Flight Blog

Nov 26 2013 Just Google It! BY sgf-adminTAGS Midfield Terminal, Misc.


Image of map

The folk at Google have made it a little bit easier to navigate our terminal building — take a look at this screen shot:

This screen shot is from an iPhone. It shows the floor plan of the terminal as viewed on Google Maps. It's part of Google's Indoor Map program.

The floor plan is visible on smart phones, and other mobile devices, as long as the satellite view is turned off. It’s also visible on desktop computer web browsers, as long as Google Maps is in the classic configuration, with the satellite view turned off.

Give it a try by clicking here: https://maps.google.com/maps?ll=37.239135,-93.39595&spn=0.003617,0.008256&t=m&z=18



Jun 24 2013 Painting the Summer Away BY sgf-adminTAGS How the Airport Works


Many of us have summer projects involving paint. Paint the house. Paint the kitchen. The deck. The bathroom. The kid's room. The runway ...

Yes, every summer we paint the runways. No nice mauve or baby blue — we go strictly by the book: black, yellow, white. And we don't stop with the runways — we do the taxiways, the tarmacs, and any other piece of pavement that requires it.

Painting at the airport can be tricky at times: the painting machines are notoriously fussy; the summer heat drives pavement temperatures to well over a hundred degrees; sometimes you have to quit painting in a hurry and let an expected flight land. And then there's the matter of neatness. If everything isn't perfect the Federal Aviation Administration can ding us during our annual safety inspection.

We thought you might like to have a behind the scenes peak at our annual painting ritual ...

The first thing you have to do is close the runway that needs painting. Among other things it requires hauling a big X to each end of the runway. The Xs have bright lights mounted to them.

Approaching pilots will see them and know that the runway is closed. The photo gives an idea of how big the painting project is. The distance from the X to the other end of the runway (in the background) is approximately 7,000 feet. And all those pavement markings you see have to be repainted.

As mentioned earlier, painting machines are fussy; sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. Nozzles get clogged. Air pressure on the lines can go south in a heart beat. Alignment mechanisms go askew and suddenly you've painted a crooked line. 

The job of keeping things on the straight and narrow falls on the backs of the Airfield Maintenance team. In the photo on the left Kevin Rhoten (L) and David Chamberlin (R) discuss the latest round of orneriness from the  painting machine. That tangle of tubes shoot three colors of paint, plus tiny glass beads. The beads make the paint reflective at night.

The painting machine is mounted on the back of a small flatbed truck. The arrangement includes barrels of paint, beads, a generator to run an air compressor (that clanks all the time), and just enough room for the an operator. In the photo on the right-below David Chamberlin makes sure the paint goes where it's supposed to.

The box-like contraption hovering above the pavment houses the paint nozzles. The truck driver drives slowly (less than 10 mph) and Chamberlin (on the back) monitors progress. That edge stripe they're painting is 36-inches wide.

It'll take four weeks to finish the entire painting project, along with thousands of gallons of paint, thousands of pounds of glass beads, and more than a few tubes of sunblock.





Photo of paint truck





May 28 2013 Allegiant Brings Its New Bird to SGF BY sgf-adminTAGS Allegiant


A bright, shiny Airbus A319 swooped into Springfield today (Tuesday) as it ended one leg of its first Phoenix-Springfield run. We don't see many Airbus at SGF so it was a special occasion. The 319 is part of Allegiant's plan to grow its fleet, while maintaining its low-cost business structure. That low-cost structure translates into low fares for Allegiant customers.

Allegiant started its business by buying used MD-80 airplanes. While other airlines were getting rid of 80s Allegiant was picking them up for a song a dance. From Allegiant's point-of-view, 80s made perfect sense: they were (and are) solid, reliable aircraft that were cheap to buy. But they do have their downside ...

80's are getting older; they require more maintenance. On long haul flights 80s need lots of runway for takeoff. They're noisy. They aren't very fuel efficient. The 319 addresses these deficiencies with flair. Here's an example ...

In its 2012 annual report Allegiant says this about the 319's fuel consumption: "Our 156 seat A-319 burns over 200 gallons less per hour of operation than our 166-seat MD-80."

Needless to say that's a BIG SAVINGS!

The 319 is also quiter; it can fly twice a far as an 80; it needs less runway for takeoff. And, like the 80, 319s are now showing up on the used airplane market for a fraction of the cost of a new airplane.

Allegiant says it plans to add 16 of them to the fleet in the near future. Allegiant sums it up this way: "We believe these Airbus aircraft will allow for low aircraft ownership costs consistent with our business model."

And that, my friends, means low fares.

Read more about 319s in this previous post. Here's an indepth story from CBS News about Allegiant and its use of MD-80s.


May 06 2013 Air Fares Lower in Springfield? BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines, Fares


In the past few weeks we’ve been asked several times if airlines are charging lower fares in Springfield due to the presence of Southwest Airlines at the Branson airport (the airline began service there in March).

The people asking have usually just checked out fares online and noticed what they perceive as a drop in Springfield fares. Well, they’re right — Springfield fares are lower. But here’s the thing: fares are always lower in the first quarter, and part of the second quarter.

Here’s what’s going on …

Airlines always lower fares the first four months of the year. It’s this way across the country; it is not unique to Springfield. Why lower fares? The first quarter is the slowest time of the year for air travel. To stimulate sales airlines always have first quarter fare sales.

So first quarter fare sales were part of the equation, but this year there’s another factor at work: the pending merger of American Airlines and US Airways.

The merger announcement came in early February. Within a couple of weeks American became very aggressive in its domestic and international fare sales. Before the merger I received maybe one American sale announcement a month via email. Now I get three or four a week.

This sudden aggressiveness by American has raised eyebrows in the aviation world. Some in the industry (myself included) think the airline is positioning itself for that time when the merger with US Airways becomes a done deal. The combined airline (which will keep the American name) will have three main competitors: Delta, Southwest, and United. By offering aggresive fares now the hope may be that the public will begin considering the merged American a low fare leader.

So here’s where we stand: air fares are always lower in the first four months of the year. And they may have been knocked a notch lower this year by American’s aggressive sales. So, bottom line, there’s no way to know if the presence of Southwest at Branson has lowered fares in the market. All that being said, it doesn’t mean that we won’t ever be able to tell — it’s just too early to tell.

Here’s why ...

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) gathers airline fare data every quarter. Publication of the data lags by two quarters. That means fare data for the first quarter won’t be available until the third quarter. We have to wait until then to know if Springfield fares were lower in the first quarter (when compared to the first quarter of the year before).

As for the question of Southwest’s impact on fares … I’d want to have four or five quarters worth of fare data before making a judgment. It would be great if Springfield fares do go down, but right now it’s just too early to know.



Mar 08 2013 "Turn On Your Electronic Devices!?" BY sgf-adminTAGS Airlines, FAA

Missouri Senator Clair McCaskill says she's going to introduce a bill that will force the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to allow the use of electronic devices on airplanes — from take off to landing. Read the rest of the story from Politico.

Get more background on the subject from this previous post.