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Roughly 29 Wheelchairs Are Damaged By Airlines Each Day

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After a social media video went viral last week showing how wheelchair users can be affected while flying, a report suggests that around 29 wheelchairs are lost, stolen, damaged, or delayed every day. The data came from the US and was first collected in 2019. It suggests that almost 2% of all wheelchairs are damaged while in the cargo hold.

A recent report suggests that around 29 wheelchairs are damaged every day by US airlines. Photo: Getty Images

A viral video

A woman took to social media platform TikTok last week to share her devastation that Delta Air Lines had damaged her wheelchair, which she relies on for mobility. In the video, Gabrielle deFiebre was left sobbing, stating, “This is my life, my legs.”

Ms deFiebre flew with Delta to Phoenix from New York to enjoy a girl’s trip with a friend. She had placed a note on the wheelchair before reluctantly handing it over to Delta staff and using a small airport-provided wheelchair fitting in a standard aircraft aisle. Upon arrival, she transferred back into her own chair. However, she realized immediately that the chair was severely damaged. One wheel was broken and would not move, while the backrest was also damaged.

@briscalesseWhen is this going to stop? ##fyp ##disabilitiyawareness ##wheelchair @geeg_def

♬ original sound – briscalesse

In the video, Ms deFiebre is crying as she is moved back into an airport chair. The friend traveling with her, who also uses a chair, explained the importance of aids like wheelchairs stating it is an extension of her body. Delta staff reportedly told Ms deFiebre that her chair, which was made especially for her, would not be fixed for at least four days.

The airline has since confirmed it is sending two wheel replacements and will be launching an investigation into what happened.

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All major airlines have to do better

But according to the Washing Post, it isn’t just Delta that has fallen short. The results of a US DOT report suggest that around 15,425 wheelchairs or scooters have been lost or damaged since 2018. 2018 was the first year the US government required reporting on this issue. In 2019, the first full year of the reporting, 10,548 were lost or damaged, around 29 each day.

In 2020, this dropped to 3,464, equivalent to just over nine every day. However, this reduction in damages has to be taken in light of the dramatic downturn in air travel over the course of 2020. It doesn’t suggest that the problem has been solved.

For people who use wheelchairs and other mobility devices, damage can cause major issues. In addition, some devices are personalized to the individual, meaning repairs are expensive and take several weeks. During this time, replacement chairs are not as suitable and cause issues.

Delta came under fire in the recent viral video, but the report suggests all major airlines could do better. Photo: Delta Air Lines

For many, the viral TikTok video has exposed the emotional element of traveling with a wheelchair. Quoted in the Washington Post article, Senator Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee, said in a statement in 2018,

Every airline passenger deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, but too often, that is not the case. I know from personal experience that when an airline damages a wheelchair, it is more than a simple inconvenience — it’s a complete loss of mobility and independence. It was the equivalent of taking my legs away from me again.”

In response to the report, both the IATA and Airlines for America said they would seek to do better. The IATA took to Twitter to apologize. They confirmed they would work with people who rely on wheelchairs for mobility to make changes.

Do these figures surprise you? If you travel with a mobility device, we’d really love to hear about your experiences while flying.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/airlines-damage-wheelchairs-daily/

Aviation

Airbus Has Just 3 A380s Left To Deliver

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Emirates took delivery of its 120th Airbus A380 aircraft on Friday. The aircraft’s delivery means that we are one step closer to the end of the Airbus A380 program, with just three of the giant aircraft left to be delivered by the European aerospace giant.

Emirates A380
Airbus has just three Airbus A380s left to deliver. Photo: Getty Images

While the Airbus A380 was already on its way out the door well before the aviation industry’s crisis, the current situation has done no favors for the giant of the skies. For many airlines, it may have been a boon that no further A380 deliveries were scheduled. However, this is not the case for Emirates who is happy to take delivery of its remaining orders.

Only three deliveries left

On Friday, Emirates took delivery of its 120th Airbus A380 registered as A6-EVO. The jet, with the serial number 268, took its first flight on October 1st, 2020. According to data from ch-aviation.com, this makes the aircraft 0.72 years old.

Emirates President Sir Tim Clark previously revealed that two aircraft would be delivered this year, with the final three to come next year. As we’ve now seen the second delivery of 2021, it will be a wait before more aircraft arrive. According to ch-aviation.com, the following aircraft deliveries are to be expected,

  • A6-EVQ – MSN 270 – January 2022
  • A6-EVR – MSN 271 – March 2022
  • A6-EVS – MSN 272 – May 2022
Airbus A380, Final Plane, First Flight
All three outstanding Airbus A380s are bound for Emirates. Photo: Getty Images

More premium economy for Emirates

Every Airbus A380 delivered this year has been accompanied by a bonus for the airline’s passengers. Late last year, Emirates decided to launch a premium economy cabin, bridging the economy and business class gap.

So far, Emirates is yet to retrofit the new cabin to any of its existing double-decker giants. As such, we’ve had to wait for new aircraft deliveries to increase the likelihood of a passenger finding the new cabin. To date, three aircraft have the cabin, equating to 168 seats. With an average age of seven years, the airline’s A380 fleet has a total capacity of roughly 62,000, according to ch-aviaion.com.

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How many Airbus A380s are Emirates flying?

According to ch-aviation.com, 22 aircraft are currently active in the Emirates fleet. This excludes the latest jet just delivered, which is yet to enter service. According to data from the aerospace analysts Cirium, the Dubai airline is scheduled to operate 654 A380 flights in June, with some 327,696 seats on offer. This is expected to increase to 1,089 flights next month, with 534,681 seats on offer.

Emirates, Airbus A380, Delivery
Emirates has 11 Airbus A380 routes planned for June. Photo: Cirium

Cairo should see 60 A380 flights this month, two per day. Despite the UAE’s continuing red list status in the UK, London Heathrow will see more A380 flights than most, with 43 on the schedule. The airline’s Manchester A380 plans didn’t last long, with just four flights with the giant planned at the start of the month.

How do you feel about the impending end of the Airbus A380 program? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/airbus-three-a380s-left/

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Aviation

The Story Of Al Maha Airways: Qatar Airways’ Closed Saudi Subsidiary

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Back in 2014, Qatar Airways announced that it would be launching a subsidiary airline based in Saudi Arabia. With one of the new carrier’s key hubs set to be in Jeddah, it would have operated flights mainly within Saudi Arabia using a fleet of Airbus A320s. This Qatar Airways offshoot, however, would never fully materialize. But why was this the case? Let’s go over the story of this airline that never was.

Al Maha Airways aircraft were painted green and white but had a livery fairly similar to that of Qatar Airways and its iconic Oryx. Photo: G B_NZ via Wikimedia Commons 

A hopeful beginning

It was back at the start of 2014 that Qatar Airways announced the launch of a new Saudia Arabia-based subsidiary: Al Maha Airways. The name Al Maha, naturally, is Arabic in origin and translates to ‘wild deer.’ In this case, it would be a reference to the Arabian Oryx, the iconic symbol that is the foundation of Qatar Airways’ branding.

The airline was to begin scheduled passenger operations in Saudi Arabia in the third quarter of 2014 using Airbus A320s. Its livery would be similar to Qatar Airways and its Oryx-adorned tails- but with a twist. Al Maha’s jets would be green and white, matching the colors of Saudi Arabia.

The airline was to start off with 10 A320s but eventually build to an ambitious 50 jets.

The logo ofAl Maha. Photo: Qatar Airways

Delayed from the beginning

Aerotime reports that in 2013, Saudi Arabia’s civil aviation regulator had given initial approval for two foreign airlines to launch subsidiaries within the country in order to meet rising domestic travel demand. The two airlines, Qatar Airways and Gulf Air were to set up Al Maha Airways and SaudiGulf, respectively.

Even though Qatar Airways had hoped to begin operations less than a year from announcing the project, delays would extend this by quite some time. The first setback was due to licensing issues. These issues would drag on for several years.

Qatar Airways chief Akbar Al Baker is seen here at a signing ceremony, taking delivery of Al Maha’s first four A320s. Photo: Qatar Airways

Confident that approval would eventually be granted, Qatar Airways went ahead with the acquisition of new Airbus A320s, all painted in the new branding of Al Maha. It was in May of 2015 that Qatar Airways’ CEO Akbar Al Baker took delivery of the first four Al Maha jets. At the time, this is what the airline group chief had to say:

“It is a moment of significant pride to be welcoming the first aircraft of the new Al Maha Airways fleet, let alone four such aircraft in the same day. Featuring the distinctive new livery of Al Maha Airways, these new A320 aircraft will offer passengers the opportunity to travel on board the latest and most modern aircraft in the skies.”

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Delays continue

Despite having brand new aircraft painted in the airline’s livery, Qatar Airways would be forced to wait as Saudi regulators dragged their feet. When 2016 rolled around, multiple sources reported that the airline would finally launch in the summer of 2016. This period came and went with no progress to the situation.

There was progress for one airline, however. SaudiGulf Airlines was given the green light that summer and went on to launch services in October 2016. This was a move that must have been akin to rubbing salt in the wound for Qatar Airways.

The Al Maha A320s were used for Qatar Airways services while they waited for Saudi approval. Photo: Gyrostat (Wikimedia, CC-BY-SA 4.0) via Wikimedia Commons 

Qatar Airways abandons Al Maha project

Then, in February 2017, Qatar Airways finally decided to pull the plug on Al Maha. According to ch-aviation, Akbar Al Baker formally confirmed that his airline group would be abandoning the project due to the lengthy delays in licensing.

Aviation24.be notes that Al Baker said the following in an interview:

“Yes, I’m disappointed that we were not able to launch that airline … We hope we will have another opportunity to fulfil our wish to serve the Saudi nation.”

While the airline CEO expressed a somewhat hopeful tone at the time that he would eventually be able to enter the Saudi market, this would not materialize. Indeed, the heated blockade against Qatar, which began in June 2017, ensured that any project similar to Al Maha would not happen any time soon.

Another look at the first four aircraft from Airbus, destined for Al Maha. Photo: Qatar Airways

The Al Maha name today

Qatar Airways does use the ‘Al Maha’ name in its operations these days. However, this is the name of its Doha-based personal travel service. Al Maha Services includes a “personalized meet and assist service” to ensure “a comfortable and seamless experience when arriving, departing or transferring through Hamad International Airport.” This includes expedited immigration clearance, priority boarding, and lounge access.

The aviation landscape is always changing. With the Qatari blockade recently ending and airlines on the road to post-pandemic recovery, maybe Qatar Airways can revisit the concept further in the future, if relations with Saudi Arabia continue to improve. In the meantime, the carrier is keeping busy with growth and expansion in many other ways.

Did you know about Al Maha? And do you think it could be revived in the future? Let us know in the comments.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/al-maha-airways-story/

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What Happened To La Compagnie’s Boeing 757s?

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French airline La Compagnie has always been a niche carrier. Indeed, the self-proclaimed ’boutique airline’ flies just two aircraft on a handful of routes while offering only one class: business. While it now operates the Airbus A321neo, La Compagnie had used a pair of Boeing 757-200s between its 2014 founding and 2019. So, where are they now?

Photo: Olivier CABARET via Wikimedia Commons 

La Compagnie’s footprint in the aviation world is relatively small. The airline mainly operates transatlantic services with aircraft configured to be all business class. The core route offered is a daily Paris Orly-Newark service. However, it has also expanded to offer a seasonal Nice Côte d’Azur-Newark, and will eventually launch its Milan Malpensa-Newark service. It will also offer one non-transatlantic service: a seasonal route between Paris Orly and Tel Aviv.

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La Compagnie’s early years

La Compagnie began its operations in 2014 and took delivery of its very first aircraft in June of that year. This was a Boeing 757-200, built in 2000, and registered F-HTAG. It had previously flown for airlines like Iberia, Air Astana, Icelandair, and Saudi Arabian Airlines.

10 months later, the carrier would take delivery of a second 757-200, F-HCIE. Built in 1994, this aircraft had previously flown with Britannia Airways and Thomsonfly.

La Compagnie would operate these two 757s for roughly five years – both configured to have 74 seats, all in business class. The main route would be a Paris Charles de Gaulle-Newark Liberty service. However, the 757s would also be used for a London Luton-Newark service as well.

Of course, much has changed since these early years. The airline has since ended its service from London, shifted Paris operations to Orly, and modernized its fleet by replacing the 757s with A321neos.

La Compagnie began operations in 2014. Photo: Olivier CABARET via Wikimedia Commons 

F-HTAG and F-HCIE

So what happened to the 757s registered as F-HTAG and F-HCIE?

The airline’s first but younger 757, F-HTAG, was withdrawn from La Compagnie service in October 2019. After being returned to the leasing company and stored for two months,  the jet found a new home with TACV Cabo Verde Airlines. This carrier, based in the country of Cape Verde, has since reconfigured it to offer 16 business class seats and 180 economy seats. The jet is now re-registered as D4-CCH.

One aircraft now flies with Cabo Verde Airlines. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Wikimedia Commons 

The fate of F-HCIE is different and more unfortunate compared to its brother. After being withdrawn from use in October 2019, the jet went to aircraft lessor and trading company Aerolease in February of 2020. Re-registered in the United States as N757AL, the jet was then scrapped at Phoenix Goodyear Airport just a few months later. Hopefully, some of its parts are being put to good use, with other 757s still flying.

The 757 successors

The successors to La Compagnie’s operations are a pair of Airbus A321neos. Instead of 74 business class seats, these two jets are configured with 76 seats.

La Compagnie’s fleet now consists of just two A321neos. Photo: Airbus

With these two Airbus jets, the airline is eager to capture some post-pandemic travel and begin its recovery. This will see a shift in focus from pure business to some leisure services, as the airline’s president notes:

“In a post Covid-19 era we anticipate a lower demand on our New York-Paris route, therefore we need to diversify our destinations offering and look for alternative routes for our second aircraft.” – Christian Vernet, President of La Compagnie

Vernet adds that Nice and Tel Aviv are a great combination for the summer season, while Milan is “a strong long-term route with a balanced mix of business and leisure passengers traveling throughout the year.”

Did you ever fly with La Compagnie in the past? Particularly on its Boeing 757s? Please share your experience with us by leaving a comment.

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/la-compagnie-boeing-757/

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Aviation

What Does An Air Traffic Controller Do?

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Air Traffic Controllers are a critical part of commercial flight operations and safety. They can usually be found in a high tower near the airport, giving them a clear view of everything happening on the ground and in the skies above. But what exactly do Air Traffic Controllers do? Let’s find out.

Las Vegas Airport
Located in a tower like this, Air Traffic Control is in constant communication with pilots and ground staff. Photo: Getty Images

Keeping an eye out

Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) are popularly known as the group who sit in a high tower over the airport, wearing headsets, and keeping an eye out over the airfield. This is an abbreviated definition of the job.

Indeed, any ATC’s primary job is to monitor aircraft in its airspace and maintain constant communications with crew and ground staff. There are three types of main air traffic controllers, namely:

  • Tower Controllers
  • Approach and Departure Controllers
  • En Route Controllers
Air Traffic Contollers Getty
En Route Controllers are not located at airports and direct planes during their cruise across states or countries. Photo: Getty Images

Tower Controllers are responsible for the movement of planes, vehicles, and staff on runways and taxiways. They also receive and clear flight plans in advance, ensuring there is no overlap with the dozens of other flights on the same day. Moreover, they also communicate weather changes, runway closures, and more.

Once a plane is ready for departure, tower controllers will provide instructions and ensure no other planes or vehicles are obstructing the taxiways or exits. They also provide takeoff clearance, allowing a plane to safely depart without any complication. Overall, tower controllers manage traffic three miles to 30 miles in and around the airport.

However, it’s not only planes that controllers have to handle. Vehicles such as safety cars, maintenance, and others must allow request permission before entering any active runway or taxiway.

In the sky

Once a plane has safely taxied and taken off, approach and departure controllers take over communications. They are responsible for ensuring all planes maintain minimum separation while flying, that their flight path is clear of obstacles (including other aircraft), and handing off to en route controllers.

These are the controllers who can be seen behind radar screens, monitoring dozens of planes that might be in their airspace. In the US, these controllers work out of buildings known as Terminal Radar Approach Control Centers (TRACONs).

There are hundreds of TRACONs in total (147 to more precise), monitoring 50 kilometers of airspace each as designated by the FAA. Many of these are merged with existing airport ATCs, but some might be individual towers as well.

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 Takeoff In Eindhoven
After taking to the skies, approach and departure controllers take over communications with the aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Any changes in altitude, speed, or direction must be cleared by controllers before being undertaken by pilots. The term ‘roger’ is commonly used while confirming instructions over radio communications with controllers. Approach and departure controllers monitor planes up to 17,000 feet in altitude and about 20 to 50 miles from the airport.

As the name suggests, similar steps are repeated while the plane begins its approach into an airport. These controllers will once again check for separation, traffic, and flight plans before allowing the plane to land and handing back over to traffic controllers.

Cruising

Everything feels a bit more relaxed once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude. Passengers can recline their seats, cabin crew begin preparing for service, and planes are on autopilot. However, there are still air traffic controllers monitoring the plane, known as En Route controllers.

These controllers monitor planes as they fly over multiple states and follow their flight plans to their destination. In the US, they work out of Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs), and the country is divided into 21 zones. Additionally, there are four combined control facilities (CCF) for oceanic and military traffic.

FAA 737 MAX airworthiness directive MCAS
En Route controllers are the ones which pilots spend a bulk of their time connected to as they fly to their destination. Photo: Air Canada

These ARTCCs monitor thousands of planes every day as they cross boundaries to reach their destinations. A transcontinental flight can easily pass through several ARTCCs on its way. Their primary job is to guide planes along their flight path, prevent any loss of separation and collisions, and general safety of the airspace. Planes spend most of their time in contact ARTCCs as they travel hundreds or thousands of miles every flight.

There are also nation-level airspace controllers who monitor traffic for any large-scale bottlenecks. There is only one in the US, the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center (ATCSCC), and they don’t communicate directly with pilots. Instead, this facility focuses on communicating with other ATC towers to ensure a smooth flow of traffic or warn of security concerns.

Important job

Air Traffic Controllers play a crucial role in aviation and work to prevent any kind of safety incidents. From ensuring two wingtips don’t graze on the ground to preventing any mid-air collisions, controllers have a heavy responsibility from their perch in the sky. Considering airports can see hundreds or thousands of flights daily, vigilance is crucial.

For this reason, air traffic controllers have strict entry requirements. In the US, you can only become a controller before your 31st birthday and have to retire by 56. This is to ensure sharp mental acuity, situational awareness, and short-term memory. Moreover, any serious health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, or mental illness can be disqualifying.

NATS AI future aviation
Air traffic controllers have to possess skills like fast numeric calculations, decisive decision-making, and quick response times. Photo: Getty Images

Overall, the air traffic controllers must be quick to respond to a crisis and are held to similar health standards as pilots. This is because even the smallest of delays or hesitation can result in a disaster during a crisis. This means being an air traffic controller can be a stressful job at times, especially when traffic is high. However, it is undoubtedly rewarding and a critical job for air travel to continue smoothly every day.

Did you know what air traffic controllers did before this piece? What do you think about the job? Let us know in the comments!

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Source: https://simpleflying.com/air-traffic-controller-job/

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