Weekend what we’re reading: 2013—Safest year, Sphere+Galileo=amazing photos, creeping airfares, DCA flight changes


This weekend, we look at safety in the airline industry, examine creeping airfares throughout the system and discover airline route changes that will come about because of the AA/US merger.

Surprisingly, 2013 Was the Safest Year for Air Travel

This past year was the safest on record. However, if you are headed to Africa chances of crashing rise dramatically. Plus, this article notes, “…a gap in safety levels in different parts of the world due to the fact that improvements are linked to better technology, newer and more advanced planes, and better pilot training—all of which require substantial investment and government support.”

And here in the USA, once the leader in technology for aviation, we have seen a slowdown in the rollout of the new air traffic control system. It is hard to believe, but airliners are flying with less location technology than you have in your car GPS and pilots are still spinning dials rather than communicating digitally. The FAA has to get its act in gear. Better air traffic systems are being built across the world while the US falls further behind.

It’s official: 2013 was the safest year on record for commercial air travel. Although airline safety made news several times this year (and not in a good way, thanks to the Dreamliner grounding, the Asiana crash at San Francisco, and other events such as the Southwest Airlines mishap at LaGuardia), few of these incidents, apart from the Asiana crash, involved fatalities. Worldwide, both the number of airline crashes and fatalities were down; the total number of accidents depends on which source you use, but airsafe.com reports on five major crashes and two other events involving cargo jets—the lowest number, it says, since it started tracking activity in 1996. The Air Safety Network includes more flights on smaller airlines in its total, but still, its tally of 16 accidents and 265 killed is down dramatically from the ten-year average of 720.

Sphere (formerly Tour Wrist) gets a new shooting companion

Last year, at the PhocusWright online travel conference, Tour Wrist, a panoramic photo app and photo system that allows users to pan vertically as well as laterally to create breathtaking photos, won every award for new product. This year (last November), the company was demonstrating a new product that can complete a 360-degree panoramic photo. The new camera mount that moves the iPhone in a 360-degree path is called Galileo by Motrr and costs $149. The new system layers the cutting edge technology of Tour Wrist (now Sphere) with a new platform that helps performance.

The Galileo simultaneously moves an iPhone along multiple axes. The effects are amazing. Take a look at this link for examples of the photography possible with this technology for free with the basic app and the Galileo motorized drive. Here are examples of what can be taken freehand.

Airfares continue to rise, up 12 percent since ‘09

Airfares continue to creep upwards as the airline industry consolidates. However, prices for flights can still be a bargain. According to A4A, the airline lobbying organizaiton, “…over the long-term fares have not climbed as fast as inflation.” And, they’re right. But, the airlines are on their way to making up that difference in pricing increases through “capacity discipline” and a drop in fuel costs.

The average domestic roundtrip ticket, including tax, reached $363.42 last year, up more than $7 from the prior year, according to an Associated Press analysis of travel data collected from millions of flights throughout the country.

The 2 percent increase outpaced inflation, which stood at 1.5 percent.

Airfares have risen nearly 12 percent since their low in the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, when adjusted for inflation, the analysis showed.

American Airlines, US Airways to end nonstop service to 17 cities out of Washington Reagan

American Airlines, which had to give up 104 slots at Washington-Reagan Airport because of their merger with US Airways, announced the cities that will face elimination of direct service to the nation’s capital.

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As we look at these cities, we find that almost all the flying is done by US Airways Express carriers, including PSA, Piedmont, Republic Airlines and Air Wisconsin. It seems 50-seat Bombardier regional jets predominate, although there are a handful of larger Embraer jets deployed as well.

The only exception we found was a daily round trip between Washington Reagan and San Diego. US Airways flies a mainline jet on that route.

Those 17 markets account for 30 flights, or 60 of the slot pairs. The remainder will come from schedule adjustments in other markets that aren’t losing all their daily nonstop service.

UPDATE, 9:45 p.m.: American also said it would end nonstop service out of LaGuardia to Atlanta (Delta hub), Minneapolis-St. Paul (Delta hub) and Cleveland (United hub). It had to give up a number of slots there as well as part of the settlement.

  • http://astro.dur.ac.uk/~gelbord/ Jonathan_G

    Huh? Which is it:

    “According to A4A, the airline lobbying organizaiton, ‘…over the long-term fares have not climbed as fast as inflation.’ ”


    “Airfares have risen nearly 12 percent since their low in the depths of the Great Recession in 2009, when adjusted for inflation, the analysis showed.”

    If airfares have risen by some percentage after adjusting for inflation, that by definition means they’ve outpaced inflation over that time. So which is it? Is the analysis wrong? Are the lobbyists spinning their own reality? Or are they both right but talking about different time frames, or disagreeing on whether to include unavoidable airline fees such as fuel surcharges?