Tips and Tricks Behind Designing an Airport

David Pflieger highlights what architects consider when designing an airport.

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Architects don’t have an easy job, but there’s something especially daunting about designing an airport. The dramatically high volume of travelers that come through these transit points are also incredibly diverse. The necessary chokepoints like security stations and baggage claim add an extra layer of complexity to things, and while airports are fundamentally about shuttling people from one place to another as efficiently as possible, it’s also a place of commerce. These two competing notions are often in conflict with one another. As a result, architects have to be strategic with their design, and there are a number of clever tricks they’ve learned to employ over the years.

One of the key tasks an architect needs to achieve is putting customers at ease. The crowds, tight deadlines, and high level of security in airports can be incredibly stress-inducting, so designers have learned that establishing cues is necessary to facilitate a sense of orderly conduct. The most critical of these is a philosophy known as “wayfinding”. Getting lost disrupts the core efficiency of an airport while also exacerbating that core anxiety, so architects try to use the environment to guide individuals to their destinations as quickly as possible. Different terminals often use different signage, coloring, and even carpets to designate a change of environment, and large pieces of art serve as implicit guideposts for passengers who might have lost their way.

And while airports have become increasingly more secure with the presence of tighter security checkpoints and more officers, smart airport design ensures that passengers play an important role in maintaining order and security. Posters and signs throughout modern airports don’t just nudge customers into reporting suspicious behavior. They strongly enforce the notion that doing so is an act of virtue. In doing so, these prompts become an implicit act of virtue on the part of passengers rather than an imperative from an authoritarian figure.

One of the great ironies of modern airport design is that many of the security measures themselves are largely theater in the same way this signage is. Small measures like encouraging engagement by customers and increasing administrative security protocol have the most substantive effect on an airport’s security, but they aren’t decisions that are objectively present in the minds of passengers and thus do little to ease concerns about their safety. When new security machines and checkpoints are put in place, they’re as much for the sake of the attitudes of passengers as they are preventive anti-crime measures.

In order to read the full article, written by David Pflieger, make sure to click the link.

Boeing’s Blunder: Inspectors of the Boeing 737 MAX were Reportedly Unprepared

Dave Pflieger explains whether or not the Boeing 737 MAX’s were improperly inspected.

According to the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee chairman, an investigation has been launched to evaluate the training of aviation safety inspectors. The inquiry was prompted by claims from whistleblowers that the inspectors were improperly trained, suggesting that some of the inspectors should not have received their certifications. Inspectors responsible for evaluating the Boeing 737 MAX, which has been grounded, have also become a target of this investigation.
The committee started taking whistleblower complaints seriously after the second Boeing 737 MAX crash within a year. The first aircraft crashed in Indonesia this past October, and the second crash occurred in Ethiopia just last month. Together, almost 350 people were killed in the two crashes.
Roger Wicker, a Republican senator, submitted a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration, which suggested the organization had early knowledge of the training discrepancies. He wrote that the FAA had received the whistleblower complaints prior to the crash in Indonesia. Concerns over the training and certification of inspectors were raised as early as August of last year.
The letter sent by Senator Wicker didn’t specify who was responsible for employing the inspectors in question. Typically, the FAA is responsible for training and certifying its own inspectors. However, the organization has started outsourcing these responsibilities to Boeing and other aircraft manufacturers. The concern is that the aircraft manufacturers aren’t putting their inspectors through the same rigorous training programs as those used by the FAA.
The letter written by the senator asked a series of questions, which Daniel Elwell, the organization’s administrator, must answer. Previously, the FAA administrator told the senate committee that he welcomed any outside evaluation of the organization’s processes and methods. Although Elwell also said he’s proud of the FAA’s whistleblower program, he stated that he wasn’t aware of any complaints made by employees of the organization.
According to Mr. Wicker, the Flight Standardization Board responsible for evaluating the Boeing 737 MAX was comprised of improperly trained inspectors. The whistleblower reports suggested these inspectors were incapable of determining the required pilot rating, recommending training programs, or ensuring the flight crew was competent to operate the craft.
Last week, Boeing announced plans to reprogram software aboard the 737 MAX. They believe a glitch in the software’s anti-stall system was being triggered by erroneous data collected by the program. The errors in the software may be responsible for the two crashes this year.

Deciding if ATOL is Worth It

Dave Pflieger explains whether or not ATOL is worth it for passengers.

As the summer gears up for many in the United Kingdom, plenty of travelers question whether or not ATOL protection is necessary when booking holidays through various travel agencies in the UK. Since 1973, ATOL, Air Travel Organiser’s License, has helped protect UK citizens when booking holiday travel through UK travel agencies. In 2012, it was expanded to include certain online bookings.

At a cost of £2.50 per traveler, a steal at that bargain rate, the tourist insurance offers added protection against unknown circumstances out of the would-be explorers’ control. ATOL travelers’ insurance covers each person in case various companies involved with the holiday travel cease to do business. For example, airline strikes, the company goes under, or other unseen problems which may arise. Per Money.co.uk, “As well as cancellation and delay caused by a travel company or airline going bust, you might find your trip being put on hold or called off altogether because of strike action, a natural catastrophe, or a breakdown of your plane, train, coach, or bus.”

All vacationers do have the option of booking through non-UK companies and save the £2.50 per person in the vacationing group. Doing so will result in the traveler(s) bearing responsibilities should something go wrong with the airlines, lodgings, or other forms of travel booked for the holiday. While having a credit card as backup may seem to be enough, the added cost of finding the proper passage to return can cost more than the original booking, and none of which will be guaranteed a refund.

It should be noted ATOL only applies to flight package based holidays. For cruises and self-driving trips, Brits should learn about ABTA [Association of British Travel Agents]. All covered agencies must supply a certificate of coverage as well as a four or five digit number which can be checked through the CAA’s [Civil Aviation Authority] website.

The monies are added to an insurance pool which the CAA uses to help stranded passengers return home or receive a full refund depending upon circumstances. While it may seem it doesn’t matter if they book through an ATOL covered company, the small fee may become the one addition that turned a vacation from breaking the bank to one in which a near disaster was averted.

Airline Apocalypse: Failed and Defunct Airlines

Dave Pflieger highlights a few once-popular airlines that have gone the way of the dodo.

Commercial aviation may be barely a century old, but few would argue that it’s going anywhere anytime soon. Flight is still the most efficient way to travel, and it’s shaped the way we interact with the world in truly dramatic ways. But just because air travel is here for the long haul doesn’t mean that there aren’t casualties along the way. Here are some once famous airlines that have failed to stay with us over the years.

Eastern Air Lines

Miami-based Eastern Air Lines was once one of the biggest players in commercial air, but it became a lesson in the powerful role workers can play in a company’s feasibility. The first cause for concern came in 1988, as more economical alternatives started to cut into Eastern’s bottom line, but it was the deregulation in the years that followed which served as the nail in the coffin. An attempt to freeze out protesting members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers led to a galvanization of multiple related unions, and Eastern Air Lines was left crippled. They were forced to declare bankruptcy in 1989 and finally ended operations at the beginning of 1991.

Braniff International Airlines

Few airlines had the flair that Braniff International did. Their colorful uniforms, designed by Emilio Pucci, especially made them stand apart from the competition. But it was the company’s notable confidence that got the best of it. An attempt at aggressive expansion in a time when fuel costs peaked and economy alternatives created a highly competitive market drove Braniff into deep debt and rapidly led to their dissolution.

Lakers Airways Skytrain

The problem with Lakers was in many ways the polar opposite of Braniff. They entered the market during the glut of new competitors in the early 1980s and promised tremendously low cost flights, often as much as half that of the major airlines. Unfortunately, the model quickly proved unsustainable, and they ended up as just another forgotten experiment in a boom notable for them.

Interflug

It could be argued that Interflug was a victim of geopolitics, but there had been problems with its structure for a long time. Based out of East Berlin, its planes suffered from poor fuel efficiency and noise protection. When the Berlin wall fell, a number of airlines expressed interest in purchasing Interflug, but the airline ultimately failed to find a serious buyer.