Singapore Airlines Cancels the World’s Longest Commercial Flights

The longest commercial flights in the world — Singapore Airlines’ flights 21 and 22, running between Singapore and Newark, New Jersey — are slated for cancellation The Economist’s Gulliver blog reports. The flights traverse 9,525 miles in about 19 hours.

Qantas’s 8,576-mile route between Sydney and Dallas now has the top honor, according to USA Today, with Delta’s Atlanta to Johannesburg flight (8,434 miles) a close third.
Singapore Airlines cancelled the flights as part of a deal with AirBus, the Economist writes, in which “Singapore will get five new A380s and 20 new A350s, and the manufacturer will buy back the A340-500s that the airline uses on its super-long-haul routes.”

First Public Commercial Flight Simulators To Open In London

The first public commercial flight simulators, including two Airbus 380s and two Boeing 777s, are the centerpiece of a new aviation-themed attraction by Dubai-based Emirates Airlines that will open in London this July.

The simulators will utilize full landscape visuals to allow visitors to test what it feels like to take off and land commercial jets. The technology is one part of what is called the Emirates Aviation Experience, an attraction situated at the south side of the Emirates Air Line, a cable car that stretches across the River Thames. The attraction will also give a nod to aviation history and achievements through interactive displays.

“The purpose of this centre is to provide a fun, yet educational, overview of just what it takes to successfully get a 560 tonne aircraft off the ground and 40,000 feet into the sky. Our aim is to explain the intricate science of modern aviation, in a hands-on, entertaining and instructive environment,” said Emirates Airline President Tim Clark in a press release.

Emirates has been investing heavily in the United Kingdom since the company first began operating services there in 1987. The airline is the first sponsor to feature a company logo on the London Tube map, and this new attraction will further broaden their presence and increase their visibility in the U.K. But for travelers, it’s just another fun thing to do in London.

Airbus Will Introduce Self-Tracking Baggage Line

Airplane manufacturer Airbus has been cooking up another innovation: a “smart bag” that allows travelers to check in and track their luggage from their phone.

The tech-infused piece of luggage, Bag2Go, contains sensors and an RFID chip that communicates with airlines systems – including check-in and security – and relays the information to an iPhone app. For packing and check-in purposes, the luggage will be able to automatically weigh the contents of suitcases, and users will be able to track their bag as it makes its way onto the plane. It will also alert travelers if their baggage has been opened, saving travelers the trouble of getting caught in a baggage theft scam, like the one in Italy earlier this year that ended in nearly 50 arrests.

The bag is still in the development stages, but in a promotional video Airbus is saying travelers will either be able to buy a Bag2Go suitcase or rent them trip-by-trip. Although the baggage doesn’t seem to help solve the mystery of what to do if your luggage accidentally gets sent to Timbuktu, we’re glad it’ll save us from milling around baggage carousels as we impatiently wait for our suitcase to materialize.

[via Wired]

An Airplane Is Born: Airbus A350 Shows Off Paint Job, Ready For Test Flights

The first flyable Airbus A350 emerged from a hangar in southwestern France earlier today, showing off a freshly painted livery stamped with the Airbus logo. But the significance of this morning’s roll out goes beyond just a few layers of paint; according to Airbus, the plane has passed a number of milestones, including flight-test-instrument (FTI) verification, and should be ready for its maiden flight this summer.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the manufacturer hopes to bring the wide-body aircraft into commercial service by the end of 2014. The model has been built to rival Boeing’s popular 777 model as well as the 787 “Dreamliner,” which has come under fire recently due to overheating concerns on the aircraft’s lithium-ion batteries.

[Photo credit: P. Pigeyre (Courtesy Airbus)]

Airline Hopes To Avoid Volcanic Ash Clouds With New Technology

Volcanic ash is something commercial airliners want nothing to do with. When Alaska’s Cleveland volcano erupted not long ago, shooting low levels of ash into the atmosphere, many airlines were concerned. Another blast could send ash higher, directly into their flight path between Asia and North America, causing major flight schedule disruptions. But while most airlines watch and wait, one is taking some proactive steps to deal with volcanic activity.

Ash clouds are a major problem for commercial airliners, which can literally fall out of the sky if they attempt to fly through one. The problem is the tiny volcanic ash particles. If they get into a jet engine, ash particles can block the ventilation holes that let in air to cool the engine. Accumulate enough of them and engine heat can transform the particles back into molten lava, something you don’t want in your jet engine. In 2010, Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano ejected an ash plume 30,000 feet into the sky, crippling airlines in northwest Europe for days as nearly 20 airports closed their airspace.Looking for ways to minimize the effect of volcanic eruptions, EasyJet has partnered with aircraft manufacturer Airbus and Nicarnica Aviation, a company that specializes in remote sensing technology to detect ash at the speed and altitude of commercial aircraft. To do that, EasyJet will fly a ton of volcanic ash from Iceland to an Airbus base in France where it will test the new uses for infrared technology-based Airborne Volcanic Object Imaging Detector (AVOID) equipment in August.

During the test, an Airbus plane will disperse the ash into the atmosphere and create an artificial ash cloud. A second Airbus test aircraft equipped with AVOID technology will (hopefully) detect and avoid the artificial ash cloud at over 30,000 feet.

Want to see an ash cloud up close, as it is being created? Check out this video:

[Image credit – Flickr user coolinsights]