687 Airline Customer Service

An airline customer service story and a conversation with Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier. In the news, the EPA is preparing a leaded aviation fuel proposal, a next-generation lav, restraints for infant safety inflight, Ryanair’s Learjets, the West Coast ground stop, lasers on aircraft, a TFR bust that involved an F-15C.

Brian Coleman and our Main(e) Man Micah discuss Brian’s airline customer service experience. He purchased a Premium Plus ticket, but the flight he took didn’t offer that class and the airline didn’t want to refund him the difference in the ticket price.

Separately, Brian had the opportunity to speak with Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier, and get us caught up with all things Cranky.

Aviation News

EPA to Evaluate Whether Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft Endanger Human Health and Welfare

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan says, “EPA has been investigating the air quality impact of lead emissions from piston-engine aircraft near airports for years, and now we’re going to apply that information to determine whether this pollution endangers human health and welfare.” The EPA plans to issue a proposal for public review and comment in 2022. After evaluating comments on the proposal, the Agency plans to issue a final finding in 2023.

More information can be found at Petitions and EPA Response Memorandums related to Lead Emissions from Aircraft.

Boeing selects Collins Aerospace as next-generation lavatory supplier for the 737

There is a “next-generation” of lavatories for the 737 family of aircraft, and it’s coming from Raytheon Technologies’ Collins Aerospace. The new lavatory is customizable and modular. A touchless faucet comes standard, with other touchless amenities optional. A “centralized computing system to optimize the passenger experience, improve airline operability and help pave the way for future technology integration.” The lav is expected to be available on new 737 airplanes beginning in 2025.

Avelo looks to boost infant safety with Baby B’air

Unrestrained babies in flight is a serious safety issue and hazard and the NTSB has called for action for years. Avelo is now petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use the Baby B’Air Flight Vest to restrain infants inflight.

The Story Of Ryanair’s 3 Learjets

Ryanair has a huge 737 fleet, about 450 in service along with 39 A320 aircraft operated by Lauda Europe. But they also lease three Learjet 45s to transport maintenance crew and parts.

What Caused The FAA To Issue A Brief Ground Stop On Monday?

The FAA issued a ground stop for all U.S. West Coast Flights that lasted 15 minutes. This was at the same time that North Korea was testing a long-range ballistic missile.

FAA statement on West Coast ground stop for some airports

FedEx Express Seeking Permission to Install Missile Downing Lasers to Some of its Aircraft

The FAA has received a proposal from FedEx Express to install a missile defense system on some of its aircraft.  When detected, heat-seeking missiles would be intercepted by infrared lasers to throw them off course.

Passengers Behaving Badly

2021 was the worst year on record for unruly airplane passengers in the US, FAA data confirms

Miami-Bound Passenger Storms Cockpit in Honduras, Causing Flight Delay

Three Long Island Women Indicted for Assaulting a Delta Airlines Security Officer at JFK Airport

Mentioned

Same model, different scales at the American Helicopter Museum:

David’s photos from a TFR bust and an F-15C orbiting the airfield.

Aviation News Talk 216: Learjet Crash update, PIREPS made simple with Virga App + GA News.

James GoPro Aviation YouTube Channel.

Wizz Air urges EU to keep ‘use it or lose it’ airport slot rule

Airlines square off with the EU and one another over ‘ghost flight’ controversy

US expected to be short 12,000 pilots by next year

Delta Drops Degree Requirement For Pilots

NASA may need more astronauts for space station, moon missions, report says

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott

686 The Aviation Queen

Benét Wilson, the Aviation Queen, joins us after a long absence. In the news, Boeing executives field questions about the 737 MAX, ghost flights in the EU, an Airbus class-action lawsuit, Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters heading to Israel, bad behavior by both passengers and crew, a 5G deal is worked out, a pilot who refused to fly is awarded $2 million, and a plane crashes but then is hit by a train.

Guest (More like a returning co-host)

The Aviation Queen, Benét J. Wilson.
The Aviation Queen

Benét J. Wilson, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at The Points Guy (TPG), which publishes hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences. This lifestyle media brand sees 10 million unique visitors a month and has a social media audience of over 3 million across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. A staff of more than 100, including editors, writers and reporters, and a large pool of regular contributors, parses, analyzes, and reports on the world of points and miles.

Benét has been an Airplane Geeks co-host in the past and we’re happy to have this chance to get caught up. She brings a valuable perspective to the conversation.

The Points Guy logo.

At TPG, Benét does recruiting, handles internal training, and mentors interns and young writers. She does media appearances for TPG and brings her insights to the site with aviation and travel features. Benét is a veteran aviation journalist who has covered airports, security, and the airline passenger experience.

Aviation News

Hoping for recovery, Boeing bosses look to the future, deflect questions on the MAX crashes

Dominic Gates reports on interviews with Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop. Dominic summarized the strategy described by the executives: “hunker down, fix the litany of current problems and rely on a revamp of the company’s engineering culture to restore Boeing’s stained reputation.” He writes, “Both executives deflected or flatly refused to answer questions about the engineering design mistakes that led to the two fatal 737 MAX crashes that have so damaged Boeing’s image.”

The article mentions “Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing” by Peter Robison, our guest from Episode 683, but also notes that two major feature documentaries are set to air in 2022.

Airlines push the E.U. to ease airport rules as Omicron rages.

Airlines have to use 80% of their airport takeoff and landing slots or they lose them. Of course, losing slots is something an airline wants to never let happen unless that’s part of some strategic plan. So when demand falls off a cliff, airlines are forced to fly nearly empty planes. Or even empty planes. We’ve seen thousands of these “ghost flights” that are a huge waste of fuel and needlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere.

The rules were waived in early 2020, but the European Commission has been reinstating them. Starting December 15, 2022, the winter travel season threshold has been set to 50 percent. The FAA waived the U.S. slot rules early on in the pandemic and has recently extended them through March 2022.

Airbus faces $339 million class action suit in the Netherlands, lawyers say

Lawyers for the Foundation for Investor Loss Compensation filed the class-action suit on behalf of “a hundred” institutional investors. They claim the investors suffered at least 300 million euros ($339 million) in damages when Airbus withheld information about corruption at the company, resulting in overpriced shares of Airbus SE. After a three-year investigation into bribery and corruption over sales practices, Airbus agreed in 2020 to a nearly $4 billion fine in a deal with French, British, and U.S. authorities. In that settlement, Airbus admitted it had paid huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to win contracts in 20 countries.

US, Israel finalize deal for 12 heavy-lift helos, two KC-46s

Under the agreement, Israel will purchase 12 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters. If the option for six more helicopters is exercised, the total deal could be worth $3.4 billion. The CH-53K is currently undergoing initial operational test and evaluation. Initial operational capability is scheduled for early 2023, with first deliveries expected in 2025.

A veteran flight attendant worked for United for 23 years using a false identity, federal court complaint says

The Brazilian flight attendant stole the identity of a boy who died in a car crash at age 4 in the 1970s.  The man used the boy’s name when he applied for a US passport in 1998. In December 2020, the State Department flagged the passport renewal application for “various fraud indicators.”

United Airlines Forces Out Flight Attendant For Her TikToks

The woman posted around 20 videos wearing her uniform, in violation of company policy. She’s now interviewing at other airlines. It’s important to know your employer’s social media rules.

Airlines Strand Passengers Who Partied on Flight Without Masks

A Canadian group chartered a plane to party in Mexico for the NewYear. Videos show the group flouting Covid-19 and safety rules. Sunwing Airlines flew the group to Cancún, and canceled the return flight to Canada after an internal investigation found that the passengers “exhibited unruly behavior and did not respect aviation or public health regulations.” Many passengers remained stranded in Mexico after at least three airlines said they would not fly them back.

Biden hails 5G wireless deal averting aviation safety crisis

AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the rollout of C-Band 5G service two weeks – to January 19, 2022, absent any “unforeseen aviation safety issues.” The wireless carriers also agreed that the FAA would provide them “with a list of no more than 50 priority airports that they would propose to be subject to the C-Band exclusion zones.”

Fifty US airports to have buffers when telcos turn on new 5G services

The FAA says fifty U.S. airports will have 5G C-band buffer zones when AT&T and Verizon switch on new 5G services. They include Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’ Hare, Newark, JFK, LAX, Philadelphia, and 43 other airports. Airports with 5G Buffer [PDF].  The airports were selected based on traffic volume, number of low-visibility days, geographic location, and input from the aviation community.

Boone County Jury Awards Nearly $2 million to Pilot Fired for Refusing to Fly in Unsafe Conditions

A pilot with almost 50 years of experience refused to fly a private plane to the Caribbean because he felt it was unsafe. He notified his employer that he’d wait and check the weather the following day, and let them know what the situation was. When he did so, the pilot was told that the company had hired a temporary pilot who made the flight. A few days later, he was informed he had been fired. The jury awarded the pilot $1,990,833 which included $1.3 million in punitive damages.

Plane crashes in Los Angeles County, then is hit by train

A Cessna 172 went down on the railroad tracks at an intersection shortly after taking off. Then, about 20 minutes later, a Metrolink train crashed into it. The pilot had been pulled out and was taken to a hospital. There were no other injuries.

Video: Train smashes into crashed plane seconds after pilot is rescued

Mentioned

The Journey is the Reward – Brian T. Coleman and Micah Engber plan to document Brian’s quest to achieve lifetime United 1K status.

Art For Bricks: Exclusive Brick Mosaic Art for everyone 

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Brian Coleman, Benét Wilson.

685 Aircraft Management

Our guest is the CEO of aircraft management company PC Aviators, an air race champion, author, speaker, and former aerodynamics professor. In the news, flight cancellations strand thousands of air travelers, Boeing 737 MAX flights are set to resume in Ethiopia and Indonesia, more 5G drama, and adaptive cycle engines for military applications.

Guest

Aircraft management company PC Aviators CEO Pete Zaccagnino.

Pete Zaccagnino is the CEO of PC Aviators, an aircraft management company. He’s also a four-time Air Racing Gold Champion in the Jet/Sport Class, an author, a speaker, a former aerodynamics professor, and an Embry-Riddle graduate. He has flown over 23,000 hours in more than 270 aircraft types and he’s flight-tested over 685 aircraft.

Pete explains how PC Aviators views the aircraft management business as a personal relationship with the customers. That means getting to know the clients and providing services and experiences they value. Sometimes that includes tours all over the world.

PC Aviators manages the acquisition process, helping the customer determine what type of aircraft best suits their mission, deciding between a new plane and one from the used market, and looking at tax considerations. They locate the plane and provide a number of services, including inspection, contract negotiation, where to close, and even color. Aircraft management services continue after the purchase to address staffing, pilots, and maintenance reporting.

Pete comments on industry shifts toward private aircraft transportation and the prices and availability of aircraft. He argues that the perception of aviation has changed in a way that is helping the industry segment grow.

With his extensive success at the Reno Air Races through High Performance Aircraft Racing, we can’t help but ask Pete about the classes of aircraft, the makeup of the team, and the interaction with the public at the event. The 2022 Air Races, officially the STIHL National Championship Air Races, will be held September 14-18 in Reno, Nevada.

Relevant book cover

We also touch on the books Pete has written in The Relevant Series. The first book in the series is Relevant: A Military Thriller Inspired by True Events and the recently released second book is The New Cold War: Defending Democracy From Russia’s Secret Tech Weapon.

Founded in 2008, Park City Aviators is an aircraft management company based in Park City, Utah with locations across the United States. The company is committed to creating a new standard in affordable and professional private jet management.

Pete earned his undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He has restored five airplanes and built three others (including a Lancair Super Legacy). Pete has flown over 23,000 hours in more than 270 aircraft types and flight-tested over 685 aircraft.

A former professor of Aerodynamics, Meteorology, and History, Pete has given over 100 training seminars on a variety of topics and has been a guest speaker at aviation peer groups and universities worldwide, including EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Pete’s fifteen years of racing at Reno have included four championships, including the 2019 Jet Gold Champion, 2015 Jet Gold Champion, 2013 Jet Gold Champion at 509 mph and the fastest qualifying lap at 529 mph, and 2007 Gold Champion in the Sport Class.

Aviation News

Holiday flight cancellations soar with Covid-19 disruptions and bad weather

Thousands of flights have been canceled during a very busy travel season. On January 1, 2022, FlightAware data showed more than 4,731 flights canceled globally. Thousands more cancellations followed on January 2. Looking at FlightAware data, CNN says airlines canceled more than 14,000 flights in the last 10 days. Bad weather and employees testing positive for Covid are credited with causing the disruptions.

Ethiopia to Resume Boeing 737 Max Flights Three Years after Deadly Crash

Boeing 737 Max: Indonesia lifts ban after 2018 Lion Air crash

Ethiopian Airlines Group says it will resume flying its four Boeing 737 MAX jets starting February 1, 2022. The airline’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work. [With] more than 20 months of [a] rigorous recertification process… we have ensured that our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet.” Indonesia’s transport ministry said the ban would be lifted effective immediately.

AT&T, Verizon CEOs reject U.S. request for 5G deployment delay

AT&T and Verizon responded negatively to the request by the Transportation Secretary and the FAA administrator to delay the January 5, 2022 5G deployment. The companies characterized the government proposal as “an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks.”

F-35s Could Get New Engines As Soon As 2027

The U.S. Airforce is pursuing several “Future Initiatives,” including lifting wing bodies, medium scale propulsion for UAVs, the Megawatt Tactical Aircraft (MWTA) program, and even air wake surfing. This article looks specifically at the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP). While jet engines have two airstreams (one through the core and a bypass airstream around the core), AETP engines are adaptive with three streams. That third stream can be dynamically modulated between the engine’s core and the bypass stream. This results in increased thrust in a combat environment and increased fuel efficiency during cruise. AETP prototypes are being developed by General Electric (XA100) and Pratt & Whitney (XA101).

Video: GE’s XA100 Adaptive Cycle Engine

New Year Wishes

Brian Coleman talks about giving and sharing.

Mentioned

Aviation News Talk #214 San Diego Learjet Crash – Interview with Rob Mark

Maine Instrument Flight sold to Idaho-based company

Late passenger runs onto airfield at Phoenix airport, attempts to stop plane

Video: I Crashed My Plane

Hosts this Episode

Hosts: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark. Contributor: Brian Coleman.

684 Honeywell Advanced Air Mobility

A Honeywell senior director talks about advanced air mobility. Also, NOTAMs may be on the way for 5G cellular, PLAY airline comes to the U.S., airline executives speak before the U.S. Senate, local incentives draw Lufthansa to St. Louis, and Dynon suffers from component shortages. We also have an Australia Desk with military rotorcraft news.

Guest

Andrew Barker is the Senior Director, Sales Marketing, Urban Air Mobility and Unmanned Aerial Systems at Honeywell Aerospace. He describes the “advanced air mobility” concept that encompasses a scope larger than the “urban” notion normally associated with UAM. In fact, Andrew thinks of it as Aviation 2.0 and likens it to a new experimental aircraft world, but this time with more funding.

Advanced air mobility from Andrew Barker, Honeywell Aerospace.
Andrew Barker

Honeywell acts as a vehicle-agnostic supplier of avionics and propulsion components. Some of these, like fly-by-wire, are being brought down to the UAM market. Andrew talks about Honeywell detect-and-avoid technology and sensor fusion. We also consider the progression of steps being taken by the industry – starting with the pilot in the aircraft, then progressing to SVO (simple vehicle operation) lessening the onboard task, to pilot on the ground, and ultimately (perhaps) autonomous air transport.

Andrew also touches on some of the industry challenges, like regulatory standards and public acceptance. And of course safety, the overarching imperative.

Andrew spent his youth at the airport with his father and received his PPL at age 17. That same year he flew a Cessna 150 to EAA Airventure in Oshkosh, WI. You’ll find Andrew at Osh most years.

In 2000 he became the first employee of TruTrak Flight Systems, a company that designed and produced autopilots for the experimental aircraft market. After earning his degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arkansas in 2004, Andrew was named general manager and he joined the board of directors for TruTrak.

Andrew and his wife eventually became the sole owners of TruTrak.  The company received FAA approval for the installation of an autopilot for the Cessna 172 in 2017, adding several more models in the following years.

In 2019, Honeywell acquired TruTrak and Andrew joined the Honeywell team as Sr. Director of Sales for BendixKing. In July of 2021, Andrew joined the UAM / UAS team and is now running sales and marketing.

Aviation News

Industry Awaiting NOTAMS on 5G Interference

The 5G cellular issue with possible interference to radar altimeters continues in the news. On the heels of two FAA ADs, we now see the possibility of an FAA NOTAM (Notice to Air Missions) with more specific details.

Play Airlines Launches Service to the US

Icelandic low-cost carrier PLAY is now booking tickets from Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) with service starting April 20, 2022, and Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) with service from May 11, 2022. PLAY operates a fleet of Airbus A320neo family aircraft with a hub at Keflavík International Airport. Ex-WOW executives are among the leadership team at PLAY.

Airlines face shortage of pilots, other workers, execs say

Airline executives appearing before a Senate Commerce Committee hearing explained the recent flight delays and cancellations. Reasons given include:

  • Trouble hiring pilots, flight attendants and other staff
  • Weather causing aircraft and crews to be out of position
  • Difficulty getting employees to work extra shifts
  • The cost of training pilots, which is not covered by federal student loans

Financial commitment from area business leaders helped lure Lufthansa to St. Louis

It’s the first passenger airline service from St. Louis to the European continent in nearly 20 years, scheduled to start in June 2022. An incentive package was offered to Lufthansa that included up to $5 million in incentive payments over two years. To qualify, the airline must average three nonstop flights per week from St. Louis Lambert International Airport to Frankfurt. Landing fees are also waived for 18 months. The package was put together by local businesses, the St. Louis County government, and the airport.

Dynon halts production on experimental displays

Dynon Avionics says they will be “unable to manufacture or ship experimental SkyView HDX, SkyView Classic, and SkyView SE displays” due to supply chain issues with components. Demand is up, supplies are down, and lead times are longer.

Australia News Desk

This week’s Australia Desk takes a look at the withdrawal from service of the Army’s S-70-A9 Blackhawk fleet, and the announcement by the government that the MRH-90 Taipan fleet will also be replaced in favour of up to 40 new-build UH-60M Blackhawks.

In airline news, Qantas has announced its intention to replace its 737-800 fleet over the next ten years with Airbus A321’s…but will they actually do it??

Australia dumps troubled European-designed Taipan helicopters for US Black Hawks and Seahawks

Qantas Selects Airbus as Preferred Aircraft for Domestic Fleet Renewal

Army Blackhawk A25-203 over Sydney Harbour, March 2012 (Photographer – Seth Jaworski)

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark. Contributors: Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron.

683 Boeing 737 MAX

We speak with the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing. In the news, 5G concerns from aviation organizations, a new Boeing 787 production chief is named, a bill in Congress to limit airline fees, Air Force aircraft retirements, Finland selects the F-35, and no more astronaut wings for space tourists.

Guest

Peter Robison is an investigative journalist for Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek, and the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing

Peter Robison

We look back on the events surrounding the two 737 MAX crashes, including how Boeing responded to the first crash and then the second, and the broad cultural issues at Boeing that affected the quality of the work. Peter describes past Boeing leadership strategies and some of the changes the company has made in areas such as sourcing, location, and the engineering workforce. We also consider the relationship between the FAA and Boeing and how that contributed to the issues with the 737 MAX.

Flying Blind book cover.

In the end, it comes down to the question: “Would we fly on a Boeing 737 MAX?” Listen for our answers.

Peter is a recipient of the Gerald Loeb Award, the Malcolm Forbes Award, and four “Best in Business” awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, with an honors degree in history from Stanford University, he lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @petermrobison.

Aviation News

5G now means some flights won’t be able to land when pilots can’t see the runway

Verizon and AT&T plan to rollout C-band “5G” cellular ratio coverage. The FAA has concerns this might affect radio altimeters. The FCC and the carriers see no issues, but the carriers moved their December implementation date to January and more recently said they’d reduce the power output for six months at certain towers near airports. The Aerospace Industries Association (and a large group of alphabet aviation organizations) sent a letter to the FCC suggesting that AT&T and Verizon’s proposed power limits don’t go far enough for safety.

Now the FAA has said, “Landings during periods of low visibility could be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without other mitigations in place.” See also, Aviation Coalition Says Industry Should Expect Significant Delays When 5G is Rolled Out and FreeFlight’s Terrain Series radar altimeters with RF circuitry to mitigate spurious 5G interference.

Boeing Names New Jet-Production Chief as 787’s Woes Slow Rebound

Elizabeth Lund has been named the vice-president and general manager of airplane programs for commercial jetliners. With an engineering background and a 30-year career at Boeing, Ms. Lund brings experience with the 767, 747, and 777 programs.

Markey Aims To Ban ‘Ridiculous’ Airline Fees With Bill

With Holiday Travel Season in Full Swing, Senators Markey and Blumenthal, Reps. Cohen and García Reintroduce Legislation to Stop Sky-High Airline Fees

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) reintroduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act. If enacted, the legislation would prohibit airlines from charging fees (including bag, seating, cancellation, and change fees) that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.

Airlines should not be able to bilk passengers just because they need to check a couple of bags, or charge an extra fee so parents can sit with their kids. It should not cost more to cancel or change an airline reservation than the original cost of the ticket, period. ..we must finally end this price gouging and return fairness to the skies.

Senator Edward J. Markey

The bill would also direct the Department of Transportation to review any other fees imposed by airlines, as well as ensure that children can sit together with their family members on flights at no additional charge.

Congress approves retirement of 160+ Air Force planes – with one notable exception

The US Air Force is asking Congress to retire 42 A-10 Warthogs, but Congress is refusing. The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would keep the A-10 but retire seven F-16C/Ds, 48 F-15C/D Eagles, four E-8 JSTARS ground surveillance aircraft, 20 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones, 18 KC-135s and 14 KC-10s, and three C-130Hs. This would free up resources to modernize the fleet.

Finland Selects the F-35 Lightning II as Its Next Fighter

Finland Chooses F-35 As Its Next Fighter

Finland will reportedly purchase 64 F-35A fighters, as well as a weapons package, sustainment, and training. The deal is valued at €8.4 billion ($9.5 billion). Flightglobal reports “€4 billion for the aircraft, €755 million for weapons, and €3 billion for equipment, spares, and training over the 2025-2030 period. A further €777 million is allocated for infrastructure improvements.” competing for the win were the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Saab Gripen E.

FAA: No more commercial astronaut wings

The FAA will no longer award commercial astronaut wings because so many people are now riding into space. Space tourists who fly 50 miles up on an FAA-sanctioned launch will be put on an FAA commercial spaceflight list. NASA astronauts will continue to receive wings.

Recently Spotted Elf

David Vanderhoof, elf.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

682 Organ Transplant Flights

In this episode, we speak with the Founder and CEO of ParaFlight and OrganFlights about life-saving organ transplant flights. There’s a lot more to this than you might think, and it’s a conversation you’ll want to hear.

In the news, sustainable aviation fuel for British Airways, Captain Sully heads to ICAO, gender-neutral NOTAMs that also apply to drones, the Beech Denali first flight, commercial aviation and spreading viruses, and in-flight relief devices. In the Australia Desk, we hear about the history of the F/A-18 A and B Hornets in RAAF service.

Guest

Sim Shain is the Founder and CEO of ParaFlight EMS and OrganFlights.com, a lifesaving organ transplant aviation company with an on-call network of jets, helicopters, and emergency transport vehicles. These provide efficient transportation of organs and transplant teams nationwide.

Sim Shain, Founder and CEO of ParaFlight and OrganFlights providing organ transplant flights.
Sim Shain

The transplant process is regulated by the Federal government in the United States, and Sim explains the large number of participants and steps involved in getting an organ from donor to recipient. We learn about the role of the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS), the transplant centers, and organ procurement organizations.

Sim provides a lot of detail about the complexities of matching organ transportation requests to available aircraft considering such factors as the type of organ, flight length, operating room schedule, size of the team, use of a transmetics pump, power and WiFi requirements, and even pilot duty time constraints.

We learn about how Part 135 operators can use the Organ Flights app to register, add aircraft, and receive flight requests via smartphone and the PC.

Over a twenty-eight-year career, Sim has worked in the pre-hospital emergency medical space leading corporate, medical, and charity flights and missions, specializing in organ transplants. He began his career working as a 911 medic and flight medic, and he continues to fly patients and organs around the world. He volunteers for local first aid squads and is a nationally certified paramedic, medical escort, and flight medic.

To learn more, visit OrganFlights.com and explore these other resources:

Aviation News

Airline signs historic deal to use recycled cooking oil to fuel its planes

British Airways signed a multi-year contract with Phillips 66 Limited to use sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) beginning next year. Phillips becomes the first company to produce SAF at a commercial scale in the U.K. The SAF will be produced at the Phillips 66 Humber Refinery in North Lincolnshire from sustainable waste feedstock. BA and Phillips 66 say SAF can reduce lifecycle carbon emissions by over 80 percent compared to traditional jet fuel.

Sully Named To ICAO

Capt. Chesley (Sully) Sullenberger has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be the U.S.  ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). ICAO was established in 1944 by the Convention on International Civil Aviation, also known as the Chicago Convention. Originally composed of 54 nations, now the Organization is funded and directed by 193 national governments.

Name change signifies a bigger mission for NOTAMs

The meaning of the acronym NOTAM has changed from “Notice to Airmen” to the gender-neutral “Notice to Air Missions.” The new acronym now easily applies to un-crewed flights of free balloons and drones.

Beech Denali Makes First Flight

The first flight of the Beechcraft Denali turboprop lasted 2 hours and 50 minutes, reaching an altitude of 15,600 feet and a top speed of 180 knots. The clean-sheet design uses the new 1,300-shp GE Aviation Catalyst engine.

How 2 Flights to Europe May Have Spurred Spread of New Variant

If air travel represents an opportunity for virus transmission, what does it mean for airlines and airports?

Air Force To Issue Pilots New In-Flight Relief Devices

A new in-flight bladder relief device is available for U.S. Air Force pilots. The Omni Gen. 3 Skydrate for men is hands-free and automatically collects urine at 2.25 LPM, “keeping the user dry and on-mission.” The Air Force hopes these devices will reduce the number of pilots who intentionally dehydrate before missions.

Australia News Desk

Steve and Grant are joined by aviation author and historian Stewart Wilson to discuss the history of the F/A-18 A & B Hornets in RAAF service, following the type’s withdrawal from service this week.

RAAF F/A-18A Hornet A21-8 (msn 306/AF-08 – delivered 28 Aug 1986) in 75SQN markings, departs RWY16 at Shellharbour Airport (NSW) for its final public display at the Wings Over Illawarra Airshow – 28 Nov 2021. Image by Jai Balmer.
Group Captain Jason Easthope – aka “Easty” – shuts down A21-8 after the final public display of the RAAF F/A-18A Hornet at WIngs Over Illawarra, 28 Nov 2021. Image by Jai Balmer.

Mentioned

A Flock Of U.S. Military Business Jets Has Descended On Southern California

What Happens When You Drop a Cell Phone From 13,200 Feet?

JetTip Alerts for AvGeeks – This app analyzes air traffic for unusual flights.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, and Rob Mark.

681 Startup Airline Airbahn

New startup airline Airbahn, Boeing’s fighter bid is rejected by Canada, more on 5G and aviation signal interference, people try to bring the darndest things on airlines, what happens when you drop an iPhone from an airplane, an Australian water landing, A350 peeling paint, Airbus suggests a possible single-pilot freighter.

Aviation News

Airbahn: New SoCal-Based US Airline Startup

The CEO of Airblue (Pakistan’s second-largest airline) founded Airbahn in February 2018. The airline received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Interstate Air Transportation in October 2020 from the DOT. Airbahn has now taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 in the United States, an ex-Airblue plane now with registration code N786PB. Airbahn is currently hiring staff in California.

Airbahn logo

Based on their filing, Airblue will operate flights in the Western United States with service to mid-tier markets. Initially based at Long Beach Airport (LGB) or Orange County Airport (SNA), all planes and crews will return to base every day. Airbahn A320s will have 174 seats each, in a one-class configuration.

Boeing told its bid to sell fighter jets to Canada did not meet Ottawa’s requirements

According to sources, Boeing’s bid to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s with Super Hornets has been rejected. Bids were to meet requirements for missions at home and abroad, as well as for substantial Canadian economic benefit. Bids from Lockheed Martin (F-35) and Saab (Gripen) were accepted.

5G aviation fears: Mobile carriers propose to reduce power, especially near airports

First, we saw carriers delay 5G implementations one month to January. Now the mobile carriers are proposing a step further for six months: temporarily reducing base station power everywhere and limiting power near airports and heliports. This would give the FAA more time for further studies. The FAA hasn’t yet responded to the proposal.

4 things TSA really doesn’t want you to bring on an airplane

That would be guns and ammo, full-size hygiene products, alcohol, and fertilizer.

iPhone survives landing after pilot takes Airplane mode way too seriously

A pilot in Orlando dropped his iPhone onto the runway on takeoff, but the “Find My iPhone” app lead searchers right to it on the runway. Surprisingly, the phone was undamaged.

Video: Funny Exchange about an iPhone FOD on the runway!

Costly Airbus paint flaw goes wider than the Gulf

Airlines are discovering that A350 paint is blistering and peeling off, exposing the composite material underneath. On the orders of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar has grounded twenty of its 53 A350s. Airbus says it’s not a safety issue, but airlines want to know what’s happening.

Mentioned

US airman shot down over Romania in WWII is accounted for

Airbus CEO suggests A350 Freighter is a good candidate to implement single pilot operations

Two men escape serious injury after light plane crashes into ocean off Perth

Hosts this episode: Max Flight, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.

680 F-14 Tomcat

A former F-14 Naval Aviator communicates the military aviation experience through his novels, videos, and writing. In the news, the Rolls-Royce all-electric airplane appears to have set three world records, an F-35B crash, flight attendant bonuses for the holiday travel season, flying under the influence, and an open rotor engine demonstrator program. Plus, an Across the Pond segment.

Guest

Ward Carroll, F-14 Tomcat Naval Aviator

Ward Carroll is a former F-14 Naval Aviator who spent 20 years as an F-14 Radar Intercept Officer. He is the author of the bestselling Punk trilogy about life in an F-14 squadron. Punk’s Fight, Punk’s War, and the new Punk’s Wing are widely considered to be realistic portrayals of naval aviators in the context of a techno-thriller.

In his novels, Ward creates characters that are recognizable as representatives of real people doing real jobs. As an example, through his female character, Ward confronts the issues surrounding the integration of women into the Tomcat community.

Ward’s YouTube channel has grown to be very popular and gets much of his focus these days. He talks, as he says, about “airplanes, music, and writing . . . but mostly airplanes.”

In our aviation news segment, Ward shares the perspectives of a Naval Aviator as we discuss the recent F-35B crash after takeoff from a British aircraft carrier.

Outside the Navy, Ward has extensive experience as a military journalist. He was editor of Military.com and Approach magazine, and writes for the US Naval Institute. Besides his passion for aviation, Ward is a lover of music and plays in the band MiLES FRoM CLEVeR.

Find Ward at his YouTube channel. The Punk’s books are available on Amazon.com and on the U.S. Naval Institute website.

Video: The Real Truth About F-14 Tomcats and the Achille Lauro Hijacking

Mentioned: C.W. Lemoine’s YouTube Channel

Aviation News

Rolls-Royce says its all-electric aircraft ‘is world’s fastest’

In test runs, the Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Innovation” electric airplane has flown 387.4 mph (623 km/h). The company believes they have set three all-electric world records and await verification from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI): top speed over 3 km of 345.4 mph, top speed over 15 km of 330 mph, and time to climb to 3,000 meters of 202 seconds.

Video: Rolls-Royce | Spirit of Innovation – the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft

The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is part of the ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project and is based on the Nemesis NXT airframe.

F-35 From The Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth Has Crashed Into The Sea

The pilot safely ejected from the F-35B (the STOVL version) in the eastern Mediterranean shortly after takeoff from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. See: Probe after British F-35 fighter crashes in Mediterranean.

Other F-35 crashes:

JetBlue dangles $1,000 attendance bonuses for flight attendants ahead of holiday rush

According to a company memo, JetBlue Airways flight attendants could earn a $1,000 attendance bonus if they don’t call out through early January. Meanwhile, if they meet attendance goals, Southwest Airlines will provide flight attendants and some other operations employees 120,000 points in the airline’s frequent flyer program. American Airlines flight attendants can earn pay bonuses for peak holiday trips as well as for meeting attendance goals through early next year. $1,000 bonuses are available to other staff and regional airline subsidiaries.

A 63-year-old United Airlines pilot was arrested after being found four times over the legal limit. After drinking whiskey at a Glasgow pub during a 2019 layover, the man became fall-over drunk. A concerned member of the public tipped off the airline with a Tweet. The pilot was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

RISE Tech Plan Could Feed CFM Leap-1 Upgrades Through 2020s

GE Aviation and Safran launched the Revolutionary Innovations for Sustainable Engines (RISE)  initiative in 2021. This open-fan demonstrator program anticipates a mid-2030s application. It could also feed technologies to the LEAP-1 turbofan engine. The open rotor design features a second stage of fixed variable pitch stators, a fan-drive gear system, a compact high-pressure core for increased thermodynamic efficiency, waste exhaust heat used to preheat combustion air, and ceramic matrix composites in the hot section.

Across the Pond

Aviation from the European perspective with Pieter Johnson.

Two Vickers Varsity T Mk 1 aircraft – Copyright BAE Systems and Ron Smith

Trusted Traveler Programs

Our Main(e) Man Micah recently wrote a piece for Johnny Jet explaining the five Trusted Traveler Programs available in the USA through Homeland Security, and an announcement about NEXUS appointments:

Hosts this episode: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

679 Teaching the Next Generation of Pilots

Erika Armstrong joins us to talk about teaching the next generation of pilots. In the news, GE plans to split into three companies, preliminary details on the MD-87 crash, Boeing liability for 737 MAX crashes, and a Northeast Alliance update. Also, the Australia Desk and the MotoArt/Plane Tag festival.

Guest

Erika Armstrong, teaching the next generation of pilots

Erika Armstrong has had an extensive career as a Red Cross, charter, corporate, cargo, hazmat, and air ambulance pilot and captain. She flew 28 different aircraft before going to the airlines and eventually becoming captain on a B727-200.

We look at teaching the next generation of pilots and the effects of Covid on student pilot instruction. Erika has been focused on teaching student pilots to spend more time looking at themselves and understanding their startle reflexes in order to better react in an emergency. Erika also comments on student pilot diversity and the high washout rate.

Erika believes this is a good time to become a pilot and explains how business aviation has opened up due to the pandemic. We also hear how business aviation is different from commercial aviation, especially from a pilot’s perspective.

Concerning unruly passengers, Erika makes a good point that airlines and airports should look at how they can help passengers de-stress.

Erika is an aviation professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, the Vice President of Business Development and Director of Instructional Design at Advanced Aircrew Academy, and the author of A Chick in the Cockpit.  Erika uses the power of social media to educate and share the joys of aviation to inspire the next generation of pilots. Find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, her website, and @armstrongerika1 on Twitter.

Aviation News

General Electric Announces Split Into Three Public Companies

GE’s health care business is to be spun off in early 2023, then in 2024 the renewable energy, power equipment, and digital businesses will be spun off. What will remain is GE Aviation, the engine-manufacturing operation. See: GE Plans to Form Three Public Companies Focused on Growth Sectors of Aviation, Healthcare, and Energy.

Runway Excursion, McDonnell Douglas MD-87

The NTSB provided details of the fatal October 19, 2021 crash of Boeing MD-87, N987AK, operated by 987 Investments LLC. The plane overran the departure end of runway 36 at Houston Executive Airport (TME), Brookshire, Texas after a rejected takeoff. The left and right elevator geared tab input rod links were found to be damaged. This is similar to the damage found during an investigation of a Boeing MD-83​ which crashed after a rejected takeoff on March 8, 2017. See: Rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Boeing Accepts Sole Responsibility for 737 MAX Crashes, Wins Agreement that Avoids Punitive Damages

The joint court motion was filed by Boeing lawyers with lawyers for the families of the 157 victims of the 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia. The company accepted sole liability for the accident. Boeing explicitly agreed that the pilots were not at fault.

The defendant, Boeing, has admitted that it produced an airplane that had an unsafe condition that was a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s compensatory damages caused by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident.

American Airlines Ends 60 Years of Shuttle History With New York-Boston Exit

American Airlines acquired the legacy assets of the Eastern Air Shuttle when it merged with US Airways in 2013. American plans to end the Boston to New York LaGuardia service by summer 2022. Instead, Northeast Alliance partner JetBlue Airways will operate the Boston – LaGuardia route for both carriers. Boston to New York JFK and Washington Reagan National service will continue under American branding.

Australia News Desk

Steve and Grant provide news and views from Down Under:

Australia’s International Border Reopens

Virgin Australia re-opens new-look Melbourne Lounge and launches new menu

First QANTAS A380 to land back in Australia today

A question of timing – the future of the RAAF’s air combat force

RAAF’s mysterious surveillance missions from Singapore

Video: ADM Podcast – 100 Years of RAAF

MotoArt/Plane Tags Festival

Brian attended the first annual MotoArt / Plane Tag festival at the company shop in California. He spoke with:

  • Dave, a serious Plane Tag collector
  • Kevin White, the MotoArt Production Manager
  • Dave Hall, the MotoArt CEO

Mentioned

An Anniversary of a Disaster, & a Celebration All in One – November 12, 2021marked the 20th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in New York City.

678 Aviation Espionage

An aviation espionage conviction, a crew assault by the pilot, a 5G rollout delay, tests to protect airports from drones, more unleaded fuel approvals, a faked inflight emergency, aviation benefits from the infrastructure package, and a Southwest Airlines trip report.

Aviation News

Jury convicts Chinese national in aviation espionage case

The Chinese national was convicted of trying to steal trade secrets from a number of U.S. aviation and aerospace companies, including GE Aviation. Yanjun Xu was a deputy division director at the Chinese Ministry of State Security and he sought aircraft engine composite fan technology. He recruited aviation company experts and paid them stipends for travel to China, supposedly to deliver university presentations.

A Southwest pilot and flight attendant fought over masks. One was cited for alleged assault.

After an altercation at a San Jose hotel bar, the pilot was cited for alleged assault and battery, apparently over a mask dispute. The crew was staying the night at the hotel. Sgt. Christian Camarillo from the San Jose Police Department said, “The event involved a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks.” More details were not provided, but the pilot was placed on leave.

Verizon And AT&T Agree To Delay 5G Rollout Over FAA Concerns On Airplane Interference

In the last episode, we talked about the FAA’s belief there is some possibility of radar altimeter interference when the new 5G spectrum comes online. The FAA issued a warning to pilots and airlines while the FCC doesn’t share the same concern. However, responding to a request from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Verizon and AT&T will push out the new 5G spectrum one month, to January 5, 2022.

EXCLUSIVE: FAA begins first-ever drone tests to protect airports

The FAA has been quietly testing technology that detects and tracks malicious drones at airports. Last week, six drone detection tests were conducted at three locations at the Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey. The tests will expand to four additional commercial airports. The FAA UAS Sightings Report shows that these sightings are up sharply, about 100 per month.

FAA Approves 600 Engines For GAMI Unleaded Fuel

General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI) G100UL high octane unleaded avgas is now approved by the FAA for an additional 611 piston aircraft engines. That’s about 70 percent of the existing engines in service.

Airport Closed After Passengers Mount Audacious Bid to Get into Spain By Faking Illness and Causing Emergency Diversion

A flight operated by Air Arabia departed Casablanca, Morrocco for Istanbul. Into the flight, a passenger faked a diabetic coma, resulting in a diversion to Palma de Mallorca. With the arrival of an ambulance at the aircraft, some passengers jumped out and ran across the tarmac. The airport went on lockdown and inbound flights were diverted. Five passengers were arrested but several escaped.

Infrastructure Bill Draws Praise for Aviation Support

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the House and provides $25 billion in new funding for airports and air traffic control equipment. Non-primary and general aviation will see $500 million each year over a five-year period.

Trip Report

Brian Coleman speaks to our Main(e) Man Micah about a recent trip on Southwest Airlines.

Good Beer Blimp gondola
Good Beer Blimp

Mentioned

Max Trescott’s Pilots without Pants video


Purchase the Pilots without Pants calendar.

Bonanza Society boosts ruddervator replacement design prize