To celebrate our 600th episode milestone, we invited our audience to join us in a Zoom meeting. The fifty participants included our listeners, hosts, contributors, past guests, and friends.
An aviation and space reporter helps us understand the current state of the aviation industry and where it might lead. We also bring you an inside look at how an article for an aviation magazine is produced.
Tom Risen is a Space and Aviation Reporter based in Washington, DC. He’s been covering the latest news and writing analysis about how airlines and aerospace manufacturers are adapting to the quarantine measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
Tom is co-authoring a book about government oversight, he is the web editor and reporter for Future Flight News, and Tom was formerly technology and business reporter at U.S. News & World Report, and a staff reporter for Aerospace America.
Boeing says they’ll recall about 2,500 employees out of the 30,000 employees impacted by the shutdown. The recalled workers will support defense programs like the Navy’s P-8 and the Air Force KC-46 tanker, and also maintenance operations for 737 MAX jets stored at Moses Lake. Employees will be provided with personal protective equipment and enforce social distancing measures.
In response to airlines suspending orders, Airbus cut its production. The company said it delivered 122 planes in the first quarter, with 60 remaining undelivered. 55 were delivered in February, 36 in March.
Boeing 737 MAX jets have two independent flight controlled computers: the Collins Aerospace FCC-730 series computers, first built in 1996. These use single-core, 16-bit processors. They have limited compute power, but they are reliable.
Treasury Department says larger airlines need to compensate taxpayers for coronavirus aid as talks drag on
More than 230 applications from air carriers for payroll grants have been received by the Treasury Department. United, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit and others have applied for the aid. The Treasury Department said that it would not require applicants seeking $100 million or less to provide compensation. Officials have said the compensation could include stock warrants and or other financial instruments.
‘This will lead to airline bankruptcies’ — flight attendant union furious with Treasury bailout offers
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union and our guest in Episode 545 said, “This will lead to airline bankruptcies. The Treasury Department is destabilizing the industry, not helping save it.” The Treasury Department decided to make 30% of each cash grant offer a low-interest loan payable to the federal government. Nelson says Congress earmarked the money to immediately pay airline workers. If it’s turned into a loan, the airlines may choose not to take it.
Nearly 13,500 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants agree to voluntary leave or early retirement
The voluntary leave or retirement would occur in April or May, 2020. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said about 7,960 members signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement.
TSA screens fewer than 100K travelers for 2 days in a row, hits ‘record low’ as coronavirus outbreak continues
This is about 96 percent lower than the same time last year. Then TSA screened more than 2 million passengers each day.
FedEx plans to add 150 flights over the next month to ferry masks, protective suits and other health-care supplies to the U.S. from Asia.
Air Canada is pulling the 422 seats out of three of their 777-300ER aircraft so they can use the planes for cargo.
Government aid under the CARES Act requires US airlines to avoid involuntarily furloughs or employee layoffs, and continuing service to all existing markets. Alaska Airlines is creating tag flights. For example, instead of flying from Seattle to Dallas and from Seattle to Houston, Alaska will fly from Seattle to Dallas to Houston.
HOK says they don’t foresee the need to make significant physical changes to terminals in response to COVID-19 because passenger terminals have been designed to be open and flexible. Thermal scanners and handheld thermometers for traveler screening are easily accommodated. But airports might look at “more comprehensive passenger wellness screening solutions.” We may also see “additional medical clinics within airports for use by passengers as well as airport and airline employees.”
The remaining Royal Australian Air Force legacy Hornets are coming back to the US to become civilian aggressors. The surplus RAAF F/A-18 Hornets are to be used in a contractor adversary air support role.
Positive Airline Stories
United Airlines Partners with Governor Newsom to Fly Medical Volunteers to California to Fight COVID-19
United Airlines has partnered with California Governor Newsom to provide free, round-trip flights for medical volunteers traveling to California to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the program, visit California Health Corps.
Alaska Airlines to host a job fair for Ravn employees, outlines plans in response to RavnAir’s suspension of service
RavnAir Group was a regional airline serving small Alaskan communities. They’ve ceased all operations but Alaska Airlines says they will maintain service to its destinations, start some summer seasonal service sooner, work to develop service to communities in the Aleutian Islands, and Cold Bay.
The carrier and its customers raised more than $1 million for the American Red Cross in the first 24 hours of the campaign.
A few months ago, Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari tagged along with Rob Mark, senior editor at Flying Magazine, as Rob was writing an article about the Texas Aircraft Colt LSA for the magazine. We get a “behind the scenes” look at what is involved in producing an article for an aviation magazine. That piece became the cover story for the May 2020 issue.
Brian Coleman joins us to talk about 737 MAX order cancellations, airlines flying cargo, flight cancellations and ghost flights, and furloughs. Also, the Stratolaunch might have a new life as a carrier for hypersonic test aircraft, some positive airline stories, fun aviation things to do at home including training being offered without cost, some interviews, stories, and an electric fold-up scooter that you can take on your plane.
Leasing company Avolon has canceled orders for 75 737 MAXs and four A330neos. They deferred delivery for 16 737 MAX planes and 9 other narrowbody aircraft to 2024 or later. Others may cancel as well and take advantage of material adverse change clauses that activate if Boeing cannot deliver within one year of the agreed date. This type of clause could allow customers to cancel and avoid penalties.
In order to utilize their aircraft and generate revenue, Southwest is offering its planes for rent to logistics companies and other shippers for dedicated cargo charters.
Atlas Air is taking at least one 747 freighter out of storage and China Eastern has taken most economy cabin seats out of two A330s. Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, and American Airlines are using passenger aircraft for scheduled cargo service.
Freight forwarders are saying the rates for medical supplies are shooting up. While general cargo is being shipped for $7-$8 per kg, medical supplies command $13 per kg. One forwarder said: “General freight is being offloaded, but there is a huge surcharge for medical goods. It’s absolutely disgusting and immoral. And all require a pre-payment. It is taking about 10 days to move masks, and some have been sub-standard.”
United Airlines is going from 139 daily flights serving 62 destinations from its Newark hub to 15 daily flights serving nine destinations. At LaGuardia, UA is going from 18 daily flights to four destinations to two daily flights serving one destination.
The Dallas Business Journal reports that Southwest Airlines flew 56 ghost flights in one week with no passengers. Three reasons were given:
- Air travel is deemed critical infrastructure to move around key personnel and cargo.
- Government aid offered to airlines implies the continuation of service.
- The logistical challenges of restarting an airline.
A GE spokesperson said, “Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the commercial aviation industry, GE Aviation is implementing a temporary reduction in commercial engine assembly and some component manufacturing operations for up to four weeks.”
The Stratolaunch twin-fuselage, 6 engine airplane only flew once, in April 2019. It was the idea of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to launch orbital rockets, initially from SpaceX, then Orbital ATK, and finally the company’s own rockets. Stratolaunch ceased operations after Allen’s death, but the company has been re-hiring employees and announced a new business plan: building and operating hypersonic testbeds. Specifically, the Talon-A reusable vehicle capable of reaching Mach 6.
Positive Airline Stories
United Airlines is providing free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help fight against the COVID-19 crisis. “Those interested in volunteering or learning more about the program can visit the New York City Health’s website here.”
Thirty laid-off Scandinavian Airlines employees started training to learn basic skills to assist in nursing homes and hospitals.
Woman gets VIP treatment from American Airlines flight attendants because she is the ONLY passenger on the plane
The cabin crew was exceptionally kind to the woman who was traveling to get to her mother in hospice.
What to do at Home
Listener Abhishek enjoys making paper planes as an evening hobby. Find some inspiration at these sites:
King Schools is offering the Using LAANC to Fly Drones in Controlled Airspace course for free. Additional drone test prep courses include the Drone Pilot License Test Prep which prepares you for your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate exam, and the Drone Pilot License Recurrent Test Prep Course helps you prepare for the exam to renew your certificate.
The Drone Trainer is offering drone courses for free in April 2020. There is a real estate drone course, as well as a drone mapping course, that are regularly $199 each.
Listener Mike suggests a book where fiction meets today’s reality: The Dog Stars.
Listener Glen sent audio feedback about what he is doing while on lockdown in New Zealand.
Launchpad Marzari kicks off a competition to find the worst aviation movie.
Our Main(e) Man Micah visited Portland International Jetport and spoke with:
- Leah Marie and Luna, the Goldendoodle airport ambassador at PWM
- Zack Briggs, PWM customer experience manager
- Paul Bradbury, PWM executive director
Italy Unfiltered is located in Siena, a beautiful part of the Tuscany region of Italy. They normally offer private tours to small family winemakers focusing on Chianti and Brunello. They also offer food and olive oil tours throughout the year. However, with the region’s current situation there are no tourists traveling to Italy and no one to buy their wines. To help out there local producers, they are offering special cellar door prices to make room for this year’s harvest.
Airlines that might go bankrupt and financial assistance to aircraft producers and airlines, Boeing contributes manufacturing capability to PPE production, coronavirus insurance from Vietjet, and the FAA waiver of medical certificate enforcement action. Also, FAA revokes Collings Foundation passenger flights, the FAA requests information from low-altitude manned aircraft pilots about how they want to use identification data from drones, things to keep you occupied while you quarantine yourself at home, and cosmic rays in the atmosphere.
The FAA wants to hear from aircraft operators who fly at low altitudes to learn more about how manned aircraft can receive and use the network or broadcast UAS Remote Identification information. In FAA Low Altitude Manned Aviator Participation In UAS Remote Identification Request for Information, the FAA seeks input from those who could be routinely affected by UAS operations in the United States. This includes pilots who fly aerial firefighting, agriculture, survey, pipeline and infrastructure patrols. Responses will be accepted until April 16, 2020.
The impact of the COVID-19 virus on the airlines is reportedly worse than that following 9/11. IATA says airlines could lose $252B in 2020 and the CAPA Centre for Aviation said most carriers will go bankrupt by the end of May if they don’t get support. Bloomberg News used the Z-score statistical method to predict the probability that an airline will go into bankruptcy.
Boeing plants in St. Louis, El Segundo, Mesa, Huntsville, and Philadelphia are using 3-D printing machines to manufacture face shields for medical personnel and first responders. Boeing also offered its Dreamlifter to deliver critically needed supplies.
In “Help make face masks for aviation crews,” the Institute for Women of Aviation Worldwide provides instructions for making face masks at home. These can be donated locally or to aviation organizations that need masks. “We are building a global database of organizations seeking masks for their essential aviation professionals.”
The Senate’s $2 trillion package includes a $17 billion federal loan program for businesses deemed “critical to maintaining national security.” The package does not specifically mention Boeing, but the Washington Post reports it “…was crafted largely for the company’s benefit.”
Bob Crandall retired in 1998 as chairman, president, and CEO of AMR, parent organization to American Airlines. “You can’t simply let these companies go away,” he said. “But these companies need to understand there needs to be some kind of controls put in place. It probably needs to be regulated like some form of utility.”
Budget airline Vietjet launched “SKY COVID CARE” to protect passengers who become infected while traveling on one a Vietjet flight. Those passengers can claim up to 200 million Vietnamese dong (about $8,500). The policy is free and covers all domestic flights through June 30, 2020.
The FAA published a notice of enforcement policy: “…from March 31, 2020, to June 30, 2020, the FAA will not take legal enforcement action against any person serving as a required pilot flight crewmember or flight engineer who holds a medical certificate that expires within this time period.”
FAA says owner of World War II bomber involved in deadly Bradley crash did not take safety seriously and can no longer carry passengers
The B-17G bomber Nine O Nine operated by the Collings Foundation crashed shortly after takeoff from Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2, 2019, killing the pilot, co-pilot and five passengers. Seven others survived. The FAA has now revoked the Collings Foundation’s permission to carry passengers aboard all its vintage aircraft, saying the Collings Foundation “lacked a safety culture when operating the B-17G.”
Our reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari provides a primer on Living History Flight Experience flights.
Stuck at Home
Things to keep you occupied while being stuck at home:
- The Crown on Netflix
- Craig Ferguson, episode 5 on Amazon Prime
- Tiger King on Netflix
- Dogfights on History Channel
- Garmin webinars that were planned for Sun n Fun and AERO Friedrichshafen.
SpaceWeather.com for airline flight cosmic radiation data.
We explore In Flight USA Magazine which is targeted to the general and business aviation community, as well as to aviation enthusiasts. In the news, aviation events are postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 while aviation museums and other operations are closed. Also, updates on the military Gray/Grey Wolf programs and T-X jet trainers, a new free online course for youngsters from WAI and Embry-Riddle, commercial pilots without a job are offered options by their airlines, and where are all those airliners going that were taken out of service?
Annamarie Buonocore is associate publisher and a second-generation owner of In Flight USA Magazine. Based in Silicon Valley, the magazine primarily serves business and general aviation as well as student pilots and aviation enthusiasts. This is accomplished through print and digital advertising, strong editorial content, and creative aviation photography. Annamarie is involved in every aspect of the business from distribution to production and layout.
Annamarie explains the magazine’s target audience and how it includes not only pilots but also aviation enthusiasts and those looking for activities after arrival at the airport. In Flight USA Magazine is distributed at airshows, airport terminals, businesses, flight schools, as well as to private subscribers. Articles are written by magazine staff as well as other topic experts. A digital version is available on the In Flight USA Magazine website.
Annamarie is currently a student pilot at Hayward Flight at the Hayward Airport in Hayward, California. She enjoys attending airshows, taking pictures, and writing. She spends time with her two Maltese Poodles, Pericles and Sophocles, who sometimes appear in podcasts.
The Arsenal of Democracy (AOD) Executive Planning Committee has rescheduled the AOD Victory Gala and Flyover commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II to September 24th-25th, 2020.
The Planes of Fame Air Museum is temporarily closed through April 6th 2020.
The Aircraft Electronics Association announced its decision to cancel its 63rd annual AEA International Convention and Trade Show that was scheduled for March 24-27, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will not be rescheduled.
Air Marshal Association President John Casaretti said, “We hope Congress and the American public recognizes the determination and integrity of our Federal Air Marshals. Despite low job morale, ongoing pay issues, long shifts without rest, and lack of critical health services, our Federal Air Marshals have demonstrated that they are America’s most flexible, capable, and patriotic officers.”
Matt Hayes, President and CEO, announced that the Museum of Flight is closed to the public. “We do not have a reopening date yet, and these next few weeks – or possibly months – will be very challenging for us all, both financially and emotionally.” The collection can be viewed online, as well as virtual tours of aircraft cockpits and many educational resources.
SDASM TV is the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s new video channel. They showcase insider stories, archival footage, personal and oral histories, and STEM challenges.
A low-cost turbojet engine is being developed under the Gray Wolf low-cost cruise missile program. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Northrop Grumman, and Technical Directions Inc. (TDI, a division of drone maker Kratos) recently tested the TDI-J85 engine. See also, Air Force’s Gray Wolf Program Tests Game-Changing Small Low-Cost Jet Engine.
The MH-139A Grey Wolf light utility helicopter is a planned replacement for the UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters that protect intercontinental ballistic missile silos. It’s a derivative of the Leonardo AW-139 helicopter that the Italian company is building in the United States with Boeing.
The US Air Force is looking to lease T-50 trainers until the bid-winning T-7A Red Hawks are available.
The new, self-paced Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is tailored to learners ages 8-17 and celebrates Girls in Aviation Day. It’s called Aviation is Your Future. Youth who complete the course can earn digital badges and a personalized electronic certificate. The course is offered several times throughout the year. Registration is now open.
The airlines have significantly scaled back flights so they don’t need as many pilots at the moment. American and the Allied Pilots Association (APA) have an agreement for pilots to take a voluntary leave of absence.
United Airlines is offering 777 and 787 pilots the opportunity to take the month of April off at reduced pay.
Delta has parked 600 of its 900 grounded aircraft at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta.
PSI, the FAA knowledge testing provider, is temporarily closing testing centers that it owns and operates in the United States and the United Kingdom. The closures come in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.
Aircraft of the Week
David tells us about the Sikorsky R-6A Hoverfly II.
Positive Airline Story of the Week
Our Main(e) Man Micah brings us a positive airline story of the week about United Airlines.
Stuck at home?
Our Reporter at Large Launchpad Marzari has some suggestions on what to watch to get you through being stuck at home.
The BBC podcast The Documentary Podcast has an episode titled Something in the Air? that addresses commercial aviation “fume events.”
The Textron Aviation Cessna 408 SkyCourier program advanced with the successful completion of initial ground engine tests. The tests of the prototype airplane verified the functionality of the fuel system and two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC engines, as well as the interface with the avionics and electrical systems.
The Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 Flight Test Vehicle 10 (FTV10) completed its maiden flight in Japan. FTV10 is the first SpaceJet M90 in final, certifiable baseline configuration.
From Aviation Safety Network: “The U.S. FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive following an uncontained engine failure of an IAE V2533-A5 engine of an Airbus A321.”
We look at Airport Watch, a group of airplane enthusiasts that have built a valuable relationship with their airport, law enforcement, and the community. In the news, we again look at the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that is continuing to impact aviation. Also, a Southwest B737 experiences a fuselage rupture, and a man shoots at a police helicopter.
Peter Wagner is board president of Airport Watch, a crime prevention initiative that includes people who have an interest in various aspects of aviation and who spend time in the vicinity of the O’Hare Airport to observe the various airport operations. These airplane spotters provide safety and security value to the airport, law enforcement, businesses and the local community.
Peter is a professional photographer who has enjoyed aviation since he was young. He started plane spotting in 2001 at O’Hare Airport and now enjoys traveling to airports and air shows around the country photographing planes. While Peter’s personal favorites are the 747 and C-17, he enjoys all types of aviation.
Airport Watch holds monthly meetings, training sessions, and field tours at O’hare Airport. They liaison with the FBI, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Department of Aviation, and the TSA. Their connection to the Secret Service is through the FBI. Members come from all walks of life and include airport employees, the media, firefighters, pilots, other professionals, and the general public.
Peter explains how the organization came into existence and how it was structured using the Canadian model. The highly-detailed Airport Watch bylaws offer a comprehensive roadmap for others who might like to form a similar organization.
We also discuss airplane spotting, including what spotters look for, spotting locations, and camera gear. Anyone in the United States can join Airport Watch. Find them on Instagram. Peter also has an Instagram where you can find his professional and personal photography.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) News
American was flying 150 widebody aircraft at the end of December. Now about 135 of them will go into temporary storage from March 16 through at least May 6, 2020. This includes Airbus A330 and Boeing 767, 777 and 787 models. The airline is cutting international capacity by 75%
Delta Air Lines announced they’d cut global capacity by 40% and park up to 300 jets, including both narrow-bodies and wide-bodies.
Finnair will cut capacity by 90%, starting from 1 April and keep critical air connections for Finland, limited connections to Europe, and one remaining intercontinental route to Japan. The airline cites the “severe impact on demand for air travel” resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
United CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email to employees saying, he “has spent the last two days in Washington, D.C., meeting with senior officials in the Trump Administration and senior members of the U.S. House and Senate in both parties to understand what government policies they may be considering and explain to them the impact that the coronavirus has had on our business.”
Support Aviation—Airline Sector Pleads With Governments For Immediate Financial Support To Prevent Widespread Job Losses
British Airways CEO Alex Cruz sent a video message to employees titled “The Survival of British Airways,” saying “It is a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known.”
The new show dates for Sun ‘n Fun are May 5-10, 2020.
Official U.S. Air Force Statement: “The Air Force is committed to upholding the complete trust and confidence of Americans and our community engagement is the key to those connections. However, due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and to protect our Airmen, their families and the communities that support us, the Department of the Air Force is suspending all outreach activities and support to community events through May 15. This includes, but is not limited to, on-base and civilian sponsored air shows, band performances and community engagements and meetings (speaking engagements, community meetings on installations, base tours, Pentagon visits, etc.).
NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) announced they have canceled the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition 2020 (EBACE2020).
Defense officials issued a memorandum [PDF] halting domestic travel for service members, Defense Department employees and family members. That includes permanent changes of station and temporary duty travel. The ban is in effect from March 16 to May 11, 2020.
Travelers returning to the United States are faced with long lines for health checks.
In other aviation news…
A Southwest flight en route from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho experienced some loss of pressure. They descended to a safe altitude and landed safely in Boise.A 12-inch rupture was found in the skin of the B737.
The helicopter was responding to a call about a possible burglar. As it circled overhead, the man allegedly fired one round at the aircraft. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.
The Coronavirus is heavily impacting the airlines, the entire travel industry, and global economies in general. Airlines are cutting back on flights, looking at hiring freezes and unpaid leave, flying empty planes to avoid losing valuable airport slots, and reassigning widebodies to fly narrowbody routes. We also look at hiring at Boeing, a congressional committee preliminary report on the 737 MAX, aviation event cancellations, the first A220 assembled at the Mobile, Alabama plant, the gigantic market forecast for air taxis, and a petition to drop gender-exclusive words from FAA and ICAO publications.
The Coronavirus (or COVID-19) continues to take its toll on airlines and the aviation industry in general. We discuss some of the effects of the virus and the actions being taken.
In Other Aviation News…
When Boeing halted 737 MAX production and redeployed workers, people wondered what all those mechanics would do. We now see that some were deployed to study and improve production processes. In addition, Boeing is looking ahead to the time when deliveries of the jet can resume, and they are staffing up to handle the task.
Boeing : Congressional Report Says MAX Crashes Stemmed From Boeing’s Design Failures and Lax FAA Oversight
After five public hearings over the last year into the design and certification of the 737 MAX, Democrats on the House Transportation Committee have released preliminary findings. The report notes Boeing’s engineering mistakes, a “culture of concealment,” and insufficient federal safety oversight.
AERO Friedrichshafen is the big GA show for Europe but the event scheduled for April 1-4, 2020 has been postponed. The Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg is also postponed. As of now, Sun N’ Fun will take place as planned.
Airbus received 274 orders in January, but none in February, Boeing received no new orders in January.
The first A220 assembled at the Airbus Mobile, Alabama plant rolled off the line. The A220-300 jet is due to be delivered to Delta Air Lines by September. Jets for both Delta and JetBlue Airways will be assembled in Mobile.
Flying cars, electric air taxis, urban air mobility, call it what you like, but it’s not going away anytime soon. Companies investing in this idea include Airbus, Boeing, Bell, Toyota, Uber, and Hyundai. A Morgan Stanley Research study published in January says “…autonomous urban aircraft may no longer be the stuff of comic books. Accelerating tech advances and investment could create a $1.5 trillion market by 2040.” Another study by Frost & Sullivan, sees a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of about 46% over the next 20 years with more than 430,000 units in operation by then.
There are over 40,000 references to Airman or Airmen on the FAA’s website. ICAO’s website lists close to 2,000 airmen references. This petition asks the FAA and ICAO to remove gender-exclusive words from all their publications, on- and off-line. The petition is sponsored by the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) – a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Montreal, Canada.
We address the question, “is gender still holding women back in the aviation industry?” In the news, pilots might be required to take sim training before flying the 737 MAX, Coronavirus concerns hit air travel hard and impact profitability, regional carriers continue to struggle, a pilot is arrested and jailed in Turkey, and a good story about American Airlines.
Arpad Szakal is an aviation and aerospace lead at Cellence Plus, an executive search and assessment firm specializing in aviation and aerospace. Arpad is an aviation attorney who earned a Master of Laws in Air and Space Law (LL.M. Air & Space) from Leiden University. He’s also a hobby glider pilot.
Arpad researched and authored Is gender still holding women back in the aviation industry?, which was published in the February edition of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace magazine as well as in the January Newsletter of the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA).
We discuss the current state of gender diversity in aviation and aerospace, at both the leadership and operational levels. Also, what the industry can learn from other sectors about gender diversity and inclusion, how men can be better allies to women in the industry, and tips and best practices for aspiring female (and male) leaders to advance their careers.
Arpad explains the importance of coaching and mentoring, and the role search firms play in increasing diversity. He offered some resources:
- International Aviation Womens Association (IAWA)
- Women in Aviation International
- The Alta mentoring platform from the Royal Aeronautical Society.
Reach Arpad on LinkedIn.
Boeing originally said pilots would not need simulator training for the 737 MAX, but that position has changed. The December sim tests with pilots revealed that the updated flight control software was an improvement, but there were many mistakes apparently made. The FAA wants additional tests.
Amazon sent a notice to employees asking them to defer nonessential employee travel in the United States. Amazon will reassess the directive at the end of April. In January, Amazon said it was restricting employee travel to China “until further notice.” Employees returning home from China were asked to self-quarantine for two weeks and work from home.
United Airlines and others have cut flights in the face of outright prohibitions and reduced demand. The airline is offering pilots a month off at reduced pay. United’s China trans-Pacific routes (excluding China) are down 75%
Demand for short-notice, on-demand charter is rising.
Regional airline Trans States Airlines is expected to stop flying by the end of 2020. The airline operates feeder flights for United Airlines under the United Express brand. And will transfer its 36 Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft to ExpressJet by February 2021. Reasons for the shutdown include the industry-wide pilot shortage making hiring difficult, and the desire of Mainline partner United to streamline its regional providers.
Three people were killed and 179 injured in February when A Pegasus Airlines 737 skidded off the runway at Istanbul’s international airport. The pilot has been arrested and taken to prison, charged with “causing death and injury by negligence.” The cause of the accident is not yet established, although hydroplaning is suspected.
American Airlines employees assisted a woman trying to get to her father before he passed.
Comics Kingdom, a Mike Shelton spoof on airline seats.
This episode, we have an interview with the president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. In the news, more woes for Boeing with FOD discovered in undelivered 737 MAX airplanes and the DOJ is reported to be investigating the company. Also, the Coronavirus continues to disrupt commercial aviation, a solar electric UAV planned to stay aloft for a year, a new tail-rotor design from Bell that should be quieter and safer, and this year’s Collier Trophy nominees are announced.
Tuskegee in Philadelphia: Rising to the Challenge is the story of dozens of Philadelphia-area natives who served as fighter pilots, bombers, nurses, mechanics, and in many other support roles.
Foreign Object Debris (FOD) has been a problem for Boeing. Two-thirds of the undelivered 737 MAX jets that have been inspected were found to contain tools, rags, and boot coverings in fuel tanks.
The Department of Justice wants to know if Boeing knowingly lied to the FAA while seeking certification of the 737 MAX. Boeing’s former 737 MAX chief pilot Mark Forkner was subpoenaed last year to answer questions from federal prosecutors in front of a grand jury. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
More than 200,000 flights, mostly in China, have been canceled as a result of the Coronavirus. Delta, United, and American have halted service to mainland China and Hong Kong. With the resulting decrease in demand, jet fuel prices have fallen 17% in 2020. For an excellent explanation of the virus, see: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.
BAE Systems and Prismatic designed the unmanned solar-powered PHASA-35 airplane, and have tested it at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera in South Australia. A High Altitude, Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HALE UAV), this “pseudo-satellite” could provide persistent service for defense, security, resource management, and communications. Another high-altitude solar-electric airplane under development is the manned SolarStratos.
Helicopters with a single main rotor need an additional tail rotor to counteract the torque of the main rotor. But the tail rotor contributes a lot of noise and represents a safety hazard on the ground. Bell has come up with a different approach: four smaller shrouded electric fans in the tail.
The National Aeronautic Association announced nine projects that will compete for the Robert J. Collier Trophy:
- Airborne Collision Avoidance System Team
- Bombardier Global 7500
- Gulfstream G500 and G600
- Hubble Space Telescope Team
- magni500 Electric Propulsion System
- Project Heaviside
- Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft
- The United States Air Force-Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team
- Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Team
The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet on April 2, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia, and the recipient will be announced publicly the following day. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place on June 11, 2020, at a location to be determined.
Airbus buys out Bombardier, the Gulfstream G700 makes its maiden flight, Airbus is testing a blended wing body aircraft, Boeing gets a 30 aircraft LOI for the passenger 747-8, Delta Airlines says they’ll spend $1B to become carbon neutral, a Canadian aviation museum seeks to appeal to people who aren’t #AvGeeks, the risks of turning off your ADS-B transponder, and the U.S. might block sale of the LEAP-1C engine to China.
Also, a great positive airline story of the week, an emergency AD for the Cirrus Vision Jet, the Girls Go Fly organization, a Harrier jump jet for sale, a really good sonic boom story, the oldest continuously operating military base in the world, and an addendum to last week’s baseball toss on a moving train scenario. Einstein would be proud. Perhaps.
With this deal, Bombardier has fully exited the CSeries/A220 program. Bombardier receives $591 million, with $531 million paid at closing and $60 million to be paid in installments through 2021. Bombardier said with this deal the company avoids a roughly $700 million payment it would have had to make to fund production expansion. Airbus now holds 75% of Airbus Canada with the Government of Québec holding 25%, but Airbus can redeem the remaining government stake by 2026.
The Gulfstream G700 completed a successful two hour and 32-minute maiden flight, operating on a 30/70 blend of sustainable aviation fuel. Introduced in October 2019, the flagship G700 model has five flight-test aircraft. A structural test article has completed load testing. Powered by Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines, the G700 has an all-new winglet, it can fly at its high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 for 6,400 nautical miles/11,853 kilometers or at its long-range cruise of Mach 0.85 for 7,500 nm/13,890 km.
Airbus has been flying a small-scale, remote-controlled blended wing body aircraft demonstrator. They showed the 2-meter long model at the Singapore Air Show. If the MAVERIC (Model Aircraft for Validation and Experimentation of Robust Innovative Controls) leads to a full-scale aircraft, it could cut fuel consumption up to 20%.
Boeing received a Letter of Intent from Avatar Airlines for the purchase of 30 new 747-8 passenger version aircraft. Boeing has been selling the 747-8F freighter, but no new passenger orders were received in 2019. Avatar plans to operate low-fare scheduled service to large major city pairs throughout the U.S. and Hawaii, beginning with fourteen 747-400s using aircraft currently in storage. Then the airline plans to transition to the 747-8 with 539 economy seats on the lower deck and 42 business seats on the upper deck
Delta Air Lines wants to be the world’s first carbon-neutral airline. To do that, they say that starting March 1, 2020, they’ll commit $1 billion over the next 10 years. Press release: Delta commits $1 billion to become first carbon neutral airline globally. “The airline will invest in driving innovation, advancing clean air travel technologies, accelerating the reduction of carbon emissions and waste, and establishing new projects to mitigate the balance of emissions.”
Michael Barnard, the Chief Strategist with TFIE Strategy Inc. (The Future is Electric), is not so impressed, noting that the Delta outlay is about 0.2% of their annual revenue. He also takes issue with Delta’s statement that they will continue to use jet fuel.
If you are not an #AvGeek, aviation museums can be boring. But the Canada National Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa aims “to spark interest in those who don’t think they care about planes — especially (but not exclusively) women, who often don’t feel like aviation museums are a place for them.” The museum wants visitors to hear stories about people who are like them. Curator Erin Gregory says, “One of my goals as a curator is to feminize the collection and to try to have the floor be much more representative of all the people who fly, including women. I’m working to revise and revamp the museum to make it as inclusive as possible.”
The FAA posted a National Policy effective January 24, 2020 [PDF] that deals, in part, with ADS-B transponders:
Page 9-13 says, “Single Acts of Misconduct Generally Warranting Revocation. Some acts of misconduct are, by their very nature, so egregious or significant as to demonstrate that the certificate holder does not possess the care, judgment, or responsibility to hold a certificate. These acts include, but are not limited to, those listed in Figure 9-5.”
The referenced Figure 9-5 lists 30 Single Acts Generally Warranting Revocation. One is “Operating an aircraft without activated transponder or ADS-B Out transmission (except as provided in 14 C.F.R. § 91.225(f)) for purposes of evading detection.”
In order to export certain technologies to China (and some other countries), you need an export license from the U.S. Commerce Department. The Chinese Comac C919 uses LEAP-1C engines produced by CFM, International, a joint venture between General Electric and the French company Safran. There are reports that the U.S. Government is considering denying GE’s latest license request, thus blocking those exports.
A cabin ground fire destroyed a first-generation Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet on the ramp, and the FAA responded with an emergency airworthiness directive AD 2020-03-50 grounding the fleet. The problem is with audio amplifiers that drive the audio/microphone jacks in the passenger cabin. The AD requires removal of the 12 amplifiers before the next flight, typically an 8-hour task.
Positive Airline Story of the Week
A couple flew home with their adopted infant. Strangers threw an impromptu baby shower on the plane.
A couple flying home on Southwest with their 8-day old adopted daughter found lots of love from the flight attendants and the other passengers.
International Women’s Day, March 8, 2020.