3G Communications on the Verge

"3Way Networks and TriaGnoSys say that they are to launch the first 3G inflight passenger communications service for the Business Jet market" reports cellular-news.com. "The hassle factor of flying on commercial aircraft is resulting in record growth in the Business Jet market in Europe and North America and a corresponding growth in demand for inflight connectivity capabilities on those aircraft, according to TriaGnoSys, a provider of remote communications using satellite technology."

"3G" refers to the "third generation" of wireless communication. 1G, which held sway in the 1980s, included analog voice signaling, and was found in the early radio phone network. 2G upgraded to digital voice encoding. Now, the third generation will include the full range of communications, including

  • Enhanced multimedia (voice, data, video, and remote control).

  • Usability on all popular modes (cellular telephone, e-mail, paging, fax, videoconferencing, and Web browsing).

  • Broad bandwidth and high speed (upwards of 2 Mbps).

  • Roaming capability throughout Europe, Japan, and North America.

The inflight passenger communications services being developed meet the specific needs of the business jet market including the growing microjet market: the equipment is lightweight, weighing less than 4 Kg; it is compact, has low power consumption and is easy to install and maintain.

Commercial Hassles Lead to More Charter Flights

"Imperial Jets private jet charter reports a 107% hike in inquiries for private jet travel after a CNBC feature reported how passengers were stranded across the globe after terrorist threat levels were set to high worldwide," reports Yahoo! News on September 9th.

The story goes on to explain how commercial travel has been effected by recent events: up to three hour waits for check-in, a 20% increase in baggage loss, and travelers forced to ship luggage separatedly from their flight.

Understandably, charter flights are becoming more attractive. With their hassle-free service, more and more travelers are expected to choose this option.

Aviation Videos: See It for Yourself

The pictorial history of aviation is wide and deep; mankind’s fascination with flying is matched by his need to photograph it.

The site Aviation Videos offers film clips from airshows to accidents, today’s flights to those of yesteryear. Bombers, helicopters, combat situations, adverse weather conditions — it’s all here. As the site says of its videos, "Some depict terrible accidents, while others are just plain cool."

If you’re not in the air yourself, you might enjoy spending some time on this fascinating site.  

Cessna Mustang Fully Certified

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It’s a new day for private jet owners!

A press release from Cessna Aircraft Company reported the Federal Aviation Administration has granted type certification (TC) to Cessna’s Citation Mustang, making it the world’s first fully certified, new-generation entry level business jet.

FAA type certification for the Mustang includes single-pilot operation, day/night operations, visual and instrument flight rules (VFR/IFR), and operations in reduced vertical separation minimum (RVSM) airspace.

The fully functional Garmin G1000 equipped Citation Mustang includes an integrated, dual-channel fail passive digital autopilot, and is the first aircraft with an integrated flight deck that is certified to take advantage of WAAS navigation features including WAAS LPV approaches that provide both lateral and vertical guidance. The Garmin G1000 avionics suite also includes a new feature called SafeTaxi(TM) that gives a graphical representation of the aircraft on the ground in the airport environment.

Cessna hopes the new certification will bring the benefits of jet ownership to more people than ever before.  

Aviation Security: Always Improving

airport image.jpgThe Council on Foreign Relations published yesterday a new article entitled, "Targets for Terrorists: Post-9/11 Aviation Security."

In Q&A format, the article seeks to answer these questions:

  • Why are airliners attractive targets for terrorism?
  • How has aviation security changed since the 9/11 attacks?
  • What are some of the criticisms of aviation security?
  • What else can be done to improve security?
  • Do other countries have the same security measures as the United States?

The article concludes, "While improved techniques and advanced technology can certainly help to make air travel safer, there is no magic bullet." George Naccara, federal security director at Boston’s Logan Airport, is quoted as saying, "There will always be vulnerabilities. We should never be satisfied; we should always be looking for improvements."

The Value of Crash Probes

Whenever there’s a plane crash, investigators are quickly on the scene to determine the cause. And these probes into what caused the accidents save more lives later.

As reported in The Christian Science Monitor‘s How crash probes make aviation safer, the exhaustive analysis done after every accident has helped the nation’s aviation industry to be one of the safest in the world.

"[The Conair] crash," reports Alexandra Marks, "which killed 49 people and left one — the copilot — critically injured, was the first deadly accident in US commercial aviation in more than three years. In the coming months and years, investigators will scour every aspect of the crash — from the performance of the plane to the orders issued from the control tower to how much sleep the pilot had had. The knowledge gleaned will then be used to enhance the safety of everything from pilot training to navigational technologies to the way planes are designed."

Comair Flight 5191

While we may never know for certain what led to the crash that killed 49 people in late August, several contributing factors are coming to light.

The FAA has assigned more staff to the airport in question, but Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, said there has been a net loss of 1,081 controllers in the last three years, according to the FAA’s own figures. The numbers dropped from 15,386 in September 2003 to 14,305 in August 2006, due largely to a wave of retirements.