I first posted about this back at the beginning of the new site changeover, and while it did gather support from Crew and others, I haven't seen any changes. What I'm about to write details why, to my great sadness, airliners.net has moved from the top to the bottom of my list of preferred sources to find pictures of airplanes.
In order to search for photos of a given airline, we are greeted with a free-type field. Although I prefer the fixed dropdown menu, I guess this is setup isn't inherently bad on its own. [Although I cannot figure out for the life of me why it allows me to select multiple airlines or aircraft when doing so always returns 0 photo results (I thought that selecting, say, B757-200 and B767-300 would give me all the photos in the database of both types - which would be awesome - but clearly this isn't so)].
But here's the problem: there are great inconsistencies as to how photos of the SAME airline were uploaded. Just now, I took a pen and paper and jotted down the various ways one could search for photos of Trans World Airlines airplanes. Here are the results (format = "airline entry" - photos returned) :
"TWA" - 1
"TWA Airlines" - 65
"TWA - Transcontinental and Western Air" - 73
"Trans World Airlines - TWA" - 3330
"Trans World Airlines - TWA Cargo" - 1
"Trans World Airlines - TWA Cargojet" - 16
"Trans World Airline" - 5
That's SEVEN forms of the SAME airline!
Here's another example: searching for American Airlines airplanes:
"American Airlines" - 39413
"American Airlines (AAL)" - 0
"American Airlines Freight" - 1
"American Airlines Freighter" - 36
"American Overseas Airlines" - 14
Another FIVE ways of searching for ONE airline. I hope I'm not the only one who sees how impractical this is!
Thanks to my pen-and-paper "log," I now know that, for the most part, I should enter in "Trans World Airlines - TWA" and "American Airlines" to get the non-inclusive majority of photos available of what I want to see... but is this really the best way this can be done? Do I really have to play guess-and-check with every airline until I find the magic words that return what I want to see?
And this doesn't just end with airlines. In order to look at airplane types, we are greeted with:
And as if that's not enough, there are also inconsistencies with entries here too: "Airbus A320" returns 178,243 photos while "A320" returns 0.
Furthermore, I cannot find a way to look up all the variants of a given airliner at once in one search. For example, I can search B747-100 and 200 and 300 (etc), but there's no way for me to see ALL B747s. There are "747-..." and "747" options in the menus, but they yield 178 and 0 photos respectively.
Please don't take someone who blindly says "The old way is better! I hate change!" Trust me, I've kept an open mind and tried my best to figure it out on my own. But what used to be the best one-stop shop for quickly and easily finding aviation photos has turned into an unusable nightmare. Google Images is now my go-to. Of course, it's nowhere near as accurate as what I'm sure airliners.net COULD be (a search for "TWA L-1011" will return a few photos of Delta and AA airplanes) but it's infinitely quicker to type in "TWA L-1011" than to guess which one of the 7 TWAs I should select...
Do others share my experiences? Am I being totally stupid and overlooking something simple? Is this on the Crew's radar?
If you made it to the end, thanks for listening!