Straight & Level 21 January

When Pan Am’s Juan Tripped JFK
What happened when JFK discovered that the USA’s bluest-chip airline was shunning the country’s supersonic project in favour of Concorde? A furious phone conversation between the President and a member of his cabinet – recently declassified and released – illustrates the anguish felt in the White House about the fact that Europe was beating the USA to develop a faster-than-sound commercial transport.
In the 4 June 1963 call with Secretary of the Treasury
C Douglas Dillon, Kennedy expresses outrage after finding out that Pan Am founder Juan Trippe has ordered the Anglo-French airliner just before Boeing was due to announce its own supersonic programme, the 2707 – something the airline boss was aware of.
“Have you seen what Juan Trippe did?” rages the President. “How could he do that when he knew we were about to go ahead?” He considers asking the Pan Am chief to cancel the order: “I think that he ought to retract that thing.”
Kennedy is almost speechless at the fact that Pan Am seems to have timed its announcement to pre-empt the President’s own launch of the US supersonic programme. “He knew the United States…my God, I had it in my speech for tomorrow.” And also that the Pan Am deal could doom the American development – something that was designed, as JFK says, to “put the United States up in the lead in the 1970s”. JFK, posthumously, of course, won that other great technological race of the 1960s – to the Moon – although beating the Soviets rather than Europe.
And, while Pan Am never ended up buying Conc, perhaps rather fittingly the airport from which the supersonic transport departed on its last flight in 2003 bears his name.

No sign of A380
What should we read into the fact that the A380 is absent from the new Airbus Group (formerly EADS) “Stars have aligned” advertisement? The other signature products are there – the Ariane launcher, A350 and A320, A400M, Eurofighter Typhoon and a Dauphin helicopter. But no sign of what was once touted as Toulouse’s flagship type. Is it a sign of how Airbus views the superjumbo’s sales prospects?
Talking of which, the guys in charge of the customer stickers on demonstration aircraft need to get peeling. As John Leahy was confirming that Airbus was finally knocking the five A380 orders from Kingfisher off the backlog, the A380 parked just outside the delivery centre was still proudly carrying the logo of the beleaguered Indian airline.

Dublin up
Emirates (not an airline any more apparently, according to its latest Yuckspeak-ish press release, but a “global connector of people and places”) is adding a second daily flight between Dubai and the Irish capital. In other words, doublin’ Dublin.
What next? triplin’ Tripoli?

Just take a peak
After two Ethiopian 767 pilots lost their way to Kilimanjaro and wound up landing at the tiny Arusha airport, the Tanzanian board of inquiry has issued a set of helpful safety recommendations.
“Flight crew should familiarise themselves with geographical features surrounding airports of operation,” says the ministry of transport in a bulletin issued after the 18 December incident.
One useful geographical tip for recognising Kilimanjaro airport is, of course, the presence of Africa’s tallest and most famous mountain, which can normally be found next to the runway. No more clues.


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