Beyond the Headlines

By John Mazor, ALPA Senior Communications Specialist
Air Line Pilot, February 2004, p.35

7E7 on Short Final

It’s not a done deal yet, but Boeing has moved another step closer to launching the 7E7. Boeing announced in December 2003 that its Board of Directors had given approval to begin marketing the new design. A final go-ahead for production could happen by midyear if sufficient orders are booked. The projected service date is 2008.

The 7E7 baseline model would hold 200 passengers in a twin-aisle, three-class configuration, or 300+ in a single-class set-up, cruising 7,800 nm at Mach 0.85. The short-range version is listed at 200 seats in a two-class configuration, with a 3,500 nm range. Both versions claim a 20 percent fuel saving over other models in their size range.

The 7E7 would replace the B-757, which will cease production after more than two decades. Boeing forecasts a need for 2,000 to 3,000 airliners in the 7E7 market over the next 20 years.

Airport Food Healthier

Move over, Big Mac. This welcome trend won’t eliminate the classic airport scene of pilots wolfing down cheeseburgers and fries on a quick turn, but finding healthy food at the busiest U.S. airports is getting easier, according to a survey by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

At 11 of the 15 airports surveyed, at least 50 percent of the eateries had at least one healthy meal available; i.e., anything with an entrée low in fat and cholesterol and high in fiber. That’s a healthy jump from 2002, when only 4 of 10 surveyed airports hit 50 percent or better.

Denver ranked first among the 15 airports, at 83 percent, with San Francisco a close second, at 82 percent. The unhealthiest of the nutritional lot was Minneapolis-St. Paul, where only 34 percent of eateries offered a healthy meal.

Candid Camera, Airport Style

Industry Trends usually likes to have at least two data points before declaring a trend, real or imagined, so we’ll stretch a point here by referring to the 1999 stage production of "Charlie Victor Romeo," in which actors read the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) transcripts from six airline accidents, as a "reality" production aimed at the airline industry. Second instance: In January, A&E Network premiered an 18-episode reality TV series, "Airline," starring Southwest Airlines. The show consists largely of filmed action at airport ticket counters and gates. Viewers get 30 minutes of irate customers, harried agents trying to mollify them, drunks, security hassles, lost children, and all the other realities of running an airline. Southwest hopes to cash in on the publicity. It is also hoping really, really hard that by the time you read this item, people won’t be snickering, "What were they thinking?"

Quotes of the Month

Here’s an odd couple of data points to connect—Singapore and Ireland. Michael O’Leary, Ryanair CEO, and the airline’s founder, Tony Ryan, are investing in Singapore Airlines’ new low-cost airline, Tiger Airways. They’ll be advising SAI management (assuming that the managers aren’t "cloud bunnies") on how to run a no-frills operation. Ryanair pilots are hoping that the Singapore government won’t be advising O’Leary on how to manage labor relations.

"We are telling the management and the pilots: you play this game, there are going to be broken heads."—Singapore Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew on the growing discord between Singapore Airlines management and the Air Line Pilots Association—Singapore

"I don’t give a ***** if nobody likes me. I am not a cloud bunny, I am not an aerosexual, I don’t like airplanes. I never wanted to be a pilot like those other platoons of goons who populate the air industry. They started off as wee idiots who got big ******* looking at planes in the sky. I’m not like that. Most chief executives got into this business because they want to travel for a living. Not me. I want to work."—Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair

[Thanks to Capt. Rory Kay (United) for supplying the O’Leary quote.]

—John Mazor, ALPA Senior Communications Specialist