Density Altitude is Real

Hello again, my fellow aviation enthusiasts.

It’s week 2 of being back at Gulfstream since returning from the Air Race Classic. Needless to say, there’s a transition that I’m still stuck in even 9 days after returning. No one, except my mom, told me that there is such a big difference between work and school ethic. School consumes every single second of every day for me. This past semester, I was up at 0445, flying by 0630, class from 0915-1300, working from 1330-1700, at group or individual flight team practice from 1715-1915, and then homework. Forget a social life. Luckily my best friends live with me so we make time to have fun at home.

Now granted, not everyone’s schedule is like this; I choose this crazy busy life, it didn’t choose me. But this gives you an idea of how busy of a schedule that I’m used to. Now, transition here to today. I’m working from 0730-1600 on average and then head home. To do what? Well, I make myself do things. Clean the apartment, write CFI lesson plans, apply for scholarships, apply for jobs, laundry, fun crafts, learning to curl my hair with a straightener, try perfecting a new recipe, FaceTime the dog back home while doing the dishes. But what does this all mean? Why should you care? I am living proof that the way you shape your own college experience (hopefully with us at ERAU!) shapes you into the working adult you will become. Through my choices of classes, clubs, teams, and friends, I have been able to teach myself time management,  self-discipline, self-motivation, stress management, when to call it quits, and of course how to have fun.

The picture above is me and my race partner, Abbie, taking off from Prescott, Arizona.

Pilots always talk about the effects of Density Altitude on aircraft performance. We teach it and discuss it, but you don’t know what you’re up against until you have to deal with it first hand. I’ll try and explain it to the best of my abilities in the simplest terms. Density altitude is the altitude at which your engine thinks that it’s flying. So out in Arizona in the mountains on a hot summer day, as I experienced during the Air Race this year, the density altitude could easily be upwards of 7000-8000 feet. In that case, the engine produces the same amount of power as if it were flying at 7000 or 8000 feet above the ground along the shoreline, except you may be only 2000 feet above the ground in Arizona. Basically the engine isn’t producing the full power that we would like during climb. It takes a little longer to get the airplane off the ground and the climb is slow and gradual. The airplane feels sluggish. To describe going from race mode, a constant “Go! Go! Go! Go, Quick Turn!” attitude and mentality, back to a normal schedule feels like I’m constantly fighting with density altitude. Getting up and ready in the morning takes me a little longer; driving to work, the flow of traffic is frustratingly slow; gathering information from others feels sluggish. Those may not be the best examples, but I guess we can say that we all fight density altitude in our lives everyday, somehow.

I hope you’ve enjoyed following along on a little tidbit of my thoughts over the last day and are looking forward to the next post!

Until next time, blue skies and tailwinds!

Emmy

My Embry-Riddle Family

Hello to my new internet friends.

I would begin, just like most of us would, by saying that I’m not your typical college student. Sure, I spend my summer usually by the beach and relaxing and with family, but here’s how I am different. My time by the beach is usually following the shoreline, climbing up through 2000 feet to head up to St Simon’s Island for some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had or to work on lazy eights or other maneuvers at 5000 feet. My time relaxing is spent working on CFI lesson plans, flight planning, reading up on the latest article about the future of commercial aviation, or the next aviation movie to hit theaters. And my family is my actual family, like my mom and my dad, but also my flying community family, my Air Race family, my academic family, and my best friends (who are practically my actual family anyhow).

The great thing that I love about Embry-Riddle is that everyone is different. Everyone has a different story, a different place that they call home, a different world-view, and different life (and flying!) experiences.

What makes this summer even MORE different is the continual lack of regularity. This summer, I’ve spent more time in hotels than I think I ever have in my entire life in just 2 months. I’ve had some of the most amazing experiences with some of the greatest people I’ve ever known. Now that my summer is starting to calm down, I love that I can share my experiences with you.

Before I spill all of my fun secrets, let me introduce myself.

I’m Emmy Dillon and I’m  a Human Factors Psychology senior, graduating in December 2016. I’m also a Flight minor. I received my private pilot certificate in high school and continued with my flight training at ERAU through my single-engine and multiengine commercial certificate. I’m slowly working on my CFI while I’m interning at Gulfstream as a Human Factors Engineering intern this summer. I’m also a member of the Eagles Flight Team, having served the team as the Captain for the previous school year. I also flew in the 2015 and the 2016 Air Race Classic races. This year, my teammate and I not only won the Collegiate Competition, but also took No. 1 overall for the entire Air Race Classic. We could not be happier!

With Abbie Passmore, Flight Chairman, Ken Byrnes, and ERAU President Karen Holbrook

With Abbie Passmore, Flight Chairman, Ken Byrnes, and ERAU President Karen Holbrook

There are many stories to tell and lots of experiences to be shared, so stay tuned for some (hopefully) entertaining posts by me!

Blue Skies,

Emmy

Visiting Virgin America

Some of you may have heard about the planned merger of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America that was announced in April. When the merger was announced, I was actually at the Alaska Airlines headquarters in Seattle for an interview. I remember the excitement that I felt while I was there; everyone was nervous and curious about the next steps.

Well, a few months into the merger, I can say it is still a very exciting time at Alaska Airlines. It couldn’t have been a better summer to be an intern at Alaska. As has been mentioned in the media, Alaska Airlines is trying to learn more about the Virgin America brand, and what makes people love it. One of the ways they are doing that is by visiting Virgin America in San Francisco.

I was lucky enough to have the privilege of traveling to San Francisco with the department I am working in. One day, a few weeks ago, we flew on Virgin America to San Francisco in the morning. I had never flown on VX before, so I was excited to experience it. When you walk onto the aircraft, it’s dark, and the cabin has pink and blue mood lighting. There was techno music playing while the guests were finding their seats. Once you sat down, the entertainment system in the back of the seat greeted you, and was ready for you to order drinks, play games, or watch TV. I was very impressed with the different type of atmosphere that VX had to offer, versus traditional carriers. Another thing I liked was how comfortable and wide the seats were. We flew on an A320 on the way to SFO, and I was amazed by how much room it had.

In-seat entertainment system

In-seat entertainment system

View out the window of the American flag sharklet

View out the window of the American flag sharklet

Once we arrived in San Francisco, we went to lunch at a small little Chinese dumpling place close to the airport. It was delicious! After we were done with lunch, it was time to head to the Virgin America office. I was impressed with the modern style of the offices. They really encompassed the Virgin America brand. It was also great because you could watch the planes on approach into SFO over the bay, right from the break room!

Outside of the VX Headquarters

Outside of the VX Headquarters

Shortly after our tour, we were headed back to SFO to catch a flight up to SEA. It couldn’t have been a better trip, as the weather in San Francisco was beautiful. I really enjoyed the experience of flying on an airline I had never flown before. I had also never been to SFO, and I discovered that I really like the airport. It was very modern and spacious.

Needless to say, I am very excited about the future of Alaska Airlines and Virgin America. I cannot wait to see what the West Coast’s premier airline of the future looks like.

Until next time,

Lindsey

Internship Update

Hey everyone!

I realize it’s been a month since I’ve last written, but it’s been a busy month! I started my internship with Alaska Airlines on May 31st, and have been working full time ever since. I am officially halfway done with the internship, and I can’t believe it’s gone by so fast! I have been loving every minute of it.

Most of the things I am working on are day-to-day type work, which I cannot say much about. However, I also worked on a benchmarking project, and have been helping my manager out with some of his projects.

One of my favorite things I have done so far is taken a Capacity Planning class. It was a full day class, which was an overview of airline capacity planning. It included network planning, scheduling, and strategy. One of the reasons I liked it so much was because any employee from Alaska Airlines could sign up to attend. I was able to meet flight attendants, gate agents, mechanics, and other corporate employees. The class started off with a surprise tour of the Boeing Renton Factory, which is not open to the public. This location is where Boeing manufactures all of their 737s. It just so happened that Alaska Airlines had an airplane that was being manufactured while we were on the tour! After the tour, we went back to Alaska Airlines headquarters to get back to class. One of the activities involved getting into groups and creating a new market for Alaska Airlines to fly, theoretically. It was interesting to see the data behind why (or why not) the market we came up with would be profitable.

Boeing Renton Factory

Boeing Renton Factory

Another one of my favorite events has been the maintenance tour. As interns, we all got to go for a tour of the Alaska Maintenance Hangar at Sea-Tac. There was a brand new 737-900ER delivery in the hangar that day, so we got to take pictures of it, as well as go on board. I always love the new airplane smell! We were able to see where they store all of the parts for the planes, as well as how they do engine maintenance. But my favorite part of the tour was getting to go on board the 737-400 Combi. This is an aircraft that is very unique. It holds 4 huge cargo boxes in the front of the aircraft, just behind the cockpit, and 76 passengers in the rear. It is used to fly up to Alaska, where it delivers a lot of food to the towns. They will soon be retiring, so it was awesome to get to go inside of one before they disappear.

Some of the AS interns with the new delivery in the hangar

Some of the AS interns with the new delivery in the hangar

Standing in front of the 737-900ER engine

Standing in front of the 737-900ER engine

Inside the 737-400 Combi cargo area

Inside the 737-400 Combi cargo area

At the halfway point of my internship, I can honestly say Alaska Airlines is a great place to work. The company is doing well and adding new and exciting markets to their network. They also have some of the best employees in the business. I am so grateful to have this opportunity to work at such an awesome company, and learn from some of the best.

Until next time,

Lindsey

First Non-rev Adventure: Juneau, AK

As you know, I am currently on internship with Alaska Airlines for the summer. Most airlines give their interns flight benefits for the summer, and thankfully, Alaska Airlines is one of those airlines! So, of course, I am going to take advantage of the benefits.

When you are blessed with flight benefits, there is a specific way in which you go about actually getting on a flight. These procedures vary from airline to airline, but are normally pretty similar. You list for your flight, which indicates to the gate agents that you would like a seat on the plane. Then, you frantically check the flights throughout the day to make sure there are still seats open, hope no one with more non-rev status than you shows up for the flight, and pray that no one buys a ticket last minute (you can imagine how stressful it can get). You are called a “non-rev”, short for non-revenue passenger. This means, you are flying standby, and not paying for your seat on the flight. Flying standby is an art form. It requires you to be very knowledgeable about the flight schedules, hubs, and weight restrictions on different routes. It is not acceptable to miss work on Monday because you were non-reving and got stranded somewhere. Therefore, you have to get creative. Which is why it is sometimes referred to as the non-rev adventure or non-rev challenge.

For my first non-rev trip, I decided to play it safe. I definitely didn’t want to get stranded my first time. So, I decided to take a day trip up to Juneau, Alaska. Since Alaska Airlines was born in Alaska, and is a vital resource for so many people up there, I thought it would be a good idea to understand the Alaskan culture. There are quite a few trips up to Juneau from Seattle during a weekend, so I knew I would definitely be able to make it back in time for work on Monday.

Alaska Airlines also gives companion passes to interns, so I got to take my mom to Juneau with me. We woke up early Saturday morning and caught the 7:00 AM flight to Juneau. I was ecstatic when I found out we were going to be flying on a Combi! I had heard that the flight up to Juneau was supposed to be beautiful, because you fly over the mountains and along the river, but it was cloudy when we went.

Juneau airport

Juneau airport

Once we arrived in Juneau, which is a tiny little airport, we took a taxi up to the Mendenhall Glacier. It was absolutely beautiful! It sits between two hills, and flows down into the lake below. There was also a big waterfall off to the right of it. We walked the trails around the glacier for about an hour, and then decided to head into town. We ended up having to walk 1.5 miles down the hill to the bus stop, where we could catch the bus to downtown. The bus ride took about an hour just to go a few miles, since there were so many stops, but it was cool because we got to see some areas we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Mendenhall Glacier in the background

Mendenhall Glacier in the background

Waterfall next to the glacier

Waterfall next to the glacier

Once we got to town, we walked around all of the shops. We were surprised by the large crowds, but later realized it was because there were four cruise ships there. You could easily tell that the town lives off of tourism, because all of the shops were selling tourist items. For lunch, we went to a famous crab shack on the water. I had shrimp bisque and my mom had the crab cakes. They were to die for! After looking in all of the shops, it was almost dinner time, so we went to a food truck selling fish tacos. Once again, they were wonderful! I loved the fresh fish that were in them. After dinner, we took a taxi back to the airport, where we would catch our evening flight back to Seattle.

It was an amazing day trip, and a successful non-rev adventure. I would definitely recommend everyone go to Alaska at least once, whether it’s for a day or an entire vacation. It really is a whole different way of living. Each city has something special to offer, whether it’s whale watching, glaciers, hiking, fishing, or just a unique atmosphere. If you do decide to go up to the great state of Alaska, I also recommend flying on Alaska Airlines (I might be a little bit biased)!

Until next time,

Lindsey

Delivery of the First Bombardier CSeries Aircraft to Swiss

MIRABEL, QC –  Last Thursday, Swiss departed Canada for Zurich with a brand new Bombardier CS100 aircraft. Swiss is the launch customer of the CSeries. I had the chance to be present at the delivery ceremony on Wednesday. During the afternoon, there was a CSeries flight for the media, as well as a factory tour of the final assembly line.

Bombardier CSeries FTV5 featuring the Swiss livery.

Bombardier CSeries FTV5 featuring the Swiss livery.

This was the second time I boarded the aircraft, but it was the first time I was going to be on a flight. I saw the aircraft for the first time back in December 2015 during the certification event. I enjoyed the plane’s wide cabin and seat configuration (3-2). Instead of having two middle seats on each row like on the A320s and B737s, there is only one in each row of the CSeries. I also like the large windows which are 50% larger than the A320.

My boarding pass for the flight!

My boarding pass for the flight!

I was really excited to be flying the CSeries for the first time. Bombardier offered a short flight on one of their test aircraft (FTV5) for the 80 medias present. The flight crew announced to the passengers that they would fly over Mont Tremblant and come back and land at Mirabel. The crew planned an altitude of 16,000 ft. to Mont Tremblant and a lower altitude of 10,000 ft.on the way back to Mirabel. The whole flight would take approximately 45 minutes.

Inflight at 16,000ft.

What a beautiful view at 16,000 ft!

Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engine.

Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engine.

I was seated in 18A by the window, just behind the wing of the aircraft. From my seat, I had a great view of outside the aircraft. As we taxied to the active runway, I thought the engine was pretty quiet compared to other aircraft of similar size. It only took a few seconds and only 2,400 ft. of runway before we lifted off the ground. A few minutes later, the flight crew turned off the seat belt sign as the aircraft leveled at its short cruising altitude of 16,000 ft. Many passengers rushed in the aisle for pictures and interviews. The aisle was very busy during the flight as many folks wanted to explore the aircraft from nose to tail. The two flight attendants served the passengers a bottle of water and bags of candies for this short 45 minute flight.

Speedbrakes up for landing!

Speedbrakes up for landing!

My first flight on the CSeries and my first customer delivery flight on Air Canada’s last Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to be delivered are two amazing experiences I will never forget.

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Short Trip to Ottawa and Winnipeg

Last Friday was a holiday for the province of Quebec. Yay, a three day weekend! Friday morning, I from Montreal to Ottawa to visit the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

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Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario.

The museum had many artifacts and aircraft on display from WWI and WWII. It was amazing to see how aviation has evolved over time. It started from human-powered aircraft to state-of-the-art commercial airplanes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the Airbus A350, and the CSeries. If you are a prospective student interested in anything related to aviation, Embry-Riddle is your #1 choice. We offer many degrees and programs such as aeronautical science (pilot), computer and technology, engineering, aviation business, and space. You can consult the complete list of what ERAU has to offer here.

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My flight itinerary generated by The Great Circle Mapper.

After the museum, I headed to the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport. I was flying to Winnipeg, MB, then to Toronto-Pearson (Canada’s busiest airport), and finally back to Ottawa on that same day. Unfortunately things did not go as planned as my flight from Ottawa to Toronto got cancelled. A WestJet guest service ambassador told me that the flight cancellation was due to the fact that the crew that was supposed to take us to Toronto was delayed in New York-LaGuardia and had exceeded their duty time. There were no other crew available at that time of the day. The airline gave me a hotel voucher and three food vouchers worth $45 total. I finally arrived home the next day in the afternoon.

Sunset over Ontario on my flight between Winnipeg and Toronto.

Sunset over Ontario on my flight between Winnipeg and Toronto.

You think that was a crazy trip? I did a trip back in February with my friend where we flew nearly to the four corners of the continental United States.

Read it here: Flying All Over America – Part 1 / Part 2

Other than working, eating, and sleeping, I do homework for the online class I am taking this summer. I am taking Leadership as an elective class. We are almost halfway through this 9-week course. I will post a blog soon comparing online classes versus regular classes. They both have their pros and cons.

This week will also be short since it is Canada Day on Friday. Another three day weekend! Americans, you will also get your three day weekend for Independence Day, which is next Monday.

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Life in Network Planning

In my last blog, I talked about my summer internship in Network Planning. In this post, I will describe important terms that we use in our department. These terms are  also commonly used in the world of aviation!

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Boeing 787-9 (Photo Credits: Air Canada)

Maintenance
Each of the 380 aircraft if our fleet has to undergo different types of maintenance that needs to be performed in order to be airworthy. It can range from simple line maintenance to complex heavy maintenance where the airplane is almost taken completely apart. Air Canada does the overnight maintenance in-house but the other larger maintenance checks are outsourced in other countries around the world. In Network Planning, we have to make sure that we pull out the necessary number of aircraft out of the fleet so it can go to maintenance.

Turnaround Times
Turnaround time is the period of time from when an aircraft arrives at the gate of a station (airport) to the time the aircraft is ready to depart from the gate for another flight. The turnaround time usually depends on the type of aircraft that is being handled on the ground. Fueling, catering, baggage and passengers loading/unloading is done during this time. Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D needs 20 minutes to turnaround. On the other side, our Boeing 777-300ER needs more than 120 minutes of minimum ground time. For airlines, it is important for their aircraft to be on the ground for the shortest amount of time possible. The more the aircraft is the air, the more they can generate revenue.

Connectivity
Most airlines have one or more hubs where they operate most of their flights. Air Canada’s largest hub is Toronto-Pearson. Our job in Network Planning is to ensure that most passenger will be able to go to the destination of their choice in our route network. For example, if you are flying out of Daytona Beach International Airport, your only options is to either fly to Atlanta, Charlotte, or New York-JFK. At these airports, the flights are timed to allow passengers to connect to another flight to eventually bring them to their final destination.

Departure Times
Some of our flights have an optimal departure time for local traffic while other flights are timed for connectivity. Air Canada flies between Montreal and Toronto at every hour during weekdays and even at every 30 minutes during peak hours. When we operate more than one daily flight per day to a city, we usually spread the flights throughout the day. Business travelers usually enjoy taking a flight early in the morning and return at the end of the day after their meetings.

Aircraft Types
Aircraft limitations are taken into account when we assign a plane to a route. For example a 70-seater regional jet cannot fly from North America to Europe because it simply does not have the range to do such missions. We fly the Airbus A319 to Mexico City (7,300 ft. of elevation) because this aircraft performs well at high temperatures and high altitudes.

Passenger Load Factor
The passenger load factor (PLF) can be described as “how full is the plane in terms of seats occupied.” The load factor can be calculated by dividing the RPMs by the ASMs on a particular route or for the whole network. You can also calculate the PLF by dividing the number of revenue passengers onboard by the number of available seats on the aircraft.

You are now an aviation expert! If you are interested in Network Planning, you should definitely take the Airline Management (BA 315) class on campus. This course is very interesting if you are an aviation passionate like me.

If you have any questions or comments regarding my internship, you can reach me at the email address listed below. I will be happy and glad to answer your questions!

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu

Summer Internship: What is Network Planning?

Hello everyone!

I hope you guys are enjoying your summer. It has now been three weeks since I have been working Air Canada in Network Planning as a summer intern. I will take this time to explain a bit more on what I do at work. I am part of the team that plans the flight schedule about a year before departure. We are currently planning the schedule for 2017. Below is an overview of how the schedule is handled from the time it is built to the time the flights occur for real.

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  1. Network Planning (9 months and more)
  2. Intermediate Scheduling (9 months to 3 months)
  3. Current Scheduling (3 months to 48 hours)
  4. System Operations Control (48 hours to time of departure)

Network Planning makes the schedule about a year before the flight. The schedule will then be handed off to Intermediate Scheduling where they will make the flight schedule more operational. They take more components into account such as airport slots, gate availability, and much more. The schedule is then given to current scheduling around 3 months before the flight will takeoff. SOC or System Operations Control manages the schedule in real time. For example, if your flight is delayed because of a maintenance issue that cannot be fixed in a reasonable amount of time, they will be the one who will try to find an aircraft in the fleet as a replacement so the passengers can get to their final destination.

I work in Network Planning and my main job is to build the schedule for North America. We have three groups in Network Planning: North America, International, and Profitability. We closely work with other groups like Intermediate Scheduling, Aircraft Programs, and Revenue Management. When we schedule a flight, our team needs to take into consideration aircraft maintenance, aircraft turnaround time, flight connectivity at major hubs, ideal departure times, flight crew duty time, aircraft types, passenger load factor, yields, etc. These will be described in my next blog!

Route Map from Air Canada's largest hub, Toronto-Pearson.

Route Map from Air Canada’s largest hub, Toronto-Pearson.

We fly to 205 destinations including 64 in Canada, 55 in the United States, and 86 in Europe, Africa, the Middle-East, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America. Air Canada and its regional partners fly an average of 1,500 daily flights and operate a fleet of more than 380 mainline and regional aircraft.

Our Boeing 777-300ER seats 450 seats.

Our largest aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER (77W) has up to 450 seats. (Photo Credits: Jen Schulz)

Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D seats a maximum of 18 guests. (Photo Credits: Author)

Our smallest aircraft, the Beechcraft 1900D (BEH) seats a maximum of 18 guests. (Photo Credits: Author)

There is a lot of complexity in trying to build the best schedule we can for 1,500 daily departures. Flights do not have the same pattern for a whole year. We operate flights that are daily and some that we only fly a few times a week. Some flights operate year-round while others are only winter or summer seasonal.

We also look at past performance of the schedule to see if we should increase frequencies on certain routes or even pull back completely. We identify new markets where we could potentially grow in the future. Some of the new routes we are currently looking at are… You will have to wait until we announce new destinations!

I am proud and honored to be part of a family of 28,000 men and women who work together to bring our guests safely and on-time to their final destination.

Until next time!

Nicolas


Contact the author at berniern@my.erau.edu