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Aviation Web Sites                   back to TTN home page
and Other Confrontations
no - it's not a hairpiece, just a bad haircut
by Joe Harkins - May 12, 99

    I'm a confronter to a degree that is almost self-destructive. I've challenged street thieves in the act, argued with cops trying to enforce non-existent laws and on one occasion spent a few weeks in a tropical island's military prison, put there in a vain effort to prevent me from publishing details of local corruption.

    Yes, I'm reckless. Why, on one occasion, without any intention of marrying, I even told a redhead I loved her, a foolhardy and potentially fatal act. Fortunately, she didn't believe me, thus sparing herself a lot of grief.

    Then on the other hand, when it comes to riding in an airplane, I'll avoid any information that might upset me. Only loyalty to you, the faithful reader, gives me courage to visit the distressingly detailed accident reports on Aviation Safety Network. Of course, some would suggest that this unwillingness to be informed is yet another example of living dangerously.

    This year I can get away with that. As reported in a recent issue of Aviation International News, federal agencies that gather the data said that the previous 12 month period was, in terms of accidents and fatalities per miles flown, one of the safest on record for both commercial and private aviation. So the only other flying-related questions to be avoided, if that's the right attitude, are how well an airline serves its passengers on the ground, in the air and, of course, on the Internet.

    It's going to be difficult to sustain that blissful ignorance given the wealth of information available online about the air transportation industry. Still, there are a surprising number of sorry web presentations in a field where one expects meticulous organization. As someone once said, "There are old pilots and there are careless pilots, but there are no old, careless pilots."

    Aviation Internet Resources has been touted as "the Yahoo.com of aviation," but I don't think so. For one thing, AIR should give up the assumption that everyone using their fixed-width site has a monitor set for 800 X 600 pixels. Too many users have to scroll left to right, just to see the whole page.

    Then there's the matter of navigation. When I clicked on AIR's non-standard (not underlined) link to "Airline Web Sites - the most complete directory of airline web sites," I was taken, not to a directory, but to a search engine form that was about as useful as a coach-class footrest. Searches for Delta, American and Continental produced only error messages.

    AirJet Airline World News also seems to have a tremendous amount of aviation information and hundreds of links to industry web sites but it's virtually useless. Unfamiliar names and abbreviations need to be arranged into more informative categories and/or clarified with brief descriptions. AirJet's chaotic mess creates a suspicion that the site was built by one of those people who invented the system for losing luggage.

    Don't be overly impressed that the web address for the Dow Jones Business Directory page of airline web site reviews seems longer than a ticket counter line the day before a national holiday. They've got it right in terms of navigation and an elegant format but the list of airlines is disappointingly short and the reviews are too old to be relevant. (*see footnote)

    A better site for the same info, and more, is Plane Business. It neatly and comprehensively fulfills its claim of being "The Airline Industry Business and Financial Site". Likewise, the News Alert file of minute-by-minute avbiz news bulletins and press releases is another excellent resource hidden behind a very long address.

    Finally, the best of all in appearance, organization and sheer volume of accessible information about airplanes, the companies that own them and the folks who fly them is Smilin' Jack. The comic strip artwork on which the site is based was created 66 years ago. The modern site does updated honor to that heritage.

    If you are looking for virtually anything related to aviation, Smilin' Jack is a site for soar eyes.

-30-

 
*Footnote - 05/15/99: The Editor of the DJBD site has written that he does not agree that his reviews are out of date. Readers are invited to look at the site and and decide for themselves. He also believes the tone of this week's column is too negative. Your feedback either to me privately or in the Forum is welcome.

Late Flights (additional resources for the serious aviation researcher but which were not covered in the print version of the above column. These may be of interest to those who want to know what goes on inside the hanger, the cockpit and the airline home office.)

Speed News This fee-based newsletter provides 90-100 two line bulletins about aircraft orders and transactions, mergers and acquisitions, airline news, supplier news and contracts, statistics, airport news, and new product developments. For more depth on those items, I suggest Aviation International News. (disclosure: over the past four or five years I've regularly been a Contributing Editor of AIN's monthly issues and/or one of its Air Show issues.)

Resource Central - -Lots of aviation links, compactly organized.

Economics of Aviation Industry - This site may interest those thinking of investing in aviation but I cannot vouch for the accuracy of either the information or the forecasts.

Air & Space Magazine - A colorful and interesting publication.

Airports Council Industry Links - Links to regulatory agencies and trade associations in aviation.

Aircraft World Gateway - a search engine and database of just about every aviation resource you might imagine.

LogisticsZone Air Carrier Links - another aviation database and directory

AecoSpan List - a directory of links with a European emphasis

Links to Aviation Magazines - links to a few dozen magazines (print and online) but still is far from comprehensive.

Air Data Research - maintains the largest collection of historical databases of aviation safety and mechanical reliability information in the world. Some of the information offered for sale is available, at least in part, from free online resources or through various governmental agencies, but if you need comprehensive and authoritative data, you'll want it professionally researched. Just remember that free advice is only worth what you pay for it.

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