Friday, July 27, 2012

Korean Air offers complimentary sweets at LAX

For the past few months, Korean Air is offering newlyweds, honeymooners and passengers celebrating their birthday a sweet treat to honor the occasion. 

The July 22 issue of the Los Angeles Times has a short piece on how a timely phone call can turn a flight into a little party. The cakes and cupcakes are made at an airport bakery out of LAX. Passengers can't specify flavors or toppings but the treats are available complimentary. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inflight meals for interplanetary long-haul

Even in an era without a space shuttle, research continues at NASA. This week the Associated Press, and Minnesota Public Radio is reporting on the Administration's efforts to come up with a meal program for a mission to Mars, somewhere around 2030.

NASA plans to load up a mission of six to eight astronauts with a cargo of freeze-dried meals with a shelf life of at least two years. Once on the Red Planet, NASA expects that the new settlers should be able to do some cooking on their own with vegetables grown in a hydroponic solution.

The program, done with the help of Lockheed Martin, has developed more than 100 recipes, according to the story. Without dairy or meat it looks like astronauts of the future will be relying on what would be the Special Meals in, airline lexicon.

“To ensure the vegetarian diet packs the right amount of protein, the researchers are designing a variety of dishes that include tofu and nuts, including a Thai pizza that has no cheese but is covered with carrots, red peppers, mushrooms, scallions, peanuts and a homemade sauce that has a spicy kick,” said the story.

Like most government programs in the United States today, the biggest obstacle to developing sustaining the meals for Mars is funding. A joint US-European robotic mission to Mars was recently cancelled and NASA is facing budget constraints.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Updates on fleet workhorses

Airlines operating fleets of 737s and 757s will soon have the opportunity for new look for the hard-working aircraft. With it, will be increased baggage space, automated operations that open and close bins, and the installation of a number of new retrofit features.

Project Amber has been selected by Qantas Airways
Heath Tecna Cabin Interiors, a subsidiary of Zodiac Aerospace was showing the features of the new Project Amber “pivot bin interior” at this week’s Farnborough International Airshow. The first shipset of the new interior will be taking a trial run on a 737-800NG aircraft shortly as the company moves toward a full Supplemental Type Certificate (STC). To outfit Project Amber, Heath Tecna will install on the launch aircraft a ceiling panel rework kit, overhead bin valances, the “configured pivot bin system,” passenger service units and underbin class dividers.

Launch customer for Project Amber is Qantas Airways. The first outfitted configuration will be flying in the fourth quarter of this year.  The company said the new Project Amber interior would free up 30% to 40% more bag space.

As Boeing rolls out more of its Sky Interior cabins, Gary Chris, Heath Techna’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing says that other airlines that will be 737NG customers will are looking at the Project Amber layout. In fact, Heath Tecna says that a Project Amber interior design can hold up to 86 more roller bags, depending on the bin type and interior configuration.

A full outline of the Project Amber layout can be fund on the Heath Tecna website.

A project like this is clearly something for its time. With more and more airlines charging fees for checked baggage, passengers have opted for carry-on, causing delays and searches to match baggage with available space.

Through the summer, PAX International will be putting together stories on this and other innovations as we prepare for the two large conferences and exhibitions in Seattle and Long Beach in September.