The former media relations manager at GE Aviation tells us about the 100-year history of a company that contributed so much to aviation. In the news, we look at the path forward for electric planes, hidden city ticketing, Boeing’s plans to employ a second flight computer on the 737 MAX, an employment cutback at ICON Aircraft, and a successful English Channel crossing on a flyboard.
Rick Kennedy retired after a 30-year career managing media relations at GE Aviation and he authored the book GE Aviation: 100 Years of Reimagining Flight. This insightful and well-researched book takes the reader through the fascinating history of GE Aviation and it’s contributions to flight. Rick describes the people, the technology, the engines, and the aircraft as well as the decisions made along the way that affected the industry. Profits from the sale of the book go to charity.
In our conversation with Rick, we touch on some of the GE aviation history and major milestones such as the high bypass turbofan and the airflow efficiency made possible through the use of ceramic matrix composite (CMC) turbine parts. Also, MRO strategies of the engine OEMs, military jet engines using GE’s variable cycle approach, electric aviation, the creation of CFMI, and the response to Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan engine.
Rick explains how the Boeing 737 MAX issues will affect all future aircraft. He points out that while all the technological advances we are witnessing today are exciting, our culture will expect the new technology to be as safe and reliable as what we experience now. That’s a very difficult challenge for the industry.
- GE at 100: Taking Power to the Skies
- 100 Years of Reimagining Flight, with Rick Kennedy
- Space Age Ceramics Are Aviation’s New Cup Of Tea
We’re seeing many companies developing (and even delivering) electric and hybrid-electric airplanes. But what are the hurdles and what is the path to widespread acceptance and use? It isn’t just all about new technology.
Hidden city ticketing is the technique of purchasing an airline ticket that makes a stop, getting off the plane, and the flight then continues on to the final destination. A traveler can save money when the long flight is priced lower than the shorter flight. Airlines are not too fond of the practice.
The Seattle Times is reporting that Boeing plans to use a second redundant flight computer to address the issue found by the FAA in simulations that could result in the plane’s nose pitching down. Just one computer was used in the past because Boeing was able to prove statistically that its system was reliable. In the new configuration, both computers would be used and pilots would receive a warning if the computers disagreed on altitude, airspeed, and the angle of attack. See Newly stringent FAA tests spur a fundamental software redesign of Boeing’s 737 MAX flight controls.
Icon has delivered about 100 two-seat A5 sport airplanes so far, but it is having difficulty converting some 1,800 deposits to sales. After a number of price increases, the retail price is up to $389,000. Icon president Thomas Wieners said, “We now have a very good understanding of costs. And while the Icon A5 is a truly exceptional plane, the necessary higher price lowers demand considerably and requires us to adjust the organization size as a result.”
Zapata flew his flyboard across the English Channel, covering 22 miles in 22 minutes, reaching speeds of up to 170km/h (106mph) during the flight. He refueled by switching to another backpack during the crossing, this time from a larger boat and platform.
The Whirly-Girls Scholarship Fund, Inc. is proud to announce the opening of the 2020 scholarship season. Deserving female aviators can apply for over $180,000 of helicopter flight training and educational scholarships. These scholarships advance the helicopter industry by strengthening the talent pool and increasing diversity. Applications are due September 1, 2019.