Episode 92 – Aboulafia Joins the Geek Posse

Richard Aboulafia, Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group, returns as our guest this episode. Besides managing consulting projects for commercial and military clients, Richard is perhaps one of the most quoted industry experts in the media. We discuss the week’s aviation news, narrowbody re-engining, the COMAC C919 and Irkut planes, and Nunn McCurdy breaches over DC. Rob launches the Bottom Feeder Airline concept, there’s a dead animal joke, and something about pilots on Prozac.

As usual, we have the This Week in Aviation history segment from David, and the Airplane Geeks Australia Desk report.

Also mentioned:

Follow the @AirplaneGeeks on Twitter, send us email at thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com, or leave a message on our listener line: (361) GEEKS01.

Opening and closing music is provided by Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. Visit his site at http://www.brotherloverocks.com/.

12 thoughts on “Episode 92 – Aboulafia Joins the Geek Posse

  1. Kim Welch

    Guys, on the prospect of a UAL-AAA merger: The America West pilots lawsuit against the USAirways independent pilot union concerning implementation of the arbitrator’s seniority list was successful at the first federal level, and is now on appeal at the US 9th Circuit. No indication when that decision may come. I cannot imagine another seniority list merger being initiated before that one is resolved. You may remember that DL mgmt insisted that the DL and NWA pilot groups finish their merged list before the actual merger could take place. The expenses of a merger without the benefits of a single carrier operation would be devastating.

    Secondly, the USAirways pilots have a contract clause requiring snap back to pre-concession pay rates if there is a change of control / merger. CEO Parker of USAirways has publicly stated that there will be no merger as long as that clause is in place.

    This one has a definite “cold day in hell” smell to it …. but you never know these days.


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  3. Max Flight

    [Kevin has it figured out…]

    Here is a solution to all the controversy over full-body scanners at the airports:

    I call them “full body detonators”!

    Have a booth that all passengers must step into that will not X-ray you, but will instead detonate any explosive device you may have on you.

    It would be a win-win for everyone, and there would be none of this nonsense about racial profiling and this alternative method would also eliminate any long and expensive trials. Justice would be quick and swift.

    It’s so simple that it’s brilliant.

    I can see it now… you’re in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement come over the PA system, “Attention standby passengers we now have a seat available on flight number…”


  4. Max Flight

    [Stephen writes:]

    Hello there Airplane Geeks,

    I just wanted to write to you to let you know how grateful I am for
    all your work on the Airplane Geeks Podcast.

    I am currently working in a high school on Reunion Island, an overseas
    island of France in the southern Indian ocean off the coast of
    Madagascar, where I teach English. The high school however is a bit
    special – it is one of a handful in France which, in addition to
    teaching traditional high school subjects, also offers the opportunity
    to 40 students to follow a course in aeronautical engineering – we
    even have a hanger which currently houses several aircraft part funded
    by the European Union

    My time here is almost finished for this academic year and my students
    (39 boys and 1 girl) are off to do a few months work experience – for
    example some of the lucky sods get to work for Airbus in Toulouse, and
    some are working for Air Mauritius at SSR international airport (let’s
    see if Dan knows the full name of that airport!).

    Anyway, I have been listening to your podcast for a few months now and
    it really helps me as a one-stop-shop for all my aviation news which I
    have been bringing into the classroom – I have spend many a time
    planning classes or small discussions on current events by listening
    to your podcast in the staff room and on the beach. On a personal
    level, as someone who has an interest in aviation more than it being a
    hobby, I find your podcast a great way of filtering out all the events
    in the industry to just the most essential one (oh… and seat pitch
    news too)!

    Keep up the good work, Steve on Reunion Island.
    (p.s it’s “avIAtion” guys!!)

  5. Max Flight

    [Brian writes:]

    With the major commercial airlines shut down as far a travel to Europe or from Europe, what about general aviation? Are charters, or NetJets, or small GA aircraft able to fly below the volcanic ash cloud?

  6. Max Flight

    [Kim responds:]

    In England, ATC actually closed the airports in the case of Manchester and London …. so it would not matter there, GA or Airline. I don’t know the nature of restrictions on the continent, but they must be serious or the airlines would be pushing hard for permission …. and Delta is not. When Mt St. Helens blew in the 80’s, SEA and PDX flights flew hundreds of miles out of the way to avoid the cloud as it drifted eastward.

    I keep hearing the news talk of the “millions” its costing the airlines. I guess CNN or Fox never stopped to calculate the cost of those big GE and Pratt engines if flown into that ash. Remember when the British Airlines 747 lost all four in flight to volcanic ash?

    As for Netjets, etc flying “below” the ash cloud, modern business jets operate higher than many airliners, not lower. Fuel flow at low altitudes, even if allowed, would be problematic, not to mention the cost of repainting / re-engining the a/c if caught in the cloud. I would assume that GA jet traffic is affected similarly to the airlines in the area of the cloud.

  7. Max Flight

    [More from Kim:]

    A few quotes from the morning papers. I think they may it clear that the restrictions are not just being applied to airline operations.


    The air traffic agency Eurocontrol said almost two-thirds of Europe’s flights were canceled Friday, as air space remained largely closed in Britain and across large chunks of north and central Europe. “The skies are totally empty over northern Europe,” said Brian Flynn, deputy head of Eurocontrol,

    The agency said about 16,000 of Europe’s usual 28,000 daily flights were canceled Friday — twice as many as were canceled a day earlier.

    U.S. medical evacuations for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are being flown directly from the warfronts to Washington rather than to a care facility in Germany. The U.S. military has also stopped using temporarily closed air bases in the U.K. and Germany.

    The ash cloud, drifting between 20,000 to 30,000 feet high and invisible from the ground, initially blocked the main air flight path between the U.S. east coast and Europe. …. Fearing that microscopic particles of highly abrasive ash could endanger passengers by causing aircraft engines to fail, authorities shut down air space over Britain, Ireland, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Belgium. That halted flights at Europe’s two busiest airports — Heathrow in London and Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris — as well as dozens of other airports, 25 in France alone.

  8. Max Flight

    [Rob chimes in:]

    Agree with Kim. No corporate pilot would accept this risk either. The risk isn’t only an engine shut down, because there is always the chance the flight might proceed unharmed.

    It’s the overall damage the abrasive particles might do to the engine to shorten its life thatvthey’re also thinking about.


  9. Max Flight

    [More from Brian…]

    Yes, I agree, the closure of the airports is pretty definitive. And the no one is going to take a plane through the ash cloud.

    Nevertheless, when you have some high net worth individuals stuck on one side or the other of the Atlantic, desperate to get to the other side, some of them will begin to move mountains to get to where they think they have to go. Notice the entertainment celebrity who paid $5000 for a 900 mile taxi ride from Oslo to Brussels. There are bound to be some rich folks who are willing to pay whatever it takes to get from one side to the other of the ocean.

    So I begin to wonder, are there ways for smaller planes (like Cirrus SR22’s and Beech Baron’s) to fly below the ash (at 12,000 or 14,000 feet) on some routing that would enable them to make the trip? Or, could a larger jet fly the old routes that were used fifty or more years ago to and from Europe through Africa. A famous flight route from the U.S. to Poland went through Kenya, I’m told.

    I’m guessing that some people are finding a way.

  10. Steve B.

    Hi Max and crew,
    Re flying into ash cloud, are prop planes as negatively affected as jet aircraft, if at all?

  11. Shayne Prudden

    It is amazing how fragile our air transportation system is. Who would ever think that a volcanic ash cloud could mess up air traffic the way that is has!

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