The Anonymous Widower

Pilots: New Boeing Like Rodeo Ride

The title of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

The article gives quotes from experienced pilots.

These pilots give me little confidence in the aircraft.

I doubt, I’ll ever knowingly book a flight in any Boeing 737 MAX

March 16, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | 1 Comment

Have Boeing Gone As Far As They Can With The 737?

As a Control Engineer, who has spent a working life, solving mathematical problems, I am tending to think that in trying to stretch a fifty-year-old conventional design to match an all-composite one from Airbus, where fuel is noved around to balance the aircraft, Boeing have reached the end of the road and need a new aircraft.

They realised this with larger aircraft and produced the Dreamliner, which has been successful.

March 13, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Don’t Pay Extra For Seats (Unless It’s Ryanair)

The ritle of this post is the same as that of an article in today’s copy of The Times.

It said that if you don’t pay for seats on a flight nine out of ten get to sitwith their travelling companions.

However, if you don’t pay on Tyanair, more than half were seated away from their friends.

I never pay, but in most cases I travel alone!

It all looks like another reason to not fly Ryanair!

March 12, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Are The Boeing 737 MAX 8 Crashes Too Much Of A Coincidence?

When I was flying extensively as a private pilot, I used to follow air crash information closely. Many pilots do, as you might learn something that could be useful, even when you’re flying a humble Piper Arrow.

The two Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes have a lot in common.

  • Both airlines had a good service record.
  • Both planes had only been with their airlines for a few months.
  • Both captains were experienced pilots.
  • The planes crashed soon after takeoff, after pilots requested to return to the airport.
  • Both planes appeared to dive straight into the ground or sea.

This is too much of a coincidence for me.

I won’t speculate as to what the problem is, but I do feel that both airliners succumbed to the same design fault.

The only similar problem, I can remember is the series of incidents caused by cargo doors on DC-10 airliners in the 1970s.

American Airlines Flight 96 had the first problem in 1972 and luckily no-one was killed.

Some modifications were made, but this didn’t stop the crash outside Paris of Turkish Airlines Flight 981 in 1974, which killed all 346 people on board.

Did McDonnell Douglas and the American Authorities act as professionally as they should have?

I made a decision to never fly in a DC-10 again. I actually did, but it was eleven years later, after all the problems had been fixed.

What Will Be Trump’s Reaction?

Consider.

  • Boeing has a factory to build parts and assemble aircraft in China.
  • A lot of 737 MAX 8 airlines have been ordered by Chinese airliners.
  • China is developing an airliner called a C-919, that fits the same niche as some variants of a Boeing 737.
  • China has grounded all 737 Max 8 airliners in the country.
  • China and the USA are having trade talks over tariffs and trade.
  • Boeing is one of the largest American defence contractors.

So what will Trump tweet?

Conclusion

I won’t be flying in a Boeing 737 MAX 8 for several years.

March 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 8 Comments

DfT Urged To Make Operators Reveal If Trains Are Electric Or Diesel Due To Carbon Concerns

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on |Engineering And Technology.

This is the first paragraph.

Nearly half of rail passengers would like to know how their trains are powered according to a new poll of 1,025 regular rail users from train ticket retailer Loco2.

I think that loco2 are on the right track.

London And Birmingham

For instance take the route between London and Birmingham, where you have three different train operators.

  • Virgin Trains – 125 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Fast, cramped and the most expensive
  • West Midland Trains – 110 mph electric trains between London Euston and Birmingham New Street stations – Slower, more space and reasonably priced
  • Chiltern Railways – 100 mph diesel trains between London Marylebone and Birmingham Moor Street stations – Slower, most comfortable and reasonable priced

If I need to get to Birmingham in a hurry, a use Virgin, but if I want a comfortable journe at a lower pricey, where I can spread my paper on a large table, I take Chiltern.

Those that pay the money make their choice.

Knowing the carbon footprint might persuade some passengers to take a particular train operating company, but I think it would have an effect on train operating companies, if they were perceived to have a low carbon rating.

In my example, the only diesel operator of the three; Chiltern Railways, probably can’t switch to electric traction, as electrifying the route would be prohibitively expensive.

  • They can offset their carbon footprint, by perhaps planting trees.
  • There will also be technology that will cut their diesel consumption.

After that it’s down to the strength of their marketing.

London And Scotland

The competition for trains between London and Scotland is the airlines.

Publishing carbon footprints would favour the trains, as there is a lot of electrification on Scottish routes.

The Man In Seat 61 gives his view on this page of his web site.

 

February 11, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Ryanair Plane Seized Over €500k Debt

The title of this post is the same as that of a short article in today’s Times.

Surely, it is another reason to fly with someone else!

November 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Gatwick Sets Out Ambitious Future Growth Plan, Including Routine Use Of Its Existing Standby Runway

The title of this post, is the same as that of this Press Release from Gatwick Airport.

The plan is essentially very simple. The standby runway will be reconfigured so that it can be used for the take-off of smaller planes, whilst the current main runway is in full operation.

In the near term, they intend to make the most of one of the world’s most efficient runways, but by the mid-2020s, the standby runway will be able to be used simultaneously.

In the long term, Gatwick would aim to build the third runway on land that has been safeguarded for that purpose.

This Google Map shows the airport.

The current two runways stand out.

  • The main runway is the longer Southern one.
  • The standby runway is the shorter Northern one.

This second Google Map shows the Eastern ends of the two runways.

It looks to me, that with rearrangement of the taxiways, aprons and the South Terminal, that the standby runway could become a runway meeting all the regulations.

This is said in an article in The Guardian.

Gatwick’s emergency runway could be widened by 12 metres to comply with safety requirements for a 210-metre centreline gap from the main runway, and be used for an additional 10-15 short-haul flights an hour to take off.

An expanded terminal, an additional aircraft pier of landing gates and work on roads around the airport could also be required to accommodate the extra passengers. The work would take two to three years to complete.

If there is a need for for more runway capacity in the South East of England, I feel Gatwick’s plan is a good one.

These are my thoughts.

An Affordable Cost

The Guardian article quotes the cost at half a billion pounds, which in the grand scheme of transport projects is not a large sum.

It is the sort of sum, that can be easily raised by a business like Gatwick Airport.

Minimal Disruption

It is the type of project, where during construction, with the application of good project management, there should be only minimal disruption to the following groups.

  • Passengers using the Airport
  • Workers needing to go to and from the Airport
  • Rail passengers passing through Gatwick station
  • Traffic on the nearby M23 motorway.

The biggest disruption will probably come from transporting materials to the site.

A Phased Capacity Upgrade

I also feel, that planned carefully and built over the two or three years quoted in the Guardian, that capacity could be upgraded in a gradual manner, which would be easier to utilise, than say the massive increase that would be afforded by a totally new runway.

Planned Rail Links To Gatwick

In The Rise Of Gatwick Airport, I wrote this about the rail connections to Gatwick Airport.

I found this article in TravelWeekly, which is entitled Gatwick outlines plans for a train departure to London every three minutes.

It gives a very good summary of the train services that will run to Gatwick after Thameslink is completed.

The planned hourly timetable would see:

•         Four dedicated Gatwick Express trains to Victoria
•         Six trains to Victoria – originating from East and West Coastway, Horsham/Littlehampton, and Three Bridges/Haywards Heath
•         Four trains to Bedford via London Bridge – originating from Gatwick and Brighton
•         Two trains to Cambridge via London Bridge – originating from Brighton
•         Two trains to Peterborough via London Bridge – originating from Horsham
•         Two trains to London Bridge – originating from Littlehampton/West Coastway, and Haywards Heath/Three Bridges.

That is a total of twenty trains to and from London and beyond and most of the South Coast from Southampton to Hastings.

How many better rail-connected airports are there anywhere in the world?

The article also quotes Guy Stephenson, the Airport’s Chief Commercial Officer as saying.

The new high frequency service that will serve Gatwick will transform rail journeys for our passengers, with capacity doubling and a train to London every three minutes.

Crucially, the new trains will be much more reliable and will be stacked with amenities suited to the needs of air travellers.  Combined with robust new track and signalling systems, Gatwick’s passengers will experience a really pleasant and dependable service.

Overall, the improvements to Gatwick’s rail service means that 15 million people will be brought within 60 minutes of Gatwick by rail – the best reach of any UK airport,

Reading the article, you might think that Thameslink should be called Gatwicklink!

According to this Press Release on the Gatwick Airport web site, Gatwick Airport are going to spend £120.5million on updating the rail station. This is an architect’s impression of the new station.

GatwickAirport

I also think that Gatwick could extend their Gatwick Express services.

I think we can also see development of Airport services to and from Gatwick Airport station based on the following existing services.

Will we be seeing a second Gatwick Express route from Ashford or Ebbsfleet to Reading via Gatwick Airport?

Consider.

  • It would inevitably get known as the M25-on-rails.
  • It gives a large number of passengers a way to get to Gatwick and Continental Rail Services without going through Central London.
  • It could serve Heathrow, if they got their act together.
  • Surprisingly, I think this route will be quicker to go between Reading and Gatwick, than using Crossrail and Thameslink with a change at Farringdon.
  • The trains for such a service could be the same as the new Class 387/2 Gatwick Expresses, but with an IPEMU capability.

But it wouldn’t be just an Airport service, as I suspect that given adequate parking at stations, it would become a valuable cross-country route linking the rail hubs of Ebbsfleet, Gatwick and Reading. After all, North of London, the East West Rail Link is being created from Reading to Cambridge via Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Southern also run a service from Milton Keynes to South Croydon via the West London Line. In the future this service will serve Old Oak Common station on Crossrail, HS2, the West Coast Main Line and the North London Line.

So will this service be extended from South Croydon to Gatwick and become a third Gatwick Express service?

These two additional Gatwick Express services would greatly increase or ease the airport’s links across the wider South East and to HS2 services out of Euston.

The only problem, is the overcrowding on the Brighton Main Line.

That post was written in February 2016.

The Future Of Rail Links To Gatwick

Since I wrote the article two years ago, the following has happened.

  • Thameslink has opened and is now running eight trains per hour (tph) between Gatwick Airport and London St. Pancras International.
  • In Gibb Report – Gatwick Airport Station Should Be Transferred To Gatwick Airport, I reported on what Chris Gibb said about the ownership of Gatwick Airport station.
  • Luton Airport has been pressing for a better service. It currently has ten tph to London with timings of between 34-42 minutes.
  • There are four tph between Gatwick and Luton Airports, two of which take 80 minutes and two take 100 mins.
  • The world and his wife are complaining about the cut-price Class 700 trains.
  • The Class 700 trains may be OK for short journeys, but they are a nightmare between say Brighton and Cambridge.
  • Travellers on the East London Line are complaining that getting to Gatwick is not easy as only two tph stop at Norwood Junction.
  • If the Bakerloo Line is extended to Lewisham, then it will call at New Cross Gate.

The Thameslink service needs to be improved.

  • The trains need a major upgrade.
  • Should there be a limited stop service, running at four tph between Brighton and Bedford, which stopped at Gatwick and Luton Airport and  the Central London stations?
  • Should at least four tph stop at New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction to connect to the East London Line and the proposed Bakerloo Line extension to Lewisham?
  • Could a 125 mph bi-mode be developed, that would enable a service between Gatwick and Sheffield?

As there could be up to six spare paths to be allocated on Thameslink, there are a lot of possibilities for new and improved services.

If other services were extended to Gatwick Airport, it could become a major rail hub for the South East of England.

Conclusion

London and the South East needs more runway capacity.

  • Extending the standby runway at Gatwick, effectively creates a very useful half-capacity runway.
  • Developing a major rail hub at the Airport, would be useful for all sorts of reasons.
  • Adding a second full-size runway would make Gatwick one of the busiest airports in the world.

Gatwick may be the wrong side of London, but I think it offers better possibilities than a third runway at Heathrow.

 

 

October 19, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Next Time I’ll Go By Train

I have just taken thirty minutes to get through aecurity at City Airport. Mainly because there is not enough staff!

Airports in general could also use much more artificial intelligence to speed the process.

A lot would be to apply simple rules to historic passenger flows to make certain there are enough staff.

September 10, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

They’re Supposed To Be No Frills Airlines

I am going to Switzerland next week and needed a ticket from Geneva to London to get back.

The process to buy a ticket has grown from a simple choose a flight, put in passenger details and pay, to a complete conversation with the Devil.

I don’t want a hotel, car hire, to pay extra for anything, so please can we have a secret door to by-pass all that junk?

And whilst I’m at it, why not abolish duty-free, as this slows down boarding and costs everybody on their ticket.

I would have taken the train back, but Eurostar is almost sold out and I might not have the flexibility I need in Switzerland.

At least Eurostar has a fairly streamlined booking.

September 9, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Longevity Of Light Aircraft

I am just watching the travel section of BBC Breakfast, where Cat Moh is taking a flight in a light aircraft to Le Touquet from Blackbushe.

The aircraft they are using is G-BJDW, which I have flown many times, when it was based at Ipswich Airport. It was the plane that many, like me, used for instrument-flying training in the 1980s.

I remember flying three Metier employees to Denham from Ipswich one day.

Delta-Whisky looked to be in good condition, as it was thirty or more years ago.

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 2 Comments