The History:


    Visitor from Russia
    Friday, Dec. 01, 1967

    The U.S. got its first glimpse last week of a Russian jetliner that figures to become a regular visitor. Into Washington's Dulles International Airport—and later into airports at Philadelphia and New York, flew an Ilyushin-62 fan jet laden with caviar, vodka and souvenirs for American reporters and dignitaries. Purpose of the visit was to pass U.S. airworthiness and noise-abatement tests preliminary to the introduction, long delayed by cold war vicissitudes, of nonstop flights between New York and Moscow.

    The service would involve one weekly round-trip flight each (two a week during the summer season) by Pan American World Airways and Aeroflot, the U.S.S.R.'s government-owned airline. Though U.S. and Soviet officials agreed more than a year ago to start such flights, the Russians were understandably reluctant to pit their obsolescent turboprop TU-114s against the much faster (600 m.p.h.) Boeing 707-320C jetliners that Pan Am plans to use on the runs. The IL-62, with a 560-m.p.h. cruising speed only slightly slower than the Boeing, was the obvious Soviet answer, but it had been beset by bugs ever since its maiden flight in 1963.

    After biding their time while they corrected the problems, the Russians finally signaled their satisfaction last summer when they introduced the IL-62 on their year-old Moscow-Montreal runs. A high-flying (42,600 ft.), far-ranging (more than 5,000 miles) ship that resembles Britain's Vickers VC-10, the 186-passenger plane now rivals the best in Western commercial aircraft. To meet U.S. navigational requirements, it has been rigged out with RCA antennas and other American-made avionics gear. And to judge from last week's proving flight, at least, its lissome Russian stewardesses seem ordered to U.S. specifications as well. In fact, about the only fault that Federal Aviation Agency officials could find was that the Russian crew's command of English—the official international airways language—was something less than masterly.

    When the direct flights finally begin, the fares (example: $548 for a 21-day round-trip excursion) will be the same as those for present flights that require a change of planes. Because such costs are better suited to American pocketbooks, little change seems likely in existing travel patterns; last year 20,000 Americans visited Russia while only 3,000 Russians came to the U.S. But as a symbol of U.S.-Russian cooperation, the reciprocal flight should eventually stimulate two-way traffic on the bridges the U.S. is trying to build with Eastern Europe. Best guess is that the new service will be under way, barring some unforeseen spasm in U.S.-Soviet relations, by early spring.,9171,900302,00.html

    Direct Link
    Friday, Jul. 19, 1968

    It was first proposed in 1935, after Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's flight to Moscow. It was included in a Soviet-U.S. cultural-exchange agreement in 1958. Then came a decade of talks, suspended whenever the cold war temperature dropped to chilly or freezing. Finally, this week, the first Moscow-New York commercial flight was set to take off.

    Loaded with aviation officials and pressmen, the Soviet Union's huge Aeroflot jetliner, the Ilyushin-62, was scheduled to land at New York's Kennedy Airport after a stopover in Montreal. Total time: 12 hr. 40 min. A few hours later, a Pan American Boeing 707-321B jet was aimed for Moscow, via Copenhagen, for the 4,907-mile journey that was scheduled to last 10 hr. 35 min. Both planes were to return the next day, and both of the once-weekly flights will continue, with passengers paying from $548 for 14-to 21-day economy-class excursion trips to $1,109.50 for round-trip first class.

    Primarily a matter of prestige for the U.S.S.R. and a gesture of East-West bridge building for the U.S., the direct air link is not expected to pay off in fast profits for either airline. By the end of last week, Pan American had found only 35 persons ready to embark on its first flight to Moscow.

    For Pan Am, the Copenhagen stopover will help recover part of the expenses, since the Danish capital is a popular tourist spot. With one Russian visiting the U.S. for every seven Americans visiting Russia, Pan Am hopes to have a clear edge over the Soviet government-owned airline. Still, the Russians are expected to make the going great with vodka-caviar treats aboard IL-62 jets on the New York run. If so, this may lure away a number of prospective Pan American customers who would rather eat than sleep. "On a prestige flight like this," muses a Pan Am official, "who knows what Aeroflot will do?" Says Aeroflot's U.S. Representative Vladimir Samoroukov: "Our service will be very nice—I hope."

    November 03, 2006
    Aeroflot Celebrates 40th Anniversary Of Signature Of Agreement Between The USSR And The USA

    On November 4, it will be 40 years since signature of the agreement on air traffic between the USSR and the USA.

    On November 4, 1966, Loginov E.F., Minister of Civil Aviation of the USSR, and Thompson L., US Ambassador in the USSR, on behalf of their governments signed a first agreement on air traffic between the USSR and the USA.

    At the same time it was an important political event in conditions of mutual distrust and strain in Soviet-American relations scarcely restored after the Caribbean crisis. However, regular flights to the USA began only two years later. The Americans had not long granted the necessary permits, inquired additional documents and certificates. The difficulties were due to absence of national standards of airworthiness of domestic civil aircrafts in the USSR, impossibility to make decisions by the Americans on the basis of ICAO norms, while the Soviet Union was not a member of the organization. The American party required the documents characterizing reliability of aircraft construction, its flight performance and correspondence to norms adopted in the USA. It was almost impossible to meet the requirements since projection and construction of domestic aircrafts was governed by a classified document “General technical requirements” of the Ministry of Aviation Industry. It could not be referred to since it was applied both to civil and military aircrafts. Due to long and difficult negotiations of Aeroflot experts with the Americans the solution was finally found.

    The first regular flight Moscow – New York – Moscow with a stop in Montreal was made on July 5, 1968. On board the aircraft Il-62 piloted by Boris Yegorov and Aleksander Vitkovskiy were 97 passengers. The stewards crew was headed by Natalya Arutyunova.

    Flights to the USA were always attended with great difficulties. So, in the 70-es Pan American was constantly blaming Aeroflot of forcing Soviet passengers to fly only by the Russian airlines. The American reply was an introduction of restrictions on commercial activities of Aeroflot in the USA.

    A decree imposing restrictions on Aeroflot activities in the USA was issued in May 1976 on the initiative of State Department: all air companies and travel agents in the USA, except from Pan American were prohibited to issue tickets for Aeroflot flights and to dispatch cargoes by Aeroflot air crafts.

    Strain in Soviet-American air relations increased.

    A new surprise was given by Pan American with an announcement on suspension of regular flights to Moscow since October 29, 1978, due to “economic reasons”.

    Afghan campaign has deteriorated the whole complex of Soviet-American relations. Confrontation on political and ideological levels has been reflected in aviation relations. It was a period full of dramatic moments.

    Explosion in Aeroflot representation in New York, search of the aircraft by the FBI agents, accusations of Aeroflot in the Congress. In 1983 Aeroflot flights to the USA were suspended and its representations were closed.

    Air traffic with the USA was resumed only in April 1986. Business cooperation of Aeroflot with Pan American was developed on a new level. A joint line on Boeings 747 was established and a range of joint enterprises were set up.

    According to Vorontsov Y.M., Ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Russia in the USA, on the account of the 30th anniversary of Aeroflot flights to the USA, “the agreement of 1966 became an important component of development relations with the USA. It certainly reflected the specific features of confrontation period, and was first of all “banning”, introduced strict frames, restricted opportunities of the parties, but nevertheless the most important is that due to this agreement an air-bridge was built with the efforts of politicians, diplomats and aviators three decades ago. Air traffic is one of the spheres of bilateral relations reacting political fluctuations first of all. This is the agreement of 1966 that was the basis for resumption of direct regular traffic and establishment of full value mutually advantageous cooperation».

    This evaluation is still true. The agreement of 1966 became a basis of a new Intergovernmental agreement on air traffic between Russia and the USA of 14.01.1996.

    In the new agreement Soviet Aeroflot was substituted by new Aeroflot and bankrupt Pan American – by the largest American air company Delta. Nowadays “Aeroflot – Russian Airlines” and “Delta” are not only business partners in bilateral cooperation but also active participants of the world air alliance Skyteam.

    Nowadays Aeroflot has regular flights to: New York (7 flights per week), Washington (up to 2 flights per week), Los Angeles (up to 6 flights per week). All flights to the USA destinations are made on Boeings 767.

    Within 2001-2005 and 9 months of 2006 Aeroflot has carried 1 mln. 265 thousand passengers to/from the USA.

    Joining of OJSC “Aeroflot” the global international alliance SkyTeam opened new cooperation opportunities with American members of the alliance – air companies Delta, Continental and Nord-West.
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    The first regular flight Moscow – New York – Moscow with a stop in Montreal was made on July 5, 1968. On board the aircraft Il-62 piloted by Boris Yegorov and Aleksander Vitkovskiy were 97 passengers. The stewards crew was headed by Natalya Arutyunova.

    No, it is an error. On July, 15th 1968


    Tell, and when DELTA has executed the first regular flight New York - Moscow? Exact date interests. There is an advertising announcement?


    ORD watcher,8816,878679,00.html

    Monday, Jan. 19, 1970
    Ready or Not, Here Comes Jumbo (part 1)

    THE high white contrails of cruising jets are bright symbols of the promise and pleasures of air travel. When the big ships descend into sight and sound, their aspect alters. Their great engines foul the air with noise and noxious fumes; their proliferating numbers crowd the airways with dangerous traffic jams. Each new plane seems to bring more problems than the last. But the newest and largest product of this technological age is built to a different pattern. The Boeing 747, first of the generation of superjets that will dominate the skies in the 1970s, is quieter and cleaner than its predecessors. Its huge capacity will help airlines keep ahead of their expanding roster of passengers. The new planes should alleviate rather than increase the clutter aloft. In the process they will bring new comfort, convenience and economies to ever greater numbers of travelers.

    Boeing's 355-ton superjet is 231 ft. 4 in. long—three-quarters the length of a football field, longer than the Wright brothers' first flight. Its 20-ft.-wide cabin is almost twice as broad as the largest passenger plane now in service; it can be fitted with up to 490 seats. More like a small cruise ship than any familiar aircraft, the big plane brings to mind Comedienne Bea Lillie's comment on the Queen Elizabeth: "When does this place get to England?"

    If all goes well, the 747 will get to England next week, when Pan American World Airways has scheduled the initial flight of paying passengers from New York to London. By the end of June, at least 30 superjets should be regularly crossing the Atlantic, the Pacific and the continental U.S. With their remarkable efficiency, they will help hold fares down at a time when everything else is going up.

    Risking the Future

    For all such benefits, the superjets will create some giant problems all their own. Airport managers nervously await the great clots of passengers that will be disgorged from a single flight. Practically no terminal is prepared. In the first months of 747 service, baggage handling and ground transportation—already overstrained—may be utterly swamped.

    Airline managers are equally concerned. The 747 is so costly that its advent has plunged the industry deeply into debt. When one line buys a new generation of aircraft, all feel the urge to follow. At a time when profits are down, credit is expensive and other costs are climbing, the airlines feel that they have no choice but to order the 747s. So far, 28 of them in the U.S. and abroad have ordered 186 of the superjets at around $23 million each. That amounts to a capital outlay of $4.3 billion.*

    The initial cost is only the beginning of a new round of expensive investments that the superjets make necessary. Airlines must spend another $2 billion for new facilities and equipment in the next four years, including 54-ton tractors to tow the big planes and new boarding ramps to lift passengers to doors that are 17 ft. off the ground.

    The airline that will be first with the most 747s, and thus must cope with every one of the bumps in what airmen call a new plane's "learning curve," is Pan American. As if that were not enough, the company is already experiencing more than its share of turbulence. Last year it lost an estimated $23 million, $7 million in the month of November alone. It is getting much tougher competition from archrival Trans World Airlines on the North Atlantic route, and it faces a flock of new competitors on transpacific routes that it once all but monopolized. Now, with the 747, Pan Am is taking one of the larger risks in business history. It has committed $1 billion to buy 33 of the jumbo jets and create the facilities to handle them. The company is staking its corporate future on the big ship.

    Expert's Assessment

    The man who must make the wager pay off is Najeeb Elias Halaby, 54, Pan Am's new president and chief executive. Halaby has not yet had time to demonstrate that he can lead a losing airline back to solid profits, but he has sound credentials for that difficult job. Before he landed at Pan Am, he was in turn an outstanding pilot, a practicing lawyer, a corporate executive and an imaginative, activist chief of the Federal Aviation Administration. He also showed himself to be accomplished in personal public relations, seldom failing to remind audiences that he was President Kennedy's principal adviser in all aviation matters. Pilots who met him at the gossip sessions known as "hangar fly-ins" took to greeting him with the line: "Halaby thy name. Thy will be done, on earth and in the heavens."

    One of Halaby's major assets is the fact that he probably knows more about the 747 than anyone outside of Boeing. As FAA administrator, he framed many of the Government rules that will regulate the plane's flights. Last year, when reports filtered through the industry that the big ship was in trouble, Halaby went to Seattle to take the 747 on a test flight. Settling into the left-hand command seat, he piloted the plane through its paces for two hours, then gave a singularly satisfied description of its virtues.

    Confidence Building

    "You keep thinking that you have 170,000 Ibs. of thrust in four little levers," he said. "You've got your hands on a hurricane on the ground. You have to be careful, because the blast could blow in a hangar door. Another thing: you've got 355 tons of momentum when you're taxiing that machine, and you don't go charging around. So you have got to plan ahead while taxiing. But once it's airborne, it's absolutely superb." Halaby took the 747 through high-altitude stalls and a series of landings and takeoffs. "You become integrated with the ship. That big fin and so much rudder contribute to stability and control." The plane was so bulky that he found that it seemed to dwarf the runway. Landing, he reported, was "like training for carrier landings." When he taxied back to the hangar, the feeling was "like docking a patrol boat—you've got to sail it in, and very carefully."

    "It's a confidence-building machine, straightforward and honest," adds Halaby with unbridled enthusiasm. "Once passengers get aboard, they will have such a feeling of space, of strength, yes, even security, that any early anxiety will disappear. It is going to be, for older people, like going back into an ocean liner. For the youngster, it is going to be a different kind of life in the sky, where he can move around, go up and down the deck, feel less inhibited and constrained than he was in previous airplanes."

    Stepping into the 747's passenger cabin is indeed like walking onto the passenger deck of a luxury cruise ship. The aisles are wide, the walls nearly straight, and the ceiling an unconfining 8 ft. high. Economy-class seats are 10% wider than on an ordinary jet. Coats and carry-on baggage are stowed in large overhead storage compartments. The cockpit is in the prominent bulge atop the plane's front end, along with a surprisingly spacious bar and lounge for first-class passengers, reached by a winding staircase. On the main deck below, the cabin extends out into the nose of the aircraft. In the economy section—which is separated by galleys into cabins so large that TWA recently held a board meeting aloft—passengers sit nine abreast in rows of two, three and four, divided by two wide aisles. The total effect is of roomy comfort. In flight, the 747's heft helps to smooth out some turbulence but, as in every other airplane, passengers in the rear are subject to the most movement in bumpy air.

    To many people, the sheer size of a superjet raises the horrifying image of a supercrash. The thought of as many as 500 passengers and crew members going down at once seems too appalling to contemplate. Even so, actuaries in London, where most airline insurance is written, forecast three 747 crashes in the first 18 months of service. Each accident would cost the insurers up to $65 million. Balanced against their projection is an actuarial fact: though 98 of the 3,012 jets that have gone into service in the past dozen years have been lost in accidents, air travel—measured on an aircraft-mile basis—is five times safer than it was a decade ago.

    Moreover, judged by its extensive new equipment, the 747 ought to be the safest aircraft ever built. The superjet has three inertial-navigation systems—the same sort that has guided Apollo flights—lest one, or even two, should fail. There are two auto pilots instead of one, a redundant supply of communications gear and an advanced radar with a 300-mile range. The 747 even has an automatic landing system designed to bring it safely to a runway in any weather without the touch of a pilot's hand.

    Gaps on the Ground

    As its biggest boosters are all too well aware, it is on the ground that 747 passengers will find what Halaby calls "a surface-transport gap, a hotel gap and a parking-lot gap." There is also that conspicuous airport gap. The 747 can land in the same length of runway as a 707, but its sheer size makes many other changes necessary. The only airport in the world that claims to be fully prepared for the 747 is Paris' Orly, which has already built one separate terminal and has another under way. By June, London's Heathrow will be the second adequately" equipped airport, with an expanded terminal and twice as many customs officials. Tokyo's Haneda airport, probably the world's most crowded terminal, has made preparations only on paper, and no one knows how its thoroughgoing customs officers are going to handle the crush. J.F.K. airport in New York will not be fully prepared until 1973.

    Ground transportation of every variety is already overloaded. Authorities at Kennedy and other airports may eventually have to ban private cars altogether, allowing only buses and taxis to drive up to the terminals. New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority plans a rail line on an unused right of way of the Long Island Rail Road between J.F.K. and Penn Station to whisk passengers to midtown Manhattan in 20 minutes. But the first trains probably will not be ready until 1974.

    Winning by Losing

    Congress is moving belatedly to supply funds to equip the nation's airways and airports for the superjet age, and most of the load will fall squarely on the air traveler. By spring Congress is likely to pass legislation to raise nearly $1.8 billion a year in new revenues. The ticket tax on domestic flights will rise from 5% to 8%, and there will be a new "head tax" of $3 on passengers flying overseas and a 2% tax on air freight. The money will be used to improve airways by adding new navigation and communications aids; airports will also be improved.

    Perhaps the most surprising fact about the 747 is that the plane that promises to accomplish so much actually began its existence as a loser. In 1964, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara ordered a competition for a giant military transport and an advanced jet engine to power it. Lockheed and General Electric won the plane-and-engine competition, and their entry became the C-5A. The two losers, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney, were eager to find a market for their rejected designs. Boeing's chief, William Allen, decided to risk what turned out to be $1 billion in turning the military reject into a commercial success. Pan American's founder, Juan Trippe, who had ordered the first 707s a decade before, was still in command. He backed Allen by placing the first order for 25 of the 747s and taking an option for more.

    To get production under way, Boeing had to construct one of the world's largest buildings—a plant covering 42.8 acres at Everett, Wash. Inside that vast space, the engineers encountered vast problems. The aircraft's weight grew by 15 tons from its projected 340 tons, and Pratt & Whitney had to rush development of a still more powerful engine. Because it burns its fuel more efficiently than other engines, the 747 is virtually free of the greasy smoke that trails ordinary jets on takeoff like ink from a frightened squid. Its engine is only half as loud as a 707's, though the difference will be less noticeable during takeoffs than landings. The new engine was not put into production as fast as the plane. Boeing last week had 15 expensive airframes sitting powerless outside its plant.

    Once attached, the new engines brought another serious difficulty. As the turbines thrust forward in flight, the rear casing was bent one-twentieth of an inch out of shape, letting jet gases leak around the turbine. Result: the engines lost some of their power and fuel consumption rose a costly 5%.

    Pratt & Whitney finally found a solution by modifying the mounting, in effect adding an extra strut to carry the thrust. The new part will not be ready until the first 30 aircraft have been built.

    Middle-Age Spread Early design difficulties are inherent in building any plane, and the 747's major troubles now seem to be over come. Two weeks ago, the FAA gave the plane an airworthiness certificate, the final approval needed to fly passengers. Recalling a recent conversation with Pan Am's best-known director, Charles Lindbergh, Halaby says: "Slim Lindbergh and I were sitting in the 747, and we decided to list the greatest civil air transports of all time. We picked the German JU-52, the DC-3, the DC-6, the 707 family of jets, the DC-8s —and this airplane, the 747."

    That assessment had better be right, because Pan Am needs a major new success. Almost as soon as it started flying from Key West to Havana in 1927, Pan Am became the high and mighty among U.S. air carriers. Patrician Boss Juan Trippe maintained what was virtually his own state department to negotiate landing rights with foreign governments; at home, he had the political clout of a board of directors that has always included more former high Government and military officers than that of probably any other U.S. company. Among the current crew: Cyrus Vance, Alfred Gruenther, William Scranton, Robert B. Anderson and Lindbergh.
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    ORD watcher
    Monday, Jan. 19, 1970
    Ready or Not, Here Comes Jumbo (part 2)

    In recent years, though, Pan Am has been overtaken by symptoms of middle-age spread. It faces a fleet of increasingly nimble U.S. and foreign competitors, and has suffered a series of reverses in Washington. Last summer Pan Am lost out to National Airlines on the award of a Miami-London route that it coveted, and President Nixon's award of Pacific routes allowed a host of competitors onto Pan Am's most profitable runs. Unlike TWA, Pan Am has no domestic routes to feed passengers onto its overseas flights. But that does not explain why its regular passengers last year deserted to TWA by the planeload and TWA for the first time carried more passengers across the Atlantic than Pan Am. Strike threats and a brief labor walkout last summer badly hurt Pan Am. As its popularity dwindled, TWA stewardesses somehow earned a reputation for giving more considerate service. TWA, in fact, manages to maintain such service while spending less per passenger mile than Pan Am.

    While Halaby is very much the boss, he delegates authority among several close associates and has brought in a cost-conscious new vice president to operate the airline and make the day-to-day decisions. He is Richard Mitchell, former head of Pan Am's aerospace division at Cape Kennedy, where Pan Am fills a housekeeping and maintenance role. Together, Halaby and his top managers are trimming the line's payroll, laying off 1,730 of 45,500 employees, including 450 of its 3,590 pilots.

    Halaby expects that Pan Am's lead with the 747 will help the line to turn a quick if temporary profit this year; 1971 will be a tough year because by then so many competitors will have their own fleets of superjets. To make more money, Halaby plans a wide-ranging diversification, particularly by expanding a subsidiary, Intercontinental Hotels. Pan Am already owns 45 hotels around the world, mostly in the luxury class, and is building 60 more, largely for the middle-income group that it hopes to attract with the 747. "We'll let our beds match our seats," says Halaby, who also plans to open low-price hostels. Says he: "We will provide a clean, wholesome austerity."

    Squalls of Competition

    Pan Am is not alone in feeling the profit crunch that, in the year ending last Sept. 30, held U.S. airlines' investment return to 3.7%, down from 9.5% in 1967. "Nobody can make money in the goddam airline business these days," says C. R. Smith, chairman of American Airlines until 1968. "The economics represents sheer hell. Practically everybody is in trouble."

    The economics of aviation was little better eleven years ago, when the 707s first flew into service. Then, airline executives wondered how they could possibly fill the expensive new jets or pay for them in a time of economic slowdown, slackening passenger growth, and steeply diving profits. For several years, the planes flew with too many empty seats. Not until 1963-64 did they achieve their full potential. Then the jets became the airlines' biggest moneymakers ever; airmen called them "the flying cash registers." Now Halaby and other industry chiefs hope that history will repeat itself, and the chances are that it will. The CAB predicts that passenger travel on U.S. lines will more than double by 1980. The notable economies of the 747 should enable airlines to wring more profit out of that increase. The jumbo jet can be particularly productive as an all-cargo carrier, and could cut the cost of sending a ton of air freight from Dallas to Tokyo, for example, from $340 at present to $135.

    The immediate outlook, however, is for a few years of costly overcapacity. Pan Am will have 362 seats to fill per 747 flight, and TWA has ordered 15 superjets with 342 seats each. Even Ireland's little Aer Lingus has asked for two 400-seat versions for jampacked all-economy flights between Dublin and New York, presumably relying on Irish loyalty and cut-price deals to fill them. Besides overcapacity, the 747 will bring higher operating costs. Pan Am's senior pilots will get paid $58,000 a year to fly it; airport authorities are asking for triple the landing fees that airlines pay for a 707.

    Meanwhile, the industry continues to be troubled by fare-cutting competition from unscheduled airlines. So-called "supplemental" lines carry passengers at fares far below airline rates, passing on to their customers the economies that result from having every flight a 100%-full charter. During Halaby's term as FAA administrator, Washington set rigid new rules for the proliferating —and sometimes unreliable—supple-mentals. The Government weeded out the weaker ones, reducing their number to about a dozen. In the years since, they have burgeoned again, cutting deeply into the scheduled-airline business.

    The scheduled lines' answer has been to offer "bulk" fares. The lines sell wholesale blocks of tickets to travel agents, who retail the seats for as little as $175 for a New York-London round trip (provided that the passenger also pays $100 in advance for meals and services at his destination). Another bargain is the new "group inclusive tour," which reflects the power of foreign government-owned airlines in the International Air Transport Association. International fares are now designed to encourage tourists to make fairly long visits to individual foreign countries in which they will presumably spend more money. As a result, tour fares, which include round-trip ticket, hotel room, some meals and theater tickets, can supply a remarkably inexpensive two-week stay in many a European city.

    The 747 may allow even more attractive package deals. Regular fares, however, are unlikely to be cut; businessmen and others who stay abroad for fewer than 14 days will continue to pay relatively high prices for airline tickets. On domestic runs, U.S. airlines were granted two increases totaling more than 10% last year, and some lines are now rallying lobbyists to press for another boost, on the order of 3%.

    Talking Merger

    Executives of the supplemental lines argue that they serve the public interest by helping to reduce fares. They are calling for looser regulation, and are asking for State Department assistance in negotiating new landing rights abroad. In rebuttal, Halaby makes the point that scheduled airlines are already tightly regulated and overwhelmed by a surfeit of competition. As he puts it: "We should abandon the recent trend toward multiplication of carriers and the inevitable addition of deficits."

    In an effort to reduce extreme competition and improve profits, many airlines are talking merger. The U.S. hardly seems in need of a score of trunk and regional airlines. American Airlines has discussed merger with Western; ailing Eastern, admits President Floyd Hall, is "studying every other U.S. carrier" as a possible merger partner. TWA has considered both National and Northeast. Pan Am executives have held informal talks with American, Eastern, Delta and Continental.

    Pan Am could compete on better terms if it were allowed to feed into its overseas routes from inland gateways like St. Louis and Dallas, or permitted to acquire a medium-sized domestic line to give it a home base matching TWA's. The Justice Department may well fight tie-ups between any two of the very biggest lines, but there is little doubt that the Administration will permit some mergers. Most airline executives agree that there will be fewer carriers surviving by the end of the 1970s.

    Debate on the SST

    The financial benefits of togetherness will be all the more important because the lines will have to raise so many billions to pay for the 747 and other superjets in the future. Next summer, test pilots are scheduled to take up the first of the huge, three-engine "air buses" —McDonnell Douglas' DC-10 and Lockheed's 1011. Both are expected to enter service by 1972 and carry 250 to 350 passengers in comfort comparable to that of a 747. So far, 382 of the air buses have been ordered. Originally designed for shorter-range routes than the 747, the trijets are now being offered in stretched intercontinental versions as the two manufacturers compete for orders. In the continuing competition of bigness, Boeing has designed a 747 that can carry up to 750 passengers. Eventually, the jumbo jets are likely to reach capacities of 1,000 and 2,000.

    Last month Congress voted $86 million—of an eventual $1 billion or more —to underwrite development of an aircraft of less obvious benefit: Boeing's supersonic transport, or SST. It is the U.S. answer to the British-French Concorde and Russia's TU-144. The SST will, as Halaby says, "turn the Atlantic into a river and the Pacific into a lake." But it will be much less economic than the 747, and passengers will have to pay premium fares.

    The SST has divided the industry. Halaby, who as FAA administrator supervised the original competition for an SST design, says that he is an unabashed "supersonophile." He seems confident that the plane's problems can be solved. Pan Am Director Lindbergh has questioned the SST as a potential despoiler of the environment. Unless there is a breakthrough in design, the SST will spread a sonic boom beneath its path up to 50 miles wide. "Slim and I are in constructive debate on the SST," says Halaby. "I'm for it and he's not."

    So far, the supersonophiles are winning, and the U.S. SST is likely to be in service by the late 1970s or early 1980s. The lines are expected to have a broad mix of planes and fares: premium prices on the SST, regular tariffs on jumbo jets, somewhat lower fares on older jets. By then, the problems of air travel will have multiplied, creating an even greater need for improved control of airspace, more airports, better ground transportation and bigger, more efficient terminals. Halaby worries because public investment in such facilities has always lagged five to ten years behind technological innovation. As the 747 takes to the air, its first and most important lesson is that the disparity must be corrected.

    * Foreign contribution to the total will be a considerable asset for the U.S. balance of payments, which has been bolstered by exports of well over $6 billion of U.S. aircraft since World War II.,8816,878679,00.html
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    ORD watcher,8816,809872,00.html
    Monday, Sep. 16, 1957
    Ploy in the Sky

    Visible only by its landing lights in New Jersey's night sky, the aircraft whined in a circle above vast McGuire Air Force Base, then touched down and taxied up to a pack of reporters and cameramen on hand to meet the first Russia-to-U.S. civilian flight in 20 years.* There was an intense, high-pitched roar from the twin jets as the sweptwing, silver-and-blue plane rolled to a stop.

    As 30-odd junior members of Russia's U.N. delegation debarked and an official of Aeroflot, Russia's civil airline, made a pitch for regular flights between the two countries, cameramen clicked away at the glistening TU-IO4A (a 70-seat civilian modification of the Badger medium bomber), which makes daily passenger runs between Moscow and Prague. Later newsmen and aviation experts clambered aboard for a firsthand look at the only type of jetliner in passenger use since the decommissioning of Britain's flawed Comets in 1954. Their assessment: good, but in some ways surprisingly crude.

    The jet engines are the world's most powerful (in military trim, each develops 20,000 Ibs. of thrust, 25% greater than any U.S. or British engine in production), but are so fuel thirsty that no nonsubsidized airline could operate the planes at a profit. Some of the radio equipment, including an obsolete, ice-catching clothesline antenna, is far below U.S. standards. Outside, riveting on the plane's skin was inferior. The galley had ornate wood paneling, but no refrigeration.

    The plane had landed at McGuire because the Port of New York Authority has banned all jets except the comparatively quiet French Caravelle (not yet in regular use, but cleared for Idlewild) from New York-area airports. The Authority refused to make an exception unless the plane passed a sound test, which the Russians refused to permit.

    Late last week the jetliner screeched airborne at McGuire for the trip home, was rated during its less-than-top-speed takeoff as noisy as most jets, far louder than prop and turboprop planes.

    The Russians' jet-fueled ploy had some propaganda value, calling attention to the fact that they are ahead in the passenger-jet field. One side effect: the British, apparently suffering from wounded pride, hurriedly announced that they will fly a revamped Comet II this week from Northern Ireland to Orlando, Fla.

    * In 1937 three Soviet flyers in a single-engine A.N.T. 25 flew the polar route from Moscow to Vancouver, Wash., where they were received by the Army air base commandant, Brigadier General George Catlett Marshall. A month later another A.N.T. 25 repeated the crossing, landed in a field near San Jacinto, Calif.


    ORD watcher,8816,864216,00.html
    Monday, Jan. 27, 1958
    Russian Challenge

    AVIATION Russian Challenge

    The makers of Sputnik are preparing another aerial challenge to the West: the world's biggest commercial air fleet. By pumping cash and talent into a crash drive to improve Soviet Russia's 1,000-plane Aeroflot, Nikita Khrushchev hopes to make it another impressive display of the achievements of Soviet technology. Says the U.S. Air Transport Association's President Stuart Tipton: "Aeroflot is visibly preparing to challenge the supremacy of Western carriers. An effective Russian civil airline will facilitate Russia's economic penetration elsewhere, serve as a vehicle for political influence and act as an effective propaganda weapon."

    Aeroflot already reaches 16 foreign countries from Norway to North Korea, flies 58,000 route miles v. 64,000 for Pan American World Airways, the longest U.S. flag carrier. Last month Aeroflot won Britain's approval for flights to London, is expected to start service next fall. Now Aeroflot is dickering for landing rights in France and Holland, is expected to go after rights in the U.S. as soon as it gets enough long-range jets to fly from Moscow to New York, probably within the year.*

    Prestige, Not Profit. The Soviets plug Aeroflot as "the only line in the world with mass and regular exploitation of jets." To fly into the jet age ahead of the West, Aeroflot adapted Designer Andrei Tupolev's twin-jet Badger medium-range bombers to regular commercial service. The TU-104 looks like a Victorian Pullman car with ornate chandeliers, overstuffed seats, brass serving trays and old-time chain-flush toilets. But overnight it has changed Aeroflot from a lowly regarded, primarily domestic line into a major international threat. Aeroflot has about 50 TU-104s, flies them regularly to East Berlin, Prague, Sofia and distant cities within the U.S.S.R., cuts the eight-day Moscow-to-Peking rail trip to just nine hours.

    By U.S. commercial standards, the TU-104 has many shortcomings. Underpowered for a big jet, it has a range of less than 2,000 miles. It lands fast (up to 150 m.p.h.) on weak brakes, often overshoots runways. It gulps so much jet fuel that it would probably break a private line. But the Reds want prestige rather than profit, are willing to let the state-owned line fly in the red for years to come.

    Aeroflot expects to convert completely to jets and turboprops by 1960, phase out the 800 to 1,000 two-engined Ilyushins (opposite number to the DC-3) that are its bread-and-lard planes. Thus, in less than three years, Aeroflot hopes to leap from the primitive, twin-engined piston stage into the four-jet age, without carefully rolling up experience on larger piston planes as Western lines have done.

    Aeroflot has some impressive new models for the job. It has started to fly Tupolev's new four-jet, 500-10-600 m.p.h. TU-110s the 2,700 miles from Moscow to Irkutsk, may put the plane on longer runs to replace the TU-IO4. For ranges up to 3,000 miles, Aeroflot has shown off prototypes of two 400-m.p.h., four-engined turboprops — Ilyushin's 100-passenger IL-18 Moskva and Antonov's 126-passenger Ukraina—that resemble Lockheed's Electra, now being test-flown. Aeroflot's highest hopes for capturing a large chunk of the foreign market rest on Tupolev's four-engined turboprop, swept-wing TU-114, a double-decked, pressurized behemoth, twice the size of a Super Constellation. The Reds claim that it is the world's fastest propeller airliner (more than 500 m.p.h.), can carry no passengers nonstop from Moscow to New York in ten hours, crowd in 220 passengers for shorter trips. Aeroflot has displayed a prototype, plans to have TU-114s in commercial operation within a year.

    Comfort & Confusion. Aeroflot developed into this huge, showy line from a humble beginning. The Soviet state put it together in 1923 from remnants of the revolution's Red air force. In the 1930s Stalin purged some of Aeroflot's best brains, but in World War II he outfitted Aeroflot with hundreds of U.S. lend-lease Dakotas (DC-3s), started to expand it fast to open up underdeveloped Russian areas that had no roads or rail lines.

    Today Aeroflot is actually Soviet Russia's civil air ministry. Besides hauling passengers and freight, it carries out a massive program of crop dusting and sowing; it runs meteorological and oil-pipeline surveys, organizes flying clubs, maintains all nonmilitary airports and directs two colleges which train pilots and ground technicians. It is difficult to tell where the Red air force leaves off and Aeroflot begins. Bossing it is onetime Air Force Commander in Chief (1950-57) Chief Air Marshal Pavel Zhigarev, 60. veteran pilot and bomber expert who got the airline job a year ago.

    Zhigarev rules a rigidly controlled bureaucracy. So tight is his grip that a station manager in Vladivostok sometimes has to seek approval from Moscow—4,000 miles away—to effect changes. At the same time, Aeroflot is so disorganized that its 27 territorial boards print separate timetables, often in the local language, to the consternation of passengers who must change planes on a long trip.

    By Western standards, Zhigarev's bureaucracy ignores the basic rules for running an airline economically. While Western lines use their planes up to twelve hours a day for money-saving "maximum utilization," Aeroflot idles dozens of planes on the ground for each one in the air. Aeroflot does not have enough good ground bases, maintenance depots or technicians to handle its huge fleet. The Russians built Aeroflot's new planes so they can use the country's rough airports, rather than improving the airports. Thus the jets sacrifice payload and range for ruggedness.

    On the other hand, the line's big-city strips are long and smooth, and the terminals abound with electronic landing equipment, radar and comforts for passengers. Moscow's Victorian-style Vnukovo Airport compares with some of the best in the West, houses a transient hotel and a nursery with toys and cots for the tots.

    High Fares. Aeroflot's fares are high: 11.3¢ a mile on flights inside Russia, v. the 8.6¢ charged by Western carriers for trips within Europe and only 5.3¢ for domestic U.S. flights. Passengers have trouble buying tickets in advance, since flights are often reported fully booked because clerks hold out large blocks to satisfy any last-minute demand by Soviet VIPs. A foreigner can usually wangle a seat at the last moment, even if a nontitled Soviet citizen must be bumped just before takeoff. In flight, meals are heavy and ordinary, include Georgian wines, vodka and cognac. The piston planes are un-pressurized, and many of the TU-1O4 jets are pressurized to a cabin altitude of only 9,000 ft. (v. 5,000 ft. for U.S. planes), carry oxygen masks next to each seat for passengers who cannot stand the thin air.

    Aeroflot pilots, though experienced, have won a daredevil reputation for going up in bird-walking weather. This can make for tough and treacherous travel, since they fly without electronic navigation aids in the back-country areas where airports are not equipped for instrument landings. What kind of safety record they have, no Westerner knows; Aeroflot does not announce crashes unless foreigners are on board. But there have been three crashes in the past three months alone that took 30 lives.

    For these reasons, Western airmen feel that Aeroflot must go a long way before it can match non-Communist airlines in reliability. The real test will come when Aeroflot pits its jets against the Western lines in the tough competition in Western Europe and across the North Atlantic.

    *Looking in the other direction, lively little Alaska Airlines applied to CAB for permission to fly from Alaska to Irkutsk, Siberia.


    ORD watcher,9171,863110,00.html
    Monday, Mar. 10, 1958
    MOSCOW-LONDON FLIGHTS will start next summer. Russia's Aeroflot intends to use twinjet, TU-104s; British European Airways will fly Viscounts.,9171,810313,00.html
    Monday, Apr. 21, 1958
    RUSSIA'S AEROFLOT airline out-bargained little Denmark, won rights to fly over Denmark and on to West, which Russia needs before it can open service to Britain and, eventually, to the U.S. But U.S.S.R. turned down Denmark's bid for on-beyond rights from Moscow to Tokyo.,9171,868608,00.html
    Monday, Jul. 14, 1958
    RUSSIA'S AEROFLOT JETS will start weekly flights to India (Moscow to Delhi in about 6½ hours) about Aug. 15, in Soviet airline's most important penetration into free Asia.,9171,937901,00.html
    New Facts of International Competition
    Monday, Aug. 17, 1959

    AS U.S. international airlines enter the Jet Age, the U.S. is junking a belief as outdated as its piston planes. The belief was that U.S. flag carriers could hold their lead over a growing flock of aggressive foreign competitors without a drastic change in U.S. air policy. Last week the U.S. airlines got a new warning of the onward march of foreign competition. From the State Department came an announcement that Air France will get an additional U.S. gateway at Baltimore and a polar route to the U.S. West Coast. BOAC will get the right to land at Tokyo on its San Francisco-Hong Kong run, which is expected to take $7,800,000 yearly away from U.S. lines. A CAB examiner recommended that Air India be authorized to fly into the U.S.

    But the biggest threat is Russia's Aeroflot, the world's largest commercial airline. Its 1,600 planes fly 350,000 route miles, serve 500 airports from Kamchatka to London. Airmen expect that one of the points of discussion between President Eisenhower and Premier Khrushchev will be yet another jump for Aeroflot: the right to carry passengers to and from the U.S.

    If Aeroflot gets rights into New York, Pan American World Airways will fly into Moscow. But the exchange does not tell the whole story. Aeroflot, which now matches International Air Transport Association rates (though it does not belong to I.A.T.A.), is expected to behave for a while. But airlines fear that, as a totally subsidized state airline, it will eventually cut fares to aid Russia's economic offensive.

    Despite last week's O.K. on new competition, U.S. lines found some cheer in the decisions. They showed a real change in U.S. policy to conform to the new competitive facts. What made the decisions different was not so much what the U.S. granted—BOAC, Air France and Air India were entitled to the routes under reciprocal exchanges—as the manner of giving. France had formally denounced its bilateral air route agreement with the U.S. 13 months ago, insisted on getting "double trackage" rights, i.e., the right to serve any U.S. city where a U.S. carrier originates a flight for France. The State Department flatly refused.

    CAB and the State Department have not always been so alert to protect the interests of U.S. flag lines. When Great Britain and the U.S. laid down the basic postwar air route pattern in Bermuda in 1946, the U.S. was the only nation equipped with planes to operate long-distance service. It campaigned for a free competition agreement, but the plane-short British forced a compromise that provided for an equitable exchange of traffic between nations signing a bilateral pact. Since then the U.S. has often ignored breaches by foreign airlines, drawn criticism from U.S. carriers for giving out fat new routes without getting much in return.

    Now the State Department and the President, who has the final say about what international routes the U.S. gives out, are ending the giveaway period in favor of more horse trading and stricter rule watching. The new trend was forced by the awareness that U.S. flag lines could follow the downward path of the U.S. maritime industry. Though 70% of all air passengers between the U.S. and foreign countries are U.S. citizens, the share of traffic carried by U.S. carriers has fallen from 75% in 1949 to 60% today. In the first quarter this year, BOAC nudged out Trans World Airlines as the second biggest transatlantic carrier (No. 1: Pan American), the first time a foreign flag line has flown ahead of a U.S. line.

    Foreign carriers have rushed into the U.S. in such numbers that 40 now draw from the U.S. market v. 22 in 1949. Most of them get far more than U.S. carriers out of the bargain, often add extra flights to siphon off as many passengers as possible in violation of the spirit of the Bermuda agreement. In return for permitting Pan American to serve Amsterdam, KLM flies into New York and Houston. Result: last year KLM collected $29.4 million on 86,225 U.S. passengers, while Pan Am got only $1,700,000 from 2,842 Dutch passengers. While cutting into U.S. markets, foreign carriers are strengthening themselves against inroads into their home territory; e.g., European carriers got I.A.T.A. to place a special tariff on transatlantic jet flights because they do not have jets to compete with the Boeing 707.

    As the only private, nonsubsidized air fleet in the world, U.S. carriers must find a better way to face competition if the U.S. is to keep its place as a powerful air nation. The most obvious solution would be Government subsidy, but most airlines themselves admit that this is a last resort. What they want is for the U.S. to show a tougher stand in route bargaining and in enforcing current agreements. In the next five years the jets will force a revamping of virtually all of the 54 bilateral agreements between the U.S. and other nations. Unless the U.S. trades much more shrewdly with foreign airlines, U.S. flag carriers may not be able to compete in the Jet Age.


    ORD watcher,9171,826252,00.html
    Monday, Apr. 11, 1960
    NEW YORK-MOSCOW FLIGHTS by Pan American and Russia's state-run Aeroflot stand a good chance of approval in the near future. Reds have apparently been waiting until they had enough TU-114 turboprop transports for a regular schedule.,9171,826521,00.html
    Monday, Jul. 25, 1960
    NEW YORK-MOSCOW FLIGHTS by Pan American World Airways and Russia's Aeroflot state line will be delayed until Khrushchev behaves better. U.S. officials canceled visit of Aeroflot brass due in Washington this week to discuss the deal. Belgium's Sabena airline is only New York-Moscow through flight.,8816,939792,00.html
    Monday, Aug. 15, 1960
    Gateways to the Jet Age

    THE first siren whoosh of the commercial jetliner not only changed man's notion of time and travel by shrinking the earth some 40%, but set off an earth-bound revolution that is transforming the whole façade and function of the jet age's gateway: the airport. Nations and cities are taking a searching second look at the airports that served the piston-plane age —and finding them wanting. The result is an immense worldwide building boom to adapt them to the new and challenging problems—for pilots, passengers and cities —of the 600 m.p.h. jet planes. In the U.S. new or better airports are blossoming in Seattle, Miami, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, St. Louis, Los Angeles—and dozens of other airports are also undergoing major face-liftings. New runways are being hacked out of the wilderness in Asia and South America, and the travel-worn airports of Paris, Amsterdam and Mexico City, familiar to thousands of U.S. tourists, will soon sport a trim, unfamiliar look.

    Prototype: Idlewild. The most glittering airport showcase—and one of the first to be rebuilt—is New York International Airport at Idlewild, the gateway to the U.S. (an estimated 8,550,000 air travelers this year). Because Idlewild is one of the world's busiest airports (an average of 640 landings and takeoffs a day) and a technological primer of jet age forethought, it has become the prototype and laboratory for many of the world's changing airports. This week ten officials of Aeroflot, the Soviet civil airline, will poke through every nook and cranny of Idlewild on a restricted tour of U.S. airports, searching for ideas to take back home. Cologne is building an instrument-landing runway with narrow-gauge lighting patterned after Idlewild's. Frankfurt has jet-terminal improvements scheduled, but is waiting to see how Idlewild's new facilities work.

    Built in 1942 on land reclaimed from Jamaica Bay and what was once a golf course, Idlewild has become a vast, gleaming concrete-and-glass tiara (see color} covering 4,900 acres and representing an investment of $330 million. Much more than merely a big new airport, it typifies a whole new jet age concept: a self-contained airport city, so complete that it has two dramatic societies and an animal-port where anything from parakeets (50¢ a day) to lions ($5 a day) can be boarded.

    Underground Airport. For all its glitter, Idlewild will have plenty of competition before the airport boom abates. Many of the new airports boast functional rather than beautiful buildings, must first use their money for such expensive necessities as lengthening runways—at $1,000 a ft.—to meet the 10,500-ft. jet requirements. But some airports with money to spare are experimenting with concepts as dramatic in jet age design as Idlewild's.

    Among them:

    ¶ Dulles International Airport, due to open near Washington, D.C. in 1961, is radically different in concept. Unlike most airports, it will have no passageways reaching out onto the apron to detract from its lofty, templelike terminal designed by Architect Eero Saarinen. Instead of jets coming up to terminal fingers, passengers will simply walk into giant "mobile lounges" that will move them out to the jets.

    ¶ Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, due to be finished in 1962, will be one of the world's largest, with its three terminals forming three sides of a pentagon open in the front for parking.

    ¶ Brasília's new airport, still on the drawing boards, will have the world's only integrated underground terminal. Built like an aircraft carrier with service and passenger facilities underground, it will lift travelers by elevator direct to jets on the runway.

    ¶ Rome's Leonardo Da Vinci airfield, nearly finished, is a $50 million showcase roughly the size of Florence and built in the shape of a triangle. Set on the Tyrrhenian coast (near the ruins of Ostia Antica) to make the most of prevailing sea breezes, it will have near-perfect visibility all year round.

    Telescoping Corridors. Plain or fancy, the new airports are designed to cope with the growing problems of the jet age. The major problems: the jets carry more passengers at a time (up to 170 in a Boeing 707 v. about half that number in the biggest piston airliner), require quicker handling of more baggage. They have proved so popular that they have boosted U.S. air travel by better than 20% this year. Moreover, since one jet is seldom much faster than another, it is an airline's service and reputation for luxury that pulls customers. The result: airlines themselves are sinking millions of dollars into lavish terminal facilities to lure customers.

    Using new "jetway" covered corridors that telescope out to meet the planes, United Air Lines at San Francisco has a graceful, star-shaped terminal that can nestle five giant DC-8 jets at one time. To ease shoe leather, Dallas' Love Field uses moving sidewalks to carry passengers to planes. Many new terminals—e.g., at Dulles, Idlewild, Seattle, Rome, O'Hare—are split-level designs to speed passenger traffic: air travelers deplane on the lower level, enplane on the second story, keep out of one another's way.

    Officials at Dallas' Love Field studied crowd habits in Grand Central Station to learn the best arrangement for facilities: ticket counter close to the entrance so that passengers can drop their heavy bags and buy tickets, then insurance and cigarette counters, drinking fountains and—just before reaching the plane—rest rooms. With many another new airport, Chicago's O'Hare will eliminate the garage atmosphere that now exists in many airport baggage-claim areas, may utilize a "perpetual motion conveyor belt" to automatically sort and store passengers' luggage for each flight.

    Radar Brain. One big reason for the growth of airport cities around terminals is a new jet age psychology. The layover passenger who has flown 2,000 miles in four hours sees no reason to spend another two hours commuting into the center of town, wants his overnight hotel and restaurants at hand. For passengers who are ending their flights, many new airports, including O'Hare, Dulles and Rome, are planning brand-new freeways to speed access to the city. Brussels has built, and Rome is building, railroad lines directly to the airport.

    The new airports are also wrestling with the immense technological problems of the jet age. The hungry jets have made obsolete the ubiquitous airport fuel truck; Idlewild, Seattle, London, O'Hare and Brasilia are all installing underground fueling systems. Hong Kong Airport has solved its space problem by building a runway 8,350 feet into Hong Kong bay. Miami has a new $350,000 radar approach system. Near San Francisco, the Federal Aviation Agency is building an ultramodern, $5,000,000 radar air-traffic control center, whose Remington Rand electronic brain will track all aircraft in a three-state zone. Hardest-to-lick problem thus far is jet noise, but airport officials hope that the new turbofan jet engines will eventually alleviate even that drawback of the jets. Dulles Airport is planting 80,000 trees around its rim to help absorb jet noise.

    While cities are hustling to catch up with the jet age, the wisest airport builders are looking ahead—to the 1970s and 500,000-lb. supersonic airliners. Seattle is building a runway extension long enough—and strong enough—for Mach 3 aircraft. Brussels, by the end of 1961, will be one of the world's best-equipped airports, capable of handling 3,000,000 passengers a year v. the present 1,000,000. Explaining the philosophy behind the avant-garde Dulles airport, FAA Boss Elwood ("Pete") Quesada says: "We designed this airport for the requirements not only of this decade but for the next decade as well. Not looking far enough ahead is one of the errors we've been making through the history of commercial aviation. We have forecast the requirements and are not indulging in building for today. We are building for ten years, twenty years, fifty years from now."


    ORD watcher,8816,897809,00.html
    Friday, Jul. 21, 1961
    Out of this World

    Crisp and smiling in the olive drab uniform of a Soviet air force major, Yuri Gagarin bounced out of an Aeroflot turbojet at London Airport to help publicize Moscow's Trade Fair, and all Britain gave him a tumultuous welcome. Thousands lined the 14-mile route into London for a look at the world's first cosmonaut, cheered and chanted "Gagarin" as his motorcade swept by. Standing in an open silver Rolls-Royce with a specially issued license plate "YG-1," Yuri waved and grinned. When he turned into Kensington High Street, the crowd broke through the police barriers to surge into the street. Watching 100 yds. away behind the fence of Kensington Palace, a lone figure waved: Princess Margaret, who had waited half an hour to glimpse Yuri.

    Everywhere he went during his five-day stay, cheering crowds swarmed about him. Yuri invariably handled them with all the charm and poise of a professional diplomat (unlike Britain's protocol department, which was put into such a blue funk by Yuri's uninvited, unofficial visit that it sent only a minor civil servant to the airport to greet him). At a press conference in the Trade Fair's fashion hall, so many Yuri fans crashed in that Fleet Street newshawks, among the world's most agile and aggressive, barely got in any professional questions. Instead, Yuri tactfully fielded such inane queries as whether he has nightmares (answer: no). When Gagarin explained that he might visit Poland and Cuba next, a little man leaped on a chair to shout: "We will kiss our Gagarin if he comes to Cyprus."

    Top Down. A woman asked about using women for space exploration. Yuri, his blue eyes twinkling, was all gallantry: It might be useful, since "a woman's appreciation of beauty is more developed than that of a man. If a flight seems beautiful to a man, it would seem even more so to a woman." How did he feel about becoming a celebrity? "I am still an ordinary mortal. My gold star, Hero of the Soviet Union medal, bears the number 11,175. That means 11,174 people accomplished something very notable before me." Before the mob scene was over, a dozen women had swooned under the combined impact of the crush and Yuri's sex appeal.

    On a visit to Manchester in a driving rain, Yuri took one look at the waiting crowds and insisted the top be kept down on his Bentley convertible for the drive into the city. "If they can stand in the rain,'' he said, "so can I." The Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers presented him with an honorary membership medal inscribed "Moulding Together for a Better World." Replied onetime Metalworker Yuri graciously: "I am still a foundry worker at heart."

    By week's end the spaceman's boyish smile and unfailing modesty had conquered all Britain. Queen Elizabeth had him for lunch at Buckingham Palace, seating him in the place of honor on her right; Macmillan invited him to Admiralty House, after 20 minutes with Yuri pronounced him "a delightful fellow." A 23-year-old British nurse ambushed Yuri as he emerged from the Russian embassy, flung her arms around his neck for a solid kiss, proclaimed him "the most kissable man in the universe." Headline the Daily Mail: MAKE HIM SIR YURI!

    Back in Moscow, Nikita Khrushchev, musing on Yuri's triumph, may well have decided that Gagarin's first flight into space would be his last: Public Relations Master Yuri was obviously too hot a talent to waste in space.


    ORD watcher,9171,896332,00.html
    One Flag Abroad
    Friday, Jun. 08, 1962

    The economically troubled U.S. aviation industry is more and more of the view that one can live more cheaply than two. The latest merger being talked about is global in its ambition: to merge Pan American World Airways and its only U.S. rival on the North Atlantic routes, Trans World Airlines. Inc.

    Pan Am and TWA are still short of final agreement, but find an almost irresistible appeal in studies showing that a merger could save them up to $75 million a year in operating costs. For TWA, which ran up losses of $14.7 million last year, the partnership would offer new hope of coping with massive debts incurred in the switchover to jets. For Pan Am's President Juan Terry Trippe, the merger would mean restoration of Pan Am's position as the only U.S. carrier on Atlantic routes, and fulfillment of his old dream of establishing his airline as the U.S.'s "chosen instrument" abroad.

    Out of Africa. In Trippe's view, only a single U.S. flag carrier can compete successfully on the North Atlantic routes, where both Pan Am and TWA have lately suffered heavy traffic losses to state-owned foreign airlines (BOAC, Air France, KLM, etc.). Pan Am also fears a threatened invasion of its traditional Latin American preserve by Russia's Aeroflot, which has been quietly negotiating its way across Africa toward Rio de Janeiro.

    Since the inroads of the foreign air carriers adds $240 million a year to the U.S. balance of payments deficit, a single strong U.S. overseas airline may find more support in Washington now than it has in the past. But the sheer size of the proposed line—bigger even than the proposed combination of Eastern and American airlines—will send a shiver through CAB. Approval of the merger would also end a longstanding CAB policy of denying domestic routes to Pan Am.

    The Hughes Problem. Even if the merger should win the consent of the White House—which by law has final say on U.S. airline operations abroad—there would remain what TWA President Charles Tillinghast glumly calls "the Hughes problem." Unpredictable Financier Howard Hughes, who apparently has his heart set on merging TWA with faltering Northeast Airlines, remains TWA's majority stockholder with 78.2% of its outstanding shares. Even though his TWA stock is currently being voted by trustees unsympathetic to his dreams, Hughes might find legal means of delaying indefinitely a merger with Pan Am.

    According to scuttlebutt in the aviation industry, TWA and Pan Am have conceived a technique for finessing Hughes which seems a bit too clever. Heart of this maneuver would be to have the smaller TWA (net worth: $74 million) technically acquire Pan Am (net worth: $135 million). In fact. Juan Trippe would almost certainly dominate the merged line. The takeover by TWA of Pan Am would be a mere formality, but it would oblige TWA to issue such vast new blocks of stock to compensate Pan Am holders that Hughes's interest in the merged airline would be reduced to a manageable minority.


    ORD watcher,9171,939066,00.html
    The Cost Barrier Has Not Been Broken
    Friday, Jul. 24, 1964

    Nearly two dozen of the world's airlines, from Pan American to tiny Aeronaves de Mexico, have hopefully placed 140 orders for either an American or a British-French supersonic transport. Considering the SST's list of problems, that's quite a bit of hope. Rarely has the development of a new product been more beset by rising costs, clamor and competition.

    The Anglo-French Concorde so far will cost the two nations 75% more than originally planned. This admission brought gasps from the House of Commons when it was made fortnight ago by Aviation Minister Julian Amery. He admitted that he and French Transport Minister Marc Jaquet had adjusted the cost to $400 million for each country after studying modifications that will be necessary to give the Concorde more passenger space, greater engine power and larger wing area—partly to make it more competitive with the proposed U.S. model.

    The U.S. plane has so far got exactly nowhere. Now the big argument seems to be whether it is really practicable in its proposed form. Aviation Consultant William Littlewood recently told a Washington aeronautical conference that ground dwellers cannot adjust to the SST's shattering sonic boom, suggested "careful routing" of the planes at a cost in time and fuel. Last week Clarence L. "Kelly" Johnson, the Lockheed vice president who designed both the U-2 and the A11, said as he received an achievement award from the National Aviation Club: "I am very concerned about the sonic boom where the SST is concerned. Something must be done, or a technical breakthrough achieved to get the boom reduced."

    As if that were not enough, Russia's General Evgeny Loginov, the head of Aeroflot, announced that Russia's planned SST "will be faster than the Anglo-French one," adding that "apparently we will not be late." Western experts do not believe that the Russians, who lean to conservative solutions of engineering problems, could possibly put out a competitive plane, but the appearance of a Russian plane before the West's would be a propaganda boon. A prototype of the British-French Concorde is not expected to fly until at least 1967, and a U.S. one not until well after that. What is worse, the price tag of the Concorde to individual airlines has jumped from $10 million to $14 million each.,9171,842357,00.html
    Closer Trade Ties
    Friday, Dec. 31, 1965

    The pact, which would open a potentially lucrative air route, could yet be grounded by Moscow, but the Japanese appear to have bowed to all major Russian conditions. State-owned Japan Air Lines and the Soviets' Aeroflot would jointly operate a weekly flight using giant Russian TU-114 turboprop planes, Russian cockpit crews (with a Japanese pilot sitting in as a face-saver) and mixed Soviet-Japanese cabin crews. Because of Russian sensitivity about Siberian military installations, Japan's 707 and DC-8 jets would at first be confined to the Tokyo-Kharbarovsk leg; after two years, the Russians would consider allowing J.A.L. craft to fly the entire 4,650-mi. run. The Soviets have also suggested that Japan help develop Siberian industry, invest $2 billion in oil refineries and in pipelines.
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    ORD watcher,9171,836123,00.html
    Over the Ocean to Russia
    Friday, Jul. 22, 1966

    Although Aeroflot, the Soviet Union's national airline, flies regularly to 25 non-Communist cities,* its only service into the Western Hemisphere has been a twice weekly flight to Havana that serves little purpose except propaganda. Last week, winding up an eleven-day tour of Canada, Soviet Deputy Premier Dmitry Poliansky put Aeroflot on the North American mainland. He signed an agreement under which the Russian airline and Air Canada will jointly operate twice-weekly service between Montreal and Moscow by way of Copenhagen. The flight will take nine hours, cost $570 for a 21-day round-trip tourist ticket or $1,170 first class.

    The new service, which begins in November, took a long time to negotiate. The idea occurred originally to Air Canada's President Gordon Mc Gregor, 65, a World War II fighter pilot who has built Air Canada into a flourishing line with 42,000 miles of route to the U.S., Europe and the Caribbean. McGregor wanted Moscow on his route as well, flew there for discussions with General E. F. Loginov, who is both Aeroflot's head and Russia's director of civil aviation. Discussions between the governments droned on, but one reason the agreement finally got airborne was that the Russians were anxious to secure Western currency, and the air service seemed a promising way to get some.

    Air Canada, flying one round trip each week, will use DC-8s. On foreign flights, Aeroflot now uses huge 170-passenger, two-deck TU-114 turboprops, but for the Montreal run it may inaugurate the new 200-passenger Ilyushin 62s, which have four engines mounted in pods at the tail, as well as a fancy jet-age decor replacing the Victorian look of older Russian airplanes.

    * Accra, Algiers, Amsterdam, Bagdad, Bamako, Brussels, Colombo, Conakry, Copenhagen, Damascus, Djakarta, Helsinki, Kabul, Karachi, London, New Delhi, Nicosia, Paris, Rabat, Rangoon, Rome, Stockholm, Teheran, Tunis and Vienna.,9171,843060,00.html
    Next Stop Moscow
    Friday, Nov. 11, 1966

    The possibility of direct commercial flights between Moscow and New York has long frozen and thawed with changes in the cold war. First proposed in 1935 shortly after Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh flew to Moscow, the idea was plucked out of limbo by 1958-59 cultural-exchange agreements. Then the talks were broken off after the Soviets shot down the U-2 in 1960. When the Russians released two captured RB-47 flyers as a gesture to the new Kennedy Administration, negotiations resumed, and the deal had even been tentatively struck when the Berlin Wall blocked it. The Cuban missile crisis and other tensions kept the talks down until last summer, when President Johnson decided to try again. Last week, despite an involuntary twitch resulting from the FBI's new spy case (see THE NATION), the agreement was signed in Washington by Ambassador Llewellyn Thompson and Soviet Civil Aviation Minister Evgeny Loginov.

    Agreed to Upgrade. The new deal calls for nonstop, round-trip flights between New York and Moscow, to be flown twice a week in the spring and summer, once a week in fall and winter, by both Pan American and Aeroflot, the U.S.S.R.'s huge government-owned airline. Service is expected to start next spring at about $550 for a roundtrip economy 21-day excursion. Pan Am will probably put Boeing 707s on the route. Aeroflot will most likely use the massive TU-114s that it flew last week in initiating an Aeroflot-Air Canada service between Moscow and Montreal. As part of the U.S.-Soviet terms, the Russians had to agree to upgrade baggage and passenger handling and other deficiencies at their end. This should work no great hardship since—in the face of an open passenger and pilot revolt—Aeroflot would probably have had to improve itself anyway.

    In recent weeks Izvestla has reported "reproaches that are constantly coming in" about chronic delays, consistently bad service, inadequate airport amenities and lack of transportation to and from airports. Some pilots grumped that they were always having to explain to angry passengers why a half-day flight from Volgograd to Kamchatka took three days. Complained another: "I have seen passengers trudge to the plane up to their knees in mud because there was no transport." There is a lack of up-to-date navigational and mechanical equipment, concluded Pilot First Class V. Chekunin, "and as long as it is not available, passengers might just as well try to travel in rockets."

    Inaugural Junket. Paying no public attention to the complaints, Aeroflot officials confidently predicted that 20,000 Americans would soon visit Russia annually and 20,000 Russians would head for the U.S., a good percentage of them aboard the ten-hour, 5,013-mile Pan Am and Aeroflot flights. While the 18,000 Americans who now annually visit Russia may increase somewhat, the number of traveling Russians will be nowhere near 20,000. Only 3,000 visited the U.S. last year, and almost all of them were in official parties.
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    ORD watcher,8816,841413,00.html
    Friday, Jul. 26, 1968
    Flight of Aeroflot 03

    Among the passengers on the Aeroflot Ilyushin-62 jetliner that inaugurated U.S.-Soviet air service last week was TIME Correspondent Jerry Hannifin. Here is his report:

    Aeroflot teams had worked on the 122-passenger plane for three weeks. A select crew was picked, including Pilot Boris Egorov, 48, a veteran who holds the rank of Meritorious Flyer of the U.S.S.R. There were also four of the prettiest—all things being relative—stewardesses in Aeroflot's big (248,000 route miles) system. The stewardesses' first names were Maya, Gay, Lena and Natasha.

    The flight began at Moscow's modern Sheremetyevo International Airport, where Aeroflot Official Aleksandr Besedin briefly spoke of a "new era" for the 46-year-old state airline, which has round-the-world aspirations. Then followed a wonderful Cossack sort of rush for the shining blue and white Ilyushin transport. Pilot Egorov had finished his session in Aeroflot's "prophylaxis" office, where, as all Aeroflot flyers must before every flight, he had taken a brief medical and psychiatric examination, and was making a walk-around inspection of the big aircraft. The 97 passengers crowded up the ramp, where their tickets were carefully scrutinized first by a stewardess, then by a Soviet border guard—who, for some mysterious reason, turned three people back.

    Caviar, Tea or Vodka? At 10:55 a.m. Moscow time, Egorov fired up his four rear-mounted engines. Less than 20 minutes later we were airborne, cruising at 34,000 ft., doing 560 m.p.h. The tourist section, frankly, turned out to be roomier and more comfortable than tourist in most European and some American airlines. The six-across foamrubber seats had arms that lifted to provide a little extra room; pulling down the translucent smoked-plastic window shades was like putting on dark glasses. Soon after takeoff, the stewardesses came down with refreshments—tea from a family-sized aluminum pot, fruit juices, mineral water and, of course, vodka. Because it was an inaugural flight, there were quantities of red and black caviar, commemorative bronze medallions and favors—Dior's Diorissimo for the ladies, Eau Sauvage for the men.

    There were, to be sure, a few oversights. Somebody forgot to put life jackets in the neatly stenciled "life jeiket" containers under each seat. Other regulations were stretched in the happy excitement. As the plane whizzed toward Greenland, some passengers were invited up to the roomy cockpit, which looked familiar except for the Cyrillic script on the dials, and allowed to take pictures (which is forbidden over Russia proper).

    Somehow, Some Way. After 11 hrs. and 40 min., including a stop at Montreal, a stewardess announced that we had arrived over New York on time, and everyone buckled up for landing. Over the cockpit radio, however, Kennedy control was explaining that there were serious traffic delays (because of the tower workers' slowdown). Pilot Egorov also was told that his flight could be given priority for an almost immediate landing. He politely declined, radioing that "Aeroflot Zero Three will go in turn like the rest." In that case, said control, our plane's turn would come in two hours.

    We waited an hour and 35 minutes while Egorov made precise turns in the bright sky until finally somehow, some way, somebody down there mercifully did something to get us out of the jam. Landing orders crackled over the radio. Heaving at the controls—Soviet planes have no power boost—Egorov swung out of the holding pattern, popped his dive brakes, flattened out and bored straight for J.F.K. We flat-hatted over Long Island, made a sharp turn to a little-used runway and touched down at about 220 m.p.h.—much faster than the Boeing 707's 175-m.p.h. landing speed—and as smooth as butter.
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    ORD watcher,8816,841597,00.html
    Friday, Jan. 31, 1969
    Gold in the Ashes


    When Israeli commandos raided Bei rut's International Airport last month, eight of Middle East Airlines' 13 planes went up in flames. Despite this destruction, MEA did not really lose much during the raid — and in some ways is better off than before. Though a brand-new Boeing 707 jet was destroyed, the line also got rid of some aging Comets and other planes that it had been trying unsuccessfully to sell.

    Keep 'Em Flying. Most important, MEA had shrewdly insured its fleet with war-risk policies that covered the full "book value" of the aircraft. Since the line valued the planes rather generously on its books, it figures to get $17.9 million from Lloyd's of London and other insurers — more than enough to replace the lost fleet. The true mar ket value of each of its three six-year-old Comet jets, for example, is about $400,000, but MEA listed each at $1,500,000 and paid appropriate premiums. MEA will also collect $1,500,000 for each of two destroyed Caravelles that were really worth about $900,000 apiece, and more than the market value for one lost Viscount. The new Boeing 707 is expected to bring $8,500,000, roughly what it cost. The eighth gutted plane, a VC-10, was on charter from Ghana Airways, and MEA is not responsible for its loss.

    The high insurance coverage did not result from Israeli-Arab tensions, but from the brief Indo-Pakistani war in 1965. "At that time," says Sheikh Najib Alamuddin, MEA's president, "our aircraft served both Karachi and Bombay, and we decided to cover our fleet with complete war-risk insurance. Thank goodness we've continued to maintain those policies."

    MEA, the largest and most successful Arab airline, managed to maintain its service by doubling up some flights in the first days following the raid. Instead of scheduling separate flights to London and Paris, for example, it serviced both capitals with a single daily plane from Beirut. To back up its remaining five planes, the line has since chartered three Comets from Kuwait Airways, one Boeing 720B from Ethiopian Airlines and another Boeing from Air France. It will also have six months' free use of a Caravelle owned by Morocco's King Hassan II. Other offers to help have come in from Pan American, Lufthansa, KLM and Russia's Aeroflot.

    There is no guarantee that MEA's recovery will last. Chartering planes is expensive and cuts into flight profits. Since the Israeli attack, Lloyd's has increased MEA's premiums for war-risk coverage eighteenfold, and has imposed a ceiling on what it will pay henceforth: a maximum of $8,150,000 each for no more than two airplanes. Lloyd's is imposing similar conditions on Israel's El Al and all other airlines operating intensively in the Middle East area.

    The question now facing MEA is whether the airport raid will affect tourism and shake passenger confidence. That will not be answered until the Lebanese tourist season begins in April. For the first 19 days of 1969, however, MEA's passenger loads were almost 20% above the same period in 1968.

    American Interest. Sheikh Alamuddin does not seem to be in a hurry to buy new planes. He obviously wants to make the best deal, and many manufacturers are eager to dicker with him. The French government, which, through Air France, owns 30% of MEA's stock, hopes to sell some Caravelles. Boeing has speeded up delivery for two 707s—MEA will get them this autumn—and would like to sell tri-jet 727s for short-and medium-range routes.

    As the result of a rather complicated deal, the U.S. Government also has a special interest in MEA. Several years ago, most of MEA's shares were owned by Beirut's Intra Bank, which also owed a big debt to the U.S.'s Commodity Credit Corp. for some grain shipments to Lebanon. When Intra folded in 1966, an investment company was formed to take over its remaining assets, including 65% of MEA's shares. For its unpaid bill, C.C.C. received a 19% interest in the investment company that controls the airline, and an officer of C.C.C. sits on the company's board.


    ORD watcher,8816,839986,00.html
    Friday, Mar. 28, 1969
    Belated Entry

    The Administration is about to take another, and possibly decisive, step in the long, long journey toward a U.S. supersonic transport program. A governmental study group has split evenly between partisans of the plane and opponents. This gives the decisive vote to the chairman, Secretary of Transportation John Volpe, who is due by April 1 to forward a recommendation to the President for final decision. Says Volpe: "I don't see how the U.S. can afford not to go ahead with this ship. I don't want to see our country play second fiddle."

    With a Soviet SST and the Anglo-French Concorde already being successfully test-flown, what has delayed the American SST? Two years ago, the U.S. made the decision to build an SST. Later, Boeing, the contract winner, encountered major design problems: its radical swing-wing concept was an economic disaster. The engineers went back to their drawing boards and last fall came up with another SST, this time a fixed delta-wing titanium plane capable of cruising at a speed of 1,800 m.p.h. while carrying more than 250 passengers 4,000 miles.

    The delay gave opponents of the SST time to rally their forces. They question whether the Government can afford to underwrite 85% of a $2 billion plane at a time when urban needs are so pressing. Lately, some top airline executives, worried about how they are going to pay the bill for—and then fill with passengers—the $5 billion of subsonic jets already on order, have quietly suggested delaying the project. Other objectors argue that the SST will be the noisiest and most nonproductive luxury transport ever built. In reply, General William Maxwell, the FAA's Director of SST Development emphasizes that the SST will never fly at supersonic speeds over populated areas. It will, in fact, be used only on intercontinental routes around the world, especially on transpacific runs, where it is expected to cut the flying time between Los Angeles and Tokyo from the present 13 hours to five.

    What is also at stake is the U.S.'s long domination of the global market for commercial aircraft. Seven out of ten of the transports now in operation, piston or jet, are U.S. built, and have earned billions of dollars in foreign exchange. But such dominance will continue only so long as U.S.-built ships are faster and more efficient than anyone else's. U.S. aviation was in this critical condition once before, when Britain's ill-fated Comet series beat U.S. jets to the skies by nine years. After the Comet tragically failed, the U.S. easily caught up with the British planemakers.

    The U.S. cannot count on similar disasters overtaking both the Concorde and the Soviet SSTs.* Thus for reasons of prestige, employment, technology and high finance (an estimated $12 billion market over the next eight years), the U.S. still seems likely to build an SST. The Concorde, for which airlines have taken 74 "options," will probably reap the first harvest, because it is scheduled to be in service by 1971. Unless Nixon has an unanticipated change of heart, a fair bet is that the U.S. SST will be airborne by 1976.

    -Most Western airlines are unlikely to buy the Soviet SSTs for reasons involving maintenance, operating economics and an unwillingness to rely on Russia for spare parts. Japan Air Lines, however, has signed an agreement with Russia's Aeroflot to share a trans-Siberian Tokyo-Moscow route, on which it will use the Soviet SSTs.


    ORD watcher,9171,876596,00.html
    Flight of the Samovar
    Monday, Feb. 09, 1970

    Seattle-based Alaska Airlines counts only four jets and 13 prop planes in its passenger fleet, but it has more than its share of panache. Since 1967, stewardesses have worn Gay Nineties costumes, and pilots have been required to sing some flight announcements to the tune of Calamity Jane. All that has changed. Now the "Golden Nugget" flights have become the "Golden Samovar." Stewardesses in boots and Cossack minitunics serve borsch, beef stroganoff and "Bolshoi Golden Troikas" (coffee, vodka and coffee liqueur) from gilded samovars.

    In June, barring any last-minute hitches, Alaska Airlines will become the first non-Russian airline to fly tourists into Siberia. Last week Chairman Charles F. Willis Jr. received an all but final go-ahead for the flights from Intourist, the Soviet tourist agency. Washington's Civil Aeronautics Board has given its blessing for ten tourist flights next summer between Anchorage and Khabarovsk.

    The tours promise something different for jaded jet-setters. For $850, which takes care of all expenses (even liquor), travelers will get a whirlwind eight-day tour of Siberia. It will include a flight with a view of the Great Wall of China, a banquet in Irkutsk, a hydrofoil trip on Lake Baikal and a visit to the Bratsk dam. For another $400, the package will stretch to 15 days. Aeroflot, the Soviet airline, will take over at Khabarovsk and fly tourists to Moscow, Samarkand and Tashkent.

    The tours are a first step toward Alaska Airlines' long-sought goal of regularly scheduled flights to the Soviet Union. The airline now flies only within Alaska and between Seattle and Anchorage. On the strength of tourism and a brisk air-freight business to the North Slope oil wells, Alaska Airlines earned $554,000 on operating revenues of $36.6 million in the first eleven months of last year, compared with a loss of $4.3 million in the equivalent period of 1968. Now that it is due to become an international carrier in a small way, its hopes for future growth rest on eventually providing—with Aeroflot —scheduled trans-Siberia flights to Moscow for Pacific Coast residents.,9171,942362,00.html
    Vienna Waltz
    Monday, Oct. 12, 1970

    Along with a flag and an anthem, the symbols of nationhood all too often include a money-losing national airline. Since 1950, the number of "flag" carriers has proliferated to the point that there are almost as many as there are countries in the U.N. At least one airline is sensibly going against the trend. Tiny Austrian Airlines, which is distinguished by excellent service and frequent deficits, is seeking a shelter under the broad wings of Swissair.

    Both airlines are among the pleasantest to fly on—expert pilots, comely stewardesses, gourmet food—but the similarity ends there. Austrian, which is 98% state-owned, has been a losing investment during most of its 13 years of existence and has dropped a total of $40 million. It provides a daily service to New York by leasing half of the cabin of an aircraft flown by Belgium's Sabena. By contrast, Swissair is 70% privately owned, flies to 56 countries and has not lost money since 1949. Last year it earned $7,300,000.

    The two carriers are careful not to call their plans a merger. If Austrian Airlines were to disappear entirely, its successor might lose some reciprocal landing rights that Austrian acquired—but never used—when it granted Australia's

    Qantas and Russia's Aeroflot access to Vienna. Besides, Swissair might also acquire Austrian Airlines' debts.

    Instead of a merger, Austrian and Swissair are negotiating a form of Alpine bundling or, as their executives call it, "harmonization." Swissair would issue more stock and give the Austrian government a 9% share, as well as several seats on a new board of directors. Planes from both countries would be maintained in Austria, where labor is cheaper than in Switzerland. Pilots would be trained on Swissair's flight simulator in Zurich. Sales offices and planes of both lines would bear a single name, possibly "Swissair-Austrian Airlines," but aircraft from each country would still be distinguished by a national emblem on the tails.

    Since the Austrian line is an ardent suitor, the canny Swiss are exacting a stiff price. As a dowry, the Austrians would have to supply the combined line with a fleet of nine jets to be bought by AA with a $76 million loan backed by the Vienna'government. A bill guaranteeing the loan has been introduced in the Austrian Parliament, but not yet passed. Once that considerable detail is taken care of, negotiations are expected to move ahead in earnest, and the two lines could begin to practice their special kind of togetherness by April 1972.
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    ORD watcher,8816,943315,00.html
    Monday, Nov. 23, 1970
    The Long Detour

    As the small U.S. Army Beechcraft U-8 bobbed in and out of broken clouds one day last month, the four men aboard caught sight of the railroad tracks and the grassy airstrip that were supposed to mark their destination: the town of Kars in eastern Turkey, 20 miles from the Soviet border. They put down, but as they taxied toward the terminal, the men spotted what looked startlingly like a red star on a nearby helicopter. "It must be a Turkish red crescent," muttered Major General Edward C.D. Scherrer, 57, head of the U.S. military-aid mission in Turkey and one of two American generals on board.

    Seconds later, a Soviet army vehicle roared up to their plane. Scherrer and his companions suddenly realized the extent of their error. They had landed at Leninakan, 20 miles inside Soviet Armenia.

    Last week, 20 days later, the Soviets finally released the four men after ballooning the incident into an unpleasant cold war quarrel. No deal was made for the return of the officers. After Moscow's announcement that the four would be released, however, the Turkish government agreed to hand over the pilot and one passenger of a small Russian plane that had been hijacked late last month. Even so, the two students who took over the plane remained in Turkish custody, as did the Lithuanian father and son who forced the crew of an Aeroflot plane to land in Turkey in October and who killed a stewardess in the process.

    The Soviet release of the U.S. generals brought an end to the incident but hardly to the mystery of their capture. According to Scherrer, the plane had simply got lost in bad weather and then followed what seemed to be the Erzurum-Kars rail line. Turkish military observers had a different line of speculation. They said that the generals had taken a detour to catch a glimpse of the heavily guarded Russian border near the picturesque Turkish town of Ani, the ancient walled capital of Armenia. Emerging from a cloud bank, they picked up the Leninakan radio beacon*which just happened to be set on precisely the same frequency as the beacon that normally comes from the Kars radio tower. Whether the Soviets deliberately lured the plane off course is uncertain, but the U.S. is convinced that it has happened before along the Soviet-Turkish border.

    After their landing, the four men were taken to a VIP villa. Scherrer and his deputy for ground forces, Brigadier General Claude M. McQuarrie Jr.*both of whom are privy to U.S., NATO and Turkish military secrets*were questioned for a total of about 20 hours. Scherrer's inquisitor was a KGB colonel sent from Moscow. "I had to tell him several times he was being disrespectful and trying to put words in my mouth," said the general.

    The four captives played pool and backgammon with two Soviet majors and a female Armenian interpreter who were their constant companions. Often they were joined in the evening by two Soviet generals, who displayed a healthy curiosity about U.S. military affairs. On the last night of their captivity, after being driven to the Soviet border village of Akyaka, the two U.S. generals were held up for nine more hours while the Russians tried to get them to sign a protocol admitting that they crossed the border near Ani, implying that they had been snooping along the border. Finally Scherrer wrote on the paper: "We don't know when or where we crossed."

    Back at his base in Ankara, Scherrer, who stopped smoking last August, recalled that one of the Russian majors had remarked to him, "If you go through this without starting again, then you have really stopped." Said Scherrer: "I've stopped all right."


    ORD watcher,9171,905109,00.html
    The Wings of Mao
    Monday, May. 24, 1971

    From the first volley of Peking's Ping Pong diplomacy, rumors began rebounding that the Chinese wanted to buy American-made jets for their state airline. Last week a senior Nixon Administration official confirmed that Peking is "interested" in acquiring 50 to 60 medium-range Boeing 727s. Boeing executives say that they have not been in contact with the Chinese but would be receptive to any inquiry. They could certainly use the extra sales.

    Western intelligence analysts reckon that China is about to embark on a major expansion of domestic—and eventually international—air service. Soviet and British (Hawker Siddeley) sales teams are already in Peking offering attractive credit terms on medium-range jets; the French are also said to be in the running. Mao's wingmen will no doubt play one competitor off against another to get the best deal. In addition to buying directly from a manufacturer, the Chinese may consider picking up secondhand 727s or 707s from Western airlines.

    A number of enterprising U.S. middlemen, some of whom operate out of Texas, have been in touch with Peking about arranging sales of 727s. Jetliners and other high-technology products are still on a list of goods forbidden by the U.S. Government for export to China. But a new list—now being drafted jointly by the Departments of State, Defense, Treasury, Commerce and Agriculture—is expected to be more permissive.

    China is presently making do with a superannuated collection of 198 Russian and British propeller and turboprop planes. It recently bought four used British Trident jets from Pakistan, but crews to fly them are still in training. The mainland's own aircraft industry is unequipped to make commercial jets. Production is limited to a small number of helicopters and singleengine, ten-passenger biplanes at the State Aircraft Factory in Mukden, and a few four-passenger seaplanes at the Flying Dragon Machine Works in Shanghai.

    The state airline, Wang Sou-Tai, stitches major Chinese cities together with infrequent service, but offers only four international flights a week. China's only other air links to the outside world are a once-a-week Air France flight from Shanghai to Paris, Pakistan International's two flights a week from Karachi to Shanghai and Canton, and scheduled Aeroflot service between Moscow and Peking. Two U.S. airlines—American and United ("Fly the Friendly Skies . . .")—have recently applied to the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board for permission to serve China. Three others—Pan Am, TWA and Northwest—have long had CAB approval, but still face the Chinese red light.