Those beautiful roses from Ecuador? The fresh lobsters from Canada's Maritimes on your plate, just hours old? How about your new smartphone from Shenzhen? They all enjoyed a flight in a cargo plane, part of the remarkable logistics web that transports goods from destinations around the globe.
There was a time when smartphones weren’t smart, and you still dialed a call. Connectivity meant that you knew how to hook up a turntable and a cassette deck to the stereo, and bandwidth was the size of the elastic in your sweat pants. Then, in the 1980s, personal computers and mobile cellular phones disrupted the tech landscape, and airline passengers started seeing Airfone handsets in the cabin.
Self-driving. Autonomous. AI-powered. Driver-assistance enabled. No matter what you call it, or how you feel about it, you’re on the road to having an electronic co-pilot - or perhaps an autopilot – help you drive your car, or navigate your way through an airport.
It's the middle of the night in the sleepy French town of Lévignac, in the countryside just outside of Toulouse. There are people lined up along the town's main road, waiting for a parade to begin. But there are no marching bands or decorated floats at this 1 a.m. event. Instead, a convoy of six trucks appears, each pulling an enormous trailer carrying a massive component of the world's largest passenger airliner, the Airbus A380.
Sitting in the terminal building waiting to be called for our flight is a regular occurrence for most of us -- but what's really going on out there on the ramp while we're inside staring at our phones? The jet that will carry you to your destination has likely just arrived from somewhere else. When it lands, it'll undergo a turnaround, changing from an arriving to a departing flight.
"This is not an ordinary flight," says veteran Air Canada Captain Dave Butler. "We're going to have some fun today." Air Canada had taken a 787 Dreamliner out of normal operation to be an actual runway model for its new corporate rebrand during a complex two-day photo shoot. The final product is pure glamor, but the meticulous creation is a side of the airline industry few get to see.