September 26, 2016

Twente gets European drone testing area

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 10:21 pm

Enschede Airport Twente, close to the German border and little flight activity, now has a test location called Space53 for drones and UAVs. It’s apparently the first airport in Europe that allows drones to be tested in ‘complex environments and situations’. Nokia already plans to test Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Traffic Management systems (UTM) there.

Space53 is a collaboration between businesses and the public sector in the region of Twente. Besides an airport and various spaces for research, development and testing UAVs, schools and universities have joined in. They’ve already had some swarming tests where a bunch of drones fly together and collaborate in the event of a calamity.

Fun fact: When the notary public wrote up the transfer deed for the airbase after WWII, he apparently had had one too many and it accidentally wrote ‘Twenthe’ instead of Twente, which is still written this way today by the local flying club.

(Link:, Photo of Drone by Karen Axelrad, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

July 2, 2016

KLM to serve Heineken draught beer on flights

Filed under: Aviation,Dutch first,Food & Drink by Orangemaster @ 8:42 pm


Two years ago Heineken developed the Brewlock tap system, which addresses the issue of delivering draught beer at the right level of carbonation. And if KLM is to serve beer high up in the air, it needs to be tapped properly and not spray out of the keg due to a lack of carbonation.

The system will be fitted onto a trolley for serving and will be pre-cooled before takeoff and then kept cool for a maximum of eight hours with insulating material. KLM plans to serve beer on tap on a few selected flights and then eventually roll it out.

Roll out the barrel, and we’ll have a barrel of fun – in the air.

(Link:, photo by Steven Straiton, some rights reserved)

Tags: , ,

May 23, 2016

Plane spotters rush to Leeuwarden for European JSF debut

Filed under: Aviation,Dutch first by Orangemaster @ 3:29 pm

In about four hours, the city of Leeuwarden, Friesland will be welcoming two F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, which will stay in the Netherlands for three weeks. The JSF is the successor to the F16 (shown here), which has been flying in the country since 1979.

The Ministry of Defense says it’s time for the residents near the airfields of Leeuwarden and Volkel, Noord-Brabant to experience what they sound like because in 2019 the first bunch of F-35 will be coming to stay. According to the Ministry, it is the first time this type of aircraft has been flown from the United States to Europe, which is why Leeuwarden expects one or two thousand plane spotters from around Europe to come and watch the show.

For all of you who can’t make it, watch it live thanks to this handy stream brought to you by the Ministry of Defense:


Tags: , , ,

March 31, 2016

KLM passengers can check in using Facebook Messenger

Filed under: Aviation,Dutch first,Online by Orangemaster @ 6:00 am


As of March 30 KLM has been letting its passengers check in online using Facebook Messenger. Passengers can get their boarding cards and flight information as well as ask KLM any questions they may have directly instead of having to use Twitter or post their story on KLM’s Facebook page for all to read. A boarding pass that used to have to be sent per e-mail or text message can now be sent by Messenger.

Although a world premiere in aviation, we’re calling this a Dutch first because car service Uber was the first company to use Messenger. You can now order an Uber as you land at Schiphol if you wanted to. In the future, other companies will follow suit as well, according to Facebook. KLM is also talking to WhatsApp, owned by Facebook, to extend their services.

(Link:, Photo: Steven Straiton, some rights reserved)

Tags: ,

January 22, 2016

Airport baggage car gets lost in Antwerp

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 11:46 am

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of jokes and less funnier stories about lost bags, but this fine film should make you smile: a baggage car from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport gets lost like a tourist in Antwerp.

It’s an advertising stunt for Schiphol because “Schiphol, is closer than you think.” The baggage car is driving through the main square, attracting all kinds of attention. The Dutch driver goes around asking how to get to Schiphol. Some people were helpful with instructions like “drive along the Schelde”, the river that runs in Antwerp, and “keep on for two kilometres then ask again”.

The makers also claim that Antwerp is only an hour train ride way, but that’s with the expensive Thalys train, as there are no normal trains running between Antwerp and Schiphol, a well-known headache for years now. The normal train service between Brussels and Amsterdam that also includes Antwerp and Schiphol is not a direct service and is still a mess (dated article, but gives you an idea).

Then again, Brussels Airport, aka Zaventem, is closer, so why go to Schiphol I wonder, especially if your baggage gets lost in a foreign country.


Tags: , , , ,

December 1, 2015

Spencer the robot helps airport passengers get around

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 12:03 pm

Yesterday Schiphol Airport started tests with a robot to help passengers find their gates, which are often missed due to short transfer times, delayed flights, problems getting around the airport and language barriers.

Spencer the autonomous robot guide (see picture in the link) was designed by the University of Twente together with European partners from Sweden, France, Germany and Switzerland for KLM. The robot won’t drive into a group of travellers, but wait calmly until that group approaches it. “Spencer needs to be able to recognise group behaviour and obstacles, such as baggage trolleys as well as respond to unforeseen situations”. Tests are being carried out this week and won’t involve actual passengers just yet, something that will be done in March 2016 with a new and improved Spencer.

I happened to land at Schiphol yesterday on a day where it had closed down all but one runway due to very strong winds. On my flight, which left and hour and fifteen minutes behind schedule and had us in a turbulent holding pattern above Schiphol, many passengers had already missed their connections or had very short transfer times. I can imagine that when you’re in a rush to get the right answer, a robot may not be able to pick up on your stress, a bit like the photocopier that senses your panic and just won’t print. Then you’d want to talk to a human, as already postulated earlier this year by the University of Twente: “a social robot with an overly human appearance creates an unrealistic sense of expectation for most Dutch people”.

(Link:, screenshot from the video Smart Homes)

Tags: , , , , ,

November 25, 2015

Schiphol train station to be renamed in December

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 11:36 am

Dutch Rail has announced that on 14 December it will be changing the name of the train station Schiphol, the national airport station often pronounced ‘Skip-pole’, to Schiphol Airport which will help travellers identify it better as an airport, including a wee airplane pictogram to make it perfectly clear.

One wonders why Dutch Rail didn’t think of that ages ago, as Schiphol is more often than not referred to as Amsterdam Airport Schiphol just like it says on the building or Amsterdam Airport. After all the Netherlands has Eindhoven Airport and Rotterdam The Hague Airport, and many more with that formulation.

The history of the name Schiphol (literally ‘ship hole’ or ‘ship grave’) is interesting as it is unclear and based on theories. No ship wrecks were found when the land was reclaimed. The name could have possibly been related to the portaging of ships, dragging them from one body of water to another or having to do with a ‘hol’ that is a ‘low lying are of land’, as in ‘Holland’.

Using the name Schiphol for airplanes in Dutch is as amusing as using the word ‘shipping’ for sending parcels nowadays that doesn’t involve any ships.


Tags: , , , ,

November 8, 2015

Life’s a beach and then you rename it

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 7:56 pm


In 2013 marketing geniuses in Amsterdam decided to call the coastal cities of IJmuiden, Bloemendaal and Zandvoort ‘Amsterdam Beach’, and nobody calls it that because it doesn’t make any sense, geographically or otherwise.

Another bunch of marketing geniuses are contemplating calling the historical beach of Scheveningen ‘The Hague Beach’ to attract more tourists, a change already implemented on the district’s English Wikipedia page. They argue that The Hague has 11 kilometres of beach that ‘nobody knows about’, as if pronouncing ‘Scheveningen’, admittedly not easy, was the problem. The Hague is really called ‘s-Gravenhage’ and was simplified in Dutch to Den Haag, but that hasn’t stopped anybody ever.

Not far from The Hague, but way closer to Rotterdam is Rotterdam The Hague Airport, which was historical called Zestienhoven because that’s where the airport actually is. It was later renamed Rotterdam Airport and finally Rotterdam The Hague Airport to give it more international appeal. Nobody cares.

According to, the Minister of Internal Affairs, Ronal Plasterk, born and raised in Scheveningen said in a tweet: “Slippery slope: I was born in Scheveningen, not at The Hague Beach”, to which the city marketing spinners retorted that The Hague Beach is just what we’ll tell tourists, which is as condescending as sounds. Foreign nationals, historians and locals hate the idea. The city’s website still calls it The beach of Scheveningen, which almost sounds like painting by Adriaen van de Velde.

(Link:, Twitter @ShakeAtOrion)

Tags: , , , , ,

July 30, 2015

Aircraft that could fly Amsterdam to Perth non-stop

Filed under: Aviation,Design by Orangemaster @ 1:34 pm


KLM and Delft University of Technology have presented designs for an aircraft that could transport passengers non-stop from Europe to Australia. It looks like a flying squirrel swallowed a hammerhead shark and then an Airbus or a Boeing, you choose.

This AHEAD (Advanced Hybrid Engine Aircraft Development) aircraft, would carry 300 passengers over 14,000 kilometres, about the distance from Amsterdam to Perth. Its design features two sets of wings – a small pair by the nose and a large set at the rear – that blend into the body. The team also proposes a hybrid engine to replace conventional turbofan engines.

KLM has previously worked with Dutch designers Hella Jongerius and Marcel Wanders to create cabin interiors and tableware.

(Link and photo:

Tags: , ,

June 10, 2015

The art of noise reduction at Schiphol Airport

Filed under: Aviation,Design,Sustainability by Orangemaster @ 2:11 pm


Visual artist Paul de Kort was asked a few years ago to design the Buitenschot land art park, a huge 33-hectare park with a series of ribbed hedges and ditches surrounded by trees that form a noise-reduction green space right off Schiphol Airport’s biggest runway, the Polderbaan. Sadly, you can’t see the park from the air and that would partially explain why I’ve never noticed it before.

The airplane noise experienced by nearby residents is mostly low frequency ground noise that radiates backwards in an oblique fashion from planes during take-off, and De Kort’s aesthetic yet functional park of furrows was inspired by 17th century German acoustic techniques as well as local farming techniques.

Completed in October 2013 Buitenschot features small parks, bike paths and foot paths. De Kort also incorporated art pieces that drew on the history of the project, like the ‘Listening Ear,’ a parabolic dish on a small pyramid one can stand in that amplifies ambient sound, echoing the park’s noise reduction purpose and a diamond-shaped lake where visitors can create ripple patterns on the water surface while standing on a bridge equipped with a wave generating device.


Tags: , , ,

Older posts »