Richard Aboulafia gives us his insights on the Boeing “middle-of-the-market” airplane, pilotless airliners, a comeback for Midwest Express, ATC privatization, United Technologies Corporation interest in Rockwell Collins, seat pitch, Russian and Chinese airliner programs, the Mitsubishi MRJ, and the HondaJet.
Richard Aboulafia is Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group. He manages both commercial and military consulting projects, and he analyzes broader defense and aerospace trends. Richard’s insights appear on television and radio programs, and in almost every major publication through his columns, his articles, or because he is being quoted. Richard writes and edits Teal Group’s World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing forecasting tool that covers over 135 aircraft programs and markets.
The Midwest brand disappeared in 2010 when Republic Airways Holdings, the parent company of Midwest Airlines merged that airline with Frontier Airlines. Now, a group of business and airline professionals have plans to bring the brand back. The Midwest Express website asks, “Remember when flying was hassle-free? It can be again!”
Previously, we pointed out Alliance for Aviation Across America videos featuring “Sully” Sullenberger arguing against ATC privatization. Karen Walker, the Editor-in-Chief at Air Transport World, thinks Sully is using his status to mislead people.
Steve Visscher joins us to bring us up to date on his activities and contribute to our conversation about Airventure Oshkosh 2017. In the news, we look at ATC privatization, saving money on new Air Force One airplanes, a 15-year-old girl takes flight, and a symposium for disabled airline passengers. Also, a song about SFO, airplane-themed eateries, some positive airline stories, viewing the August solar eclipse, and student pilot Niki’s continuing adventure.
Smokey Joe’s food stand outside Munich terminal 2, by Mark Newton.
Steve Visscher is co-producer of the Plane Crazy Down Under podcast, an air show announcer, and now a business development manager for Bright Events – Wings Over Illawarra, “the Sydney Airshow.”
The inaugural Wheelchair in the Cabin Symposium is scheduled for September 22 at The Base at Virgin Atlantic near London Gatwick Airport. The Symposium is supported by Virgin Atlantic Airways and “aims to engage stakeholders in the aviation industry and the accessibility world to discuss the possibility of creating a wheelchair space on board commercial aircraft.” Spearheaded by activist Chris Wood and the Flying Disabled organization.
The founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic explains commercial supersonic air travel. In the news, we look at a push out of FAA reauthorization, a court ruling on airline seat size, a NASA supersonic demonstrator, a couple of aircraft carriers, and United Airlines.
Blake Scholl is founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic, the Denver startup seeking to build a commercially viable supersonic passenger aircraft.
We talk about the restrictions that have prevented supersonic flights over the United States, and how modern manufacturing methods allow supersonic airplanes to be built with much lower operating costs than was the case with the Concorde.
Blake describes how Boom aims to build a small supersonic airliner that is accessible and affordable, and not “a flying gas can with a billionaire in the front of it.” We look at the tradeoff between loudness and efficiency, as well as propulsion and airframe issues, and the objectives of the “Baby Boom” demonstrator. First flight of that ⅓ scale aircraft is targeted for late 2018.
Boom looks to have the full size 55-seat supersonic airplane in air at the end 2020, with first delivery to launch customer Virgin in late 2023. Blake tells us that Boom has 76 pre-orders across 5 airlines.
Prior to establishing Boom Supersonic, Blake held leadership roles at Amazon.com, and he was co-founder and CEO at Kima Labs, which was acquired by Groupon. Blake is an avid pilot and holds a BS in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.
Isaac Alexander at Boom Supersonic HQ June 2017, looking through the aircraft in virtual reality.
The Flyers Rights passenger group asked FAA to write rules governing seat space. The FAA rejected the request, saying it was a comfort issue, not a safety issue. Now a three-judge federal appeals court in Washington has sided with Flyers Rights and it goes back to the FAA for a better response.
A small-scale model of the NASA/Lockheed supersonic jet was tested in the wind tunnel in June. NASA will take bids in August to construct a 94 ft. demonstration model, and expects to spend $390 million to build and test the demo plane.
The USS Gerald R. Ford launched and recovered its first fixed-wing flight, an F/A-18F Superhornet from the Air Test and Evaluation Squad based at Patuxent River, Maryland. The carrier employs new technology, including the advanced arresting gear system (AAG) and an electromagnetic launch system, (EMALS).
The USS George HW Bush is participating with the Royal Navy in the Saxon Warrior exercise. Lt Cdr Michael Tremel of the Strike Fighter Squadron VFA-87 Golden Warriors shot down a Syrian Su-22 Fitter, the first US air-to-air kill since a USAF F-16 shot down a Serbian MiG-29 in 1999, during the Kosovo campaign.
Aviation journalist Mary Kirby talks about the airline passenger experience. Also, ATC privatization, drones and wildfires, a new Air France airline targeted at Millennials, congressional action to address airline seat size and pitch, and airline revenue from fees and frequent flyer programs.
Mary Kirby has covered the aviation industry for almost 20 years as both a journalist and an editor. After working many years for Flightglobal, she launched Runway Girl Network, which delivers news and intelligence about the airline passenger experience industry, and also highlights the work and accomplishments of women in aviation. Runway Girl Network is a go-to site that encompasses a B2B2C model.
Mary describes the objectives of Runway Girl Network and gives us the benefit of her knowledge concerning current airline passenger experience issues. Seat space, both width and pitch, continues to grow as a concern in the eyes of the flying public.
We also talk about the job of aviation journalists today, and the role of the vocal passenger. Mary considers lessons learned from the Network and the need for increased diversity of gender and color among those writing about the passenger experience. We also look at the gap in coverage of the passenger experience from the perspective of those with disabilities or reduced mobility.
In its press release [PDF] Air France describes Joon as a Millennial-focused carrier “aimed at a young working clientele whose lifestyles revolve around digital technology.” Air France plans to start operating medium-haul flights from Paris-Charles de Gaulle later this year, with long-haul flights in mid-2018.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) introduced H.R.1467, the Safe Egress in Air Travel (SEAT) Act into the FAA reauthorization bill as an amendment. The amendment would ask the FAA to study evacuations and issue regulations for minimum safe-seat sizes.
The annual study of airline ancillary revenues from IdeaWorks Company and Cartrawler, is out. For 2016, the big U.S. legacy airlines are the ones hauling in the most ancillary revenues.
Nicki and her flight instructor.
In May, we received an email from listener Nicki. She was asking our advice about starting flying lessons in her late 30s and making a possible career change into flying. Nicki enjoys flying and in college, her friends used to take her up and let her fly the plane. At the time, Nicki couldn’t afford flying lessons and even now it would be a stretch for her.
Well, Nicki has started to take some steps and sent us a recording describing her progress so far.
Dan Pimentel tells us about the #Oshbash social media meetup coming up at Airventure Oshkosh 2017. We also look into freelance writing for aviation publications and the Airplanista Aviation Blog. In the news, we talk about support for supersonic civil air travel in the FAA reauthorization bills before Congress, ATC privatization, United Airlines in the press again, and Turkey’s first female professional acrobatics pilot.
We also explore freelance writing for aviation publications, look at the process, and learn some tips for success. Along the way, we discuss ATC privatization, rivets and clecos, preserving EAA history, the importance of collegiate aviation programs, and how airshow performers physically and mentally prepare for the task.
Since 1973, there has been a ban on supersonic travel in the U.S. over land. However, both FAA reauthorization bills in Congress direct the FAA to revisit that restriction and determine if changes need to be made. An amendment to the House bill directs the FAA to “consider the needs of the aerospace industry and other stakeholders when creating policies, regulations, and standards that enable the safe commercial deployment of civil supersonic aircraft technology and the safe and efficient operation of civil supersonic aircraft.”
A middle school teacher traveling from Hawaii to a teacher’s conference in Boston purchased a ticket for herself, and one for her two-year-old 25-pound son. Waiting onboard the Houston to Boston leg, she was told another passenger had a valid boarding pass for the son’s seat. Rather than make a scene, the boy flew on her lap for the 3 ½ hour flight. According to a United spokesman, the boy’s boarding pass scan had been unsuccessful and he wasn’t logged in to the system. His seat was released to a standby passenger.
26-year-old Semin Öztürk is Turkey’s first female professional aerobatics pilot. She flew to great acclaim at a recent air show organized by the International Sportive Aviation Center and featuring 25 acrobatic pilots from Turkey. She began flying when she was 12 years old and her father was also an aerobatics pilot.
This episode, we have a number of interviews recorded at the 2017 International Paris Air Show by our reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari. We hear about the Antonov AN-132, Gore-Tex applications in aviation, an anti-drone gun, additive manufacturing with metals, and a really fascinating and detailed look at ejection seats. Launchpad also met up with Airplane Geeks listener Pauline.
In the news, we look at more evidence of the pilot shortage, FAA reauthorization bills in the U.S. Congress, ATC privatization, and security measures for commercial aviation.
Main features of the Antonov AN-130, presented at the Paris Air Show. Courtesy Antonov Company.
Regional airline Horizon Air is experiencing a severe shortage of Q400 turboprop pilots. They’ve recently canceled 318 flights, and more are planned. Managers are being used to fly the planes, pilots are being offered double pay, and hiring bonuses of up to $20,000 are available for Q400 pilots.
The Transportation Security Administration verified that the Department of Homeland Security measures have been implemented at Etihad Airways, so that airline is now exempt from the U.S. electronic device ban on flights from Abu Dhabi to the United States. The suggestion of a laptop ban on all international flights to the U.S. has been pulled back.
We talk with Kitfox Aircraft about kit-built airplanes. Also, a digital co-pilot for GA, the Stratolaunch airplane, Middle Eastern airlines shun Qatar, an aviation-themed playground, the U.S. Secretary of the Air Force wants mandatory budget caps removed, and President Trump wants the U.S. air traffic control system privatized. We also have a very informative listener recording about pulling through and hand propping radial engines.
Kitfox Aircraft S7 Super Sport
Kitfox Aircraft is owned and operated by John and Debra McBean from the Homedale Municipal Airport (S66) in southwest Idaho. The McBean’s were builders before they owned the company and they often helped other builders with their projects. John McBean holds commercial and instructor ratings and we welcome him to the Airplane Geeks podcast.
Also joining us from Kitfox is Brandon Petersen who joined the team in 2012 as the wing builder. His role has evolved over time. You can find his fingerprints on the company social media posts, videos, wings, and fiberglass products that are shipped to builders around the world.
The original Kitfox Model I was introduced at Oshkosh AirVenture in 1984 by Denney Aerocraft. The modern Kitfox has stayed true to the concept of the original design – it’s a fun, comfortable, and affordable airplane that can be easily built without any special tools or training.
Kitfox Aircraft is introducing the Kitfox Speedster at EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2017. Based on the Series 7 platform, it offers a bigger fuselage, higher gross weight capability, a shortened wing, and a cleaned up and faired airframe. This allows the builder to get up and go fast without giving up a whole lot of the STOL characteristics of the airplane.
The plane going to Air Venture will display a new brightly colored paint scheme designed by Jason Noll of Dream Scheme Designs. It pays homage to the original Speedster with a modern twist. Kitfox has arranged with Kyle Franklin to perform with the Speedster in the air show. Kyle’s late father Jimmy flew the original Speedster.
Kitfox Aircraft Speedster with paint scheme designed by Jason Noll of Dream Scheme Designs,
Researchers from Mitre Corp.’s Center for Advanced Aviation System Development have developed a “Digital Copilot.” The concept is that general aviation single-pilot flight operations would benefit from a tablet app that monitors and communicates safety-critical flight information to the pilot.
The Stratolaunch is a twin fuselage, 385-foot wingspan aircraft designed to carry a launch vehicle as part of an air launch to orbit system. What is not called Stratolaunch Systems Corporation was officially announced in December 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan.
Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen, and Egypt have accused Qatar of supporting terrorism, and have broken off relations with that country. As a result, Etihad, Emirates, Fly Dubai, and Gulf Air are discontinuing flights in and out of the capital of Qatar, Doha. The Qatari government called this “unjustified and based on baseless allegations.”
Stafford Regional Airport in Virginia is building a playground around an aviation theme. Two nonprofits are making this happen: EAA Chapter 1099 and Rappahannock Aviation Outreach, a non-profit organization based in Stafford, Virginia focused on community outreach programs and initiatives that educate and inspire youth in aviation.
Dr. Heather Wilson was the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress. More recently, the US Senate confirmed her nomination as U.S. Secretary of the Air Force on May 8, 2017. Wilson has now asked Congress to remove the mandatory budget caps of the Budget Control Act.
Guest Mark Baker is the President and CEO of AOPA, the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. In the news, wake turbulence from an A380 flips a Challenger 604, two flight attendants sue American Airlines for failure to enforce company policy, an engine on a Saab 340 loses its propeller in flight. Also, an interview from the National Air & Space Museum Restoration Hangar, and an idea for a circular runway.
Mark Baker, president and CEO, AOPA.
Mark Baker is President and CEO of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. He is also chairman of AOPA’s Political Action Committee, chief executive officer for the AOPA Foundation, president of the International Council of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Associations representing pilots in 72 countries, and publisher of AOPA Pilot, the world’s largest aviation publication.
We talk about air traffic control privatization, user fees, BasicMed, and other areas of aviation advocacy by AOPA. Mark tells us about the effectiveness of AOPA regional fly-ins, and touches on aviation safety and Congressional general aviation caucuses.
Mark is a longtime general aviation pilot and has been flying for 35 years with over 7,500 hours. He holds certificates for commercial pilot with single- and multi-engine land and seaplane ratings, rotorcraft rating, and type ratings in the Cessna Citation 500 and 525s
President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would privatize air traffic control operations by creating an “independent, non-governmental organization.” Who would control the new corporate entity, and how it will be funded?
An Emirates Airbus A380-800 was at FL350 over the Arabian Sea when a Challenger 604 business jet passed 1000 feet underneath in opposite direction. The A380 continued to Sydney uneventfully. The Challenger didn’t fare so well in the wake turbulence from the A380.
Two flight attendants claiming sexual and gender harassment on social media have filed federal lawsuits against American Airlines for failed to enforce its policies governing employee use of social media.
We look at specialty aviation marketing with Paula Williams from ABCI. In the news, we discuss President Trump’s meeting with airline and airport executives, and consider policies for ATC privatization, FAA leadership, airport infrastructure, and foreign carrier subsidies. Also, we look at 3D-printed turbine blades, a pilot melt-down, and Damian’s memorable flight, a creepy experience that saved his life.
Paula Williams, Aviation Business Consulting Inc.
Paula Williams and her husband John formed aviation marketing specialty firm Aviation Business Consulting Inc. (ABCI) to bring the discipline and technology from the finance and education industries to the aviation industry. ABCI assists aviation companies that sell complex, technical, or high-ticket products or services by helping them communicate with aviation professionals in a clear compelling way through written content, images, and video.
U.S. Aviation Policies
The Trump administration has given us a lot to think about this past week. We touch on ATC privatization, NextGen ATC, the FAA leadership, airport infrastructure improvements, foreign carrier subsidies, and even the effect on aviation businesses of the President’s time spent in Florida:
The captain for a United Airlines flight arrived out of uniform and proceeded to deliver a sharp monolog to the passengers, some of whom felt unsafe and left the airplane. The pilot also left the airplane and another flight crew arrived for the flight, which departed about two hours late.
GE Additive provides advanced machines and validated powders, as well as expert engineering services and production capabilities.
“Black Maria” from the Black Flight by Errol Cavit
We start the new year with some recordings send in by members of the Airplane Geeks community. These look back at 2016, and ahead to 2017. In the news, we discuss angle of attack indicators for Skyhawks, the pilot shortage in Alaska, miscommunications between ATC and a commercial flight, A380 delivery issues, when is an F-35 an F/A-18?, comfort animals at the airport and in the air, and DHS collecting social media accounts.
An angle-of-attack (AOA) system from Safe Flight Instrument Corporation is standard on new Cessna 172S Skyhawk deliveries starting this month. Textron Aviation is offering the system as a $5,000 option on the 182T Skylane and Turbo Stationair HD T206H.
The New York Times calls Alaska “the nation’s most aviation-dependent state…with six times as many pilots per capita as the rest of the nation.” But for a variety of reasons, there are not enough pilots to service the local demand for bush pilots.
Miscommunication between Air Traffic Control and an EVA Air 777 leaving Los Angeles for Taipei almost resulted in a crash into a mountain. The flight needed to turn to a heading of 090, but that could be accomplished by making the smaller turn to the right, or the longer away around to the left. It was a life or death choice.
In November, Emirates said they were having some technical issues with the Rolls-Royce engines powering their A380 jets. It may not be related, but apparently Emirates, Rolls Royce, and Airbus have made a deal to postpone six deliveries from 2017 to 2018, and postpone another six deliveries from 2018 to 2019.
In a statement, Airbus said, “Airbus re-confirms the target to deliver around 12 A380s per year from 2018 as announced earlier in July 2016. Further fixed cost reduction initiatives will be accelerated so the impact on break-even in 2017 is minimal.”
Donald Trump tweeted: “Based on the tremendous cost and cost overruns of the Lockheed Martin F-35, I have asked Boeing to price-out a comparable F-18 Super Hornet!” Trump told reporters, “We’re trying to get costs down, costs. Primarily the F-35. That program is very, very expensive.”
Tutu-wearing LiLou is now the designated therapy pig at San Francisco International Airport. She joins SFO’s Wag Brigade program that uses trained dogs under escort in the terminals. The Cincinnati airport hired its own therapy pig
The U.S. Department of Transportation says the Advisory Committee on Accessible Air Transportation (ACCESS Advisory Committee) “was established to negotiate and develop a proposed rule concerning accommodations for air travelers with disabilities addressing in-flight communications, accessible lavatory on new single-aisle aircraft, and service animals.” The Committee says they have an agreement to improve the accessibility of lavatories to wheel chairs on single-aisle aircraft, but no consensus on service animals.
Foreign travelers entering the U.S. on the visa waiver program are being asked by DHS to “voluntarily” provide their social media accounts. This is seen as a method to help identify potential threats and prevent terrorism.
We asked the Airplane Geeks community to send us brief recordings looking back at aviation in 2016, or ahead to 2017. We weren’t disappointed, and would like to thank the following for their contributions: NASA Historian Bill Barry, Ariel (an active member of our Slack team), Micah (Our Main(e) Man), Bill English (an NTSB investigator), Errol Cavit (another Slack team member who also has a knack for capturing images of beautiful airplanes), and Glen (a faithful listener from New Zealand).
Micah and Nick
Micah sending hug to Jen via Hillel
2016 Listener Survey
366 members of the Airplane Geeks community were kind enough to give us some great feedback, and we discuss what we learned. Some of the 2017 Listener Survey Results are available for you to see.