The COO of an aerial firefighting company tells us about the aircraft, the pilots, and flying the missions. In the news: early Farnborough orders, the rebranded CSeries (now the Airbus A220), a Rolls Royce Hybrid VTOL concept, and an engine OEM says, “not so fast.” Also, Pieter Johnson’s aviation weekend (rather amazing), listener Nicki takes Brian on a flight, Hangar Hotel, and information about AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 gatherings of aviation podcasters and listeners.
Dan Snyder is the chief operating officer of Neptune Aviation Services, an aerial firefighting company and the primary provider of large airtanker services to the United States Forest Service for more than 25 years.
Dan tells us about Neptune Aviation’s transition from the Lockheed P-2V Neptune to the BAE 146-200 jet for aerial firefighting. In making its selection to replace the aging aircraft, the company considered factors such as jet spool-up time and how to slow the aircraft. Another significant issue was the culture change going from radial to turbofan.
We look at how the fire retardant tanking system was designed and the approvals required. Dan describes the life of an air tanker pilot and what Neptune looks for in a pilot. We touch on safety issues, Forest Service contract models, and aerial firefighting safety – now and in the past.
Dan has been involved in both flight and maintenance related aviation for over 24 years. At Neptune Aviation Services, he manages all of Neptune’s day-to-day operations, including aerial firefighting operations. Prior to his current position, Dan spent time in Alaska flying and maintaining aircraft. He served as Director of Maintenance for several repair stations and operators and flew for various corporate operators. Dan also has experience as a Part 142 ground and simulator instructor, a part 135 check airman, and an FAA examiner in several corporate jet types. Dan continues to fly and flight instruct from time to time. He holds FAA ATP, CFI, CFII, A&P, and IA certificates.
In Alaska, Dan flew a de Havilland Buffalo. This video features the Buffalo, but that’s not Dan flying (we don’t think): CC-115 de Havilland DHC-5 Buffalo STOL Takeoff.
The Farnborough International Airshow kicked off this week, launching the annual “contest” for orders. The forecasts point to the most aviation growth in the Asia-Pacific region. Airbus placed orders for 186 planes compared to 175 for Boeing. The A320neo picked up 159 orders and options and the 737 MAX received 145. Additionally, Airbus had orders for 27 A350 aircraft while Boeing reported that United Airlines had previously put in an undisclosed order for four 787-9 planes.
The same day that Airbus unveiled the A220 name for the jet formerly known as the Bombardier CSeries, JetBlue announced it would buy 60 of the A220-300 jets. These are to replace JetBlue’s 60 Embraer E190 aircraft and are powered by Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan (GTF) PW1500G engines. These A220s will be assembled at Airbus’ Mobile, Alabama, facility.
At Farnborough, Rolls-Royce showed a hybrid VTOL concept that could carry four or five passengers at speeds up to 217 knots with a range of up to 435 nm. The design should be flying by the “early 2020s.” The concept vehicle uses a gas-turbine to generate the electricity that powers six electric propulsors. A battery provides energy storage.
CFM International has signaled Boeing and Airbus to be careful about increasing their production rates. With record backlogs of B737 and A320 family aircraft, the airframers are motivated to increase the rates but CFMI wants to catch up before committing to a higher production rate.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson tells us about his aviation experiences over a weekend – one memorable, one hopefully not to be repeated.
Brian Coleman goes flying with listener Nicki.
Mike Harris from the Why We Fly podcast provided a run-down of some podcast / social media events happening at Oshkosh this year.
Nick Herring provides some very nice feedback and introduces us to V1: The Podcast.
Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.