Microsoft Flight Simulator returns in 2020, Launchpad Marzari talks with the operations manager and the chief pilot at Skydive Spaceland San Marcos, the Boeing 737 has an issue with slats, fun facts about business jets, Raytheon and United Technologies propose a merger, airport facial scans raise privacy concerns, and an electric hybrid Cessna 337 Skymaster takes flight.
Advocacy group No Plane, No Gain offers data that illustrates the importance of business aviation, such as jobs supported, economic activity, accessibility to locations not served by airlines, humanitarian missions, and many more.
Under the proposed merger, UTCs aerospace unit would combine with Raytheon in an all-stock transaction to create Raytheon Technologies Corporation. As previously planned, Carrier and Otis would spin off UTC as distinct companies.
The Ampaire Inc. six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster was retrofitted with a proprietary battery-powered electric propulsion system that replaces the rear combustion engine. The “resulting system is a ‘parallel hybrid’, meaning the internal combustion engine and electric motor work in concert to optimize power output as the plane flies.”
Skydive Spaceland (Part 2)
Two final interviews conclude the report by Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari on his visit to Skydive Spaceland: Thomas Hughes, Operations Manager, Skydive Spaceland, San Marcos; and Chief pilot Matt Wampler.
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari goes skydiving! Our Main(e) Man Micah talks with Bunk and Diana Chase about the Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast & Fly-In. A proud papa talks with a new Civil Air Patrol cadet, and more on cryogenic hydrogen fuel cells for electric airplanes. In the news, an eVTOL with a claimed 400-mile range, the CBS interview with Boeing’s CEO, a report on assumptions made during 737 MAX design and certification, and a rather strange story about trapping flight attendants in the plane.
Alaka’i Technologies is an electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxi company in the news. The Massachusetts-based company says their Skai aircraft will hold five passengers, including a pilot for up to four hours of flight time with a 400-mile range.
In a CBS interview, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized for the crashes. “Boeing and the FAA continue efforts to implement a software fix that corrects the fatal flaws in the 737 MAX’s new MCAS technology (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System)…”
The New York Times describes a scenario where the MCAS was originally designed with multiple sensor inputs for a specific scenario but later enlarged the scope and dropped some of those inputs. The changes weren’t fully understood and “test pilots, engineers, and regulators were left in the dark…”
A Delta’s operations control center employee told the Delta gate agent to keep the door shut while some maintenance was performed. “Do not open door,” the message read. “flt attendants out of time and none available.” Delta says it was a breakdown of company protocol.
Launchpad visits Skydive Spaceland
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari visited Skydive Spaceland and he tells us about his skydiving experience. Tandem instructor Andrew Lee talks about the qualifications for becoming a jump instructor.
Bunk and Diana Chase live a true airplane geek life. In the summer they live next to the Limington-Harmon Airport in Limington, Maine. In the winter they move to Lakeland, Florida where Bunk volunteers at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy and Diana works with SUN ‘n FUN media. Bunk and Diana are also part of the original group to start the Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast & Fly-In.
Bunk’s personal hangar in Maine opens right on the AirNav 63B’s runway 11/29. In it, he has two Pitts Specials, one of which (N6W) was built by Curtis Pitts himself for Mary Gaffaney, one of the world’s greatest aerobatic pilots. Also in that hangar is perhaps the most beautiful Piper Cub ever seen.
Bunk and Diana invited our Main(e) man Micah to their home to talk a bit about this year’s Fly-In which will take place on July 14, 2019.
The upcoming Innovations in Flight Family Day and Aviation Display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum, a trip report from an aviation tour of the Pacific Northwest, Micah’s update of his piece on flight simulators, observations from the D-Day Squadron gathering in Connecticut, Launchpad Marzari’s personal connection to the Normandy invasion, and the smoke oil used by airshow performers.
This is a Bits & Pieces episode with recorded segments from the hosts and contributors. The segments that make up this episode:
Innovations in Flight
Max and Micah talk about the Innovations in Flight Family Day and Aviation Display at the Smithsonian’s National Air & Space Museum coming up June 15, 2019. The museum is located next to Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia, just west of Washington, D.C.
The Destination Moon: The Apollo 11 Mission exhibit is open through September 2, 2019, at the Museum of Flight. Be sure to listen to the Flight Deck Podcast, produced by the museum.
Music of Modern Flight – Redux
Our Main(e) Man Micah refreshes his piece on flight simulation that we played in Episode 277.
This year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy. Commemoration activities are planned in Europe, including Daks over Normandy, where C-47’s and other aircraft will recreate paratrooper drops. The North American contingent of these WW airplanes is called the D-Day Squadron. Many of those aircraft assembled at the Waterbury-Oxford Airport in Connecticut before beginning their journey to Europe. Max Flight attended and was fortunate enough to take a press ride in Placid Lassie, a beautiful C-47 that was originally delivered to the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943. See Max’s photo album of the event.
From the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington: the CEO of the museum, the curator for space history, and the director of collections. In the news, maybe one pilot for the Boeing NMA, airline deals in Canada, Michael O’Leary sees more European airline failures, a cryogenic hydrogen fuel cell, an app for getting bumped, United promotes women artists, U.S. fighters get special paint jobs, and an Air Force aggressor squadron with F-35A’s.
The Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. Photo by Max Flight.
This episode, we have interviews from the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. We spoke with Matt Hayes, the CEO and president; Geoff Nunn, exhibit developer/adjunct curator for space history; and Amy Heidrick, Director of Collections.
Multinational investment bank and financial services company Jefferies asked airline and leasing company executives what they wanted in Boeing’s New Midsize Airplane (NMA). There seems to be interest in a single onboard pilot, with a second ground-based pilot serving multiple aircraft.
Toronto-based Onex has offered $31 a share for WestJet. The deal was approved by the Canadian airline’s board of directors. Onex owns Spirit Aerosystems, which manufactures fuselages and wings for Boeing in Wichita and Kansas City. Also, Air Canada is in talks to buy leisure-market carrier Air Transat for $520 million.
The University of Illinois Center for Cryogenic High-Efficiency Electrical Technologies for Aircraft (CHEETA) has a concept for a cryogenic hydrogen fuel cell system to power all-electric aircraft. The project is a consortium with Air Force Research Laboratory, Boeing Research and Technology, General Electric Global Research, Ohio State University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Arkansas, the University of Dayton Research Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
American, Delta, and United already let you volunteer for the bump list through their apps. But now American is the first to award compensation through their app. You can also pick a replacement flight.
United says 51% of today’s artists are women, but not even 13% of the art on display in museums is by woman artists. So United created the “Her Art Here” contest for women artists. Two Boeing 757 aircraft will be painted with the designs of the winning artists.
The F-16C of the 64th Aggressor Squadron based at Nellis AFB in Las Vegas rolled out the new paint scheme. The design came from a crowdsourced competition at the Facebook page of 57th Wing Commander Brigadier General Robert Novotny.
The 65th Aggressor Squadron is being reactivated and they wanted improved training for fifth-generation fighter tactics development and close-air support. So nine early non-combat capable F-35A aircraft are moving from Eglin AFB, Florida, to the squadron.
United Airlines is expanding the Raptor Relocation Network to SFO. United and Audubon International trap raptors that live near the airport (primarily barn owls), and resettle them at suitable golf course habitats.
Interviews from the 2019 Planes of Fame Air Show and also with Commemorative Air Force support crew. In the news, we look at the AOA Disagree alert on the 737 Max, military pilot training with virtual reality, Airbus A380s being parted out, and the pilot of the fatal Planes of Fame Northrop N9MB Flying Wing crash has been identified.
The 2019 Planes of Fame Air Show at Chino Airport was dedicated to the memory of David Vopat, the Planes of Fame Air Museum pilot who was tragically killed in the crash of a Northrop Flying Wing.
The show featured over 50 historic aircraft, including the P-47 Thunderbolt, P-38 Lightning and P-51 Mustangs. Performances included: USAF F-16 Viper Demo and Heritage Flight; WWII Airborne Demo Team Paratroopers; the world’s fastest piston engine aircraft P-51 Mustang Voodoo; Pacific, European, Korean and Vietnam Flight Displays; Gregory ‘Wired’ Colyer T-33 Aerobatics; Eric Tucker Piper Cub demo; and Rob Harrison the Tumbling Bear.
Brian Coleman recorded the following interviews, with start times indicated in brackets.
Longtime listener Matt Haines works the ramp at the show. [29:01]
We now have reports about the failure to detect erroneous AOA readings on 737 Max aircraft. The AOA safety alert was designed to indicate faulty data, but it is only activated if optional equipment is installed. This was not what Boeing originally intended.
In their press release, Boeing Statement on AOA Disagree Alert,Boeing says “Neither the angle of attack indicator nor the AOA Disagree alert are necessary for the safe operation of the airplane. They provide supplemental information only, and have never been considered safety features on commercial jet transport airplanes.” And, “The Boeing design requirements for the 737 MAX included the AOA Disagree alert as a standard, standalone feature…” But “In 2017… engineers at Boeing identified that the 737 MAX display system software did not correctly meet the AOA Disagree alert requirements. The software delivered to Boeing linked the AOA Disagree alert to the AOA indicator, which is an optional feature on the MAX and the NG. Accordingly, the software activated the AOA Disagree alert only if an airline opted for the AOA indicator.”
The U.S. Air Force employs virtual reality for training, but they are looking at expanding the use of the technology. The Air Education and Training Command (AETC) is developing a business case in the hope that the technology will train pilots faster and with a better result.
It’s only been 12 years since entry into service, but two ex-Singapore Airlines A380s are being dismantled for scrap. They were leased for 10 years and returned to the lessor, who couldn’t find any buyers for the aircraft.
Commemorative Air Force
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari spoke with two CAF air show support crew:
Interviews recorded at Sun ‘n Fun 2019: the Aerospace Center of Excellence, a family-owned GA aircraft interiors company, how a high school student funds his pilot training, a flight operations software company, and a competitive glider pilot. In the news, 737 Max fallout for American Airlines and Boeing, a pilot rescued by a hazardous tree removal company, unexplained aerial phenomena seen by military pilots, and a human transplant kidney delivered by drone.
The Blue Angels perform for the crowd at Sun ‘n Fun 2019.
Conversations from Sun ‘n Fun 2019
These interviews were recorded at the Sun ‘n Fun International Fly-in and Expo, held April 2-7, 2019 in Lakeland, Florida. [Approximate start times in brackets.]
Ed Young, Executive Director, Aerospace Center of Excellence. This non-profit helps people pursue careers in aviation. The Lakeland, Florida campus includes the Central Florida Aerospace High School, Buehler Restoration Center, Piedmont Hangar, Florida Air Museum, and the Crossfield Building. [32:13]
Convair F2Y Sea Dart
Cesia Lopez from family-owned AviationX Aircraft Interiors (formally Camarillo Aircraft Interiors) creates custom interiors to the client’s specifications. One of their custom interior clients won Outstanding In Type at Sun ‘n Fun with a 1967 Cessna 182. [51:56]
Cesia Lopez from AviationX Aircraft Interiors.
Trevor Simoneau is a high school student who funds his student pilot training through Chart it All, a business selling custom sectional chart shirts and gifts. Be sure to see Trevor’s YouTube channel. [58:10]
Tom Perkowski, co-founder and president of Eagle Cap Software, providing flight operations software and specializing in dispatch and operations systems, and front-of-the-aircraft systems such as mapping and EFB software. The free Aero Charting app is a data-driven moving map aeronautical charting application for the iPad. Tom also describes the Top Ten List of Learn to Fly Resources card he hands out when youngsters are inquisitive about aviation. [1:12:12]
Laura Radigan is a glider pilot who will be competing in the World Championships July in Romania, at the U.S. Nationals in September, and at the Southwest Regional Championships in Arizona in November. See Laura’s YouTube channel and find her on Facebook. [1:21:50]
A combination of higher fuel prices and the grounding of its 737 Max aircraft pushed the airline to cut its 2019 earnings forecast. The carrier raised its 2019 fuel cost guidance by $650 million due to higher costs.
A new Airworthiness Directive is effective on June 3, 2019, and requires inspections and checks for certain parts, including the aileron and elevator power control units. The AD was motivated by reports of hydraulic leakage after lightning strikes.
Pilot John Gregory, 79, crashed his Piper Cub into a treetop near McCall, Idaho. Gregory was able to call 911 from his 60 foot high perch. The SPOT locator beacon was activated which alerted the International Emergency Response Coordination Center (IERCC). A hazardous tree removal company climbed the tree and rescued the pilot.
The military calls them “unexplained aerial phenomena” and pilots are repeatedly seeing something that is not explained. The U.S. Navy has drafted procedures for pilots to use to document these encounters. A spokesman for the deputy chief of naval operations for information warfare, told the Washington Post, “Since 2014, these intrusions have been happening on a regular basis. We want to get to the bottom of this. We need to determine who’s doing it, where it’s coming from, and what their intent is. We need to try to find ways to prevent it from happening again.”
GE Aviation AiRXOS unit collaborated with the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore, and the Living Legacy Foundation of Maryland to fly a kidney 2.6 miles on a University of Maryland Medical Center drone. AiRXOS’s Air Mobility platform monitored the drone’s flight.
AOPA Foundation vice president Jennifer Storm explains initiatives to create a stronger and safer pilot community, as well as the opportunity to double the impact of your donation to the You Can Fly Challenge. In the news, the Cirrus SF50 Vision fleet is grounded, CFMI Leap engines are seeing a coking issue, Boeing 787 Dreamliner production quality is questioned, the N9M flying wing has crashed killing the pilot, ADS-B reduces the accident rate, and power lines save a Cessna 172.
Jennifer Storm, Vice President of the AOPA Foundation.
Jennifer Storm is vice president of the AOPA Foundation. She oversees all aspects of the Foundation, including donor stewardship, major and planned gifts, annual giving, corporate grants, and operations. Jennifer holds FAA Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor Certificates, both with Instrument and Multi-Engine Ratings. As vice president of the AOPA Foundation, Jennifer is focused on funding programs that grow the pilot population, improve safety, and make flying more accessible and affordable.
Jennifer explains that the AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association) membership organization is supported by member dues. The non-profit 501(c)(3) AOPA Foundation, on the other hand, is funded through donations which in turn support the AOPA Air Safety Institute and the You Can Fly program.
Four initiatives make up the You Can Fly program: the high school initiative that features an aviation STEM curriculum, the flight training initiative that’s designed to improve the flight training experience and reduce the student pilot dropout rate, the flying clubs initiative that creates new (and supports existing) clubs to help pilots stay engaged and help make flying more affordable, and the Rusty Pilots initiative that makes it easier for “lapsed” pilots to get flying again.
This year, the Ray Foundation challenged the AOPA Foundation to raise $2 million by August 31, 2019, to support the You Can Fly program, and they will match those donations dollar-for-dollar.
Donations to the AOPA Foundation You Can Fly Challenge can be made online. Be sure to use that link to take advantage of the matching grant opportunity. For those who’d prefer to send a check to the AOPA Foundation at 421 Aviation Way, Frederick, MD 21701, please write “You Can Fly” on the memo line to get the match.
Jennifer joined AOPA in 2004 after flight instructing at the University of North Dakota. She developed education programs for the Air Safety Institute and later lead the production team. She then went on to serve as the Director of the AOPA Airport Support Network, the national network of 2,000 volunteers who help AOPA promote, protect, and defend community airports. Jennifer then led AOPA’s public relations efforts and the flight training initiative, which was the precursor to the You Can Fly program.
In addition to her roles at AOPA, Jennifer served as Chief Operating Officer of Assessment Compliance Group and as Director of U.S. Network Engagement and Performance for United Way Worldwide. Jennifer has a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics (majors in Commercial Aviation and Flight Education) and a Master of Science in Education (major in Instructional Design and Technology) from the University of North Dakota.
The FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive (2019-08-51) that grounds the Cirrus SF50 Vision fleet due to an issue with the angle of attack indicators. Uncommanded pitch-down was experienced in three incidents. Cirrus and the manufacturer of the technical standard order AOA sensor have identified the probable root cause as an AOA sensor malfunction due to a quality escape in the assembly of the AOA sensor.
Higher than expected coking of the fuel nozzles has occurred on the CFM International Leap-1A and Leap-1B engines. The resulting uneven temperatures and hot spots can cause premature wear in the engine hot section. Increased borescope inspections are taking place.
The New York Times reports that their investigation of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner has revealed “shoddy production and weak oversight that have threatened to compromise safety.” They found “a culture that often valued production speed over quality. Facing long manufacturing delays, Boeing pushed its workforce to quickly turn out Dreamliners, at times ignoring issues raised by employees.”
A Regulus Group paper says they found a 53 percent reduction in accident rates for general aviation and air taxi accident aircraft equipped with ADS-B In. The likelihood of a fatal accident decreased by 89 percent.
The D-Day Squadron announced the starting point for the Squadron’s journey to Europe over the original “Blue Spruce” route to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Invasion of Normandy. Aircraft will depart from Waterbury-Oxford Airport in Oxford Connecticut on May 19th, 2019, but there will be a full week of activities to kick off this event, including a special Squadron flyover of the Statue of Liberty.
A conversation about the Civil Air Patrol, noncommissioned officers in aviation, and the V-22 Osprey. Also, the last Doolittle Raider passes, the race to recover a Japanese F-35A, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and light attack aircraft, the Stratolaunch first flight, the AOA sensor on Ethiopian 302, an airliner hits a sign, a positive airline story of the week, reduced seat recline, and an order for 60 all-electric airplanes.
Armando Carrion just retired after a 21-year career in the Air Force, most recently as enlisted aircrew on the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. He specialized in flying light tactical fixed wing, and special missions. Armando has volunteered with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) for 25 years and commanded two different squadrons.
In our conversation about the Civil Air Patrol, we learn that CAP program cadets come from all walks of life since they are not organized around a particular school or community. Established in 1941, CAP has over 60,000 members, including pilots, aircrew, and emergency responders. Besides service to the community, CAP offers pilots the opportunity to fly different aircraft types and build hours.
Armando also explains the importance of enlisted aircrew to the Air Force and the variety of positions that are available. Recently, the demand has grown for enlisted pilots to operate remotely piloted aircraft.
We also get some insights into the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, and what lies ahead for Armando in civilian aviation.
Armando has crewed 26 different aircraft ranging from heavy cargo and airlift airframes to small general aviation aircraft employed in unique roles. He has volunteered for over 25 years serving as a search and rescue, disaster relief, and counter-drug mission pilot. Armando currently holds an FAA Commercial Certificate with Instrument and multiple ratings and endorsements. He’s a Reno Air Race team member and co-hosts the Plane Talking UK podcast.
The last of the Doolittle Raiders, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, has died at age 103. The Doolittle Raiders flew a daring attack on Japan during World War II, less than five months after Pearl Harbor. Cole was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot, who passed in 1993. The Raiders launched their assault April 18, 1942, flying B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet.
Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Army Gen. Richard Clarke said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing, “Light attack aircraft is a need for our SOCOM, and I think it’s a need for our nation.”
Stratolaunch Systems Corporation successfully completed the first flight of the Stratolaunch, the world’s largest all-composite aircraft. The Stratolaunch flew for 2.5 hours, achieved a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, and reached altitudes up to 17,000 feet.
Stratolaunch first flight. Photo courtesy Stratolaunch Systems Corporation.
Ethiopian Crash Data Analysis Points To Vane Detachment
Some evidence is suggesting the angle of attack indicator may have broken off the plane during or shortly after takeoff. By Guy Norris in Aviation Daily, behind the paywall.
A look at the Champaign Aviation Museum including their restoration work, the volunteers working on the aircraft, and the role of aviation museums. Also, 737 safety cards, the Scaled Composites Model 401, flight attendant trip brokering, Wow Air, and the 2018 Collier Trophy winner. First-hand impressions of the 2019 SUN ‘n FUN Fly-in and Expo as well.
B-17 restoration at the Champaign Aviation Museum.
The mission of the museum is “Touching lives by restoring history.” Their guiding principles include honoring our veterans and their families, educating the public about the experiences of past generations that flew in combat, and educating the public about aircraft construction and maintenance techniques. They focus on education and resources of the WWII era, and the museum seeks to restore and maintain aircraft in flying condition for public appreciation.
In fact, the Champaign Aviation Museum strives to build a reputation as a center of excellence for the restoration and maintenance of WWII era aircraft. The museum is located next to Grimes Field Airport (I74) in Urbana, Ohio, just west of Columbus.
In our conversation with Aimée, we look at the history of the museum’s B-17G project, the many volunteers engaged in the restoration, salvaging parts from five different B-17s, fabricating other parts, and adding to the workshop space.
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced the recipient of the 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy. The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) team “successfully complet[ed] a rapid design, integration, and flight test of critical, lifesaving technology for the worldwide F-35 fleet.” Auto GCAS was developed by Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 Joint Program Office, NASA, and the Defense Safety Oversight Council.
David’s list of U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps non-transport variants of the C-130:
ABCCC Combat King Combat King II COMBAT SENT Combat Shadow Combat Solo Combat Spear Combat Talon I Combat Talon II Commando II Commando Solo Compass Call Credible Sport Dragon Spear GHOSTRIDER GUNSHIP ii HARVEST HAWK HC-130H CROWN Fulton PAVE PRONTO PAVE SPECTRE SKIBIRD SPECTRE SPOOKY STINGER II SURPRISE PACKAGE FAT ALBERT
Sun ‘n Fun is the annual week-long gathering of lovers of aviation and it features daily airshows, seminars, manufacturer exhibits, vendors, food, fun, and friendship. You’ll be hearing more about this amazing event in some upcoming episodes. Visit the Sun ‘n Fun website at FlySnF.org and listen to all the programming from Sun ‘n Fun Radio throughout the year at LiveATC.net/snf.
Join Max Flight, Max Trescott, Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari, and Rob Mark for our ever first live show, from the deck of the Sun ‘n Fun radio station.