Friday, December 30, 2011

Aviation - This Thing We Love

CRAZY STUFF!
Despite scarey decompressions, a you-can-not-make-this-up event on a commuter flight to New York, the inexplicable but global trend of attacking pilots with lasers, an elevation of rhetoric in politics and in aviation and some truely appalling carrying-on by air travelers who really should know better (Gerard! Alec! Leisha! what got into you?) aviation was blessed this year with many, many happy landings.


SAFE FLIGHTS!
Let's start with the publication of the International Air Transport Association's new statistics that show commercial aviation around the world has never been safer.

Statistics being slippery, I don't normally tout this kind of thing, but Gunther Matschnigg IATA's safety guru makes the point that this is the continuation of an ongoing decline in air accidents and cites success in getting regulators and airlines to participate in standardized operational audits and sharing of safety information; learning from each other being a key factor in aviation safety.


NEW PLANES!
The Dreamliner in Addis Ababa in December
Two new airplanes took to the skies in 2011, the much redesigned and ever lovely B747 and the B787 Dreamliner, which may have seemed more like fantasy than dream after years of delay actually getting the airplane off the ground.


Capt. Desta Zeru flew the 787 into Addis Ababa
But what the hey? All seemed to be forgiven in Japan when All Nippon Airways' first 787 arrived in October (and was then promptly smashed into a boarding bridge).  Equally enthusiastic crowds greeted the 787's arrival in Addis Ababa in December. Ethiopian Airlines didn't actually take posession of the airplane, but one of their pilots did make history by left-seating it into the continent on its 'round the world tour. 

MERGER MANIA!
British Airways/Iberia, LAN Chile/TAM, Continental/United, Southwest/AirTran all tied the knot in 2011. And while setting up housekeeping together is working more easily for some than for others, take my mother-in-law's advice and remember, good marriages aren't built in a day.  Here are some other kinda love stories that kept the drama up at airports around the globe.

And if that's not enough kissy-kissy for you, the short-lived TV show Pan Am offered sexy story lines and prompted former Pan Am employees to reminisce about the glory days to the delight of many of us.



SWEET DREAMS!
After years and years of mind-numbing talk about pilot flight duty times, the Federal Aviation Administration finally issued a proposed a rule that should provide some needed shut-eye for pilots. Airline pilots anyway. Cargo pilots seem to be left to fend for themselves with the sandman and flight attendants, mechanics and air traffic controllers aren't part of the rule either, so this issue is far from ready to be put to bed.

GOOD NEWS FROM BAD TIMES!
There were glimmers of good news emerging from the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March. Pilot Jim Karsh, who flies frequently into Japan generously kept FLYING LESSONS readers updated in the immediate aftermath. My friend and correspondent, Takeo Aizawa was gracious enough to provide  small details of how aviation was faring in Japan in the weeks that followed. I chose to see these reports as glimmers of hope for a  better tomorrow.

ALL THE BLESSINGS OF FLYING
When I thank God for the blessings of the year just past, I include these personal highlights:

Steve Guenard takes me flying in N7995
  • The magnificent sight of a "pilot's halo"viewed while flying above the clouds on a Lufthansa A340. 

Most of all dear readers, I'm thankful to YOU for making FLYING LESSONS a part of your day and contributing your ideas, critiques and comments to make better this thing we love called flying. Happy New Year.

Post a Comment