Tag Archives: American Airlines

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.

Mentioned

Dawn FlightOnly if you love gliders, or really have nothing better to do.

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

Mentioned

Airport Ambience, A whole day in 4K

601 Business Aviation

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

Guest

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How airplane seats could look in the post-coronavirus era

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

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

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

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

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

Bad Aviation Movie Contest

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

Mentioned

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

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

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

13 Minutes to the Moon: The Apollo 13 Story

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

 

599 One Less Than 600

An aviation and space reporter helps us understand the current state of the aviation industry and where it might lead. We also bring you an inside look at how an article for an aviation magazine is produced.

Guest

Tom Risen is a Space and Aviation Reporter based in Washington, DC. He’s been covering the latest news and writing analysis about how airlines and aerospace manufacturers are adapting to the quarantine measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

Tom is co-authoring a book about government oversight, he is the web editor and reporter for Future Flight News, and Tom was formerly technology and business reporter at U.S. News & World Report, and a staff reporter for Aerospace America.

Aviation News

Boeing to restart limited local work on jets

Boeing says they’ll recall about 2,500 employees out of the 30,000 employees impacted by the shutdown. The recalled workers will support defense programs like the Navy’s P-8 and the Air Force KC-46 tanker, and also maintenance operations for 737 MAX jets stored at Moses Lake. Employees will be provided with personal protective equipment and enforce social distancing measures.

Airbus cuts production by a third as airlines struggle

In response to airlines suspending orders, Airbus cut its production. The company said it delivered 122 planes in the first quarter, with 60 remaining undelivered. 55 were delivered in February, 36 in March.

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

Boeing 737 MAX jets have two independent flight controlled computers: the Collins Aerospace FCC-730 series computers, first built in 1996. These use single-core, 16-bit processors. They have limited compute power, but they are reliable.

Treasury Department says larger airlines need to compensate taxpayers for coronavirus aid as talks drag on

More than 230 applications from air carriers for payroll grants have been received by the Treasury Department. United, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit and others have applied for the aid. The Treasury Department said that it would not require applicants seeking $100 million or less to provide compensation. Officials have said the compensation could include stock warrants and or other financial instruments.

This will lead to airline bankruptcies’ — flight attendant union furious with Treasury bailout offers

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union and our guest in Episode 545 said, “This will lead to airline bankruptcies. The Treasury Department is destabilizing the industry, not helping save it.” The Treasury Department decided to make 30% of each cash grant offer a low-interest loan payable to the federal government. Nelson says Congress earmarked the money to immediately pay airline workers. If it’s turned into a loan, the airlines may choose not to take it.

Nearly 13,500 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants agree to voluntary leave or early retirement

The voluntary leave or retirement would occur in April or May, 2020. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said about 7,960 members signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement.

TSA screens fewer than 100K travelers for 2 days in a row, hits ‘record low’ as coronavirus outbreak continues

This is about 96 percent lower than the same time last year. Then TSA screened more than 2 million passengers each day.

FedEx Puts Parked Jets Back in Service to Meet Asia Cargo Surge

FedEx plans to add 150 flights over the next month to ferry masks, protective suits and other health-care supplies to the U.S. from Asia.

Air Canada Removes Seating From 777s To Increase Cargo Capacity

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

Alaska Airlines’ Creative New “Tag” Flights

Government aid under the CARES Act requires US airlines to avoid involuntarily furloughs or employee layoffs, and continuing service to all existing markets. Alaska Airlines is creating tag flights. For example, instead of flying from Seattle to Dallas and from Seattle to Houston, Alaska will fly from Seattle to Dallas to Houston.

The Impact of Coronavirus on Airport Planning and Design

HOK says they don’t foresee the need to make significant physical changes to terminals in response to COVID-19 because passenger terminals have been designed to be open and flexible. Thermal scanners and handheld thermometers for traveler screening are easily accommodated. But airports might look at “more comprehensive passenger wellness screening solutions.” We may also see “additional medical clinics within airports for use by passengers as well as airport and airline employees.”

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

The remaining Royal Australian Air Force legacy Hornets are coming back to the US to become civilian aggressors. The surplus RAAF F/A-18 Hornets are to be used in a contractor adversary air support role.

Positive Airline Stories

United Airlines Partners with Governor Newsom to Fly Medical Volunteers to California to Fight COVID-19

United Airlines has partnered with California Governor Newsom to provide free, round-trip flights for medical volunteers traveling to California to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the program, visit California Health Corps.

Alaska Airlines to host a job fair for Ravn employees, outlines plans in response to RavnAir’s suspension of service

RavnAir Group was a regional airline serving small Alaskan communities. They’ve ceased all operations but Alaska Airlines says they will maintain service to its destinations, start some summer seasonal service sooner, work to develop service to communities in the Aleutian Islands, and Cold Bay.

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

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

Interview

Flying MagazineA few months ago, Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari tagged along with Rob Mark, senior editor at Flying Magazine, as Rob was writing an article about the Texas Aircraft Colt LSA for the magazine. We get a “behind the scenes” look at what is involved in producing an article for an aviation magazine. That piece became the cover story for the May 2020 issue.

Mentioned

Planes of Fame Airshow T-shirts

RenegadeAV8R Radio Show

Stay at home air show

Short Final: Hostile Target

Rafale Ride Leads To Inadvertent Ejection By Overstressed Passenger

598 Airplanes, Toilet Paper, and Corn Dogs

Brian Coleman joins us to talk about 737 MAX order cancellations, airlines flying cargo, flight cancellations and ghost flights, and furloughs. Also, the Stratolaunch might have a new life as a carrier for hypersonic test aircraft, some positive airline stories, fun aviation things to do at home including training being offered without cost, some interviews, stories, and an electric fold-up scooter that you can take on your plane.

Aviation News

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

Leasing company Avolon has canceled orders for 75 737 MAXs and four A330neos. They deferred delivery for 16 737 MAX planes and 9 other narrowbody aircraft to 2024 or later. Others may cancel as well and take advantage of material adverse change clauses that activate if Boeing cannot deliver within one year of the agreed date. This type of clause could allow customers to cancel and avoid penalties.

Southwest Airlines pitches freight-only flights to forwarders

In order to utilize their aircraft and generate revenue, Southwest is offering its planes for rent to logistics companies and other shippers for dedicated cargo charters.

Airlines get creative with cargo

Atlas Air is taking at least one 747 freighter out of storage and China Eastern has taken most economy cabin seats out of two A330s. Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, and American Airlines are using passenger aircraft for scheduled cargo service.

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

Freight forwarders are saying the rates for medical supplies are shooting up. While general cargo is being shipped for $7-$8 per kg, medical supplies command $13 per kg. One forwarder said: “General freight is being offloaded, but there is a huge surcharge for medical goods. It’s absolutely disgusting and immoral. And all require a pre-payment. It is taking about 10 days to move masks, and some have been sub-standard.”

United suspends nearly all operations from the New York area

United Airlines is going from 139 daily flights serving 62 destinations from its Newark hub to 15 daily flights serving nine destinations. At LaGuardia, UA is going from 18 daily flights to four destinations to two daily flights serving one destination.

Wow: Southwest Airlines Flew 56 Ghost Flights Last Week

The Dallas Business Journal reports that Southwest Airlines flew 56 ghost flights in one week with no passengers. Three reasons were given:

  • Air travel is deemed critical infrastructure to move around key personnel and cargo.
  • Government aid offered to airlines implies the continuation of service.
  • The logistical challenges of restarting an airline.

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

A GE spokesperson said, “Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the commercial aviation industry, GE Aviation is implementing a temporary reduction in commercial engine assembly and some component manufacturing operations for up to four weeks.”

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

The Stratolaunch twin-fuselage, 6 engine airplane only flew once, in April 2019. It was the idea of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to launch orbital rockets, initially from SpaceX, then Orbital ATK, and finally the company’s own rockets. Stratolaunch ceased operations after Allen’s death, but the company has been re-hiring employees and announced a new business plan: building and operating hypersonic testbeds. Specifically, the Talon-A reusable vehicle capable of reaching Mach 6.

Positive Airline Stories

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

United Airlines is providing free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help fight against the COVID-19 crisis. “Those interested in volunteering or learning more about the program can visit the New York City Health’s website here.”

Former airline workers sign up to help hospitals during coronavirus pandemic

Thirty laid-off Scandinavian Airlines employees started training to learn basic skills to assist in nursing homes and hospitals.

Woman gets VIP treatment from American Airlines flight attendants because she is the ONLY passenger on the plane

The cabin crew was exceptionally kind to the woman who was traveling to get to her mother in hospice.

What to do at Home

Paper Airplanes

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

Training

King Schools is offering the Using LAANC to Fly Drones in Controlled Airspace course for free. Additional drone test prep courses include the Drone Pilot License Test Prep which prepares you for your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate exam, and the Drone Pilot License Recurrent Test Prep Course helps you prepare for the exam to renew your certificate.

The Drone Trainer is offering drone courses for free in April 2020. There is a real estate drone course, as well as a drone mapping course, that are regularly $199 each.

Reading

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

Others

Listener Glen sent audio feedback about what he is doing while on lockdown in New Zealand.

Launchpad Marzari kicks off a competition to find the worst aviation movie.

Interviews

Our Main(e) Man Micah visited Portland International Jetport and spoke with:

  • Leah Marie and Luna, the Goldendoodle airport ambassador at PWM
  • Zack Briggs, PWM customer experience manager
  • Paul Bradbury, PWM executive director

Mentioned

Italy Unfiltered is located in Siena, a beautiful part of the Tuscany region of Italy.  They normally offer private tours to small family winemakers focusing on Chianti and Brunello.  They also offer food and olive oil tours throughout the year. However, with the region’s current situation there are no tourists traveling to Italy and no one to buy their wines.  To help out there local producers, they are offering special cellar door prices to make room for this year’s harvest.

United Mileage Plus

Southwest Rapid Rewards

ICAS Airshow Calendar

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

596 In Flight USA Magazine

We explore In Flight USA Magazine which is targeted to the general and business aviation community, as well as to aviation enthusiasts. In the news, aviation events are postponed or canceled due to COVID-19 while aviation museums and other operations are closed. Also, updates on the military Gray/Grey Wolf programs and T-X jet trainers, a new free online course for youngsters from WAI and Embry-Riddle, commercial pilots without a job are offered options by their airlines, and where are all those airliners going that were taken out of service?

Guest

Annamarie Buonocore, In Flight USA Magazine.

Annamarie Buonocore, In Flight USA Magazine.

Annamarie Buonocore is associate publisher and a second-generation owner of In Flight USA Magazine. Based in Silicon Valley, the magazine primarily serves business and general aviation as well as student pilots and aviation enthusiasts. This is accomplished through print and digital advertising, strong editorial content, and creative aviation photography. Annamarie is involved in every aspect of the business from distribution to production and layout.

Annamarie explains the magazine’s target audience and how it includes not only pilots but also aviation enthusiasts and those looking for activities after arrival at the airport. In Flight USA Magazine is distributed at airshows, airport terminals, businesses, flight schools, as well as to private subscribers. Articles are written by magazine staff as well as other topic experts. A digital version is available on the In Flight USA Magazine website.

Annamarie is currently a student pilot at Hayward Flight at the Hayward Airport in Hayward, California. She enjoys attending airshows, taking pictures, and writing. She spends time with her two Maltese Poodles, Pericles and Sophocles, who sometimes appear in podcasts.

Aviation News

Arsenal of Democracy flyover and events rescheduled from May to September 24th-25th

The Arsenal of Democracy (AOD) Executive Planning Committee has rescheduled the AOD Victory Gala and Flyover commemorating the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II to September 24th-25th, 2020.

Planes of Fame to Temporarily Close

The Planes of Fame Air Museum is temporarily closed through April 6th 2020.

National Aviation Hall of Fame Temporarily Closed

AEA Cancels Convention

The Aircraft Electronics Association announced its decision to cancel its 63rd annual AEA International Convention and Trade Show that was scheduled for March 24-27, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. The event will not be rescheduled.

Federal Air Marshals Still Flying

Air Marshal Association President John Casaretti said, “We hope Congress and the American public recognizes the determination and integrity of our Federal Air Marshals. Despite low job morale, ongoing pay issues, long shifts without rest, and lack of critical health services, our Federal Air Marshals have demonstrated that they are America’s most flexible, capable, and patriotic officers.”

Museum of Flight

Matt Hayes, President and CEO, announced that the Museum of Flight is closed to the public. “We do not have a reopening date yet, and these next few weeks – or possibly months – will be very challenging for us all, both financially and emotionally.” The collection can be viewed online, as well as virtual tours of aircraft cockpits and many educational resources.

SDASM TV

SDASM TV is the San Diego Air & Space Museum’s new video channel. They showcase insider stories, archival footage, personal and oral histories, and STEM challenges.

AFRL Industry team successfully demonstrates first ever 200-lb thrust class low-cost engine

A low-cost turbojet engine is being developed under the Gray Wolf low-cost cruise missile program. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), Northrop Grumman, and Technical Directions Inc. (TDI, a division of drone maker Kratos) recently tested the TDI-J85 engine. See also, Air Force’s Gray Wolf Program Tests Game-Changing Small Low-Cost Jet Engine

Door Gunners On The Air Force’s New Grey Wolf Helicopters Need Protection From Sub-Zero Temps

The MH-139A Grey Wolf light utility helicopter is a planned replacement for the UH-1N Twin Huey helicopters that protect intercontinental ballistic missile silos. It’s a derivative of the Leonardo AW-139 helicopter that the Italian company is building in the United States with Boeing.

Air Force Wants To Acquire Losing T-X Jet Trainers To Help Revolutionize Pilot Training

The US Air Force is looking to lease T-50 trainers until the bid-winning T-7A Red Hawks are available.

WAI and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University to Launch Free Online Course For Girls Ages 8-17

The new, self-paced Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) is tailored to learners ages 8-17 and celebrates Girls in Aviation Day. It’s called Aviation is Your Future. Youth who complete the course can earn digital badges and a personalized electronic certificate. The course is offered several times throughout the year. Registration is now open.

American Airlines’ Offer To Pilots

The airlines have significantly scaled back flights so they don’t need as many pilots at the moment. American and the Allied Pilots Association (APA) have an agreement for pilots to take a voluntary leave of absence.

United Airlines Offering Pilots (Partially) Paid Leave

United Airlines is offering 777 and 787 pilots the opportunity to take the month of April off at reduced pay.

Parked Delta Planes Shut Down Three Runways At Atlanta

Delta has parked 600 of its 900 grounded aircraft at Hartsfield Jackson Airport in Atlanta.

Lufthansa Storing Grounded Aircraft At Unopened Berlin Airport

Glut of Jet Fuel Is on Brink of Overwhelming Global Storage

Knowledge test provider PSI temporarily closes centers

PSI, the FAA knowledge testing provider, is temporarily closing testing centers that it owns and operates in the United States and the United Kingdom. The closures come in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Aircraft of the Week

David tells us about the Sikorsky R-6A Hoverfly II.

Positive Airline Story of the Week

Our Main(e) Man Micah brings us a positive airline story of the week about United Airlines.

Stuck at home?

Our Reporter at Large Launchpad Marzari has some suggestions on what to watch to get you through being stuck at home.

Mentioned

The BBC podcast The Documentary Podcast has an episode titled Something in the Air? that addresses commercial aviation “fume events.”

SkyCourier Completes Initial Ground Engine Tests

The Textron Aviation Cessna 408 SkyCourier program advanced with the successful completion of initial ground engine tests. The tests of the prototype airplane verified the functionality of the fuel system and two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC engines, as well as the interface with the avionics and electrical systems.

Mitsubishi SpaceJet JA26MJ embarks on maiden flight

The Mitsubishi SpaceJet M90 Flight Test Vehicle 10 (FTV10) completed its maiden flight in Japan. FTV10 is the first SpaceJet M90 in final, certifiable baseline configuration.

FAA issues emergency AD following Vietnam Airlines A321 uncontained IAE V2533 engine failure

From Aviation Safety Network: “The U.S. FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive following an uncontained engine failure of an IAE V2533-A5 engine of an Airbus A321.”

595 Airport Watch

We look at Airport Watch, a group of airplane enthusiasts that have built a valuable relationship with their airport, law enforcement, and the community. In the news, we again look at the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that is continuing to impact aviation. Also, a Southwest B737 experiences a fuselage rupture, and a man shoots at a police helicopter.

Guest

Peter Wagner, Airport Watch

Peter Wagner, Airport Watch.

Peter Wagner is board president of Airport Watch, a crime prevention initiative that includes people who have an interest in various aspects of aviation and who spend time in the vicinity of the O’Hare Airport to observe the various airport operations. These airplane spotters provide safety and security value to the airport, law enforcement, businesses and the local community.

Peter is a professional photographer who has enjoyed aviation since he was young. He started plane spotting in 2001 at O’Hare Airport and now enjoys traveling to airports and air shows around the country photographing planes. While Peter’s personal favorites are the 747 and C-17, he enjoys all types of aviation.

Airport Watch holds monthly meetings, training sessions, and field tours at O’hare Airport. They liaison with the FBI, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Department of Aviation, and the TSA. Their connection to the Secret Service is through the FBI. Members come from all walks of life and include airport employees, the media, firefighters, pilots, other professionals, and the general public.

C-17 by Peter Wagner, Airport Watch

C-17 by Peter Wagner.

Peter explains how the organization came into existence and how it was structured using the Canadian model. The highly-detailed Airport Watch bylaws offer a comprehensive roadmap for others who might like to form a similar organization.

B747 by Peter Wagner.

B747 by Peter Wagner.

We also discuss airplane spotting, including what spotters look for, spotting locations, and camera gear. Anyone in the United States can join Airport Watch. Find them on Instagram. Peter also has an Instagram where you can find his professional and personal photography.

Airport Watch

Airport Watch

Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

American Airlines will suspend all but 3 long-haul routes, park most wide-body jets

American was flying 150 widebody aircraft at the end of December. Now about 135 of them will go into temporary storage from March 16 through at least May 6, 2020. This includes Airbus A330 and Boeing 767, 777 and 787 models. The airline is cutting international capacity by 75%

Delta Air Lines announced they’d cut global capacity by 40% and park up to 300 jets, including both narrow-bodies and wide-bodies.

Finnair cuts capacity by 90% as travel demand falls because of COVID-19

Finnair will cut capacity by 90%, starting from 1 April and keep critical air connections for Finland, limited connections to Europe, and one remaining intercontinental route to Japan. The airline cites the “severe impact on demand for air travel” resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

United Airlines in talks with U.S. officials about financial support

United CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email to employees saying, he “has spent the last two days in Washington, D.C., meeting with senior officials in the Trump Administration and senior members of the U.S. House and Senate in both parties to understand what government policies they may be considering and explain to them the impact that the coronavirus has had on our business.”

Support Aviation—Airline Sector Pleads With Governments For Immediate Financial Support To Prevent Widespread Job Losses

British Airways CEO Alex Cruz sent a video message to employees titled “The Survival of British Airways,” saying “It is a crisis of global proportions like no other we have known.”

Sun ‘n Fun Postpones Event Due To Coronavirus Threat

The new show dates for Sun ‘n Fun are May 5-10, 2020.

Air Force Suspends Public Outreach Programs Through May 15

Official U.S. Air Force Statement: “The Air Force is committed to upholding the complete trust and confidence of Americans and our community engagement is the key to those connections. However, due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and to protect our Airmen, their families and the communities that support us, the Department of the Air Force is suspending all outreach activities and support to community events through May 15.  This includes, but is not limited to, on-base and civilian sponsored air shows, band performances and community engagements and meetings (speaking engagements, community meetings on installations, base tours, Pentagon visits, etc.).

NBAA, EBAA Shelve EBACE for 2020

NBAA and the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) announced they have canceled the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition 2020 (EBACE2020).

DOD Officials Explain New Coronavirus Domestic Travel Restrictions

Defense officials issued a memorandum [PDF] halting domestic travel for service members, Defense Department employees and family members. That includes permanent changes of station and temporary duty travel. The ban is in effect from March 16 to May 11, 2020.

American Airlines pilot tests positive for coronavirus, carrier says

Fourth TSA officer at SJ airport infected with coronavirus

San Francisco-based Alaska Airlines employee tests positive for COVID-19

Coronavirus live updates: COVID-19 death toll at 6,500 worldwide; markets plummet again

Travelers returning to the United States are faced with long lines for health checks.

In other aviation news…

Southwest Airlines : FAA Probes Problem With Southwest Jet — Update

A Southwest flight en route from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho experienced some loss of pressure. They descended to a safe altitude and landed safely in Boise.A 12-inch rupture was found in the skin of the B737.

Man Arrested For Allegedly Shooting At San Diego Police Helicopter

The helicopter was responding to a call about a possible burglar. As it circled overhead, the man allegedly fired one round at the aircraft. He was arrested on suspicion of attempted murder.

593 Women in the Aviation Industry

We address the question, “is gender still holding women back in the aviation industry?” In the news, pilots might be required to take sim training before flying the 737 MAX, Coronavirus concerns hit air travel hard and impact profitability, regional carriers continue to struggle, a pilot is arrested and jailed in Turkey, and a good story about American Airlines.

Guest

Arpad Szakal

Arpad Szakal

Arpad Szakal is an aviation and aerospace lead at Cellence Plus, an executive search and assessment firm specializing in aviation and aerospace. Arpad is an aviation attorney who earned a Master of Laws in Air and Space Law (LL.M. Air & Space) from Leiden University. He’s also a hobby glider pilot.

Arpad researched and authored Is gender still holding women back in the aviation industry?, which was published in the February edition of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Aerospace magazine as well as in the January Newsletter of the International Aviation Women’s Association (IAWA).

We discuss the current state of gender diversity in aviation and aerospace, at both the leadership and operational levels. Also, what the industry can learn from other sectors about gender diversity and inclusion, how men can be better allies to women in the industry, and tips and best practices for aspiring female (and male) leaders to advance their careers.

Arpad explains the importance of coaching and mentoring, and the role search firms play in increasing diversity. He offered some resources:

Reach Arpad on LinkedIn

Aviation News

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

Boeing originally said pilots would not need simulator training for the 737 MAX, but that position has changed. The December sim tests with pilots revealed that the updated flight control software was an improvement, but there were many mistakes apparently made. The FAA wants additional tests.

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

Amazon sent a notice to employees asking them to defer nonessential employee travel in the United States. Amazon will reassess the directive at the end of April. In January, Amazon said it was restricting employee travel to China “until further notice.” Employees returning home from China were asked to self-quarantine for two weeks and work from home.

United Airlines offers pilots a month off as coronavirus prompts flight cuts

United Airlines and others have cut flights in the face of outright prohibitions and reduced demand. The airline is offering pilots a month off at reduced pay. United’s China trans-Pacific routes (excluding China) are down 75%

Bizjet Operators See COVID-19 Bump

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

United Airlines affiliate Trans States Airlines to cease flying

Regional airline Trans States Airlines is expected to stop flying by the end of 2020. The airline operates feeder flights for United Airlines under the United Express brand. And will transfer its 36 Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft to ExpressJet by February 2021. Reasons for the shutdown include the industry-wide pilot shortage making hiring difficult, and the desire of Mainline partner United to streamline its regional providers.

Pilot of Pegasus airplane that skidded off Istanbul airport runway arrested

Three people were killed and 179 injured in February when A Pegasus Airlines 737 skidded off the runway at Istanbul’s international airport. The pilot has been arrested and taken to prison, charged with “causing death and injury by negligence.” The cause of the accident is not yet established, although hydroplaning is suspected.

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

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

Mentioned

Video: Ten Questions with James Lipton

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

Japan’s teTra Aviation

Comics Kingdom, a Mike Shelton spoof on airline seats.

eVTOL to be used as ambulances in the coronavirus crisis

eHang 216 eVTOL

eHang 216 eVTOL

576 Bell V-280 Valor

We talk with the chief engineer of the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor program. In the news, the FAA revoked the repair station certificate for the supplier of the Lion Air 737 MAX AOA sensor, and airline cabin crew stories: streaming video from a lav, crew arrests for money laundering, and fainting flight attendants.

Bell V-280 Valor

Bell V-280 Valor

Guest

Paul Wilson is the chief engineer for the Bell V-280 Valor program. He leads the engineering team responsible for the execution of all development efforts on the V-280 Joint Multi-Role Tech Demonstration and Future Vertical Lift programs.

The Bell V-280 Valor is a fly-by-wire tiltrotor aircraft that had a successful first flight in 2017. The aircraft could represent a future Blackhawk replacement. The program now in the technology demonstration phase, focused on reducing risk and informing requirements and capabilities to help define the technical readiness of the future platform. 

Paul explains what a tiltrotor design offers and how the V-280 is different from the V-22 Osprey and the mission that aircraft was designed for. In the case of the V-280, only the rotor pylon rotates, while the engine remains fixed. On the V-22, the rotor system and the engine nacelle rotate.

We learn about the system for managing torque provided to the two rotor pylons and the impressive agility of the V-280 at slow speed.

Bell’s program focuses on improving affordability and reliability. One example of platform sustainability and affordability is the use of augmented reality where Bell uses 3D design data throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft, such as in manufacturing and maintenance.

Previously at Bell, Paul led the V-280 Vehicle Systems IPT that developed and tested the flight control, avionics, propulsion, and mechanical systems. He also served in other leadership roles including as Project Manager for the 407GX Autopilot development and certification program and as the IPT Lead for Bell’s Vehicle Management Systems and Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) Technology IR&D.

Before joining Bell, Paul served in the US Air Force as an Acquisitions and Aerospace Engineering officer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.

V-280 Valor news:

V-280 Valor videos:

Aviation News

FAA shuts down Florida repair firm that supplied faulty Lion Air sensor on Boeing 737 MAX

Xtra Aerospace supplied the AOA sensor on the Lion Air 737 MAX that crashed, killing 189 people. The FAA has revoked Xtra’s aviation repair station certificate. Xtra repaired and approved for service a used angle of attack sensor that was installed on the Lion Air jet to replace a faulty one. In its final report, the National Transportation Safety Committee of Indonesia, known in Indonesia as KNKT, said the replacement sensor was miscalibrated. Its angle of attack was 21 degrees too high. In a statement, Xtra said, “We respectfully disagree with the agency’s findings” and that this action by the FAA “is not an indication that Xtra was responsible for the accident.”

‘There was never a camera’: Southwest denies lawsuit claiming pilots streamed plane bathroom video

In 2017, a Southwest flight attendant claims to have seen an iPad in the cockpit in flight that was live streaming from the lavatory. Also, the pilots departed the aircraft upon landing in violation of FAA requirements, and a loaded firearm was left unattended in the cockpit. This was reported to the airline, which continues to allow the pilots to fly. The FA and her flight attendant husband say they have been harassed.

Four flight attendants were arrested in Miami’s airport after bringing in thousands in cash, police say

The American Airlines flight attendants have been charged with money laundering after a routine customs check revealed large amounts of cash were being carried. The defendants evading reporting requirements and had no authorization to transmit money.

American Airlines A330-300 Diverts after two Cabin Crew Fall Unconscious

Cleaning fluid fumes caused the two flight attendants to momentarily fall unconscious and AA Flight 729 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Dublin, Ireland. It seems that a canister of an aircraft interior cleaner had been left in a lavatory when the plane was at Heathrow Airport and fluid had leaked into the carpets.

Mentioned

Departed Flights

Watch Lilium’s electric aircraft for ‘air taxi’ fly as they move toward production

Video: The Lilium Jet flying taxi completes first phase of flight testing

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center