High above the North Atlantic, our hero reads the articles he downloaded before take-off:
- Releasing to Production the day before a holdiay weekend? No. Just, no. OMFG no.
- American Airlines just won a lawsuit started by US Airways that opens up competition in airfare consolidation—maybe. Bear with it, because this one article explains a lot of what's wrong with competition in any endeavor today. (I'll find a link to the Economist print article I just read on this topic when I land.)
- The Washington Post helpfully provides 94 questions we Democrats are asking as we slouch towards a Trump presidency. Thanks, guys.
- In the spirit of Christmas, Citylab remembers when Manhattan had the El. (How is this about Christmas, you ask? No El.) It's interesting to me that only now, more than 60 years later, is New York replacing the east-side transit options with the Second Avenue Subway.
- Also from Citylab, an interview with Costas Spirou and Dennis R. Judd about their new book Building the City of Spectacle, how Mayor Richord M. Daley remade the city. (Note to self: buy their book.)
- Finally, the Deeply Trivial blog compiles a couple of videos every Star Wars fan should watch. I know for a fact that the author was born well past the Ewok Divide, and yet seems to have a good bead on the Star Wars universe. Perhaps there is hope for the galaxy.
Today's flight is remarkably fast. We caught the jet stream off the Labrador coast, and with about an hour to go, we're hurtling 1,074 km/h off the west coast of Ireland. This could end up the fastest trans-Atlantic flight I've ever been on, in fact. Details later.
N.B.: Most of the entries on this blog since 2011, and a good number of them going back to 1998, have location bugs that show approximately where I was when I wrote the entry. Click the globe icon directly below and it will call up Google Maps.
If I write an entry at my house, I use a street intersection a few hundred meters away for an approximate location. In a city of three (or, in 1998, seven) million, I feel that's enough privacy. Otherwise, I try to be accurate, even going so far as to whip out my mobile phone to get a GPS fix in flight, as I've just done. Why, you ask? Because it's cool, I reply.
It's not all about PETUS today:
- Via AVWeb, the FAA has issued an airworthiness directive requiring owners of Boeing 787-8 airplanes to reboot them at least every 21 days. I am not making this up.
- Trump, never a fan of intelligence of any kind, is sticking his fingers in his ears about Russian hacking of our election. Jeet Heer warns that this yet another way Trump is very dangerous. Plus, he's lying about the CIA's role in the Iraq WMD fiasco. It wasn't the CIA who lied; it was the Administration.
- By the way, Trump has the lowest approval ratings of any incoming president since 1988 (and probably since 1974).
- Oh, and we got about 200 mm of snow over the weekend. Parker's going to need a new pair of pairs of shoes.
Winter is here.
Folks, if you have to evacuate a burning 767, leave your fucking bags in the plane. That would have prevented most of the injuries sustained when this happened yesterday at O'Hare:
The plane's 161 passengers and nine crew members scrambled down emergency chutes on the left side of the plane while flames flared and thick black smoke billowed from the wing on the right side, according to the airline and video from the scene.
Twenty people were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, mostly bruises and ankle problems, according to fire Chief Juan Hernandez, head of emergency medical services at the airport.
The aircraft experienced an "uncontained engine failure," in which engine parts break off and are spewed outside the engine, a federal official said. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the incident and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. The danger of such a rare and serious failure is that engine pieces effectively become shrapnel and can cause extensive damage to the aircraft.
Scary, and they can't use the plane again, but since everyone survived and there were only minor injuries, this counts as a good flight.
All of these articles look interesting, and I hope I get to read them:
Oh, fun! Another meeting!
Recaps of the debate comprise just a few of the things I haven't had time to read today:
- Who hated Trump's caginess on whether he'd accept the election results if he lost? Everyone: The Economist, The New Republic, The National Review, Talking Points Memo, everyone.
- Trump's debate performance is being compared to book reports by kids who haven't read the book.
- Pilot Patrick Smith says Trump's airline wasn't that bad for customers, but it never made a profit either.
- Meanwhile, the Cubs beat the Dogders 10-2, which means the series will be decided at Wrigley on Saturday or Sunday.
- Looks like Chicago will have a warm-ish November and a normal-ish winter.
- One of the world's largest data centers, here in the South Loop area of Chicago, will soon be a lot bigger.
- Funny statistic: almost all airport noise complaints come from a handful of people—like the one person in Maryland who complained about Washington Dulles 1,024 times last year.
- Finally, "Hamilton," which I saw Sunday, got a rave from the Tribune.
Back to my meetings.
The Chicago Tribune reports that the annoying trend of using smaller airplanes for longer routes is taking off over the Atlantic:
The re-engined 737 Max and A320neo jets offer a 15 percent fuel saving meant to cut costs on the shortest inter-city services. At the same time the revamp has added about 800 km to their range -- just enough to allow the narrow-bodies to span the 5,000 km between the eastern U.S. and Western Europe.
Norwegian Air Shuttle, JetBlue Airways and Portugal's TAP are among airlines buying the jets for trans-Atlantic routes, with NAS set to lead the way when it becomes one of the first carriers to get Boeing's Max 8 next year. Its initial flights may link Edinburgh, Birmingham in England and Cork and Shannon in Ireland to smaller airports in New England and the New York area.
Yeah, 8 hours in a 737 or A320 does not sound fun. The only exception I'd make is for BA flights 1, 2, 3, and 4, which are 32-seat, all-business-class A319s that fly between London City and JFK. Of course, they're not exactly marketing to price-conscious leisure travelers: a round trip on that route will set you back about $6,000. And one more thing: the return trip tops up its fuel tanks in Shannon, Ireland, because even a stripped-down A319 can't make it all the way from London to New York yet.
Airways magazine has the heartwarming story of American Airlines MD-80 N9401W heading off to retirement in New Mexico:
This aircraft, and 19 others, were part of a symbolic retirement.
A 20-aircraft order placed by American Airlines to McDonnell Douglas in 1982 marked the beginning of an era in which AA became the world’s largest MD-80 operator, but as the decades passed through and as new and more efficient aircraft joined the fleet, the venerable Mad Dog era is now heading into the sunset.
Once the last AA MD-80 parks in Roswell in 2018, it will close a chapter in the company’s history; yet it will also signify a new era, with the arrival of new Airbus A320 family aircraft and Boeing 737 Next Generation and the coming MAX variant, all part of a major $4.6 billion order placed back in 2010 for 460 aircraft —the largest commercial aircraft order in history at that time.
Millions of miles had unfurled beneath Ship 4WJ, from the Far East where she was built, to freezing Calgary in Canada to the sunny Los Cabos in Mexico, from Los Angeles to Chicago, and then to New York, transporting about 3,700,000 passengers during its career.
Subtracting engines, the current parts market value of an MD-80 varies from $100,000 to $200,000. Once all marketable parts have been harvested, the value of the fuselage carcass ranges between $10,000 and $12,000. It can take a month to part out an MD-80 yet only a few hours to crush it into scrap metal.
While AA retired today 20 MD-80s, the airline’s remaining 61 Mad Dogswill continue flying—safely and reliably transporting their passengers and crews.
I last flew on an MD-80 on 3 December 2014, from Dallas to Chicago.
Amazon this month launched the first of what it plans to comprise a fleet of 40 cargo planes to support its Prime delivery service. From their blog:
Now, we see the same opportunity to innovate in transportation. I'm very excited to introduce Amazon One, a Boeing 767-300 that is our first ever Amazon branded plane which will serve customers by adding capacity to support one and two day package delivery in the US. Adding capacity for Prime members by developing a dedicated air cargo network ensures there is enough available capacity to provide customers with great selection, low prices and incredible shipping speeds for years to come. Over the next couple of years, we’ll roll out 40 planes just like this one.
Fortune spells out the effects on Amazon's business:
For Amazon, the main benefit of owning the shipping network could be significant for its bottom line amid soaring shipping costs. The company spent over $8.7 billion on shipping in 2014, up from $6.6 billion in 2013. Creating a logistics service could dramatically lower those costs.
Amazon will lease the airplanes from Atlas Air Cargo, potentially owning almost 20% of Atlas's fleet.
Sometimes, when I'm really busy, I click on articles I want to read. Right now I have a lot tabs open:
So, altogether, not entirely about the election.
WBEZ's Curious City audio blog explains that Chicago hoped to be America's aviation hub all the way back in the 1920s—for airships. But it's not the ideal environment in which to dock them:
When it comes to Chicago buildings that may or may not have had airship docking infrastructure, we encounter only a few leads. One involves the Blackstone Hotel. In a 1910 article from Chicago’s Inter-Ocean newspaper, the Blackstone’s manager confirms plans to build “Drome Station No. 1” on the rooftop — big enough for four airships, housing stalls and a repair shop. The manager said it’s “not a whim nor advertisement” for the newly-opened hotel. Today, though, there’s no evidence the Blackstone’s rooftop landing dock ever existed.
“Docking a large rigid airship to the top of a building is one of the worst ideas anyone could ever come up with, which is why it was never done,” he says.
Airships could be 800 feet long, and a single mast atop a building could provide just one point of contact for tying off. If an airship were moored only at its front, changing winds could spin the ship in circles. In the case of the Club, that would have meant a docked airship could swing into nearby skyscrapers, like the Tribune Tower. It would have been a disaster waiting to happen.
Of course, Chicago eventually became one of the world's principal aviation hubs, but not with lighter-than-air craft.