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## The solution to NYC’s airport woes?

Gothamist calls it “almost certainly a Swiftian satire,” but there’s something striking about the Manhattan Airport Foundation’s “plan” to convert New York’s long underused Central Park into the closest in on close-in airports.

There are already aviation buffs out there saying “oh please, oh please” — if only to experience an approach that would rival runway 13 at Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak airport.

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## Sunday stumper: optimizing your run from one end of the terminal to the other

Suppose you are trying to get from one end A of a terminal to the other end B.  (For simplicity, assume the terminal is a one-dimensional line segment.)  Some portions of the terminal have moving walkways (in both directions); other portions do not.  Your walking speed is a constant $v$, but while on a walkway, it is boosted by the speed $u$ of the walkway for a net speed of $v+u$.  (Obviously, given a choice, one would only take those walkways that are going in the direction one wishes to travel in.)  Your objective is to get from A to B in the shortest time possible.

1. Suppose you need to pause for some period of time, say to tie your shoe.  Is it more efficient to do so while on a walkway, or off the walkway?  Assume the period of time required is the same in both cases.
2. Suppose you have a limited amount of energy available to run and increase your speed to a higher quantity $v'$ (or $v'+u$, if you are on a walkway).  Is it more efficient to run while on a walkway, or off the walkway?  Assume that the energy expenditure is the same in both cases.
3. Do the answers to the above questions change if one takes into account the various effects of special relativity?  (This is of course an academic question rather than a practical one.  But presumably it should be the time in the airport frame that one wants to minimise, not time in one’s personal frame.)

[H/T: Greg Mankiw]

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## Friday fun: “Aviation Dally”

Brett Snyder of the Cranky Flier has put up a variation on Aviation Daily‘s annual satire issue, which has sadly been canceled this year. At any rate, you can enjoy some first-rate aviation in-jokes here. Sample headlines: “American Pilots Fight for Return to 1934 Wages with Adjustments,” “US Airways to Charge Passengers for Smooth Landings,” and my favorite thus far, a highly expletive-redacted “Ryanair Files Latest Lawsuit – Against Itself.” Brett promises to be adding to it in coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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## LOL Boeing

Lately, I’ve been reading LOLFed — the fun way to stay on top of the financial crisis. Today, on the heels of the leaking of Airbus’s dossier on the Boeing 787 and yet another round of 787 delays (deliveries pushed to 2010), LOLFed “reports” on some advice for Boeing chief James McNerny: “McNerney, upon calling his predecessor Alan Mulally for advice, received the suggestion that he taxi a 787 from Seattle to Washington, D.C., and ask Congress if they could spare a couple bucks to help the process along.”

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## Friday fun: Mary Worth dreads the TSA, too!

One of the blogs I read for fun is the Comics Curmudgeon, whose author, Josh Fruhlinger, has a love/hate relationship with the daily funnies (or not-so-funnies). Today, Mary Worth — a comic I shunned as boring in my childhood, only later to realize that it is boring for adults, too — takes on airport security and New York City air traffic congestion:

Would Mary be in favor of congestion pricing, I wonder?

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## I didn’t think Alitalia had a prayer. . . .

. . . but they apparently have advocates in high places.

(H/T: Things with Wings)

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## Chortling all the way to the tank

The Government Accountability Office is expected to rule by Thursday on Boeing’s protest over the Air Force’s decision to go with the Northrop Grumman/EADS tanker. Boeing is desperate for the \$40 billion contract, but the Air Force insists that the Northrop Grumman proposal is superior.

But Congressman Norm Dicks had the best line of the day: “No matter what happens with the GAO . . . I think Congress has to step in to this and do what the Air Force didn’t do, and that is to have a real independent look at this thing.” Wait a second: Congress is independent? The same body whose members routinely intervene in government decisions and market forces to achieve outcomes narrowly beneficial to their districts (and top donors)? Moreover, is a congressman who represents Washington state, home to Boeing’s primary aircraft assembly plants and a large share of Boeing’s jobs, really qualified to take a “real independent look” at this issue?

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## The vapidity of hope

When stories like this come through my reader, I tend to ignore them — after all, opening military airspace to passenger traffic has a negligible impact on congestion. The last thing I need to do is read more high-ranking officials’ vapid statements, like the president’s last fall: “We’ve got a problem. We understand there’s a problem. And we’re going to address the problem.” Thanks for clearing that up!

But I couldn’t help but chuckle at Mike Boyd’s trenchant commentary today on Transportation Secretary Mary Peters’s latest initiative:

WASHINGTON (AP) To help ease airline delays over the busy Memorial Day weekend, commercial flights off the East Coast will be able to use military airspace, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said Thursday.

“It gives airlines a fighting chance to beat delays by allowing them to plan new routes” in one of the country’s most congested aviation corridors, Peters said

Here are a couple of facts:

Fact one: The “busy” Memorial Day weekend was no busier in the skies than any other weekend. No more flights were operated compared to any other week-end. Less, actually, as some carriers – such as Southwest – flew reduced schedules in the middle of the period. There was no more –  or less – potential for delayed flights than any other day.

Fact two: Delays are driven by Ms. Peters’ incompetently managed, understaffed, and under-planned ATC system. Delays are not the result of high passenger volumes – and it’s inexcusable for a person in her position to not know better. Or worse, try to mis-inform the public. To act as if she’s trying to help the airline industry with “their” delay problem is like Mrs. O’Leary’s cow giving lectures to the Chicago Fire Department.

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## “United — \$25 seatbelt rental fee for passengers who didn’t bring their own”

See this and other revenue-generating strategies airlines might employ in this week’s edition of The Onion.

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## Southwest’s Kelleher gives Lindbergh Lecture

Herb Kelleher, the legendary founder of Southwest Airlines, proponent of low fares, and friend of deregulation, delivered the Charles A. Lindbergh Memorial Lecture tonight at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. He reflected on his long career in aviation, on the fundamentals of Southwest, and offered a few comments about the future of the airline industry. As usual, Kelleher’s lecture was full of humor — most of it at his own expense.

Kelleher recounted a number of critical moments in Southwest’s history, from the four years of litigation just to get started to the fight to operate out of Dallas’s Love Field. When Southwest launched with \$26 fares, its competitors undercut the price by half. Kelleher said that he would still offer the same fare, but that every customer would get a bottle of whiskey. “We became the largest liquor distributor in the state of Texas!” he chuckled.

Even though almost all the major airlines opposed deregulation, and although observers thought Southwest would get stomped in a competitive environment, Kelleher said, “Southwest Airlines supported deregulation of the airline industry throughout the 1970s.” A sign of deregulation’s success? When Southwest launched, only 15 percent of American adults had been on a commercial airline flight. Today, 85 percent have, although this is not only due to lower fares but also a growing economy and general better standards of living. (more…)

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