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From Skies to Safety


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The calendar read 5 July 1948, Monday. It had been a year since the Thalassan War had ended, when the Gioktons had surrendered and the @Sunset Sea Islands liberated from its oppressive leadership. It was a bloody war that saw the deaths of millions — military and civilian alike. It was not unusual that the Commonwealth had not yet recovered; yet despite this, the economy was, as a matter of fact, growing. People were looking for new ideas. And where else could they find new ideas other than Europa, the political, ideological, cultural, economical and technological center of the world? The opportunities were very promising. Yet despite all the possibilities, though, Europa was undeniably far — a trip across to Europa by sea could take up to three weeks, and in an increasingly competitive and fast-paced world, time was of the essence. People had to get there quicker, cheaper, and more efficiently.


A few years back, while Thalassa was still caught within the tight grip of the menace it had created itself, the Skandinavisk SK-2 had begun production. At that time, Andalla was too preoccupied to even take notice its new creation, the same creation that would soon carry thousands of passengers across Argis and Europa each week — all in the name of Andalla. The SK-2 was a ground-based aircraft, which at the time was not as attractive as the large, powerful flying boats of Saeb. What it did have to boast about, however, was its impressive range - over 6,000 kilometers. And as it was a land-based aircraft, it could reach important inland cities such as Toledo, O'polis, Saipuo, Moskovo, New Halsham, Girk, Bogd Gioro, Delta, Novumcastrum, and Centridge City. It had the power to end the era of flying boats, yet nobody bothered to take notice... except the airlines.

One could never really explain properly what was going on with airlines during the war. While there were those who wanted to flee the violence, others chose to stay. Their trained employees were drafted into the military, leaving many positions empty — some airlines choosing to temporarily fill these positions with untrained workers, or leaving them unoccupied altogether for the sake of safety. Mismanagement and inexperience quickly became one of the leading causes of incidents and accidents of Andallan carriers during the war. There also loomed in the air the threat of Giokton fighters; they would often harass or even shoot down the defenselss airliner upon discovering it during a routine patrol. It was for this reason that airline passengers were required to wear oxygen masks for the entire duration of the flight above the Tiauhai Sea, in the event of a rapid pressure loss. Patched-up bullet holes on the wings, tail and fuselage became a common sight on Andallan airliners, if the aircraft had not already been downed. But as the war went on and Giokton air force numbers slowly dwindled, more airlines became confident to resume operations, while a handful of airlines had also been founded in hopes of exploiting a new-found source of profit. And when they finally had the chance to begin operating their shiny new SK-2s, they put them to work as soon as possible. 

This was the "Northern Route", one of the most heavily-traveled air routes during the late 1940's to the mid-1960's. It ran from Andalla to Central Europa or @Orioni, with stops at @Iverica@Prymont (Ostport), Deltannia and finally to wherever in Europa the passenger was destined for. It remained that way until 1964, when the transoriental-capable SK-3 Series 20 jet airliner entered service. It was also in the same year that the airport at Burkini opened; situated near-perfectly in the middle of the Oriental Ocean, the new airport allowed a transoriental crossing to be done in two 4,000-kilometer legs.

But for now, the Northern Route was their only choice. Airlines could make it through in under 5 days, with many competing against each other for the fastest passage. But for passengers, it was heaven. Their wildest dreams had come true; no longer would they have to take 3 weeks by ocean liner just to reach Europa. Weeks became days, ships became planes, and seas became skies.

From the corner of his window, Daniel Arvesson could see another SK-2 take off. This one belonged to Østhav Lufttransport, one of the several airlines created solely on the hopes of exploiting this new Silk Road. To him, these airlines were naive and ignorant. It took more than just a startup to be able to travel the Northern Route, because flying was expensive, not only for the passengers but even for the airline itself. In a way, every country charged flyover fees — that is, if they even allowed foreign aircraft to pass through. And though Andalla had been able to at least negotiate discounted fees with Iverica, Ostport and Deltannia, aircraft had to land. And once they were on the ground, airport fees entered the question. Combined with several other fees, taxes and administrative issues made operating an airline an extremely difficult task — one that could drive these "start-up airlines" into bankruptcy within a mere few years. It was a disaster. And somehow, it was Arvesson's duty to fix it.

In the background, Arvesson heard the faint sound of a phone's sharp ring. His secretary, Miriam Byessen, came in the office.

"Sir, Minister Holme's on the phone. He wants to speak to you."

"Why didn't he call me in my office..? Ah, never mind, hold on."

...

"Director-General, you have been reading the news regarding our Northern Route, have you?"

"Ah, yes, of course Minister Holme. Daily."

"Then, surely, you have heard of what happened in Delta?"

"Definitely, Minister. I believe we must act on it as soon as possible."

"Exactly. And what would you propose in order to fix it?"

"Perhaps a bilateral agreement standardizing aviation regulations could help... But we may not be able to accomplish such a thing anytime soon."

"Not at all, Director, that is possible. You may want to contact the Deltannian aviation authority... What was the name again? Uh... anyway. I was trying to say, you should contact them and arrange for a bilateral meeting setting the foundations for standardized regulations... I'll bet you they're just as willing as we are to standardize them, especially since the perpetrators only did it for the money. I'm sure we both know that Deltannia is an important stop on the Northern Route, and we can't afford to lose it... Am I understood, Director-General?

"Yes, sir. I'll arrange a meeting as soon as possible."

"Thank you."

Arvesson wasn't amused; Minister Holme was crazy. It wasn't like Andalla and Deltannia could organize a bilateral meeting in a flash. But that was what Minister Holme wanted — Arvesson could not let him down, lest he lose his job as Director-General of the Andallan Aviation Authority. After all, the problem was quite significant — though it was a scandal by a small band of Deltannian airport officials, it did highlight an important flaw in their aviation regulations...

Delta was, undoubtedly, the most important stop along the journey. Much like a busy bus terminal, it was where passengers would disembark and board another plane for wherever they wished to go. When one traveled the Northern Route, landing at Delta signified the final leg of the journey... and that the aircraft did not crash somewhere in the endless sea of ice surrounding it. Icing was definitely not uncommon when flying in the extreme cold of the Argic Circle. When ice crept up to the wings or vertical stabilizer, the pilot could lose control of the aircraft. When ice got into the engine, there would be nothing moving the aircraft forward. And when ice got into both, you'd know where exactly you were — in the middle of a frozen hell.

A few days ago, several Deltannian airport officials found a difference between Andallan and Deltannian aviation regulations — one that could, if properly implemented, restrict the passage of any Andallan aircraft within Deltannian airspace. But they weren't going for the safety — instead they only increased flyover fees, airport fees and other taxes for all Andallan aircraft. And through their network of shady deals and accomplices, those extra fees went to... them.

Once their plot became known, there was nothing the government could do — aviation regulations were aviation regulations, implemented only to ensure the safety of anyone flying within Deltannian airspace. So instead they halted the increase in taxes and prohibited any Andallan aircraft from entering or exiting Deltannian airspace, effectively grounding all Andallan aircraft in Deltannia, Ostport, and elsewhere in Europa. Being the most important stop along the Northern Route, the entire future of the Andallan airline industry was placed in jeopardy...

— TO BE CONTINUED 


This topic was formerly disputed by Vocenae. As a result, all mentions of Vocenae have been replaced with Deltannia. The discussion is located here.

OOC: Prelude to the establishment of an ICAO for Europa. I believe @Gallambria and @Orioni is working on a version of the UN, so we could say this organization evolved into whatever ICAO's counterpart in the Europa UN is.


A very special thanks to ORIONI for fixing some issues while I was away. Tak!

Edited by Andalla (see edit history)
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      The Commonwealth of Andalla
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      ☎ Call us
      (02) 2149 3200
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      It was a calm November morning. Gentle waves lapped against the cold, gray hull of the Giokton Type 3A-class submarine C-23; her blunt bow cutting silently and steadily through the surface of the Tiauhai Sea. A soft sea breeze blew against the cheeks of five men perched atop the bridge, nonchalantly keeping watch over the seemingly endless void of blue water that surrounded them on three sides. Behind them lay the western coast of Giokto; the faint shadow of mountains and dense forests looming in the distance. The land grew smaller and smaller until it had completely disappeared beyond the horizon.
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      Thus the Thalassan War begins.
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