Monday Update – March 25, 2019

A Lot of Media Standards Have Joined The MAX – Grounded

“Boeing Charging Extra For Safety Equipment!”

This was the din last week across the media landscape…

It seems that nasty old Boeing is charging airlines extra for what has been implied to be necessary and basic safety equipment. Things that, according to some stories, supposedly could have avoided the Ethiopian crash.

Rarely has me-too, wildebeests-in-a-panic journalism done such a deep dive into the professional cesspool.

We’ve talked to several news teams over the past week. Most are completely focused on facts and getting out reliable information.

But there were also a number oh-so-righteous talking heads – in the US and internationally – that have effectively brought out the journalism noose to lynch – right now! – these evil people at Boeing.

Naturally, they have no idea what they’re talking about, before lighting up the torches, ready to urge the great unwashed out there in TV Land to march on Renton.

“Why, that should be standard equipment!” one UK interviewer shrieked, assuming that a 737 has a basic window sticker like a Jaguar in a showroom. And not having any idea what “that equipment” was in the first place, standard or otherwise.

‘Course, they don’t have a clue about the subject matter. But it has made great press, and in a lot of sectors it’s been swallowed whole like smelly fish at a seal convention.

That 737 Was Equipped Exactly As Ethiopian Wanted It. What these amateur folks – some even at a couple of big media outlets who should know better – have ignored, is that airliners are spec’d out by the buyer, who adds exactly the features and capabilities it desires, including cockpit and navigation equipment. And each part of this has a price – there is no “standard” 737 cockpit, per se.

Each fleet leaves the factory with exactly what the airline wants. And it leaves as deemed safe to fly by the operator and the FAA, and, presumably whatever regulatory body might exist in the airline’s home country,

Ethiopian’s 737s are no exception. The stuff in the cockpit is what they wanted to include. The airliner in question had whatever features that were deemed safe and necessary by Ethiopian Airlines.

So, if these oh-so-righteous lynch mob journalists are so eager to find an evil demon in this, they might have better (although just as amateur and misleading) have printed:

“Ethiopian failed to equip their cockpits with adequate safety equipment!”

But It Is In The Cockpit, Not Seattle, Where The Proximate Causes Are...  A lot of the coverage of this tragedy has wandered off into the weeds… focusing on issues such as Boeing and the FAA getting too cozy, and/or the 737 MAX not being certified properly.

At the three US MAX operators, subsequent to initial problems and to the Lion Air crash, actions were taken with the result that the 737 MAX was deemed to be safe.

The media doesn’t get it… if the US could make this so, there is no reason that other carriers could accomplish the same. That points in a whole different direction than investigating the traditional certification process of US airliners. A much more compelling direction.

So, aside from the clear knowledge that the 737 MAX was safe as operated in the US, we also know that there are severe open questions regarding the operators of the two airlines involved in these accidents.

Whether or not Boeing and the FAA are having cocktails together, and having the FBI investigate the certification process, have zero bearing on the events that took place at Lion Air and at Ethiopian. They are massive distractions.

But that doesn’t make much exciting press, apparently.

If reported clearly and directly, without political intervention, the black boxes may likely be telling a very different story.

Monday Update – March 18, 2019

The 737 MAX Situation –

Laying Bare Another Global Safety Issue

Probably by the end of this week, the situation with the 737 MAX will be clarified, and barring any political shenanigans, it’s in Boeing’s court to revise whatever systems need to be addressed so that the airliners can return to the skies.

However, this entire event has illuminated another potential global safety issue that affects the air transportation system outside of the United States…

Grabbing A Politically-Incorrect – But Accurate – Third Rail…

Although the usual-suspect cognoscenti sneered at it, President Trump’s comment/observation that we may be building airplanes that pilots don’t know how to fly is accurate.

Not for US airlines, certainly, as forcefully put into the forum of discussion by the labor organizations representing pilots and technicians. We are safe, with the standards and the quality of the people at America’s airlines.

But when carriers like Ethiopian are finding it necessary to staff cockpits of sophisticated and technologically-demanding airliners with pilots holding only 200 hours of flight time, the President’s observation is on the money.

It begs the question whether the same levels of relative experience are present in other areas of operations.  Like, maintenance, where it’s no longer a matter of just turning wrenches, and a lot more training is needed to support fleets.

This means one of two things – either airliners need to be designed to need less experience in the cockpit and in the maintenance hangar (which is an absurd direction), or the airlines buying these machines need to assure that they have the expertise to operate them.

Carriers from any part of the globe wanting  new airplanes can arrange the financing or lease deal, take delivery, and fly the planes home from the factory… but whether they have the management expertise, maintenance & training support and pilot resources to operate them, well, Boeing or Airbus can’t control that.

The revelation that Ethiopian is putting amazingly low-time pilots in the right seat would point to the second conclusion – it’s the operators that are the weak link in the safety chain.

The question not being pursued is that this tragedy has illuminated another potential safety issue… the planned growth of national carriers at smaller nations also raises questions regarding the qualification levels that may be in place in those regions.

There is the appearance of a safety hole – one that up until now hasn’t been pursued.

Moving On In The MAX Arena…

Potential 737 Order Cancellations.  Aside from the 202 737s on order at Lion Air, there are not likely to be any long-term effects on the 737 backlog. Not real pleasant for Boeing – at current production rates, this equates to the equivalent of almost four months of production.

But the Lion Air order has been in question since the crash of that carrier’s MAX airliner last fall. Lion Air also has over 200 A-320 platform units on order.

Long-Term Affects on US Air Service. As it stands today, there are no long-term downsides apparent for US airports due to this situation. This is based on the assumption that there will be resolution within four to six weeks and then 737 deliveries restart.

However, in the (hopefully) unlikely event that 737 deliveries are delayed for several months, there would be some restructuring of air service patterns.

But don’t make book on this potentiality.

There Are No Other Airframe Manufacturer Options. Some speculation has been made that China’s near-immediate grounding of 737 MAXs was part of a plan to get more orders for its indigenous C919 narrow-body airliner.

Not likely – the C919 has years to go before it’s ready for global prime time. It’s years from being in full production, let alone being honed to meet performance specs to match 737s and A-320 platforms. The chance of an airline in the US or the EU switching to a C919 order makes lottery odds look like a sure-thing.

Point: For new airliners, Airbus and Boeing are the only games in town, and Airbus doesn’t have the production capacity to take on a majority of the current Boeing demand. Embraer’s commercial airliner program has been acquired by Boeing. The huge potential for Bombardier to break into the narrow-body market ended with the Airbus acquisition of the CSeries program.

Also – missed by a lot of veneer “experts” – it’s a real challenge for a Boeing operator to just shift into Airbus operation… and costly.

Again, it’s likely that the smoke will clear by the end of the week – certainly the next 2 weeks.


Monday Update – March 19, 2019

The Air Traffic Control Mirage

August, 1994.

Congressional hearings were held regarding the challenges facing the nation’s air traffic control system.

They were prompted by a study issued by what are now Boyd Group International and the ATH Group – Free Flight – which outlined how such a system could be implemented safely, using existing technology, materially increasing air transportation efficiency.

The FAA was there in full force to defend its stellar record of botched ATC upgrade programs, replete with impressive video demonstrations of their great progress and planning – not to mention the expectation that a new ATC system would be in place by year 2000.

Right. That was a quarter of a century ago.

Today the FAA is saying several more years before the system will be completely ready.

Wow Them With Technology… Skip The Track Record. The amazing part of this is that the FAA still has credibility in regard to ATC modernization.

They have friends in the media. A couple times a year, there’s usually a big article in some paper or outlet, about how the FAA’s NextGen program is moving our air transportation system into the future. They outline all the supposed alphabet-soup whiz-bang systems, and typically rely on the public to accept that it’s going to be satellite-based, instead of radar-based.

‘Course, what that by itself actually means in regard to improving efficiency isn’t mentioned.

It’s a simple PR approach. Some journalist gets invited to the FAA’s facilities, and, voila!, walks out with all the latest glowing news about how the agency is fighting hard to deal with all burgeoning increase in flight volumes across the nation. The reporter has the true skinny, no further information or fact-checking is needed. He’s now a mouthpiece for the FAA.

And not a scintilla of any attempt to check the source, which historically is about as reliable as Baghdad Bob on a bad news day.

Here are a couple of facts to consider:

Point: NextGen is a multi-decade re-named wallow in shifting goals, changing deadlines, and more delays than the Italian railroad system. Any journalist covering the program should be ashamed if this track record is not included in the coverage. It usually is left out, and if not, it’s whitewashed with the nonsense that it’s been lack of consistent funding that’s been the cause.

This despite GAO report after GAO report pointing to failures at the FAA – and not primarily funding – as the cause. Naturally, that’s background that is usually not pursued.

Point: The rate of airline flights arriving off-schedule has not materially improved, even in light of billions spent on NextGen. Understand – they are more than just “delayed” – because airlines already plan their schedules based on the limitations of the ATC system to start with. In effect, most flights are “delayed” from the schedule they could attain if the ATC system was properly modernized.

Point: And, the usual fodder in these stories – that air traffic is growing – is a key part of the nonsense. Reporters may compare 2017 to 2018, but what they leave out  is that US airlines today are still operating 1.2 million fewer annual departures than in 2007. Figure about 3,300 fewer flights to manage each day.

That’s about 12% less, and even in light of all the money and hype around NextGen, the rate of off-schedule flights hasn’t markedly improved.

This is the real message regarding the FAA’s perpetually delayed yet always on-schedule “NextGen” program.

Sure, lots of new equipment is in use. Lots of planned upgrades coming. But no accountability for real results – improving the efficiency of the management of the sky. Sure, the FAA and its media groupies will claim that lots has been done… but don’t question them about the track record of false deadlines and non-results of the FAA over the past 30 years.

Reform? That’s Just Changing The Name on The Door. During the budget debates, there was lots of babble about privatizing – “reforming” – the air traffic control system. The unfortunate part of this was it was engineered to preserve the very non-progress seen currently. All of the “reformistas” swore allegiance to NextGen, instead of demanding results.

Going forward, we can confidently predict that this silly and expensive Kabuki Theater of non-performance will continue. And we can confidently predict, that as long as they are promised access to, and a b-roll session with, the Secretary of Transportation, a lot of the media will continue to be cheerleaders for the NextGen party line.

And consumers will continue to absorb billions in extra air travel expense.

Join Us At The IAFS – And Get A Clear Picture, Without Official Hype.. It’s time the airline industry took back control of their production line. Fire-and-forget departure systems (i.e., let the FAA manage it) departure systems are safe, but woefully inefficient.

To be sure, this is not consistent with accepted consensus thinking… nor with the official Washington party line. And to read some of the drivel being published about NextGen, it’s flat-out heresy. But we deal in facts, not political correctness.

We’ve covered this annually at the International Aviation Forecast Summit – and we can point out that our predictions that the FAA’s programs are not improving on-time metrics have been right on for the last ten years. Other conferences have welcomed FAA officials to come and share the official party line – which educates nobody.

If you are planning for the future, you must question the status-quo. it’s important to understand the past and the emerging trends that will shape aviation. That’s what the IAFS is all about.



Monday Update – March 11, 2019

The 737 MAX Issue – In Context

With the media coverage expected in the next 24 hours regarding the fallout from the accident in Ethiopia, some context may be needed regarding expected fallout.

Plan on some strong action if the CVR and black boxes from the crash indicate any similarity with the Lion Air event of last year. It’s already started, however.

China has already grounded the 78 737-MAX aircraft operated by its national carriers, pending the outcome of the Ethiopian investigation. These aircraft represent approximately 1.6% of the total Chinese airline fleet.

China: Not A Trade-Issue Question. It has been logically posed whether the Chinese grounding might have some political motivation due to on-going trade issues with the US and the dust-up from the Huawei events of the past month.

No way. The CAAC is not playing political games here – they are focused on safety.

Political decisions are carefully contemplated in regard to long-term retaliation, push-back and other tactical considerations. Safety decisions are immediate, as was this one on the part of the Chinese government. By the way, the Chinese aviation regulations closely mirror those of US FARs. We are dealing with a very sophisticated system of oversight in China.

Keep in mind that the grounding decision made by the CAAC will have negative effects on the Chinese air transportation system, which is already stretched system-wide at an 82% load factor, according to Boyd Group International’s Airports:China forecasts. In many cities, any loss of service does not always have any regional airport alternatives. The government is well aware of this, so it’s clear that the decision is based on safety. Period.

The Potential US Air Transportation Effects – Minimal In Almost All Cases. We may have veneer stories come out regarding the huge number of 737s in US operation, and a conclusion in some parts of the media that in the event of a grounding or other regulatory action, the US air system could be flummoxed.

No way.

This event revolves only around the 737 MAX aircraft. Out of approximately 6,750 active turbojet airliners in US airline fleets, today there are only 72 MAX-8/9s in US operation – just about one percent of the total. Enough to cause some localized cancellations in the near term in the event of a temporary grounding, but not enough to materially change the US air transportation system.

Getting an exact handle on numbers of airliners actually operating (as opposed to just being listed as in the fleet) is difficult, but the Boyd Group International Global Fleet Trend & Forecast indicates the following, for all MAX variants, 7/8/9/10:

Overwater Long Haul – Some Temporary Fallout. The 737-MAX series is a very mission-flexible airliner, and there will be some noticeable fallout where route missions depend on the specific performance of the MAX aircraft – such as long-haul over water flying, which is increasingly being operated in Northeast US – trans-Atlantic routes, and West Coast – Hawaii.

In any event over the coming week, it needs to be understood that there may be no relation in regard to the Ethiopian and Lion Air events.

And most importantly, the situation will be resolved likely within days should that be the case.



Monday Update – February 25, 2019

The A-380 Media Circus – Now, They’re Experts

Monday morning quarterbacks

As far as the cancellation of the A-380 goes, Superbowl Monday is a distant second.

Now That It’s Obvious… It seems, at least from a lot of the diatribes from several corners of the aviation and travel media, that Ray Charles could have seen from the start that this program was full of lethal holes.

Most of that is Monday-morning malarkey… it’s easy to prognosticate when an event has already occurred.

Here’s a bit of rain on this parade… the A-380 is an airplane that clearly and demonstratively had – and has – a market need and a market application. The only issue has been a disparity of the forecasts regarding the actual number of these machines that the global airline industry could absorb.

But some of the articles churned out mack on the edge of Harvard Lampoon level journalism. CNN actually published a story with the headline, “Where To Fly The A-380 Before It Goes Away.” The fact that these airliners will be produced for the next two years and will likely remain in airline service for at least another 15- years wasn’t apparently a factor to whoever concocted that stupid and misleading headline.

Funny, but going back to the early 2000’s, when this machine was front and center in the public eye, it’s real hard to find a lot of folks who brought up any of the supposedly now-obvious flaws in the A-380 program. In fact, there were articles in prestigious financial journals that actually commented that all major airlines were ordering the 500-seat wonder.

The A-380: An Airliner That Fills A Clear & Obvious Niche… But… In reality, despite the current din of sudden “experts” – the foundational logic relied upon by Airbus for the -380 was entirely solid. Growth in air travel would choke major airports, and consolidation of frequencies onto larger airliners would be a solution.

Back then, BGI opined that while this was valid, the -380 would have limited multi-mission capability, and would face a situation where its utilization would be highly restricted, precisely due to its size and need to be operated only in very high-density markets.

There was no argument that there was a demand and market for the A-380 platform, but only how big that demand might be.

Further, in actual operation, the airplane’s economics really came into their own on nonstop routes of 5,000 miles and higher – further restricting its mission capability.

Our forecasts indicated between 350-400 units. When the order-book music finally stopped this year, just before Emirates shifted their -380 orders to other Airbus products, actual deliveries, orders and on-paper options were smack in that range.

We’d note that BGI and the Teal Group were among the few entities that openly urged some additional reflection on the total global demand for the A-380. But back then, it was considered Luddite heresy – after all, the 747 was a big success, see, and the -380 would be a follow-on.

Join Us For More Forecast Heresy… At Boyd Group International, our futurist forecasts have established a track record no other aviation firm can match. Whether it’s a demand forecast for a global aviation supplier, or a traffic demand projection for a small airport, we deliver the data as we see it. We are not concerned with “the consensus” – which often just a closed loop of opinions supporting each other.

It’s one reason that on August 25-27, aviation leaders from around the industry and around the globe will gather at the Wynn/Encore in Las Vegas for the 24th International Aviation Forecast Summit. What is discussed at the IAFS is what the industry will be noticing years from now.

Ambient thinking and political correctness will not be there. Exploring new ideas and concepts will be the focus.Also not in attendance will be federal officials repeating the same party line that’s delivered at other events. Instead, the IAFS™ tackles the future, directly with the executives shaping it.

Direct Discussions With Decision-Leaders. Confirmed airline sessions at this year’s IAFS™ include executives from American, United, Delta, Southwest, Sun Country, Spirit, and more. Plus, the core structure of the IAFS™ is free-form exploration with these leaders… no pre-determined subject “panels” that straight-jacket the range of discussions.

In addition to exploring emerging trends in aviation with industry decision-makers, the IAFS™ also delivers solid forecasts that illuminate the future… global fleet forecast, US airport enplanement projections, anticipated shifts in airline & air travel strategies, as well as the effects of globalization of the aviation industry.

As always, the Airports:USA™ traffic trend forecast will be delivered, along with the changes that need to be anticipated in the next 3-5 years.

With A New Trade Deal – China’s Back Front And Center. This will be in addition to Boyd Group International’s exclusive Airports:China™ forecasts that deliver insight on how communities and airports can plan and attract more business from China.

We’ll be talking candidly about which airports are in line for nonstop service, and which can expect to be on the back-burner for the next decade, regardless of local Chinese investment.

Register Now For The Extra Early Rate. Click here to reserve your space. Also, we have special rates arranged at the fabulous Encore… and these will be bookable in the next few days.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Monday Update – February 18, 2019

The Rail Boondoggle – A Message For Air Service Planning

Almost on-cue from last week’s Update…

The much-vaunted California high-speed rail project, after billions spent, and enough jive-time hype to rival a Hollywood film debut, has been cancelled.

The governor of California did a super Captain Louie Renault impersonation… he was shocked! shocked! to find such an expensive boondoggle going on in his state.

Then it was reported that a privately-owned rail line between Miami and Palm Beach has scuppered its plans for and IPO, clouding its intent to expand across Florida. It seems that it has captured only slightly more than half of the ridership it projected, and there was a report that it sent $87 million into the financial porcelain fixture in 2018.

But the rail cults and some of the clowns recently elected to congress don’t care. It’s all part of the Politically-Correct Scripture that we must not allow to be criticized. It’s not trendy, see, to criticize rail programs, even when it squanders billions of dollars, as California has done.

The Message Also Applies For Air Travel, Too. Fact is that rail fantasies are not only built on politically-correct assumptions, but on steadfast refusal to recognize that consumer communication patterns have materially changed in the last 40 years.

That also applies to intra-regional O&D flying between small and mid-size airports.

In 1980, consumers lined up at gates to fly between places like Boston-Albany and Hartford-New York. Today, the systems and machinery that carried that traffic are gone – because the consumers have other more effective options. And in many cases, new communication channels eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings to gather information and exchange ideas.

In Many Cases, As Obsolete As Rail. The hard fact is that in some formerly-robust applications, particularly intra-regional O&D, scheduled air travel is simply not time-effective any longer, compared to other channels… such as e-mail, Skype, and others that transfer information so rapidly that the need for physical proximity is no longer needed to do business.

Think about it… Lining up at BDL for an 8AM flight to LGA, traveling into Manhattan, traveling back to LGA in the afternoon, and then driving home, all to attend a meeting for two hours, is right up there with taking a buckboard, when the relative time efficiency is compared to a video meeting.

And, in fact, with the speed and volume and accuracy of data and information transfer today, a lot of those meetings simply aren’t needed, in-person or via electronic means.

Air Travel Is Changing – Communities Need To Optimize These Shifts. Intra-regional air travel is just one part of the shifts in the applications of air transportation.

The lightning-fast route decisions on the part of ULCCs, often with day-of-week service between cities that even have no history of nonstop air service, is another dynamic that will shape how air transportation will emerge in the future.

Furthermore, it has almost zero relationship with traditional route-and-market forecasting and even less relationship with historical traffic data. In a sense, it’s like email – it wasn’t there as a channel ten years ago. Which routes stay, which get dropped, and which get expanded is a roulette game that no historical methodologies can predict… it all depends in the consumer.
Then, there is the coming international expansion – particularly along the US east coast – made possible by new-generation airliners. This will change airport usage patterns in certain regions.

Planning for the future means identifying the future…

Join US August 27-29 & Get A New View of The Air Service Future. The International Aviation Forecast Summit is bringing together the industry-leaders who will be discussing this new, exciting future.

In addition to the fast-paced sessions with airline CEOs, senior executives and decision-makers from across the industry and across the globe, this year’s optional pre-Summit Workshop Series, held Sunday afternoon, 27 August, will cut new territory.

In particular, The New Air Access Paradigm Workshop will cover the entirely new dynamics for communities and regions to consider to assure they remain connected to the global economy.

Prepare for some sacred ASD scripture to be laid bare for what it is. Prepare for some whole new perspectives on how to take advantage of the changes in the consumer economy. Prepare to come out of the Workshop with information that will reset air service access planning.

Click on the graphic below for more information, and to register by February 20, to get the New Year’s registration rate.


Take a look… Just two more days to get the New Year’s rate on the #1 Industry Event… Click below to register now!

Monday Update – February 11, 2019

The Railroad Cults – And Their Congressional Friends

Long-Haul Hi-Speed Rail Is A Scam – But A Politically-Correct One

Always dependable for great entertainment…

Congress, that is. Another proof that when nobody questions what somebody says, they get accustomed to saying stuff that anybody with an IQ higher than an artichoke could recognize as lunacy…

Like, a few years ago, at a hearing regarding a major troop deployment to Guam, one of our august solons is reported to have asked if all these additional people might make the island capsize. True or not – it fits.

Last week, even that was topped, with some nitwit freshman member of the House, outlining a proposal to completely change our economic system, moving toward something more in conformity to the economic miracles seen in Cuba and Venezuela.

Enter The Rail Cults. One particularly innovative part of it was to move in the direction of eliminating air travel, and enhancing the use of rail.

Great. While we’re at it, let’s abandon suburbs and move into caves – not much carbon there… only slightly more than the gray matter of these forward thinkers.

Yes, it’s that carbon footprint thing, probably. Not to mention the ability to propose almost anything in Congress with a straight face. Reality has left the building.

Also departed is good sense inside some of the media.

While it’s amazing enough that anybody would even take this seriously (a whole bunch of co-clowns in Congress immediately jumped on this square-wheeled bandwagon), what’s more amazing is that the majority of the media just quietly reported on it, without an inkling of a question, regardless of how rabidly contrary to reality the program would be, at least outside of a totalitarian country.

Rail Is Better, You Know. The Cult Says So. The romantic heydays of the 20th Century Limited will be back. Sitting on a rail car for a few days between New York and San Francisco will be much more healthy and environmentally-compatible with polar bear habitats than doing it in five hours on an airplane.

And establishing lots of new passenger rail lines – it’s going to stimulate the economy, these folks will tell us. ‘Course, the fact that there are issues with these things, like at-grade crossings, accessing populated areas, lower time-efficiency, the need for distribution systems at the stops involved, etc., are not mentioned. Nor even considered. This is Congress, see.

Then there’s getting rights-of-way for new rail lines. That’s not a problem in the minds of these folks, as in this proposed new world, only certain sectors of the population have the right to even have rights.

Some big-time farmer in the path of a new rail line planned to go through Indiana has no standing versus the will of the people, which, by the way is mostly just these legislative thugs, or a vote-mob churned into a frenzy. (Take a look, some of these forward-thinkers have openly stated that the US Constitution gets in their way. Gee, that seems to have been a problem for politicians in other countries, too… like in the 1930s.)

Rail Is Obsolete For Long-Haul Passenger Travel. The point is this: rail is a part of the communication system, and has a place – where it makes economic sense. But for passenger travel it’s an incompetent and poor modality for much more than intra-urban transit in high-population corridors.

Time For Pro-Active Transportation Planning. The Rail Cult is very real… and we can watch for more of this type of luddite thinking in the future.

The solution is for the air transport industry to more aggressively get involved in futurist transportation planning. Develop their own vision, instead of leaving a planning vacuum to be filled by the kind of jihadist non-thinkers we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks.

This means pro-actively promoting the benefits of air travel v other channels, and promulgating regional solutions – some of them multi-modal, actually.

Forcing People to Conform To The Cult, Nothing Else. The concern here is that these latest proposals from the nut sector in Congress are not intended to improve transportation, or improve anything, per se.

Instead these self-righteous thugs want force the public to alter their lives and to conform how they in Congress think people should live, based on a near-sacred set of beliefs that are not to be ever questioned. Remember the proclamation, “the science has been decided.” They will brook no discussion.

Hopefully, this insulting stupidity will get zapped by introduction of level thinking in the Marble Playpen in Washington.

But it’s based on ginning up mob politics – and history has shown where that can lead.

Monday Update – February 4, 2019

More Proof We’re Not Safer Than Before 9/11

The TSA agents just told us to run…”

That was what some passengers claim was the august and professional response to an event at MCO.

Let’s start with a basic definition of security.  The goal is to protect our airports and infrastructure from harm and to have systems in place that endeavor to assure that they are not disrupted by untoward events.

It’s called anticipation, deterrence, and when an event does take place, post-event mitigation.

Last week, it was again demonstrated that these concepts are foreign to the management of the Transportation Security Administration..

An individual reportedly committed suicide by jumping out a window at the Orlando airport Hyatt. It was in the non-sterile atrium area. Just one person, apparently intent on crossing over into the Next World..

But the effect on the terminal was far from anything vaguely resembling security. Reportedly, the result was chaos… with people running past check points, and, according to reports, TSA staff yelling for people to scatter.

There was no communication or control of the situation… just “run.”

Over 100 flights were cancelled, due to the need to close an entire gate area and re-screen passengers.

Think about it. One person dives off a hotel balcony into a non-sterile area, and the airport is completely flummoxed, with flights cancelled and thousands of travelers tossed into confusion.

This was a massive security failure, but consistent with the slapdash politically-appointed management at the TSA – the solution is to just run from whatever it is… like a herd of panicked wildebeests.

What happened in Orlando should have TSA management heads rolling like a fun Paris week-end during the French Revolution. But not a peep from anybody regarding how this incident again lays bare the nature of our approach to security… or, non-approach.

Not to worry… the folks at the top of the TSA in Washington actually do have contingency plans… media contingency plans to cover their tushies. They know which wind-up toy network correspondents to call, and who’ll rush in to do an in-depth interview, plus some walk-and-talk B-roll with some high-level seat-warmer to illuminate how great things are.

The fact is, in any situation, “just run” is the basic TSA senior management policy response to any event.

Point: We are vulnerable… one reason being that major flaws are being blissfully covered up or ignored.

Just like before 9/11.

Monday Flash – January 27, 2019

DOT – 2019 Off To A Non-Leadership Start

This week we discuss how drones are a safety issue…

Drones – Dangerous Enough To Shut Airports Down…

…And The Feds Are Clueless 

Last week, Newark was shut down due to drone sightings…

You can bet that whoever was operating the thing – or things – got a great chuckle.

With just a little device costing a couple hundred bucks, he or she successfully and stealthily shut down one of the nation’s biggest airports. Walter Mitty with a control box.

And the perp knows that nobody can find out who he is.

This has been experienced at other airports across the world.  The proliferation of these small devices continues. While there’s talk about the need to detect them, there’s little or no discussion of how to track down who’s operating them.

It doesn’t take a think-tank report from Wharton to figure out what this means in terms of air safety and security.

But not to worry. The DOT is taking strong action. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao has promised that new “guidelines” will be issued soon to address this situation.

Yessir, guidelines will certainly do the trick. You can bet that any individual with mayhem on their mind, or, just some dimbulb high school kid in Astoria wanting to buzz LGA, will take note… especially when they know they can’t get caught… or in the case of a terrorist, can’t be stopped.

Point: until there is solid technology to track operator accountability, drone usage is a safety and security threat. Newark was just a warning. It again demonstrates that, regardless of the enormous future benefits of drone channels of communication, the aviation system is not ready to safely accommodate them.

Therefore, civilian drone use should be prohibited. Yes, taken out of the skies.

Now. The DOT’s “guidelines” will be of precious little value if one of these things takes out an airliner. Long shot? Maybe.

And, maybe not. It’s electronically-directed fla


Monday Update – January 21, 2019

To Start This Week…

It’s On!

The 24th International Aviation Forecast Summit
The Wynn/Encore Resort, Las Vegas – August 25-27

We’re excited to announce the venue and dates for the 24th IAFS™ – the #1 annual industry event.

We’re now completing the exciting agenda, which will include presentations and discussions with the senior decision-makers in aviation – from airlines, airports, manufacturers and financial institutions.

The comprehensive nature of the IAFS™ delivers a constellation of new perspectives that will be important to all areas of the industry.

There are no silos in aviation, which is the reason the IAFS™ is the competitive edge for all sectors.

For example, a decision by an aircraft manufacturer in regard to a new aircraft will affect all sectors – from finance to airport facility planning. An airline deciding to shift fleets can affect things from capacity planning to ground equipment requirements.

The leaders in aviation who will be shaping the future will be at the International Aviation Forecast Summit.

Forecasts To Be Released. In addition, Boyd Group International will be releasing three important planning forecasts:

The 2019 -2029 Airports:USA® Enplanement Forecasts – the only traffic projections produced in the private sector. Hard data based on incisive analyses. We cover the trends as well as the traffic.

Global Fleet Trend & Demand Forecast – The airline industry is shifting fleets – what will be at the gate in 2025 or 2030? In addition to forecasts presented by the global aircraft manufacturers, the independent review of future fleet trends that will have bearing on planning throughout the industry.

Airports:China™ Forecast. Regardless of any trade or diplomatic issue, China-US traffic and investment will continue to be a factor that all communities, airports, and economic development entities need to prepare for. The IAFS™ delivers insight that no other event can match.

New Year Early Registration Rates In Effect. Reserve by February 15 for a very special early registration rate… including for your staff.

Regular attendees of the IAFS™ know that it delivers more actionable planning data and insight than any other event – anywhere in the world. So click here to register at the special New Year rate.

We’ve also arranged very special rates at the Encore – and these will be available for booking shortly.

This is the event where aviation leaders gather. Join us!


The Latest Trend: Airport Rankings & Other Voodoo Studies

There’s no telling the fun and games that can result when folks who couldn’t tell the difference between a flight schedule and a racing sheet get their paws on Department of Transportation data, and then come out like they’re speaking from the Throne of Peter.

One latest trend is the airport ranking gig. Lots of them out there.

No matter what airport, almost, there’s a “study” or “analysis” that will rank it high or low… just take your pick of which “study” to use.

Of course, that’s with the exception of LaGuardia – which was condemned starting a few years ago when some nitwit politician referred to it as “Third World.”

Subject Knowledge Not Required. Recently there was a great headline in a Florida paper… “Which Airports Are Most Likely To Delay Your Flight.”

Yes, it’s those clumsy airport directors that are keeping flights from getting off the gate. Seems somebody looked at things like taxi times and – yes – the Sacred Scripture – DOT/BTS “on-time” reports – and purports to tell us that airlines set schedules without any earthly knowledge of the operational issues at each airport, and are then victims of inefficiently-managed and poorly-planned airports.

But, just like shallow-end airline “quality” studies that come out from time to time, most of the media makes zero attempt to see if these types of reports have any credibility. They just report it all – including idiotic headlines like the one above.

Heck, there’s one report that year after year sanctimoniously even got the names of airlines flat wrong (like, “Delta Airlines” – not a minor issue when somebody is trying to pass themselves off as condescending experts on the industry.)

It’s From Washington… Proceed With Caution. It’s important that there be some approach to qualitative metrics in regard to air transportation. Unfortunately, DOT/BTS data is geared to an airline industry structure that no longer exists, and which needs to be carefully reviewed with a clear understanding of where the data fall flat.

In the hands of folks who know diddly about the airline industry and even less about the pitfalls of government data, the results can be outright silly. In some cases, the stuff on the BTS site is of zero value whatsoever.

One example is international O&D data. With the growth of alliances and increased foreign air carrier service, they are useless. Worse than useless, particularly when the user is clueless about the industry, and assumes that because it’s “govm’t” – it must be accurate.

Here’s an example we’ve used the past to illuminate the situation. The BTS data tell us that there are just 530 O&D between Fuzhou, China and JFK.

Last year, one airline alone carried over 73,000 on the route. But because it wasn’t a US carrier, the O&D wasn’t reported.

US domestic O&D reports are a lot more accurate, but again, from a sample. Back in ancient times, say, the 1970s, computer power wasn’t there to handle a 100% reporting system.

Today, that power is there. Boyd Group International’s Aviation DataMiner™ system – unlike some other sources – can easily handle a full 100% audit of air passenger traffic. Yet DOT is reticent to pursue that path.

Another common misconception is that O&D data is the same as “demand” between two points. Wrong – at best it’s an indication of traffic volume based on current air channels. Air passenger “demand” is fluid and based on a range of shifting consumer factors.

In any event, just keep in mind that some of these airport and air traffic “studies” should be taken with a grain of salt – maybe the whole salt mine.

If you’re looking for a professional source of data – one that fully illuminates the pitfalls of raw DOT numbers, and one that is geared for use by industry professionals – consider Aviation DataMiner™ from Boyd Group International. We’re different – and our data approach is, too.