Austrian Airlines’ Cancun Charter Flight Operation

Although passengers are aware that airlines fly to the destinations they need to travel to, whether it be for business, pleasure, or relational reasons, they may not know that some are served by cargo-only flights; code-share services, in which another carrier operates the aircraft; or charter arrangements, which enable airlines to extend their reach to cities only supportable by group or travel agency bookings, particularly during seasonal-demand periods.

Acting in the capacities of overseer and trainer, the author experienced one such charter flight operation-that of Austrian Airlines in Cancun, Mexico-at the beginning of its Winter 2006-2007 schedule. Observed was the season’s inaugural flight.

1. Mexican Civil Aviation Regulations

Austrian Airlines was handled by Passenger Handling Services/Maca in Cancun. According to Mexican Civil Aviation Regulations, all ground handling companies were required to adhere to three regulations.

They first needed to submit a letter from the handled carrier, verifying that the ground company in question was properly trained in the areas of Flight Plan Coordination, Weight and Balance, Ramp Procedures, Refueling Procedures, and Passenger Service. The letter also needed to indicate the names of the staff actually trained in these areas.

They secondly needed to possess copies of the applicable, aircraft-specific operations manual(s). In the case of the Cancun flight, it was the one concerning the Boeing 767.

Finally, they needed to file a manual check-in plan, with the necessary seat charts, boarding passes, and other supplies.

2. Ground Operations Training

In order to fulfill the training requirement, the author reviewed the Cancun Station Operation Plan, inclusive of the passenger check-in and Centralized Load Control (CLC) procedures, with the handling company’s Duty Manager shortly after his arrival in Mexico, and held two training classes with its staff the following day.

The first, the 2.5-hour Austrian Airlines Load Sheet Familiarization Training, included an overview of the Centralized Load Control (CLC) procedures, load plans, the creation of an inbound load plan based upon the day’s actual container/pallet distribution message (CPM), and the collective completion of a manual load sheet example, copies of which were placed on file at the Cancun station.

During the second session, held after the flight departed, the author again reviewed the CLC procedures with the three staff members who had been unable to attend the morning class.

3. Passenger Check-In

Passenger check-in and boarding occurred in Terminal 1. A small passenger service office, located behind the Mexicana de Aviacion check-in counters, was located in the Vuelos Nacionales (Domestic Flights) section of Terminal 2, while the Operations office was situated behind the security checkpoint and on the ramp side of Terminal 2. A complimentary, periodically run passenger shuttle connected the two buildings from designated terminal frontage departure points. Terminal 3, intended for international flights, was scheduled for March 2007 completion at that time.

The Passenger Handling Services/Maca Duty Manager of Austrian Airlines’ Cancun flight operations, a licensed Aircraft Dispatcher, had amassed 15 years in the airline/aviation industry and took great pride in adhering to regulations.

Passenger check-in was located in the recently reopened, but downsized, hurricane-damaged Terminal 1, which was then only occupied by charter carriers, such as Miami Air, First Choice, Air Transat, and Corsairfly.

Passenger check-in itself commenced three hours before the scheduled 1640 departure time of the flight at counters that were located only a few yards from the terminal entrance. All passengers, in accordance with Mexican security regulations, were required to have their baggage manually inspected prior to actual check-in.

Five check-in positions were used: one for Amadeus (business) Class and four for the economy cabin. The Passenger Service Supervisor and the business class check-in agent spoke Spanish, English, and German, and seat selection, provided by the MaestroDCS system, along with any authorized upgradings, were coordinated with the Tui tour representative, whose company chartered the flight.

Check-in itself was accomplished with the MaestroDCS system. During the process, a passenger requested a wheelchair and it was immediately furnished.

4. Boeing 767

The Cancun flight was operated by the extended range version of the Boeing 767-300, the second of the two stretched-fuselage, higher capacity variants, whose general design features included the following.

General Description: A widebody, twin-engine, cantilever, low-wing monoplane of semi-monocoque construction intended for commercial passenger and cargo and military applications.

Fuselage: Of aluminum alloy, fail-safe construction.

Wings: Employed advanced aluminum alloy skins and featured 31 degrees of sweepback and six degrees of dihedral.

Tail: Conventional empennage with swept surfaces on both its horizontal and vertical tails.

Landing Gear: Hydraulically-retracted, tricycle undercarriage with a Menasco twin-wheel, which retracted forward, and two, four-wheeled, Cleveland Pneumatic main gear units, which retracted inward. Both were equipped with Honeywell wheels and brakes.

Engines: Two aerodynamic, pod-encased high bypass ratio turbofans pylon-mounted to the wing leading edge undersides.

Design Features: Replacing the 727 with a larger capacity, widebody design, it was nevertheless optimized for 727-type route sectors with one-stop transcontinental range capability. It employed computer-aided design (CAD) during its initial development phase, whose costs were reduced because of parallel 757 development. Although it was not considered a single-aisle aircraft, it introduced a narrower fuselage cross-section than that used by previous widebody types, yielding several advantages, including a reduction in parasite drag; a twin-aisle cabin, in which passengers were never more than one seat from the window or the aisle; gate and ramp compatibility at smaller, 727-like airports; and advanced, light-weight aluminum alloy flight surfaces, specifically the fixed wing leading edge panel, the spoilers, the ailerons, the fixed wing trailing edge panel, the undercarriage doors, the elevators, and the rudder.

Additional benefits were derived from the use of a supercritical wing, such as a high aspect ratio, an aft-loaded section, the development of more lift for less drag than any previous airfoil, 22-percent greater thickness than that employed by previous-decade airliners, a lighter and simpler structure, and more wing-integral fuel tank capacity.

Powered by two high bypass ratio turbofans, it was able to offer higher thrust, lower specific fuel consumption, a reduced noise footprint, lower maintenance costs, and improved reliability.

Like the 757 then concurrently designed, it was operated by a two-person cockpit crew.

By using the previously dry center-section fuel tank, Boeing was able offer an increased-range version that required few other modifications, yet its inherent fuselage stretchability, the greater capabilities of its existing wing and tail, its 757 common pilot type rating, and its extended range twin-engine operation certification enabled carriers to substitute it for DC-10 and L-1011 aircraft.

It offered the optimum range and capacity for Austrian Airlines’ transatlantic charter operations to and from Mexico.

Powered by two 60,900 thrust-pound Pratt and Whitney 4060 high bypass ratio turbofans, the aircraft operating the flight, registered OE-LAX, was first delivered in 1992 and bore serial number 27095. Accommodating 30 Amadeus business class passengers in a six-abreast, two-two-two, configuration and 200 in economy in a seven-abreast arrangement with one additional seat in the middle bank, it featured the following maximum weights: 130,634-kilo zero-fuel, 145,149-kilo landing, 186,880-kilo take off, and 187,333-kilo ramp.

5. Ramp

Operating as Flight OS 9573 from Vienna, Austria, and Varadero, Cuba, the aircraft landed at 1515 and taxied into the non-jetbridge-equipped parking position 1, as scheduled, at 1520. It was chocked and the safety cones were properly positioned. A stair truck was immediately positioned at door L2 and, in accordance with Mexican regulations, marshaled into this position. The passengers disembarked after a short consultation with the Chef de Cabine (chief purser).

According to the inbound container/pallet distribution message (CPM), the following Cancun-destined unit load devices (ULDs) were on board: an empty DPE in position 11L, baggage AKEs in positions 22L, 23L, and 24L, and an empty DQF in position 43. With the exception of the last one, all were located in the forward hold and were single, or half-width, containers. The latter, in the aft hold, was a double, or full-width, one.

6. Departure Gate

All five departure gates were located immediately up the escalator, through the security checkpoint, and a short walk away. Two snack bars and two shops comprised the terminal’s passenger convenience facilities.

Because of the proximity of the aircraft parking positions, buses or mobile lounges were not necessary, and access ramps led from the departures level to the ramp.

Sequential boarding of the departing flight, operating as OS 9574, commenced at 1545, with announcements in both English and German, and entailed pre-boarding passengers, followed by those in Amadeus business and economy class, the latter by row numbers, beginning at the rear of the aircraft.

Boarding control was computerized, with seat numbers entered into the system. After the last passenger passed through the gate at 1612, the general declaration and all required lists were brought to the cabin crew. Since the Varadero station had changed some seats, the seat occupied message (or SOM) of through-passengers to Vienna was not entirely accurate and resulted in several discrepancies, but these were quickly rectified by local ground staff.

7. Centralized Load Control

In accordance with the Centralized Load Control procedure for charter flight operations, the cockpit crew sent the final fuel figures to Vienna by means of the aircraft communication and reporting system (ACARs), while the local operations staff filled out and faxed a preprinted sheet with passenger totals subdivided by class and zone, along with the number of bags and their weights, all of which was furnished by the MaestroDCS check-in system and telexed to the Terminal 2 operations office. Back-up sheets were available in the event of last minute changes (LMCs) or an ACARs failure.

Although initial difficulty with the fax machine delayed the sending of the information to Vienna on the day of my visit, missing Atlantic tracks in the meteorology folder caused a short, 15-minute departure delay.

8. Conclusions

All the members of the Cancun ground operations staff were professional, dedicated, and motivated, and obviously possessed considerable knowledge and experience. Because the handling company’s operations office had to be relocated from Terminal 1 to its then-current Terminal 2 facility due to hurricane damage, the logistical challenge could only be met with ramp vehicle conveyance, but the operation was otherwise well orchestrated. The Maca duty manager was an excellent asset to the station and his team, and the use of the German language at the check-in counter was a plus to Austrian Airlines’ passengers.

Its Cancun charter flight operation that day could not have been more seamlessly executed.

Why Has Emirates Been Awarded the "Best Airline" Title in the Skytrax 2016 Awards List?

Emirates has been named the best airline in the world by Skytrax, the leading consumer aviation website for the year 2016. The Dubai-based airline was given the award at the recently concluded Farnborough Air Show. Emirates has garnered the honor for the fourth time in the last 15 years. The airline had started the winning strategy in 2013. This year the airline dismounts Qatar Airways to get the honor.

What Makes Emirates Special?

When it comes to the Middle East, everything is extraordinary and spells class and luxury, the same goes for Emirates Airlines. From the designer uniforms of the crew and support staff to the onboard food and beverages, Emirates stands apart in all criteria when compared to other airlines.

The amenities that make Emirates special are:

Private Suites – Emirates flights have the hotel like rooms with private space for passengers comfort, convenience, and relaxation.

Shower Spas – Doesn’t matter if you are a business or leisure traveller, the shower spas will allow you to get down fresh and prepared at your destination.

Exclusive Onboard Lounges – If you ever have visited any Emirates airport lounge, you will know why it has been declared the best. The lounges have spas, food buffets, relaxing beds and sofas, and so much more to keep you engaged till you board your Emirates flight.

In-flight Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi is a must for any modern airline and how can Emirates stay behind. This is one of the first airlines which started offering Wi-Fi on all its short, medium, and long haul flights.

In-flight Entertainment – ICE is the in-flight entertainment system for Emirates. Passengers would fall in love with the wide choice of entertainment options. There are over 2,500 channels of movies, TV shows, music programs and online games to choose from in multiple languages. The ice digital screen is wide with subtitles option too. Passengers are allowed to create their own personal playlist for the entire journey.

World Class cuisine – A selection of food from across the world which would define your dining on the flight – yes that is what would describe aptly what Emirates food & beverages section has to offer. From caviar to salmon to exquisite wine, everything can be found onboard an Emirates flight.

These are only the onboard services, but Emirates services are not restricted to this only. The airline takes care of its passengers on the ground too. It offers airport shuttles, car rentals even limos too on request for smooth transport to airport.

Middle East airlines have set the standards for airlines worldwide and its time for other to step up and join the competition. This competitiveness would only make flying fun for travellers like us.

Airline Flight Tracking

Flight tracking is an easy way to track the position of flights. This is done by tracing the actual path of an aircraft.

Flight Tracker is a software tool that provides the immediate status of an airline flight. Flight tracking can be easily networked to remote PCs, so if preferable, one can separate dispatching and briefing areas. Airline flight tracking has helped increase scheduling and operational forecast efficiency for organizations of all sizes like airlines and logistics companies. This has not only increased planning efficiency but one can also look forward to enhanced customer service with faster turn around times.

Air traffic controllers use flight-tracking strips to observe or track flights. A flight tracking strip is a computer printout of an aircraft’s shortened flight plan that is used by air traffic controllers to monitor an aircraft’s flight. It identifies the actual flight path that aircraft operators use when flying, this information database system also identifies all other flights originating at nearby airports. The flight tracks are generated from the Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic Control System’s radar data, which provides the aircraft’s “footprints” in the sky.

Airline flight tracking has been made simple and is reasonably priced, for people, whether professionals or home users, with a keen interest in aircraft. They can use this system by just installing this software in their PCs. Airplane enthusiasts can get information on any airport and track flights throughout the country with only a simple internet connection. It’s easy to track flights by just entering their tracking number.

Track telling is the process of communicating air observations and strategic data information between command and control systems or between services within the systems.

Aircraft Hydraulic Accumulators

Aerospace hydraulic accumulators.

Aircraft hydraulic accumulators are components in hydraulic systems that allow a noncompressible fluid, such as oil, to be stored under pressure. An accumulator has two compartments separated by a flexible or movable partition such as a diaphragm, bladder, or piston. One compartment contains compressed air or nitrogen, and the other is connected into the source of hydraulic pressure.

Aircraft strut servicing equipment.

When oil is pumped into the accumulator, portable charging units or PCUs are used. The partition moves over and increases the pressure of the air. This air pushing against the partition holds pressure on the oil. Hydraulic accumulators in an aircraft hydraulic system act as shock absorbers and provide a source of additional hydraulic power when heavy demands are placed on the system. The maintenance equipment is known generally as aircraft strut servicing equipment.

Accumulator air preload refers to the charge of compressed air or nitrogen in one side of an accumulator. The air preload is normally about one third of the system hydraulic pressure and there is good market for low pressure strut charging kits. When fluid is pumped into the oil side of the accumulator, the air is further compressed, and the air pressure and the fluid pressure become the same. If the air preload pressure is too low, there will be almost no time between the regulator reaching its kick-in and kick-out pressures, and the system will cycle far more frequently than it should. If there is no air pressure gauge on the accumulator, the amount of air preload may be found by watching the hydraulic system pressure gauge as the pressure is slowly bled off the system. The pressure will drop slowly, until a point is reached at which it drops suddenly. This point is the air preload pressure.

Strut/accumulator inflate/deflate tools will now allow aircraft service personnel to achieve accurate setting of aircraft strut pressures. Accurate settings will ensure smoother take-off and landings are achieved and will minimise both aircraft and tyre damage.

Hydraulic equipment repair and pnematic equipment repair.

Hydraulic systems need to generally to be maintained, serviced, and adjusted in accordance with:manufacturers’ maintenance manuals and permanent component maintenance manuals. Hydraulic lines and fittings should be carefully inspected at regular intervals to insure airworthiness. Any evidence of fluid loss or leaks, loose anchorages, scratches, kinks, or other damage should be scrupulously managed, replaced or repaired. The role of the military or civil ground support equipment custom designer should not be underestimated.

The Boeing 747: The End of an Era

The Boeing 747, often referred to as the “Jumbo Jet,” was a remarkable commercial jetliner for its time. The world’s first ever wide-body airplane produced, the so called “Queen of the Skies,” boasted an upper deck, and a passenger capacity that remained unrivalled for decades.

The 747-100 first entered service in 1970 with, the now defunct, PanAm. The -200 model followed in 1971, featuring more powerful engines and a higher MTOW (Max Take-Off Weight). Boeing followed this up with the shortened 747SP (Special Performance), which featured a longer range, and entered service in 1976.

Boeing then launched the -300 model in 1980, which resulted from studies to increase the capacity of the 747. The -300 featured fuselage plugs and a stretched upper deck. This variant, along with the -100, -200, and SP, were collectively referred to as the 747 “Classics.” It was now time for a more significant upgrade.

The most common version, the 747-400, entered service in 1989. This variant featured, along with the stretched upper deck of the -300, more fuel-efficient engines, and was the first to feature a 2-crew glass cockpit, eliminating the requirement for a flight engineer, and is also the most common variant in service. The -400 has a longer wingspan than the classics and was fitted with winglets, which reduced drag, and is the most common aesthetic feature used to distinguish the variant from the -300.

The 747-400 dominated the long-haul market for years to come. It was operated by almost every major airline in the world, dominating every major international airport. It wasn’t until the late 2000’s that the -400 had to face competition, after the larger Airbus A380 entered service. Boeing eventually responded by launching a new larger, more fuel-efficient variant.

The third generation 747-8 was launched in 2009, with Lufthansa, and entered service in 2012. This variant boasted a composite fuselage, as featured on the 787, and more fuel-efficient engines. It also featured an increase in capacity, thanks to the stretched fuselage and upper deck. Sadly, it failed to capture the market and was unable to match, let alone surpass, the success of the -400.

The four-engine 747’s time is coming to an end, with an increasing number of airlines retiring the type in favour of more efficient twin engine aircraft. The latest passenger variant, -8, failed to attract as many sales as Boeing had hoped, having earned less than 50 orders from mainly 3 airlines, as the quad can no longer compete with the likes of the 777, 787, and Airbus A350.

Despite this the 747 enjoys a great reputation as one of the most successful airliners in history. As we see an increasing number of smaller, twin engine aircraft in its place, the industry will always remember the beauty and grace with which the Boeing 747 adorned our skies.

The History of Long Island MacArthur Airport

Introduction

Long Island MacArthur Airport, located on 1,310 acres in Suffolk County, is the region’s only commercial service facility which has, for most of its existence, struggled with identity and purpose.

Its second–and oval-shaped–50,000 square-foot passenger terminal, opened in 1966 and sporting two opposing, ramp-accessing gates, had exuded a small, hometown atmosphere-so much so, in fact, that scenes from the original Out-of-Towners movie had been filmed in it.

Its subsequent expansion, resulting in a one thousand percent increase in passenger terminal area and some two million annual passengers, had been sporadic and cyclic, characterized by new airline establishment which had always sparked a sequence of passenger attraction, new nonstop route implementation, and additional carriers, before declining conditions had initiated a reverse trend. During cycle peaks, check-in, gate, and ramp space had been at a premium, while during troughs, a pin drop could be heard on the terminal floor.

Its Catch-22 struggle had always entailed the circular argument of carriers reluctant to provide service to the airport because of a lack of passengers and passengers reluctant to use the airport because of a lack of service.

This, in essence, is the force which shaped its seven-decade history. And this, in essence, is Long Island MacArthur Airport’s story.

1. Origins

The 1938 Civil Aeronautics Act, under Section 303, authorized federal fund expenditure for landing areas provided the administrator could certify “that such landing areas were reasonably necessary for use in air commerce or in the interests of national defense.”

At the outbreak of World War II, Congress appropriated $40 million for the Development of Landing Areas for National Defense or “DLAND,” of which the Development Civil Landing Areas (DCLA) had been an extension. Because civil aviation had been initially perceived as an “appendage” of military aviation, it had been considered a “segment” of the national defense system, thus garnering direct federal government civil airport support. Local governments provided land and subsequently maintained and operated the airports. Construction of 200 such airfields began in 1941.

A Long Island regional airport, located in Islip, had been one of them. On September 16 of that year, the Town of Islip–the intended owner and operator of the initially named Islip Airport–sponsored the project under an official resolution designated Public Law 78-216, providing the land, while the federal government agreed to plan and build the actual airport. The one-year, $1.5 million construction project, initiated in 1942, resulted in an airfield with three 5,000-foot runways and three ancillary taxiways. Although it had fulfilled its original military purpose, it had always been intended for public utilization.

Despite increased instrument-based flight training after installation of instrument landing system (ILS) equipment in 1947, the regional facility failed to fulfill projected expectations of becoming New York’s major airport after the recent construction of Idlewild. Losing Lockheed as a major tenant in 1950, the since-renamed MacArthur Airport, in honor of General Douglas MacArthur, would embark on a long development path before that would occur.

2. Initial Service

A 5,000-square-foot passenger terminal and restaurant, funded by the federal government, had been constructed in 1949. Infrastructurally equipped, the airport, surrounded by local community growth, sought its first public air service by petitioning the Civil Aeronautics Board. Islip had attempted to attract scheduled airline service as far back as 1956, and this ultimately took the form of Gateway Airlines three years later when it had commenced operations, on an air taxi level, with a fleet of 11-passenger de Havilland Doves and 15-passenger de Havilland Herons to Boston, Newark, and Washington. Inadequate financing, however, had led to its premature termination only eight months later.

The airport, which only had 20 based aircraft at this time, annually fielded some 30,000 movements. Allegheny Airlines subsequently received full scheduled passenger service route authority from the CAB in 1960 and inaugurated four daily Convair- and Martinliner round-trips to Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington in September, carrying more than 19,000 passengers in 1961, its first full year of operations.

Two years later, the FAA opened a New York Air Route Traffic Control Center and a seven-floor control tower, and in 1966, a $1.3 million, 50,000 square-foot oval terminal replaced the original rectangular facility.

Mohawk, granted the second CAB route authority that year, inaugurated Fairchild FH-227 service to Albany, and the two scheduled airlines carried some 110,000 passengers from the since renamed Islip MacArthur Airport by 1969. The 210 based aircraft recorded 240,000 yearly movements.

The runways and taxiways were progressively expanded, partly in response to Eastern and Pan Am’s designation of the airport as an “alternate” on their flight plans.

3. First Major Carrier Service

Long envisioned as a reliever airport to JFK and La Guardia, which would provide limited, but important nonstop service to key US cities and hubs, such as Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and the major Florida destinations, the Long Island airport urgently needed additional, major-airline service, but this goal remained elusive.

The cycle, however, had been broken on April 26, 1971, when American Airlines had inaugurated 727-100 “Astrojet” service to Chicago-O’Hare, Islip’s first pure-jet and first “trunk” carrier operation, permitting same-day, round-trip business travel and eliminating the otherwise required La Guardia commute. Because of American’s major-carrier prestige, it had attracted both attention and passengers, indicating that Islip had attained “large airport” status, and the Chicago route, now the longest nonstop one from the air field, had provided a vital lifeline to a primary, Midwestern city and to American’s route system, offering numerous flight connections.

The route had been quickly followed in the summer with the inauguration of Allegheny DC-9-30 service to Providence and Washington, while Altair had launched Beech B99 and Nord N.262 turboprop flights to Bridgeport and Philadelphia two years later.

American, Allegheny (which had intermittently merged with Mohawk in 1972), and Altair provided the established Long Island air connection during the 1970s.

In order to reflect its regional location, the facility had, for the fourth time, been renamed, adopting the title of Long Island MacArthur Airport in 1978.

During most of the 1970s, it handled an average of 225,000 annual passengers. Allegheny, the premier operator, had offered nine daily pure-jet BAC-111 and DC-9-30 departures during 1978.

By March of 1982, USAir, the rebranded Allegheny Airlines, had been its only remaining pure-jet carrier with daily DC-9-30 service to Albany and BAC-111-200 service to Washington-National–perhaps emphasizing its ability to profitably operate from small-community airfields with its properly-sized twin-jet equipment.

The early 1980s were characterized by commuter-regional carrier dominance, with operations provided by Pilgrim, New Haven Airlines, Altair, Air North, Mall Airways, and Ransome. The latter, first flying as part of the Allegheny Commuter consortium, later operated independently under its own name in affiliation with Delta Air Lines, offering some 17 daily M-298 and DHC-7 departures to seven regional cities.

Aside from Ransome, it had often appeared as if the airport’s regional airline floodgates had been gappingly opened: Suburban/Allegheny Commuter, Southern Jersey/Allegheny Commuter, Empire, and Henson-The Piedmont Regional Airline had all descended on its runways. Precision, which had inaugurated multiple-daily Dornier Do-228-200 services to both Boston and Philadelphia, operated independently, as Precision-Eastern Express, and as Precision-Northwest Airlink, and had been the only airline to simultaneously offer scheduled service from neighboring Republic Airport in Farmingdale, primarily a general aviation field.

4. Northeastern International Airlines

Market studies had long indicated the need for nonstop Long Island-Florida service because of its concentration of tourist attractions and to facilitate visits between Long Island children and Florida-relocated retiree parents. Deregulation, the very force behind multiple-airline creation, divergent service and fare concepts, and the relative ease of new market entry, had spawned Northeastern International, which was founded to provide high-density, low-fare, limited-amenity service, and fulfilled the idealized nonstop, Long Island-Florida connection when it had inaugurated operations on February 11, 1982 with a former Evergreen International DC-8-50, initially offering four weekly round-trips to Fort Lauderdale and one to Orlando. After a second aircraft had been acquired, it had been able to record a 150,000-passenger total during its first year of service, with 32,075 having been boarded in December alone.

Although its corporate headquarters had been located in Fort Lauderdale, its operational base had been established at Long Island MacArthur and it ultimately served Fort Lauderdale, Hartford, Miami, Orlando, and St. Petersburgh with the two DC-8s and two former Pan Am 727-100s with seven daily departures. Incorporating both the charter carrier strategy of operating high-density, single-class, low-fare service, and the major airline strategy of flying large-capacity aircraft, it actually served a very competitive route-that of New York-to-Florida-without incurring any competition at all by operating directly from Islip.

By 1984, with Northeastern having served as a catalyst to carrier and route inaugurations, eleven airlines had served the airport, inclusive of Allegheny Commuter, American, Eastern, Empire, Henson, NewAir, Northeastern, Pilgrim, Ransome, United, and USAir, relieving JFK and La Guardia of air traffic, directly serving the Long Island market, and fulfilling the airport’s originally envisioned role of becoming New York’s secondary commercial facility. Simultaneously providing nonstop service to Chicago-O’Hare from Islip, American and United both competed for the same passenger base.

By 1986, Long Island MacArthur had, for the first time in its 36-year scheduled history, handled one million passengers in a single year, a level since equaled or exceeded.

To cater to the explosive demand and ease its now-overstrained passenger facilities, the Town of Islip embarked on a progressive terminal facility improvement program which had initially encompassed the addition of two commuter aircraft gates, the enclosure of the former curbside front awning, and two glass-enclosed wings-the west for the now-covered baggage carousel and the east for the three relocated rental-car counters and the Austin Travel agency. The internal roadway had been realigned and additional parking spaces had been created.

A more ambitious terminal expansion program, occurring in 1990 and costing $3.2 million, resulted in two jetbridge-lined concourses which extended from the rear portion of the oval terminal, adding 22,700 square feet of space. Runway 6-24’s 1,000-foot extension, to 7,000 feet, had ultimately been completed three years later after a decade of primarily local resident resistance due to believed noise increases.

By the end of 1990, the transformation of Long Island MacArthur Airport from a small, hometown airfield served by a couple of operators to a major facility served by most of the major carriers had been complete.

Several conclusions could already be drawn from the airport’s hitherto 30-year scheduled history.

1. Allegheny-USAir, along with its regional subsidiaries Allegheny Commuter and USAir Express, had provided the initial spark which had led to the present growth explosion and had been the only consistent, anchor carrier during its three-decade, scheduled service history, between 1960 and 1990. During this time it had absorbed other Islip operators, inclusive of the original Mohawk and Piedmont, the latter of which had intermittently absorbed Empire and Henson, and had shed still others, such as Ransome Airlines, which, as an independent carrier, had almost established a regional, turboprop hub at MacArthur.

2. Three carriers had been tantamount to its three-decade evolution: (1). Allegheny-USAir, which had reserved the distinction of being Long Island MacArthur’s first, largest, and, for a period, only pure-jet operator; American, which had changed its image by associating it with large, trunk-carrier prestige; and Northeastern, whose bold, innovative service inauguration and low fares had been directly responsible for the latest, unceasing growth cycle.

3. Many airlines, unaware of the facility’s traffic potential, never permanently abandoned the air field, including American and Eastern, which had both suspended operations, but subsequently returned; Northeastern, which had returned after two bankruptcies; United, which had discontinued its own service, yet maintained a presence through two separate regional airline affiliations-Presidential-United Express and Atlantic Coast-United Express-thus continuing to link its Washington-Dulles hub; Continental, which had returned through its own commuter agreement; and Pilgrim, which, despite service discontinuation, had maintained an autonomous check-in counter where it had handled other carriers until it itself had reinstated service.

4. Of the approximately 30 airlines which had served Long Island MacArthur, many had indirectly retained a presence either through name-change, other-carrier absorption, or regional-airline two-letter code-share agreements.

5. The Northeastern-forged air link between Long Island and Florida had, despite its own final bankruptcy, never been lost, with other carriers always filling the void, including Eastern, Carnival, Braniff, Delta Express, and Spirit Airlines.

Because of its market fragility, however, the Long Island regional airport was far more vulnerable to economic cycles than the primary New York airports had been, recessed conditions often resulting in the exodus of carriers in search of more profitable routes. In 1994, for example, three airlines discontinued service and one ceased operating altogether.

A $13.2 million expansion program of the 32-year old, multiply-renovated oval terminal, funded by passenger facility charge (PFC)-generated revenue, had been initiated in the spring of 1998 and completed in August of the following year, resulting in a 62,000-square-foot area increase. The enlarged, reconfigured structure included the addition of two wings–the west with four baggage carousels, three rental car counters, and several airline baggage service offices, and the east with 48 (as opposed to the previous 20) passenger check-in positions. The original, oval-shaped structure now housed an enlarged newsstand and gift shop and the relocated central security checkpoint, but retained the departures level snack bar, the upper level Skyway CafĂ© and cocktail lounge, and the twin, jetbridge-provisioned concourses added during the 1990 expansion phase, while the aircraft parking ramp had been progressively increased until the last blade of grass had been transformed into concrete. A realigned entrance road, an extension of the existing short-term parking lot, 1,000 additional parking spaces, and a quasi-parking lot system subdivided into employee, resident, hourly, daily, and economy (long-term) sections had completed the renovation. Shuttle bus service between the parking lot and the terminal was provided for the first time.

5. Southwest Airlines

An effort to attract Southwest Airlines had begun in late-1996 when the rapidly-expanding, highly profitable, low-fare carrier had contemplated service to a third northeast city after Manchester and Providence, inclusive of Newburgh’s Stewart International and White Plains’ Westchester County in New York; Hartford and New Haven in Connecticut; and Teterboro and Trenton’s Mercer County in New Jersey. All had been smaller, secondary airports characteristic of its route system. It had even briefly explored service to Farmingdale’s Republic Airport on Long Island and Teterboro in New Jersey, both of which had been noncommercial, general aviation fields with business jet concentrations. Three had offered terminal improvements in exchange for the service. But Long Island MacArthur was ultimately selected because of the 1.6 million residents living within a 20-mile radius of the airport, local business health, and, according to Southwest Chief Executive Officer, Herb Kelleher, “underserved, overpriced air service” which was “ripe for competition.”

Following initial Southwest interest in 1997, then-Town of Islip Supervisor Peter McGowan and other officials flew to Dallas, where Herb Kelleher stated the need for the previously described terminal and parking facility expansions before operations could begin. The meeting had ended with nothing more than a symbolic handshake.

The nearly two-year effort to entice the airline had culminated in the December 1998 announcement of Southwest’s intended March 14, 1999 service launch with 12 daily 737 departures, including eight to Baltimore, two to Chicago-Midway, one to Nashville, and one to Tampa, all of which would provide through- or connecting-service to 29 other Southwest-served cities. Although the low-fare flights had been expected to attract some passengers who may otherwise have flown from JFK or La Guardia Airports, they had been primarily targeted at the Long Island market and, as a byproduct, had been expected to attract an increased airport traffic base, additional carriers, and generate an estimated $500,000 per year for the Town of Islip. Two Southwest-dedicated gates could accommodate up to 20 daily departures-or eight more than the inaugural flight schedule included-before additional facilities would have to be obtained. The Islip station, staffed by 44, represented its 53rd destination in 27 states.

Southwest had provided the fourth spark in Long Island MacArthur Airport’s airline- and passenger-attraction cycle, traced as follows:

1. The original air taxi Gateway Airlines service of 1959 and the initial scheduled Allegheny Airlines service of 1960.

2. The first trunk-carrier, pure-jet American Airlines flights of 1971.

3. The first low-fare, nonstop Northeastern International Florida service of 1982.

4. The first low-fare, high frequency, major-carrier Southwest service of 1999.

American, the last of the original, major carriers to vacate the airport, left it with three predominant types of airlines as the millennium had approached:

1. The turboprop commuter airline serving the nonhub destinations, such as Albany, Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, and Newburgh.

2. The regional jet operator feeding its major-carrier affiliate at one of its hubs, such as ASA feeding Delta in Atlanta, Comair connecting with Delta in Cincinnati, and Continental Express integrating its flight schedule with Continental in Cleveland.

3. The low-fare, high-density, no-frills carrier operating the leisure-oriented sectors to Florida. As of December 1, 1999, three airlines, inclusive of Delta Express, Southwest, and Spirit, had operated 15 daily departures to five Florida destinations.

Long Island MacArthur’s expansion and passenger facility improvements, Southwest’s service inauguration, and the attraction of other carriers had collectively resulted in a 113% increase in passenger boardings in 1999 compared to the year-earlier period. The figure, which had been only shy of the two million mark, had been the highest in the Long Island airport’s four-decade commercial history. Southwest had carried 34% of this total.

Eleven airlines had provided service during this time: ASA Atlantic Southeast, American, Business Express, Comair, CommutAir/US Airways Express, Continental Express, Delta Express, Piedmont/US Airways Express, Shuttle America, Spirit, and Southwest itself.

Less than two weeks after Southwest had secured a third gate and increased its daily departures to 22, it announced, in a unprecedented move, its intention to self-finance 90-percent of a $42 million expansion of the East Concourse in order to construct four additional, dedicated gates and overnight parking positions by the end of 2001, thus increasing the airport’s current 19-gate total to 23.

The concourse extension, intended to provide it with both increased employee and passenger room, would free up its existing three gates for other-carrier utilization while its new four-gate facility would permit a service increase to some 30 daily flights based upon future passenger demand, aircraft availability, and Town of Islip-approved departure increases.

The expansion would mark the seventh such development of the original terminal, as follows:

1. The original oval terminal construction.

2. The partially enclosed arrivals baggage belt installation.

3. The construction of two commuter gates.

4. The enclosure of the front awning, which entailed the relocation of the rental car companies and the Austin Travel agency, and the installation of an enlarged, fully enclosed baggage belt.

5. The construction of the jetbridge-equipped east and west concourses.

6. The construction of the West Arrivals Wing and the East Departures Wing, the gift shop expansion, and the central security checkpoint relocation.

7. The Southwest-financed, quad-gate addition, increasing the number of departure gates from 19 to 23.

Victim, like all airports, to post-September 11 traffic declines, Long Island MacArthur Airport lost eight daily departures operated by American Eagle, Delta Express, and US Airways Express, although the airport’s October 2001 passenger figures had only been six percent below those of the year-earlier period. No nonstop destinations had, however, been severed. With Delta Express’s daily 737-200 Florida flight frequency having been progressively reduced from an all-time high of seven to just one–to Fort Lauderdale–its operations could be divided into three categories:

1. Turboprop regional

2. Pure-jet regional

3. Southwest

Nevertheless, in the four years since Southwest had inaugurated service, the airport had handled 8,220,790 passengers, or an annual average of two million. Without Southwest, it would, at best, have handled only half that amount.

On April 30, 2003, for the second time in a five-year period, Long Island MacArthur Airport broke ground on new terminal facilities. Designed by the Baldassano Architectural Group, the Long Island architectural firm which had completed the $13.2 million airport expansion and modernization program in 1999, the new, 154,000-square-foot, four-gate addition was constructed on the north side of the existing east concourse which had housed Southwest’s operations. Citing increased space and potential growth as reasons for the new facility, Southwest claimed that the existing three gates, which had fielded a combined 24 daily departures, had reached their saturation point and that additional “breathing room” for both passengers and employees had been needed, particularly during flight delays. The net gain of an additional gate, which would be coupled with larger lounges, would eventually facilitate eight additional flights to new or existing US destinations, based upon market demand.

The project, initially pegged at $42 million, but later increased to $62 million, was financed by Southwest, which sought government reimbursement with the Town of Islip for up to $18 million for the non-airline specific construction aspects, such as airfield drainage, which was considered a common-use utility.

The 114,254-square-foot, Southwest-funded and -named Peter J. McGowan Concourse officially opened at the end of November 2004. Accessed by a new awning-protected entrance from the airport’s terminal-fronted curbside, the new wing, connected to the existing passenger check-in area, curved to the left past the flight arrival and departure television monitors to the new, large security checkpoint from where passengers ascended, via two escalators, to the upper level departures area.

Concurrent with the opening had been the announcement that Southwest would now proceed with Phase II of its expansion by building a second, $20 million addition which would connect the new concourse with the old, altogether replacing the east concourse which had served it since it had inaugurated service in 1999. The project incorporated four more gates, for a total of eight, enabling up to 80 daily departures to be offered.

6. New Leadership, Service Reductions, and Infrastructure Improvements

The end of the 2000-decade, characterized by new leadership, airline service reductions, and infrastructure investments, once again signaled a reversal in Long Island MacArthur Airport’s growth cycle.

Al Werner, Airport Commission for 53 years, retired on November 16, 2007, passing the torch to Teresa Rizzuto. Accepted after a three-month, nationwide search conducted by Islip Supervisor Phil Nolan, she brought considerable airline industry experience with her and was appointed to the position on February 5, 2008 after an Islip Town Board vote, now entrusted with heralding the regional facility into the next decade whose multi-faceted agenda necessarily included the following goals:

1. Devise a marketing plan to increase airport recognition, thereby attracting a larger passenger base.

2. Establish new, nonstop routes of existing carriers and attract new airlines able to compete with existing, lost-cost Southwest, to provide the required core service for this enlarged passenger base, yet avoid alienating local residents because of excessive noise.

3. Invest in infrastructure modernization and development, particularly on the airport’s general aviation west side.

4. Increase revenues for the Town of Islip, the airport’s owner and operator.

Long Island MacArthur’s very existence relied upon its ability to serve its customers’ needs, and both destination and airline reductions during the latter part of the decade, coupled with flickering, but quickly extinguished glimmers of new-carrier hope, only obviated its purpose.

Exploratory talks in 2007, with Southwest-modeled, Ireland based-Ryanair, for instance, would have resulted in both the airport’s first international and first transatlantic service, hitherto precluded by the absence of customs and immigration facilities, few connecting possibilities, and inadequate runway length on which heavy, fuel-laden widebody aircraft could take off for intercontinental sectors. But higher thrust engines facilitating shorter-field performance had remedied the latter problem, and pre-departure US clearance would have been performed in Ireland. Because Southwest and Ryanair maintained the same business models of operating single-type, 737 fleets from underserved, overpriced, secondary airports whose lower operating costs could be channeled into lower fares, domestic-international traffic feed between the two had been feasible. Despite existing Islip service provided by Delta and US Airways Express, Southwest still carried 92 percent of its passengers. However, the proposed strategy had yet to produce any concrete results.

Indeed, by the end of the year, the number of potential Southwest connecting flights only declined when decreased demand had necessitated the cancellation of six daily departures, including two to Baltimore, three to Chicago, and one to Las Vegas.

Potential service loss counterbalancing occurred on May 1 of the following year, however, when Spirit Airlines, after an eight-year interval, reinaugurated twice daily, round-trip, A-319 service to Ft. Lauderdale, with $7.00 introductory fares, facilitating 23 Caribbean and Latin American connections through its south Florida hub.

The A-319, the airport’s first, regularly scheduled airbus operation, touched down at 0954 on Runway 6 on its inaugural flight, taxiing through a dual fire truck-created water arch, before redeparting at 1030 as Flight 833 with a high load factor. The second flight departed in the evening.

The departures were two of Spirit’s more than 200 systemwide flights to 43 destinations, but the weak flicker of light they had provided had been almost as quickly doused when, three months later, on July 31, rising fuel prices and declining economic conditions had necessitated their discontinuation, leaving only a promise of return when improved conditions merited their reinstatement.

Further tipping the scales to the service loss side had been Delta Air Line’s decision to discontinue its only remaining, single daily regional jet service operated by its Comair counterpart to Atlanta, severing feed to the world’s largest airport in terms of enplanements and to Delta’s largest connecting hub, and ending the Long Island presence established as far back as 1984. Delta had cited the reason for the discontinuation, along with that in other markets, as an attempt to “optimize…financial performance.”

The second carrier loss, leaving only Southwest and US Airways Express, had resulted in a 10.2-percent passenger decline in 2008 compared to the year-earlier period.

Another attempted, but mostly unsuccessful airline service had occurred in June of 2009 with the appearance of PublicCharters.com, which had intended to link Islip with Groton, Connecticut, and Nantucket, Massachusetts, during the summer.

In order to remedy Long Island MacArthur Airport’s identity recognition deficiency, a study completed by a Phil Nolan-assembled task force strongly concluded that the search for and attraction of new airline service “should be a major focus of management,” a function up until now mostly ignored. The airport’s lack of recognition, coupled with JFK’s and La Guardia’s close proximity to Manhattan and their dizzying array of nonstop services, further urged the need for the study.

A $150,000 federal grant, aimed at answering the elusive question of why Long Islanders still chose to use New York airports when Islip itself offered a nonstop flight, attempted to determine local resident travel patterns and then attract carrier-providing service.

A partial remedy had been the implementation of a $300,000 market campaign, in conjunction with the Long Island Railroad and Southwest Airlines, to increase airport awareness by the eastern Nassau and Suffolk County population, featuring the slogan, “We make flying a breeze.”

Significant attention to airport infrastructure improvement and a related masterplan had also been given.

Long-awaited ramp repairs, for instance, had been made. One year after the $12.4 million apron covering gates five through eight had been laid in 2004, cracks, in which engine-digestible debris could potentially collect, appeared, and were traceable to an inadequate, six-inch-thick subbase which failed to rise above the ground level, and was therefore susceptible to frost. Water, seeping into the subbase, was subjected to freezing-thawing cycles which expanded the concrete, loosened its gravel, and propagated the cracks.

In order to replace the decaying, 105-foot control tower constructed in 1962, the FAA awarded J. Kokolakis Constructing, Inc., of Rocky Point, a $16.4 million contract to build a new, 157-foot, cylindrical tower next to it in January of 2008, a project completed in November of the following year, at which time internal equipment, costing another $8.8 million, was installed.

Instrumental in the airport’s modernization had been the redevelopment of its 45-acre west side, which currently houses charter companies, flying schools, and airport maintenance in mostly dilapidated hangars and buildings, but could potentially be replaced with new energy efficient and conservation compliant structures optimally used by educational institutions offering air traffic control curriculums.

During the latter portion of the decade, Long Island MacArthur Airport once again rode the descending side of the revenue curve, but remains a vital air link and economic engine to eastern Nassau and Suffolk Counties.

Between 1996 and 2003, it had experienced an average annual economic impact growth rate of 6.85 percent and between 2001 and 2007 more than 900,000 square feet of commercial space was developed along Veterans Highway, its access roadway, as a result of it. According to Hofstra University’s Center for Suburban Studies, its 2003 economic impact was pegged at $202 million and was projected to increase by 68 percent, or to $340 million, by the end of the decade without any further expansion, indicating that, as a revenue generator, that its potential had hardly begun to be tapped. The service reductions, increases in Homeland Security costs, and eroding economy had all reversed that potential, but its infrastructure improvements, more than 500,000-square-foot passenger terminal, four runways, easy access, uncongested environment, two-mile proximity to the Long Island Railroad’s Ronkonkoma station, and four-mile proximity to the Long Island Expressway places it squarely on the threshold of growth in the next decade, when conditions improve. According to newly appointed Airport Commissioner Teresa Rizzuto, “We’re ready” for new carriers at that time.

Private Jet Detailing And Aircraft Cleaning Entrepreneurs Have Good News For 2017

The general aviation sector has been in the doldrums for quite a while. Some blame this on increased FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations, much of which occurred after 9-11 to protect airports from potential terrorists, unfortunately these increased security requirements and increased regulations have stifled the general aviation (GA) sector. The economic crashes of 2000 and 2008 didn’t help, although in 2003 the economy was flying high thanks to Bush Tax Cuts and stimulus, then it hit a wall again and didn’t really do well until the run-up just before the 2008 crash.

The GA sector has only slightly recovered since then but not back to its 2003 highs. When Obama got elected he railed against Corporate Jets and Corporate Fat Cats which hurt jet sales and new aircraft sales. Remember when congress went after the Auto Makers for flying their corporate jets to Washington DC to beg for bailouts? Public sentiment against GA was at an all-time low.

All of this had hurt aircraft cleaners and jet detailers – it made it tough to make money, but it looks like things are changing and the number of GA Aircraft is increasing. This new Trump Administration is pro-Aviation unlike the Obama Administration. Cutting corporate taxes will also help GA and jet sales. It looks like clear skies ahead for those in the General Aviation services business.

There was a great article in AIN – Aircraft International News – December Edition titled; “UBS Bizjet Index Sees Post-election Surge,” by Chad Trautvetter posted on December 12, 2016 which noted the following facts; The new Trump Administration in the U.S. is widely seen as a positive, with 61 percent of those surveyed expecting the outcome of the U.S. presidential election to ultimately be positive for the business jet market, while 11 percent don’t see a positive impact and 28 percent are uncertain.

In fact the article went on to note that there was an increase of between 44-49% increased orders for private jets over last year. Many of those aircraft will be delivered by 2018, and the backlog will increase used aircraft sales and current new inventory. More aircraft certainly means more aircraft to clean and more new aircraft means more corporate detailing customers as well. Meanwhile, along with the fractional jet market, we see jet air-taxi services on the increase as well as Uber style aircraft ride-sharing plans smaller companies can buy into. All of this means the GA sector is ready to take off again and that’s good for business.

The History of American Trans Air

Indianapolis-based American Trans Air, once an emerging carrier, continually searched for an identity.

Established in 1973 as an aircraft provider for the Ambassadair Travel Club, it inaugurated service with a single Boeing 720 dubbed “Miss Indy,” doubling its fleet five years later with a second, “Spirit of Indiana.” But its March 1981 issuance of common-carrier certification enabled it to operate in its own right.

Retaining its Indianapolis roots, it acquired ever larger aircraft, including eight 707s; its first widebody, a former Laker Airways DC-10-10 registered N183AT in 1983; and an ex-Northwest Orient DC-10-40, itself bearing registration N184AT. The quad-engine 707s were eventually replaced by more fuel efficient 727-100 tri-jets.

Annual passenger totals climbed: 96,426 in 1981, 269,086 in 1982, and 618,532 in 1983.

Relying upon Northwest for additional DC-10 acquisitions, but forced to substitute the comparable TriStar when it elected to retain its aircraft, American Trans Air purchased its first in 1985, ultimately operating 15 L-1011-1s, one -100, and four -500s.

It assumed a new operational profile when it inaugurated limited scheduled service on the JFK-Belfast-Riga (Latvia), Indianapolis-Fort Myers, Indianapolis-Las Vegas, and San Francisco-Kahului (Maui)-Honolulu routes, billing itself both as “American’s vacation airline” and “The nation’s largest charter airline.”

“We create the comfort. You create the excitement,” it advertised. “At American Trans Air, we know the only excitement you want on a vacation is the excitement you create. That’s why you can count on American Trans Air’s courteous, professional staff, top flight aircraft, consumer conscious prices, and all the little extras that have become characteristic of our growing company.”

Growing it was. Seeking to avoid scheduled airline competition, it had become the United States’ largest charter operator, attributing up to 90 percent of its revenue to both the civil and military divisions of this sector, with the remainder from scheduled operations, wet leasing, third party pilot training, and contract maintenance.

Operating a 23-strong fleet by 1992-including seven 727-100s, 12 L-1011-1s, and four 757-200s-it was profitable for 18 of its 19-year history, posting a $2 million loss the previous year for the first time because of the recession and the travel trepidation created by the Gulf War. It transported 2.4 million passengers that year.

It was that very Gulf War, however, which served as the cornerstone of its military operations, since its aircraft counted as part of the Civil Air Patrol fleet. Carrying 108,000 troops on 494 missions in support of Operation Desert Storm, it was also instrumental in operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and provided 727-100 shuttle flights between Nellis Air Force Base and the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

Stretched -200s replaced the -100s in 1993.

American Trans Air once again adopted a new image when it devoted a significant portion of its aircraft resources to scheduled operations from a Chicago-Midway hub, in addition to continuing its military and government contract flights.

To facilitate its intended growth and modernize its fleet, it ordered 39 737-800s and 12 757-200s in 2000, taking delivery of the first of the former (N301TZ) in June of the following year and the first of the latter (N550TZ) two months later, introducing a livery change in the process to emphasize its new scheduled-airline, business-oriented route system, now branded “ATA Airlines.”

Equally seeking feed from small and secondary cities with more suitable turboprop regional equipment, it purchased existing Chicago Express for $1.9 million in 1999 and operated it as a separate “ATA Connection” subsidiary.

Its latest, elevated-image strategy, however, proved unprofitable, forcing it to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection five years later, on October 26, 2004. The best method of keeping it alive, it decided, was to employ its assets for the benefit of a healthy carrier, which, in this case, was deregulation-synonymous Southwest Airlines.

Transferring six of its Midway Airport gates and 27 percent of its nonvoting stock to Southwest in exchange for a life-injecting cash infusion and continued operation under a code share agreement in December of 2004, ATA reduced its number of Indianapolis-served destinations to three and redeployed aircraft to Chicago, now assuming a business airline profile by flying to cities that Southwest did not, including New York-La Guardia, Dallas/Fort Worth, and San Francisco. Midway-bypassing services also enabled it to link Southwest focus cities, such as Orlando, Phoenix, and Las Vegas, with other voids in its route system, Denver and Honolulu among them.

The strategy resulted in a 20-percent revenue increase for Southwest, but did not necessarily suture ATA’s financial bleed.

To further reduce costs, it significantly pruned its fleet, selling 20 737-800s and eight 757-300s and only marginally plugging its capacity gap with the two-year lease, between November of 2005 and November of 2007, of three former United Airlines 737-300s. Even the lease rates, in the event, proved too high.

Coincident service reductions, not surprisingly, were extensive, as the lights dimmed on numerous destinations over a short interval: Boston, Newark, and Minneapolis in October of 2005, Indianapolis and Denver in November, and Orlando, Fort Myers, and San Francisco the following April, leaving little more than the skeleton of its once fully fleshed body. Indeed, 18 daily departures were dispatched form a single gate at Midway Airport and only 52 were offered system wide. A previous court approval had enabled it to sell its Ambassadair Travel Club division to Grueninger Cruises and Tours.

Although a $100 million financial package form the MatlinPatterson investment firm and pre-bankruptcy creditors enabled the now-privatized carrier to briefly emerge from bankruptcy and establish service to New York-La Guardia, Houston-Hobby, Ontario, Oakland, and Hilo (Hawaii), rising fuel prices, the rapid resignation of a shortly-serving CEO, the poorly executed replacement plan of its L-1011s with DC-10s, and the loss of a major military contract caused it to spiral back into bankruptcy, leaving Flight 4586 from Honolulu to Phoenix to mark its last landing at 0846 on August 2, 2008.

The History of Eastern Airlines

Once considered one of the “big four” US carriers, along with American, Delta, and United, it had been innovative and highly successful, having evolved into the world’s second-largest airline during its six-decade history.

Tracing its origins to Pitcairn Aviation, which had been formed on September 15, 1927, it had inaugurated airmail service the following year between Brunswick, New Jersey, and Atlanta with open-cockpit PA-5 Mailwings.

But North American Aviation, a holding company for several fledgling carriers and aircraft manufacturers, purchased the company a year after that, and, changing its name to Eastern Air Transport, inaugurated passenger service with Ford 4-AT Trimotors on the multi-sector hop from Newark to Washington via Camden, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond on August 18, 1930. Acquisition of the Curtiss Condor enabled it to extend the route to Atlanta.

After absorbing Ludington Air Lines three years later, it was able to incorporate a New York-Philadelphia-Washington triplet to its system.

Eastern’s growth, like that of many other carriers, was jumpstarted by the Air Mail Act of 1934, which entailed the awarding of government contracts to private companies to transport the mail, while the US Postal Service selected them based upon the bid they submitted in competition with others. Although this prompted the formation of upstart companies to operate the airmail routes in the hopes of being chosen, it equally required the separation of the then-common aircraft manufacturer-and-carrier co-ownership.

Circumventing the restriction imposed upon it as a result of its Spoils Conference involvement with General Postmaster Walter Folger Brown, Eastern Air Transport changed its name in 1934 to the one by which it would be known throughout its history, Eastern Air Lines.

Captain Eddie Rickenbacker, World War I flying ace who won the Congressional Medal of Honor, purchased the carrier from the North American Aviation holding for $800.,000 and took over the helm, implementing an aircraft modernization program.

Building its soon-famous Great Silver Fleet, he quickly replaced the slow Curtiss Condor biplanes with all-metal Douglas DC-2s, one of which became the first to land at the new Washington National Airport in 1941. Leaving its imprint on an expanding East Coast network, Eastern plied the New York-Miami sector with wider-cabin, 21-pasenger DC-3s in 1937.

Like many US airlines, whose growth was interrupted by the necessity World War II imposed on it and the requisition of its aircraft for military purposes, Eastern commenced its own military support flights in 1942, connecting the three states of Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas, spreading its wings to Trinidad in the Caribbean, and ultimately forming its Miami-based Military Transport Division, for which it acquired Curtiss C-46 Commandos.

The seed to its pioneer, tri-city northeast shuttle was planted two years later when the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) awarded it the New York-Boston route over American.

The technological advancements of the 1950s, expressed as range, payload, speed, comfort, and safety increases, occurred so rapidly that, by the time an aircraft was produced, its replacement was already on the drawing board.

The quad-engine DC-4 soon supplemented its 39 twin-engine DC-3s, and its network now encompassed Detroit, St. Louis, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The Lockheed L-649 Constellation, inaugurated into service in 1947, yielded to the higher-capacity L-1049 Super Constellation, which plied its signature New York-Miami route as of December 17, 1951. The Martin 4-0-4s replaced the DC-3s and by the middle of the decade, the first DC-7Bs sported Eastern’s livery.

Acquisition of Colonial Airlines gave it access to New York State, New England, Canada, Bermuda, and Mexico City.

The propjet took the form of the four-engine Lockheed L-188 Electra, which was inaugurated into service on January 12, 1959 between New York and Miami, and the pure-jet in the form of the four-engine Douglas DC-8 only a year later, soon supplemented by the smaller-capacity, but higher cruise speed Boeing 720.

Eastern was the first of the big four US carriers to operate the 727-100 tri-jet “Whisperliner”-specifically on the Philadelphia-Washington-Miami run-and the twin-jet DC-9-10.

The famous hourly New York-Boston-Washington air shuttle was launched on April 30, 1961 with the L-188 Electra, for which it advised, “No need to make a reservation. Just ‘show and go.’ All sections are with backup planes standing by to assure a seat for everybody waiting at scheduled departure time.”

One-way weekday fares were $69.00 to Boston and $42.00 to Washington, while the round-trip weekend prices were $55.00 for adults and $37.00 for children to both.

The shuttle was eventually operated by DC-9-30, 727-200, and A-300 aircraft.

Breaking its hitherto East Coast shackles at the end of the 1960s, it expanded to Seattle and Los Angeles on the West Coast, to Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas with its acquisition of Mackey Airways, and to several Caribbean islands after purchasing Caribair.

Passing the torch to another famous aerospace personality, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker relinquished control to Colonel Frank Borman, who had orbited the earth in Gemini VII in 1966 and the moon in Apollo VIII two years later.

Eastern entered the widebody era with the Lockheed L-1011-1 TriStar in 1972, became the first US carrier to operate the European Airbus Industrie A-300 in 1978 when it ordered 23, and was the launch customer for the Boeing 757-200.

After acquiring Braniff International’s Latin American routes in 1982 and establishing a hub in San Juan, it became the world’s second-largest carrier in terms of annual passengers after Aeroflot, establishing hubs in New York, Charlotte, Atlanta, Miami, and San Juan and toting its “We have to earn our wings everyday” slogan.

But, while it may have earned its wings, it did not necessarily earn the profits to support their lift. Debt from aircraft purchases needed for its expansion and labor disputes necessitated the $615 million purchase by Texas Air Holdings, which also owned Continental, in 1986, and Eastern became a carcass of fodder. Airplanes were sold. Employees were laid off. Assets were transferred to Continental. And its image rapidly deteriorated, especially when it virtually eliminated in-flight service to reduce costs.

Declaring bankruptcy in 1989 and ceasing operations two years later, on January 19, the one-time “wings of man” became the Icarus of deregulation after a six-decade flight.

Aircraft Custom Kitting Services

Aircraft custom kitting services is all about providing a range of options to meet a range of requirements, using worldwide sourcing experience to provide a single source of supply. Certified quality management under an as9120 quality control system when providing aircraft spares preload kits means that a customer is billed from one single source but can choose a variety of solutions to an unpredictable eventuality.

Assembling Base and Line Station Kits and preload consumable kits to satisfy the end user is a skill, clearly more than just second guessing, but it does control the price and provide a level of accuracy essential for customer satisfaction with automated cost efficiency. It removes the expense of inventory management, logistics and documentation.

QEC kits

– Quick Engine Change QEC kits are a collection of components and accessories installed into a bare engine to reduce the time required for installation of the entire powerplant onto an aircraft.

– QEC kits are one of three things, basic neutral or full.

– Basic QEC kits include all major parts and accessories required for an engine test.

– Neutral QEC kits are in-between and comprise the basic kit plus sufficient parts and accessories to allow installation on an airframe. They are not airframe specific.

– Full QEC kits are the neutral kit plus airframe specific items.

On wing component replacement

Engine maintenance has evolved. On-wing component replacement or in situ repair constitutes a huge saving.

Monitoring data has made it possible to anticipate a fix that can be done on wing before a problem causes engine removal. Damage can be environmental or unexpected and techniques referred to as diagnostics and prognostics are in development to further support identification of timely on-wing intervention.

New techniques are coming along all the time which make the work to certified standards more practicable on wing. The use of advanced composites for engine components, for example, requires a different set of repair techniques to those used on traditional materials in the workshop environment.