Destination of the Week
Welcome to our new DOTW series, Happy Birthday To Us. Indeed, on 10 November, Platinum Airways will celebrate its fifth birthday, as that was the day on which we registered our domain, www.platinumairways.org. Not a .com domain, and that choice describes our philosophy. Happy Birthday To Us will take you to five important phases that have shaped Platinum Airways to what it is today: the leading Open Skies virtual airline that focuses on its pilots (and not itself). Those five phases will take us to our five hubs: KDFW, CYVR, YPPH, EBBR and KEWR.
The concept of our VA was born in the weeks before we registered our domain. Two virtual pilots got together and decided to launch a VA. The first question was where it would position itself: there were hundreds of VAs already at that point, and in orde to be successful, the new VA would have to offer something unique. In our analysis, most VAs focused either on mimicking a real-world airline's operations or on itself. VAs that allowed its pilots to determine how and when to fly without any real restrictions, were very few. We thought that that would be a good start.
If we were going to stay clear of real-world or self-centered VAs, we would have to reflect this philosophy in our VA's name. At the same time, we also wanted our name to express excellence. Platinum Airways was withheld for several reasons: it is the highest frequent flyer status with a major airline, there was no real-world airline with that name and the domain was available on the Internet. VAs stand or fall with their website and we deliberately opted for platinumairways.ORG, because we did not want to be seen as a commercial operation.
Next was a long planning phase: corporate house style, website structure and implementation, fleet, PIREP system, hub selection, etc. We were very fortunate that we could draw upon the services of a talented website designer and developer who, although he had never before designed a VA website, understood perfectly what we wanted to achieve and translated our philosophy into reality. For those aircraft that we could not repaint ourselves, we obtained the cooperation of the best repainters in the business, such as Sean Kneppers, Marco Fischbach and Christian Mohr. Eventually, as experience grew, we are now self-catering as far as repaints are concerned. On 15 June 2010, we finally reached the point where we could go live. Platinum Airways was airborne.
VAs can only survive and grow when they allow themselves to evolve. Later in 2010, we put a name to our philosophy: Open Skies. And our mission statement still stands strong today: Platinum Airways is the Open Skies virtual airline that allows its pilots to fly the mission of choice with the aircraft of choice at the time of choice. We currently have 147 registered and active members - pilots wo do not file their first PIREP within a month or successive PIREPs within three months are deactivated. But membership statistics are less important to us than our pilots' combined experience of Open Skies with real friendship that is achieved via our forums.
Over to our first Happy Birthday To Us DOTW now. When we selected our hubs, we tried to achieve a good mix with our hubs around the globe. Our first destination is the busiest hub by far of them all, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (KDFW), the primary international airport serving the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex in the U.S. state of Texas. KDFW has a total area of 17,207 acres (69.63 km2), making it the second largest in the United States (behind Denver International Airport). It is the third busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements, and the ninth busiest airport in the world by passenger traffic.
As of October 2014, DFW Airport has service to a total of 202 destinations, including 55 international and 147 domestic destinations. In surpassing 200+ total destinations, KDFW joined a select group of airports worldwide with that distinction, including Frankfurt Airport, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, Charles de Gaulle Airport, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Chicago O'Hare International Airport, Munich Airport and Dubai International Airport.
As early as 1927, before the area had an airport, Dallas proposed a joint airport with Fort Worth. Fort Worth declined the offer, and thus the two cities opened their own airports, Love Field and Meacham Field, which each had scheduled airline service.
In 1940 the Civil Aeronautics Administration earmarked $1.9 million for the construction of a Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport. American Airlines and Braniff Airways struck a deal with the city of Arlington to build an airport there, but the governments of Dallas and Fort Worth disagreed over its construction and the project was abandoned in 1942. The joint airport proposal was revisited in 1961 after the FAA refused to invest more money in separate Dallas and Fort Worth airports. Although the Fort Worth airport was eventually abandoned, Dallas Love Field became congested and had no more room to expand. Following a federal government order in 1964, officials from the two cities finally agreed on a location for a new regional airport that was north of the abandoned GSW and almost equidistant from the two city centers. The land was purchased by both cities in 1966, and construction began in 1969.
Under the original 1967 airport design, KDFW was to have pier-shaped terminals perpendicular to a central highway. In 1968, the design was revised to provide for semicircular terminals, which served to isolate loading and unloading areas from the central highway, and to provide additional room for parking in the middle of each semicircle. There were a total of thirteen such terminals in the original airport plan, but only four were initially built.
KDFW held an open house and dedication ceremony on September 20–23, 1973, which included the first landing of a supersonic Concorde in the United States, an Air France aircraft en route from Caracas to Paris. The airport opened for commercial service as Dallas/Fort Worth Regional Airport on January 13, 1974, at a cost of USD 700 million. The name change to Dallas/Fort Worth International did not occur until 1985.
In 1989 the airport authority announced plans to rebuild the existing terminals and add two runways. After an environmental impact study was released the following year, the cities of Irving, Euless, and Grapevine sued the airport over its extension plans, a battle that was finally decided (in favor of the airport) by the US Supreme Court in 1994. The seventh runway opened in 1996. The 4 primary North-South runways (those closest to the terminals) were all lengthened from 11,388 feet (3,471 m) to their present length of 13,400 feet (4,084 m). The first, 17R/35L, was extended in 1996 (at the same time the new runway was constructed), and the other three (17C/35C, 18L/36R, and 18R/36L) were extended in 2005. DFW is now the only airport in the world with 4 serviceable paved runways longer than 4,000 metres (13,123 ft).
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport has five terminals totaling 165 gates. The airport is designed with expansion in mind, and can theoretically accommodate up to thirteen terminals totaling 260 gates, although this level of expansion is unlikely to be reached in the foreseeable future. The terminals at DFW are semicircular (except for the newest terminal, Terminal D, which is a "square U" shape). KDFW's terminals are designed to minimize the distance between a passenger's car and airplane as well as reduce traffic around terminals. A consequence of this layout is that connecting passengers had to walk extremely long distances between gates. The original people mover train (Airtrans APM, later the American Airlines TrAAin) which opened with the airport was notoriously slow and was replaced by SkyLink in April 2005 after serving approximately 250 million passengers.
KDFW has 7 runways:
13L/31R, 9,000 ft, 2,743 m
13R/31L, 9,301 ft, 2,834 m
17C/35C, 13,401 ft, 4,085 m
17L/35R, 8,500 ft, 2,590 m
17R/35L, 13,401 ft, 4,085 m
18L/36R, 13,400 ft, 4,085 m
18R/36L, 13,400 ft, 4,085 m
Live flight tracking is available here.
We can guide you to charts and scenery files.
We have selected four videos on YouTube. We'll start with a Citation about to land at RWY17C.
Next, we have a similar aircraft landing from the opposite direction.
And let's do some plate spotting now.
And we end with another flight deck recording: a departure from RWY18L.
That's all for this week. Next week, we'll start looking into some of our airline's features and how they developed.