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Top Airport Stress-Relief Upgrades

by Tori Williams 2. October 2016 00:41
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To the majority of passengers on commercial flights, traveling can be a stressful and sometimes uncomfortable experience. Long lines to check in, confusing security rules, and having to rush to your gate after all is said and done can drive even the most understanding person crazy. On top of all that, several airports have puzzling signage and unclear instructions for moving between terminals. This can leave the passenger with a sense of dismay and dread when trying to navigate through to their flight. Thankfully, several airports have recently begun revitalizing their interiors and amenities in an effort to reduce passenger stress and create an overall ambiance of ease. I found several examples online and I picked my top 4 to share with you here.

1. Narita Airport Running Lanes

Well in advance of the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Narita International Airport decided to redesign the interior of their airport with a minimalist and easily navigated layout. Inspired by running tracks, these blue and red lanes show passengers exactly where they are heading. Blue represents departures and red represents arrivals. The designers chose these colors with purpose, too. Blue, the color of the sky, uplifts passengers and excites them for the travels ahead. Red, a more earthy tone, is there for arriving passengers as they conclude their travels and return to the ground.

2. San Francisco Yoga Room

No, you have not been transported to a peaceful yoga studio. You are in fact in Terminal 2 of San Francisco International Airport, just on the other side of the TSA checkpoint. A few years ago the airport converted a storage closet into a fully functioning yoga room, featuring dim lights, a mirrored wall, complementary mats and blocks. This free service has helped many a weary passenger feel at ease during their stressful layovers. In fact, it has rave reviews on its Yelp page. Quite an interesting and helpful addition to the amenities offered at SFO.

3. Canine Therapy in Denver

One of the latest trends in airport stress-relief is to bring in certified therapy dogs for the guests to pet and play with in the terminal. This is not exclusive to Denver airport, as I found many articles where airports around America had brought in special dogs to soothe customers. This usually happens during the busy holiday season, where travel seems very high-stakes and travelers just want to hurry past to visit family. Many passengers who visited with the dogs reported that their stress levels had decreased by a substantial amount and they were very glad to play with a pooch during their stressful trip.

4. Butterfly Garden in Singapore

You read that right! The Changi airport in Singapore boasts a very luscious garden in Terminal 3 that houses more than 1,000 tropical butterflies and as many as 40 species during different seasons of the year. This unique space of tranquility is open to passengers who are traveling through their airport at no cost. The natural light, water features, and beautiful nature on display in this garden help passengers feel an instant sense of relaxation.

Airports are focusing more every year on making the passenger experience less stressful and more luxurious. I hope that in your future travels you are able to find a peaceful release from all of the stress!

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Airlines | Tori Williams

Beginners’ Guide to Public-Use Airport Classification

by Tori Williams 1. September 2016 20:00
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One of the best college courses I have ever taken is Airport Management. It is truly fascinating to learn about the breakdown of just how exactly airports are classified, owned, funded, and managed. Pilots would not fly without airports, and airports would not be necessary without pilots, so I believe that any good pilot should have a working knowledge of the different types of airports and how they are categorized.

I could make a whole series of articles just based on who owns what type of airport, the types of regulations they have to follow, and the different ways airports are managed. However, today I would simply like to introduce the rules behind how airports are generally classified in the US.

The FAA has been recognizing public-use airports that are eligible for federal funding since 1970. They created the National Airport Systems Plan (NASP) which included approximately 3,200 such airports that were shown to be serving public needs. In 1982, with the passage of the Airport and Airway Act, the FAA was asked to prepare a new version of the NASP, to be called the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS). This updated version included a total of 3,411 airports in 2008.

With the new NPIAS system came a new way of classifying airports for federal funding. Here are the basic parts and a quick definition for each.

1. Primary Airports

These are categorized in the NPIAS as those public-use airports enplaning at least 10,000 passengers annually. This accounts for less than 3 percent of the nation’s total airports, with only 383 airports falling into this category in 2008.

2. Commercial Service Airports

This is any airport that accommodates scheduled air carrier service by a certified airline. Of the 770 million passengers that flew domestically or internationally in the United States in 2009, practically all of them went by way of a commercial service airport. The FAA recognized 522 of these such airports in 2008.

3. General Aviation Airports

Airports with fewer than 2,500 annual enplaned passengers are covered by this classification, as well as airports that are used exclusively by private business aircraft not providing commercial passenger air carrier service. This category gets a little more tricky, as there are over 13,000 airports that technically fit the description. However, not all of these are included in the NPIAS. There is usually at least one GA airport in the NPIAS per county, and any airport with more than 10 aircraft based there and more than 20 miles away from the next nearest NPIAS is also included. In 2008, a total of 2,564 airports held this classification in the NPIAS.

4. Reliever Airports

Perhaps the most unique of the classifications, relieved airports are specifically designated as “general aviation airports that provide relief to congested major airports.” In order to qualify as a reliever airport, the airport must have at least 100 airplanes based at the field or handle 25,000 itinerate operations.

Primary Airports also have a special subsection to include the different sizes of primary airport operations. It is important to note that the NPIAS definition of a hub is different than that in the airline industry, and they are simply referring to the number of annual enplaned passengers that use the airport. These are as follows:

1. Large hubs

These airports account for at least 1 percent of the total annual passenger enplanements. Of the 30 large hub airports that were classified in 2008, they handled 70 percent of all passenger enplanements in the US.

2. Medium hubs

These airports handle between .25 and 1 percent of the annual enplanements. There were 37 airports that held this designation in 2008.

3. Small hubs

These airports handle between 0.05 and 0.25 percent of annual passenger enplanements. The NPIAS reported 72 of these in 2008.

4. Nonhubs

These airports handle more than 10,000 annual enplanements, but less than 0.05 of the annual total enplanements.

I hope that I have helped to break down a little more just how airports are classified by the FAA. I would recommend looking up your favorite airports to see what type of hub they fall under, and if they are considered primary or just commercial service.

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Airlines | Tori Williams

I Toured the UPS Worldport and it Changed my Life

by Tori Williams 1. May 2016 18:53
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One of the major perks of attending the only flight university in Kentucky is that we have a great relationship with UPS. Seeing as their worldwide air hub is located about an hour and a half down the road, it only makes sense that a partnership was created and has been growing for several years now.

I consider myself a Kentucky girl and anyone from here knows what a huge deal UPS is for our state. Most of the pilots who are training at EKU that are originally from Kentucky started their piloting education because UPS inspired them. It is hard to miss a giant Airbus, MD-11, or Boeing 747 flying through the air on any given day in UPS livery.

They allow a group of students from EKU Aviation to come tour once a year. Getting into the Worldport was a big deal. We each had to provide personal information so that they knew exactly who was on the premises at what time. Our tour began at 10:00 PM on a Friday night and lasted until 3:00 AM because they wanted us to be there during their “rush hour,” so we could see everything in action.

We met our point of contact and tour guide in the parking lot and he ushered us into the building that was clearly designed for touring groups. Large dramatic photos depicting their fleet and operations hung from the walls and a screen showed a live feed of where all of their planes were currently positioned. The first impression that this place gives off is awe-inspiring. We all checked in and filed into the next room where they had models of all of their aircraft types. Our guide gave us a quick overview of the planes and their capacities. Our group knew a little bit more about airplanes than a typical group would so he told us some mechanical facts too.

You could tell that the people who were in charge of public relations were the best of the best. They were courteous, friendly, professional, and seemed to really love their jobs. Their enthusiasm for sharing the UPS Worldport with us was amazing and they continually encouraged us to someday join their company as pilots or employees in another capacity. This was a huge deal for most everyone on the tour, who has an end-goal of flying for UPS.

They showed us a video presentation about their production capacity and it literally gave me chills. They have the capacity to process 416,000 packages per hour, and process an average of 1.6 million packages a day. They turn over approximately 130 aircraft daily, and they keep 2.5 million gallons of fuel on site. During their peak season they will use all of that fuel during one 4-hour period. These are just a few of the quick facts that they presented on the video.

After the video we split the group in half, and one half went to tour the Worldport while the other half went to fly the simulators. I ended up being in the group that did the simulators first, and it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in aviation yet. They took us to the training building and we got to fly in the Airbus A300. All five of us fit comfortably in the simulator because it was as large as a room. There was the part for the pilot and co-pilot, a large chair with controls on it for the simulator operator, and two jump seats in the back for observers.

The simulator was full motion so everyone could feel every control input. I flew in the captain seat first and he guided me on how to takeoff, fly to some headings and eventually fly an ILS down to the runway. It was so amazing applying everything I have learned from my training thus far to try to understand the complex systems of the A300. Just as my experience from flying a RJ simulator a few years back taught me, using the trim was extremely helpful and necessary for flying this beast.

After we flew in the simulators the instructors offered to write the time in our logbooks. I am so happy to say that I now have actual simulator time logged flying the A300! We thanked our instructors and headed off to the maintenance hangar. They had the 747 and an A300 sitting in this maintenance hangar that appeared to go on forever. We did a walk around of the A300 and they pointed out a few interesting features. The one that fascinated me the most was the large red dot that was located under the tail. Our guide told us that during the preflight inspection, pilots look to see if any of the paint on this red dot was scraped off. If it was, the previous flight had a tail strike!

From here we went out to the actual ramp and road around in a tour bus to see different phases of the operation. With a steady stream of flights coming in as our background, we saw employees unloading the giant containers of packages and transporting them to the package sorting area. They stopped the tour bus where we had a perfect view of the active runway. UPS planes were landing every two minutes, touching down only a few yards away from where we were. It was so fast and high-energy that we could not help but stare in awe for as long as they would let us stay.

Our tour of this side of the Worlport ended with us walking around the package sorting area. This particular part of the premises has been on television specials such as Modern Marvels, Ultimate Factories, and many more to showcase how it is the number one most efficient factory of its type in the world. I could write an entire article just about this place. It boasts over 100 miles of conveyer belts and takes up an area equal to more than 90 football fields. There was so much going on that it made my head spin. They have truly perfected the monumental task of sorting and tracking thousands of packages every minute.

We got back in our bus and headed to the Global Operation Center (GOC) across the road. This building contains offices for crew scheduling, flight dispatch, maintenance control, contingency functions, and their meteorology department. The operations here control every UPS flight worldwide. It was amazing how every department was situated in the same room, so that if something were to happen in flight dispatch that needed assistance from crew scheduling, they only had to walk a few feet away and talk to the person in charge of that department. Perhaps most importantly, they have an entire meteorology department located about 10 feet away from the flight dispatchers.

They gave us a briefing on each of the functions of the departments and allowed us into the main room after an intense security screening. The lights were very dim so that employees would keep their voices down and have an easier time focusing. There was no photography allowed at this point of the tour and it was a very serious environment. The safe and successful operation of their entire fleet was dependent on the people in this room so it gave us all a bit of a tense feeling.

Although it was almost 3:00 AM at this point, I was wide-awake from all of the amazing things I had seen during our tour. UPS is truly one of the most advanced and efficient companies in the world. I was continually blown away by their innovation and professionalism in all aspects of their operations. I hope that some day I am able to work for UPS, or any company of such high caliber. It truly changed the way that I see possibilities for the future and what a passionate group of hard workers are capable of achieving.

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Airlines | Aviation Technology | Airports | Tori Williams

My 2 Favorite Airlines

by Lydia Wiff 15. April 2016 08:00
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Since the beginning of airlines in the 1900s, aviation has exploded through the use of scheduled air service to transport people and goods from Point A to B.  The industry has certainly had its challenges, but remains a great example of how one invention can influence the world long after its creators are no longer around.  Today I’ll list my top picks for airlines when getting around the country, or around the world.

#1: SkyWest Airlines

While you may not see an aircraft painted in SkyWest colors, you probably have been flown by their crews more than you think.  SkyWest began in 1972 in St. George, Utah when founder Ralph Atkins bought Dixie Airlines – the operation was a little different than the airline it is today with a Fixed Base Operation (FBO), aircraft maintenance, air ambulance service, air charter service, and flight school.  The original fleet consisted of various Piper products including Cherokees and Senecas.  Fares between St. George and Salt Lake City were just $28 and in the first year, a whopping 256 people utilized SkyWest.

By the following year, the number of passengers had multiplied exponentially to over 2,000 and several destinations including Moab, UT, and Las Vegas, NV are added.  The Piper Senecas were replaced with Piper Navajos – despite these expansions, the company was still quite small which is demonstrated by the fact that Atkins’ wife wrote the customer service manual.  By 1974, almost 12,000 passengers are served (an increase of over 650%) and Atkins wondered whether or not to stay in business much of that year.  Over the next several years, SkyWest continued its journey upward in addition to facing many of the struggles many other airlines had back in the early days of the industry.

By 1982, code sharing—major carriers accepting regional partners—was born.  Code sharing became the bread and butter of SkyWest and by 1989, regional jets were being added to fleet replacing most of the turbo prop aircraft issuing in a new era of travel for this small regional.  By 2012, SkyWest had been in the business for 40 years and by 2014, it announced it would transition to an all-jet fleet which included various models of the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) and Embraer Regional Jet (ERJ).

 

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Over 40 years after it was founded, SkyWest partners with several major airlines including: Delta Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines.  According to www.SkyWest.com, With a fleet of 351 aircraft, SkyWest’s more than 11,400 aviation professionals operate nearly 1,800 flights each day to 216 destinations throughout North America. SkyWest is known for its industry-leading workforce, exceptional leadership team, and continued solid operational and economic performance.”  It boasts hubs all over the country in Chicago/O’Hare, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Seattle.

So, while you may never see their signature blue and white CRJs or ERJs, you probably had many of their crews making sure you reached your destination safely and on-time.  Just remember, behind every major airline is a great regional airline.

 #2: Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines has its roots back when aviation was still new in 1924.  The Huff Daland Dusters crop-dusting operation was founded in Macon, GA and became the foundation for building one of the largest major airlines in the world.  That crop-dusting operation also became the first commercial agricultural flying company in existence.  By 1955, Delta had grown into a major airline and pioneered a route system of travel referred to as “hub and spoke” – hub and spoke worked on the principle of bringing scheduled flights (spokes) into a hub airport where passengers would then connect to other Delta flights.  This quickly became the most popular model for many airlines as it greatly increased efficiency, among many other things.

Delta had many firsts for the industry such as serving meals in-flight, offering jet service, non-stop flights from New York to Los Angeles, a cargo express service, and operating three different types of wide-body jets at once.  The airline continued to have many firsts, and relative to SkyWest, it was the first airline to use regional jets in North America through the Delta Connection program.  Fast forward to the early 2000s and Delta is still a leading major airline accomplishing many “firsts”.  Additionally, Delta has been a technological leader in the industry holding patents on many computer programs to manage the day-to-day operations of the airline and improve the overall customer experience.  By 2009, it had become the only airline (since PanAm) to serve 6 continents.

A notable day came in 2012, when Delta became the only airline to purchase its own oil refinery – this proved to be a smart move as fuel prices became volatile over the next few years.  Once again, Delta has proved to be a leader in the industry with the valuable ability to forecast future market conditions and plan accordingly.  Additionally, Delta through SkyTeam® has partnered with many airlines from around the world such as KLM, Virgin America, and many more.

What’s Your Favorite & Why?

Do you have a favorite airline that you don’t even think twice about booking through?  What is it and why is it your favorite?  Leave a comment about your favorites and your most memorable destination with that airline.

 All images courtesy of GoogleImages.

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Airlines | Aviation History | Lydia Wiff



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