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:

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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.


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June 8, 2015

Google, KLM and government favourites with Dutch students

Filed under: Aviation,Food & Drink,General,IT,Technology by Branko Collin @ 10:09 pm

klm-plane-steven-straitonSwedish marketing agency Universum has been polling Dutch students on who they want to work for after graduation.

A whopping 12,000 students from 32 universities and polytechnics were asked about their career preferences. Major Dutch companies such as Philips, Shell, KLM, Heineken and Endemol were named, but large American companies such as Google and Apple also made their appearance.

Both law and arts & humanities students named the national government as their preferred employer, followed by Google for the former and KLM for the latter. Business students like KLM and Google the best, engineering and physics students prefer Google, followed by Philips.

Compared to last year, TNO, Coca-Cola, IKEA and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek failed to make the top 5 in any of the categories.

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

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December 16, 2014

Toy airplane box bad salute to Twin Towers

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 11:34 am


The Zeeman bargain items chain is recalling some 8,000 boxes of toy airplanes as they depict New York’s City destroyed Twin Towers. According to a spokesperson, the toys were made in China and had been properly tested, but the picture on the box got under the radar. The right wing of the Lufthansa plane seems to be missing as well.

The photo shows two airplanes, one imitating a Lufthansa airplane from Germany and the other flying way too low, too close to the Twin Towers and too close to another airplane to be just a casual stock photo on a box. If I were Lufthansa, I wouldn’t be too thrilled about being associated with a terrorist attack.

(Link:, Photo: Zeeman folder)

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August 8, 2014

Cabin pressure for Ryanair at Eindhoven Airport

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 12:33 pm


On 4 August, Eindhoven Airport decided to close for air traffic at 15:45 sharp and hold a ceremony for the C130 aircraft bringing back more bodies from flight MH17 shot down in Ukraine.

A Ryanair pilot on approach to the airport at 15:32 got turned away by air traffic control (ATC) and told there would be a one hour delay for landing, which eventually forced the plane to divert. The pilot told the tower that they planned to get in on time between 15:30 and 15:40, a flight plan that was approved beforehand. When refused landing, the pilot got upset. A former Dutch pilot recorded the verbal volley and a YouTube controversy was born.

The former pilot completely understands the Ryanair pilot’s frustration who did everything he could to land his plane on time before the airport closed. For the many people on the Internet who hate Ryanair, it would be too easy to say that the pilot had no respect for the dead, which Ryanair says is not the case, and why would it be. The pilot was very much on time and if we believe what we hear, ATC isn’t really giving them a good excuse as to why they couldn’t land before 15:45 besides letting us assume that the events were not very well coordinated, as echoed by the pilot.

Perhaps the pilot could have stopped arguing earlier and just diverted as instructed, but not trying to land the plane with an approved flight plan would have also made him and Ryanair look bad. I can imagine it was easier to try and convince ATC since they weren’t saying why they couldn’t land, which probably would have appeased the pilot and given him something to pass on to the passengers, so that they wouldn’t blame Ryanair. I don’t see why the tower didn’t say ‘sorry we messed up, please understand’ and get Ryanair to divert instead of stubbornly not giving the pilot a straight answer. The Airport could have also easily closed for more time than they needed considering the circumstances. Bad communication all around, with a distinct hint of cultural differences.

(Links:,, Photo of a dress-up co-pilot clearly sitting in the wrong seat)

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June 27, 2014

Dutch detect major flaw in airplane autopilot system

Filed under: Aviation by Orangemaster @ 11:03 am

The Dutch Safety Board has detected a pattern of aircraft autopilot systems misinterpreting radio signals given by airport instrument landing system (ILS), which has led to minor incidents so far, but could lead to disaster if not addressed. And just like computer programmers trying to reproduce bugs to be able to identify a problem, the Dutch Safety Board ordered test flights and were able to reproduce the dangerous conditions that were unknown to the international aviation community until now.

On May 31, 2013 a Boeing 737-800 landing at Eindhoven airport was given instructions to land, and as usual, upon approach it switched on the autopilot for ILS landings, which uses radio signals: one type of signal says ‘pitch up’ and another says ‘pitch down’. Due to the steeper than usual approach of the Boeing, the autopilot went ‘pitch up’ instead of ‘pitch down’, while the plane already had the brakes on, the landing gear out and was decreasing its speed, a recipe for stalling the plane. The pilots took control of the plane, did a go-around, and safely landed the aircraft with the autopilot off.

In this case and other similar incidents elsewhere with different planes, the crew had a limited response time to disconnect the autopilot and recover the aircraft, a potentially dangerous situation according to the Dutch Safety Board. About 1,500 to 2,000 major runways worldwide use an ILS, while planes all around the world use an autopilot system that has this glitch.

Someone’s fear of flying just got real, but not mine though, I love flying.

If you want real details, watch this English-language video:


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November 19, 2013

Dutch student addicted to travelling

Filed under: Aviation,Weird by Orangemaster @ 8:00 am

The Germans refer to it as ‘Wanderlust’, and the technical term is dromomania, “an uncontrollable psychological urge to wander”. Dutch tax law student Valentijn Kuperus is not only constantly on the go, but tries to do it as cheaply as possible. I can imagine that if you’re on a student budget and have the urge to travel that saving money as well as planning is something you excel at very quickly. And what a lawyer he is going to make, but he’ll never be in his office.

Kuperus knows all about saving air miles, bonus programs and travel sites. He has learned all about online travel booking by spending three to four hours a day looking for deals. Last month Kuperus flew to in Abu Dhabi, UAE and Cape Town, South Africa. However, he spent all of 90 minutes in Abu Dhabi, but was very happy to accumulate thousands of frequent flyer miles by stopping there.

Simply put, Kuperus is clearly addicted to travel and needs it like a fix, a lot like a record collector needs to constantly dig crates to score a great record for next to no money.

Contrary to most of us who like to fly as directly as possible to our destination, Kuperus would rather pile up as many layovers as possible because that’s how he can score the most points to then be able to travel some more. He has even taken flights that earn him more air miles than they cost. He once landed a deal flying from Paris to Sri Lanka for 7,50 euro, a mistake on the part of the airline and a great find for him.

Kuperus has already visited 57 countries, with about 11 more coming up soon. His passport is so full of stamps that he needs to get a new one every two years. This year’s Christmas trip reads as follows: Brussels-Ljubljana-Istanbul-Cairo-Abu Dhabi-Bangkok-Singapore-Beijing-Seoul-Taipei-Ho Chi Minh City-Taipei-Hong Kong-Amsterdam.

He plans to do some studying while flying as well. He has good travel tips on his frequent flyer blog.


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October 19, 2013

Fence surfing and the jet blast decision

Filed under: Aviation by Branko Collin @ 1:23 pm

A popular tourist activity on the Caribbean volcano island of Sint Maarten is fence surfing.

As you can see in the photo the runway of Princess Juliana International Airport starts right behind Maho Beach. Fence surfing is holding on to the fence that separates the runway from the beach and waiting for planes to take off in order to experience the jet blast.

In 2000 a Swiss woman by the name of Hartmann was blown onto a rock and injured. Instead of accepting that exposing yourself to the forces of a Boeing 747’s engines may not be the smartest thing she could have done, she sued the airport. Part of her complaint was that the signs which read “Warning! Low flying and departing aircraft blast can cause physical injury!” weren’t clear enough. Dutch courts usually have little patience with stupidity and so the complaint was rejected.

Mrs Hartmann took the case all the way to the Dutch Supreme Court which surprisingly agreed with her on the issue of signage. In what came to be known as the Jet Blast Decision the Supreme Court argued that “in order to decide if a warning can be considered a sufficient protection against a certain danger, it has to be determined if the warning will lead to either an action or the abstinence of an action that will avert the danger”.

The sign has been changed since then. Law professor Edgar du Perron points out in a recent online lecture at Universiteit van Nederland (a cross between MIT OpenCourseWare and TED Talks) that a further problem, one the new sign shares with the old one, is that the sign is attached to the fence—when people see warning signs attached to fences, they assume that the danger is on the other side of the fence.

Recently a curb was added to the beach because the jet blasts were eroding it. Although this prevents tourists from slamming into the rocks directly behind the wall, these days the tourists slam into the wall (warning: graphic video and stupid comments).

(Photo by Alljengi, some rights reserved)

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May 22, 2013

Spending the night in revamped trams and trains

Filed under: Automobiles,Aviation,Design,Music,Weird by Orangemaster @ 9:02 pm

Named after a house that is in turn named after the Prince album Controversy, the Controversy Tram Inn in Hoogwoud, North Holland features overnight stays for the entire family in city trams and railcars converted into five rooms. As well, there are all kinds of other vehicles strewn throughout their farm estate.

Frank and Irma Appel have restored a four-berth train carriage and four themed tram bedrooms in either end of two city centre tram railcars that used to run on the streets of Amsterdam and Germany. You can’t help but join in the lifestyle that Frank and Irma have created! They themselves sleep inside a London Double Decker bus, installed in the living room, and their kitchen and breakfast area is a converted French van. Their house is decorated with cars, and motor paraphernalia.

You can’t miss the house, it has a Mig fighter plane right outside.

(Links:,, Photo: Controversy Inn)

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March 21, 2013

Bijlmer airplane disaster to be made into a fiction film

Filed under: Aviation,Film,History by Orangemaster @ 6:43 pm

After almost 21 years, someone is finally going to film a fictional story about Amsterdam’s world famous ‘Bijlmer disaster’ (‘Bijlmerramp’), where an Israeli cargo plane taking off from Schiphol Airport crashed into two blocks of flats and killed some 40 odd people, wounding many more. The ‘Bijlmer disaster’ is known as the worst aviation disaster in the history of the country.

The plot of the film entitled “Into Thin Air” by Dutch executive producer Maarten van der Ven will be a 50 minute film about a 50-year-old man living in one of the flats whose wife has died. One day a 13-year-old (we don’t know if it is a girl or boy) comes to live with him from Ghana, and just when his life gets better, the plane crashes into their flat.

On 13 April 1999 I came to live in the Netherlands in the flat right in front of this monument, unaware of the entire story. The next day on April 14 while I was unpacking my things with major jetlag, a local camera crew came to the door and asked me in Dutch what I thought of the report on the Bijlmer disaster, which had taken seven years to investigate. I didn’t speak Dutch back then so I just nodded and shooed them away. When my Dutch roommate got home, I told him about the camera crew and he took me to see this tree, the ‘tree that saw it all’, and explained to me what had happened.

(Link:, Photo of Bijlmer disaster memorial by harry_nl, some rights reserved)

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