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Two weeks ago your correspondent experienced a second significant operational delay within a year because of a technical aircraft problem.  Same airline, similar aircraft, same EU departure airport.

The first time was annoying; the aircraft had to have an engine starter replaced after pushback and this took 45 minutes, with everyone seated, on a hardstand.  Most recently, it was a similar aircraft (same airline) but this time the mechanical fault was hydraulic.  The second time was much more annoying - a two-hour delay at the start, which then led to a missed connection adding another five hours to my trip.  Sitting in a 17-inch-wide seat for that extra time is cruel and unnecessary punishment.

What do the world’s top tier airline fleet’s look like?

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The airline industry seems to be pushing for ever more bandwidth on their aircraft. An early pioneer in this is Lufthansa which was among the first airlines to sign up for Boeing Connexion. Even after that program was abandoned, Lufthansa stayed committed to in-flight connectivity.  Recently the airline was again pioneering and pushing for more bandwidth, and is now a user of the Panasonic solution. It appears the airline is experimenting with other options collaborating with Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom.

The move by Lufthansa is not unique. As airlines take delivery of ever more e-Enabled aircraft the pressure is on to exploit the promise of better data transmissions to drive efficiency. To extract the maximum value proposition of e-Enablement, connectivity is key and better bandwidth is the Holy Grail. Take a look at this 2012 document from Star Alliance on e-Enablement.

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In a previous story we wrote about the growing demand for pilots.  The demand is real and well documented.  But what about the other side of the equation?  Where will these pilots come from?

In its recently released study, Boeing notes a demand for 617,000 airline pilots by 2035.  They go on to say: “Meeting this demand will require innovative solutions — focused on educational outreach and career pipeline programs — to inspire the next generation of pilots, technicians, and cabin crew. New technologies, devices, and training methods will be needed to meet a wide range of learning styles. The growing diversity of aviation personnel will also require instructors to have cross-cultural and cross-generational skills to engage tomorrow’s workforce.”  Airbus forecasts a need for 560,000 pilots by 2035. The demand for pilots is not exclusively a commercial issue.  Even the USAF is worried about a shortage.

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