Tag Archives: 737MAX

601 Business Aviation

The CEO of Imperium Jets explains the current demand for business jets, particularly from new charter customers. Also, Airbus lays off 3200, Boeing pulls out of the $4.2B Embraer deal and pushes back the projected date for 737 MAX return to service, some post-COVID-19 airliner seat designs, American Airlines checked bag fees, and a 42-foot limousine built from a Learjet.

Guest

Lidor Revah is CEO and co-founder of Imperium Jets, a company that matches business aviation operators with brokers and travel agents. Imperium developed all-in-one private aircraft booking software that brings business jet brokers and operators together. Brokers get access to flights, and business aircraft operators get access to brokers. 

The business aircraft sector is active in these troubled times and Lidor explains that with COVID-19, more people are looking to business aviation for their transportation needs. These are often people who hadn’t utilized this service in the past.

Reasons for turning to business jets include the unavailability of commercial flights, the perceived safety of bizjets, evacuation flights, travel to funerals, humanitarian flights, and cargo shipments.

Many new customers are going to charter brokers and travel agents for the first time. Often they are surprised at the shorter airport wait times and the service level found on business aircraft flights. Lidor talks about the prospects for business aviation retaining some of the new customers after the pandemic.

Lidor founded two travel-focused companies, has been featured in Fox Business, Quartz, and LeehamNews among other publications, and is an ex-special forces soldier.

Aviation News

Airbus to furlough 3,200 staff at Broughton factory in Wales

The company’s 135,000 employees were told to brace for potentially deeper job cuts due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aerospace sector. Britain’s job retention scheme allows employers to furlough staff and claim cash grants up to 80% of wages, capped at 2,500 pounds per worker.

Boeing pulls out of $4.2 billion deal for Embraer’s commercial jet unit

Brazil’s Embraer says Boeing ‘wrongfully terminated’ deal for $4 billion tie-up

Boeing backed out of the planned $4.2 billion deal to buy an 80% stake in Embraer’s commercial aircraft division. The Brazilian company is not amused and says “Embraer believes strongly that Boeing has wrongfully terminated the (agreement).” Boeing says Embraer failed to meet conditions for closing the transaction.

Boeing pushes back target date for fixing 737 Max as coronavirus hinders progress

Sources tell CNBC that Boeing’s latest expectations for returning the 737 MAX to service indicate late summer 2020. Two software updates and a recertification flight remain to be accomplished.

How airplane seats could look in the post-coronavirus era

Italian manufacturer Aviointeriors has shown two airline seat concepts that look to provide some protection for passengers. Glassafe has transparent upper body hoods while the Janus concept features rearward-facing middle seats. (See #PaxEx Podcast 72, The future of air travel in a post-pandemic world for more on this.)

American Thinks Now is the Perfect Time to Raise Checked Baggage Fees

Fares between Europe, Israel, Morocco and the United States, the Caribbean, Canada, Mexico, Latin America, and South America will be subject to a $75 per bag fee.

Someone turned a Learjet into a street legal 42 foot limo, and it’s for sale.

The street-legal Learjet limo is 42 feet long and 8 feet wide. Power comes from an 8.1 liter Chevy V8 and the 17,000 watt sound system simulates jet sound as the vehicle drives down the road. The “Learmousine” is scheduled for auction at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. The winning bidder will also receive a custom-built 44-foot trailer and a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD to pull it.

Bad Aviation Movie Contest

The “winner” is Airplane vs. Volcano, first submitted by Brian Burke, who calls it “the worst aviation film ever to exist.” His YouTube channel is called Just Plane Silly, A Comical View of Aviation, where you’ll find a review of the movie:

Mentioned

#PaxEx Podcast: The future of air travel in a post-pandemic world

Co-hosts Max Flight and Mary Kirby break down how COVID-19 is rapidly changing virtually every touchpoint of the passenger experience, and consider whether air travel will be forever altered at the airport and in-flight.

Replay: Aerospace Industry Business After Hours Webinar hosted by the New England Air Museum with guest presenter Richard Aboulafia.

13 Minutes to the Moon: The Apollo 13 Story

Australian family recreates cancelled 15-hour Europe flight in home loungeroom

 

599 One Less Than 600

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.

Guest

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.

Aviation News

Boeing to restart limited local work on jets

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.

Airbus cuts production by a third as airlines struggle

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.

The ancient computers in the Boeing 737 Max are holding up a fix

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 Puts Parked Jets Back in Service to Meet Asia Cargo Surge

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 Removes Seating From 777s To Increase Cargo Capacity

Air Canada is pulling the 422 seats out of three of their 777-300ER aircraft so they can use the planes for cargo.

Alaska Airlines’ Creative New “Tag” Flights

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.

The Impact of Coronavirus on Airport Planning and Design

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.”

This Man Owns The World’s Most Advanced Private Air Force After Buying 46 F/A-18 Hornets

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.

American Airlines Raises $2 Million for American Red Cross COVID‑19 Relief Efforts

The carrier and its customers raised more than $1 million for the American Red Cross in the first 24 hours of the campaign.

Interview

Flying MagazineA 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.

Mentioned

Planes of Fame Airshow T-shirts

RenegadeAV8R Radio Show

Stay at home air show

Short Final: Hostile Target

Rafale Ride Leads To Inadvertent Ejection By Overstressed Passenger

598 Airplanes, Toilet Paper, and Corn Dogs

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.

Aviation News

This Big Boeing 737 MAX Order Cancellation Could Be Start Of A Wave

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.

Southwest Airlines pitches freight-only flights to forwarders

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.

Airlines get creative with cargo

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.

Forwarders accuse $13/kg freighter airlines of ‘profiteering’ from Covid crisis

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 suspends nearly all operations from the New York area

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.

Wow: Southwest Airlines Flew 56 Ghost Flights Last Week

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.

GE Aviation to furlough 50% of its engine manufacturing staff as coronavirus weighs

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 world’s largest aircraft will now test hypersonics for the military

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 Partners with New York City to Fly Medical Volunteers to Help in COVID-19 Fight

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.”

Former airline workers sign up to help hospitals during coronavirus pandemic

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

Paper Airplanes

Listener Abhishek enjoys making paper planes as an evening hobby. Find some inspiration at these sites:

Training

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.

Reading

Listener Mike suggests a book where fiction meets today’s reality: The Dog Stars.

Others

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.

Interviews

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

Mentioned

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.

United Mileage Plus

Southwest Rapid Rewards

ICAS Airshow Calendar

Xiaomi’s $425 backpack-sized folding electric ‘bike’ is now available worldwide

594 Coronavirus Impact on Airlines

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.

Coronavirus News

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.

United trims schedules up to 20%, imposes hiring freeze amid coronavirus fears

Delta’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) website

Lufthansa Considers Grounding Entire Airbus A380 Fleet

Airlines are burning thousands of gallons of fuel flying empty ‘ghost’ planes so they can keep their flight slots during the coronavirus outbreak

IATA requests suspension of slot rules due to COVID-19

#PaxEx Podcast: Coronavirus and MAX grounding level one-two punch

Emirates Offers Leave to Staff as Virus Saps Demand for Travel

Southwest Airlines Has More Bad Coronavirus News for Travel Stocks

The (rare) travel upside to coronavirus? You might have a swankier plane on your spring flight

Trump seeks to stamp out airline bailout talk

Airlines, travel and cruise industries hurt by coronavirus could get tax relief from White House

In Other Aviation News…

Boeing Goes on Hiring Spree in High-Stakes Gamble on 737 Max

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 postponed over coronavirus concerns

AERO Friedrichshafen Postpones Due To Coronavirus Concerns; Sun ’n Fun Weighs In, Too

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 Receives No New Orders In February 2020

Airbus received 274 orders in January, but none in February, Boeing received no new orders in January. 

Airbus rolls out first A220 assembled in Mobile

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.

The flying taxi market is ready for takeoff, changing the travel experience forever

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.

Petition: Help Eliminate Gender-Exclusive Words that Keep Women out of Aviation

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.

Mentioned

Flight Safety Detectives, Episode 14: Lion Air Accident Report Analysis.

593 Women in the Aviation Industry

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.

Guest

Arpad Szakal

Arpad Szakal

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:

Reach Arpad on LinkedIn

Aviation News

FAA Tells Boeing More Training For 737 Max Pilots May Be Needed

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 tells employees to pause nonessential travel in U.S. due to coronavirus

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 offers pilots a month off as coronavirus prompts flight cuts

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%

Bizjet Operators See COVID-19 Bump

Demand for short-notice, on-demand charter is rising.

United Airlines affiliate Trans States Airlines to cease flying

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.

Pilot of Pegasus airplane that skidded off Istanbul airport runway arrested

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.

A priceless gift: How AA employees bought one traveler extra time with her dying father

American Airlines employees assisted a woman trying to get to her father before he passed.

Mentioned

Video: Ten Questions with James Lipton

GoFly Prize program rewards disruptive tech in personal aviation, but it’s no-go for $1M grand prize

Japan’s teTra Aviation

Comics Kingdom, a Mike Shelton spoof on airline seats.

eVTOL to be used as ambulances in the coronavirus crisis

eHang 216 eVTOL

eHang 216 eVTOL

592 FOD in the Fuel Tanks

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.

Interview

Mel Payne, president, Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

David Vanderhoof and Mel Payne, president, Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

At the American Helicopter Museum, David talks with Mel Payne, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

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.

Aviation News

Boeing Finds Fuel-Tank Debris in Two-Thirds of 737 MAX Jets Inspected So Far — Update

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 DOJ is reportedly probing whether Boeing’s chief pilot misled regulators over the 737 Max

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.

Coronavirus flight cancellations top 200,000, sending jet fuel prices to more than 2-year lows

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.

Solar airplane aims to stay afloat for a whole year

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.

Bell’s New Design Could Make Helicopters Quieter—and Safer

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.

Video: Bell’s Electrically Distributed Anti-Torque EDAT

Trailblazing Projects to Compete for Collier Trophy

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.

Mentioned

Big Ass Fans

Crisis Communications Training For Airline Executives

Airport webcams:

Airbus’s New Concept Passenger Plane Is for the Birds

Waco Air Museum

585 Wings Over New Zealand, Australia, and Britain

Preservation of World War II aviation history with Dave Homewood. In the news, we look at labor contract negotiations at US airlines, the latest on the 737 MAX crisis, the safest airlines to fly in 2020, the Punctuality League 2020 results, a great story from United Airlines, and why the A-10 Warthog can’t be stopped.

Guest

Dave Homewood on his ride. Photo by Stu Russell.

Dave Homewood goes for a ride. Photo by Stu Russell.

Dave Homewood is a New Zealander who grew up in an aviation-loving home. He joined the Royal New Zealand Air Force in 1989 and served as a Safety Equipment Technician in the Safety And Surface trade till 1993. Along the way, Dave developed a huge interest in WWII air force history.

Living in Cambridge, he began researching the people from his town who’d served in the Air Force in WWII. That massive Wings Over Cambridge project continues today, along with the Wings Over New Zealand Aviation Forum that has become a hub for the New Zealand aviation community.

Dave created a podcast called the Wings Over New Zealand Show, or WONZ, and even hosted a live version of the show for several years. Taking the show on the road to Australia with James Kightly to visit museums, aircraft collections, restoration shops, and an airshow, Wings Over Australia was born containing interviews with interesting Aussie aviation personalities.

Dave interviews wartime Spitfie pilot Jim Robinson.  Photo by Peter Wheeler.

Dave interviews wartime Spitfire pilot Jim Robinson. Photo by Peter Wheeler.

This year, Dave plans to create a similar sub-series, Wings Over Britain, traveling to England to visit museums, airfields, aircraft collections, airshows and memorials and interview people involved in aviation there and particularly in the preservation of both warbirds and the memories of the people they represent.

Dave says he “will weave into the series the stories of the thousands of New Zealanders who traveled halfway around the world to fly and fight in the defense of Britain and the liberation of Europe in WWII. Particularly of note will be marking the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Britain, and also the Battle of France. During both battles, New Zealanders made up the largest number of non-UK pilots and aircrew to take part. I’ll also cover Kiwis taking the fight to Europe, including D-Day, and also Kiwis in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm, and probably a few stories of Kiwis who also flew and fought in WWI.”

Dave is the editor of Sport Flying magazine and does freelance writing as well as research for other writers, and for warbird aircraft owners tracing the history of their airplanes, and for families seeking info on their ancestors who flew or served in the RNZAF. He also interviews veterans for his Courage And Valour: New Zealanders in the Italian Campaign podcast.

Aviation News

US airlines are set for a 10th year of profits. More than 120,000 employees want a raise

After ten consecutive years of profitability for airlines, organized labor is looking to share in the good fortune and also advance some quality-of-life benefits. Labor agreements with over 120,000 unionized airline employees are scheduled for this year.

737 crisis leaves Boeing badly behind in race with Airbus

2019 was a “disastrous year” for Boeing and 2020 will be “precarious.” Boeing has new leadership, the company is hemorrhaging financial resources, engineering resources are focused on the 737 MAX, and Boeing has lost strategic advantage to Airbus. Boeing faces a damaged reputation with airlines, regulators, pilots, and the flying public.

Revealed: The safest airlines to fly in 2020

Airlineratings.com announced the Top Twenty Safest Airlines for 2020: Qantas, Air New Zealand, EVA Air, Etihad, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Alaska Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Virgin Australia, Hawaiian Airlines, Virgin Atlantic Airlines, TAP Portugal, SAS, Royal Jordanian, Swiss, Finnair, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, and KLM.

The site also announced the Top Ten Safest Low-Cost Airlines for 2020, in alphabetical order: Air Arabia, Flybe, Frontier, HK Express, IndiGo, Jetblue, Volaris, Vueling, Westjet, and Wizz.

United’s Fantasy Flight Makes Holiday Wishes Come True

For many years, United Airlines has taken children in need on a “Fantasy Flight to the North Pole.” This season, flights originated from 16 cities around the world.

Delta Air Lines is the Most Punctual Mega Airline in the U.S. for the Third-Straight Year, According to OAG’s Punctuality League 2020

OAG announced the results of its Punctuality League 2020, and Delta ranked number 1 for U.S. airlines in the Mega Airline category for a third consecutive year with an OTP of 83.56%. The U.S. remains a world leader for punctuality, finishing with four of the top 10 most punctual Mega Airlines and six of the top 10 Mega Airports globally.

Why It Seems Like Nothing Can Stop the A-10 Warthog

The U.S Air Force has given up trying to retire the A-10 and will instead upgrade the aircraft.

Mentioned

John Mollison from Old Guys and Their Airplanes has a new film titled The Mettle Behind the Merit – The Steve Pisanos Story. Produced with the Distinguished Flying Cross Society, it is about an immigrant who came to live the American Dream and ended up an ace and WWII war hero. An Educator’s Kit is available to bring the story into the classroom.

Important Charter Guidance for Pilots and Passengers – The FAA says this posting will be removed on January 19, 2020.

Contact Ground, Point Niner – OpenAirplane.com and FlyOtto.com have shut down.

583 Flight Planning with SkyVector

We talk about flight planning with the founder and CEO of SkyVector. In the news, we look at transferring funding for light attack planes to the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Aircraft Noise Reduction Act, Boeing’s Board of Directors’ decision to pause 737 MAX production, and Alaska Airlines ugly holiday sweater promotion. We also have the Australia News Desk from the boys down under.

Guest

David Graves, founder and CEO of the SkyVector flight planning system.

David Graves, founder and CEO of the SkyVector flight planning system.

David Graves is the founder and CEO of SkyVector, which provides worldwide aeronautical charts, online mapping, and related flight planning products and services. The company combines its aeronautical mapping capability with weather and data overlays, airport information, FBO listings, and more.

In 2003, David was working as a programmer for a Seattle startup. He took an introductory flight with a small flight school at Boeing Field and his first solo came after 4 months and 20 hours. He earned his private pilot’s license about a year later.

SkyVector.com flight planning went on-line in the fall of 2006 and by the end of 2009, it was experiencing over 100,000 unique users a month.  In 2010, David quit his job to work on SkyVector full-time. The World VFR and World IFR charts went live in 2012. Flight Plan filing went live in 2015, and at the end of the decade, SkyVector is being visited by over 550,000 unique users per month.

David explains some of the discriminators of flight planning services, the SkyVector user interface, and interaction with other flight planning products. We discuss data sources and improvements in accuracy and learn about the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) project which utilizes an automated system that integrates data from multiple radars and other sources to generate seamless, high spatio-temporal resolution mosaics. (Be sure to see the Operational Product Viewer.)

We touch on the SkyVector map layer with unmanned aircraft Notams (or “Drotams”), compare the new electronic flight planning tools with the “old” paper and pencil methods, and look at future flight planning developments.

Aviation News

Congress may have given the Air Force an exit door for the light attack aircraft program

Congress wants the Air Force to consider transferring some funding allocated for light attack planes to U.S. Special Operations Command.

Congressman Neguse introduces Aircraft Noise Reduction Act

U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse representing the 2nd District of Colorado has introduced legislation that would give local general aviation airports the power to set noise restrictions. Currently, airports must get approval from the FAA if they want to establish curfews or other noise-based restrictions on flight operations. See also, Congressman Neguse Introduces Legislation to Expand Local Control of Airports in Northern Colorado

Boeing will halt 737 production in January, following two fatal MAX crashes

At the Boeing Board of Directors meeting on December 16, 2019, a decision was made to pause 737 MAX commercial production in January 2020. Boeing will not lay off any employees during the production halt. See also, Halt or Curb 737 Max Production? Boeing Faces Difficult Decision.

Ugly sweater time! Alaska Airlines to give priority boarding to people in holiday gear

December 20, 2019, is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. It’s celebrated on the third Friday of December each year. Sometimes it’s called National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day, or simply National Ugly Sweater Day. In any event, Alaska Airlines has a promotion and passengers wearing a holiday sweater on December 20 will be allowed to board early.

Australia News Desk

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron bring us a news report from the Australia Desk.

Mentioned

From Jon Ostrower’s The Air Current: Pilot procedure confusion adds new complication to Boeing 737 Max return

‘World’s first’ fully-electric commercial flight takes off

Uber Air & NASA Launch Airspace Simulation To Enable eVTOL Future

Video: Uber Air

Top Gun: Maverick trailers

Voice of NBAA Podcasts Pete Combs Heads West

580 Dubai Airshow 2019

News from the 2019 Dubai Airshow, Boeing’s 737 MAX 10, splitting up families who want to sit together on the airplane, NTSB findings on the fatal Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 accident, and a commercial aerial tanker company. Also, the application of structural batteries to aircraft, flying in formation down under, and romance in the air.

Dubai Airshow 2019

The 2019 Dubai Airshow ran November 17 – 21, reportedly with 1300 exhibitors, 100 aircraft on display, and around 90,000 in attendance over the five days. We talk about some of the aircraft orders placed and other topics from the airshow.

The Truth Is That Emirates Net Canceled $20 Billion Of Aircraft Orders At The Dubai Airshow—Contrary To Headlines

Dubai Air Show wraps up with $54.5b in deals

Honda Aircraft Reports Global Expansion

Video: Dubai Airshow 2019 – Watch the weeks highlights

Aviation News

Boeing Debuts 737 MAX 10

The largest Boeing 737 MAX is the MAX 10, and the company debuted the aircraft at its Renton, Washington facility. Boeing says they currently have more than 550 orders and commitments for the aircraft. With a range of 3,300 NM and maximum seating for 230 passengers, Boeing says it will offer the lowest seat-mile cost of any single-aisle airplane yet produced.

Boeing’s 737 Max shouldn’t be allowed to fly with a controversial flight-control system, an aviation regulator reportedly said in leaked emails

Reportedly, the Transport Canada Civil Aviation manager of aircraft integration and safety assessment sent an email saying the “only way I see moving forward at this point, is that MCAS has to go.” The manager’s email was sent to the FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and the National Civil Aviation Agency in Brazil.

Sen. Schumer to airlines: Stop splitting up families on flights

The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 directed the Department of Transportation to study guidelines that would keep families together on airlines. Carriers were to have policies that keep parents and children under 13 sitting together. But that hasn’t happened and Senator Chuck Schumer from New York isn’t happy. See Family Seating from the DOT for tips.

NTSB Issues 7 Safety Recommendations Based on Findings from Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 Investigation

As a result of the engine failure on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018, material pierced the fuselage and caused the cabin to depressurize, with one fatality. The NTSB explains:

“…portions of the fan cowl separated in flight after a fan blade, which had fractured due to a fatigue crack, impacted the engine fan case at a location that was critical to the structural integrity and performance of the fan cowl structure.  The NTSB found that the separated fan blade impacted the engine fan case and fractured into multiple fragments. Some of the fragments traveled forward of the engine and into the inlet. The impact of the separated fan blade with the fan case also imparted significant loads into the fan cowl through the radial restraint fitting, which is what caused the fan cowl to fail.”

It was the failed engine inlet and casing that impacted the fuselage. An abstract of the final report is available and includes the findings, probable cause, and safety recommendations.

Video: A380 Blade Off Test

The First Boom-Equipped Tanker For A Private Aerial Refueling Company Has Arrived

Omega Air operates a few hose and drogue aerial tankers and has now received the first of two surplus KDC-10 tankers with aerial refueling booms from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. That will allow Omega Air to provide contractor refueling support to the USAF and other allies.

Mentioned

Video: Expedition Overland S4 EP 1:The Great Pursuit – New Horizons

Carbon fibre can act as a structural battery component in vehicle bodies

Van's Aircraft RV-7

Kevin, Eddie, Monty, Mal, Mark, and Jorgo at the HARS museum at Wollongong. Eddie’s immaculate RV-7 is behind.

LifeFlight helicopter lands in Penobscot field following mechanical anomaly

Couple tie the knot 37,000 feet in the air between Australia and New Zealand

578 Aircraft Certification

The president and CEO of AeroTEC explains the process for engineering, testing, and aircraft certification. In the news, Boeing expects deliveries of the 737 MAX to resume in December 2019, the FAA has a new ADS-B privacy policy, WOW rises from the ashes as Icelandic LCC Play, and a gender reveal stunt ends in a crash. Also, the Commemorative Air Force’s first Air Force One, the Evolution Turbine, comments on Garmin’s Autoland, and the Sukhoi Superjet 100.

Guest

Lee Human, president and CEO of AeroTEC, provider of aircraft certification services

Lee Human, AeroTEC president and CEO.

Lee Human is president and CEO of AeroTEC, an independent provider of initial engineering, design, prototype manufacturing, testing, and airworthiness certification. The company uses in-house instrumentation, software, tools, and processes throughout the projects.

We discuss aircraft certification: what it is and how it takes place within the overall design and development process of a new aircraft or aircraft modification. Lee explains organizational delegation and why there is a partnership between the FAA and the manufacturer. We talk about the independence of the decisions DERs make and the establishment by the FAA of the roles in the compliance review community.

Since aircraft certification is a current topic as it relates to the Boeing 737 MAX, we take the opportunity to consider if larger quality system issues are the root of recent aircraft problems. Lee discusses the certification criteria used for the 737 MAX and the possible impact of a long legacy design history.

Lee explains why OEMs come to AeroTEC for services, and he tells us about some of the new initiatives, such as electric aircraft projects with magniX (see episode 524 where we talked with CEO Roei Ganzarski) and Eviation. He also touches on the Supersonic Flight Alliance which seeks to provide a space for responsible supersonic development in Washington State.

Lee has been personally involved in the testing, engineering, and certification of over 50 major aerospace projects, including Aviation Partners’ Blended Winglets on the B737, B757, and B767 as well as Gulfstream, Hawker, and Falcon aircraft. Lee also worked on the Lockheed Martin Cooperative Avionics Test Bed (CATB) 737-300 with F35 (JSF) systems, the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 250, and the Mitsubishi MRJ type certificate.

Prior to starting AeroTEC in 2003, Lee was flight test manager at Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) and before that he was a lead engineer at Aircraft Engineering Specialists (AES).

Lee is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst College of Engineering and has earned credentials as an FAA DER, as well a private multi-engine instrument pilot’s license.

Aviation News

Boeing expects to resume 737 Max deliveries in December and commercial service green light in January

Boeing said 737 MAX deliveries should resume in early December 2019. Airlines could start flying the plane in January. Recently, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines pulled the 737 MAX from their schedules until early March. A Boeing spokesman said, “We know they need more time to get their fleets ready and pilots trained, but the plane and training [approvals] will both be done by January, permitting commercial service.” The Federal Aviation Administration reiterated that its officials “have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed.”

What FAA’s New ADS-B Privacy Policy Means for Business Aviation Operators

A new Privacy ICAO Address (PIA) will be available on January 1, 2020, on 1090 MHz ADSB-Out in U.S. domestic airspace. This will happen in two phases: First, business and general aviation operators will be able to apply for the program directly through the FAA. Later, the FAA will transition the service to a “third-party service provider.” The FAA commented, “The NBAA and members of the GA community have cited the lack of privacy as a barrier to ADS-B Out equipage. In order to mitigate these concerns, the FAA has initiated the Privacy ICAO Address program with the objective of improving the privacy of aircraft operators in today’s ADS-B environment by limiting the extent to which the aircraft can be quickly and easily identified by non-U.S. government entities, while ensuring there is no adverse effect on ATC services.”

New Airline PLAY Paints WOW Red

New low-cost carrier PLAY will operate the A320 family, flying both passenger and freight. As did WOW, the airline plans to fly east and west from Iceland. When the fleet grows to six by spring serving Europe, PLAY will then look at North American routes in the Summer. See also Play Plans to Expand Fast.

Gender Reveal Stunt Injures Pilot, Damages Plane

An expecting couple planned to have an Air Tractor 602 aerial application aircraft spray pink dyed water to announce they would be having a girl. That part worked, but what happened next was unplanned.

Report

Reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari speaks with Nick Widenkoff at Wings Over Dallas about the first Air Force One, an Aero Commander. To learn more about this aircraft, visit Ike’s Bird and the Commemorative Air Force.

Mentioned

Troubled Russian Plane Makes Emergency Landing After Engine Failure

Delta Airlines Safety Card Safety Video (2019)

Evolution Turbine

Austin Meyer’s Evolution Turbine

Austin Meyer's Evolution Turboprop

Austin Meyer’s Evolution Turboprop.

Xavion

Avionics: When all else fails an app that helps you glide to safety