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    Crazy Video Shows Russian Attack Helicopter Misfire Rocket Directly at Onlookers

    Some wild video has recently surfaced from Russia (of course), showing a pair of Ka-52 attack helicopters approaching a crowd of onlookers, before one accidentally fires missiles directly at them.

    In reports published by Russian media this week, the helos were participating in “Zapad 2017” war games, and were conducting a training exercise at a firing range near St Petersburg, when the misfire occurred.

    Above, watch video from both the ground and cockpit of the accident as it happened.

    It’s an unclear just how many rockets were fired, or who the crowd fired upon was, but the Russian Defense Ministry, in comments to Russian media, confirmed several people were injured and a couple vehicles burned and destroyed, but denied reports claiming any were civilians.

    No deaths have been reported.

    Russian newspaper The Kommersant has reported the helicopter’s weapon control system malfunctioned; its unguided rocket fired without the pilot’s command, and was fired immediately after the pilot turned off the safety switch.

    The paper also claims it was the third aviation accident in a week. A supersonic long-range bomber skidded off the runway on Sep 14 (the day the Zapad 2017 drills kicked off), and a training aircraft crashed two days later.

    Follow Mike Killian on Instagram and Facebook, @MikeKillianPhotography
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    Rumor Roundup: Southwest’s Hawaii Plans From Likely To Just Plane Crazy

    Earlier this week we reported that we believe that Southwest Airlines will likely announce that they are entering the Hawaii market.  While it is speculation, there are many good reasons to believe that Southwest will very shortly announce (possibly even announce today) that they will commence service to the Hawaiian Islands in 2018.

    Since our story on Monday, Seeking Alpha produced a story with detailed FOIA requests between Hawaiian government officials and the airline, all but confirming that some sort of announcement involving Hawaii was in the works.  The rumor mill has kicked into overdrive on the internet and within avgeek circles.  While most of these rumors will prove false, it’s been fun to entertain the speculation and think through some of the open questions. Let’s preface this post…all of this is speculation based on our analysis of the market and our passion for the airline industry.  Here are some of the rumors we’ve heard, listed from most likely to occur, to fanciful.

    RUMOR #1: Southwest will announce service to the Hawaiian Islands with at least 10 flights

    Southwest will commence service with 10 flights from their major west coast hubs to Honolulu and Maui with Kona and Lihue to begin later in 2018.  Possible launching points for the flights include Oakland, San Jose, Los Angeles, Seattle,and San Diego.  This strategy would permit Southwest to directly confront Alaska Airlines’ growing size on the West Coast.

    Since Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America, Southwest has become more aggressive in confronting Alaska, launching routes that compete directly to contain Alaska’s growth. Alaska and Virgin have a very strong presence in the Hawaiian market. The launch of the Hawaiian market would be a direct move to contain Alaska’s growth and capture some of Alaska’s market share.

    Open questions:  What city pairs will Southwest launch?  Will they serve all 4 major Hawaiian airports?  What would be the timing of this launch, knowing that they still need to formalize their ETOPS program? Will Southwest modify their Rapid Rewards program for the Hawaiian market?When will the service commence?  Southwest is retiring their 737-300s and will not have significant spare capacity until the middle of next year.

    RUMOR #2: Southwest will announce a code-share with Hawaiian Airlines

    A Hawaiian Airlines A330 is parked at a Honolulu gate. By Hakilon (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    This rumor, if true, would be wild but not unprecedented.  A partnership with Hawaiian would give Southwest immediate access to the islands and Asia while limiting the risk of directly entering new markets. Hawaiian flies to many of Southwest’s destinations on the West Coast.  Hawaiian is also set to receive a slew of new Airbus A321NEOs, beginning later this year.

    Hawaiian would limit its risk of a potentially brutal competition with Southwest on its home turf. It also serves as a way to provide better air travel access to Southwest’s millions of Rapid Rewards frequent fliers. Southwest’s upgraded reservation system can now handle code-share reservations.  While this rumor seems unlikely, Southwest has already had codeshare agreements with ATA last decade and an interline agreement with Icelandair back in the ’90s.

    The rumor seems pretty unlikely, but anything is possible.  If some sort of agreement were to happen, it is more likely that Southwest would fly their own metal to the Islands with connection opportunities to smaller Hawaiian markets, along with Australia and Asia onboard Hawaiian jets.

    Open questions:  How would Southwest’s pilots/flight attendant union react to this code share?  Southwest’s contract with the pilots places strict limits on codeshares.  How would Southwest handle multiple classes of service?  Hawaiian Airlines has first class on all of their flights.

    RUMOR #3:  Southwest will acquire Hawaiian Airlines

    The rumor of an acquisition has been floating around industry circles for years. This one is surprisingly persistent. On the plus side, there isn’t significant route overlap between the two airlines. The merger would be largely complementary and give Southwest immediate own-metal access to Asia, Australia and the Hawaiian short-haul market. But the challenges would be many.

    First, there is zero fleet commonality between the two carriers. Hawaiian flies a mix of 717s, second-hand 767s, A330s and plans to add A321NEOs and A350s over the next few years. Southwest only flies the Boeing 737. Second, Southwest just completed a complex merger with AirTran. Integrating cultures is difficult, even with an airline like AirTran that had a largely similar business model. The merger between AirTran and Southwest was challenging. A Southwest/Hawaiian linkup would be immensely challenging, costly, and divergent from their simplistic model of flying one type of airplane, with one class of service. Plus, there is no guarantee that a mega-merger between two top 10 carriers would even be approved by the Trump administration. Our guess here is that a merger would be very, very unlikely.  But we can never say never…

    Open questions: Would it receive government approval? How would Southwest integrate such a different type of airline to their existing network?  How would they integrate two different cultures?  What would they do with first class on Hawaiian aircraft? Would they keep the largely redundant A321NEO fleet?

    So what do you think?  Will Southwest announce entry to the Hawaiian market? Only time will tell…

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    Photo Essay: Andrews AFB Airshow Wows Crowd

    (Photos and story by Curt & Randy Jennings)
    SUITLAND, MD – Last weekend’s 2017 Joint Base Andrews Air Show was once again a fantastic glimpse at the aerial capability of the United States military. The weather cooperated all three days of the show, without a drop of rain and mostly sunny skies, so everyone was able to enjoy a great time.

    As usual, the USAF Thunderbirds were the highlight of the show as well as the last to perform. Still all in attendance were thrilled at the performance of: the Army’s Golden Knights, the F-22 Raptor, the B-2 Spirit bomber, the Geico Skytypers, the B-29 Superfortress Doc, Patty Wagstaff’s incredible aerobatic display, and many more fine performers.

    It was a very special treat to see, for the first time, the Boeing B-29 Doc take to the skies at Joint Base Andrews. After years of hard work by a team of dedicated volunteers, Doc became the second airworthy B-29 in the world. Previously the only flyable B-29 was Fifi, operated by the Commemorative Air Force.

    Having had the opportunity to photograph both Doc and Fifi, I would say that I strongly prefer to capture images ofDoc.  While Fifi is a sight to behold, she is painted gray, while Doc’s external surface is polished aluminum thus providing a fantastic reflection for the photographer.  This was evident as Doc flew over Joint Base Andrews with the runway clearly reflected on its side. Additionally I witnessed several people taking their self-portraits in Doc’s reflective surface when she was back on static display.
    Fast forward to the most modern aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory, the F-22 and B-2 were very impressive.  The acrobatic flight demonstration of the F-22, with its vectored thrust, continues to thrill the crowd.  The F-22 was later joined by a P-51 Mustang, flying in in formation as a Heritage Flight. As always, the flyover of the B-2 was both a rather eerie sight and sound due not only to its strange look but how quite it is for a plane of its size. 
    Kids of all ages enjoyed the static aircraft that provided hands on experience with what our nation uses to project American military capability.  More importantly, show attendees were able to interact with military personnel who are the core of our nation’s military might.
    Having attended many of the Andrews shows over the past twenty plus years, I would say this is a good show but not what it once was mostly due to budget cuts.  In the past, the Andrews show occurred on an annual basis, though the last show was two years ago. It used to be a truly joint show with greater participation by the Army and the Marines, both on the ground and in the air.  We will see if the nation’s defense budget will stabilize to make this again an annual event.  Still the 2017 Joint Base Andrews Air Show was a fantastic time for both the aviation enthusiast as well as the first time air show attendee.

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    Four Reasons Why We Think Southwest Will Announce Hawaii This Week

    It’s a move that wouldn’t really surprise anyone, but it is still BIG news.  We’re predicting that Southwest will announce multiple Hawaiian destinations very soon.  Southwest Airlines has long been interested in the Hawaii market. Passengers want to fly there. Gary Kelly signaled interest in the market many times. He even said at the last earnings call that Hawaiian service will happen.

    Southwest has long been interested in the Hawaiian market. Back in 2006, Southwest held a code-share agreement with ATA.  Southwest flew passengers to Oakland and Ontario while ATA flew passengers to Hawaii with their 737-800 fleet.  The service was very popular for Rapid Rewards members but it was cancelled in 2007 as ATA wound down operations and declared bankruptcy. While Southwest acquired the assets of ATA, they did not introduce service to Hawaii. For most fans and customers of Southwest, this commencement/resumption of service to Hawaii (in a much more direct format this time) is way overdue.

    Here are four reasons why we think this will happen:

    1.) Southwest is the lead sponsor for the Global Tourism Summit in Hawaii

    Source: http://www.globaltourismsummithawaii.com/events/global-tourism-summit/custom-115-90252ee3dc0247afa85eb7aed785f805.aspx

    To the best of our knowledge, we’ve never seen Southwest sponsor this conference before. We searched the internet and don’t see any record of them sponsoring this conference. Even more interesting is that they are the title sponsor.  It’s extremely uncommon for an airline with the closest destination 2500nm away to be the lead sponsor. They wouldn’t sponsor the conference at that price level just to encourage Hawaiians to use Southwest when flying from LAX to LAS on their visits to the mainland.

    2.) Gate 22 at San Jose International Airport was decorated with pineapples today

    Within the past day, one gate at SJC was decorated with a very Hawaiian-themed pineapples and decidedly island colors.  It was enough to catch my eye at the airport and wonder why a gate would be not so subtly decorated like a luau. A gate agent might have jumped the gun but it was very peculiar none the less.

    3.) Southwest’s MAX fleet comes online next month, freeing up the ETOPS equipped jets

    Southwest’s 737-8MAX will begin flying revenue flights in October. By John Crowley from Seattle, WA, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    With the classic fleet (-300s) retired by the end of September and the MAX fleet ramping up in Q4, Southwest will have a much more standardized fleet that will provide additional flexibility. Much of the long distance, high density flying in their system has been flown by the -800 ETOPS fleet as of late.  The arrival of the MAX is expected to take some pressure off of the -800 ETOPS fleet.  If that is the case, that means that the -800 ETOPS equipped and certified aircraft will be freed to fly across the ocean.

    4.) Their reservation system is ready and red-eyes are now possible

    Southwest has long struggled with an outdated reservation system.  It was simple which was great for flying between Dallas Love and San Antonio but became a burden as the airline evolved into the largest domestic carrier in the US. Those issues are now behind them.  Southwest can now handle complex, international reservations with ease.  With Southwest’s new Amadeus-powered system, the airline can also handle overnight flights.  Hawaiian red-eye flights are now possible too with updated contracts by their pilots and flight attendants.

    Keep in mind, it’s just a rumor at this point…

    While we are pretty confident in our analysis, we have to keep in mind that this is just a rumor at this point.  Any announcement of service would still require proving flights meaning that we likely wouldn’t see the commencement of service until early 2018.  Also, keep in mind that we’ve heard many rumors about the Hawaiian market and Southwest for years.  Back in the late 90s the prevailing rumor was that Southwest was going to purchase 757s to open up the Hawaiian market.  Then it was that they were going to buy ATA to gain a foothold in the market (they did buy ATA’s assets but mainly just to dominate Midway Airport–they never commenced own-metal service in ’08 to Hawaii).  Then for the past two to three years, we’ve heard rumors that Southwest was interested in purchasing Hawaiian Airlines.  We’re not betting on a merger.  Southwest’s merger with AirTran is still fresh in the minds of management and employees. Our bet is on a launch to Honolulu, Maui, and Kona from West Coast cities in Feb-March of 2018.

    We’ll keep this post updated.

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    Aloha Queen: United Announces Final Flight Of Their Beloved Boeing 747-400

    In a long awaited announcement, United Airlines unveiled their plans for the final Boeing 747-400 flight. United will fly their final revenue flight from San Francisco to Honolulu on November 7, 2017.

    This journey will serve as the ultimate throwback for customers, employees and invited guests as it recreates the first 747 flight operated by United in 1970. From a 1970s-inspired menu to retro uniforms for flight attendants to inflight entertainment befitting of that first flight, passengers will help send the Queen of the Skies off in true style. The original United 747 aircraft that first made this journey from San Francisco to Honolulu was named the “Friend Ship,” the same name bestowed on this farewell flight.

    Seats on this special, one-way trip, United flight 747, are available for purchase now at united.com. A quick check of United’s website shows that the Boeing 747s flight is double the average economy fare for that route. You will definitely pay a premium for the privilege to fly on United’s Queen one last time. Prices start at $571 for economy (one-way) while other flights leaving that day are around $200 one-way. For connecting flights through LAX on an A320 and Boeing 757-300, United is even offering $671 for First class. Still though, the c The seats in the upper deck will not be sold, giving all guests the opportunity to spend time in this iconic space.

    Customers seated in United Polaris first class and United Polaris business class will be entered into a drawing that will take place at the gate prior to boarding for an opportunity to occupy one of a select number of seats in the upper deck during the flight.

    The journey will begin with a gate celebration at 9 a.m. local time at San FranciscoInternational Airport, featuring a Boeing 747 gallery, remarks from United employees and executives, as well as refreshments. The flight will depart San Francisco International Airport at 11 a.m. local time, landing at Honolulu International Airport at 2:45 p.m. local time. Upon landing in Honolulu, local employees will welcome the aircraft with final festivities to close out the historic day. Customers and fans of the Queen of the Skies are encouraged to use the #UA747Farewell hashtag in social media posts.

    United Airlines took delivery of their first 747-400 in June of 1989. They are retiring the 747 fleet due to increased maintenance and poor efficiency relative to newer twin-engined widebodies like the 777-300, 787, and forthcoming A350.

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