George Hamlin

George
Hamlin
Contributing Writer

George Hamlin has been working in the airline and aerospace industries for more than 40 years and following them for even longer than that, dating back to the days when observation decks were almost a requirement at airports.

In his professional career, he’s worked for two airlines, TWA and Texas International; two aerospace companies, Lockheed and Airbus North America; and since 1996 has been a consultant to the industry.

He holds a BA in economics and political science from Washington & Lee University and an MS in transportation from Northwestern University, where his thesis topic was the airline fleet planning process.

George has also been documenting the industry photographically since 1969, and has contributed airline photos to a diverse set of entities, including his participation in ATW’s annual “Classic Airliners” calendar.

Articles
Unintended Consequences 
In February the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) produced a study titled “Current and Future Availability of Airline Pilots.” In the study’s summary of findings, it reported, “As airlines have recently started hiring, nearly all of the regional airlines that GAO interviewed reported difficulties finding sufficient numbers of qualified entry-level first officers.”
A Changing Map 
United Airlines’ recent announcement that it would downgrade Cleveland, Ohio, from the status of being a hub is not the first such announcement in the wake of the spate of mergers that reduced the number of large US legacy carriers from six to three.
Flightless Bird 

Hopefully, the hiatus will be temporary, and brief, but the U.S. FAA's grounding of the Boeing 787, by issuing an AD (Airworthiness Directive) on January 16 was not something that many would have forecast.  On the other hand, while unusual to the point of being rare, it's not unprecedented.  And, as we'll discuss further, the history on this sort of event goes back a significant distance in time.

A Very Interesting Booklet

I was recently at an airline-industry trade show, and picked up a relatively small (roughly 7X4 inches; 19X11 centimeters) printed booklet at one of the stands.  While it had a color cover, and a few other color photos, along with a nice foldout map of the carrier's worldwide route system at the back, most of the document consisted of tabular material printed in black & white, with single-color accents.

Music to Our Ears

In the auditory field, the principal association with airlines in the mind of the public is that five-letter word "noise".  However, air travel evokes enough pleasant perceptions that it has been alluded to a number of times in popular songs, although the more cynical among you may note that there has been less of this in recent years than in times past.

Hail and Farewell 

Back in the mid- to late-1990s, Comair had operating annual margins exceeding 20 percent, and I recall that there was at least one quarter in which it posted an operating margin over 30 percent, something unheard of in the airline industry.  It was the poster child for a successful U.S. Regional carrier, and the pioneer of the large-scale "RJ Revolution", as it built a massive fleet of Canadair Regional Jets, for the benefit of both itself and major-airline partner Delta.

Beverages for Airline Buffs? 

Recently it's been disclosed by several sources that Anheuser-Busch has applied for trademarks using the three-letter codes for 42 U.S. locations. While nothing definitive has been announced yet, a likely possibility is that you may be able to buy locally-themed/branded beer at your favorite airport, in addition to the brewer's flagship Budweiser brand (known colloquially as "Bud" for non-U.S. readers).

Yankee Alpha Takes to the Skies...Again

More formally, that would be D-ABYA, Lufthansa's initial 747-8 Intercontinental, the newest model of Boeing's long-serving 747 line;  the German flag carrier was the launch customer for the passenger version.  And in a nice acknowledgement of history, Lufthansa has chosen to re-use the same registration for this aircraft that was assigned to the carrier's first 747, a -100 model, delivered in 1970. 

One Size Fits, but the Size Changes Over Time

Southwest Airlines, the largest airline in the U.S. domestic market, in terms of passengers, has obviated a long-held truism with the recent addition of 737-800s to its fleet. (Beware: reading further will require summoning up your inner airline geek.)

Who's Number One...and Who Will Be Next Year?

For airports, in terms of passenger traffic, the title-holder currently is Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, according to data published by Airports Council International. This has been true for the entire 2000-2010 period, the most recent data published on ACI's website.

What's Old is New Again

Sometimes it's hard to keep a good airline, or, in this case, its name, down "for the count".  What I'm referring to is the February 13, 2012 announcement that an airline named PeoplExpress plans to take to the skies again, albeit headquartered in Newport News, Virginia instead of Newark, New Jersey, the home of the original version.  While a first for this former airline, reincarnation of historic airline names has been tried on a number of occasions.  What's the track record look like, in terms of success or failure?

Aircraft Names 

Airliners, like other aircraft, carry multiple means of identifying them uniquely. At the factory, they are assigned a "Manufacturer's Serial Number" (MSN), similar in concept to the alphabet-soup VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on automobiles familiar to those of us in the U.S. In addition, and also like automobiles virtually everywhere, once in service they also receive a registration from the appropriate governmental authority. Often referred to as a "reg" (pronounced with a soft 'g' sound, as opposed to the hard 'g' in "regulation"), or not uncommonly in the U.S., as a "tail number", these identifiers are displayed visibly on the aircraft, to the delight of aircraft spotters everywhere.

When Flights Had Names
Today, flight numbers are often four digits. Earlier in the industry's history, lower numbers were used, and even single digits were not uncommon. Most airlines referred to them as "flights", although Braniff, for one, used the alternative term "trip". And in the piston era, it also was not unusual for at least some flights in a carrier's timetable to also carry a name.

ATWOnline Marketplace - Buy a Link Now
ATW On-Location

View all ATW On-Location