Advances in aircraft towing systems, personal flying vehicles, and a story about becoming an airplane geek.
Aircraft Towing Systems
Micah and Max interview Vince Howie, the CEO of Aircraft Towing Systems World Wide, LLC (or ATS). We learn how this company is working to lessen the considerable cost and environmental impact of aircraft movement on the ground.
Films With My Father
Our Main(e) Man Micah brings us a story he calls Films With My Father which explains why Micah is an airplane geek.
Hillel Glazer, our Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent has another “Beyond the Press Release” interview from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. This time he speaks with Rani Plaut, the CEO of AIR EV. The company seeks to create personal, intuitive flying vehicles at a production rate usually achieved with automobiles. They recently demonstrated flight and control at their facility in Israel.
We talk with a mergers expert about the proposed Jetblue/Spirit merger.
Amira elAdawi is an expert merger consultant who has worked with Fortune 100 companies, government entities, and international organizations on mergers and acquisitions. Amira has been featured in Digital Journal, CEO World, Startup Nation, and others.
We talk about the details of the Jetblue/Spirit merger, or perhaps acquisition is a better term. Amira helps us understand the value of the deal expected by Jetblue and Spirit, and how it might affect others. She also helps us appreciate the difficulties that can be encountered, especially in integrating the cultures of the two companies. Amira describes possible impacts on ticket prices when a low-cost provider is removed, and we wonder how Frontier or others might fill any “gap” created.
Amira was formerly a senior principal at Booz & Co, and an external advisor to Bain & Co. In 2013 she founded AMIRA & CO, a boutique global management consulting firm, working exclusively on M&A integrations and enterprise optimization.
In addition to management, Amira is passionate about teaching. She regularly coaches an immersive business boot camp on strategy and financial management and founded a microfinance NGO for single mothers in Egypt.
Amira is fluent in English and Arabic and holds a double-major BA in economics and international relations (magna cum laude), an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Master’s certificate in hospitality management from Cornell.
Sophie Mills, Sharon Utting, Emma Hawksworth, and Vicky Bhogal-Hunt work for Air Navigation Solutions Ltd. ANSL is the air navigation services provider for Edinburgh and Gatwick airports. They also provide simulation training for Cambridge City Airport. We discuss their experiences as women in the aviation industry.
JJ Frigge is president of Hartzell Propeller. He’s responsible for all operating elements of the business including the development and execution of Hartzell Propeller’s strategy.
JJ began at Hartzell in 2011 as the company’s controller. In 2013 he took responsibility for the day-to-day business team as well as managing the company’s marketing and brand-building efforts. Prior to Hartzell Propeller, JJ spent 10 years as a finance manager at Proctor & Gamble. He is on the Communications Committee of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
A 2001 Cum Laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame, JJ serves his community as a member of the board of directors and past president of the United Way of Miami County. He is also a past president of the Miami County Humane Society.
A human factors and ergonomics expert explains the importance of airline seat comfort and safety. We also talk with the founder and CEO of LiveATC.net and present our traditional Labor Day message.
Dr. Mica Endsley is the Government Relations Chair for the Human Factors & Ergonomics Society (HFES). She’s also president of SA Technologies, a situational awareness research, design, and training firm. She was formerly the Chief Scientist of the United States Air Force.
Mica joins us to talk about airline seats from comfort and safety perspectives, taking into account the scientific human factors data that is relevant to this subject. The FAA is currently addressing seat size at the direction of Congress so this is a timely topic.
The FAA should update its standards to account for widespread physical changes of the average passenger. This should reflect requiring seat widths and seat belts that accommodate 95 percent of the general population.
The FAA should mandate a minimum seat pitch to accommodate the seated height of 95 percent of the general population (38.5”). Alternatively, 3 or 4-point restraints should be provided, as is done in some aircraft for premium cabins.
The FAA guidelines should specify the inclusion of footrests and adjustable lumbar supports to reduce neck and back strains and injuries.
FAA policy on emergency evacuations should include consideration for variation in waist size in addition to age and gender.
When updating seat dimension standards, the FAA should take into consideration possible adverse health effects of airline seats and review whether larger seating spaces should be mandated for long-duration flights.
The FAA, internally as well as through the National Academies and the National Institutes of Health, should determine whether the body of research regarding airline seat dimensions is sufficient to draw a full range of recommendations. If there is not sufficient research available, the FAA should request additional research on this topic.
Mica’s educational background is in Industrial Engineering with a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Tech University and a Master of Science degree from Purdue University. She earned her Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering from the University of Southern California. Mica is recognized internationally in the field of human factors, situational awareness, and related areas. It’s very much an honor to have her speak with us today.
Rob Mark presents his annual Labor Day message.
Hillel Glazer, our Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent, brings us another “Beyond the Press Release” interview from EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. This time he speaks with Dave Pascoe, the founder of LiveATC.net.
The site is a popular resource for those who enjoy listening to and talking about Air Traffic Control. LiveATC.net is a listener and advertiser-supported site: volunteers with scanners can join the network and contribute data. LiveATC.Net was the first site to provide both live and recorded ATC audio transmissions with instant archive retrieval.
Hosts this Episode
Max Flight, our Main(e) Man Micah, David Vanderhoof, Rob Mark, Brian Coleman, and Hillel Glazer.
We learn about airline contact centers with an expert in that field, and we talk with a Hollywood pilot and aerial coordinator who is widely known for his work on Top Gun Maverick and other major blockbusters. In the news, Boeing and Airbus are both having narrowbody delivery problems, a new US aircraft carrier reaches a milestone, a new avionics market report has some good news, and the French BEA investigates pilots who didn’t follow procedure.
Airline Contact Centers
Justin Robins has had a long career in customer experience and contact centers, working at companies like Network Solutions, Intercontinental Hotels, Grizzly Industrial, and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. His expertise is in contact center quality assurance, training and development, and workforce optimization.
Justin is Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Evangelism at UJET. The company provides a cloud-based call center application that integrates with CRM (customer relationship management) solutions.
Justin discusses airline customer contact centers broadly, including value to the airlines, contact center metrics, and utilizing the data that accumulates. He also explains reactive versus proactive service and how channels have changed over time – beginning with 800 phone numbers, then email and web-based chat, social media, and now smartphone apps.
He explains the UJET approach where the contact center system is purpose-built for the airline CRM system. Justin sees a contact center future with increased automation, self-service, and proactive outbound service.
Justin has significant experience as a keynote speaker and business consultant and is frequently recognized as one of the top experts to follow in contact center and customer experience.
Hollywood Aerial Coordinator
Kevin Larosa (“K2”) is a sought-after pilot and Hollywood aerial coordinator who has worked on over 100 different motion picture and commercial productions. He’s Known for his work on major blockbusters like Top Gun Maverick, The Avengers, Iron Man, Transformers, and The Last Knight,
Kevin is licensed to fly a variety of aircraft ranging from helicopters and airplanes to Learjets and more. He’s an ATP-rated pilot trained and certified in a number of aircraft, holding type ratings in several Learjet models in addition to the C-130/ L-382 Hercules and the Sikorsky S-70/ UH-60. Kevin also holds an FAA Part 107 UAS rating for flying unmanned aircraft. He’s a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Motion Picture Pilots Association.
Supply chain problems are affecting both Boeing and Airbus narrowbody deliveries. Boeing is delivering 31 737 MAX jets per month compared to a pre-pandemic rate of 52 per month. Airbus is building 40 A320 family aircraft per month against a target of 75 per month by 2025. Engine suppliers are behind and Boeing plans to take engines off previously built 737 MAX aircraft and install them on newly produced airplanes.
Newport News Shipbuilding just laid the keel for the USS Enterprise, a Ford-class aircraft carrier. At over 1,100 feet long and weighing some 100,000 tons, the ship is powered by two nuclear reactors and features an electromagnetic catapult. Completion is expected by 2028.
The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) second-quarter avionics market report shows worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales up 11.7% from the first quarter, the eighth consecutive quarter of increasing sales. This is a 15.8% increase in total sales compared to the first six months of 2021, driven by a 35.6% increase in forward-fit sales compared to the same time frame one year ago.
In June 2021, two pilots in the cockpit of an Airbus A320 became engaged in an altercation. The copilot would not comply with certain instructions and the captain grabbed him by the collar. There may have been a slap involved. A flight attendant broke up the fight. Air France has suspended the two pilots.
A French BEA investigation determined that the crew on a December 2020 Air France flight at cruise noticed the fuel level was 1.4 tons below what it should have been. The captain went on a rest break asking the first officer and relief pilot to monitor the fuel level. After about 20 minutes, the discrepancy on the A330-200 had increased to 2.1 tons. The captain was recalled and fuel leak procedures were implemented, with the exception of a required engine shutdown. BEA says the captain’s decision to leave the engine running was not questioned.
We talk with two women aviators. The first had a dream of flying, changed careers, persisted, and eventually became a Boeing 777 pilot. Then a Marine pilot in training from Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 tells us about flying the MV-22.
In the news, the DOT wants to see action from the airlines, an Apple AirTag leads law enforcement to a bag thief, two pilots reportedly fell asleep and overflew the runway, and seaplane service expands in the eastern U.S.
This is the story of an insurance claims adjuster who went to flight school, left her job to become a flight instructor, lived frugally to pay off her debt, got married and had a child, and was furloughed. Tami was passionate about flying and very persistent. She flew charter and regional and she is now the First Officer on a Boeing 777 for a major US airline.
Lt Rachel Hardinger
Our Main(e) Man Micah spoke with Lt Rachel Hardinger USMC, a Marine pilot in training on the MV-22 Osprey. Her squadron’s mission is to “Train the world’s finest tiltrotor pilots, aircrew, and maintainers for the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron 204 traveled from North Carolina to Maine to perform training operations.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg wants the airlines to step up regarding flight cancellations and delays. The DOT sent letters to the CEOs of 10 U.S. airlines, saying the department is considering additional rules “that would further expand the rights of airline passengers who experience disruptions.”
The DOT plans to launch an interactive dashboard before the Labor Day weekend. Travelers will be able to find out what each airline offers in the event of a delay or cancellation. Buttigieg wrote, “The Department is creating an interactive dashboard that provides air travelers with a single venue where they can locate easy-to-read, comparative summary information on the services or amenities that each of the large U.S. airlines provide when the cause of a cancelation or delay was due to circumstances within the airline’s control.”
Two travelers reported missing luggage. One of them had an Apple AirTag inside her bag which indicated the location of the device. Police arrived at the residence and found the missing bag of one passenger, and just the AirTag owned by the other. A 19-year-old has been charged with two counts of grand theft.
According to the Department of Transportation, through May, 237,828 items of luggage have been reported missing. That compares to 132,071 bags during the same period last year. For detailed information, including the rate of mishandled bags by each airline, see the July 2022 Air Travel Consumer Report from DOT.
On Aug 15, 2022, the pilots on an Ethiopian Airlines flight reportedly fell asleep. ET-343 departed from Khartoum (Sudan) for Addis Ababa (Ethiopia). The plane passed the top of descent, maintained FL370, and continued along the FMC route for the approach and overflew runway 25L. At that point the autopilot disconnected and the alert woke the pilots up. They then flew the aircraft for a safe landing on runway 25L. Both pilots have been suspended and the incident is under investigation.
Tailwind Air announced nonstop seaplane service from Manhattan’s Skyport Marina (NYS) to Washington, D.C.’s College Park Airport (CGS). Scheduled service begins September 13, 2022, and will be operated by a fleet of Cessna Grand Caravans with eight Economy Plus leather seats. Tailwind is offering a “buy one seat, and a companion flies with you free” launch promotion available on the company’s website until September 10, 2022.
Hosts this Episode
Your hosts: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah.
The founder and CEO of AeroSys describes the company’s digital co-pilot. Deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner resume, a personal eVTOL, USAF eVTOL pilot training requirements, A-10 Warthog modernization updates, Wheels Up partners with ATP to draw in pilots, the Regional Airline Association disagrees with ALPA over the pilot shortage, and the B-52H may receive a new designation.
In this Beyond the Press Release installment, we talk with Mirko Hahn, founder, and CEO of AeroSys. The company is developing Goose, which they say is the world’s first certified digital co-pilot for commercial and general aviation. Goose is an AI-based, offline-capable voice assistant.
AeroSys says its mission is “to make single-pilot journeys at least as safe as a multi-crew flight and to replicate the pilot monitoring for all the operations where a second human pilot is not present.” Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent Hillel Glazer recorded this interview at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022.
The FAA has approved Boeing’s 787 inspection and modification plan and the company has resumed Dreamliner deliveries. On August 10, 2022, Boeing delivered a 787-8 to American Airlines. In September 2020, the FAA announced it was “investigating manufacturing flaws” in some 787 jetliners and deliveries of the 787 were halted in May 2021.
The Jetson One eVTOL from Sweeden weighs 86 kilograms (190 pounds) and is classified as an ultralight. Thus, no license is required to fly it. With a 20-minute flight time and a 102 km/hr top speed, the Jetson One can be ordered with a $22,000 deposit and a $70,000 final payment. However, production is sold out through 2023.
The US Air Force awarded Aptima a contract to identify pilot competency requirements for eVTOL operations. Using simulators of various eVTOL prototypes with different levels of automation, Aptima will determine the training needed for eVTOL pilots. Aptima training scientist Samantha Emerson said: “The learnability study will help us not only understand the baseline pilot skills and competencies needed for proficient eVTOL flight, but also the impact of automation on pilot performance.”
The A-10 Thunderbolt II (or “Warthog”) is undergoing a modernization effort to support fifth-generation fighters. The A-10 has 10 pylons and can deploy a number of standoff weapons. Being considered are the ADM-160 Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) and the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). In the future, the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) is a possibility.
Under the new agreement with ATP Flight School, Wheels Up can interview flight instructors with at least 1,000 hours. At 1,200 hours, if they are selected, the instructors can transition first officers on Beechcraft King Air 350, Cessna Citation CJ3, or Beechjet 400 aircraft. Wheels Up members can book private aircraft from the company’s fleet, as well as from third-party operators.
The B-52H is getting new engines (Rolls-Royce F130s) as well as active, electronically scanned array radar, cockpit displays, and other changes. That could mean it’s time to move on from “H,” possibly to the B-52J or B-52K. The Air Force hasn’t decided yet on the new variant.
A woman earns her pilot’s license at age 68 and now helps women of all ages successfully become pilots. We also have an interview with the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft. In the news, a hard landing injures a flight attendant, a mother/daughter flying first, JetBlue’s high turnover rate, flight cancellations and delays, a proposed rule for passenger refunds, and the FAA asks for public comments on seat size.
Maria Harrison-Dooley is the founder of You Fly Gal, an organization that provides scholarships and support for women student pilots. For decades Maria had dreamt of getting her Private Pilots License and at the age of 68, she accomplished that dream. Her motto is: “Flying is my passion, inspiration is my mission.”
Maria shows us that age doesn’t have to be a barrier when it comes to becoming a pilot. Noting the very high fallout rate for student pilots, she illustrates the critical role that community plays, especially for women student pilots. The Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots is an example of an organization that fills that need.
Sponsorship for You Fly Gal scholarships comes from several sources, including King Schools and Pilot Workshops, but individual donations are also welcome.
A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture to her T3 vertebra after a firm landing. She was reported to have been in her jumpseat. The pilots of Southwest flight WN2029 were making a visual approach at Santa Ana’s John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA). The NTSB closed the investigation without making any specific recommendations.
Mother Holly Petitt and daughter Keely Petitt flew the flight from Denver (their hometown) to St. Louis on July 23, 2022. Holly served as the captain and Keely served as the first officer. The airline’s Campus Reach Internship Program helped Keely learn more about aviation and the airline.
JetBlue is hiring, as are most other airlines, but employee retention is a big problem and the turnover is very high. So the airline is forced to over-hire. JetBlue estimates that by the end of the year, half of its workforce will have been with the airline for less than two years.
Bad weather caused more flight delays and cancellations. FlightAware reported more than 7,700 delays in the United States on one day last week. The day before that, the TSA screened 2.3 million passengers.
Under current rules, passengers are entitled to refunds if an airline has “made a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the consumer chooses not to travel.” However, there is no definition of “significant.” If enacted, the proposed rule would define the terms of a “significant” change and cancellation:
Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight
Changes to the departure or arrival airport
Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary; and
Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities available onboard the flight.
In the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, Congress directed the FAA to issue rules for minimum dimensions for passenger seats necessary for passenger safety. Since then, the FAA conducted simulated emergency evacuations and is now asking for public comment. This is safety-related, not comfort-related.
We pay tribute to Glen Towler, Dave Higdon, and Grant’s father, Jim McHerron, all of whom passed away since our last segment.
Australia is about to see a new low-cost carrier take to the skies, in the form of Bonza Airline, flying a small fleet of Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft. The first of those arrived in-country last week, and Steve is cringing at their proposed market strategy. Corny, you may ask? Well, it may be if you speak Australian slang.
In defence news, the RAAF has elected to keep Australia’s fleet of F-35A fighters flying, despite safety concerns over ejection seat components in a small number of US and Israeli jets which has seen those nations temporarily suspend operations. The Department of Defence has issued a statement saying an ongoing risk assessment regime has been put in place with regard to the issue, and developments are being monitored closely.
Our Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent Hillel Glazer interviewed business executives at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. His objective was to look beyond what anyone can read in company press releases.
A 737 plane crash flight attendant tells her story. In the news, JetBlue plans to purchase Spirit Airlines, Piper Aircraft and CAE partner on electric aircraft, 2 million aviation professionals needed, FAA wants secondary fight deck barrier, EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2022 numbers.
Melissa Gonzalez was a flight attendant aboard Miami Air International Flight 293 on May 3, 2019. The charter from Guantanamo Bay carried military and civilian personnel. While attempting to land on an ungrooved runway in heavy rain at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the Boeing 737-800 overran the runway, crashed over the seawall, and came to a rest in the St. Johns River.
In this episode, we learn about something we hope to never personally encounter – a plane crash – from someone who was not only there, but who was a member of the cabin crew. Melissa describes the chaos of a nighttime plane crash into the water and how her training overcame the resulting confusion. Thrust into a leadership role, she was instrumental in getting the passengers out of the plane and to safety.
In 2020, Miami Air declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. However, Melissa has a passion for flying and she’s now a flight attendant doing corporate gigs.
Spirit Airlines has decided to pursue a merger with JetBlue and not Frontier Airlines. Spirit had urged shareholders to accept the Frontier offer but didn’t have the support. The final vote was canceled and Spirit terminated the agreement. The JetBlue offer is all cash. If Spirit shareholders agree to an acquisition, the Department of Justice would have to approve.
The Piper Aircraft and CAE partnership intends to develop a conversion kit via a Supplemental Type Certificate for in-service Piper Archer (PA-28-181) aircraft. CAE will convert two-thirds of its Piper Archer training fleet and the conversion kit will be made available to third parties. H55 of Switzerland is set to provide the battery system and the kit will include a SAFRAN ENGINeUSTM 100 electric motor.
Boeing has published its Pilot and Technician Outlook 2022 – 2041. “The commercial aviation industry (minus business aviation and helicopter operations) will need 602,000 new pilots, 610,000 new technicians, and 899,000 new cabin crew personnel globally over the next 20 years…”
The FAA has proposed a rule that requires commercial airplanes to have a secondary flight deck barrier. In a statement, Air Line Pilots Association President Joe DePete said, “I am pleased that the FAA has finally taken the first step toward addressing this vulnerability after years of delay—delays caused by airline opposition and that have resulted in thousands of planes coming into service since 2001 without this critical security enhancement.” The proposed Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act is currently before Congress.
“This proposed rule would implement a mandate in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 by requiring that certain airplanes used to conduct domestic, flag, or supplemental passenger-carrying operations have an installed physical secondary barrier that protects the flightdeck from unauthorized intrusion when the flightdeck door is opened.” This document has a comment period that ends September 30, 2022.
Aviation training at the University of Maine Augusta, Boeing and Airbus orders at Farnborough, Delta TechOps LEAP-1B MRO, a fighter market forecast, an open fan engine demonstrator, dropping the KC-46 co-pilot, electronic bag tags from Alaska Airlines, airline pilots who decide to exit the plane, and rebalancing travel demand and airline capacity.
Aviation Training at the University of Maine Augusta
Experimental Aircraft Association president Tom Poberezny has died at the age of 75. Tom was EAA president from 1989-2010 and succeeded his father, EAA founder Paul Poberezny. EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton said, “It is not lost on us that Tom’s passing occurred on the opening day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the event he led into world prominence as its chairman beginning in the 1970s.”
Boeing received 172 firm orders at Farnborough while Airbus saw 85 orders. However, Airbus holds a much more significant backlog than Boeing and received a commitment for 292 jets from Chinese customers recently.
Delta TechOps will become a provider of MRO services for CMFI LEAP-1B engines. Delta TechOps provides support for Delta’s fleet of aircraft and more than 150 other aviation and airline customers worldwide.
Forecast International released a new study, “The Market for Fighter Aircraft” ($2050). The company projects over 3,855 fighters built from 2022 through 2031. In 2022 dollars, that represents $281.4 billion.
Airbus and CFM International are collaborating on an open fan (open rotor or unducted fan) engine architecture. The Flight Test Demonstrator is under CFM’s Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engine (RISE) technology demonstration program. Testing is on an A380 with the engine replacing the usual #2 engine.
The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command is thinking about reducing crew size on Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers during dangerous missions. The concern is that a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region could involve a Chinese anti-aircraft missile attack. Tankers are particularly vulnerable. Reducing the number of airmen onboard a tanker would minimize casualties.
Alaska Airlines is selectively rolling out electronic bag tags that can be activated up to 24 hours before a flight with the Alaska Airlines mobile app. At the airport, touching your phone to the tag will display flight information. No check-in is required. The program starts at San Jose International Airport in California.
It was a disagreement between the two after a 90-minute weather delay. Following an announcement by the pilot, the plane returned to the gate. Live and Let’s Fly claims “a credible source” said the captain was arguing with ramp agents and barking orders.