from Phoenix AZ to San Jose CA and since I had bought a one way ticket, I got the notorious “SSSS” on my boarding pass which allowed me the opportunity to use the Millimeter Wave Scanner (or Virtual Strip Search). “SSSS” means Secondary Security Screening Selection/Selectee, which is printed on the boarding pass if you have a one-way reservation made in 24 hours (like me), passengers who pay cash for the ticket, or others (might even me random).

The procedure –

  • At the Security checkpoint, I was asked to wait for a TSA agent to escort me to the Selectee area.
  • I went through the metal detector and my bags through the X-ray
  • Once I went through, the agent on the other side asked me if I would like to go to the “Millimeter Wave Scanner” or the “Body Scanner”, for which I said yes.
  • The agent guided me to the scanner which was had space in the middle. He asked me walk in between the walls of the scanner and stand with my feet in the designated blocks with my hands behind my head. (Behind the machine was an enclosed room where I guess the TSA agent looking at the scanned images is seated).
  • There was a display on the machine which blinked “Scanning”.
  • Once the scanning was done, he asked me to turn around and with the same posture and the machine scanned again.
  • All the while he was talked to someone (the agent who was probably looking at the scans) with his radio.
  • Then he asked me to walk out and wait, while he was describing (on his radio) about my clothes.
  • Once done, he told me that it was done and I could go pick up my bags (which were still going through the ETD machines).

A lot of people did prefer the manual patting to the scanner, which is understandable. On my personal experience, I think the manual search is faster than the scanner!

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Today ( June 24th 2008 ) LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) is opening a new $83 million taxiway. The taxiway is expected to reduce the risk collision when airplanes cross one of the two runways on the airport’s south side.

From LA times –

“Historically, LAX has had one of the highest rates of so-called runway
incursions in the nation. Officials say the project should reduce the
number of incursions by acting as a buffer between runways. After
landing, pilots will be directed by air traffic controllers to turn
onto the taxiway, where they will await clearance to cross the inner

“In 2006 and 2007, 16 incursions at LAX were reported, nine of them on
the south runways. Six of the nine were caused by the problem the new
taxiway addresses, according to the FAA.”

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Starting October 26th 2008, SriLankan Airlines, national airline of Sri Lanka and previously know as Air Lanka, will start a new flight between London’s Heathrow Airport and the island nation (and luxury holiday location) Maldives.

From Skyscanner

“Chanaka Olagama, manager of Sri Lankan Airlines’ UK and Ireland
operations, said: “We recognise the need to introduce this non-stop
service for such a popular holiday destination.

needs are our priority and we believe that this new direct service will
provide a time-effective way to travel in style and comfort to their
paradise location.””

Taj Exotica Maldives

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