Crabbing: The Crosswind Landing

Have you ever heard of crabbing? No not the act of trying to catch crabs, but the art of the crosswind landing? It’s an amazing feat that every pilot has to learn how to do at some point or another—and earns a rank among the trickiest landings out there. Here’s a glimpse of what it looks like. (You can ignore the sensational tone of the of the video title. Crabbing is nothing out of the ordinary for most pilots.)

A crosswind landing is needed when the winds do not align with the runway. For example, when the winds are blowing west to east on a runway that goes north to south. As you can imagine, getting buffeted from the sides by winds requires a little change in tack.

Enter: Crabbing.

For starters, the pilot needs to get a bit of extra speed to cut through the wind. Using a crosswind component chart, pilots can calculate how much speed they need to add per knot of wind blowing their way. After a pilot has a solid idea of the right amount of thrust, they make small changes here and there to compensate for changes in the wind.

crosswind-component-chart

Crosswind Component Chart via SWAviator.com

As the pilot gets closer and closer to the runway, things get trickier. The crosswinds push the plane away from the runway, requiring the pilot to steer into the wind to offset the drift. That’s why the planes in the above video look so odd as they’re landing. They’re poised to work around the wind.

From there, it’s a matter of adjusting the ailerons and the rudder, to finely adjust the plane’s roll and yaw, respectively. Then, one set of landing gears will make contact with the ground first, followed shortly by the other one, resulting in a jarring sensation as if the plane is landing wrong. Of course, it’s all part of the plan.

Today’s technology and pilot expertise means that crosswind landings happen less often, and when they do they’re safer than ever. So the next time you see a plane land at an angle, no reason to panic—that plane is just crabbing.

For some more crosswind landings, I recommend taking a look at this video. (Notice how the title just mentions crosswind landings and spares us any of the dramatic “near-crash verbiage”.)

Thanks for reading.

BELAL EL-ATARI

The End of the Bermuda Triangle

For anyone who has a passing familiarity with aviation, mention of the Bermuda Triangle is likely to provoke either laughter or chills. The exact boundaries of the triangle are a little vague, but it’s generally considered to be an area that is somewhere between Puerto Rico, Florida, and of course Bermuda.

Over the years a number of nautical mysteries—from the disappearance of a US Fighter Squadron during World War II to even the fabled City of Atlantis—have been associated with the region. Some even proposes that Malaysia Airlines MH370 crashed there. Never mind, that a thorough review of vessels and aircraft lost there reveals that not that many craft have actually disappeared and that those that did had very practical reasons for their disappearance. The Bermuda Triangle still holds a grasp over the minds of many. Like Area 51 or Troy, the Bermuda Triangle seems fated to forever remain steeped in speculation.

The atmosphere of mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle and the likes of Malaysia Airlines MH370 speaks to a current gap in aviation knowledge. Pilots can communicate their positions via radio, air traffic controllers can roughly trace a planes trajectory as long as it’s in range of radar, and planes can even share their own stories how they’ve disappeared with in the data-packed black boxes that they carry, if not the remnants of debris that are discovered. But the ocean is big, the world is big, and what Malaysia Airlines MH370 reminds us is that depending on where a plane is in the world, it very might fall into a blindspot.

Currently, plane’s locations are tracked via ground systems—the fatal reason for so many unexplained disappearance—but a new system aims to track the paths of airplanes via the air. FlightAware and Aireon LLC are collaborating on a project to develop a new satellite technology called ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast) receivers on several low orbit satellites. Dubbed Global Beacon, the project would bring up aviation intel to the internet age, allowing air traffic controllers to track planes in real-time via web-based tools.

The Aireon System / Aireon

The Aireon System / Aireon

Global Beacon is expected to be operational by 2018. Maybe then can we finally put the speculation behind disappearances to rest, and with them, the mythical Bermuda Triangles of the globe.

Belal El-Atari

Chariots of the Sky: Presidential Aircraft in the US and Elsewhere

Like the Shadow, the Phantom, the Black Panther, and even President of the United States, Air Force One is not just one thing. It is a mantle passed down from one generation to the other. Although the designation was first used during Eisenhower’s administration, the United States has a long history of Presidents and planes.

Image of air force one on the tarmac

If you want to get around the world quickly, you’re going to need a plane. And if you just so happen to be a government figure, you better make sure that your aircraft is stylish in addition to being ultra safe. For the most extreme circumstances, you’ll want to make sure that your plane is equipped with radiation pulse shields

Here’s a look at some chariots of the sky used by heads of state across the world.

Note: I plan to add more photos in the future. Added 🙂

Australia

Aircraft: Two 737 Boeing Business Jets and Three Challenger 604s

Fun Fact: The Australian Special Purposes Fleet is used by the Prime Minister, Governor General, Foreign Minister, and even the British Royal Family (when visiting).

737 Boeing Business Jet

737 Boeing Business Jet

Canada

Aircraft: Five Airbus A310-300s (CC-150 Poloaris) and Four Bombardier Challenger 604 Business Jets

Fun Fact: Out of the Five CC-150 Polaris craft, only one of them is operated for carrying VIPs. This one is dubbed No. 001 or Royal Flight when carrying royalty.

CC-150 Poloaris

CC-150 Poloaris

China

Aircraft: Eight Boeing 737-300s and Two 737-700s

Fun Fact: In 2000, China ordered a 767-300ER from Delta Airlines. Soon later, after the plane had been refitted in San Antonio, Chinese authorities claimed that they found 27 bugs onboard the craft.

Boeing 737-300

Boeing 737-300

India

Aircraft: Four Boeing 747-437B

Fun Fact: The official call sign of any aircraft carrying the President of India or Prime Minister of Inida is Air India One.

Boeing 747-437B

Boeing 747-437B

Japan

Aircraft: Two Boeing 747-400

Fun Fact: These crafts have two different types of call signs. Japanese Air Force One and Two for official business, and Cygnus One and Two for operations outside of official business.

Boeing 747-400

Boeing 747-400

Russia

Aircraft: Ilyushin Il-96-300PU

Fun Fact: It is rumored that this plane has gold plated walls an escape pod, much like the one featured in Air Force One.

Ilyushin Il-96-300PU

Ilyushin Il-96-300PU

The UK

Aircraft: Voyager A330, Agusta A109, and BAE-146 airliners

Fun Fact: For domestic flights, the Queen often uses a Sikorsky S-76C++ as part of The Queen’s Helicopter Flight.

Voyager A330

Voyager A330

United States

Aircraft: Two Customized Boeing 747-200B Jetliners

Fun fact: “One” is used as the call sign for the call sign of any craft containing the President. So just like “Air Force One”, you could also have “Army One”, “Marine One”, etc. This just depends on which branch the craft corresponds to. Any craft carrying the VP  has a “Two” at the end of it.

Boeing 747-200B

Boeing 747-200B

 

Belal El-Atari

A Brief History of Safety in Aviation

One of the less sexy aspects of aviation is safety. When the Wright Brothers first took to the skies with their Wright flyer, riding a plane was more of a thrill-seekers game than a business-person’s. Since then the aviation industry has seen a number of developments in safety and stability: from non-pressurized, astral-navigated journeys to jet engines and voice transmission air traffic control systems. This video by Airbus, does a great job of giving a (brief) history of the safety in aviation.

Have you heard of this technological breakthrough that will change aviation?

For more aviation news, follow me on Twitter @BelalElAtari

Airspace By Airbus: A Step Towards the New Normal

As a huge aviation nerd, seemingly mundane things like newly remodeled cabin spaces really interest me. In particular, I’m fascinated by designs that aim that embrace a futuristic aesthetic and function.

Earlier this year European plane-makers, Airbus, unveiled a new cabin design that will revolutionize the way we fly. Designers at Airbus turned to the internet to see what people want out of their flying experience. They looked to viral posts for an understanding of the troubles that frequently are disrupting passengers now and what they could do with previous designs to improve them overall. Airbus is looking to launch these new cabins with a new plane sometime in 2017.

airbus logo - blog on airbus' new cabin design by Belal El-Atari

New Features

The Airspace cabin is loaded with new features to make the overall flying experience enjoyable to all. They have cleared up some of the most complained about features on planes these days and it looks like their customers will be thrilled.

  • More Space

If you haven’t guessed already, the main feature in the new Airspace cabin will be more space! This is not just limited to leg rooms either. The cabin will have a standard 18 inch seat, which will give each passenger more individual room. There is also overhead luggage space that will fit five suitcases.

new cabin design by Airbus - blog by Belal El-Atari

Definitely next-gen.

  • Customizable

Airspace is also completely customizable. Each airline that purchases a new Airbus plane will have the option to add seats, take away seats and even rearrange the layout in general. This will be a great features for airlines to provide an excellent flying experience that coincides with the individual airline itself.

  • Mood lighting

The Airspace cabin will be equipped with mood lighting that can be controlled depending on the time of day or even they type of flight. This feature will help passengers feel calmer, let those on a red eye get some sleep, and overall add to the ambience of the sleek new design.

new Airbus design - article by Belal El-Atari

The future is now.

  • Better Wi-Fi

Probably the most exciting feature on the Airbus will be the onboard improved broadband. The updated Wi-Fi will allow passengers the ability to make phone calls, send text messages, and surf the web right inside the cabin. This feature is the icing on the cake that will make flying feel like less than a chore and more like an experience.

The New Normal

Airspace is a pioneering idea that will shape the way we fly moving forward. Flying will no longer be a hassle, but more of an enjoyable pre-vacation, relaxing experience. With Airbus behind the wheel, even a business flight can feel like an exciting new office space on the way to an important business trip. The possibilities are endless and Airspace will be the first to take us there.

Necessary Travel Hacks Pt. III

I have gotten a good response on the previous two and thought a third was necessary. Traveling is one of the best things people can do in life, but it doesn’t make it any less stressful. Here are some hacks that will ensure you have a safe and relaxing trip. Need to catch up? Here are part one and part two!

hqdefault1. Enable Private Browsing When Booking Flights or Hotels

Private Browsing, or Incognito Browsing, is very important to enable when you are looking for the best travel deal. When you search for the finest deal, the websites will know when you visit more than once as you compare multiple sites. As a result of this, the websites will know when you return and simply raise the price because you have been there before. Enabling private mode will ensure this does not happen and give you the price you are seeking.

2. Roll Your Clothes Instead of Folding

Getting everything you need into your suitcase is a problem the majority of travelers have. Instead of leaving things out, try rolling your clothes instead of folding them. Not only will you be able to fit everything nice and neatly, you will find that you can get more into it. It will help provide space for those trinkets you pick up on the road.

3. Use Spare Glass Cases for Cords

There is nothing worse than having numerous cords and chargers for your various gadgets floating around in your bag. They are easy to misplace, get tangled, leave behind or lose. Wrapping them up tightly and placing them inside the case will ensure that you don’t leave anything behind or destroy them in the process. Also, it will cut down your search within your luggage for that charger for your camera at night.

Seats_on_an_airplane4. Chose the Aisle and Window Seats When Reserving Seats for Two

Many airlines allow you to pick your own seat after you purchase your ticket. When traveling with someone else, reserve the aisle and window seat for you and your travel partner. If the person who has the middle seat doesn’t show up, then you have a full row to yourself. If the person with the middle seat does show up, then you can ask for them to switch seats to ensure you both are sitting together.

5. Give your loose change to the Homeless

When traveling to a foreign country, it’s inevitable that you will have tons of loose change. Since you cannot exchange coins, do something valuable for someone else by giving your change to the homeless.  Not only will you be helping someone else to get a good meal for the day, you will leave on a positive note to the country you’ve been staying in.

Traveling Done Right

4923113846_646b15f40f_oTraveling can take up a lot of time and energy. Researching things to do and places to see is a vital part of any world traveler’s travel experience. Visiting the wrong environments, or places that are swamped in tourism can really impede upon your travel experience. With the advent of smartphones and their apps, we have become much better at tackling the many issues a would-be traveller faces. Quicker access to information and a more ready usage can prevent the world traveller from ever having to struggle again. If you want to travel without problems, here are a few great free apps Business Insider suggests to download before you embark on your journey.

IndieGuides

Indie Guides is an awesome app for those travellers looking to travel the beaten path. It strays away from the typical tourist attractions, and sends you on your way to local favorite spots. It is available for cities throughout North America, Asia , Europe, and Europe.

Microsoft Translator

This app is designed to translate conversations and words across forty languages. Just type the word or phrase you’re looking to translate, and the app will do the rest. Although the app is not perfect, it is much better than having to use a pocket translation book.

Hopper

Hopper uses a price-predictive function that allows you to determine when is the best time to buy and fly. The app claims to have 95% accuracy, which is certainly an impressive number. It will predict flight prices and monitor those prices 24/7 just for you!

AirGrub

Airgrub makes eating at the airport so much easier. The app allows you to avoid long waits by allowing you to pre order your meal online for pickup. Although AirGrub is only available at a few select airports including JFK, Logan International in Boston, and San Francisco, the app is sure to expand its horizons in the coming years.

Companion

A strangely useful app, Companion prioritizes your safety. Companion keeps track of where you travelled and the exact course you may have travelled. This is mainly for individuals who are travelling to areas where safety may be a huge concern. In case you go missing, this app may just find you !

Wiffinity

This is your go-to Wifi app. Wiffinity allows you to find and connect to free Wifi with no anxiety over roaming charges. The app has access to over 300,000 wifi hotspots worldwide.

Flio

When you’re stuck in an airport because of a layover, this is your go-to app. Flio automatically connects you to free wifi, and offers discounts on food, shopping, and airport lounges. The app gives is accessible and usable in all major international airports.

Great Little Place

This stellar app helps you find secret destinations and hidden gems that are otherwise unheard of. Visitors who have visited these places in various cities and countries recommend these spots and must-see destinations. Like a more exclusive Yelp, this app helps you navigate through the best restaurants, bars, pubs, and other destinations.

If you liked this post and would like to read more travel news and info, check out my twitter @BelalElAtari . Thanks for reading !

A Year In Review for Airline Travel

Korea-Incheon-International-Airport-Deperture-lobby-check-in-counter2015 was positive and negative year for airline travel. In recent years, the airline industry has seen plenty of downfall, but this year changed a lot of things. Airlines saw a positive growth in profits and passenger loads, but this didn’t ensure that all passengers saw any positive changes as a result. As we are only a few days into the new years, there were still developments that never were resolved in the past year. It’s likely that they will spill over into the upcoming years, shaping how the industry will change.  It didn’t mean that nothing was accomplished through! I have listed a couple of issues that were both celebrated and criticized in the past year.

Profit Gain

The airline industry saw a net profit of thirty-three billion dollars for 2015. The International Air Transport Associations pointed out that lower oil prices, high load factors, and a strong demand were factors in the rise for the year. In the United States, profits were around nineteen billion dollars, which was a gain from the previous year. As a result of these profit changes, the industry invested the money into improving different a variety of products. In the US, most airlines decided to focus on improving premium cabins. Companies hoped that by improving luxury accommodations, it would draw in bigger spenders. How did these companies change things then? Delta decided to add Westin Heavenly Bedding to the cabins, along with expensive silverware for customers to use. American and United both revamped their lounges to ensure customers would be able to wait in total luxury, while United also added meal options for international flights.

Economy

As for those in economy, no changes yet. Actually, things were worse than previous years. Many airlines limited the products that many customers had in the past. The number of bag check in changed, weight limits were strictly enforced and rewards were limited even more. For example, Delta introduced its “Basic Economy” package. Seat selection was taken away and now assigned after check in. Economy customers board last and you can no longer cancel or change any part of your flight, which can often leave people in a lot of trouble. We can hope that with the rise in profits, airlines will spend some more money on these customers.

These were only a few of the travel victories and loses. USA Today has listed at least five more on their website, which you can read here. We can only hope that with the new year, more positive changes that help every type of passenger emerges.

The Fix That Could Change Air Travel

belal-el-atari-nextgenAir travel has grown and grown since its dawn with the Wright brothers. Airplanes, both public and private fly across countries and across the world each and every day. It’s not longer an uncomfortable journey to get from point A to point B, and now you can get there in a fraction of the time as you used to get there. Whether its cargo ships holding consumer goods from China, or happy couple vacationing to their honeymoon in Hawaii, planes rule the sky, but how much room is there for improvement.

To give you a better idea of the daily rate of flying and the atmosphere of the sky in regards to air traffic, I have laid out a few statistics below:

  • 27,000 flights a day across the globe
  • Nearly 50,000 tons of cargo is transported
  • 2.1 million passengers served (enough to fill the Rose Bowl about 23 times)
  • 580,000 workers — from pilots to flight attendants to rampers to mechanics — employed by the U.S. airline industry

To be quite frank, the air traffic control systems currently in place need a re-boot, and they need it bad. The systems being used are old and technologically obsolete compared to the GPS systems located in your center console of your car. Although the system is fairly safe there are ways to improve efficiency, convenience, and dependability.

“NextGen — a 21st century GPS satellite-based system — would make air travel more efficient, dependable and convenient. It would reduce flight delays, cancellations, aircraft noise and emissions. Real-time information between airports and aircraft would provide a better travel experience. And here’s the thing: This technology has been available for years, yet we’re stuck in a holding pattern, if you will, just waiting to land.” (thehill.com)

Where it stands now the push for NextGen is not for lack of wanting, but instead there are structural and financial obstacles. There would need to be significant changes in governance, funding, and accountability for NextGen to revolutionize air travel for the future.

Hopefully in the near future the proper changes will be made and motions will be set to establish NextGen as the official air traffic GPS system. The technology will have countless benefits and improve air travel experiences immediately.

 

Thank you for reading!

-Belal El-Atari