Meet The Airplane That Has Glass Floors

Air travel has become a commodity business. Even as recently as the 1970s, even domestic airlines still competed with one another on things like in-flight lounges and bars as well as providing fine dining experiences to their customers in the air. Up until the 1980s, it was still almost a given that passengers would dress up as if going to a formal gathering when taking to the skies. Flying was a more inspiring experience then.

But as air travel became cheaper and began being marketed to the masses, not as a unique and adventurous experience but as a simple means to quickly travel from one corner of the planet to another, the romance and wonder of air travel began to fade.

Now, Airbus and its partner firm, Design Q, have teamed up to bring air travel back to the days of Roald Amundsen, when flying was a means to high adventure and the entrance to an exalted world that only the rarefied elite could access. The two companies are ushering in a new era of the pole-traversing airship.

The 302-foot-long Airlander 10 looks like an almost alien creation from the outside, with two large tubes filled with helium to keep it aloft. On the inside, however, the ship looks much like an ultra-luxury yacht. With spacious staterooms, a large viewing area and a bar and lounge that would be the envy of any five-star restaurant, the Airlander 10 is a flying luxury hotel that gives its guests some of the most stunning views in the world. The airship’s forward observation compartment is decked out with floor-to-ceiling picture windows, providing a view with an expanse that has never been matched by a previous craft. And to top it all off, the viewing area features a large glass floor, providing views straight to the ground that will put up to 15,000 feet between the passengers’ shoes and the Earth’s surface.

The Airlander 10 is currently undergoing final flight testing and is scheduled to be approved for passenger service later this year. Although it is slow by international air travel standards, its 91-mph top speed make it approximately three to four times faster than even the fastest ocean liners. And the Airlander 10 provides levels of travel comfort that rival even the best of the Cunard Line. However, passengers can expect to shell out big money to travel in such high-flying style. The ship will have operational costs similar to an intercontinental-range airliner but will only accomodate 19 passengers.

from Dave Pflieger | CEO of Ravn Alaska


The Airbus Beluga XL Takes Its First Flight

The latest aircraft from Airbus, the strange-looking and massive Beluga XL, has taken its first flight. The airplane represents the culmination of years of development and will replace the older aircraft of the same name.

The airplane is based on the Airbus A330-200 platform, and many of the components from that plane can be readily identified by the casual observer. For example, the A330’s distinctive wings, which feature a unique winglet that protrudes above and below the level of the wings in the same proportions, are identical to those used on the Beluga.

But the similarities stop there. The Beluga’s fuselage is so heavily modified as to be almost unrecognizable as an A330 variant. While the aircraft shares most of its avionics with the A330, its cockpit area is radically different, appearing more like the wheelhouse in an airship than anything one might be accustomed to seeing on a modern jet.

The older version of the Beluga was based on the A300, which was the first twin-engine widebody to fly commercially. The A300 has been out of production for decades and its parts are becoming ever more difficult to find, driving service costs through the roof. For these reasons, Airbus needed a replacement.

The new Beluga is actually able to haul even more weight and larger cargo than its predecessor. This is good news for the company that now produces the largest commercial aircraft in the world, the Airbus A380. Because Airbus has assembly plants located across Europe and sources aircraft parts, some of which are massive in scale, from across the globe, they need a plane that can handle carrying oversize parts to and from various production facilities. With its more than 500,000-pound maximum takeoff weight, this is a job that the new Beluga XL is more than capable of carrying out.

Airbus archrival Boeing has an oversized cargo plane of its own. Called the Dreamlifter, the aircraft provides a similar role to that of the Beluga XL, with Boeing also having suppliers for its commercial aircraft manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Much to Airbus’ chagrin, however, the Dreamlifter, which is based on the 747-800, can lift over twice as much as its European counterpart, giving it a huge advantage in hauling the most challenging cargo from the ends of the Earth.

from Dave Pflieger | CEO of Ravn Alaska

The Return of the Airship?

Dave Pflieger - The Return of the Airship-

When you think of modern day aviation, you probably picture an airplane, right? And although they are the dominant form of air travel today, they weren’t always so popular. The main method of aviation before the dawn of the airplane was the dirigible airship. You may know these better as blimps. While there are different kinds of dirigibles, one of the most popular forms was the blimp. Dirigibles became incredibly popular during World War I and are infamous for the Hindenburg disaster. The popular rock band Led Zeppelin is named after an airship.


And while they have been out of the spotlight for quite some time, they could be making a comeback.


A British aviation company, Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), is looking to infuse the travel industry with a dose of nostalgia. The company has recently struck a deal with travel company Henry Cookson Adventures in order to feature its new, 21st Century aircraft in tours.


The tours will take the aircraft on long expeditions across the world. The first two destinations for the tour include North America and the Middle East. On the way to North America, tourists will be able to see the Atlantic Ocean, while Middle East-bound travelers will get a breathtaking view of the Alps.


The Airlander, HAV’s main aircraft, is currently undergoing strict testing programs designed specifically to ensure safety and airworthiness. The company’s prototype made its first flight sometime in May. The commercial, passenger aircraft is designed to fly at 80 knots, carry 10 tons and reach a 20,000ft maximum.


The Airlander’s design draws inspiration from classic airplanes, helicopters and other aircrafts in order to achieve the ultimate aircraft design. The true beauty of the aircraft’s design is its sustainability. The Airlander’s design allows for vertical takeoff and creates little to no pollution; the aircraft is also inexpensive to operate and can be flown for several weeks at a time; in short, it is the ultimate aircraft.


I’m incredibly excited to see the real world applications that HAV’s masterpiece can be used for. Who knows, maybe one day we will all be traveling by an HAV 21st century aircraft.

from Dave Pflieger |CEO of Ravn Alaska

Travel Tips for Summer

Summer is officially here! And as the days get longer, the nights get warmer and the beaches get packed with sunbathers, it is only natural that humans want to explore the world. And in order to explore the world, we utilize one of the greatest inventions in recent history: the airplane. Unfortunately, millions of other humans want to travel, and that can create some headaches. With that being said, I figured I could list a few helpful tips for traveling this summer, whether you are flying to another state or another country.


Pack Light

One of the biggest mistakes any person can make while traveling is to pack too much. People like to pack their clothing, their toiletries, electronics, reading material, and so on. And while those things are important, what I am focusing on here is to ensure that you pack the bare necessities. Bring only the exact number of clothes that you know you will need. Do not bring your laptop, tablet, smartphone, speakers and headphones. Only bring what you actually need and what you know you will use. By keeping your number of items as small as possible, you are cutting down on check-in fees for luggage and the amount of stuff you have to carry around with you.


Dress Comfortably

If you are flying first-class then you can probably ignore this tip, but if you are flying economy you are well aware of the fact that comfort on an airplane is as realistic as a unicorn. That is why it is important to make the best of an uncomfortable situation. Wear loose clothing that allows your body to breathe (like sweatpants and a hoodie), wear shoes that can be easily taken off and put back on, and throw on a baseball cap in order to avoid doing your hair. Essentially, wear whatever you need to in order to sleep easier.


Stay Hydrated

This one may not even be on your mind while flying, but it is always great to stay hydrated on a flight. Dehydration on a flight, especially a long one, is never good. Experts recommend that you drink enough water so that you are forced to use the lavatory every so often. This not only keeps your body hydrated, but also keeps your body moving, so that you do not run the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis.

from Dave Pflieger Airline Advisor at World Bank Group