News and notes from around the interweb:
- Sign up for American’s small business program and one flight can earn you a confirmed domestic upgrade.
- United sometimes offers to sell you miles at different prices, always compare. In related news, people don’t trust used car salesmen.
- LOT Polish adds Star Alliance award options to Tel Aviv
- Alaska Airlines: What’s happening behind the scenes before your flight
- Aer Lingus has really cool new onboard coffee. It doesn’t solve the fundamental problem though of the water they’re making the coffee from.
- Mind-numbing bureaucracy at the FAA that slows down progress on air traffic control modernization and drives up costs, from Air Traffic Control Reform News:
“Reforming FAA Acquisitions.”..took an outside look at NextGen and FAA’s “reformed” Acquisition Management System. Here is one excerpt from this assessment:
“Compounding the problem of fielding NextGen and other major ATC upgrades is an ineffective procurement system known as AMS . . . . designed to give the agency greater flexibility in acquiring products and services…the exact opposite happened as FAA tried to build procurement rules from scratch.
“…AMS became a bureaucratic quagmire. To award a contract, FAA has codified many lengthy steps—each involving complex procedures and large numbers of federal and vendor employees who must develop customized materials for each step in the process. …workable, less-expensive, and commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions do not fit the AMS model. Virtually all [ATC] equipment is now available in the marketplace and could be purchased accordingly. FAA has never accepted a COTS solution, perhaps due to the fact that they would need to reduce the number of acquisition employees.
…FAA churns out detailed contract specifications that in some cases have thousands of requirements, the majority of which have little to do with evaluating the equipment or services in the tender. Companies spend years and millions of dollars trying to meet these specifications and conducting the endless testing associated with them to successfully deliver a system.”
Lest you think that’s hyperbole… [as a 20 year FAA systems engineer explains,]
“…they continue to define new JRC artifacts that must be developed to get through the process, each artifact coming with a list of reviewers and approvers, any of whom can slow things down by ‘adding their value’ via additional comments and exit criteria… so much of the funding intended to get work done is expended bouncing around in the approval process matrix for years.
Each acquisition process stage…can take a year or more. Even though the process is theoretically ‘tailorable,’ it is difficult to get tailoring approved, because so many entities are able to non-concur. When one’s raison d’etre is the execution of an acquisition hoop, one is loathe to say that hoop is unnecessary.”
- A Flybe plane suffered a landing gear collapse on arrival in Edinburgh on Thursday evening (HT: One Mile at a Time). Here’s video from inside the aircraft: