591 Aviation News

Airbus buys out Bombardier, the Gulfstream G700 makes its maiden flight, Airbus is testing a blended wing body aircraft, Boeing gets a 30 aircraft LOI for the passenger 747-8, Delta Airlines says they’ll spend $1B to become carbon neutral, a Canadian aviation museum seeks to appeal to people who aren’t #AvGeeks, the risks of turning off your ADS-B transponder, and the U.S. might block sale of the LEAP-1C engine to China.

Also, a great positive airline story of the week, an emergency AD for the Cirrus Vision Jet, the Girls Go Fly organization, a Harrier jump jet for sale, a really good sonic boom story, the oldest continuously operating military base in the world, and an addendum to last week’s baseball toss on a moving train scenario. Einstein would be proud. Perhaps.

Aviation News

Airbus Buys Bombardier Out Of Commercial Aviation For $591 Million

With this deal, Bombardier has fully exited the CSeries/A220 program. Bombardier receives $591 million, with $531 million paid at closing and $60 million to be paid in installments through 2021. Bombardier said with this deal the company avoids a roughly $700 million payment it would have had to make to fund production expansion. Airbus now holds 75% of Airbus Canada with the Government of Québec holding 25%, but Airbus can redeem the remaining government stake by 2026.

All-New Gulfstream G700 Makes First Flight

The Gulfstream G700 completed a successful two hour and 32-minute maiden flight, operating on a 30/70 blend of sustainable aviation fuel. Introduced in October 2019, the flagship G700 model has five flight-test aircraft. A structural test article has completed load testing. Powered by Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines, the G700 has an all-new winglet, it can fly at its high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 for 6,400 nautical miles/11,853 kilometers or at its long-range cruise of Mach 0.85 for 7,500 nm/13,890 km.

Airbus reveals futuristic blended wing aircraft design

Airbus has been flying a small-scale, remote-controlled blended wing body aircraft demonstrator. They showed the 2-meter long model at the Singapore Air Show. If the MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls) leads to a full-scale aircraft, it could cut fuel consumption up to 20%.

Video: MAVERIC, a “blended wing body” scale model technological demonstrator

Boeing gets LOI for 30 747-8 passenger jets a deal worth over $10 billion

Boeing received a Letter of Intent from Avatar Airlines for the purchase of 30 new 747-8 passenger version aircraft. Boeing has been selling the 747-8F freighter, but no new passenger orders were received in 2019. Avatar plans to operate low-fare scheduled service to large major city pairs throughout the U.S. and Hawaii, beginning with fourteen 747-400s using aircraft currently in storage. Then the airline plans to transition to the 747-8 with 539 economy seats on the lower deck and 42 business seats on the upper deck

Investor Video: Avatar Airlines A Radical Departure 11 13 19 VER

Delta Air Lines Commits $1 Billion To Curb Its Carbon Emissions

Delta Air Lines wants to be the world’s first carbon-neutral airline. To do that, they say that starting March 1, 2020, they’ll commit $1 billion over the next 10 years. Press release: Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon neutral airline globally. “The airline will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.”

Delta Airlines’ Claim Of Becoming Carbon Neutral In March Is Disingenuous At Best

Michael Barnard, the Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc. (The Future is Electric), is not so impressed, noting that the Delta outlay is about 0.2% of their annual revenue. He also takes issue with Delta’s statement that they will continue to use jet fuel.

The aviation museum for people who don’t care about aviation

If you are not an #AvGeek, aviation museums can be boring. But the Canada National Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa aims “to spark interest in those who don’t think they care about planes — especially (but not exclusively) women, who often don’t feel like aviation museums are a place for them.” The museum wants visitors to hear stories about people who are like them. Curator Erin Gregory says, “One of my goals as a curator is to feminize the collection and to try to have the floor be much more representative of all the people who fly, including women. I’m working to revise and revamp the museum to make it as inclusive as possible.”

Turn Off Your ADS-B, Go To Jail?

The FAA posted a National Policy effective January 24, 2020 [PDF] that deals, in part, with ADS-B transponders:

Page 9-13 says, “Single Acts of Misconduct Generally Warranting Revocation. Some acts of misconduct are, by their very nature, so egregious or significant as to demonstrate that the certificate holder does not possess the care, judgment, or responsibility to hold a certificate. These acts include, but are not limited to, those listed in Figure 9-5.”

The referenced Figure 9-5 lists 30 Single Acts Generally Warranting Revocation. One is “Operating an aircraft without activated transponder or ADS-B Out transmission (except as provided in 14 C.F.R. § 91.225(f)) for purposes of evading detection.”

See also, Owners seek battery ADS-B in nonelectrical aircraft.

U.S. weighs blocking GE engine sales for China’s new airplane: sources

In order to export certain technologies to China (and some other countries), you need an export license from the U.S. Commerce Department. The Chinese Comac C919 uses LEAP-1C engines produced by CFM, International, a joint venture between General Electric and the French company Safran. There are reports that the U.S. Government is considering denying GE’s latest license request, thus blocking those exports.

FAA Emergency AD Grounds Cirrus Jet Fleet

A cabin ground fire destroyed a first-generation Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet on the ramp, and the FAA responded with an emergency airworthiness directive AD 2020-03-50 grounding the fleet. The problem is with audio amplifiers that drive the audio/microphone jacks in the passenger cabin. The AD requires removal of the 12 amplifiers before the next flight, typically an 8-hour task.

Positive Airline Story of the Week

A couple flew home with their adopted infant. Strangers threw an impromptu baby shower on the plane.

A couple flying home on Southwest with their 8-day old adopted daughter found lots of love from the flight attendants and the other passengers.

Mentioned

Save runway 6-24 at Chicago Executive Airport. A safety runway needed by small planes.

Girls Go Fly

Barbie releases pilot and engineer dolls to encourage young girls into STEM subjects

International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020.

Airshow Harrier For Sale

With a Loud KABOOM, an F-105 Upstaged Our Air Force Graduation

590 Richard Aboulafia

David Neeleman’s new airline, Breeze Aviation; Boeing’s board of directors, the 737 MAX, the NMA, and the FSA; United’s flight school purchase; NASA’s experimental X-59 jet and the prospects for supersonic transport; and a Southwest Airlines Teddy bear. Plus, the Igor Sikorsky Weekend Fly-In, other upcoming aviation events, the EAA mobile unit, carbon monoxide detectors and pulse oximetry, and a physics lesson.

Guest

Richard Aboulafia

Richard Aboulafia

Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. He manages consulting projects for clients in the commercial and military aircraft field, and has advised numerous aerospace companies. He also writes and edits Teal’s World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing, a forecasting tool covering over 135 aircraft programs and markets. Richard also writes publicly about the aviation field, with numerous articles in Aviation Week, Aerospace America, and other publications. Frequently cited as an aviation industry authority by trade and news publications, he has appeared on numerous television news programs and has spoken at a wide variety of conferences.

Aviation News

JetBlue founder unveils new, Utah-based ‘world’s nicest airline’

The new airline being started by David Neeleman will be known as Breeze Aviation, headquartered in Utah. Neeleman’s previous startups include Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, and Azul. Breeze will nonstop fly between currently underserved airports. Breeze ordered 60 new Airbus 220-300 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in April 2021. The company leased 30 Embraer 195 aircraft from Azul, which will be delivered starting May 2020.

Experts question whether Boeing’s board of directors is capable of righting the company

Some think the Boeing board took a long time to fire Muilenberg. Is that an indicator of the board’s ability to deal with the crisis Boeing faces? New CEO Dave Calhoun says the board repeatedly considered confidence, but then in December decided it was lost. Richard Aboulafia was quoted: “The board you see today was largely created by McNerney, and he packed it with people with zero engineering experience.”

United Airlines buys flight-training academy to speed up hiring of 10,000 pilots

United Airlines needs to hire more than 10,000 pilots during the next decade. The airline is buying the Westwind School of Aeronautics in Phoenix, a flight-training academy, with plans to bring student pilots into the academy with zero flight experience to become fully-rated commercial pilots.

NASA’s experimental X-59 supersonic jet could be built by the end of 2020

The X-59 QueSST is designed to test “quiet” supersonic transport over land. The aircraft was approved for final assembly in 2019. NASA commissioned Lockheed Martin to build the plane and they expect to have it completed by the end of 2020. First flight is expected in 2021.

Video: Quiet Supersonic X-Plane

Unbearably cute: A boy lost his teddy bear on a Southwest flight – so the airline sent him a new one

 After a young boy lost his favorite Teddy bear on a Southwest flight during the Thanksgiving holiday, his mother took to social media to try and locate the Teddy. The airline assigned an employee to find the bear but after an investigation, the Teddy couldn’t be located. So the corporate office decided to send the boy a new Teddy bear along with a storyline on how it was coming to live with the boy.

Mentioned

Igor I. Sikorsky Weekend Fly-In at The Bradford Camps on Munsungun Lake in northern Maine.  Meals and private lodging in waterfront cabins are included. July 10-12,  2020.

College Park Aviation Museum

That Last Decade, by Courtney Miller.

The Air Current Expands with new analysis, new director

The Experimental Aircraft Association will deliver the excitement of flight throughout the United States in 2020 as EAA’s “Spirit of Aviation” mobile unit, sponsored by the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA), visits numerous events in 2020. The traveling experiential exhibit introduces EAA to enthusiasts through aviation activities for people of all ages.

AOPA’s 2020 Fly-ins (now in AvGeekFests.com)

#StormCiara at London Heathrow – 20+ Go-Arounds and Crosswind Landings!!

 

589 Coronavirus Impacts Aviation

What the Coronavirus means for air travelers, airlines, and other aviation-related activities. Also, a “test flight” program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the only US state without commercial airline service, the Collings Foundation institutes a ground tour policy, former CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s departure package is announced, a Boeing announcement about the NMA, and the crash that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 others.

Aviation News

The Coronavirus is impacting air travelers, airlines, and other aviation-related activities:

‘Test flight’ for people with disabilities to practice air travel

The Wings for All Program is designed for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make the flying experience better, or even possible. For many with these disabilities, the anxiety of being at an airport and flying on a plane can be enough to keep them from traveling by air. This program offers “flight tests” where the airport experience can be practiced in advance. Chapters of The Arc, local partners, and airport/airline/TSA personnel work collaboratively to design and carry out each Wings event.

There’s only one US state with no commercial airline service. That’s about to change

Delaware is the second-smallest US state, with a population of 967,171 in 2018, and a total area of 1,982 square miles, and it is the only state with no regular commercial airline service. Now, Frontier Airlines is returning to the Wilmington – New Castle Airport (ILG) May 14, 2020 with nonstop flights to Orlando. The airline left Delaware in 2015.

Collings Foundation agrees to offer ground-only tours following last fall’s deadly crash.

The Collings Foundation said it will now only offer ground tours for its airplanes. The foundation was the owner of the B-17 that crashed at Bradley Airport last year. This was part of an agreement it reached with the FAA. Hunter Chaney, director of marketing of the Collings Foundation said, “We have agreed to a temporary stand-down with our LHFE flights (living history flight exemption) as we work with the FAA thoroughly addressing questions regarding operations. We hope to have this resolved soon and continue this extraordinary living history experience.”

Boeing’s fired CEO got his $62 million payout confirmed the same day 2,800 people in the 737 Max supply chain were laid off

Former CEO Dennis Muilenburg forfeits a $14.6 million severance package, contractually receives equity and pension benefits valued at $62.2 million and retains stock options worth about $18.5 million. New CEO David Calhoun receives a $28 million compensation package, including a $7 million long term incentive award.

Boeing collapses NMA and FSA into a single search for its next airplane

Boeing’s new CEO, David Calhoun sent the NMA back to the drawing board to start with a clean sheet of paper. The New Mid-Market Airplane had planned to hold 220-270 seats.

NTSB details the final moments of the helicopter before it crashed, killing Kobe Bryant and 8 others

In his final transmission, the pilot of a helicopter that crashed, killing nine people including NBA legend Kobe Bryant, told air traffic control he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

Mentioned

Aviation Festival Americas 2020

Spray planes combat billions of locusts in Kenya

A350 engine shutdown incidents linked to cockpit drink spills

588 Aircraft Insurance

The recent rise in aircraft insurance premiums and how the increases can be mitigated, with AOPA’s Tom Haines. Also, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s NPRM for service animals on flights, Delta’s solution for transporting your pet in a luxury carrier, the Boeing 777X first flight, and vision-based flight control for General Aviation. Plus more on fuel dumping and some good airline stories from listeners.

Guest

Tom Haines on aviation insurance rates on the rise.

Tom Haines

Tom Haines is Editor in Chief and Senior Vice President of Media, Communications, and Outreach for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). He manages a staff of 35 writers, editors, graphic artists, photographers, videographers, event planners, communications experts, and support personnel.

Tom has been reporting on increases in aircraft insurance premiums and how that’s impacting aircraft owners. These hull liability insurance premiums are growing despite a downward trend in the GA accident rate. The reasons are related to the global insurance industry which has been beset with wildfires, natural disasters, and accidents. We look at other factors contributing to the  “hardening of the market,” including the severity of some accidents and the percentage of the fleet that is now composed of high-cost aircraft. Finally, Tom explains some ways GA pilots can mitigate the increased premiums.

Why insurance rates are increasing 10 to 100 percent

Tom also tells us about the AOPA regional fly-ins, which in 2020 will take place in Texas in May in conjunction with Go Wheels Up! Texas, Casper, Wyoming in June, and Rochester, New York in September.

As an update on some of the AOPA programs, Tom talks about the You Can Fly program that seeks to increase the pilot population, the STEM-based curriculum for high school students, efforts to increase the number of flying clubs, support for flight schools, and the Rusty Pilot program.

Tom earned his pilot certificate in his late teens and has logged more than 4,000 hours. He has a commercial pilot certificate with multiengine, instrument, and seaplane ratings, and holds type ratings in the Eclipse 500 and Cessna CJ business jets and has a second-in-command type rating in the North American B-25 Mitchell. He owns a Beech A36 Bonanza.

Tom oversees the publication of AOPA Pilot magazine, the world’s largest aviation magazine; Flight Training magazine, a magazine specifically for student pilots and flight instructors; the weekly AOPA ePilot electronic newsletter; the Flight Training edition of ePilot, AOPA Online; and the association’s video-on-demand channel, AOPA Live.

Tom is often sought out for his publishing and aviation expertise. He often speaks at regional and national publishing conferences and has appeared on news shows at NBC, CNN, and MSNBC. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Businessweek, and many other national publications.

Catch AOPA on their website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and AOPA Live on YouTube.

Aviation News

U.S. Department of Transportation Seeks Comment on Proposed Amendments to Regulation of Service Animals on Flights

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it is seeking public comment on proposed amendments to its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation on the transportation of service animals by air. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Traveling by Air with Service Animals provides the public with 60 days to comment on the proposed changes.

See Traveling by Air with Service Animals Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and U.S. Department of Transportation Issues Final Statement of Enforcement Priorities Regarding Service Animals on Flights.

Delta will fly your pet in a GPS-tracked luxury carrier — for $850 per flight

Delta has entered into an exclusive partnership with CarePod and launched “a new standard of travel with a state-of-the-art pet travel carrier that provides real-time updates for customers.” The CarePod pet travel carrier features industrial strength insulated walls, multi-layered windows and doors with specially angled blinds, a hydration system, GPS tracking and monitoring, and an app to view your pet’s travel updates,

See the press release: An industry first: Delta launches innovative solution for pet travel.

Boeing 777X Completes First Flight

The Boeing 777X has finally started its flight test program, hopefully with certification in 2021. WH001 is the first of four flight test aircraft and the Boeing 777-9 completed a three-hour, 52-minute first flight over Washington state. The plane is powered by a pair of General Electric GE9X turbofans and features composite wings and folding wingtips.

Video: Boeing 777X – What’s the Difference?

Daedalean, Honeywell Develop Vision-based Flight Control for General Aviation and eVTOL

Zürich-based startup Daedalean and Honeywell have entered into a technological and financial partnership looking to develop a fully autonomous AI pilot for General Aviation and Urban Air Mobility (UAM). Press release: Daedalean and Honeywell collaborate on vision-based flight control for General Aviation and eVTOL [PDF].

Dumping Fuel

Reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari talks about his personal experience on a jet that was forced to dump fuel.

Airliner dumping fuel.

Launchpad Marzari’s plane dumps fuel before returning to the airport.

Did The Delta Airlines Fuel Dump Possibly Prevent A Larger Disaster?

Video: Fuel DUMP over Los Angeles, WHY?!

Mentioned

The C-130 Large Air Tanker that crashed while fighting NSW fires — what we know about the plane

Coulson Aviation names three aerial firefighters who died in NSW tanker crash

 

587 Lightspeed Aviation

The Executive Vice President at Lightspeed Aviation talks about their new video series inspired by the people, business, and adventure of aviation. We also get caught up with FlightLink and ANR helmets. In the news, a new aircraft carrier is named for a WWII hero, the US Navy disrupts GPS systems, an autonomous A350-1000 take-off, Garmin electronic steam instruments, and the Delta 777 fuel dump over a populated area.

Guest

Lightspeed Aviation Executive VP Teresa De Mers

Teresa De Mers, Lightspeed Aviation Executive Vice President.

Teresa De Mers is Executive Vice President of Lightspeed Aviation responsible for marketing and corporate development. She is also a member of the company’s board of directors. Teresa earned her PPL in 1997 and an instrument rating a few years later. She loves flying small airplanes and the freedom that general aviation provides. Teresa joined Lightspeed in 2012 and she combines her passion for aviation with her passion for creating innovative products and market opportunities.

Lightspeed is focused on pursuing product innovation that brings new technology and genuine value to the aviation community. Their business model gives customers a personal and exceptional experience. The company also is privileged to give back through projects funded by the Lightspeed Aviation Foundation

As a way to help showcase the company’s passion for aviation, Lightspeed has created an episodic YouTube series titled Aviation – No Tie Downs. Recent episodes have featured an in-depth interview with retired Major General Hank Canterbury, some aerobatic flying with this former Thunderbird pilot, a tour of the museum of the US Air Force with friends from Sporty’s, a behind the scenes “day in the life” of an aerial formation team that flies general aviation aircraft, and a variety of interviews with international business leaders in the general aviation marketplace.

We talk with Teresa about the Lightspeed Aviation Foundation Foundation and some of its initiatives that are focused on growing the aviation population. The Foundation has partnered with AOPA on the Rusty Pilots program and the You Can Fly initiatives, and with the EAA and the Ray Aviation Scholarship program for young people who want to become a private pilot.

Teresa explains the Lightspeed FlightLink app that lets your iOS device act as a cockpit voice recorder. Recent changes include the ability to transfer files with Airdrop. We also hear about active noise reduction for helmets.

Find Lightspeed Aviation on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The Lightspeed Aviation Foundation is also on Instagram.

Also, check out the Lightspeed Blog with interesting articles by contributors, such as the Mountain Flying multi-part series by Colin Aro.

In 2020, look for Lightspeed Aviation at HAI Heli-Expo, Sun ‘n Fun, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, and AERO Friedrichshafen, the German trade show dedicated to European general aviation.

Aviation No Tie Downs: Pulling some Gs with Major General Hank Canterbury.

Aviation News

U.S. Navy To Name Aircraft Carrier After WWII Hero Doris Miller

A new aircraft carrier is to be named for a mess attendant who assisted wounded sailors during the attack on Pearl Harbor and manned a .50-caliber machine gun on his stricken ship. The carrier will be the first one to be named after an African-American.

Navy exercise expected to disrupt aircraft GPS systems across Southeast

A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) was issued by the FAA warning about GPS disruptions in the US Southeast. Navy Carrier Strike Group 4 is conducting “GPS interference testing” off the extreme southeastern coast of Georgia. This has the potential to disrupt commercial and general aviation. Also possibly affected are the Wide Area Augmentation System, the Ground Base Augmentation System, and the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast system.

Airbus releases photos of automatic takeoffs

Last December, Airbus tested an A350-1000 that was able to take off automatically, without pilot input. The Airbus system utilized image recognition technology and is part of the Airbus Autonomous Taxi, Take-Off, and Landing (ATTOL) project on aviation autonomy. Automatic vision-based landing and taxi sequences are planned for mid-2020.

Press release: Airbus demonstrates first fully automatic vision-based take-off

Video: ATTOL: Autonomous Taxiing, Take-Off and Landing test flight

Garmin launches electronic ‘steam’ instruments

Garmin announced the GI 275 electronic flight instrument that directly replaces legacy primary flight instruments in the cockpit. The GI 275 is suitable as a direct replacement for a variety of instruments including attitude indicator, attitude directional indicator (ADI), course deviation indicator (CDI), horizontal situation indicator (HSI), and engine indication system (EIS).

Fuel dump over L.A. schools puzzles aviation experts

Delta Flight 89, a Boeing 777, experienced an engine-related issue inflight and returned to LAX less than 20 minutes after takeoff. The airplane dumped fuel at about 2,000 feet over a heavily populated area. Reportedly, ATC was not notified of the fuel dump.

See also, Los Angeles teachers sue Delta after jet fuel dump over schools, playgrounds.

Mentioned

Vanderhoof International Airshow 2020, Vanderhoof, BC Canada, August 1 and 2, 2020.

Erebus Flight 901: Litany of lies?

White Silence

Electric Aircraft Pilot Training Is Arriving

586 Flight Shaming

A conversation about flight shaming with the creative director of SimpliFlying, an international aviation marketing consulting firm. In the news, we look at Airbus production rates and employment growth at its Mobile, Alabama facility, China’s struggle with the COMAC C919 airliner, the first autonomous flight of the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor, and how a fugitive navigated through the aircraft charter business to make good his escape.

Guest

Dirk Singer

Dirk Singer

Dirk Singer is the creative director at SimpliFlying and the editor of Airline Marketing Monthly, an aviation marketing trade magazine. SimpliFlying is an international aviation marketing consulting firm with a 100% remote team based in Singapore, India, Spain, UK, and Canada.

Dirk looks after the creative and content side of SimpliFlying. He’s written over 1000 articles on aviation marketing and produced special industry reports including a recent one on “flight shaming” and the aviation industry.

In our conversation with Dirk, we discover what flight shaming is (sometimes simply called “flight shame”) and the arguments its proponents are making. Dirk describes the industry’s response so far and how their messaging lacks the clarity of flight shaming groups. He also warns against industry counter-arguments based on the relatively small contribution commercial aviation makes to carbon emissions.

Flight shaming special issue of Airline Marketing Monthly.The climate change movement is not an amorphous mass. There are a number of climate change advocacy groups with some showing a willingness to engage in a conversation, and others not. The groups have differing views on commercial aviation and range from a ban on non-essential flying to a frequent-flyer tax.

Some LCCs are positioning themselves as “green airlines” and Dirk explains the dangers of a strategy that offers nothing more than high-density aircraft. We also touch on crisis simulation company Polpeo and their simulation exercises that can prepare an airline for a communication crisis over environmental issues.

For more detailed information and analysis on flight shaming, see Issue 83 (December 2019) of Airline Marketing Monthly. Free subscriptions are available.

Dirk has over 20 years of experience as a digital marketer. He’s created two agencies from scratch, both of which won agency-of-the-year awards in the PR and social media industries. In addition to working for brands ranging from Google to Phillips, Dirk’s aviation experience includes airports such as London Gatwick and airlines such as British Midland International.

Aviation News

Airbus Plans Big A320 Rate Hike in Alabama

Airbus has been producing five A320s per month at its Mobile, Alabama plant. By the start of 2021, they intend to increase the production rate to seven per month. Airbus’ worldwide goal is a production rate of 63 A320-family aircraft per month at its four assembly sites. To support the A320 rate increase at the Alabama plant, as well as manufacturing needs for the A220, Airbus intends to hire 275 additional employees over the next year. Airbus added 600 new jobs at the Alabama facility last year.

China’s bid to challenge Boeing and Airbus falters

China’s COMAC (the Commercial Aircraft Corporation) has struggled to produce the C919 (A320/737 class) single-aisle plane. It is at least five years behind schedule. A range of technical issues that impacted the test flight schedule. To gain approval from the CAAC (the Civil Aviation Administration of China), COMAC needs 4,200 test flight hours. Less than a fifth have been completed.

Bell V-280 flies autonomously for first time

On December 18, 2019, Bell’s V-280 Valor tilt-rotor demonstrator flew autonomously for the first time. “The V-280 performed an autonomous takeoff, conversion into cruise mode, precision navigation to various waypoints, loiter maneuvers, conversion into vertical-takeoff-and-landing mode, and landed autonomously.” Paul Wilson, the chief engineer for the Bell V-280 Valor program, was our guest in Episode #576.

Carlos Ghosn’s Pilots And Others May Have Been In The Dark – Forbes

Carlos Ghosn was an automotive industry executive. He was the CEO of Michelin North America, chairman and CEO of Renault, chairman and CEO of Nissan, chairman of Mitsubishi Motors, and chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance. He was internationally recognized as a respected business leader but he was arrested for under-reporting his earnings and misuse of company assets funds. While on bail, Ghosn escaped Japan through several clever charter aircraft flights.

Mentioned

Flower Aviation, a fixed base operator at Pueblo Memorial Airport (KPUB) near Pueblo, Colorado.

Wings Over Britain Facebook page and the WONZ Forum thread where you can contribute a donation to the cause.

Stunning ‘Elephant Walk’ at Hill Air Force Base Showcases 52 F-35s on Flight Line

Henry Mancini – Baby Elephant Walk

 

585 Wings Over New Zealand, Australia, and Britain

Preservation of World War II aviation history with Dave Homewood. In the news, we look at labor contract negotiations at US airlines, the latest on the 737 MAX crisis, the safest airlines to fly in 2020, the Punctuality League 2020 results, a great story from United Airlines, and why the A-10 Warthog can’t be stopped.

Guest

Dave Homewood on his ride. Photo by Stu Russell.

Dave Homewood goes for a ride. Photo by Stu Russell.

Dave Homewood is a New Zealander who grew up in an aviation-loving home. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1989 and served as a Safety Equipment Technician in the Safety And Surface trade till 1993. Along the way, Dave developed a huge interest in WWII air force history.

Living in Cambridge, he began researching the people from his town who’d served in the Air Force in WWII. That massive Wings Over Cambridge project continues today, along with the Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum that has become a hub for the New Zealand aviation community.

Dave created a podcast called the Wings Over New Zealand Show, or WONZ, and even hosted a live version of the show for several years. Taking the show on the road to Australia with James Kightly to visit museums, aircraft collections, restoration shops, and an airshow, Wings Over Australia was born containing interviews with interesting Aussie aviation personalities.

Dave interviews wartime Spitfie pilot Jim Robinson.  Photo by Peter Wheeler.

Dave interviews wartime Spitfire pilot Jim Robinson. Photo by Peter Wheeler.

This year, Dave plans to create a similar sub-series, Wings Over Britain, traveling to England to visit museums, airfields, aircraft collections, airshows and memorials and interview people involved in aviation there and particularly in the preservation of both warbirds and the memories of the people they represent.

Dave says he “will weave into the series the stories of the thousands of New Zealanders who traveled halfway around the world to fly and fight in the defense of Britain and the liberation of Europe in WWII. Particularly of note will be marking the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and also the Battle of France. During both battles, New Zealanders made up the largest number of non-UK pilots and aircrew to take part. I’ll also cover Kiwis taking the fight to Europe, including D-Day, and also Kiwis in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, and probably a few stories of Kiwis who also flew and fought in WWI.”

Dave is the editor of Sport Flying magazine and does freelance writing as well as research for other writers, and for warbird aircraft owners tracing the history of their airplanes, and for families seeking info on their ancestors who flew or served in the RNZAF. He also interviews veterans for his Courage And Valour: New Zealanders in the Italian Campaign podcast.

Aviation News

US airlines are set for a 10th year of profits. More than 120,000 employees want a raise

After ten consecutive years of profitability for airlines, organized labor is looking to share in the good fortune and also advance some quality-of-life benefits. Labor agreements with over 120,000 unionized airline employees are scheduled for this year.

737 crisis leaves Boeing badly behind in race with Airbus

2019 was a “disastrous year” for Boeing and 2020 will be “precarious.” Boeing has new leadership, the company is hemorrhaging financial resources, engineering resources are focused on the 737 MAX, and Boeing has lost strategic advantage to Airbus. Boeing faces a damaged reputation with airlines, regulators, pilots, and the flying public.

Revealed: The safest airlines to fly in 2020

Airlineratings.com announced the Top Twenty Safest Airlines for 2020: Qantas, Air New Zealand, EVA Air, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, TAP Portugal, SAS, Royal Jordanian, Swiss, Finnair, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, and KLM.

The site also announced the Top Ten Safest Low-Cost Airlines for 2020, in alphabetical order: Air Arabia, Flybe, Frontier, HK Express, IndiGo, Jetblue, Volaris, Vueling, Westjet, and Wizz.

United’s Fantasy Flight Makes Holiday Wishes Come True

For many years, United Airlines has taken children in need on a “Fantasy Flight to the North Pole.” This season, flights originated from 16 cities around the world.

Delta Air Lines is the Most Punctual Mega Airline in the U.S. for the Third-Straight Year, According to OAG’s Punctuality League 2020

OAG announced the results of its Punctuality League 2020, and Delta ranked number 1 for U.S. airlines in the Mega Airline category for a third consecutive year with an OTP of 83.56%. The U.S. remains a world leader for punctuality, finishing with four of the top 10 most punctual Mega Airlines and six of the top 10 Mega Airports globally.

Why It Seems Like Nothing Can Stop the A-10 Warthog

The U.S Air Force has given up trying to retire the A-10 and will instead upgrade the aircraft.

Mentioned

John Mollison from Old Guys and Their Airplanes has a new film titled The Mettle Behind the Merit – The Steve Pisanos Story. Produced with the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, it is about an immigrant who came to live the American Dream and ended up an ace and WWII war hero. An Educator’s Kit is available to bring the story into the classroom.

Important Charter Guidance for Pilots and Passengers – The FAA says this posting will be removed on January 19, 2020.

Contact Ground, Point Niner – OpenAirplane.com and FlyOtto.com have shut down.

584 Bits & Pieces XXVI

Bits & Pieces

Our Main(e) Man Micah looks back at his aviation activities from 2019.

Mentioned

AvGeekFests.com

Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

Eat at the Airport.com

 

583 Flight Planning with SkyVector

We talk about flight planning with the founder and CEO of SkyVector. In the news, we look at transferring funding for light attack planes to the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Aircraft Noise Reduction Act, Boeing’s Board of Directors’ decision to pause 737 MAX production, and Alaska Airlines ugly holiday sweater promotion. We also have the Australia News Desk from the boys down under.

Guest

David Graves, founder and CEO of the SkyVector flight planning system.

David Graves, founder and CEO of the SkyVector flight planning system.

David Graves is the founder and CEO of SkyVector, which provides worldwide aeronautical charts, online mapping, and related flight planning products and services. The company combines its aeronautical mapping capability with weather and data overlays, airport information, FBO listings, and more.

In 2003, David was working as a programmer for a Seattle startup. He took an introductory flight with a small flight school at Boeing Field and his first solo came after 4 months and 20 hours. He earned his private pilot’s license about a year later.

SkyVector.com flight planning went on-line in the fall of 2006 and by the end of 2009, it was experiencing over 100,000 unique users a month.  In 2010, David quit his job to work on SkyVector full-time. The World VFR and World IFR charts went live in 2012. Flight Plan filing went live in 2015, and at the end of the decade, SkyVector is being visited by over 550,000 unique users per month.

David explains some of the discriminators of flight planning services, the SkyVector user interface, and interaction with other flight planning products. We discuss data sources and improvements in accuracy and learn about the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) project which utilizes an automated system that integrates data from multiple radars and other sources to generate seamless, high spatio-temporal resolution mosaics. (Be sure to see the Operational Product Viewer.)

We touch on the SkyVector map layer with unmanned aircraft Notams (or “Drotams”), compare the new electronic flight planning tools with the “old” paper and pencil methods, and look at future flight planning developments.

Aviation News

Congress may have given the Air Force an exit door for the light attack aircraft program

Congress wants the Air Force to consider transferring some funding allocated for light attack planes to U.S. Special Operations Command.

Congressman Neguse introduces Aircraft Noise Reduction Act

U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse representing the 2nd District of Colorado has introduced legislation that would give local general aviation airports the power to set noise restrictions. Currently, airports must get approval from the FAA if they want to establish curfews or other noise-based restrictions on flight operations. See also, Congressman Neguse Introduces Legislation to Expand Local Control of Airports in Northern Colorado

Boeing will halt 737 production in January, following two fatal MAX crashes

At the Boeing Board of Directors meeting on December 16, 2019, a decision was made to pause 737 MAX commercial production in January 2020. Boeing will not lay off any employees during the production halt. See also, Halt or Curb 737 Max Production? Boeing Faces Difficult Decision.

Ugly sweater time! Alaska Airlines to give priority boarding to people in holiday gear

December 20, 2019, is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. It’s celebrated on the third Friday of December each year. Sometimes it’s called National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day, or simply National Ugly Sweater Day. In any event, Alaska Airlines has a promotion and passengers wearing a holiday sweater on December 20 will be allowed to board early.

Australia News Desk

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron bring us a news report from the Australia Desk.

Mentioned

From Jon Ostrower’s The Air Current: Pilot procedure confusion adds new complication to Boeing 737 Max return

‘World’s first’ fully-electric commercial flight takes off

Uber Air & NASA Launch Airspace Simulation To Enable eVTOL Future

Video: Uber Air

Top Gun: Maverick trailers

Voice of NBAA Podcasts Pete Combs Heads West

582 Airline Safety

We discuss airline safety in light of the newly revised EU Air Safety List and claims by Horizon Air of a lax pilot safety culture. Also, free admission at EAA Airventure Oshkosh for youth 18 and under, layoffs coming to Textron, space-based ADS-B, and a load stability system for helicopters.

Aviation News

Aviation Safety: Commission adopts new EU Air Safety List

The EU Air Safety List details the countries and specific airlines that do not meet the airline safety standards of ICAO (the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization). Entities on the list are banned from operating in the European Union or have operational restrictions within the EU. Banned from EU skies are 115 airlines, 109 of them in 15 states due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities in those states. For more on airline safety see:

Horizon Air warns about lax safety culture among its pilots

Horizon Air’s vice president of flight operations stated that the airline suffers under a lax safety culture among the airline’s pilots, writing in an email, “If we sit back and do nothing, we will have an accident. Nothing good can come of the trajectory we are currently on.”

EAA to Give Free Admission to Youth at AirVenture

Young people ages 18 and under will be admitted free to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh as a way to introduce more youth to the possibilities in the world of flight. The 68th annual Experimental Aircraft Association fly-in convention will be July 20-26, 2020 at Wittman Regional Airport. The Boeing Company is financially supporting this effort for the next two years to encourage more aviation-minded families and their children to attend the annual event that brings more than 10,000 aircraft from around the world to Oshkosh.

Textron filing gives more insight into forthcoming layoffs

Textron Aviation announced upcoming layoffs under a restructuring plan and didn’t provide details on the size of the workforce reduction. But a Securities and Exchange Commission filing indicates that about 875 positions will be eliminated. The plan will “improve overall operating efficiency through headcount reductions, facility consolidations, and other actions.”

Northern Virginia-based surveillance firm picks up airplane signals to save time and fuel over Atlantic

Aireon provides a global air traffic surveillance system using Iridium’s satellite network for space-based ADS-B. Reducing the separation requirements for flights crossing the Atlantic gives pilots more freedom to adjust routes and altitude for efficiency.

After His Search-And-Rescue Instructor Died On A Mountain, Caleb Carr, 25, Cofounded A Company To Help Stabilize Helicopter Baskets

When he was just 15 and training as a volunteer search-and-rescuer in Oregon, Caleb Carr’s instructor collapsed of an apparent heart attack. Due to high winds, the rescue helicopter could not put the swaying rescue basket through the dense tree cover and the instructor died on the mountain. Carr and Derek Sikora went on to found Vita Inclinata (Latin for “life by motion”) to provide autonomous helicopter load stability systems.

Mentioned

Airlines Confidential Podcast, hosted by Ben Baldanza (the former CEO of Spirit Airlines) and Seth Kaplan (transportation analyst for NPR’s Here & Now, former publisher of Airline Weekly.)

Rare 1954 Aerocar may fly off the auction block at Scottsdale

Flying Through Corona Arch!!!