Qantas Works Towards In-Flight Social Distancing Exemptions

Assuming you can find a flight, one of the few upsides of flying in recent months has been…

Qantas Works Towards In-Flight Social Distancing Exemptions

Assuming you can find a flight, one of the few upsides of flying in recent months has been the empty middle seat. It is something people have got used to very quickly. But for airlines, it isn’t a sustainable option. Always on the front foot, Qantas is tilling the soil, wanting to dampen expectations that the middle seat will be staying empty when flying resumes.

Qantas is moving to dampen expectation the middle seat will be staying empty in the future. Photo: Getty Images

Qantas looking at alternatives to the empty middle seat

Social distancing is one of the mantras of managing this health crisis. Tackling the middle seat issue and arguing there are alternative ways to ensure passenger health, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation yesterday;

“Even if you take the middle seat as being empty, that’s 60 centimeters. The social distancing rules are supposed to be 1.5 meters. If you did that, you’d have very few people on an aircraft, and the airfares would have to be very high.”

Because demand for travel remains low, Qantas has usually been able to spread its passengers around the aircraft and keep middle seats free. There have been some well-publicized exceptions, but mostly this has been the case.

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Qantas is looking to fill those currently empty middle seats. Photo: Qantas News Room

An eye on the bottom line as domestic travel demand expected to increase

But with State Governments around Australia expected to begin to unwind their interstate travel restrictions over the next month, Qantas is expecting demand for its domestic services to surge.

With an eye firmly fixed on the bottom line, Alan Joyce has no intention of unnecessarily operating half-empty flights around the country if it can be avoided. IATA estimates airfares would have to increase by 54% across the Asia Pacific region if airlines ramped up services again while keeping the middle seat empty.

That doesn’t appear to be Mr Joyce’s preferred option. Instead, he’s flagged super cheap fares to stimulate domestic travel and to ride on the back of an anticipated domestic tourism boom.

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Qantas CEO Alan Joyce wants to fill those empty middle seats. Photo: Getty Images.

Acknowledging that Qantas would approach the Australian Government to “make the case” for an exemption to social distancing guidelines, Alan Joyce told ABC’s 7.30 on Monday evening.

“There’s been no known transmission of COVID-19 passenger to passenger or passenger to crew, and there’s huge tracking been done on that, in this country.

“We have a lot of other protections (in addition to social distancing). We have to show that they can apply to domestic. No conclusions have been reached.”

Qantas already has a suite of health and hygiene measures in place

Qantas rightly states that it has a raft of health and hygiene measures in place that have worked well thus far.

The airline notes it is cleaning its planes to the highest standards using strong disinfectants. This includes cleaning and disinfecting the cabin’s surfaces and fixtures. Despite COVID-19 not being an airborne virus, Qantas also highlights its operating theatre grade HEPA air filtration systems.

In addition, the mandatory use of face masks by passengers is being flagged. That’s already occurring on some airlines, including Air France, Delta, Singapore Airlines and Philippine Airlines.

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Qantas may join other airlines in requiring passengers to wear face masks. Photo: Qantas News Room.

Qantas has said it is bleeding $26 million a week just standing still. Over 200 aircraft are grounded, 95% of domestic capacity and 99% of international capacity is cut. But the airline is itching to get back into the air as soon as possible.

The Australian Government is also generally keen on getting people safely moving again and pushing to ease interstate travel restrictions. With both Qantas and the government in philosophical lockstep and Qantas on the PR front foot, the days of an empty middle seat on Qantas look numbered.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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How Qantas Gets Planes In The Air Without Takeoff

For routine maintenance, Qantas has to raise aircraft in order to do work on the landing gear. Though…

How Qantas Gets Planes In The Air Without Takeoff

For routine maintenance, Qantas has to raise aircraft in order to do work on the landing gear. Though not a full-fledged flight with takeoff, getting a plane off the ground requires the use of heavy machinery

Qantas has to raise aircraft in the air to conduct maintenance on the gear. Photo: Getty Images.

How Qantas raises planes for maintenance

Similar to the way cars undergo tire maintenance, airplanes also must be raised for engineers to inspect the landing gear. In a Roo Tales post, Qantas pulls back the curtain on the procedure to raise aircraft for maintenance checks. To do so, engineers have to use special jacks placed under different parts of the aircraft. One under the nose, one under the tail, and one under each wing. Each machine has to be in a precise spot in order to keep the plane balanced. A slight mishap, and it could end up in a potentially expensive situation.

You can watch a whole video on the experience below, but be warned; the video is a little loud due to the activity in the hangar. This is why engineers have to wear ear protection when on site.

The aircraft is raised only a few inches off the ground. The higher it is, the more opportunities for mishaps. Once raised, engineers perform a “gear swing.” They raise and lower the gear several times, checking for any anomalies that could be potentially consequential in commercial operation. These gear have to absorb a lot of energy and sustain a massive jet filled with cargo, passengers, and their bags.

Qantas A380
For most of the flight, the gear is tucked away and out of sight. Photo: Getty Images

At Qantas’ Brisbane heavy maintenance base, Qantas has particular areas in a hangar where the floor drops down, allowing for the gear swing maneuver. Engineers carefully inspect the breaks, the tires, and any other components. Before it is sent back into passenger service, engineers have to sign off on the jet. This helps ensure that passenger aircraft in the sky are safe and that the gear does not collapse.

Qantas 747
Qantas has one of the best safety records in the sky. Photo: Getty Images

How does the gear work?

Airplane tires and landing gears are designed to absorb the enormous weight of the jet. Shortly after takeoff, pilots retract the aircraft gear. This reduces the drag on the aircraft. Although, most passengers will likely recognize that when the gear is retracted, it ends up being a bit quieter in the cabin and the plane seems more smooth in the sky.

Qantas 787
The gear feels a massive amount of force when landing. Photo: Getty Images

When it comes time to landing, however, the gear is pushed to its limits. For those who have flown in the nose of a plane, especially that of a 747, or else in the mid-section above the gear likely experience some of the force of the landing– especially a hard landing.  During landing, oil is pushed through tiny holes in the strut. This helps absorb some of the energy during the landing. The tires themselves are filled with nitrogen.

Nitrogen does not react as severely to temperature changes. You can imagine that the temperature in the gear bay at 35,000 feet and the temperature of the wheels touching down on a runway are vastly different. The last thing any crew member (or passenger for that matter) wants to experience is a tire explosion that could cause a devastating fire.

Do you work on aircraft maintenance? What more can you tell us about aircraft gear? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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