Posts tagged with "Airlines"

Rain check: The ClimaCell weather app alerts you to when it will rain in your town, down to the minute

August 14, 2019

Is a cloud about to burst in your immediate vicinity? Now there’s an easy and accurate way to find out.

ClimaCell, a four-year-old weather technology company based in Boston, “is on a mission to map all of the weather data in the world—and to become the “default microweather platform of the emerging technology.”

The firm—founded by a team of former military officers from the Harvard Business School and MIT Sloan—launched its weather app on August 12, offering meteorological notifications for exact locations in more than 50 countries.

It promises “street-by-street, minute-by-minute short-term forecasts, according to a report by The Washington Post.

But how does the company provide such on-target, on-time forecasts?

 ClimaCell has developed a global network of weather data that marries traditional observations of pressure, temperature, precipitation and wind with information drawn from wireless signals, satellites, connected cars, airplanes, street cameras, drones and other electronic sources, the Post reports. Millions of pieces of weather data can be derived from these technologies. It’s what the company describes as the “weather of things” (versus “the Internet of things).

This mix of data is fed into ClimaCell’s forecast models, operated in Boulder, Colorado The company created the NowCast model that gives highly specific, minute-by-minute forecasts out to six hours—as well as a longer-term model, known as CBAM, that produces forecasts out to six days.

These models are designed to provide forecasts to help businesses solve problems in which “extra accuracy” is needed, according to CE0 Shimon Elkabetz.

Many of the weather companies operating today, founded in the 1960s and 1970s, just take model forecasts from different governments, blend them, and use statistical techniques to try to make them better. But ClimaCell is creating its forecasts from scratch.

Elkabetz said early results on its accuracy are promising. Compared with government forecasts, “we’ve been able to improve almost every parameter in every time frame,” Elkabetz said.

ClimaCell has also created a software platform that allows its forecasts to be optimized and tuned to customers’ needs. Elkabetz said it can generate forecast output for any weather variable of interest, at any location and at different degrees of specificity.

The forecasts are updated or “refreshed” constantly, which is the “best way” to increase their accuracy, according to Daniel Rothenberg, ClimaCell’s chief scientist. “In our U.S. precipitation NowCast, we refresh [the forecast] end to end in under five minutes,” he told The Washington Post.

By comparison, the U.S. government model used for short-range precipitation prediction, known as the HRRR (high-resolution rapid refresh model) updates hourly.

To date, the company has worked with airlines, energy, and on-demand transportation companies, and even with the New England Patriots. JetBlue, initially a customer, was so impressed by the results that it became an investor.

“We’re trying to become the leading private company in the weather space,” Elkabetz said.

The app is available on the AppStore for iOS devices, and an Android version is to be launched in September. The app is free and does not contain advertisements, but ClimaCell does plan to charge for certain features, such as notifications for precipitation beyond a certain time.

Research contact: @ClimaCell

‘Haute’ cuisine: American Airlines teams with Zoës to offer tasty meals in coach

September 25, 2018

Rarely are the words, “fine food” and “flying” mentioned in the same sentence. In fact, if you sit in coach, the airline meals on offer are usually flat, flavorless—and utterly grody.  But maybe, just maybe, all of that is about to change.

American Airlines announced on September 24  that the company is teaming up with  Zoës Kitchen, a Mediterranean-inspired fast-casual dining chain based in Plano, Texas, to introduce a new food-for-sale menu for customers seated in the main cabin (coach)  that “will offer delicious, light and healthy choices onboard,” the carrier said in an official release.

The new menu, designed in collaboration with Zoës’ Head Chef and Vice President of Culinary Innovation Antonio Iocchi, includes items unique to American Airlines, as well as exclusive Zoës dishes—among them,  signature hummus and The Grüben sandwich.

The new items will be available for purchase on most domestic flights longer than three hours, beginning on December 1.

“Zoës mission to deliver goodness from the inside out and their ‘simple, tasty, fresh’ offerings made it an easy decision to partner with the fast casual, healthy restaurant group,” said Janelle Anderson, VP of Global Marketing for American Airlines. “Our customers have asked for lighter tasty food choices. This collaboration with the expert chefs at Zoës provides an innovative, fresh approach to on-board offerings.”

“Together with American, we are excited to elevate the inflight dining experience and deliver goodness to millions of customers by offering our chef-inspired menu items, in a fresh, new way,” said Kevin Miles, CEO of Zoës Kitchen. “Our goal in our restaurants is to provide delicious, wholesome food, inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean and for our guests to feel good and motivated to live life to the fullest after dining with us.”

A fuller list of the new menu items includes::

  • Breakfast Sandwich: Turkey bacon, egg slices, and tomato topped with baby arugula on a waffle brioche bun with Calabrian pepper aioli;
  • Continental Breakfast Box:  Belgian waffle, hazelnut spread, and fresh berries;
  • The Grüben: Zoës signature sandwich with sliced turkey, Manchego cheese, crunchy Mediterranean slaw, and feta spread layered on marble wheat bread, and served with a Zoës chocolate chip cookie;
  • Chicken Wrap: Grilled chicken wrap with mozzarella, roasted tomatoes, arugula, and artichokes, served with a Zoës chocolate chip cookie; and
  • Hummus Duo: Zoës signature hummus duo, including their classic flavor topped with Kalamata olives and basil pesto hummus, served with pita bread, cucumber, and carrots.

Along with the new Zoës options, American will continue to offer its own fruit and cheese plate and breakfast platter. Throughout 2019, American and Zoës will continue to collaborate and introduce additional items in coach, as well as domestic first class service.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, other carriers also have revised their in-flight offerings: Alaska Air revamped its menu over the summer to highlight West Coast produce; United Continental. has added a bread pudding made with Chobani yogurt; and Delta will update its in-flight menu on October 1 on North American flights of 1,400 miles or more.

Research contact: mediarelations@aa.com

Nearly 40% believe conspiracy theories about aviation chemtrails

November 28, 2017

Today, airlines are nearly as detested as banks and lawyers—and poor or exploitative customer services are just two of the reasons why.

Indeed, perhaps the most popular conspiracy theory online now vilifies chemtrails—the streaks in the sky deposited by aircraft, which sometimes are speculated to be chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed for unknown (but dangerous) purposes.

Now, a new study based on polling data and online postings–conducted by the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Harvard Kennedy School—finds that a humongous number of people believe that the vapor trails emitted by airplanes are part of some weather control or mind control plot, according to a November 27 story on Patheos.com

The Harvard University paper presents the results of a nationally representative, 1,000-subject poll under the auspices of the 36,000-subject 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study (CCES); as well as an analysis of the universe of social media mentions of geoengineering.

The data show that about 10% of Americans think the chemtrails conspiracy is “completely true’” and that a further 20% to 30% of respondents think that the conspiracy is “somewhat true”—with no apparent difference by party affiliation or strength of partisanship.

In addition, the researchers said, conspiratorial views have accounted for about 60% of geoengineering discourse on social media over the past decade. The anonymity of social media appears to encourage the spread of this information; as does the general acceptance online of unverified or “fake news.”

“As with so many conspiracy theories,” Patheos said, “people who believe them [think that] there is a vast conspiracy of virtually every institution to cover all these things up. Believing they have secret knowledge of this organization … makes them believe that they are part of some resistance movement to an evil that is all-powerful and scarcely imaginable in its scope, which conditions the more unhinged among them to commit violence .

“And scientists involved in debunking the chemtrail nonsense have received many death threats, as well,” the posting informs us, noting, “This is not just harmless fantasizing. It has a real cost.”

Research contact:  (Harvard) hello@gwagner.com