Are Older Aircraft Safe?

 

 

(recently published in the Telegraph)

A Boeing 737 belonging to Jet2 has made two emergency landings in as many weeks, leading some commentators to question whether the advanced age of the aircraft is affecting its reliability.

The plane was forced to land at Barcelona on July 16, as it flew from Ibiza to Leeds/Bradford. Twelve days later, on July 28, it made another forced landing at Frankfurt en route from Newcastle to Prague.

The airline is investigating both incidents but claims passenger safety was not compromised on either flight.

Nevertheless, commentators have been quick to point out the age of the aircraft – registered as G-CELI. It was manufactured in 1986, making it almost as old as this reporter. But are older planes really more likely to go wrong?

Not according to Patrick Smith, a US pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential.

“Commercial aircraft are built to last more or less indefinitely, which is one of the reasons why they’re so expensive,” he told Telegraph Travel. “It’s common for a jet to remain in service for 25 years or more.”

Smith claims that as planes get older they come under ever greater scrutiny. “Inspection criteria grow increasingly strict,” he said.

So if planes are built to last more or less indefinitely, why are they retired after just 30-odd years – or in many cases sooner?

“Planes are sold, traded or mothballed not because they’ve grown old and are falling apart, but because they’ve become uneconomical to operate,” said Smith.

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“Aircraft are tailored to particular roles and markets, and there’s a fragile balance between whether it makes or loses money. Poor performance means quick exit to the sales block. To another carrier with different costs, routes and needs, that same aircraft might be profitable.”

An aircraft’s dwindling economic value tends to be related to its age – and with a slew of new fuel-efficient aircraft coming onto the market, maintaining older jets often makes less financial sense.

Modern jets also tend to be quieter, more comfortable and equipped to a higher specification than their predecessors, which usually means a better experience for passengers.

So which carriers have the oldest planes? According to airfleets.net – a website which monitors most major airlines – of the world’s 30 largest carriers (based on passenger numbers), Delta Airlines has the most mature planes with an average age of 17 years.

Air Canada and United Airlines are reckoned to have the second and third oldest fleets, with an average age of 14.2 and 14.1 years respectively.

Data is approximate and is not available for all carriers, including Turkish Airlines, which is considered one of the world’s largest airlines.

At the other end of the spectrum is Aeroflot, which has the youngest planes with an average age of just 4.2 years; Hainan Airlines and China Eastern Airlines have the second and third freshest fleets with an average age of 4.9 and 5.3 years respectively.

At a glance | Which major airline has the oldest fleet?

With a few exceptions – including Ryanair and EasyJetEuropean and North American airlines tend to have the oldest jets, while Asian and Middle Eastern carriers generally boast the youngest.

Incidentally, Jet2 – which was involved in the aforementioned forced landings but is not considered one of the world’s 30 largest airlines – has a fleet age of 16.8 years, which is at the older end of the spectrum.

 

 

 

Why Is It Always Cold On Planes?

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what tropical destination you are flying to in the world, it’s always winter on a plane.

Turns out, there is actually a very important reason why the in-flight temperatures are kept so low in the cabin.

A study published in American Society for Testing and Materials, Fainting Passengers: The Role of Cabin Environment, found that warmer cabin temperatures may increase the risk of fainting for some passengers.

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According to the study, the likelihood of fainting is “higher aboard an aircraft than on the ground” due to “reduced pulmonary ventilation”, or reduced blood flow to the brain, caused by immobility, drowsiness, and the build up of gas in the abdomen.

And in an environment that is already higher-risk, the research found that “high cabin temperatures may further trigger this reaction”.

So on a flight that has hundreds of people crammed on board, whose bodies would each have different definitions of overheating, cabin crew will keep the aircraft on the cooler side to err on the side of caution.

It’s easier to wear layers and ask for a blanket than fainting on a flight.

Aside from the heightened risk of fainting, it is also safer to keep cabin temperatures lower to avoid dehydration. The air in a plane is already drying, so if the temperature dial is turned up, it would dehydrate passengers even more, making them sick and nauseas.

So next time you are freezing on a plane, keep in mind that having to put on more layers to keep warm is much easier than being sick on a long-haul flight.

Best Airlines In The World

Given the recent news about a United Airlines passenger being forcibly dragged off a plane, many travelers are wondering which airlines they can trust. Luckily, TripAdvisor just announced the winners of its first annual Travelers’ Choice awards for airlines, revealing travelers’ favorite carriers in the U.S. and around the globe.

Matej Kastelic / Shutterstock

TripAdvisor reveals the best airlines in the U.S and world.

The 50 award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of airline reviews and ratings submitted by travelers worldwide, over a yearlong period. Factors including outstanding service, quality and value were all taken into consideration when tabulating the list.

Top Ten Airlines in the World

1. Emirates, United Arab Emirates

2. Singapore Airlines, Singapore

3. Azul, Brazil

4. JetBlue, United States

5. Air New Zealand, New Zealand

6. Korean Air, South Korea

7. Japan Airlines, Japan

8. Thai Smile, Thailand

9. Alaska Airlines, United States

10. Garuda Indonesia, Indonesia

Class of Service Global Winners

Best First Class: Emirates, United Arab Emirates

Best Business Class: Aeroflot, Russia

Best Premium Economy Class in the World: Air New Zealand, New Zealand

Best Economy Class in the World: Emirates, United Arab Emirates

North America Awards

Top Major Airline: Delta Air Lines, United States

Top Midsize & Low-Cost Airlines:

1. JetBlue, United States

2. Alaska Airlines, United States

3. Southwest, United States

4. Virgin America, United States

5. Westjet, Canada

Condor Adds non-stop service to Germany

As part of Condor’s expansion, the airline will add non-stop service routes from San Diego, Pittsburgh and New Orleans to Frankfurt and beyond. It will also add non-stop service to Munich from existing gateways in Seattle and Las Vegas. Condor is currently the only discount operator in the U.S. with full-service, inclusive fairs in three classes of service, the airline said.

For bookings made from February 27 through March 5 for summer travel, the airline offers discount fares for flights from the U.S. to Europe. For example: flights from New Orleans to Frankfurt starting at $249.99 (one-way) in economy, $499.99 (one-way) in premium and $799.99 (one-way) in business class. After March 5, flights from Pittsburgh to Frankfurt start as low as $329.99 (one-way) in economy, $429.99 (one-way) in premium and $799.99(one-way) in business class.

This is the first time the carrier has flown from San Diego, Pittsburgh and New Orleans. The carrier currently serves the U.S. from Anchorage, Austin, Baltimore, Fairbanks, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Portland and Seattle.

The Condor route network includes more than 75 destinations with connections to more than 230 global destinations through partnerships with other carriers. All Condor passengers receive: complimentary checked baggage, complimentary beverages and meals along with complimentary entertainment.

Business class includes:

  •     Reclining seats
  •     A personal in-seat, touch screen entertainment system,
  •     Power and USB ports at every seat
  •     Five-course meals with complimentary wine, beer and cocktails
  •     In-flight, well-being amenity kit

Premium class includes:

  •     Added legroom
  •     Leg rests and adjustable headrests
  •     An in-seat entertainment system with an extended program
  •     USB ports at every seat
  •     Premium meals and complimentary beverages
  •     In-flight, well-being amenity kit

Visit www.condor.com