This Retired 747 is Testing the Engines of the Future

David Pflieger highlights the 747’s testing of a brand-new engine.

Airplanes have a limited life expectancy. They last for years, but every plane will eventually wear out and retire from active service with an airline. Some of them end up as scrap while others find their way into new roles. Rolls-Royce has acquired one of those retired planes for research purposes. They plan to use it to help test new engines that may see use on the planes of the future.

The Plane

The test plane began life as a Boeing 747, one of the most common jets among modern airlines. It flew for one of the world’s oldest and largest airlines, Qantas Airways Limited, for two decades before transitioning to its new role. It will need roughly two years and millions of dollars before it is ready to take to the skies again.

That investment of time and money will equip the plane with both a new engine and all of the special instruments that it will need to track the engine’s performance while it is still in the air. The modifications will ensure that the jet is as much a research station as an aircraft. It is certainly a large project, but it is likely to go smoothly. Rolls-Royce has plenty of experience because the company has already converted another Boeing 747 for research purposes.

The Project

Rolls-Royce plans to use their plane to test one of their latest designs, the UltraFan engine. The company hopes that the new engine will offer more fuel efficiency than modern engines, improved safety, and a higher level of general performance. The improvements will benefit both the environment and the passengers on future planes. That type of improvement may seem like a tall order, but Rolls-Royce is confident that it can get the job done. They have a large team working on the project and plenty of technical experience. The company hopes to start deploying the new engines within a decade.

The Future

It will take years of tweaking and testing to prepare the new technology for deployment. After all, jet engines are highly complicated devices and Rolls-Royce needs to be sure that they are safe before deploying them. Their newest test plane will definitely have a lot of work to do in the coming years.

Speedy Security: How to get Through Airport Security Quickly

Dave Pflieger highlights some of the best ways to speed through security checkpoints at the airport.

Going through airport security can be a daunting process with its long lines and wait times. Airport security is especially worrying for travelers who are pressed for time and are trying to get to their gate. Luckily, there are multiple things a traveler can do so they can pass through security as quickly as possible.

Join a Trusted Traveler Program
The Department of Homeland Security has various Trusted Traveler programs that will enable travelers to quickly pass through security. Two that are useful for the majority of travelers are TSA PreCheck and Global Entry. TSA PreCheck is great for domestic travel. Over two hundred airports and sixty-seven airlines are part of the TSA PreCheck program, so it is likely that it will be useful to travelers wherever they are in the United States. Travelers pass through TSA PreCheck lines where they are not required to take off their shoes or belt nor are they required to remove their computer or liquids from their bag. The majority of travelers wait no longer than five minutes in a PreCheck line. Global Entry is great for travelers who travel internationally and also includes TSA PreCheck. Besides the benefits of TSA PreCheck, Global Entry speeds up the arrival process for travelers who are coming from abroad. Global Entry members use automatic kiosks instead of going through the usual arrivals line and processing by a customs officer.

In order to read the full article, written by Dave 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.