The History of Lauda Air

Lauda Air, the second carrier after Austrian Airlines itself to establish a presence in Vienna, had a history of both competition and cooperation with it.

Andreas Nikolaus “Niki” Lauda, the son of a paper factory owner, who forged a very different path than his father when he won the first of three Formula One world racing championships at 26-years-old, capitalized on his notoriety and invested his wealth in an airline that bore his name, Lauda Air Luftfahrt AG.

Acquiring Alpair Vienna’s charter license for ATS 5 million in April of 1979, he commenced charter and air taxi service in cooperation with Austrian Airlines with two Fokker F.27 Friendships.

It quickly became apparent, however, that it could not coexist with incumbent Austrian in such a small home market, and the F.27s were consequently leased to Egyptair.

Entering a partnership with Greek financier Basile Varvaressos, owner of the ITAS travel agency, six years later, he leased two BAC-111-500s, a British twin-jet not unlike the SE.210 Caravelle and Douglas DC-9 in size, range, and design, from Tarom Romanian Airlines, increasing his fleet capacity to 208 seats in the process and operating them on charter and inclusive-tour (IT) services to Greece and other European destinations.

So high did demand become, however, that it soon exceeded capacity and a larger 737-200, this time acquired from Transavia Holland, replaced one of the BAC-111s. Still later, both types were superseded by two even higher-capacity 737-300s, which were operated on a steadily growing charter route network.

In May of 1986, Lauda Air applied to the Austrian Ministry of Transport for a license to operate scheduled international service for the first time. Approved in November of the following year, it signaled the end of Austrian Airlines’ long-held monopoly and a subsequently obtained, 235-passenger Boeing 767-300ER, featuring both business and economy class cabins, facilitated long-range, intercontinental flights. The first, occurring on May 7, 1988, consisted of a single weekly frequency from Vienna to Hong Kong via Bangkok. It was later supplemented by a Vienna-Bangkok-Sydney sector.

Inextricably tied to the management of the airline that bore his name and frequently taking the left seat of his aircraft as the pilot that he was, he sought to differentiate it and hence attract passengers with quality, offering “Amadeus,” instead of simply “business,” class; catering his flights with cuisine from the highly esteemed DO & CO restaurant in downtown Vienna; featuring triangular shaped, porcelain plates during their in-flight service; and toting it all with the slogan, “Service is our success.” It was.

But his signature style was expressed in several other ways, including high expectations of his employees, uniforms that included the red baseball caps and blue jeans he himself wore, a mandatory flight attendant retirement age of 38, and aircraft named after movie stars, singers, and artists, such as Bob Marley, John Lennon, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Elvis Preseley, Janis Joplin, Greta Garbo, Gregory Peck, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway. One, reflecting his own passion, naturally bore the designation “Enzo Ferrari.”

Flamboyant, charismatic, and a racing hero who had also won 26 Grand Prix championships, he was perhaps the Austrian equivalent of Richard Branson.

Filling the need for lower-fare, long-haul, leisure-oriented travel, Lauda Air grew rapidly. In 1985, for instance, it carried 95,768 passengers and flew 2,522 flight hours with 67 employees, while in the first ten months of 1987, it carried 236,730 passengers and undertook 5,364 flight hours with 169 employees, a 147-percent passenger increase.

By 1990, its fleet consisted of five aircraft–three 146-passenger 737-300s and two 235-passenger 767-300ERs–all of which were operated on charter services to Europe, Africa, and the Middle and Far East. The scheduled routes remained those between Vienna, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Sydney.

Subsequently earning its license for European scheduled flights on August 23, 1990–a right thus far only held by flag carrier Austrian–Lauda Air inaugurated service between Vienna and London-Gatwick with five weekly 737-300 frequencies. But growth attracted more than passengers. It also attracted other airlines.

Because Lufthansa saw its growing presence in the Austrian market and its East European route access as potentially lucrative assets, it announced a marketing cooperation with Lauda Air in July of 1992, (which was initially envisioned as an offensive move against the aborted Austrian Airlines, KLM, SAS, and Swissair Alcazar Alliance), sealing the agreement the following January with a 26.5-percent capital increase, by means of its Condor charter carrier, shortly after which the two airlines inaugurated a quad-weekly 767-300ER service to Los Angeles. “Partner of Lufthansa,” advertising the arrangement, appeared on Lauda’s aircraft.

The fledgling Austrian carrier, no longer just a shadow of Austrian Airlines, was now aligned with a company far larger than itself and its initial, dual-aircraft fleet quickly quadrupled, now encompassing four narrow body 737s and four widebody 767s, operating between Munich, Miami, and Los Angeles with Condor equipment.

Painfully aware of competition from Austrian Airlines on scheduled inter-European routes, Lauda circumvented what would have resulted in low 737 load factors by ordering six 50-passenger Canadair CRJ-100 Regional Jets in October of 1993 to operate them.

Deployed to Barcelona, Madrid, Brussels, Geneva, Manchester, and Stockholm, they marked the start of the summer timetable, which became effective on March 27, 1994. Singapore, which replaced Bangkok in November of that year, served as its new “bridge” between Vienna and Sydney/Melbourne, and the weekly 767 service was doubled. By the fall it served 11 scheduled and 42 charter destinations.

On March 26 of the following year, Lauda Air established a second European hub, Milan-Malpensa, in cooperation with Lufthansa, which now held a 39.7-percent stake in the fledgling carrier, basing three of its six CRJ-100s there and operating them to Barcelona, Brussels, Dublin, Manchester, Paris, and Vienna. The Canadair Regional Jets, along with an increasing number of 737s, became the backbone of its European fleet.

Its statistics were hardly embarrassments. Indeed, it carried 1.5 million passengers in 1995, a significant percentage of whom provided business class yield, and employed 1,200 by the following year.

It soon become apparent, however, that pending European deregulation was not likely to tolerate dozen-aircraft airlines unless they served very small, specific market niches. Lauda Air had been unable to survive in the face of competition from Austrian Airlines once before. Because both operated medium- and long-range, twin-engine aircraft from bases in Vienna and offered considerable passenger service quality, cooperation between the two became inevitable.

Not surprisingly, it had already been partially consummated in June of 1996, when Austrian Airlines and Lauda Air operated single-aircraft, dual-code flights to Nice, Milan, and Rome with the Regional Jet for the first time.

On March 12, 1997, however, this was expanded, when the tri-carrier Austrian Airlines Group, comprised of Austrian Airlines itself, Lauda Air, and Tyrolean Airways, was formed, each operating within its own niche, based upon its experience, strengths, and aircraft types. The former, for example, remained the flag carrier on scheduled medium- and long-range sectors, while Tyrolean served domestic and regional markets with turboprop and pure-jet airliners. Lauda Air, although initially retaining its scheduled Asian and Australian flights, now primarily focused on leisure-oriented charter destinations.

Nevertheless, on September 24 of that year, it took delivery of its second widebody aircraft type, the 777-200, which it inaugurated into service on the Vienna-Singapore-Sydney-Melbourne route the following month, replacing the venerable 767.

Two years later, all three Austrian Airlines Group carriers announced their intention of joining the Star Alliance as a collective whole and this became effective on March 26, 2000 at which time Niki Lauda relinquished his role as chief executive officer.

As the lower-cost arm within the three-airline group, Lauda provided medium- and long-range scheduled and charter service on leisure-oriented routes with a four-type, 22-aircraft fleet, maintaining its own identity.

But in 2004, the first steps toward integration with the Austrian Airlines brand occurred with the ratification of a joint Austrian-Lauda Air cockpit crew contract, and aircraft OE-LAE become the first of four 767-300s to be repainted in Austrian Airlines livery, introducing a new interior color scheme and a 24-seat business and 230-seat economy class configuration. Lauda Air itself reverted to a single-class, high-density charter carrier within the group, operating a narrow body fleet of Boeing 737s and Airbus A-320s.

Throughout its history, it had operated five basic pure-jet aircraft types, including 12 CRJ-100s, which were ultimately operated by or sold to Austrian Arrows, Tyrolean Airways, Lufthansa CityLine, and Air Littoral. It also flew almost all versions of the Boeing 737, inclusive of the single 737-200 leased from Transavia Holland at the beginning of its climb, three 737-300s, three 737-400s, two 737-600s, two 737-700s, and seven 737-800s, often operating certain frequencies to destinations such as London-Heathrow alongside Austrian Airlines’ A-320-200s or A-321-100/200s at other times. It also flew two of the A-320s itself.

Of its exclusively Boeing widebody aircraft, it operated up to 11 767-300ERs at one time or another, which bore registrations OE-LAE, -LAS, -LAT, -LAU, -LAV, -LAW, -LAX, -LAY, and -LAZ. Two also sported French registrations. Aircraft OE-LAV was involved in the inexplicable thrust reverser deployment accident over Thailand in 1991, which resulted in the loss of all 213 passengers and ten crew members on board.

Three 777-200ERs were also operated, registered OE-LPA, -LPB, and -LPC. These, along with six 767s, were eventually flown by parent Austrian Airlines in its own colors and replaced its long-range Airbus A-330 and A-340 fleet.

Completely folded into Austrian, however, Lauda Air ceased to exist on July 1, 2012.

Although Niki Lauda himself seemed to have disappeared from the airline scene with his namesake carrier, his hiatus was brief. Forming another low-fare, short- to medium-range, inter-European airline, Fly Niki, he operated seven 112-seat Embraer E-190s, three 150-seat Airbus A-319s (in Air Berlin colors, of which it became a subsidiary), and nine 180-seat Airbus A-320-200s, carrying five million passengers that year and becoming Vienna’s second-largest based operator, once again providing competition and downward yield pressure for incumbent Austrian Airlines.

All things do, indeed, begin again.

Guide for Selecting an Aircraft Charter and Management Specialist

Aircraft Charter and Management is a highly regulated, highly specialized business. The relationship between an aircraft owner and their management company is unique; it is closer to a partnership then a traditional supplier/customer relationship. When it comes to selecting a company for aircraft management, most owners like to hire a company with deep experience, top safety ratings and one which understands and is aligned with the owner’s air travel requirements. In this post, we will discuss key areas that are differentiators when choosing and ACM company.

– Experience is one of the most important factors. When you are looking for an aircraft charter and management specialist, you have to consider their experience. This is extremely vital because it largely determines the kind of services you can expect from them. If required, ask the prospective company to offer references of past customers with similar aircraft and mission profiles.

– Consider their safety ratings. There are well known and respected organizations such as Argus, Wyvern, IS-BAO and the Air Charter Safety Foundation which rate ACM companies based upon their safety record. Ask potential management company for its ratings from these organizations.

– Who are their clients? While many organizations and individual aircraft owners prefer confidentiality, some may be available for use as reference. At a minimum an ACM operator should be able to provide a profile of their clients on a “blind” basis for review.

– What’s their expertise? A prospective management company should be able to provide you a summary of their Operations Specifications, or OPSPECS, so you can better understand their capabilities. This is especially important for owners who plan to travel outside of the U.S.

– How do they measure success? Another way of saying this is what type of reporting will you receive? Most owners of managed aircraft receive a monthly summary detailing every flight, every maintenance transaction, etc. As an owner, you have every right to receive whatever information you want, in whatever format you want it. If you are used to reviewing performance reports a certain way, you should be able to tailor your aircraft activity reporting this way as well. If desired, you can even have an automated data interface set up to electronically transfer this information to you as well.

Finally, you have to understand the value proposition. Not all companies can deal with management requirements efficiently, and it can only add to your overall costs. The whole purpose of hiring an aviation management company is to keep a tight control on the operations and increase efficiency and transparency. Unless the management company can meet your expectations in these areas, it is unlikely that you can expect good returns as far as customer service and delivery of execution are concerned.

Please consider these areas as your diligence aircraft charter and management companies for your potential use. If you would rather use a third part consultant, that can also provide the comfort you are seeking that the potential ACM companies have been properly vetted to meet your needs.

Airport Wash Racks for General Aviation – Costs, Equipment and the EPA

Not long ago, a gentleman from a small California airport had asked me what it might cost to set up a fixed site wash rack. Also what sort of equipment was necessary and what sorts of environmental controls were needed for it all. Okay so, I started my first aircraft washing service at age 12-years old, so I know a thing or two about aircraft cleaning. Here are some thoughts on this very good question.

Well, the equipment should be mounted and put into a shed of some type – something low to the ground for low-wing aircraft to taxi over. The airport in question is in a region of California which gets really cold at times. Thus, you have to make sure the water doesn’t freeze, and that you have a pressure relief valve of some type to completely discharge any water in the pump after use, you can’t let it freeze.

If the airport wishes to put in an entire wash pad with a drain in the center that is wise, 1-inch per 5 feet slope, but also I advise putting in a small 4-inch by 6-inch trench with a small grate around it to drain all water from all sides, proper drainage is important due to debris which might get stuck inside, you don’t want to create a mosquito haven or scum build up? Also the wash pad should be up a little bit on a high-point so it doesn’t collect water from elsewhere and puddle.

There is another thought, and that would be some sort of hangar area surrounding the wash rack were an owner might taxi up and pull the aircraft nose under the overhang, protecting folks for rain? Additionally you should ask yourself; will pilots be using degreaser on their firewalls, engines, bellies? If so, that adds costs, challenges with filtration and issues at your local sewer plant, still, it’s probably something the owner’s association there would want.

Let’s talk about costs:

1. If you had a hot water pressure washer, I recommend 5 GPM, 15 HP or electric equivalent, Cat pump 2500 psi, natural gas fired burner, 250 feet of hose, double steel braided, with quick disconnects at 150 feet and 200 feet. With reclaim; $28,000 and without reclaim; $7500

2. If cold water only get a 5.5 HP or electric equivalent, 4.5 GPM, Cat pump 1500 psi. Cost: $1800 about – get multiple bids.

3. Add any building costs + clarifiers that the county or city has you put in. I am thinking $25,000 for a clarifier, $12,000 for the slightly elevated wash pad 4-6″ is all you need to prevent puddles from the ramp or taxiway run-off, and concrete, presuming this will be set right off a taxi way or the side of the ramp.

There are Landa dealers around,try phone book under “pressure washing equipment” category. They can fix you up. Also if you need an above ground freeze resistant reclaim system prior to discharge to city sewer system. If you are on a septic tank, that would be the only way to go or if you were to let the water go for watering the airport grass once filtrated.

Airport EPA rules are pretty strict – everything from de-ice fluid, hydraulic fluids, fuel, etc. – No runoff allowed into water ways. Also check 13.263 of the California water code, pretty strict there too, more so in some cases. They really overdo it, but realize you guys are on high-ground with run-off, no sense in messing up a nice airport, we are lucky to have all the airports we can get for general aviation these days. Please consider all this and think on it.

The History of Hawaiian Airlines

America is the home to many outstanding airlines and no matter whether you are seeking a leisure trip or a luxurious business getaway, there are dozens of options to choose from as per your budget that will take you to any part of the world without any hassle. Among them all, the spellbinding carrier of Hawaii, Hawaiian Airlines have been excelled to become one of the finest carriers in the world that have been offering a marvelous traveling experience and captivating delight of flying to the most popular destinations as well as lesser known cities worldwide. With its extraordinary track record and wonderful aviation history, the carrier have become quite a popular airline among both leisure and business travelers.

Established in the year 1929 as Inter-Island Airways that was initially serving to connect the mainland of America with the Hawaiian archipelago, Hawaiian Airlines have been serving on many levels and offering its patrons a satisfactory and luxurious traveling experience. Initially serving as a subsidiary of the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, the airline began its operations with the help of one BELLANCA CH – 300 Pacemaker airliner that was a short-haul carrier, covering the air distance between the hub at Honolulu and O’AHU. By the end of 1929, the airline brought the services of Sikorsky S-38 that was majorly operating on the route of Honolulu and the Hilo whilst having a couple of connecting stops at MALOKA’I Island and Maui Island respectively.

In the year 1941, the airline changed its title to Hawaiian Airlines whilst becoming one of the finest carriers of inter-island aviation services along with many outstanding routes across the mainland of the USA. With a wide fleet of Sikorsky S-43 and Douglas DC-3 that came immediate after the retirement of Sikorsky S-38, the airline brought a new dimension of aviation in the stat e of Hawaii. After a decade, in the year 1952, the airline brought a new era of airliners in its fleet and began carrying its passengers with the help of CONVAIR 340 and 440 airliners that became a big hit in the industry and brought a new level of leisure and comfort for its patrons.

In the second-half of 1970, the airline brought the jet services and brought the faster, smoother and more enjoyable services with the help of Douglas DC-9-10 airliners that were the revolution in the aviation history at that point of time. By the end of 1980s, the airline brought its services outside the state and began to connect with the mainland of the United States whilst flying at various parts of the Pacific with the incredible range of carriers including Douglas DC-8 after witnessing a massive and increasing competition from other carriers including Mid Pacific Air. By leasing the airliners including Lockheed L-1011 in the year 1985, Hawaiian Airlines began to provide its services with an edge over other regional carriers that eliminated a major part of competition from the airline.

By the year 1995, the airline brought an all-Jet airliner fleet that brought a revolutionary era of high-tech aviation under the roof of Hawaiian Airlines and gave an advantage over others with the help of leased fleet from American Airlines. Right before the bankruptcy in the year 2003, Hawaiian Airlines replaced the leased carriers of DC-10 with the advanced fleet of Boeing 767 which brought whole new level of modernization in the industry and gave passengers a significantly spacious and comfortable traveling experience. With the chapter 11 bankruptcy introduced in the first quarter of 2003, the airline was in big debt of pilot’s pension plan which lead to termination of plan of bankruptcy in May 2005. From then till now, the airline have been emerging as among the leading international carriers of the world and giving tourists a massive range of onboard amenities and wide variety of facilities on ground which has made the carrier a world famous airline to travel with.

Presently, Hawaiian Airlines have been giving its patrons a spellbinding traveling experience while connecting to the most popular and lesser known cities around the world and have expanded its reach to the various parts of the globe including the Americas, Oceania, Middle-East, Asia and many more regions. As of now, Hawaiian Airlines have been giving tourists a hassle-free transit by connecting with Beijing, Auckland, Los Angeles, New York City, Osaka, Pago Pago, Lanai, Kona, Phoenix, Seoul, San Diego, Portland, Tokyo, Sydney, Seattle and many more cities that gives both leisure and business travelers a delight of flying with Hawaiian Airlines.

Now days, when airlines are offering the cheap airfares along with great and gracious baggage allowance, Hawaiian Airlines have been serving its patrons with much more than affordable airline deals by giving away sufficient baggage allowance, outstanding onboard services, entertainment options in multiple languages, stunning transit at the airport, online check-in services and much more that have been generating a great deal of trust, interest and delight among tourists towards the airline.

Growth of Air Charter Services in India

India is the ninth-largest in the global segment of civil aviation. Currently, it is reported to be worth over 16 billion US dollars. Market analysts predict that the industry is all set to become the third largest aviation market in the next four years, and will be the largest in the world in 2030.

So what made this possible? It is owing to the growth of air charter companies in India. They offer a range of services like planning the itinerary, ground handling facilities at the airport, arranging accommodation for passengers and their transportation and many other added services.

Air charter companies support operators of both passenger and freight scheduled flights on domestic and international routes.

It won’t be an exaggeration to say that the world is fixed on Indian aviation, and the credit goes to all stakeholders in the Indian aviation industry. These include operators of charter flight services as well.

Charter companies say that they don’t face some of the problems the general airlines have to tackle. This according to them is because they don’t have equally high payments and operational costs.

For e.g. they only fly after getting the full payment for the flight. On the other hand, a commercial airline has to fly to its designated routes even if many seats are not filled. This will end up in high operational costs and low returns.

The passenger traffic within the country surged by 19.2% and reached 20.3 million in the second quarter of 2015. During the previous year it was 17 million. For e.g if the passenger traffic in June, 2014, was 7.8 million, in June, 2015, it was 8.8 million. That means there was a 13% growth.

In the segment of freight transportation, it was 211,590 tonnes in June, 2014. In June, 2015, it was 222,990 tonnes.

The movement of aircraft across all the Indian airports was 8% higher in June, 2015, when compared to June, 2014. And the credit for this growth goes to the air charter companies in India. They played a crucial role to make this happen.

A New Delhi-based chartered operator transported ISRO Satellites from Bangalore to Cayenne in French Guiana. That’s not all. It also transported life saving drugs and relief material during natural calamities.

This growth curve proves that India, no doubt, is well placed to become the focal point of aviation for the world nations in the years to come.

The Boeing 767

Commercial aircraft are the result of the airline requirements which shape them, attempting to fulfill, as completely and cost-effectively as possible, the particular combination of mission goals. For airliner-type aircraft, these include two primary parameters: payload, comprised of passengers, baggage, cargo, and mail, and range, which enables a carrier to offer nonstop service between specific city pairs.

Aircraft configurations are, in essence, design solutions to intended operating missions and hence vary according to fuselage length and width; wingspan, planform, and sweepback; engine type, thrust, and mounting; and horizontal and vertical tail location and size.

In the late 1970s, passenger demand had begun to eclipse the capacity of the Boeing 727, which had accommodated a maximum of 131 single-class, high-density passengers in its initial, short-fueselage -100 series and 189 in its stretched, -200 version.

Seeking to replace this venerable design on one-stop transcontinental routes with a higher-capacity tri-jet, Boeing had considered several replacements by stretching the 727-200’s fuselage, remounting two of the three engines to the wing underside, and ultimately eliminating the third engine in the vertical tail. The result, a low-wing, twin-engined, single-aisle airliner based upon the performance specifications submitted by American Airlines, Delta, and United, had been designated the 757. During this time, however, passenger acceptance of widebody aircraft had been overwhelming and many carriers had sought such a cabin cross-section on medium- as well as traditionally long-range route sectors. As a result, passenger capacity per aircraft had begun to decrease, from the 500 of the quad-engined Boeing 747, to the 350 of the tri-engined Lockheed L-1011 and McDonnell-Douglas DC-10, to the 225 of the twin-engined Airbus A-300.

With the margin between the maximum capacities of the 727-200 and the Airbus A-300 beginning to converge, many airlines had expressed interest in a small widebody which could accommodate the median of the two. The result, the 767, featured greater range and wider-cabin comfort with seven-abreast, dual-aisle coach seating for about 200, becoming the first (and thus far only) commercial airliner to deviate from the standard wide body fuselage width of previous Boeing, Lockheed, McDonnell-Douglas, and Airbus aircraft. The chosen width had offered both advantages and disadvantages. Of the advantages, it had featured less fuselage cross section-generated drag and increased cabin comfort, with most passenger seats either on the window or the aisle. Of the disadvantages, it had not been able to accommodate the now-standard LD-3 container on its lower deck in the traditional paired loading configuration and therefore had required the design of a smaller, specialized LD-2 container.

In January 1978, Boeing had expanded its Everett, Washington, production line, hitherto the sole domain of the 747, to include the new 767 design, and seven months later, on July 14, United Airlines had ordered 30 of the type, officially launching the program. First flying in prototype form on September 26, 1981, at which time orders had been received from 17 customers, the aircraft, in its initial -200 series domestic guise, received its FAA certification with the 44,300 thrust-pound Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7R high bypass ratio turbofan on July 30, 1982. The type entered scheduled service with United the following month on August 19. The aircraft was also certified with the General Electric CF6-80A powerplant on September 8 and this version entered service with Delta Air Lines. A variant with the Rolls Royce RB.211-524 engine, intended for British Airways, had also been offered.

Although initially intended for medium-range operation, the basic airframe had proven ideally suited toward larger-capacity deployment on thin, nonstop transcontinental and intercontinental sectors after being fitted with additional fuel tankage, thus able to replace previous widebody trijets. Dimensionally identical to the basic design, but certified with higher operating weights, the sub-version, designated 767-200ER…for “extended range”…had entered service on March 26, 1984.

The basic 767 fuselage, initially designed for increased capacity “stretchability,” had been lengthened by some 20.1 feet, accommodating 40 additional passengers. Although it had retained the original wingspan, the new version, designated 767-300, had been intended for higher-capacity transcontinental routes and had been first rolled out on January 30, 1986. Certified nine months later in September, it had entered scheduled service on September 25.

Mating the newly-elongated fuselage of the -300 series with the extended range capabilities of the -200ER, Boeing had produced the -300ER with increased-thrust engines, additional fuel capacity, and minor structural strengthening. Recording a 50,000-pound gross weight increase, the 767-300ER, numerically the most popular version with 505 aircraft having been sold, had featured a 2,000-mile range increase, entering scheduled service on February 19, 1988.

The final version, the 767-400ER, had incorporated technology designed for the already-in-service 777-200. Accommodating some 409 single-class passengers in a 21-foot longer fuselage and featuring a 14-foot greater wingspan with highly swept, raked wing tips, the 400,000-pound version had sat on a higher main undercarriage in order to retain take off rotation angles. The aircraft, with a remodeled passenger interior, had closed the gap between its smaller -300 series 767 and its larger 777 design. Although it had offered numerous advancements, it had appeared after most of the market had already ordered previous 767, A-330, and A-340 versions, not entering service until August 20, 2000, and therefore had only been operated by Continental, which had ordered 16, and Delta, which had ordered 21.

All aircraft incorporate several design-shaping characteristics.

The Boeing 767, for example, had replaced the 727 with a larger capacity, widebody design, retaining gate and ramp compatibility at smaller, 727-like airports, and had been optimized for the tri-jet’s one-stop transcontinental routes. Because of parallel 757 development, it had been able to minimize its development costs.

A narrower fuselage cross-section than that used by previous widebody aircraft had resulted in a reduction in parasite drag and a twin-aisle cabin, in which passengers had never been more than one seat away from the window or the aisle. Composite construction had been used in most of the flight surfaces, particularly the fixed wing leading edge panel, the spoilers, the ailerons, the fixed wing trailing edge panel, the undercarriage doors, the elevators, and the rudder, and the airframe had utilized advanced, light-weight aluminum alloy construction.

A supercritical wing, one the aircraft’s key design features, had resulted in a high aspect ratio, an aft-loaded section, the development of more lift for less drag than any previous airfoil, a 22% thicker wing than that used by any previous-decade commercial airliner, a lighter and simpler structure, and more wing-integral fuel tank capacity.

Powered by two high bypass ratio turbofans, in which a higher percentage of the engine’s thrust is produced by the cooler, inner core-bypassing air, it had featured lower specific fuel consumption, a reduced noise footprint, lower maintenance costs, and high reliability.

A two-person cockpit crew, following the trend created by the Airbus A-300, had reduced crew costs, and the aircraft’s common pilot type rating with that of the narrow-body Boeing 757 had ensured greater crew scheduling flexibility to carriers which had operated both types.

Inherent fuselage stretchability and existing wing and tail capability had enabled the manufacturer to offer increased-capacity versions and these, coupled with its extended range twin-engine operations certification, had enabled it to offer a viable DC-10 and L-1011 alternative with one fewer engine and cockpit crew member, significantly reducing operating costs.

Although sales of the Boeing 767 had dwindled by 2008, the type, currently being replaced by Boeing’s own 787, had sold some 950 aircraft of all versions to well over 100 worldwide airlines.

The Boeing 747-400

747-400 Foundation:

Powerplants were the key to commercial aircraft capability, measured by payload, range, and performance, and all were incorporated in the 747-200B when the 63,000 thrust-pound Pratt and Whitney JT9D-7Q became available. First ordered by Northwest Orient, but quickly followed by Braniff, Japan Air Lines, Singapore Airlines, and Avianca, the version, introducing lighter nacelles, offered a two- to three-percent reduction in fuel consumption. Powered by the similarly-rated General Electric CF6-50E and Rolls Royce RB.211-524D turbofans, the aircraft was able to boast a new maximum takeoff weight of 833,000 pounds.

While an increased capacity variant had been considered during the 747 program’s earliest days, these higher-thrust engines paved the way for serious reconsideration now without the former need to sacrifice cargo loads or range for it.

Toward that end, studies completed in 1976 focused on a 23-foot fuselage stretch, attained by means of seven-frame forward and eight-frame aft insertions, along with a 27-foot upper deck increase, for a new mixed class passenger capacity of 570, as opposed to the previous 440. Yet depressed passenger demand during the late-1970s precluded the viability of this admittedly ambitious project and airline customer consensus pointed to a more modest stretch.

This took form as the 747SUD, or “stretched upper deck,” in the spring of 1980. Lengthened by some 23 feet, it incorporated 18 additional windows and two full-size, upward-opening doors with 45-foot-long evacuation slides. Although it carried an 8,000-pound, or two-percent, structural weight increase, the otherwise simplified modification increased its six-abreast accommodation from 32 to 69, reached by a new, straight, internal staircase that replaced the type’s signature spiral one.

Designated 747-300, it was offered as both a new-build version or a conversion of existing 747-200Bs, both of which factored into launch customer Swissair’s June 1980 order for four of the former and one of the latter. Powered by four 64,750 thrust-pound JT9D-7R4G2 engines, it first flew two years later, on October 5, and was type certified a year after that on March 4 at an 833,000-pound gross weight.

While the minimal change version offered a modest capacity increase, it introduced neither increased range nor any type of design enhancement.

747-400 Design and Development:

Several factors caused serious reconsideration of a more ambitious derivative of the 747 in the mid-1980s.

Sales, first and foremost, had been declining. The monthly production rate of seven airframes in 1979 had been reduced to a trickle of only one. Without revitalization, the program was likely to be terminated.

Currency and advancement, secondly, had not been maintained, a strategy that had kept the 727 and 737 programs alive with advanced versions, and the later, particularly, had spawned the Next Generation 737-300, -400, and -500 series.

Competition, thirdly, although not always on an even-keel basis, had begun to appear with step-change technology, as occurred with the DC-10-30 and -40, whose succeeding MD-11 introduced quieter, more fuel efficient engines and two-person digital cockpits. Airbus itself was about to unveil its own twin- and quad-engine A330 and A340 designs. The 747 appeared particularly outdated with its three-man, analogue cockpit, especially when measured against Boeing’s own new-technology narrow and widebody 757 and 767 offerings.

Finally, growth had shifted from the Atlantic to the Pacific, with unprecedented numbers of passengers and amounts of cargo being transported to China, Japan, and Korea.

What was needed was a modernized version of the venerable 747 with significant range to eliminate the intermediate stops in Alaska and Hawaii, yet not sacrifice payload. The remedy was initially envisioned as a version of the 747-300 with either Pratt and Whitney PW4000 or General Electric CF6-80C turbofans, an increased wingspan, and its resultantly greater wing integral fuel tank capacity.

Yet, most of the major, early 747 operators sought far more than these basic power and dimensional increases packaged in the proposed 747-300A, prompting Boeing to embark upon an extensive reassessment project so that the new version would be commensurate with late-20th century technology.

Devising, in fact, a five-point list to generate next-generation sales, it sought to incorporate state-of-the-art technology, considerably enhance the passenger cabin, increase the range by 1,000 miles, reduce fuel consumption by up to 37-percent over that of the original 747-100, and reduce operating costs by ten percent.

Designated 747-400 and announced in May of 1985, it was a significantly improved aircraft.

Although it retained the 231.10-foot overall length of all the previous standard versions and featured the stretched upper deck of the -300, it introduced a considerably modified wing. Built up of the 2000 copper and 7000 zinc series of aluminum alloys developed for the 757 and 767, which formed the torsion box’s upper and lower skins, and incorporating graphite composites, it featured both a six-foot span increase and six-foot winglets that were outwardly canted by 29 degrees and had a 60-degree sweepback. Eliminating the need for a greater span increase, these area-rule designed devices harnessed the vortex created by the upper and lower pressure differential remix at the tip, increasing area and lift, reducing drag, and retaining gate compatibility dimensions a greater stretch would not have achieved.

“Winglets,” according to Boeing, “are a new stabilization feature to compensate for wing and body structural changes.” They facilitated the transport of 40 more passengers 2,500 miles further.

While the ailerons, spoilers, and dual-section, triple slotted trailing edge flaps remained the same as those incorporated on previous 747 versions, an additional variable camber leading edge flap was installed, resulting in three inboard Krueger devices from the root to the inboard engines, five mid-wing ones between the powerplants, and the new total of six between the outboard one and the tip.

The construction materials increased the wing’s strength by between five and 13 percent, yet reduced aircraft weight by up to 5,500 pounds. Compared to the 195.8-foot span of the previous versions, the 747-400 had a 211.5 unfueled one or 213.0 one with full tanks, which caused a downward bend of the airfoil. Aspect ratio was 7.7 and area was 5,825 square feet.

Another 747-400 improvement was its powerplant. Because engine manufacturers had made significant progress in the design and development of advanced turbofans, particularly for long-range, widebody twins which were predicated upon increased reliability and thrust and decreased fuel consumption and noise, the latest 747 version was 40-percent quieter than its -300 series predecessor. As had occurred with the 747-200B, it was offered with poweprlants made by all three engine manufacturers.

The 56,750 thrust-pound Pratt and Whitney PW4056, for example, specified by launch customer Northwest Orient, featured single crystal turbine blades, full authority digital engine control (FADEC), a ten-percent high pressure compressor ratio increase, and a 27-percent greater high pressure rotor speed. It consumed seven percent less fuel than the earlier JT9D upon which it was based.

The 58,000 thrust-pound General Electric CF6-80C2B1F, first specified by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, offered a four-stage low pressure compressor matched to the fan, a core airflow that increased from 276 to 340 pounds per second, and an overall pressure ratio of 30.4 to 1 produced by the 14-stage high pressure compressor. Like the PW4056, it was FADEC-equipped.

The Rolls Royce RB.211-524, featuring three-shaft, wide-chord blades, was offered in two versions: the 58,000 thrust-pound -524G and the 60,000 thrust-pound 524H. It was first ordered by Cathay Pacific.

All engines, regardless of type, were attached to redesigned, streamlined pylons.

The Pratt and Whitney Canada PW901A auxiliary power unit (APU), replacing the long-standard Allied Signal one for the first time, consumed 40 percent less fuel. It could maintain a 75-degree Fahrenheit cabin temperature while the aircraft was on the ground with a 100-degree external one.

Fuel, whose capacity varied between 53,985 and 57,285 US gallons for Pratt and Whitney and Rolls Royce engine-powered aircraft, and between 53,711 and 57,011 US gallons for General Electric powered ones, was stored in the fuselage center section and two main tanks per wing, along with reserve and vent surge tanks. Although minor modifications had been made to their plumbing and sensors, the 747-400’s major design feature was a 3,300-US gallon auxiliary tank in the 72-foot, 2.5-inch spanned horizontal tailplane, providing a 350 nautical mile increase. It was not, however, used for in-flight center-of-gravity variation.

Increased rudder authority, amending maximum deflection from a former 25- to a present 30-degrees, facilitated a ten-knot ground speed reduction in which it could maintain the effectiveness.

While the 747-400 retained the same five-truck, 18-wheel configuration of the earlier versions, it replaced the former steel brakes with carbon ones, which offered a 1,800-pound weight reduction, were rated for twice the number of landings, and cooled faster, increasing aircraft turn-around times. Larger tires necessitated a wheel diameter increase from 20 to 22 inches. Ai digital antiskid system was introduced.

Ice and rain protection encompassed total air temperature probes; window wipers, washers, and rain repellent; window heat; pitot-static probes on both sides; angle-of-attack sensors, again on both sides; wing anti-ice; and engine inlet cowl anti-ice.

Aircraft servicing points were many. Those on the fuselage included vacuum cleaning, oxygen, electrical, potable water, hydraulic, oil, air start, and air conditioning. Those on the wing encompassed the fuel vent, the gravity fuel port, the fuel itself, and the fuel control panel on the left wing underside.

Significant enhancements were made to the interior.

The cockpit, first and foremost, was transformed from a three- to a two-person one, with the fight engineer’s functions having been incorporated in an overhead panel and these were now automatically monitored.

Employing digital systems designed for the 757 and 767, it featured six eight-by-eight inch cathode ray tube (CRT) displays, consisting of the primary fight display (PFD) and the navigation display (ND) placed side-by-side in front of the captain and duplicated for the first officer, and two center engine indication and crew alerting system (EICAS) screens.

The pedestal between the two pilots contained the control display units (CDU’s), the fuel control switches, the parking brake lever, the radio communication panels, the audio control panels, the aileron and rudder control panel, the stabilizer trim indicator, the weather radar control panel, the transponder control panel, the autobrake selector panel, and the public address-interphone handset.

An extensive data base, subdivided into performance and navigation categories, replaced the performance manuals and navigation charts, and facilitated the rapid, extremely accurate calculations of any desired parameter in conjunction with the flight management computer (FMC).

Information was both enterable and retrievable by means of the control display unit keypads.

During cockpit setup, the lower of the two engine indicator and crew alerting system screens displayed the secondary engine data-that is, the N2 and N3 shaft speeds, vibration, fuel flow, and oil temperature, pressure, and quantity-while the upper continuously displayed the primary engine data, such as engine pressure ratio, the N1 fan speed, and the exhaust gas temperature (EGT). Yet enough screen space remained for additional aircraft status indications, including flap and undercarriage positions.

Compared to the 971 lights, gauges, and switches of the first generation 747’s analog cockpit, the current -400’s digital one featured only a third, or 365. The aircraft was certified for Category IIIB landings.

Boeing listed its fight deck avionics baseline capabilities as follows.

“8 x 8 integrated displays: air data, primary flight and navigation instruments; engine, subsystems, caution and warning alerts; systems status and synoptic (heads-down monitoring).

“Multipurpose control display unit (MCDU): primary interfaces – FMCS, standby nav (IRS), standby nav radio tuning; secondary interface – accesses CMCS, ACARS, AIDS, weight and balance.

“Advanced FMC software package: thrust management – autothrottle/thrust limit; altitude/speed flight profile intervention via AFDS MCP; Nav radio tuning – automatic and remote; worldwide nav data base capability; software improvements.

“Central maintenance computer system (CMCS): standardized subsystem bite with English language readout; interactive control of system LRU bite via MCDU; interfaces flight deck//avionic and associated airplane systems.

“Improved dispatch reliability: redundant control of mode functions for EFIS/EICAS/AFDS MCP; display function switching and triple EIFS/EICAS interface units.

“Digital audio control and radio communication systems.”

Aside from two observer seats, a windowless crew rest compartment, featuring one or two full-length bunks, reading lights, and fresh air vents, enabled extra pilots to attain legal rest periods on fights that could span up to 18 hours. A comparable, although much larger, cabin crew rest area, installed in the formerly unutilized rear roof from the last row of passenger seats to the rear pressure bulkhead and replacing the 747-300’s “Portakabin” one that had taken the place of up to 20 revenue-generating passenger ones, was accessible by a locked door, three-step, and vertical ladder entryway. Incorporating additional insulation and ceiling lighting to simulate day and night cycles, it was configured with varying numbers of bunks and sleeper seats.

The redesigned interior, which introduced an advanced widebody look, featured recontoured ceilings and sidewalls; concealed lighting; self-supporting ceiling panels; larger overhead side and center storage compartments; outboard, seat track lockable modular galleys; modular, vacuum flushable toilets, whose waste was stored in four rear tanks; and a digital in-flight entertainment system with seat-back monitors; and five main deck air conditioning zones with higher ventilation.

Inter-deck access, as had been provided on the 747-300, was via a straight stairway.

Class division, density, capacity, color, fabric, and decoration varied according to customer specification. A 416 tri-class configuration, for instance, entailed 23 first class seats at a 61-inch pitch, 80 business class ones at a 39-inch pitch, and 313 coach class ones at a 32-inch pitch. A dual-class cabin accommodating 497 entailed 42 first class and 455 coach seats. Five hundred twenty-four could be subdivided into 42 business class seats at a 42-inch pitch and 406 coach ones at a 32-inch pitch, with another 76 on the stretched upper deck, provisioned with its own galleys and lavatories.

Maximum main deck abreast seating in the four cabins behind the nose was ten, with two aisles, and six on the upper deck with a single aisle. Maximum, exit-limited passenger capacity was 624.

The 747-400’s lower deck hold volume of 6,035 cubic feet was subdivided into 5,190 cubic feet of unit loading device (ULD) space and 845 of bulk or loose-load space, facilitating the loading of 16 forward and 14 aft LD-3 containers or five forward and four aft 96-by-125-inch pallets.

As powered by the CF6-80C2 engine, it had a 390,700-pound operating weight, 144,300-pound payload capability, 535,000-pound zero-fuel weight, 384,824-pound fuel weight, a maximum takeoff weight that varied from 800,000 to 870,000 pounds, and a maximum landing weight that varied from 574,000 to 630,000 pounds. Range, at a long-range cruise speed with 412 passengers and reserves, was 7,300 nautical miles.

Construction of the first 747-400, registered N401PW, began in mid-1986 in Everett, by which time 49 aircraft had been ordered by Singapore, KLM, Lufthansa, Cathay Pacific, and British Airways. Northwest’s launch order, for ten, called for aircraft configured for 420 passengers. Major assembly occurred a little over a year later, in September, and the first roll-out, on January 26, 1988, entailed a dual-ceremony, dual-location event, since it marked the occasion of the first 737-400 rollout in Renton. Another 58 aircraft, by United and Air France, had been intermittently ordered.

The expected system glitches, along with the unexpected part and powerplant delivery delays, postponed the first flight of the PW4056-powered aircraft from March to April 29, 1988, followed by first General Electric and Rolls Royce examples in, respectively, June and August. The GE airframe set a new world gross weight record, leaving the runway at 892,450 pounds.

Certification, following a four-aircraft flight test program, was achieved on January 9, 1989. Delivered to Northwest 17 days later and entering domestic service between Phoenix and Minneapolis on February 9 for crew familiarization purposes, the first 747-400, powered by PW4056 turbofans, was placed in the Pacific-spanning skies it was intended for, from New York to Tokyo, on June 1.

Other first deliveries included those to KLM and Lufthansa, on, respectively, May 18 and May 23 with General Electric engines, and to Cathay Pacific on June 8 with Rolls Royce powerplants. On the August 17 delivery flight to Qantas, the type set a world distance record from London to Sydney, covering the 9,688 miles in 20 hours, eight minutes.

By May 25, 1990, the 747-400 had attracted 279 firm orders.

747-400 Versions:

As had occurred with the basic 747, and particularly with its -200B series, Boeing offered several variants of the 747-400.

The first of these was the 747-400 Combi Featuring mixtures of main deck passenger and cargo loads, the latter in two aft zones, it incorporated a 120- by 130-inch aft, port, upward-opening door, strengthened floor, and freight loading system, facilitating several load combinations, including 268 passengers and seven pallets, 290 passengers and dix pallets, or up to 13 pallets. The type was first delivered to KLM on September 1, 1989.

Another variant was the 747-400D for “domestic.” Considered an advanced counterpart to the earlier 747SR for short, high-density Japanese sectors, it omitted the six-foot wing extensions and winglets, was powered by lower thrust engines, and offered a 600,000-pound maximum takeoff weight, although it was certifiable up to 870,000 pounds.

The first 747-400D, which was the 844th 747 airframe of all versions, first flew in March of 1991 and was delivered to Japan Air Lines in October. All-Nippon Airlines, another operator, configured the aircraft for 27 business and 542 economy class passengers.

The 747-400F, yet another version, replaced the 747-200F, whose production was discontinued after Air France placed a launch order for five on September 13, 1989. Devoid of passenger windows and facilities, and employing the standard-length upper deck of the 747-100, -200, and -SP, it featured both upward-opening nose and side cargo doors, a flight deck-reaching foldable ladder, and a two-person crew rest area. It could carry 26 more tons of cargo 1,200 miles further than its earlier -200F counterpart.

Volume totaled 27,467 cubic feet, including 21,347 on the main deck, 5,600 in the lower deck holds, and 520 in the bulk. Two ten-foot high pallets could also be accommodated on the upper deck.

The first 747-400F, the 968th 747 built, was first rolled out on February 25, 1993, and first took to the skies three months later, on May 4. The type’s maximum gross weight was 875,000 pounds. Because Air France had since canceled its order, Cargolux inaugurated the type into service instead.

The last version was the 747-400ER, intended, as its designation indicates, for “extended range” operations. Initially offered to Qantas as the 747-400IGW “increased gross weight,” it featured one or two 3,064-US gallon auxiliary tanks installed in the hold, increasing fuel capacity to 63,403 gallons and range to 7,500 nautical miles with one tank and 7,700 miles with two.

Powered by 63,300 thrust-pound PW4062 engines, the -400ER had a 535,000-pound zero-fuel weight, a 910,000-pound maximum takeoff weight, and a 652,000-pound landing weight. Design range with 416 passengers was 7,585 miles.

On September 10, 1993, the 1,000th 747, a -400 series for Singapore Airlines, was rolled out, making it the fifth Boeing type to achieve this production milestone after the 707, 727, 737, and (originally McDonnell-Douglas) MD-80. By January 1, 2002, 41 operators had ordered 630 747-400s of all versions. Production ultimately totaled 694.

The History of Delta Air Lines and Its TriStar Fleet

As the oldest existing passenger airline, Delta itself traces its roots to 1925, when, in initial form, it operated crop dusting services as Huff Daland Dusters with the Petrel 31. Nicknamed the “Puffer,” it was the first agricultural airplane specifically designed to protect the cotton fields of the southern United States against the boll weevil.

Independence and a Delta Air Service name three years later placed the fledgling concern on the threshold of gradual growth.

A meager, four-destination route network enabled it to serve Dallas, Shreveport, Monroe, and Jackson as of June 17, 1929.

Shedding its farm image a decade later, it acquired Lockheed L-10A Electra and Douglas DC-3 cabin airliners, facilitating service after a route award to Savannah, Knoxville, and Cincinnati, and from Chicago to Miami in 1946, albeit via these cities with an additional touchdown in Charleston.

Even larger, faster, and more advanced quad-engine piston liners improved its image, the Douglas DC-4 replacing the DC-3 on the Midwest-Florida run, the DC-6 replacing the DC-4 in December of 1948, and the DC-7 replacing it on April 1, 1954.

Its coverage significantly increased four years later, on May 1, when it merged with Chicago and Southern.

Delta entered the jet age on September 18, 1959 with the Douglas DC-8-10 and this was followed less than a year later with the Convair CV-880 on short- to medium-range sectors. Despite the speed advantage achieved with its Rolls Royce Conway engines, it was both ear-shattering and fuel-thirsty.

A southern route authority, granted in 1962, elevated Delta to transcontinental carrier status, enabling it to operate from Dallas to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Other service expansions included those from Atlanta to Jacksonville and Orlando and those to Phoenix and Las Vegas. Like Eastern, however, it remained a primarily East Coast airline.

Too large and offering more range than necessary, the DC-8 and CV-880 were replaced by the Douglas DC-9 twin-jet in 1965 on short-range, low-capacity US domestic sectors.

The carrier’s widebody era dawned at the beginning of the next decade with the Boeing 747-100 in 1970, the McDonnell-Douglas DC-10-10 two years later to provide needed capacity during the Lockheed L-1011 delivery delays, and the TriStar itself.

Acquiring Northeast Airlines on August 1, 1972 to obtain its much-demanded sun routes, it acquired Boeing 727-100 tri-jets and was able to inaugurate service from Montreal and Boston to Miami and count Bermuda and Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas in its network.

Operating from an Atlanta hub, with secondary traffic centers in Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Memphis, New Orleans, New York, and Tampa a decade later, Delta had expanded into the third-largest carrier, transporting 34.7 million passengers in 1979 and operating 1,300 daily flights to 80 destinations in the US, Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, the United Kingdom, and West Germany. Its slogan, appropriately, was “Delta is ready when you are.”

Its growth, accelerated with purchases of Pan Am’s European routes and Western Airlines, became exponential. As evidenced by the voluminous, 433-page July 1, 1988 edition of its system timetable, it operated more than 2,200 departures with some 380 aircraft to 156 destinations in 42 US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and 11 foreign countries, including Canada, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Mexico, Ireland, Great Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, principally from its Atlanta, Cincinnati, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Salt Lake City hubs.

A considerably mixed Boeing, Lockheed, and McDonnell-Douglas fleet encompassed 727-200s (12 first class and 136 coach passengers), DC-9-30s (12F and 86Y), 737-200s (either 12F and 95Y or 8F and 107Y), DC-10-10s (36F and 248Y), L-1011-1s, -250s, and -500s (which featured several configurations, including 32F and 270Y, 12F, 54C, and 203Y, 12F, 40C, and 189Y, and 18F, 64C, and 140Y), MD-88s (14F and 128Y), 737-300s (8F and 120Y), 757-200s (16F and 171Y), 767-200s (18F and 186Y), 767-300s (24F and 230Y), and DC-8-71s (18F and 194Y).

Whereas the emphasis had once been on fleet standardization and a minimum number of aircraft types to reduce crew training, maintenance, and spare parts inventories, the then-emerging megacarriers, such as Delta, which, by definition, served every route length and density, from the 100-mile feeder sector to the transcontinental and intercontinental high-capacity journey, necessitated a broad range of types and versions, since one integrated airline effectively had to do the job of many: commuter, large regional, US national, major, and megacarrier.

As a result, four large US regionals, operating as the Delta Connection, collectively offered 3,900 daily departures to 240 cities over and above Delta mainline flights and included Atlantic Southeast Airlines with DHC-7s, SD3-60s, EMB-120s, and EMB-110s, Business Express with F.27s, SD3-60s, S-340s, and B1900s), Comair with S-340s, Fairchild Swearingen Metros, and EMB-110s, and Skywest with EMB-120s and Swearingen Metros as this time.

Having been the world’s largest TriStar operator, with three versions and two sub-variants, Delta, considering it the “queen of the fleet,” placed its initial order for 24 L-1011-s in 1968 to supplement its existing DC-8s, yet offer increased, widebody comfort and quieter, more fuel efficient high bypass ratio turbofans, once advertising, “The magnificent $18 million TriStar, newest member of the Delta Air Lines wide-ride fleet.” It left most of its other US carrier competitors, including American, Continental, National, Northwest, United, and Western, to order the competing DC-10-10.

Forced to intermittently operate five of the McDonnell-Douglas counter parts because of the Rolls Royce bankruptcy program cessation, it ultimately sold them to United, although they were leased back between 1972 and 1975. It also deployed 747-100s on its transcontinental routes prior to that. Their capacity, in the event, eclipsed demand.

Its first L-1011-1, registered N701DA, was configured for 50 first and 200 coach passengers. But it was just the beginning of a history with a type that would prove synonymous with the Atlanta-based carrier, with 40 more acquired between 1973 and 1983.

Because its route system predominantly consisted of short- to medium-range sectors, it was airborne for about two hours at a time, connecting cities less than 1,000 miles apart.

Exceeding the range of its first transatlantic route award, from Atlanta to London-Gatwick, it was supplemented by two L-1011-100s leased from TWA, and these were eventually also deployed to Frankfurt and Tokyo.

In 1980, it took delivery of three truly intercontinental L-1011-500s.

A second-hand TriStar acquisition program proved extensive. Fourteen L-1011-500s (six from Air Canada, three from Pan Am, and five from United) were purchased between 1984 and 1992 and ten L-1011-1s were acquired from Eastern between 1991 and 1992.

Aside from leasing two L-1011-200s powered by RB.211-524B engines, it modified one L-1011-1 to -200 standard and the remaining six to -250 configurations, enabling each to operate longer-range sectors.

Instrumental in serving the European transatlantic routes it acquired from Pan Am, with up to 80 daily flights in the summer of 1992, the type, in its -500 guise, regularly made the 5,074-mile Anchorage-Hong Kong trans-Pacific crossing, its longest.

Although budgetary constraints precluded Lockheed from offering what could have been the definitive replacement in the form of the stretched L-1011-400, the type continued to ply Delta’s route system until only about 30 daily flights counted for TriStar service by the end of 2000, progressive replacements having taken form as the Boeing 767-200, -300, and -400 and the MD-11, perhaps McDonnell-Douglas’s ultimate triumph over Lockheed.

First delivered in November of 1979, aircraft N728DA, an L-1011-1, operated Delta’s last scheduled flight, from Atlanta to Orlando and return, on July 31, 2001, receiving a double water cannon salute after touchdown on Georgia soil. It had flown almost 31,000 flight cycles, 66,000 hours, and more than 27 million miles during its career.

The 70 TriStars of all versions that Delta had eventually operated during more than a quarter of a century represented 30 percent of Lockheed’s total production run.

Private Jet Hire

Everybody wants to be a millionaire. It should not even be a question of why people want to be one but a question of how they will achieve that status. With the current global recession, it is very hard for an ordinary Joe to achieve millionaire status even of he keeps every paycheck he has for the rest of his life. Well, nobody got rich overnight but a lot of people died trying and only a handful of them succeeded. It may be a hard thing to achieve but today you can achieve millionaire status just by faking it! Yes, you can do that and no one will ever know the difference. One way of having that millionaire experience is by flying with a private jet. The private jet business has been around for quite sometime now.

In the past, private jets were only bought by those people who are very rich. Those people would include royalty, high profile celebrities, and a some Chief Executive Officers of different companies. Now that the average person has gone bored of flying on a commercial plane even at first class seats, the private jet for hire business was born. This business caters to people who hate all the traffic on land or those people who have lost their taste for first class commercial airplanes. These jets can bring you anywhere in the world at anytime.

It is a highly expensive business and it almost functions like your normal limousine business. If you need a private jet, all you need to do is to call a couple of people from the business and you can have that millionaire experience in no time. This business mostly works on reservations just like a normal airplane business but if you are able to pull some strings then maybe you might not need one. This only works for those who are extremely rich and popular. These services do not come cheap. The smallest among that you can pay for these private jets would be around $8,000 USD. It mostly depends on the type of aircraft you need and the maximum seating capacity.

You can have a private jet for a round trip or a one way trip. In some arrangements, especially in one way trips, you would have to pay for the plane twice if they are not able to get passengers back to its point of origin. This is the biggest reason why people would opt to go for a round trip. If you were only going to spend this much, why not go all the way? You can choose from a variety of companies who offer these types of services and they are available on the net. Some of them could also give you an estimate price quote.

You can also choose what type of aircraft you may need such as a six to eight seater aircraft with fine in flight service crew, or a simple helicopter just to get away from traffic. Whatever the purpose may be or whatever aircraft you may want to hire, these things can truly get you wherever and whenever you want.

The Difference Between Finding a Cheap Domestic versus a Cheap International Airfare

While US domestic airfare is a lot more volatile (i.e. prices change a lot more frequently) the price difference between major travel sites such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, and the airlines sites is often no more than 10-20%. Sellers of domestic airfare pretty much fall into 2 categories: (1) the airlines and (2) online travel agencies. There are a few niche players but they service a very small market. Therefore, when shopping for domestic airfare deals the “when to buy” is commonly more important than the “where to buy.”

The opposite is true when securing an international airfare bargain. The “when to buy” is still important (as in don’t wait until the last minute) but the “where to buy” is a lot more important. This is because airfare to Europe, Asia, Africa, and South & Central America are somewhat less volatile (may not change as frequently) but the price difference between different vendors can sometimes be as much as 50% or more. There are several reasons why that is but the two major reasons are (1) the type of fares that are offered and (2) the number of players in the field.

The Type of Fares

Without getting very technical there are basically 2 types of international airfare; published and unpublished. In the domestic market 97% of leisure fares are published (give or take). A published fare you can refer to as a retail fare. The airline creates the fare and the rules associated with that fare and then publishes the information through a clearing house called ATPCo (Airline Tariff Publishing Company). ATPCo then distributes the fare to the global distribution systems. Online and offline travel agencies in turn retrieve these published fares via one or more of these systems. Everybody has access to the fare. An unpublished fare (also referred to as a negotiated fare) is still being released via ATPCo but part of the “fare rules” is an indicator of what seller is allowed to access and sell the fare. It is essentially a private fare. One other difference is that published fares have to be sold at the price determined by the airline (no mark-ups or mark downs) while a private fare can be marked up. That is why you see online and offline agencies add a service charge of anywhere between $5 and $50 to a published fare ticket. With a negotiated fare the airline will receive a set amount and the seller is allowed to mark up (add his/her margin) to that fare. So, a seller may negotiate a $300 fare from New York to London with airline X and then mark it up and sell it for $345. Another visible difference between a negotiated and a published fare is the fact that on many (almost all) negotiated airline tickets you will not see the actual price you paid for the ticket. Instead you will either see a much higher fare or only tax information. A published fare tickets will show exactly what you paid for the ticket (excluding any service charges). As a general rule, negotiated fare tickets are frequently cheaper than published fare tickets (There are instances when an airline may have a “fire sale” that undercuts the fare levels of negotiated fares) and that is why “the where” is more important than “the when” when it comes to buying international airfare.

Sellers of Travel

Sellers of international airfare fall into the following major categories:

(1) Major Airlines

(2) Charter Airlines

(3) Online Travel Agencies

(4) Offline Travel Agencies

(5) Global Consolidators that sell to the Public

(6) Global Consolidators that do not sell to Public

(7) Ethnic Consolidators or Destination Specialists

(8) Student Travel Consolidators

(9) Tour Operators

Major Airlines

These are the carriers we are all familiar with such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, KLM and many more. They offer airfare via their own website and many of the other sellers listed above. They may offer web specials on their own site. They do not charge a service fee.

Charter Airlines

In Europe this type of airline is a lot more common than in the US. A charter is basically when a tour operator “rents” or “charters” an airplane to fly vacationers from their departure gateway airport to the destination airport. There are a few airline companies that offer service from/to the US that have their roots in the charter business. They regularly offer year round or seasonal service to/from a few select US airports to a single country. They are FAA approved and must meet all airline safety rules & regulations. What sets them apart is their business model that allows them to commonly sell seats cheaper than the majors. Some of these alternative airlines are LTU, Condor, FlyGlobespan, or Martinair to name a few. They usually also do not charge a service fee.

Online Travel Agencies

Players in this category are Travelocity, Orbitz, Cheaptickets, Expedia, Priceline, Hotwire and so on. They sell published and unpublished airfare. They charge a service fee. They also habitually try to sell you other travel components such as hotel accommodation, car rentals, attraction tickets and/or travel insurance. If you are going overseas for a vacation buying a package (where the seller will bundle an air component with one or more land components) can be an option and may save you money. In a future article I will cover the advantages and disadvantages of packages.

Offline Travel Agencies

Also referred to as brick and mortar travel agencies, these are the traditional agencies that you would walk into, sit down and book your travel. Depending on size and target market they may also double as an ethnic consolidator or destination specialist. They also have access to consolidator fares not offered directly to the general public. Brick and mortar agencies almost always charge a service fee.

Global Consolidators that Sell Directly to the Public

Many times these are travel agencies that have decided to “cut out the middleman” and go directly to the airlines to negotiate their own private fares. This allows them to then re-sell them at a lower price without losing their margin. In order to get decent private fares a global consolidator would have to offer $100 Million+ in annual agency sales. Most of the negotiated tickets are sold without a service fee. If a consolidator sells a published fare they regularly add a service fee.

Global Consolidators that do not Sell Directly to the Public

In the days prior to online internet travel very few agencies would act as their own consolidator. Instead they worked through middlemen (consolidators) that negotiated deals with the airlines. A consolidator would negotiate that same $300 deal mentioned above, add his margin and then sell it to a retail agency. The retail agent would then add her margin and sell it to the public. As the Internet took shape, agencies could reach a much larger audience and therefore gained the clout to negotiate directly with the airlines. Nevertheless, there are still many agencies, offline and online that offer middlemen consolidator airfares. Due to the sheer volume consolidators can offer to an airline these fares could still be a bargain even after several mark-ups.

Ethnic Consolidators or Destination Specialists

These are probably one of the least known (by the general public that is) sources for inexpensive airline tickets. They are also some of the hardest to find. The US is a nation of immigrants and ethnic consolidators have traditionally serviced their ex-patriot or immigrant community. They were and still are the cheap sources for airfare back to the home country. Unlike global consolidators that can turn over $250 Million+ in sales a year these ethnic outlets may only turn over $2-5 Million a year but most of that can go to 1 or 2 carriers. They are highly specialized and have long-standing relationships to their preferred carriers. These long-term, reliable relationships are the reason why some ethnic mom and pop operations are able to secure airfare rates that are 20-30% lower than any of the online mega agencies. Destination specialists are similar to ethnic consolidators in terms of size and style. They have become true experts in a country or region and have built relationships. The difference is that often they are targeting the foreign independent traveler (FIT). Like I mentioned, the airfare bargains some of these outlets can offer are often hard to beat but the challenge is finding them. Google and Yahoo and any of the other search engines often do not find them.

Student Travel Consolidators

As the name suggests these are agencies that target students (and in some cases faculty). Just like a global consolidator, they approach the airlines and negotiate special discounts or private fares. The difference is that according to the agreement with the airlines they are only allowed to sell to bona fide students (and faculty) only. Frequently, the students have to be enrolled in an accredited college or university and high school students are not eligible. The same is true for faculty. Some agencies are better than others in ensuring that the person buying the ticket actually is a student.

Tour Operators

Tour Operators are entities that sell vacation packages such as all-inclusive, etc. They negotiate deals with airlines, hotels, ground operators and so forth, package them together, mark them up and then sell them as one product to the public. On occasion they will sell just the airfare (at rock bottom prices) in order to fill empty seats on the plane. Since they have a fixed price that they have to pay the aircraft operator, any empty seat is a missed opportunity. The best chance to get one of these cheap seats is usually to the Caribbean or Mexico.

Sources for international airfare bargains are plentiful. Finding the right one at the right time may make all the difference in whether you get a good fare or a great deal. While getting a domestic airfare deal is often the result of (lucky) timing getting a great international deal is frequently the result of knowing where to look.