Tag Archives: American Airlines

623 Boeing 787 Dreamliner Move

Boeing decides to move 787 Dreamliner production to South Carolina, the FAA Administrator flies the 737 MAX, Germany halts its heavy-lift helicopter procurement, airlines offer Covid-19 testing to passengers, furloughs after the CARES Act expired, go-arounds and accidents, a fast electric airplane from Rolls-Royce, advanced preflight after maintenance, and Flightradar24 DDoS attack.

Aviation News

Report: Boeing to move all 787 Dreamliner production to S.C.; WA governor responds

Boeing made their decision, and all assembly of the 787 Dreamliner will be consolidated in South Carolina. Production of the 787 will end in Washington state. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the move to consolidate the work in North Charleston, S.C., will be done by “mid-2021, according to our best estimate.”

‘I Like What I See’: FAA Chief Flies 737 Max, But Not Ready To Recertify Plane

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson (a former Delta Air Lines pilot) flew the 737 MAX. At a news conference, Dickson said, “I completed a number of test profiles today to examine the functionality of the aircraft and I liked what I saw, so it responded well. I did two landings and also some air work maneuvers over about a two-hour period… and I felt prepared. I think most importantly, I felt that the training prepared me to be very comfortable.”

Germany Axes Plan To Buy Either Sikorsky CH-53K Or Boeing CH-47 Helicopters

In what was called “a surprise development,” Germany decided not to replace the German Luftwaffe’s aging CH-53G series helicopters with either the CH-53K King Stallion or the CH-47F Chinook. The reason: both heavy-lift helicopters are too expensive.

Here are the U.S. airlines offering COVID-19 testing to travelers

JetBlue has partnered with Vault Health to provide at-home saliva tests to customers “wanting peace of mind and those who must secure a negative COVID-19 test result before entering certain states and countries or in order to avoid certain mandatory quarantines.” United Airlines will offer testing for customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii beginning Oct. American Airlines will offer pre-flight testing to travelers at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport going to Hawaii starting on Oct. 15.

Black Thursday Has Arrived: It’s Bad, But Not As Bad As Feared

The CARES Act has expired and while thousands were furloughed, others have negotiated new agreements with airlines or are in the process of negotiating new deals.

Failure to Go Around Leads to Runway Excursion

The August 15, 2019 crash of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Cessna Citation Latitude at Elizabethton, Tennessee (0A9) followed “an unstable VFR approach, a poorly executed landing, and a botched go-around attempt.”

Rolls-Royce Thinks It’s Developing The Fastest Electric Airplane In The World

The concept includes a 500hp motor, and “a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes.”  Rolls-Royce is ground testing the technology on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core. Project partners include YASA, a British electric powertrain company, and electric aviation startup Electroflight. Rolls-Royce said, “The first flight is planned for later this year and we are aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year.”

Advanced Preflight After Maintenance

General Aviation fatalities have occurred after in-flight emergencies that have been the direct result of maintenance personnel who have serviced or installed systems incorrectly. The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say that a significant number of those fatalities could have been avoided if pilots conducted more thorough preflight inspections of aircraft that have just been returned to service.

Resources:

Update on Flightradar24’s extended downtime

Flightradar24 experienced a sustained Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that resulted in extensive downtime. “We are continuing to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the attack and to harden our systems to reduce the likelihood of future attacks making our services unavailable.”

Mentioned

Listener Poll 623

Whirly-Girls New Instrument Rating Scholarship for Female Aviators for 2021

Aviation Careers Podcast and the Aerospace Scholarships guide.

SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show

Last ever Airbus A380 superjumbo assembled in France

Airbus A380 Struggles But a Business Case Exists for Neo

Airbus debuts hydrogen net-zero concept aircraft for 2035 launch

Video: How Delta Fixes $32 Million Jet Engines | Big Business

Video: Coulson Aviation CH47

Video: Awesome Chinook helicopter firefighting system in action

Jet World Record Project – A video report from KTVN, the CBS affiliate in Reno, Nevada on the TS-11 project to rebuild the airplane. See also Renegade Jets.

620 The Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL)

A 737 crew couldn’t properly hand fly the airplane after autopilot failures, and we discuss the Master Minimum Equipment List. Also, airline furloughs loom, unwanted Austrian Eurofighter Typhoons, Air Force efforts to produce more pilots, an engine shutdown due to rain, commercial flights to nowhere, too much PPE isn’t allowed on American Airlines, and an airport throws out an operator.

Aviation News

Experienced crew struggled with instrument flight after 737 lost autopilots

The Lithuanian carrier Klasjet 737-500 departed Madrid Barajas for Kaunas on April 5, 2019, with the captain’s autopilot inoperative. That’s permitted under the minimum equipment list regulations because the officer’s autopilot was working. However, the FO’s autopilot failed 2 minutes after take-off. The pilots had difficulty flying the plane, with large altitude and pitch variations, several go-arounds, flight below the required minimum, and failure to follow ATC instructions.

For an example of an MMEL, see Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) for the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet. [PDF]

United Eyes Extensive Furloughs

United Airlines plans to furlough 16,370 employees as early as October 2020: 6,920 flight attendants, 2,850 pilots, 2,260 airport operations personnel, 2,010 mechanics, and 1,400 in management. American and Delta have also announced plans to reduce their workforces beginning Oct. 1.

Austria Wants To Offload Its Unwanted Eurofighter Typhoons On Indonesia

The Austrian defense minister said she plans to hold talks that aim to sell the country’s Eurofighter Typhoons to Indonesia. Indonesia is interested in buying the 15 Typhoons, the only fighter jets the Austrian Air Force has. We discuss why Austria wants to get rid of the fighters and wonder why anybody would want them.

USAF Looks to Address Pilot Shortage with New Programs

Earlier this year, the Air Force told Congress that the service had a shortage of about 2,100 pilots, 10% of the pilots it needs to execute the National Defense Strategy. Air Force initiatives to address the shortage include the use of simulation, reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) programs. A new $38 million Virtual Test and Training Center (VTTC) at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), NV will be used for joint-aerial combat training.

U.S. Air Force Trains Robotic Dogs to Scout Battlefields

The Department of the Air Force, the U.S. Northern Command, and the U.S. Space Command just performed a field test of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). The ABMS is a digital battle network system that collects, processes, and shares data among U.S. and allied forces. In addition to shooting down a cruise missile with a hypervelocity weapon, the Air Force tested the Vision 60 quadrupedal robots developed by Ghost Robotics.

Airbus A220 Operators Told To Protect Avionics Against Rainfall

Rain entered an A220 through the main cabin door and overflowed the drains. Then during taxi the water dripped into the avionics bay below and tripped a circuit breaker, causing an engine shutdown. A220 operators have 12 months to modify the drain tubing.

Starlux Airlines Plans Six More Flights To Nowhere

Last month, Taiwanese carrier Starlux Airlines flew a “flight to nowhere” so passengers could “pretend to go abroad.” The flight flew over the Pratas Islands in the northern part of the South China Sea. This was such a success that Starlux plans more of these flights in their Airbus A321neos.

American Airlines Bans Wearing Too Much Personal Protection Equipment On Board

American Airlines sent a memo to its customer care agents about “Prohibited Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).” Several “recreational” PPE items are banned from flights: personal face/body tents, personal face/body pods, personal air purifiers/refreshers, and Ozone generators. Under the Weather sells a variety of these body pods.

JetSuiteX banned at Orange Co Airport, Asks Customers for Help

According to JetSuiteX, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California told the company that they were “no longer welcome” at Orange County Airport. No reason was given. JetSuiteX provides “hop-on service” from FBO’s with 19 Embraer ERJ-135 and -145 jet aircraft configured for 30 passengers. Customers received communications from JetSuiteX asking them to write to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Mentioned

Prototype of the ‘Flying-V’ plane built by KLM that burns 20% less fuel than traditional aircraft takes to the skies for the first time and TUDelft Flying-V.

“The Flying-V is a design for a highly energy-efficient long-distance aeroplane. The aircraft’s design integrates the passenger cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings, creating a spectacular v-shape. Its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight will mean it uses 20% less fuel than the Airbus A350, today’s most advanced aircraft.”

When does flying become CO2-neutral?

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has some concepts for “an aircraft that flies as climate-friendly as it is economical and is ready for operation by 2040… This aircraft should be able to carry at least 70 passengers for a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers.”

Calling all pilots! Corps to give up to $210,000 for Marine pilots to re-up

The Marine Corps will give out an aviation bonus of up to $210,000 for select pilots willing to extend their service commitment by up to six years, according to a new administrative message.

Major General Charles Bolden Honored with 2020 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy [PDF]

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced that Major General Charles Bolden USMC (Ret.) has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy for “…his impassioned commitment to public service in aviation and aerospace as an aviator, astronaut, and leader and his dedication to excellence for the advancement of all humanity.”

Charlie appeared as our guest in Episode 316 – NASA’s Aeronautics Research, September 2014. His blog from his days at NASA is still online.

617 Boeing 737 MAX NPRM

We look at the Boeing 737 MAX NPRM for return to service, Phillips 66 investment in sustainable aviation fuel, JetBlue carbon neutrality on domestic flights, this year’s Collier Trophy winner, American Airlines plans to eliminate some smaller destinations, and the F-16 fighter jet sale to Taiwan.

Boeing 737 MAX NPRM

Boeing 737 MAX AD NPRM Now Available for Early Public Review

Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for a Boeing 737 MAX airworthiness directive (AD) (PDF)

The FAA proposes to supersede Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2018-23-51, which applies to all The Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) airplanes. Since AD 2018-23-51 was issued, the agency has determined that final corrective action is necessary to address the unsafe condition. This proposed AD would require installing new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to incorporate new and revised flightcrew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an angle of attack sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight. 

2019-NM-035-AD The Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) airplanes

Comments are due Sep 21, 2020 11:59 PM ET.

Preliminary Summary of the FAA’s Review of the Boeing 737 MAX (PDF)

This report will provide a detailed technical account of the lessons learned since the two fatal accidents involving the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, as well as the actions by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure the airplane’s safe return to service. As the State of Design agent, the FAA is providing this report to all States of Registry and to the general public to assist in their understanding of how the agency identified and is addressing the safety issues affecting the 737 MAX.

Aviation News

Phillips 66 To Convert Plant For Sustainable Fuel Production

The company announced its San Francisco Refinery in Rodeo, California will be reconfigured to produce 680 million gallons annually of sustainable diesel, gasoline, and jet fuels using cooking oil, fats, greases, and soybean oils. If approved, the production of sustainable fuels could start in early 2024.

JetBlue is the First U.S. Airline to Commit to and Achieve Carbon Neutrality for All Domestic Flying

JetBlue previously announced a commitment to go carbon neutral on all domestic flights. The airline says it has achieved that goal and carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) from jet fuel for all domestic JetBlue-operated flights are now offset. The airline is also investing in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and flights from San Francisco International Airport are fueled with SAF.  JetBlue had already offset more than 2.6 billion pounds of CO2 emissions in partnership with CarbonFund.org Foundation.

X-37B Team Wins Collier Trophy

The United States Department of the Air Force-Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle team has won the 2019 Robert J. Collier Trophy. The National Aeronautic Association selection committee said the team was chosen for “… developing and employing the world’s only reusable, autonomous spaceplane, which logged more than 2,865 days in orbit across five missions, changing access to space and serving as the nation’s workhorse in space experimentation and technology.”

X-37B Landing

X-37B Landing.

American Airlines prepares to drop some service to smaller cities as expiration of federal aid nears

Under the terms of a $25 billion federal aid package, airlines must maintain minimum levels of service through September 30, 2020. American Airlines says they’ll discontinue flights to some as yet unidentified small and medium-sized cities. The airline may not wait until October 1, 2020, to drop the destinations from the fall schedules. There is congressional support for an additional federal payment that would sustain the flights, but the necessary legislation hasn’t come together yet.

U.S. Formalizes F-16 Jet Sale to Taiwan With China Tensions High

Taiwan signed an agreement to purchase 66 F-16 jets, to be completed by 2026. The planned sale was announced last August and at that time a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said “U.S. arms sales to Taiwan severely violate the one-China principle.”

Cutter Aviation

Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari visits FBO Cutter Aviation in Colorado Springs.

Mentioned

Tuskegee Airman General Charles McGee

On Wednesday, September 2, 2020, General McGee will be interviewed live as part of the Old Guys and Their Airplanes “Debrief” series.

General McGee served in WWII, The Korean War, and the Vietnam War, accumulating an astounding 409 combat missions.  His civilian service is marked by extensive honors including the nation’s highest civilian award, The Congressional Gold Medal.   Today, at age 100, he remains an active role model to youth, promoting his mantra of personal success, “Perceive, Prepare, Perform and Persevere.”

The live interview is free to the public with special emphasis on encouraging teachers and group leaders to tune-in. To this point, the 2 September interview with General McGee will be conducted during the ‘school time’ – 9 am Pacific, 10 am Mountain, 11 am Central and Noon Eastern.

Also…

Amphibious Assault Ship USS Essex Carries Load Of Gorgeous World War II Warbirds To Hawaii

615 Supersonic Commercial Aircraft

Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic supersonic commercial aircraft eye Rolls-Royce engine technology, China’s AG600 large seaplane, United’s ERJ-145 regional jets to CommutAir, pilot re-examinations, Boeing’s quarterly loss and good 737 MAX news, airline passengers and booze, the growing stockpile of airline nuts, and Allegiant Air’s clever “work from Vegas” packages.

Aviation News

Boom, Rolls-Royce Partner On Supersonic Overture

Boom Supersonic and Rolls-Royce announced they are exploring a Rolls-Royce propulsion system on Boom’s Overture supersonic commercial aircraft. The companies will investigate if an existing engine architecture can be adapted for supersonic flight. The smaller Boom XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is expected to roll out on Oct. 7, 2020.

See the Boom press release: Engine Studies Advance Program Development and Focus on Sustainability and the outstanding XB-1 progress animation.

Virgin Galactic Unveils Mach 3 Aircraft Design for High Speed Travel, and Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce

Virgin Galactic Holdings wants to create a supersonic commercial aircraft and just unveiled its initial design of a Mach 3 airplane. The company’s manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles, The Spaceship Company (“TSC”), announced the first stage design scope and also the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.

Virgin is targeting a Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft, with a capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet, that is able to incorporate custom cabin layouts, and use sustainable aviation fuel.

The FAA’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation will work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework.

United to drop contract with ExpressJet, dealing fatal blow

United Airlines plans to move its 50-seat United Express Embraer ERJ-145 planes operated by ExpressJet to regional carrier CommutAir, which would become United’s sole ERJ-145 operator. Operations are being consolidated as United looks to be a smaller airline as a result of the pandemic. United says, “This transition will take a number of months.”

The World’s Largest Seaplane Pulls Off Its First Waterborne Flight

The AG600 “Kunlong” is China’s first seaplane and the world’s largest seaplane. The AG600 just had its first takeoff from the ocean, followed by a 31-minute flight. The plane, which did fly from a reservoir in 2018, can carry 50 passengers up to 2,700 miles. It has a 128-foot wingspan and a length of 121 feet. Maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons. Power comes from four WJ-6 turboprops.

Video: China’s AG600 amphibious aircraft completes first sea surface flight

Pilots Who Flew With Discredited Examiner Face Reexamination

The FAA has notified some pilots that they may have to be re-examined because of problems with the work of a specific examiner.

Boeing’s revenue plunges 25 percent as long-term effects of pandemic take hold

Shipments are down and so is Boeing’s second-quarter profit.

FAA gives preliminary approval on design fixes for 737 Max

Welcome news for Boeing. A few details need attention and the FAA will proceed with a 45-day public comment period.

Most airlines aren’t serving booze during the pandemic. Passengers are (illegally) bringing their own

Some people just need a drink when flying, but it’s against regulations for a passenger to bring their own.

There’s A Huge Surplus Of American Airlines Nuts

Fewer people are flying and the stockpile of airline nuts is growing. Order yours now for an at-home experience.

Viva Las remote office? Allegiant Air to pitch ‘work from Vegas’ travel packages to boost bookings

Allegiant Air has a brilliant idea to provide you with a “work at home” experience in Las Vegas.

Mentioned

For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken was our guest in Episode 432.

There is always a ham in the crowd…

614 Choosing a Flight School

An aviation climate control proposal from the EPA, an update on airline furloughs, questions about fighter pilot’s flying experience, Airbus’ autonomous A350, Delta Airline’s fleet simplification, and the Garmin outage that lasted for days. Also, an Australia News Desk from the boys down under, a special discount code for our listeners, and advice on choosing a flight school.

Aviation News

US Says it Will Adopt Global Climate Standards for Aviation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new aircraft emissions regulations that some are criticizing and others are applauding. The proposal adopts 2017 emissions standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Boeing and the Airlines for America trade group welcomed the proposal. Environmental groups and the EPA itself said the proposed regulations would have no meaningful effect.

Southwest Airlines Will Not Furlough Workers On Oct. 1

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced that the airline will not furlough or lay off any workers on Oct. 1, 2020. Kelly said, “We have no intention of seeking furloughs, layoffs, pay rate cuts or benefits cuts through at least the end of the year… I can’t guarantee it will never happen, especially during these dark pandemic times. I can promise you it will be the last thing we do to keep Southwest financially healthy and viable.”

American Airlines’ Grim Warning To Flight Attendants

American Airlines says it has over 20,000 more employees than it will need later this year. The airline has been trying to entice employees to accept voluntary leaves of absence or early retirement, but the acceptance numbers are lower than American wants to see.

Fighter Pilots Warn Of Newly Trained Pilots’ Lack Of Actual Flying Experience

We’ve recently seen a number of military aviation accidents. A team of senior U.S. Air Force officers has been speaking to pilots and aircrew to see if there are common factors. They find that experienced pilots worry about possible cuts in flying hours and increased use of simulators.

Airbus Completes Autonomous Airliner Experiment

Since 2018, Airbus has flown an A350-1000 autonomously 500 times. The airplane is fitted with image recognition technology that uses external cameras. The software processes the images and controls the flight.

Delta Air Lines: Fleet Simplification Will Be A Game Changer

Delta had announced a fleet simplification strategy last December. At the beginning of 2020, Delta operated 20 different aircraft models in multiple configurations, with two more scheduled to join the fleet in 2020 (the Airbus A220-300 and A321neo). Delta has now accelerated its simplification strategy.

FAA warns of Boeing 737 double-engine power loss (EAD)

The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for Boeing 737 Classic and NextGeneration aircraft in storage. The bleed air fifth stage check valve on CFM56 engines stored for seven or more days could exhibit corrosion that could lead to an engine shutdown. Perhaps even a double-engine shutdown. This follows four single-engine 737 shutdowns during flight.

Garmin Aviation App And Services Down in Ransomware Attack

On Jul. 23, 2020, Garmin experienced a major outage attributed in the press to a ransomware attack. The FlyGarmin app for pilots using Garmin GPS based instruments and navigation equipment was affected, as was the Garmin Pilot app and Garmin aviation and navigation watches.

Mentioned

QANTAS Boeing 747 VH-OEJ “Wunala” Final Walkaround at LAX

For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken from PilotPartner was our guest in Episode 432.

Delta CEO: Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis – Boss Files with Poppy Harlow

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the airline industry, Delta CEO Ed Bastian says he is leading the company through a defining moment. He opens up about how Delta is navigating the crisis, mandating masks on all flights, and blocking middle seats. He also pledges as CEO to stand against racism and is committed to promoting more African-American executives throughout the company.

613 A-10 Thunderbolt II

A former A-10 pilot who flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm tells us about the A-10 from a first-hand perspective. Also, Boeing 737 MAX cancellations, airline layoffs and furloughs, Emirates plan for the A380, an American Airlines and JetBlue partnership, a bizarre Icelandair plan, aviation museums are re-opening, the B-52 Chrome Dome mission, a drive-in airshow, and thoughts on Urban Air Mobility.

Guest

Buck Wyndham is an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate who joined the Air Force to fly his dream airplane, the A-10 Thunderbolt II. He became one of the very first pilots to take the Warthog into battle and flew many missions during Operation Desert Storm. He went on to fly the T-38 Talon as an instructor for over seven years. 

Buck describes A-10 design and its mission as a ground support aircraft built around a 30mm rotary cannon. “The gun” is 21 feet long, weighs 4,000 pounds loaded, and can fire 70 rounds per second. Buck describes the physical sensations when firing the gun, and he tells us about the difference between air-to-air combat with fast jets and air-to-ground combat with an attack aircraft. He also explains A-10 maneuverability.

Hogs in the SandBuck’s new book, Hogs in the Sand: A Gulf War A-10 Pilot’s Combat Journal, is available in either hardcover or paperback. It’s a gritty, inside look at aerial warfare during Operation Desert Storm, but it is more personal and emotional than books of the same genre. It’s not the typical combat account. It includes that but also much more.

Currently, Buck is an A320 captain for a major US airline, and he is the Chief Pilot for Code 1 Aviation in Rockford, Illinois. Buck has written articles for Warbirds, Classic Jet Journal, and Warbird Digest. He enjoys flying vintage aircraft, building his RV-8, and working on his next book, a novel entitled Red Air.

The Hogs in the Sand website has information about the book, and also some good A-10 videos. Find more on the A-10 at the Hogs in the Sand Facebook page.

Aviation News

Boeing 737 MAX cancellations top 350 planes in first half of 2020

Sixty orders for the 737 MAX were canceled in June by airlines and leasing companies. Deliveries in the first two quarters of 2020 were down by 71% compared to the previous year.

Southwest Airlines Has Another Ominous Warning for Airlines

Southwest Airlines has never had an involuntary layoff or furlough. That might change this year. Southwest’s initial plans for 2020 suggested the airline expected a recovery by year-end and  Southwest originally planned to operate in November and December about as many flights as last year. However, in a letter to employees, Southwest acknowledged that this is becoming unlikely and they may see involuntary layoffs and furloughs.

American Airlines warns 25,000 employees about potential job cuts as coronavirus continues to sap demand

25,000 front-line employees, about 29% of American’s U.S. mainline workforce, were warned that they could be furloughed this autumn. As with other airlines, employees were advised to take early retirement packages or extended leaves. American’s revenue in June was down more than 80% versus a year ago.

Delta just gave United a stark lesson in pandemic business leadership

United Airlines has said that blocking middle seats is just PR. However, Delta Air Lines and Southwest “decided their customers would prefer those middle seats empty,” according to ZDNet. Delta is not raising ticket prices and CEO Ed Bastian says those empty middle seats are the “No. 1 reason” travelers are booking with Delta.

The president of Emirates says passengers will never again be as comfortable as they have been aboard the enormous discontinued Airbus A380

Only 251 A380s will have been delivered by Airbus when production stops in 2021. Emirates has about half of them and the airline’s president Tim Clark says they’ll bring them back into service: “Hopefully, we’ll see them flying for at least another 10 years. Unfortunately, it’s not being produced. So there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”

In a twist, American partners with JetBlue in bid for New York and Boston

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways have again formed an alliance where each can sell seats on the other’s flights. With this agreement, American stands to gain in JetBlue strongholds Boston and New York. JetBlue could benefit from American strength in the Midwest and Southeast. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Icelandair says it’s letting go of all its flight attendants — and shifting their duties to the pilots

Icelandair and its cabin crew have had a labor dispute and last Friday the airline said starting July 20 cabin crew employment would be terminated. The airline’s pilots would temporarily assume flight attendants’ roles. In May 2019, 419,000 passengers flew on Icelandair. In May 2020, just 3,100 flew the airline. But then on Sunday… Icelandair and flight attendants have struck a deal. Icelandair and the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFI) reached an agreement and the announced firing of the flight attendants was rescinded.

Mentioned

Aviation News Talk YouTube channel

TABfabric Etsy shop for hand-made face masks. Proceeds go to the Pasadena Woman’s Shelter.

B-52 Stratofortress – US strategic bomber / Documentary US Air Force / WHD

Airshow London (Ontario) announced its 2020 air show will take place on September 12 and 13 as a drive-in format featuring a traditional three-hour air display. The airport grounds can accommodate close to 2500 cars with this socially responsible model. Guests will arrive with a pre-purchased ticket (1 ticket per vehicle) and be directed to park in their own 20 X 25-foot space to enjoy the show either inside or outside their vehicle. Guests can bring their own refreshments, listen to the show on their car radios, and utilize portable washrooms.

612 Difficult Times for Airlines

Airlines face downward booking trends and very large furloughs, flight training in a time of social distancing, airlines struggle to enforce face-covering policies, airports are responding to the pandemic, Boeing issues draft pilot training document for the 737 MAX, and Spirit Airlines steps up to help a family in need.

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

Aviation News

United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 U.S. employees in October as travel remains depressed

United Airlines sent employees a notice saying that 36,000 employees may be subject to involuntary furloughs. That would represent 45% of its U.S. front-line workers. Most of these (26,000) would be flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents. Up to 2,250 pilots could be affected.

United Airlines Has a Huge Warning for Airlines

In mid-April, there were days when TSA checkpoint volume was only 4% of previous year levels. In May and June, the volume rose slightly and airlines started operating more flights. But now Covid-19 infections are spiking upward in many U.S. states and bookings are again dropping.

Redbird Connect Enables Virtual Pilot Proficiency Center

A few months ago, Redbird Flight Simulations started thinking about social distancing and flight training. They’ve developed a platform for flight instructors and their students that uses video conferencing technology and a web-based version of the Redbird Navigator flight simulator operating system.

Airline passengers find ‘creative ways’ to remove masks, American pilot says

Airline passengers are required to wear face coverings in flight, except when eating and drinking. Most do, but not everyone. Cabin crew have difficulty enforcing a mask policy since there is no Federal requirement, only a recommendation.

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a 44-page “Runway to Recovery” plan [PDF] subtitled “The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus.”

Touchless: How the world’s busiest airport envisions post-COVID travel

DFW and American Airlines plan to roll out self-check-in for luggage and touchless restrooms at the airport. The airport is piloting three luggage self-check-in systems: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS. DFW is also testing new sanitization technology including ultraviolet light to kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.

You couldn’t even pay me to fly United or American Airlines right now, and here’s why

Delta and Southwest Airlines are still flying with reduced seating, but American and United have resumed booking middle seats.

American pilots review Boeing’s latest Max training draft

Boeing has a draft of its new 737 MAX pilot training document. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) representing American Airlines’ pilots has a copy and they say the document is vastly more thorough than previous drafts. The APA is generally pleased with it but some concerns remain. Boeing’s latest draft includes some 10 documents and 200 pages.

Spirit to the rescue: Airline sends emergency plane to bring stranded family home

A family was flying on Spirit Airlines from San Juan to Philadelphia when their 4-year-old daughter had a medical emergency. The plane diverted to Turks and Caicos so the girl could get medical treatment. (She’s fine.) But the family didn’t have the necessary documentation when they tried to leave the island. Plus international travel is shut down there. They were trapped but Spirit and others came to the rescue. 

Mentioned

EAA’s Spirit of Aviation Week™ – July 21-25, 2020.

Meet The Navy’s First Female African American Tactical Jet Pilot

Air Force Name Tapes Can Now Include Accent Marks and Hyphens

 

610 Air Cargo

An air cargo pilot joins us to talk about Boeing freighters. Also, the American Airlines recovery plan that includes more growth than that of other mainline carriers, an Allied Pilots Association proposal where the government would buy middle seats to facilitate social distancing in flight, a Lufthansa bailout by the German government, an Italian ban on luggage in overhead bins, changing airline contracts of carriage, and the United States Air Force plan for some F-22 Raptors.

Guest

Miami Rick flew 777 freighters with LAN and was also a passenger pilot on the 767 and 757. Several years ago he moved on to fly air cargo on the 747, including the 747-8 and the Dreamlifter. Rick recently transitioned from the right seat of the 747 to the left seat of the 767 freighter. Rick is a regular host on the Airline Pilot Guy Show where he refers to his current airline as “Acme-Giant.”

Aviation News

Why American Airlines Is Growing Twice As Fast As Delta And United

Adjusted for blocked middle seats, American Airlines is restoring 55% of domestic seat capacity in July, compared to 30% for United and 21% for Delta. American CEO Doug Parker said, “The big hubs win. We are absolutely benefitted by the fact that two of the three biggest hubs on earth are ours, which are Dallas/Fort Worth and Charlotte.”

Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group said, “It’s a vacuum cleaner strategy. They just want to suck up whatever traffic is out there. It’s very risky but there’s a reward.”

United doesn’t buy American’s strategy, telling employees, “Some of our competitors are flying a bigger July schedule than we are, by selling extremely low-priced tickets, and wasting money.”

American Airlines pilots union wants the government to buy middle seats

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) proposed that the government buy seats so that no passenger has to “sit next to a stranger.” The APA white paper Safe Essential Air Transportation Seating (SEATS) [PDF] states, “Under SEATS, the government would purchase enough seats on each flight to eliminate the need for any passenger to sit next to a stranger. Thanks to uniform social distancing, passengers would be encouraged to fly more, airlines would be encouraged to operate more flights, and the government would ensure the preservation of critical transportation infrastructure and associated jobs.”

Also, “…SEATS would build on the success of the CARES Act by addressing both economic and health concerns, with the pace of the airline industry’s recovery determining its duration and level of support. The SEATS concept could be an effective strategy standing alone, and could also be integrated with any forthcoming infrastructure or additional stimulus bill similar to the CARES Act.”

‘We simply don’t have any money.’ Lufthansa shareholders approve $10 billion bailout

Lufthansa shareholders voted overwhelmingly to take a $10 billion bailout from the German government. The deal gives the government a 20% stake in the airline. Current shareholders will see the value of their holdings diluted. Billionaire businessman Heinz Hermann Thiele, Lufthansa’s biggest single stock owner, had been against the deal, saying the value of his own holding would drop 15%. But he relented at the 11th hour.

Cabin luggage ban on flights to and from Italy

All luggage is now banned from overhead bins on planes in Italy. Handbags and other items that fit under the seat in front are allowed. Everything else has to be checked. The Italian National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) says “as far as hand luggage is concerned, passengers are allowed to bring on board only luggage small enough to be placed under the seat in front of the assigned seat. For health reasons, the use of overhead lockers is not allowed under any circumstance.”

Airlines seek to block consumer lawsuits

Airlines have canceled many flights due to COVID-19, and the Department of Transportation has warned them they must offer refunds to passengers when requested. Rather than offer passengers cash refunds, airlines have preferred to give them electronic vouchers or credits to be applied to future travel. The result has been a number of consumer lawsuits.

It is reported that American Airlines and British Airways recently revised their contracts of carriage. American’s contract of carriage requires customers to waive their right to participate in a class-action lawsuit against the airline. British Airways requires Executive Club loyalty program members to defer to binding arbitration rather than engage in lawsuits. Frontier and Spirit Airlines already had clauses in their contracts of carriage that prohibit class-action lawsuits.

Air Force’s Reforge Plan Could Put Some Older F-22s in ‘Red Air’ Role

The Air Combat Command wants to cut pilot training time. Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, signed off on a strategy known as “Rebuilding the Forge,” or “Reforge.” earlier this month. Under the plan, the Air Force looks to reduce the time it takes to train a skilled fighter pilot to about 22 months, half of what it normally takes. They are looking to take some of the Formal Training Unit F-22s (which are used for fundamental skills training) and put them in a combat-coded configuration. With that, more aircraft would be available for pilots to get operational experience earlier in their careers.

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604 Aircraft Storage

The chief commercial officer of one of the largest aircraft maintenance, storage, and reclamation operations explains aircraft storage in light of the large number of airplanes taken out of service. In the news, members of the new Women in Aviation Advisory Board are announced, the fatal Canadian Snowbird crash, the Cessna SkyCourier first flight, airline passenger policies for wearing masks, and Airbus looks to a downsized future.

Guest

Scott Butler

Scott Butler, chief commercial officer, Ascent Aviation Services.

Scott Butler is chief commercial officer of Ascent Aviation Services, one of the largest aircraft storage, maintenance, and reclamation operations in the world. Ascent provides fully integrated aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), line maintenance, storage, reclamation, paint, and interior services to owners, operators, and lessors of wide-body, narrow-body, and regional aircraft.

Ascent Aviation Services currently operates two maintenance facilities in southern Arizona that cover more than 1,250 acres and house 5 hangars.  Now managing over 400 aircraft, the company is a Class IV 14 CFR Part 145 certified Repair Station and maintains approvals and certifications from regulatory authorities globally, including FAA, EASA, BDA/AMO, TCCA, NCAA, and 2-REG.

Aircraft parking and storage are regulator-approved maintenance programs. Scott explains the categories of aircraft storage and describes aircraft preparation and maintenance while in storage:

  • Active parking for aircraft that could be activated within days and put into revenue service quickly. Maintenance includes running the engines, inspections, periodic ops checks, etc.
  • Short-term parking, usually for 1-3 months. Maintenance includes short-term engine and controls preservation, disconnecting batteries, and covering tubes and sensors. Activation might take a few days or a week.
  • Long-term storage, perhaps for up to a year, with an option for storage exceeding one year. Maintenance includes full engine preservation (“pickling”), fluid draining, use of preservation oil, corrosion protection coverings, sealing the landing gear, and animal protection.

We also talk about the reasons for parking or storing aircraft, and the types of aircraft now being stored. Ascent also performs dismantling operations and they are even using drones for dent mapping. Scott comments on the outlook for freighter and specialty conversions, and changes to how cargo is being moved.

Scott is an aviation professional with more than 10 years in the aerospace industry. Prior to joining Ascent Aviation Services as CCO, he was the Director of Sales for Zodiac Aerospace, owned by Safran since February 2018 and offering aerosystems, cabin interiors, and seats.

Scott has held leadership positions in program management, engineering and operations management at TE Connectivity and Rockwell Collins. He holds a degree in Aviation Human Factors and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Aviation News

US aviation industry leaders appointed to Women in Aviation Advisory Board

The Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB) was established in October 2019 under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The FAA states, “The objective of the Women in Aviation Advisory Board (PDF) is to develop and provide independent recommendations and strategies to the… FAA to explore opportunities for encouraging and supporting female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation, with the objective of promoting organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women for positions in the aviation industry.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the appointment of 30 board members. Former U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will serve as chair of the board. She’s currently President of The University of Texas at El Paso. See Women in Aviation Advisory Board Membership (PDF).

CAF member who died in Snowbird plane crash identified

One of the Canadian Snowbirds planes crashed in Kamloops, BC. The team was on a tour of the country under Operation Inspiration, similar to the U.S. tour of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. The Royal Canadian Air Force CT-114 Tutor with Captain Richard MacDougall and Captain Jennifer Casey on board had just lifted off when something went wrong. Captain Casey was killed and Captain MacDougall sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries. The plane crashed into a house in a residential neighborhood.

Cessna SkyCourier Successfully Completes First Flight

In March 2020, the Cessna SkyCourier successfully completed initial ground tests. Now the first flight of the prototype Cessna 408 SkyCourier twin-turboprop has been accomplished lasting 2-hours and 15-minutes. A common platform will support various configurations, including a 6,000-pound payload freighter, a 19-seat passenger version, and a mixed passenger/freight combination. FedEx is the launch customer for the SkyCourier, with 50 firm and 50 option orders. It will have a maximum cruise speed of 200 ktas and 900-nm range.

U.S. airlines tell crews not to force passengers to wear masks

Southwest memo says it will not deny boarding if customers don’t wear masks

American Airlines’ policy says customers “may be denied boarding” for not wearing a mask. United’s policy allows boarding in most cases, but the policy states, “there could be an isolated situation where a customer may be denied boarding as a last resort.” JetBlue says, “Customers who refuse to comply with our policy will be denied boarding.” Southwest policy says wearing a mask is a “requirement,” but a memo obtained by CNN states, “We will not deny boarding solely based on a Customer’s refusal to wear a face covering.” and… “You are expected to inform Customers of our face covering requirement but are not expected to be the enforcers — ask the Customer to comply with wearing a face covering if they are able.”

American told its pilots, “Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy… Bottom line to the pilots: a passenger on board your aircraft who is being compliant with the exception of wearing a face covering is NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response.”

Airbus to be ‘resized,’ could cut output again – sources

Airbus executives were told to “face reality” and that Airbus may not survive without change. “Radical,” “proactive,” and urgent steps are needed, particularly if the pandemic produces a second wave.

Boeing CEO: It could take 3 to 5 years for airline industry to return from ‘apocalyptic’ state

In an edited interview, Boeing CEO David Calhoun was asked on NBC television “do you think there might be a major US carrier that may have to go out of business? He responded, “I don’t want to get too predictive on that but yes, most likely. Something will happen when September comes around.”

Delta to retire Boeing 777s as pandemic dims outlook for international travel

Delta Air Lines said it will retire its fleet of Boeing 777s. Also that this fall it may have 7,000 too many pilots. Long-haul international travel is not expected to recover quickly. Delta’s daily cash burn is down to $50 million a day. CEO Ed Bastian said “Our principal financial goal for 2020 is to reduce our cash burn to zero by the end of the year, which will mean, for the next two to three years, a smaller network, fleet, and operation in response to substantially reduced customer demand.”

602 The Life of a Pilot

Chris Manno talks about his 42 years as a professional pilot, first with the U.S. Air Force and then with a major U.S. airline. Chris has written An Airline Pilot’s Life which captures his military and commercial career. In the news, we look at industry first-quarter losses, production cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. Also, airline and airport safety measures, Federal bailout money, a hybrid-electric aircraft, and the Treaty on Open Skies.

Guest

Pilot Chris Manno

Chris Manno

Chris Mano writes the Jethead blog and has recently published a start-to-finish true-life story of his 42 years as a professional pilot, which includes seven years with the USAF and over 34 years with American Airlines. It’s titled An Airline Pilot’s Lifeand the paperback release is May 2020. The first part is currently Amazon Kindle’s #1 new release in commercial aviation. The book tells the stories of Chris’ USAF pilot training and squadron flying for 6 years, and then his airline career through DC-10 engineer to MD-80 FO to DC-10 FO to MD-80 captain, F-100 captain, MD-80 Check Airman, and B-737-800 captain.

The book describes a life-long dedication to aviation, a path that Chris knew he wanted to take even as a youngster. Through this first-hand view, the reader learns what it is like to be an air force pilot or an airline pilot.

An Airline Pilots LifeChris tells us about the difference between military and airline flying, the role of labor unions, and flight and cabin crew relationships. We learn why he likes the 737-800 so much, and what he didn’t like about the MD-80. Chris also provides his thoughts, from a pilot’s perspective, on the loss of confidence in the 737 Max, the process, and the regulator.

Find Chris at the JetHead blog and look for An Airline Pilot’s Lifeon Amazon.com.

Quarterly earnings reports, production cuts, layoffs…

Southwest Airlines Reports First Quarter Loss

Boeing plans to cut airplane production, 10% of its workforce in aircraft market ‘frozen’ by coronavirus crisis

The Non-Bailout: How the Fed Saved Boeing Without Paying a Dime

Warren Buffett & Berkshire Hathaway has completely sold out of its airline stakes.

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita to lay off 1,450 employees

United Launches Plan To Cut At Least A Third Of Its Pilots

Boeing’s Biggest 737 MAX Customer Slashes Aircraft Delivery Schedule

Airline safety measures…

JetBlue To Require Passenger Face Masks

United Airlines adds safety procedures, ticket changes

Airport safety measures and federal grants…

Paine Field Airport to test passengers for fever before boarding

How did a small coastal airport in Owls Head get an $18 million federal bailout?

Tiny airports rake in big cash after botched stimulus formula

Other aviation news…

Airbus and Rolls-Royce cancel E-Fan X hybrid-electric RJ100 experiment

Air Force Is Down To One Tired Old Jet To Fly Open Skies Surveillance Flights

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