Brussels Airlines has announced plans to retire the majority of their existing A330 aircraft and replace them with brand new A330s as it seeks to update its fleet. According to their strategy, 7 of their 10 A330s will be swapped for new ones during 2018 and 2019.
What makes this an even bigger deal is the fact that along with the new aircraft,’SN’ will introduce an entirely new cabin interior. Business Class, Economy Privilege, and Economy will all receive substantial facelifts.
Though specifics have not yet been decided upon, I suspect the new cabin interiors will be in line with the new cabins that will be introduced by Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian beginning in 2018. LH Group had previously stated that they have the desire to create a standardized cabin across the Group’s airlines. With Brussels now being a wholly owned division of LH Group, it stands to reason that Brussels Airlines will benefit from the strategy.
I look forward to seeing what ‘SN’ comes up with when the new birds begin joining the fleet. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing their wonderful Business Class product and am curious how they’ll make it even better!
Earlier today, headlines started to pop up suggesting that the TSA was entertaining the idea of expanding the current Laptop ban to include the whole of Europe, including the UK. Mind you, this is a TSA that has a 95% failure rate when it comes to screening tests.
Currently the ban applies to certain carriers operating from certain Mid-Eastern countries, so news of the ban being expanding comes as a bit of a frustrating surprise.
Homeland Security officials in the USA have not commented on this other than the generic and predictable ‘We’re considering all options and have not made any decisions’ type of worthless commentary.
Any new policy or expansion of the existing version would mean that a device larger than a ‘Smart Phone’ would be considered too large to bring aboard, including any kind of laptop or tablet device.
Maybe at this point, major US and European carriers will speak up against the ridiculous policy and sway their respective governments. Now that the shoe may be put on the other foot, lets see how non-Mideast carriers will respond.
Predictably to this point, the non-M/E carriers have not spoken out against the current ban since the existing policy hurts their competitors. Let’s see what kind of whining we’ll get if everyone has to play by the same rules, regardless of how stupid and ineffective the rules would be.
I came across an interesting video showing research and simulations that are taking place that suggest that a circular, banked runway (Think race track style) is better, safer, and more environmentally sound.
The research is being conduct at The Netherlands Aerospace Center and several advantages are being discovered with a 360 degree runway. One being the idea that you can micro-tune approaches and departures to account for wind conditions; eliminating all those enjoyable cross-wind landings we like to watch on Youtube. The research suggests that you can have 3 aircraft departing and or arriving at the same time which would reduce congestion at major airports. Also with a circular runway, aircraft would spend less time in the air holding patterns over airports which in turn would reduce air and noise pollution near the airports.
Here is the video (Courtesy of BBC) explaining the concept along with simulator work showing the effectiveness of the idea. (PS, if any of you use X-Plane 10 or 11, there’s a circular airport that is available….and it’s a blast!).
According to an article published earlier today by Bloomberg, it appears that our friends at the TSA have revised their screening policies as it relates to ‘patting down’ passengers at security check points.
Citing a 2015 study concluding that more and more weapons are making it past screening procedures, the TSA has notified its officers to be more thorough when patting down passengers. Up until now, the TSA had 5 different approaches when it came to physical contact or screening of a passenger. With the new policy, that list of 5 has been narrowed to 1, and that ‘1’ is more comprehensive than the previous 5.
A spokesman for the TSA stated that passenger will ‘notice that the new pat-down is more involved’. The TSA also said that this will apply to airline crew. The TSA randomly screens a small number of ‘known crew’ passing through ‘crew security’, but that small percentage of crew being screened will be subject to the same new scrutiny as a passengers.
According to the article, the new strategy has been quietly rolled out in smaller airports over the past 2 weeks, and is now being rolled out to airports nationwide. No mention was made if this would affect ‘Pre Check’ or similar expedited security programs.
Turn and Cough……
During my trip to Munich for the A350 Roll In Event I had a chance to tour the aircraft’s interior and got my first close up of Lufthansa’s new Economy cabin that will be featured on the A350.
The changes are not subtle when compared to the most recent iterations of the typical Lufthansa Economy cabin. The biggest difference that will strike passengers immediately when they board will be the color scheme. Lufthansa has gone to great lengths to improve the ambiance of this 224 seat Economy cabin, featuring new color schemes and lighting technology. Not to mention, the new IFE system provides passengers with fantastic on-board entertainment.
First, let me show you the new interior. As I mentioned above, the color scheme is what draws the most initial attention. You’ll see that Lufthansa intentionally shaded the seats from darker seats along the windows to lighter colored seats in the center of the cabin. This was done to create an optical effect to help the cabin appear larger than it is. You’ll notice that in these shots:
You’ll notice the change of tint from the darker seat along the window, to the very light colored seat in center of the middle section. This was designed intentionally to give the cabin a sense of width and roominess.
The darker outer seats……
Perhaps the biggest improvement that comes with the A350 is the IFE system that the Economy class cabin will enjoy. Based on the Panasonic EX3 system, passengers will now be treated to the largest display ever to be installed on a Lufthansa Economy class seat. With this new system, passengers will be able to access upwards of 100 Movies, 200 TV shows and hundreds of Music and other entertainment options (games, reference, etc).
As I wrote in this post, this new IFE system will also allow passengers to pre-plan their viewing menu by using an App on their smart device. The ‘Lufthansa Companion App’ allows you to see your flight’s IFE menu up to 6 weeks ahead of your flight and you’ll be able to build your favorites list via the app. Then once on board, you’ll sync your device to your seat-back display and watch the things you wanted to see. With the new IFE system, you’ll also be able to stream the content directly to your smart device as well. Another first for Lufthansa.
Bigger, Better, Faster…..Lufthansa’s new IFE system aboard the A350.
One final special feature found aboard the A350 that will apply all 3 seating options (Economy, Premium Economy, Business) will be the use of special ambient cabin lighting. With this, cabin crew will be able to adjust cabin lighting from a menu of 24 different options. Each geared towards a specific on-board event or time of day.
For example, a ‘Boarding mode’ will feature natural tones of lights along with blue and yellow hints to suggest Lufthansa’s corporate colors. For takeoff, the mode would be set to reduce the brightness of the lights and create a neutral lighting environment. Another example would be the ‘Dining’ mode where passengers would be reminded of what lighting would be like in a restaurant. Sleeping mode would off course darken the cabin, but leave accent lighting on. Wake mode would have a gradual increase in cabin lighting, simulating a gentle sunrise so that passengers can awake naturally instead of being startled by a sharp change in cabin lighting.
From my time aboard the A350, I came away impressed with the strides that Lufthansa has made in making Economy class better. In my opinion, the new IFE system is what makes this Economy cabin so much better than other LH versions. Having a large screen with a retina quality display will help the hours fly by during a flight. We all know that a long haul flight in Economy can bring with it a certain level of stress. However, with the new features that LH has introduced to help passengers, it should make even the longest flights enjoyable.
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