Category Archives: Aircraft News - Page 2

Did Boeing Use Bad Parts on Its 737?

Here’s a disturbing one:  Three former Boeing employees claim that the company knowingly installed bad parts in its 737 aircraft between 1994 and 2002.  A lawsuit filed by the former staffers says that the company allowed workers to install thousands of parts that they knew did not meet specifications, and that Boeing then fired any workers who complained.  As you would imagine, Boeing has denied the claims in the suit.

Cubana and Aeroflot Order New Aircraft

Just a small piece of news:  Although Northwest Airlines continues (correctly) to rely on its 35 year old DC-9s, both Aeroflot and Cubana announced orders for new airplanes this week.  Aeroflot will replace its Russian-built Tupolev 154Ms with Airbus A320s.  Cubana, not known for their safety or service, will replace some of its aging Soviet fleet with new Russian Ilyushin Il-96s and Tupolev Tu-204s.  Fidel Castro, meanwhile, has been flying around in a 30 year old  IL-62, an airplane that has been banned from landing in many countries because of its pitiful safety record.

In any case, I only brought this up because it’s somewhat amusing that certain US airlines cannot afford new airplanes, while Cubana and Aeroflot are replacing their fleets.

Building an A380 in 7 minutes

A cool piece of video here:  assembling the super-gigantic A380 in only 7 minutes…

Despite Injuries, A380 Test Called a Success

The superjumbo A380 passed its passenger evacuation test over the weekend, despite injuries to 32 people including one with a broken leg.  To receive certification, 873 passengers had to be able to depart the aircraft in 90 seconds.  This milestone was achieved, though passengers did suffer injuries (the test was conducted in complete darkness, so it’s not particularly surprising that people would get hurt).  Airbus said it was happy with the results of the trial and that they still expect the new plane to launch by the end of 2006.

An Update on Cellphones on Planes

I know you’ve been sitting there wondering if there’s been any update on whether passengers will be able to use cellphones while planes are in the air.  Wonder no longer.  USA Today has published a nice little roundup of what airlines say their policies will be once the FAA permits cellphones on board.  The good news?  Nearly every airline says they will likely not allow people to yammer on phones in-flight.  Most spokespeople just said that the airline had no plans to permit usage at this time, but American Airlines’ PR dude said, "We’ve been aware of the social implications of cellphone usage in an
airplane cabin all along. That gives us the opportunity to exam ways to
mitigate the social effects of cell usage concurrently with our
examination of the technological development of onboard wireless
systems.”  Exactly.

JetBlue Considers Slowing Aircraft Deliveries

If you were wondering whether JetBlue has been able to avoid the trap of growing too quickly, wonder no longer.  The airline is considering whether to defer some of the  airplanes it has on order for the next few years.  JetBlue is scheduled to take delivery of 17 A320s this year and in 2007, and 18 Embraer 190s this year and in 2007.  Yes, that’s a lot of planes.  And as they’ve watched virtually every other upstart airline do, they’ve probably begun to grow faster than they could manage.  On the positive side, they recognize this pretty early, and they should have no trouble finding owners for these popular aircraft types.  But still, all is not rosy in JetBlueville.

Good Bye Boeing 767?

Boeing said yesterday that it is doubtful that it will be able to keep its 767 production line running this year due to a lack of orders.  That means that end of a 25 (or so) year era, with both the 767 and 757 lines shutting down and Boeing focusing its efforts on the new, more efficient, 787.  The manufacturer had originally thought that it could keep the 767 going by converting the aircraft to a military refueling plane, but a procurement scandal blew that idea away.

Singapore Airlines’ Roomy A380

Last week I noted that airlines are looking to squeeze an extra seat in every coach row of the new Boeing 787 aircraft.  This week I thought I’d pass along some good news about seating:  Singapore Airlines has announced that it will only put 475 seats in the new A380, an airplane that can hold up to 800.  On the other hand, Airbus recently noted that it is considering a stretch A380 that could hold up to 1,000 passengers. 

A Bit of Seat Info about the Boeing 787

The new Boeing 787, which will replace the 767 with an aircraft boasting significant cost savings, will not be as comfortable for passengers as once thought.  The plane was conceived to over 8-across seating in coach, with extremely wide 19" seats (about 2 inches wider than regular coach seats).  However, about 2/3 of the airlines purchasing the planes have decided to jam in 9 seats with regular dimensions.  On the plus side, the extra 21 passengers squished into the plane should (theoretically) keep fares low.  And everyone likes that.  Except the dude in the middle seat in the back. 

El-Al Installs Anti-Missle Systems on Aircraft

As you may know, El Al doesn’t screw around when it comes to security.  To that end, El Al has installed anti-missle systems in all of its aircraft, becoming the first carrier to do so.  The Israeli-built system, called Flight Guard, releases diversionary flares if its sensors detect an incoming missle.

Development of the systems, which cost about $1 million a piece, was put on the fast track after al Qaeda attempted to shoot down an El Al aircraft in Kenya back in 2002.

According to the linked article, we shouldn’t expect many other airlines to jump on board with this.  On the other hand, the chance of an aircraft going down because of a missle attack is incredibly remote — a DHL A300 cargo plane was struck by a missle in Baghdad in 2004 and landed without incident (well, getting hit with the missle was an incident, but the landing was not).