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 the Special Technical Assistant for the FAA Flight Standards Service and editor of FAA Safety Briefing magazine. Also, electrically powered planes, an important Approved Model List STC, the FAA teams up with the auto industry, airlines restricting fare bargains, a play about United Flight 232, Solar Impulse 2 returns to mission mode, and Aviation Geek Fest Seattle 2016.
Susan Parson is Special Technical Assistant with the FAA Flight Standards Service, and editor of FAA Safety Briefing magazine. She serves as the lead FAA representative for the Airman Certification Standards (ACS) project to improve airman testing and training.
Susan has authored over 90 GA safety articles and several online training documents and courses, including Conducting an Effective Flight Review, Instrument Proficiency Check Guidance, and Best Practices for Mentoring in Flight Instruction.
Susan holds an ATP certificate, as well as ground and flight instructor certificates with instrument, single-engine, and multi-engine land ratings. She repeatedly earned Master Flight Instructor and Master Ground Instructor designations from NAFI and Master Instructors LLC.
As an active GA pilot, Susan instructs on weekends for her Cessna 182 flying club and the Civil Air Patrol. Susan created a number of advanced avionics training courses and modules, for the Civil Air Patrol, and she is the primary author of CAP’s National Check Pilot Standardization Course.
Susan has a BA in international relations and French from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, an MA in Education (focused on e-Education and adult learning) from the University of Phoenix, and an Aviation Safety and Security Management certificate from the George Washington University’s Aviation Institute. Susan’s work experience includes serving in the United States Department of State’s diplomatic service.
Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders says, “We believe that by 2030 passenger aircraft below 100 seats could be propelled by hybrid propulsion systems and we are determined to explore this possibility together with world-class partners like Siemens.” Airbus signed a deal with Siemens to work on these hybrid electric propulsion systems.
At Sun ‘n Fun, the EAA and Dynon Avionics announced that they’ve developed an Approved Model List – Supplemental Type Certificate (AML-STC) that allows Dynon’s D10 EFIS to be installed in certified aircraft.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and FAA plan to hold an event April 22 with chief executives from the major automakers and aviation industry leaders. The goal is to look at how aviation industry collaboration practices could benefit automakers, particularly safety data sharing.
American Airlines Group Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., and United Continental Holdings Inc. have taken action to restrict multi-destination fare bargains, mostly affecting business travelers. Previously, purchasing individual tickets for each leg could cost less than purchasing one multi-leg ticket.
On July 19, 1989, United Airlines Flight 232, a DC-10, experienced a fan disk failure in the tail-mounted engine. The plane lost hydraulics and crashed in Sioux City, Iowa, killing 110 passengers and one flight attendant. 184 people survived.
On the 3rd of July 2015, Solar Impulse 2 landed in Hawaii after having broken the record for flying non-stop for 5 days and 5 nights from Japan. Due to battery damage from overheating, the round-the-world journey was paused for repairs. However, the Solar Impulse 2 is now back in mission mode. Follow the flight at www.solarimpulse.com. We spoke with Solar Impulse 2 pilot André Borschberg in Airplane Geeks Episode 361.
The Aircraft of the Week
F-16CJ by David Vanderhoof
The Episode 400 History Segment Listener Challenge
David will select one aircraft from those submitted by listeners to be the Aircraft of the Week for Episode 400. Here are his rules:
If you have hounded me to do a specific aircraft in the past, you’re automatically disqualified, and you all know who you are. I want someone to be rewarded.
NO it will not be the C-130 nor a tanker!
Not following directions might void your entry.***
We talk with the Editor-in-Chief of Plane & Pilot about changes to the magazine, drones interfering with airliners, the impact of lower airline fees on customers, an Airbus assembled in the USA, and blocking flight tracking.
Robert Goyer is VP, Editor-in-Chief, at Plane & Pilot magazine. He’s an award winning aviation editor, journalist and photographer. For more than two decades he’s been documenting the world of personal aviation in words and photography.
We talk with Robert about changes to the magazine and website since its purchase by Madavor Media in 2015. That includes expanding the target audience to include serious transportation pilots, bringing in new writers and rotating columnists, a focus on photography, and a weekly email newsletter.
Robert tells us, “I started flying before I remember flying, heading up with my dad in a little red-and-white Aeronca Champ from a cozy little grass strip in New England, and after a few years we graduated to a beautiful Cessna 195 that our family rebuilt together in the big barn out back.
Today, Robert does most of his flying in the system, filing IFR and flying on business and personal travel in high-performance piston singles up through light jets. He’s type rated in the Cessna 525 CitationJet and has plans to add a couple of new type ratings in the coming year, though he admits he has his eye on an old Super Cub he says has his “name written all over it.”
If enacted, the FAIR Fees Act introduced by two U.S. Senators would require that airline fees be set commensurate with the cost of the services provided. The Motley Fool says, “regulating airline fees would not be good for most travelers in the long run.”
An A321 destined for JetBlue should be making its maiden flight this week. The significant aspect is that the airplane is American-made at the new $600 million Airbus final-assembly plant in Mobile, Alabama. Most are describing this as Airbus’ beachhead in the U.S.Five other A321s are in final assembly for American Airlines.
The FAA has a program to block certain information about aircraft flying in U.S. national airspace, but it relies on a process where those providing flight-tracking services agree to block flight information when requested by operators. In return, the flight-tracking companies get access to the FAA’s ASDI data feed. But It’s not difficult receive broadcasts from mode-S transponders and ADS-B out transmitters.
Thousands of people run PiAware on a Raspberry Pi to receive ADS-B transmissions and forward that to FlightAware. The ADS-B Exchange website bills itself as “the World’s largest co-op of unfiltered flight data.”
The Airplane of the Week
Spartan Executive at Sun ‘n Fun 2006 by Ahunt – Own work, Public Domain.
David was given the opportunity to help 8th grader Jonah from Northern California with his paper on aircraft of World War II. Jonah mentioned attending Oshkosh and noted that his favorite airplane was the Spartan Executive. In David’s opinion, Jonah has class and good taste so the Spartan Executive is the airplane of the week.
The history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and the controversy surrounding their burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Also, battle lines forming over privatization of air traffic control, Southwest pilots take a stand, Iran orders more airplanes, a high altitude long endurance pseudo-satellite, tanker news, the Knightwatch E-4B, and your favorite airplanes.
Sarah Byrn Rickman
Sarah Rickman is the editor of WASP News, published by Texas Woman’s University (TWU), the home of the official WASP Archives. The Women Airforce Service Pilots flew for the U.S. Army in World War II. Since 2003, Sarah has been a WASP oral historian for TWU, recording many of these ladies’ stories on audiotape.
Sarah tells us about the history of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). We also discuss the current controversy about the burial of WASPs at Arlington National Cemetery, the United States military cemetery.
Two new books on the WASP will be published this spring: WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds from the University of North Texas Press, and Finding Dorothy Scott: Letters of a WASP Pilot, from Texas Tech University Press.
Sarah received the Combs-Gates Award for 2009 presented by the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Her grant is to research and write the story of the WASP who flew for the Ferrying Division in World War II. In addition to her books on the WASPs, Sarah is the author of numerous magazine and journal articles about the WASP.
Sarah is a former reporter/columnist for The Detroit News and former editor of the Centerville-Bellbrook Times (Ohio). She earned her B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University McGregor. She describes herself as a former journalist and former novelist who “found” herself when she met these amazing women who flew airplanes for the Army back when many women didn’t even drive cars.
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conducted a “markup” hearing February 11 on the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2016 (H.R. 4441). The bill was amended and the Committee voted to send the legislation to the full House for consideration.
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) voiced its opposition to privatizing ATC by submitting a statement in opposition to privatized ATC.
Jack J. Pelton, EAA’s CEO and chairman said, “ATC privatization is simply a bad idea on many levels; it will not solve the FAA’s funding dilemma and will create a substantial number of new problems and challenges that would cripple general aviation.”
AOPA President Mark Baker said, “We’re profoundly disappointed that user fees are still part of this legislation.AOPA simply won’t accept user fees in any form on any segment of general aviation. And while there are some very positive provisions for GA in this proposal, user fees are a nonstarter for us.”
Nicholas Calio, the president and CEO of Airlines for America says separating ATC is “an international best practice that a growing consensus believes will create a more nimble, efficient, reliable and even safer system than the one we have today. Doing so will remove the kinks from an uneven and unpredictable funding apparatus while clearing the way for other improvements: more choices for customers, more direct flights, lower fuel consumption and reduced air emissions. So it’s puzzling why some would argue that everything is working just fine — an assertion that flies in the face of all that travelers have experienced over the past decade.”
A group of 13 right-leaning groups sent a letter to Congress stating that moving ATC to a new nongovernmental organization is “an excellent foundation upon which to build a new model for an operation historically mired in old-style thinking and fiscal ineptitude. To us it is an axiomatic economic principle that user-funded, user-accountable entities are far more capable of delivering innovation and timely improvements in a cost-effective manner than government agencies.”
FAA Reauthorization 2016 – NATA
National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President & CEO Thomas L. Hendricks calls ATC privatization a “threat” to general aviation. More at the NATA Congressional Action Center.
In an editorial piece, the New York Times characterizes privatizing air traffic control as a “solution in search of a problem” that “would do nothing to improve the present, federally operated system and indeed could make it worse.”
350 members of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association flew to Las Vegas on their day off to tell the public that they are upset. Why? because they don’t have a contract. Union president Jon Weaks said the pilots love Southwest and wouldn’t engage in travel disruptions. But they want to “give our company avenues so that we can trust them again.”
Under the sanctions, Iran’s commercial aviation capability suffered greatly. That’s all changing now. Iran Air has signed a purchase agreement with ATR for 20 firm and 20 option ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft. The deal is valued at €1 billion.
In January, Iran Air placed an order for 118 Airbus single-aisle and widebody aircraft: A320ceo and A320neo families, A330ceo and neo airplanes, A350-1000s and 12 A380s. (Three A380’s were also purchased by Japan’s ANA in January.)
Solar-powered, long duration drones and other aircraft are development by companies like Google and Facebook to provide Internet service using them as pseudo-satellites. Now the British military is purchasing two solar-powered “Zephyr” high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs from Airbus. These autonomous unmanned systems would be used for long-term surveillance missions, and possibly to provide communication and ground support in remote areas.
The Zephyr, originally developed by UK firm QinetiQ, has a 23m wingspan and yet only weighs 55kg and cruises at 20km.
Naval Air Systems Command plans to release a new draft request for proposal later this year for an unmanned aerial refueling tanker. According to sources, the final RFP for the Carrier Based Aerial Refueling System (CBARS) is due out in FY 2017, with contract award in FY 2018.
The Airplane of the Week
David finishes out his discussion of Doomsday Planes with the converted 747-200Bs, otherwise known as the E-4B Nightwatch that serves as the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC).
Bruno Misonne composes music that incorporates the sounds of aviation in very unique ways. His latest creation is “The Sound of Flaps.” Bruno tells us this was “the most challenging project ever created. Everyone who regularly takes the plane becomes aware of this characteristic sound of flaps extending or retracting, a sound that becomes very audible when you are sitting in the cabin above the wings! It has been challenging to find a way to mix that sound with music since at first glance it seems quite impossible to do in such way that the result is pleasant!
The Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee’s Airman Certification System working group (chaired by AOPA) has been tasked with developing new certification standards, handbooks, and test development guidance for aircraft mechanics.
James Fallows talks with us about aviation in China. Also, the NTSB Most Wanted List, A-10 retirement put on hold, the C-130 keeps on flying, a flight attendant meltdown, a new study about lasers pointed at pilots, and more on-demand flying.
James Fallows and his Cirrus SR22
James Fallows is an American writer and journalist. He has been a national correspondent for The Atlantic Monthly for many years, and his work has appeared in Slate, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker and The American Prospect, among others. He is a former editor of U.S. News & World Report, and as President Jimmy Carter’s chief speechwriter for two years, he was the youngest person ever to hold that job.
Jim has been a visiting professor at a number of universities in the U.S. and China. He is the author of ten books, including National Defense, for which he received the 1983 National Book Award, and China Airborne, which examines China’s plan to rival America as the world’s leading aerospace power. Jim is an instrument-rated pilot and owner of a Cirrus SR22.
In our conversation, Jim describes how China Airborne tells the larger story of China through the aviation lens. We talk about building the airport infrastructure and how that’s being funded, and issues for General Aviation in China, such as the shortage of airports, military control of the airspace, and training for controllers. Jim gives us his thoughts on the Comac C919 program and the state of business aviation in China.
For years, the U.S. Air Force has wanted to retire the A-10 Warthog ground attack airplane. That’s been met with congressional criticism, as well as cries from many A-10 enthusiasts. According to sources, the USAF will postpone mothballing the plane in its 2017 budget request to Congress in February.
A 67-year old flight attendant who has been employed by American Airlines for more than 45 years, faces federal charges for some reportedly serious behaviour on a November flight between Charlotte and Frankfurt. These include “claims that she slapped co-workers, punched air marshals, even attempted to open the door of her jetliner as it taxied for takeoff in Germany.”
A new study by researchers at the University of Calgary suggests that pilots struck by lasers do not suffer permanent eye damage. Momentary blindness or blurry vision, yes. Permanent damage, no. Dr. Michael Fielden, assistant clinical professor for the Cumming School of Medicine said, “Once their eyes settle down, they’re worried if there’s any permanent damage that could affect their ability to fly in the future. Fortunately we haven’t found any permanent damage.”
Personal transportation company Uber is expanding beyond vehicles to other modes of transportation. You can now order up on-demand rickshaws in India and boats in Turkey. Now Uber and Airbus Group are planning to launch a pilot program at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah using Airbus H125 and H130 helicopters.
An enthusiast talks about PC flight simulation, Dubai Air Show 2015 debrief, flight training with the Cirrus Aircraft SR22 at Emirates, antitrust lawsuit blocks United’s plan to purchase slots, and bag fees increase at low cost carriers.
Guest Nicolas Jackson talks about PC-based flight simulators. We learn that you can create the flight simulation experience you want – from flying a GA airplane in the pattern around your local airfield, to a transcontinental commercial flight.
We talk about alternatives to Microsoft Flight Simulator X (FSX), such as Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D® simulation software and X-Plane from Laminar Research. Nicolas recommends the Steam edition of FSX distributed by Dovetail Games for new simmers. He also tells us about VATSIM.net, an international online flying network, and broadcasting on Twitch.tv, a live streaming video platform and community for gamers.
Nicolas Jackson fell in love with aviation at the age of 10 when he got his first ride in a GA aircraft. Five minutes at the stick and he was hooked. Soon after that first flight, he bought Sierra Pro Pilot 99. He later switched to Microsoft Flight Simulator starting with FS98 and running all the way to FSX. He started flying on the international online flying network VATSIM with complex airliner add-ons in 2006, and hasn’t looked back since. Nicolas currently flies a variety of FSX aircraft and co-hosts the Unicom Podcast as part of The IFlySimX Team.
airBaltic becomes the launch customer for the CSeries CS300 airliner when it takes delivery in the latter part of 2016. The Latvian flag carrier has orders for 13 firm and 7 options for the 160 passenger CS300.
Bombardier said it has 603 orders and commitments for the CS300 and CS100, 243 of which are firm orders. Also, Bombardier said it was nearing completion of the CS100 flight test program and was “on track” for certification of the airplane by Transport Canada this year. CSeries flight test vehicles took more than 1,000 flights during testing.
Embraer plans to build six test aircraft as part of the E2 E-Jet re-engining program: four of the E190-E2 variant and two of the E195-E2. Both E195-E2s and three of the E190-E2s would be ready by end of 2016, with the fourth following in 2017. The Pratt & Whitney PW1900G will power the planes, and Dutch lessor AerCap will be the launch customer for the 97-seat E190-E2.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Air Force bought two Saab Global 6000 long-range surveillance aircraft, and will upgrade two existing Saab 340 jets. Lebanon will purchase six Embraer Super Tucano aircraft for basic missions and training. Boeing says five customers are interested in its Maritime Surveillance Aircraft, a long-range spying plane. Lockheed Martin was awarded a $262.8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force to service Saudi Arabia’s F-15 sniper targeting system.
United Continental Holdings Inc. wants to buy 24 slots at Newark Liberty International Airport, from Delta Air Lines Inc. The U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit to block the sale.
Justice Department antitrust chief Bill Baer says, “Allowing United to acquire even more slots at Newark would fortify United’s monopoly position and weaken the ability of other airlines to compete. That would leave the 35 million air passengers who fly in and out of Newark every year holding the bag.”
Last year, ultra low cost carrier Spirit Airlines began increased bag fees for the holidays, and they are doing the same this year. Frontier Airlines is also increasing their bag fees, but not just for the holidays. Frontier says they’ll charge a higher fee during the college spring break season, and during the summer travel season, from June 9 through Aug. 16.
Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida, the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s transportation committee sent letters to major airline CEOs asking them not to raise bag fees. Nelson wrote, “These increased surcharges fly in the face of declining fuel costs and appear focused on increasing profitability on the backs of American families,”
Airplane of the Week
This week David looks at the tip of the spear for the Armee de L’Air, the Dassault Rafale.
Across the Pond
Pieter welcomes back Diego López-Salazar from Aeropodcast to talk about his recent visit to Airbus and their Innovation Day presentations. They talk about some of the non-flying innovations Airbus is creating that may well find uses in other industries, such as Airbus Glasses, waste compactors, and paper cable ties. Pieter and Diego also get a short discussion in on the latest British Airways news, that IAG owned Vueling boss Alex Cruz is to become Chairman and Chief Executive of British Airways.
Terrafugia founder Carl Dietrich appears in the movie “Back in Time,” a documentary tribute to the Back to the Future movie series. The film is available on Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes, with tour dates running through November 24th. (The Terrafugia segment starts at 1:13:30 if you want to skip straight to it.)
Conversation with Jonathan Gaffney, President and CEO of the National Aeronautic Association. Also, returning a Concorde to flight, Airbus sets up shop in the U.S., San Diego International Airport launches a traveler program to benefit the environment.
Jonathan Gaffney is President and CEO, of the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), a position he has held since 2007. We talk about aviation awards, like the Robert J. Collier Trophy and the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy. We also learn about the aviation records that the NAA maintains.
Prior to arriving at NAA, Jonathan served for 12 years as the Vice President for Communications of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Washington Dulles International and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airports.
Jonathan had a 22-year career as an Officer in the Navy Reserve, retiring with the rank of Commander. He completed tours of duty onboard the nuclear aircraft carrier USS NIMITZ, and was recalled to active duty during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. He also worked in Washington as a senior staff member in the United States House of Representatives.
Jonathan and the staff of NAA have transformed one of the world’s oldest aeronautical organizations (founded in 1905) from near-insolvency into a vibrant, sustainable association dedicated to its original charter: “…the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the United States.”
Club Concorde has a “Return To Flight” project that seeks to return one of the retired supersonic airliners to flight by 2019. About $190 million has been committed by unidentified financial backers. Club Concorde says they are “a club for all things Concorde, run by ex-Captains, ex-charterers and people passionate about Concorde, working together to keep Concorde in people’s hearts and minds.”
Airbus has a plan for a $600 million plant in Mobile, Alabama for the A320, most of them destined for North American customers. Deliveries are due to start in early 2016 from the 53-acre facility, with the production rate increasing to four aircraft per month by early 2018.
Michel Merluzeau, vice president for aerospace strategy and business development with consultant Frost & Sullivan says, “It’s all about location. It’s about where you do business, and how that property is going to grow over time.”
The San Diego Airport Authority announced “The Good Traveler” pilot program. Travelers pay $1 for a Good Traveler tag or sticker with the proceeds going to three environmental projects: a forest restoration project, a wind farm, and a water restoration project. Each Good Traveler tag purchase offsets “the equivalent of the carbon footprint created by 500 miles of air travel or 200 miles of driving.”
We’re not sure how this one got in here, and we didn’t talk about it. But here it is as, left as an exercise for you.
Airplane of the Week
Li-2 by Paul Filmer
David goes behind the Iron Curtain to talk about the DC-3skis The Soviet Built Li-2 NATO (CAB). Eventually over 4000 Li-2s were produced and it was as successful as it’s US Cousin, the DC-3/C-47.
Across the Pond
Pieter talks to the “ATP adopted pilot” Neil Bradon about his return to GA flying in Europe and then his role in the forthcoming 48 hour B737-800 Sim flight around Europe to raise critically needed funds for charity. The dates are 11th to 13th January 2016.
We talk with Jack about EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, taking place July 20-26, 2015. Besides the forums and educational sessions, #OSH15 visitors can expect to see daily air shows, a 45-year anniversary salute to the Apollo 13 mission, and events celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Curtis Pitts, the 75th anniversary of the Aircoupe, and major anniversaries of the beginning of World War II and the Battle of Britian. A B-52 landing at AirVenture is planned, two F-35s will be on display, and two F-22s will conduct a demonstration flight.
Supermarine Spitfire P9347 sold for £3,106,500 ($4,784,010) at auction. American philanthropist and art collector Thomas Kaplan sold the Spitfire to benefit the RAF Benevolent Fund and several other charitable organizations. Kaplan also gifted a second Spitfire N3200 to the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
The US Patent and Trademark Office has approved Boeing patent application 9,068,562, Laser-powered propulsion system. In one embodiment, an airplane engine uses lasers fired at radioactive material like deuterium or tritium to create a nuclear fusion reaction. The hydrogen or helium exhaust byproducts exit the rear of the engine and provide thrust. Coolant heated from the reaction drives a turbine and generator to produce electricity that powers the lasers.
The Motley Fool used the Boeing Orders & Deliveries Tool to examine June orders and found 161 planes ordered by customers. These were 131 single-aisle 737 commercial airliners, 24 Boeing 777s, five 787 Dreamliners, and one 747. Airbus reported 135 orders in the month.
Year to date, Boeing new plane orders are 221 single-aisle 737s, fifty 787s, forty-nine 777s, four 747s, and one 767. The total net after cancellations is 281 Boeing orders received through the first half of 2015. Airbus says they have booked 324 A320-family airplanes, 57 A330s, and one A350, for a total of 382 planes total.
On July 10, the electric Airbus E-Fan crossed the English Channel in a 36-minute flight. The E-Fan is a light twin-engine aircraft powered by lithium-ion batteries and electric motors. The night before the E-Fan crossing, an electrically powered Cri-Cri piloted by Hugues Duval made it’s own Channel crossing to become the first.
Originally, Pipistrel intended be first across the Channel in its Alpha Electro two-seat trainer. However, at the last minute electric motor maker Siemens banned Pipistrel from using the motor.
Twenty-six year-old Daniel Boria, attached 110 helium-filled balloons to a “$20 lawn chair” with the idea of skydiving from the chair into the middle of the Calgary Stampede. When he started drifting into the clouds, he bailed out, and ended up in jail. CBC News interviews the lawn chair pilot in Calgary balloon man calls adventure ‘sureal’.
NASA’s aeronautical research activities, Boeing and Airbus production rates, an NTSB report on pilots and drugs, and an update on the F-35 engine fire.
Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.) has been the NASA Administrator since July, 2009. During Charlie’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps, he served 14 years in NASA’s Astronaut Office and traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle.
Charlie flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He has a lengthy and distinguished career serving his country, including receiving the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.
We talk about the role of government in general and NASA in particular when it comes to taking the development risks that industry cannot. Charlie tells us about NASA’s development of software tools for the FAA, including NextGen air traffic management tools.
We also discuss the allocation of funding between aeronautics and space, NASA activities in aircraft propulsion such as increasing efficiency of existing systems, recent biofuel tests, and projects with the Boeing eco-Demonstrator airplanes.
Charlie believes that supersonic transports can be in our future and tells us about NASA activity to address the sonic boom problem.
NASA is actively involved with the FAA and the six UAS test sites as autonomous flight technologies are developed. NASA focuses on sense and avoid and is looking at sUAS air traffic control.
We get an update on the commercialization of space flight, climate change and greenhouse warming, and space technology management.
Boeing and Airbus are looking at boosting the production rates for the 737 and A320 families of airplanes. Orders have poured in and the airframers have years of backlog. Will the supply chain be able to sustain higher rates?
The NTSB looked at more than 6,600 toxicology tests performed on pilots killed in aviation accidents from 1990 through 2012, 96% of which were GA. NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart said, “I think that the key take-away from this study for every pilot is to think twice about the medications you’re taking and how they might affect your flying. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs have the potential to impair performance, so pilots must be vigilant to ensure that their abilities are in no way compromised before taking to the skies.”
At Eglin AFB on June 23, 2014, F-35 AF-27 experienced a significant engine fire, grounding the fleet. It appears that engine flex caused a “hard rub” of the fan stage stator against the rotor. The friction caused heating, which led to micro-cracks in some blades. Then in normal operation, the cracks grew and the blades eventually failed. Pratt & Whitney is redesigning some components, but the root cause for the engine flex has not yet been identified.
David Vanderhoof’s Airplane of the Week
The Douglas C-74 Globemaster.
With all the recent humanitarian news, the Boeing C-17A is getting a lot of attention. It’s often referred to as a Globemaster, but it’s time to set the record straight and talk about the real Globemaster – the Douglas C-74 and its son the C-124 Globemaster II, making the C-17A the Globemaster III.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson has news of the UK Airports Commission decision to reject London Mayor Boris Johnson’s idea for an Estuary Airport (affectionately known as “Boris Island”). He also looks at Ryanair’s Boeing 737Max order, and some new services from both Finnair and Qatar Airways.
At Simple Flight, Al and Marc produce a aviation radio show that goes live Sunday nights from 8:00pm to 10:00pm Central Time (U.S.) You can also listen to the audio archive anytime, or subscribe as a podcast in iTunes. Since the Simple Flight show is live, Al and Marc get a lot of listener interaction in real time.
The website offers other content for pilots, including an aviation blog, aviation photography, flight instruction. We talk about the live show, the next great flying club – delivering new pilots to aviation, and even Rod Rakic’s new Open Airplane project.
David Vanderhoof’s Aircraft of the Week is Sue’s Bird, the Piper PA-24 Comanche.
In this week’s Australia Desk:
Winter weather has been causing trouble in for flights Australia’s south east this week, especially with fog causing many diversions. Mid week, two B737s, one Qantas & one Virgin Australia, diverted to the rural city of Mildura in Victoria; an airport normally accustomed to regional turboprop aircraft, and one that lacks an ILS. As the fog began to envelop Mildura as well, the Virgin 737, after two missed approaches, declared a fuel emergency and landed in what has been described as below minima for the airport. This has lead to an ATSB investigation which is due to report by March 2014.