Richard Aboulafia gives us his insights on the Boeing “middle-of-the-market” airplane, pilotless airliners, a comeback for Midwest Express, ATC privatization, United Technologies Corporation interest in Rockwell Collins, seat pitch, Russian and Chinese airliner programs, the Mitsubishi MRJ, and the HondaJet.
Richard Aboulafia is Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group. He manages both commercial and military consulting projects, and he analyzes broader defense and aerospace trends. Richard’s insights appear on television and radio programs, and in almost every major publication through his columns, his articles, or because he is being quoted. Richard writes and edits Teal Group’s World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing forecasting tool that covers over 135 aircraft programs and markets.
The Midwest brand disappeared in 2010 when Republic Airways Holdings, the parent company of Midwest Airlines merged that airline with Frontier Airlines. Now, a group of business and airline professionals have plans to bring the brand back. The Midwest Express website asks, “Remember when flying was hassle-free? It can be again!”
Previously, we pointed out Alliance for Aviation Across America videos featuring “Sully” Sullenberger arguing against ATC privatization. Karen Walker, the Editor-in-Chief at Air Transport World, thinks Sully is using his status to mislead people.
Steve Visscher joins us to bring us up to date on his activities and contribute to our conversation about Airventure Oshkosh 2017. In the news, we look at ATC privatization, saving money on new Air Force One airplanes, a 15-year-old girl takes flight, and a symposium for disabled airline passengers. Also, a song about SFO, airplane-themed eateries, some positive airline stories, viewing the August solar eclipse, and student pilot Niki’s continuing adventure.
Smokey Joe’s food stand outside Munich terminal 2, by Mark Newton.
Steve Visscher is co-producer of the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast, an air show announcer, and now a business development manager for Bright Events – Wings Over Illawarra, “the Sydney Airshow.”
The inaugural Wheelchair in the Cabin Symposium is scheduled for September 22 at The Base at Virgin Atlantic near London Gatwick Airport. The Symposium is supported by Virgin Atlantic Airways and “aims to engage stakeholders in the aviation industry and the accessibility world to discuss the possibility of creating a wheelchair space on board commercial aircraft.” Spearheaded by activist Chris Wood and the Flying Disabled organization.
The founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic explains commercial supersonic air travel. In the news, we look at a push out of FAA reauthorization, a court ruling on airline seat size, a NASA supersonic demonstrator, a couple of aircraft carriers, and United Airlines.
Blake Scholl is founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, the Denver startup seeking to build a commercially viable supersonic passenger aircraft.
We talk about the restrictions that have prevented supersonic flights over the United States, and how modern manufacturing methods allow supersonic airplanes to be built with much lower operating costs than was the case with the Concorde.
Blake describes how Boom aims to build a small supersonic airliner that is accessible and affordable, and not “a flying gas can with a billionaire in the front of it.” We look at the tradeoff between loudness and efficiency, as well as propulsion and airframe issues, and the objectives of the “Baby Boom” demonstrator. First flight of that ⅓ scale aircraft is targeted for late 2018.
Boom looks to have the full size 55-seat supersonic airplane in air at the end 2020, with first delivery to launch customer Virgin in late 2023. Blake tells us that Boom has 76 pre-orders across 5 airlines.
Prior to establishing Boom Supersonic, Blake held leadership roles at Amazon.com, and he was co-founder and CEO at Kima Labs, which was acquired by Groupon. Blake is an avid pilot and holds a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
Isaac Alexander at Boom Supersonic HQ June 2017, looking through the aircraft in virtual reality.
The Flyers Rights passenger group asked FAA to write rules governing seat space. The FAA rejected the request, saying it was a comfort issue, not a safety issue. Now a three-judge federal appeals court in Washington has sided with Flyers Rights and it goes back to the FAA for a better response.
A small-scale model of the NASA/Lockheed supersonic jet was tested in the wind tunnel in June. NASA will take bids in August to construct a 94 ft. demonstration model, and expects to spend $390 million to build and test the demo plane.
The USS Gerald R. Ford launched and recovered its first fixed-wing flight, an F/A-18F Superhornet from the Air Test and Evaluation Squad based at Patuxent River, Maryland. The carrier employs new technology, including the advanced arresting gear system (AAG) and an electromagnetic launch system, (EMALS).
The USS George HW Bush is participating with the Royal Navy in the Saxon Warrior exercise. Lt Cdr Michael Tremel of the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-87 Golden Warriors shot down a Syrian Su-22 Fitter, the first US air-to-air kill since a USAF F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 in 1999, during the Kosovo campaign.
Aviation journalist Mary Kirby talks about the airline passenger experience. Also, ATC privatization, drones and wildfires, a new Air France airline targeted at Millennials, congressional action to address airline seat size and pitch, and airline revenue from fees and frequent flyer programs.
Mary Kirby has covered the aviation industry for almost 20 years as both a journalist and an editor. After working many years for Flightglobal, she launched Runway Girl Network, which delivers news and intelligence about the airline passenger experience industry, and also highlights the work and accomplishments of women in aviation. Runway Girl Network is a go-to site that encompasses a B2B2C model.
Mary describes the objectives of Runway Girl Network and gives us the benefit of her knowledge concerning current airline passenger experience issues. Seat space, both width and pitch, continues to grow as a concern in the eyes of the flying public.
We also talk about the job of aviation journalists today, and the role of the vocal passenger. Mary considers lessons learned from the Network and the need for increased diversity of gender and color among those writing about the passenger experience. We also look at the gap in coverage of the passenger experience from the perspective of those with disabilities or reduced mobility.
In its press release [PDF] Air France describes Joon as a Millennial-focused carrier “aimed at a young working clientele whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.” Air France plans to start operating medium-haul flights from Paris-Charles de Gaulle later this year, with long-haul flights in mid-2018.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced H.R.1467, the Safe Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act into the FAA reauthorization bill as an amendment. The amendment would ask the FAA to study evacuations and issue regulations for minimum safe-seat sizes.
The annual study of airline ancillary revenues from IdeaWorks Company and Cartrawler, is out. For 2016, the big U.S. legacy airlines are the ones hauling in the most ancillary revenues.
Nicki and her flight instructor.
In May, we received an email from listener Nicki. She was asking our advice about starting flying lessons in her late 30s and making a possible career change into flying. Nicki enjoys flying and in college, her friends used to take her up and let her fly the plane. At the time, Nicki couldn’t afford flying lessons and even now it would be a stretch for her.
Well, Nicki has started to take some steps and sent us a recording describing her progress so far.
The founder and CEO of Metamaterial Technologies explains the effects on pilots of aircraft laser strikes, and the new technology that protects pilots. In the news, we look at a future where airlines pay you to fly, biometric facial-recognition technology at the airport, how climate change may impact aviation, a very close call at SFO, and odors in the cabin.
Metamaterial Technologies Inc. demonstrates the metaAIR™ film that provides pilots with protection from laser strikes. (Photo courtesy Metamaterial Technologies Inc.)
George Palikaras is an entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of Metamaterial Technologies Inc. MTI is a smart materials and photonics company working on some difficult problems that involve light, including the threat to pilots of laser strikes.
We explore the danger to pilots of laser strikes, such as temporary flash blindness, glare and disruption, and distraction. George explains the metaAIR™ metamaterial thin film that can be applied to cockpit windows and provide protection from laser strikes. metaAIR has been tested with Airbus and has the additional benefit of providing UV protection in daylight.
The sales strategy for metaAIR is being worked out with Satair Group. (Satair provides an integrated portfolio of material management services.) MTI is also developing very thin solar cells that could have aviation applications.
George was a post-doctoral researcher at Queen Mary University in London working on wearable and implantable sensors projects. He founded Medical Wireless Sensing Ltd. (MediWise), a research and development medtech company based in London. In 2014, George received the Frost & Sullivan Global Aerospace Product Leadership Award for Lamda Guard metaAIR.
When asked about how low airline fares can go, WOW Air founder and CEO Skúli Mogensen told Business Insider, “I can see a day when we pay you to fly.” Ticket prices continue to tumble while airlines generate significant revenue from fees for services and partnerships with hotels, car rental agencies, restaurants, and other travel industry players. Where do the trends end?
Biometric facial-recognition technology was piloted last year at Atlanta International Airport, and it’s been deployed at Washington Dulles and George Bush Intercontinental Airport. Now US Customs and Border Protection is bringing facial recognition biometric exit technology to Chicago O’Hare International Airport for select flights.
Researchers from Columbia University and Virginia’s Logistics Management Institute modeled how aircraft departures will be affected by hotter days driven by climate change. They say airlines will have to reduce weight, meaning people, cargo, or fuel.
The International Business Times reported that a sick man “broke wind so violently it caused nausea and headaches among his fellow passengers.” An airport employee reported that, “The resulting smell was so noxious that fellow passengers became ill and were rushed off the flight.”
Long-time aviation industry veteran Jon Norris is the senior director, corporate sales & marketing for Panasonic Avionics. He describes the Panasonic NEXT in-flight entertainment and connectivity system.
Dan Pimentel tells us about the #Oshbash social media meetup coming up at Airventure Oshkosh 2017. We also look into freelance writing for aviation publications and the Airplanista Aviation Blog. In the news, we talk about support for supersonic civil air travel in the FAA reauthorization bills before Congress, ATC privatization, United Airlines in the press again, and Turkey’s first female professional acrobatics pilot.
We also explore freelance writing for aviation publications, look at the process, and learn some tips for success. Along the way, we discuss ATC privatization, rivets and clecos, preserving EAA history, the importance of collegiate aviation programs, and how airshow performers physically and mentally prepare for the task.
Since 1973, there has been a ban on supersonic travel in the U.S. over land. However, both FAA reauthorization bills in Congress direct the FAA to revisit that restriction and determine if changes need to be made. An amendment to the House bill directs the FAA to “consider the needs of the aerospace industry and other stakeholders when creating policies, regulations, and standards that enable the safe commercial deployment of civil supersonic aircraft technology and the safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.”
A middle school teacher traveling from Hawaii to a teacher’s conference in Boston purchased a ticket for herself, and one for her two-year-old 25-pound son. Waiting onboard the Houston to Boston leg, she was told another passenger had a valid boarding pass for the son’s seat. Rather than make a scene, the boy flew on her lap for the 3 ½ hour flight. According to a United spokesman, the boy’s boarding pass scan had been unsuccessful and he wasn’t logged in to the system. His seat was released to a standby passenger.
26-year-old Semin Öztürk is Turkey’s first female professional aerobatics pilot. She flew to great acclaim at a recent air show organized by the International Sportive Aviation Center and featuring 25 acrobatic pilots from Turkey. She began flying when she was 12 years old and her father was also an aerobatics pilot.
Jeanette Remak and Joe Ventolo Jr. from Phoenix Aviation Research tell the story behind the Lockheed A-12 Blackbird at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. In the news, we look at FAA reauthorization bills and the battle shaping up in Congress, this year’s Paris Air Show, the Catalina Flying Boats’ DC-3 aircraft, the youngest pilot in Australia, and an Israeli court ruling on reseating women in the airplane.
Janet Remak and Joe Ventolo Jr. with the A-12 on the Intrepid.
Jeannette Remak is the owner of Phoenix Aviation Research. She’s a military aviation historian, a writer, author, artist, and photographic engineer. Her books include XB-70 Valkyrie: The Ride to Valhalla and A-12 Blackbird: Declassified.
In the mid-1990s, Jeannette worked as the volunteer Aircraft Historian for the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan. She performed research for maintenance and restoration, and worked on the aircraft under her control at the museum, including many U.S. Naval and U.S. Air Force aircraft on loan. Jeannette restored sheet metal, she controlled airframe titanium corrosion, and she appropriated parts and specialized equipment for work on A-12 aircraft.
Working with the US Navy’s Curator office, Jeannette is responsible for the rescue of the Sikorsky RH-53D that is the lone survivor of the failed United States hostage rescue mission in Iran. The CH-53D is now restored and on display at the JFK/ US Navy Seal Training School in North Carolina.
Jeannette has a degree in Commercial Photographic Engineering and obtained her Master’s Degree in Aviation Science in 2000. Jeannette also has a degree in Commercial Photography from the NY Institute of Photography.
Joseph A. Ventolo, Jr. is the former curator of the National Museum of the US Air Force. His career started in November 1959 when Joe joined the 269th Combat Communications Squadron of the Ohio Air National Guard. In 1965, he received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant as a communications officer. He left the Ohio Air National Guard in 1966 and transferred to the Air Force Reserve where he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant and remained in the Air Force Reserve until 1970.
In 1962, Joe joined the staff of the U.S. Air Force Motion Picture Film Archives at Wright-Patterson AFB as a Motion Picture Archivist. In 1979, he transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum’s Research Division as the Museum’s Historian. Two years later he became a Curator of Aeronautics. Joe has co-authored articles that appeared in such periodicals as Air Enthusiast, WW I Aero, and Friends Bulletin. In 1993 he was appointed Curator of the U.S. Air Force Museum and named Curator of the United States Air Force. He remained in that position until his retirement in 1995.
Joe is currently a co-owner/consultant with Phoenix Aviation Research. He has co-authored articles in the Atlantic Flyer, and written three aviation books, all with Jeannette Remak.
Their first book, XB-70 Valkyrie: The Ride to Valhalla was published in December 1998. Their second book, A-12 Blackbird: Declassified, was published in December 2000. And a third book, The Archangel and the OXCART: The Lockheed A-12 Blackbirds and the Dawn of Mach III Reconnaissance was published in 2008.
Boeing said it has 240 orders and commitments. Some orders are conversions from earlier orders for other MAX models. The MAX 10 is a stretch of the MAX 9 that seats up to 230 passengers and is designed to compete with the Airbus A321neo.
Airbus launched a new open aviation data platform called Skywise to support digital transformation of the industry. The Skywise aviation data platform was developed in collaboration with Palantir Technologies. See the video: Airbus launches new open aviation data platform, Skywise.
Test pilot Billie Flynn told Aviation Week, “After 10 years since first flight, with our first opportunity to demonstrate the capabilities and the maneuverability of the F-35, we are going to crush years of misinformation about what this aircraft is capable of doing,”
Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. introduced a proposed FAA reauthorization bill in the House. The Bill prohibits passengers from being removed from a flight after they’ve boarded, privatizes ATC, and requires airlines to post resources for stranded passengers online when the airline is disrupted by a computer outage. It also calls for the faster development of a traffic management system for small drones, faster approval process for commercial drone operators, and a new certification system for small-drone commercial operators.
We cover the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum’s 2017 Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display with a series of interviews.
Max and David at the 2017 Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display. Photo by Brad Jefferson.
We participated in the National Air & Space Museum’s 2017 Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display. This annual event is held at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, adjacent to Dulles International Airport.
Innovations in Flight Interviews
We recorded a number of great conversations at the event. These follow, along with start times:
United States Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Nowland is Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. 2017 is the 70th anniversary of the USAF and the theme is Powered by Innovation. We talk about the shortage of pilots, the need to get more young people interested in aviation, and remotely piloted aircraft. [2:45]
Caroline Sheen is the Photography and Art Editor for Air & Space Magazine. We talk about finding photographs to support the articles. These come from many sources, such as archives, photographers, or Caroline herself. She gives us some tips for aviation photography and what she looks for as a photo editor. Be sure to look on newsstands for the special issue: 50 Greatest Moments of the Space Age. [15:16]
Christopher Watson is the FAA Emergency Communications Program Manager, Command and Control Communications Systems, under the Office of National Security Programs and Incident Response. Their emergency response vehicle was on open display and Chris describes how it responds to natural disaster relief, accident sites, and special security events. We also talk about the FAA’s B4UFLY smartphone app, a valuable resource for drone operators. [25:25]
Harry Hartfield with Amazon Prime Air described the company’s vision for package delivery: packages of five pounds or less delivered in 30 minutes or less. Amazon Prime has developed different drone models for different environments, and also sophisticated sense and avoid technology. [32:22]
Student Kathryn attended the event as part of a San Diego middle school trip to the East Coast. [37:58]
Hillel Glazer and his son Jacob flew their 1972 Piper Cherokee 180 to the event and had the aircraft on display. We talk about the flight in, the people who came by to look at the plane, and we watch the B-2 flyover. [41:05]
Five things to watch for at the 2017 International Paris Air Show. Also, a ruling that allows the Commerce Department to proceed with its investigation of claims by Boeing that Bombardier is engaging in unfair pricing, the European Union proposes rules for complaints of alleged discriminatory practices, a temporarily grounding of F-35 fighters, certification of the Diesel Cessna Skyhawk JT-A, and the Director General’s Report to the IATA Annual General Meeting.
Paris Air Show Preview
Anand Parameswaran, Sr. Vice President – Aerospace & Defence, at Cyient authored What to watch out for at the 2017 International Paris Air Show. The report details five areas that warrant our attention:
The OEM migration from manufacturer to service provider
The impact of global politics on the defense industry
Building the future aircraft with additive manufacturing
Automating the A&D lifecycle
The rise of the East and Chinese influence in aerospace
Cyient is a global leader in engineering design services, design-led manufacturing, networks and operations, data transformation and analytics.
Anand Parameswaran heads up global Aerospace and Defence at Cyient and leverages Cyient’s capability across product design, manufacturing, and aftermarket solutions. He works around the world with OEMs and tier 1 suppliers.
The U.S. International Trade Commission has ruled that the Commerce Department can proceed with its investigation of claims by Boeing that Bombardier is selling jets in the U.S. at below fair price. Boeing says the CSeries planes benefit from illegal government subsidies. Canada warned it could cancel a planned $2 billion purchase of 18 Boeing military jets over the dispute.
News Release 17-087, June 9, 2017: “The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) today determined that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is threatened with material injury by reason of imports of 100- to 150-seat large civil aircraft from Canada that are allegedly subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value.”
“As a result of the Commission’s affirmative determinations, the U.S. Department of Commerce will continue to conduct its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on imports of this product from Canada, with its preliminary countervailing duty determination due on or about July 21, 2017, and its antidumping duty determination due on or about October 4, 2017.”
Air France KLM and Lufthansa have been complaining that Gulf carriers receive illegal government subsidies. Emirates, Qatar Airways, and Etihad all deny the charge. Now the European Union has proposed rules to allow EU governments and airlines to submit complaints of alleged discriminatory practices to the European Commission.
The U.S. Air Force temporarily grounded F-35 fighters at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona because of five incidents where pilots reported hypoxia symptoms. In each case, the airplane’s backup oxygen system worked as designed and the pilot was able to land the plane safely.
The Director General’s Report on the Global Air Transport Industry was delivered at the IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Cancun, Mexico.
Overall the air transport industry is generating profits above its cost of capital. In 2017 the global airline industry is expected to generate a $31.4 billion profit on $743 billion in revenues.
Protectionism is replacing globalization, and that’s a threat to the industry.
Flying remains the safest form of long distance travel. IATA is concerned about states not fully investigating air accidents.
The landmark Carbon Offset and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA) was agreed to at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) 39th Assembly. Seventy states representing at least 80% of anticipated future growth have indicated their voluntary participation in the scheme. The U.S. pulling out of Paris Agreement is cause for concern.
Alternatives must be found to the electronics ban on large portable electronic devices.
IATA is concerned about a looming infrastructure crisis is looming. Existing infrastructure is inadequate and development plans are not ambitious enough.
IATA urged governments to be cautious when privatizing infrastructure assets.
Brian asks, “How do aviation writers come up with aviation topics?”
U.S. Air Force F-35A “AF-78” tail number 13-5072 from the 388th Fighter Wing at Hill AFB, Utah performed a low show aerial demonstration practice for the 2017 Paris Air Show, near Fort Worth, Texas. Aviation photographer Caulun Belcher of Texas shot the video of the F-35A rehearsal.
We talk with Kitfox Aircraft about kit-built airplanes. Also, a digital co-pilot for GA, the Stratolaunch airplane, Middle Eastern airlines shun Qatar, an aviation-themed playground, the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force wants mandatory budget caps removed, and President Trump wants the U.S. air traffic control system privatized. We also have a very informative listener recording about pulling through and hand propping radial engines.
Kitfox Aircraft S7 Super Sport
Kitfox Aircraft is owned and operated by John and Debra McBean from the Homedale Municipal Airport (S66) in southwest Idaho. The McBean’s were builders before they owned the company and they often helped other builders with their projects. John McBean holds commercial and instructor ratings and we welcome him to the Airplane Geeks podcast.
Also joining us from Kitfox is Brandon Petersen who joined the team in 2012 as the wing builder. His role has evolved over time. You can find his fingerprints on the company social media posts, videos, wings, and fiberglass products that are shipped to builders around the world.
The original Kitfox Model I was introduced at Oshkosh AirVenture in 1984 by Denney Aerocraft. The modern Kitfox has stayed true to the concept of the original design – it’s a fun, comfortable, and affordable airplane that can be easily built without any special tools or training.
Kitfox Aircraft is introducing the Kitfox Speedster at EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2017. Based on the Series 7 platform, it offers a bigger fuselage, higher gross weight capability, a shortened wing, and a cleaned up and faired airframe. This allows the builder to get up and go fast without giving up a whole lot of the STOL characteristics of the airplane.
The plane going to Air Venture will display a new brightly colored paint scheme designed by Jason Noll of Dream Scheme Designs. It pays homage to the original Speedster with a modern twist. Kitfox has arranged with Kyle Franklin to perform with the Speedster in the air show. Kyle’s late father Jimmy flew the original Speedster.
Kitfox Aircraft Speedster with paint scheme designed by Jason Noll of Dream Scheme Designs,
Researchers from Mitre Corp.’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development have developed a “Digital Copilot.” The concept is that general aviation single-pilot flight operations would benefit from a tablet app that monitors and communicates safety-critical flight information to the pilot.
The Stratolaunch is a twin fuselage, 385-foot wingspan aircraft designed to carry a launch vehicle as part of an air launch to orbit system. What is not called Stratolaunch Systems Corporation was officially announced in December 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Egypt have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, and have broken off relations with that country. As a result, Etihad, Emirates, Fly Dubai, and Gulf Air are discontinuing flights in and out of the capital of Qatar, Doha. The Qatari government called this “unjustified and based on baseless allegations.”
Stafford Regional Airport in Virginia is building a playground around an aviation theme. Two nonprofits are making this happen: EAA Chapter 1099 and Rappahannock Aviation Outreach, a non-profit organization based in Stafford, Virginia focused on community outreach programs and initiatives that educate and inspire youth in aviation.
Dr. Heather Wilson was the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress. More recently, the US Senate confirmed her nomination as U.S. Secretary of the Air Force on May 8, 2017. Wilson has now asked Congress to remove the mandatory budget caps of the Budget Control Act.