We look at the Boeing Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS for the 737 MAX, the Lockheed Martin X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft, an Aurora Flight Sciences high-altitude pseudo-satellite, Japan Airlines pilots and drinking, and the TSA’s Automated Security Lanes. Also, Launchpad Marzari reports on the Red Bull Air Race World Championship Finale in Fort Worth, Texas.
The FAA is focusing on the automated stabilizer trim system that Boeing added to the 737 MAX aircraft. It’s called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. Boeing may be required to design a fix for the system. Meanwhile, a Florida-based law firm has filed a lawsuit against Boeing claiming the system was an unsafe design and contributed to the Lion Air crash.
Earlier this year, NASA awarded Lockheed a contract worth nearly $250 million to develop a supersonic airplane that doesn’t create a loud sonic boom. The X-59 Quiet Supersonic Technology aircraft is designed for a 55,000-foot cruise at about 940 miles per hour. NASA will flight-test the experimental QueSST aircraft by the end of 2021.
The JAL co-pilot arrested at London’s Heathrow airport for being drunk took an in-house breathalyzer test but cheated. The breathalyzer used by JAL didn’t have a tube and it wasn’t noticed that the pilot was not blowing into the device.
Traditional airport security checkpoints in the U.S. process passengers serially. But now a different TSA checkpoint design is rolling out to additional airports. They are called “Automated Security Lanes” and passengers are processed in parallel.
The president of Planes of Fame tells us about the museum, restoring warbirds and historic aircraft, and flying heritage flights. Also, we look at the world’s largest jet engine, restraints on open-door helicopter flights, United Airlines and dogs, facial scanning at airports, the Boeing 737 Max 7 first flight, hacking the aviation industry, and GPS vulnerabilities.
Planes of Fame Air Museum P-51 Mustang
Steve Hinton is president of Planes of Fame Air Museum, which opened in 1957 and now has a collection of over 150 aircraft, more than 50 of which are flyable. The mission of the museum is to preserve aviation history, inspire interest in aviation, educate the public, and honor aviation pioneers and veterans. The Museum spans the history of manned flight from the Chanute Hang Glider of 1896 to the Space Age of Apollo, with locations in Chino, California and Valle-Grand Canyon, Arizona.
We talk with Steve about the Museum and the annual Planes of Fame Airshow, in 2018 to be held May 5-6 at Chino Airport in California with about 45 flying warbirds.
Steve explains how the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation pairs modern aircraft with fighter aircraft from the WWII, Korea, and Vietnam eras for dramatic heritage flights around the world. This year he flew a P-51 Mustang leading two A-10s and an F-16 in the heritage flight over the Super Bowl LII opening ceremony.
Steve held a world speed record from 1979 to 1989 and won six Unlimited-class air races, including two national championships. He won four consecutive Unlimited races in one year and remains the only pilot ever to do so. He retired from racing in 1990 and was honored in 2016 with the Crystal Eagle Award from the Aero Club of Northern California.
Steve also owns Fighter Rebuilders, a military aircraft restoration company. He was our guest on Episode 386 in January 2016.
On March 13, from Victorville, California, GE’s new GE9X engine flew more than four hours mounted to the company’s 747 testbed aircraft. The 100,000-pound thrust-class engine has a 134-inch fan and is intended for the Boeing 777X, scheduled for EIS in 2020.
Open-door helicopter flights are popular with tourists and photographers, but recently one of these flights went down in a river, killing all 5 passengers on board. It appears that they were unable to escape from the harnesses that held them in the chopper. The family of one victim has filed a lawsuit and the FAA issued a temporary nationwide ban on open-door flights unless they are equipped with restraint systems that open with one action.
Bad press seems to dog United Airlines frequently these days. But they went above and beyond after mistakenly shipping a German Shepherd Dog to Japan. They returned the pooch via a privately chartered jet.
Customs and Border Protection is testing biometric scanning at some U.S. international airports at boarding points. Cameras at the gate send passenger photographs to CBP where they are checked against photos on file and to make sure that person is booked on the manifest. Some critics point to possible bias and privacy protection issues.
The smallest member of the family, the Boeing 737 MAX 7, flew on March 17, 2018, for 3 hours and 5 minutes. The flight test program now begins with certification and delivery expected in 2019. The airplane has a maximum capacity of 172 passengers and a range of 3,850 nautical miles.
Bloomberg reports that hackers were attempted to penetrate the U.S. civilian aviation industry early in 2017. Details aren’t provided, but Jeff Troy, executive director of the Aviation Information Sharing and Analysis Center (A-ISAC), said the attack had limited impact. Also that the industry has taken steps to prevent a repeat of the intrusion. US-CERT has issued a detailed report.
Although not specifically about commercial aircraft, it is a great story about the contribution woman have made to Pratt & Whitney.
Airplane Geeks Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari speaks with Ken VeArd from Pilot Partner about getting paper out of the cockpit. Ken was kind enough to offer a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The interview begins at about 1:28 into the episode.
We discuss the topic of aviation law with an attorney and pilot. In the news, we look at airport security issues in the face of the recent shooting at the Fort Lauderdale airport, the new generation of Cirrus aircraft, GECAS orders for Boeing 737 Max 8s, and a cargo handler who goes for an unexpected flight.
Raymond Paul Johnson
Raymond Paul Johnson is a California trial attorney, aerospace engineer, pilot, author, and combat veteran, having served as a United States Air Force fighter pilot. He has flown as command pilot and instructor on a variety of aircraft in both combat and peacetime environments, and today Ray maintains an FAA commercial pilot’s license. Ray’s law practice emphasizes product safety and liability, aviation law, engineering-legal disputes, and technology related matters.
Ray explains how he’s combined his interests in aviation and law as a specialty practice. His firm handles both civil and military cases across the U.S., especially where liability is contested.
We discuss the application of the Boyle v. United Technologies Corporation Supreme Court decision to military cases. That decision addressed the validity of state tort laws that hold independent military contractors liable for injuries caused by their design flaws.
Ray explains that in a civil suit, the NTSB finding of probable cause is generally not admissible, but the facts uncovered in an NTSB investigation may enter into the case. Thus, the court could reach a different determination of responsibility than that of the government investigation.
Ray describes several cases he’s worked, including representing the family of United States Air Force Pilot Sean Murphy in their nationally prominent lawsuit regarding defects in the ejection system of the F-15 fighter aircraft. He also represented test pilot Carl Lang in his X-31 case.
We also talk about the impacts on aviation law of emerging technology, such as commercial use of drones.
Ray has been a featured speaker at many national conventions, and he’s been interviewed regarding legal matters on CNN, NBC Nightly News, and other televised news programs. His practice is Raymond Paul Johnson, A Law Corporation.
A man arriving at Fort Lauderdale airport allegedly retrieved a handgun and some ammunition from his checked bag, and began shooting travelers in the baggage claim area. Five people were killed, several others were wounded. On its Transporting Firearms and Ammunition webpage, TSA says:
“You may transport unloaded firearms in a locked hard-sided container as checked baggage only. Declare the firearm and/or ammunition to the airline when checking your bag at the ticket counter. The container must completely secure the firearm from being accessed. Locked cases that can be easily opened are not permitted.”
On its Special Items webpage, Delta Air Lines outlines its requirements for firearms. (Look for Shooting Equipment under Sports Equipment.)
Cirrus Aircraft has introduced their 2017 model year airplanes, and the G6 SR-series piston singles have some added features. The Perspective+ avionics system is based on Garmin’s new G1000 NXi platform and Flying Magazine calls it “among the most important upgrades in the history of the SR series.” also new are animated weather graphics, a qwerty-style keyboard, and new Spectra LED wingtip lights as well as courtesy lights.
GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) has ordered 75 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, valued at $8.25 billion at list prices. This brings the GECAS orders to 170 Max 8s. Boeing’s order total for 737 MAX aircraft stands now 3,419. The first 737 MAX 8 delivery is scheduled to occur in May 2017 with launch operator Norwegian Air Shuttle.
Cargo-loading companies have procedures designed to ensure that handlers are out of the plane before the doors are shut. Something went wrong and a G2 Secure Staff employee was an unplanned passenger in the hold of United Express flight 6060 from Charlotte, N.C. to Washington Dulles International Airport.
Living in the Age of Airplanes Giveaway
Brian J. Terwilliger (our guest in Episode #427) is a pilot and the filmmaker who produced and directed the National Geographic movie Living in the Age of Airplanes, narrated by Harrison Ford. Brian was kind enough to donate two copies of the film, which we gave away to two randomly selected Airplane Geeks listeners.
We talk with Scott Hamilton, the editor of Leeham News and Comment, about Solar Impulse 2, Bombardier and the CSeries, Boeing and the 737 MAX as well as a 787 engine AD, and Airbus and A321 assembly in Alabama.
Scott Hamilton is the editor of Leeham News and Comment, which provides analysis along with the news, and the story behind the headline. Scott is known in the industry for his straight-shooting, call-it-like-it-is take on news and events. He is frequently called on by broadcast and print media to offer expert analysis about the issues of the day. Scott is also a regular speaker at aviation conferences and corporate events.
Before creating Leeham News and Comment, Scott co-founded of Linkraven Ltd. in 1989. Linkraven published the internationally-distributed Commercial Aviation Report and Commercial Aviation Value Report, and organized conferences in Asia, Europe and the Americas under the Commercial Aviation Events banner.
Scott was named Best Aerospace Journalist of the Year in 2009 in the Regional Airline Category. From 2010-2013 he was a member of the Board of Directors of the Pacific Northwest Aerospace Alliance.
After laying over in Hawaii for almost 10 months for repairs, the Solar Impulse 2 piloted by Bertrand Piccard landed in Mountain View, California just before midnight. The flight lasted just over 62 hours. Max Trescott witnessed the landing and gives us his impressions. He and Frank Sweeney posted some photos.
Note: In Airplane Geeks Episode 361, we spoke with pilot André Borschberg after he flew Solar Impulse 2 from Japan to Hawaii.
The CS300 was designed as the base model, with the CS100 being a shrink. Some wonder if there could be a stretch version, a “CS500,” that could seat more passengers and that is better sized for airline needs.
Delta may be about to announce aircraft orders. Perhaps another order for (192-seat Airbus) A321s, and an order for 75 small narrowbodies from either built Bombardier or Embraer. Delta has been complimentary of the CSeries, but they have also made it clear that the price must be right.
The smallest B737 MAX, the -7 version with 126 seats in two class configuration, only has 60 firm orders. (30 from Southwest, 25 from Westjet, 5 from Canada Jetlines) Reportedly, Boeing is looking at a 150-seat model internally called the 737 MAX 7X.
The Airbus assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama continues to reach milestones with the A321 destined for American Airlines making its first flight. Airbus also delivered its first made in America A321 to JetBlue.
In January 2016, a GEnx-1B engine was shut down in flight after the engine experienced excessive vibration. Ice came off a fan blade and caused an imbalance of the fan. That led to “substantial damage” after the fan blade tips started rubbing on the fan case. The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive [PDF] requiring repairs or one older engine on the plane. The older model is less susceptible to icing than the newer Performance Improvement Program (PIP) 2 engine.
On July 23, 2014, TransAsia Airways Flight 222, an ATR 72-500, crashed into buildings during approach in bad weather at Magong Airport in Taiwan. Forty-eight on board died, including the two pilots, and 10 survived. Two air traffic controllers and the two pilots have been deemed negligent.
We talk with Master Flight Instructor Greg Brown about flight training and flight instructors, pilot training at American Airlines, the Boeing 737 MAX first flight, air traffic control privatization and user fees.
Greg Brown with two of his photo art prints
Greg Brown writes the Flying Carpet column in AOPA Flight Training magazine. He also runs a Group on Facebook for student pilots called Greg Brown’s Student Pilot Pep Talk Group. Greg has been a licensed pilot since 1972 and a CFI since 1979. He was the 2000 National Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year, winner of the 1999 NATA Excellence in Pilot Training Award, and the first-ever Master Flight Instructor.
Along with his writing activities, Greg has been an avid photographer from childhood. Since earning his pilot’s license at age 19, he’s been shooting photos from aloft, some of which have illustrated his Flying Carpet column and book. Many are now available as fine art metal prints.
The new pilot training and recruiting program will take place at regional subsidiaries Envoy Air, Piedmont Airlines, and PSA Airlines. This is intended to bring more pilots into the system, and eventually feed mainline operations. The program offers up to $16,000 in tuition reimbursement, and training in the Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program course at no charge. American has created partnerships with more than 40 universities and flight schools.
American Airlines reported lower revenue for the fourth quarter, but the drop in fuel prices more than compensated and resulted in record profits. They expect to save another $2 billion on fuel in 2016.
Boeing conducted a successful first flight of the 737 MAX on January 29, 2016. This was an initial test flight conducted mostly at 15,000 feet and with speed limited to 250 knots. Takeoff was at 9:48 in the morning with the landing at 12:32. There are three more test aircraft to come, and Boeing plans flights six days a week through the summer.
Boeing was awarded a $25.8 million contract for preliminary work on Air Force One aircraft based on the 747-8. The total value of the two airplanes is believed to be $1.65 billion. The only other viable option was the A380.
A coalition of consumer-advocacy groups created a petition addressed to Chairman Shuster, Ranking Member DeFazio, and the members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The petition asks, “Instead of privatizing air traffic control, we believe that Congress should create a pathway to allow the FAA to move forward with long-term capital planning without relinquishing Congressional oversight or allowing a new corporate monopoly run by the airlines to slash air traffic control jobs. The cost of privatization is simply too high. It is bad for workers, bad for passengers, and harmful to smaller and rural communities.”
This week David doesn’t look at just one plane. Instead, he tells us the history of one mission flown by three airplanes over time. All three were Boeing products, and with a 55-year anniversary this week, and Boeing’s 100th, it’s time to go through the Looking Glass.
Boeing EC-135C Looking Glass by Mike Freer – Touchdown-aviation.
U.S. Navy Boeing E-6B Mercury airborne command post. U.S. Navy photo.
The Logbook podcast – Don “The Pre-Buy Guy” Sebastian is the storyteller in Episode 26 of Lucas Weakley’s podcast.
The Age of Aerospace – This five-part series sponsored by Boeing explores the advancements in civilian, military and space technology around some of America’s greatest achievements. On Science Channel.
Links from listener Stuart on the topic of shining lasers at aircraft:
Trevor Smith from Desertpilot.com with the 1942 Champ
Guest Richard Aboulafia is Vice President, Analysis at Teal Group. We look at some of the major aviation developments from 2012 and look ahead to what we can expect in 2013.
We discuss narrowbody orders and the need for efficient aircraft in order to compete. With narrowbody technology on a plateau, it’s the efficiency of the engines that drive the economics.
China and Russian commercial aircraft prospects are covered as is Chinese military aviation. Also, prospects for general aviation in the U.S., the retirement of the Space Shuttles, the growth of commercial launch capability, and what that means for aerospace.
As for Boeing, Richard says watch the promptness of the 787-10 launch, and the 777X. Meanwhile Airbus is physically establishing itself on U.S. soil to mitigate exchange rate vulnerability, maybe put pressure on the unions, and help their prospects for the next military competition.
F-35 partner country concerns with price and delivery, airframer reluctance to take on commercial risk, and program vulnerability in times of budget crunch. Also watch the Korean FX3 fighter competition between the F-35 and the F-15. Even the USAF tanker resurfaces with issues getting the new hangars for them.
David’s Aircraft of the Week is the Aeronca 7AC Champion.
In this week’s Australia Desk report:
Looking forward to upcoming issues for 2013, the Qantas/Emirates tie up is going ahead as the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission gives its approval, while Virgin faces an uphill battle to get it’s buy out of Tiger Airways & Sky West approved. ADS-B will factor in the news in 2013 as Australian carriers who operate above FL290 are required to use install equipment and use it by mid December, and the LSA (RA-Aus) sector is facing an interesting period as CASA exercises its oversight powers and grounds up to 1,000 aircraft.
This week on Across The Pond we return to Southampton Airport in the UK to continue with a new mini series focusing on behind the scenes. Last year we spoke to Dave Lees, Managing Director who gave us his strategy for growth and customer service at the airport and who has now kindly allowed us a behind the scenes look at some of the areas we don’t normally see. This week we talk to Dan Townsend, Airport Assurance Manager who tells us all about their innovative and world leading technology used for avian control.
David’s Aircraft of the Week is the Breguet Br.1150 Atlantic
In this week’s Australia Desk report:
Virgin tops Qantas in the latest SkyTrax Awards, Qantas deploying iPads for their Boeing pilots to use in flight, The Australian Aerial Agricultural Association says the carbon tax will add at least $18 per hour to their operating costs for crop dusting, Qantas sets up a new travel website called www.hooroo.com
Pieter attends the Farnborough 2012 International Trade and Air Show and gives us his view of the flightline and aerial display. He also wraps up Day 3 of the Trade Show with an interview with Tim Robinson from Aerospace International with some interesting developments from Virgin and Richard Branson. Also on show was the new Boeing 737Max Winglets. Quite a nice piece of engineering design, almost artistic!
We talk about the A380 and B787, program breakeven vs. recurrent breakeven, lessons the airframers can apply to the 737MAX and A320neo, and why the A380 doesn’t have swimming pools, bowling alleys, and fast food restraunts. Richard opines on the poor state of the business jet market and the impact on Wichita. We talk about the Chinese aviation market and why Richard isn’t worried about the Comac 919. Shades of the IPTN N-250! Richard also talks about what Bombardier needs to do to gouge out CSeries market share. We touch on the EU Carbon Trading Scheme, the American Airlines bankruptcy, the Boeing 747-8, the Heli Expo in Dallas and the Singapore Airshow.
In this week’s Australia Desk report: Qantas inspects another A380 for wing cracks, Etihad very happy with pax numbers after aligning with Virgin Australia, Virgin Aus pilot sues company over use of a heavy flight bag, Taser found on board a Virgin 737, full body scanners to be rolled out in Australian airports, Qantas CEO Allan Joyce claims in a Senate hearing that changes to the Qantas Sale Act would potentially force the sale of Jetstar.
On Across The Pond this week, Pieter talks to David Bickerton, Director at Airclaims. He tells us about his aviation career and what services Airclaims delivers to the aviation sector., which includes insurance claims, aviation risk management and aviation consulting among other activities. Its a part of the aviation industry rarely seen by the public.
Bill English is a commercial pilot, multi and instrument CFI, and he’s flown corporate, charter, and was an air traffic controller in Boston and NY. Bill has written for IFR Magazine and worked on procedures design and internal investigations for the FAA. Currently, Bill is a National Transportation Safety Board Investigator in Charge, in the Major Aviation Investigations Division.
In this week’s Australia Desk report: Snow at Christmas?? Surely not! We’re having a beach BBQ for this report! Air New Zealand’s financial losses spell bad news for staff numbers and routes to Europe, Air Pacific doing better financially than last year, Virgin Australia catching up to Qantas in customer satisfaction ratings – Tiger Airways came last….again. The final Australia Desk for 2011 finishes with some messages of thanks and best wishes for 2012.
This week on Across the Pond, Pieter Johnson talks to Mark Maiden, the presenter of The Maiden Flight Podcast. Mark is a student pilot in Dublin, Ireland and explains what is required to gain a private license in Ireland. We hear aboiut some lessons learned in finding a flying school, airsickness and having the throttle on the left hand side of the pilot. Its a worthy listen if you are learning to fly.