Tag Archives: Boeing

686 The Aviation Queen

Benét Wilson, the Aviation Queen, joins us after a long absence. In the news, Boeing executives field questions about the 737 MAX, ghost flights in the EU, an Airbus class-action lawsuit, Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters heading to Israel, bad behavior by both passengers and crew, a 5G deal is worked out, a pilot who refused to fly is awarded $2 million, and a plane crashes but then is hit by a train.

Guest (More like a returning co-host)

The Aviation Queen, Benét J. Wilson.
The Aviation Queen

Benét J. Wilson, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at The Points Guy (TPG), which publishes hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences. This lifestyle media brand sees 10 million unique visitors a month and has a social media audience of over 3 million across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. A staff of more than 100, including editors, writers and reporters, and a large pool of regular contributors, parses, analyzes, and reports on the world of points and miles.

Benét has been an Airplane Geeks co-host in the past and we’re happy to have this chance to get caught up. She brings a valuable perspective to the conversation.

The Points Guy logo.

At TPG, Benét does recruiting, handles internal training, and mentors interns and young writers. She does media appearances for TPG and brings her insights to the site with aviation and travel features. Benét is a veteran aviation journalist who has covered airports, security, and the airline passenger experience.

Aviation News

Hoping for recovery, Boeing bosses look to the future, deflect questions on the MAX crashes

Dominic Gates reports on interviews with Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop. Dominic summarized the strategy described by the executives: “hunker down, fix the litany of current problems and rely on a revamp of the company’s engineering culture to restore Boeing’s stained reputation.” He writes, “Both executives deflected or flatly refused to answer questions about the engineering design mistakes that led to the two fatal 737 MAX crashes that have so damaged Boeing’s image.”

The article mentions “Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing” by Peter Robison, our guest from Episode 683, but also notes that two major feature documentaries are set to air in 2022.

Airlines push the E.U. to ease airport rules as Omicron rages.

Airlines have to use 80% of their airport takeoff and landing slots or they lose them. Of course, losing slots is something an airline wants to never let happen unless that’s part of some strategic plan. So when demand falls off a cliff, airlines are forced to fly nearly empty planes. Or even empty planes. We’ve seen thousands of these “ghost flights” that are a huge waste of fuel and needlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere.

The rules were waived in early 2020, but the European Commission has been reinstating them. Starting December 15, 2022, the winter travel season threshold has been set to 50 percent. The FAA waived the U.S. slot rules early on in the pandemic and has recently extended them through March 2022.

Airbus faces $339 million class action suit in the Netherlands, lawyers say

Lawyers for the Foundation for Investor Loss Compensation filed the class-action suit on behalf of “a hundred” institutional investors. They claim the investors suffered at least 300 million euros ($339 million) in damages when Airbus withheld information about corruption at the company, resulting in overpriced shares of Airbus SE. After a three-year investigation into bribery and corruption over sales practices, Airbus agreed in 2020 to a nearly $4 billion fine in a deal with French, British, and U.S. authorities. In that settlement, Airbus admitted it had paid huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to win contracts in 20 countries.

US, Israel finalize deal for 12 heavy-lift helos, two KC-46s

Under the agreement, Israel will purchase 12 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters. If the option for six more helicopters is exercised, the total deal could be worth $3.4 billion. The CH-53K is currently undergoing initial operational test and evaluation. Initial operational capability is scheduled for early 2023, with first deliveries expected in 2025.

A veteran flight attendant worked for United for 23 years using a false identity, federal court complaint says

The Brazilian flight attendant stole the identity of a boy who died in a car crash at age 4 in the 1970s.  The man used the boy’s name when he applied for a US passport in 1998. In December 2020, the State Department flagged the passport renewal application for “various fraud indicators.”

United Airlines Forces Out Flight Attendant For Her TikToks

The woman posted around 20 videos wearing her uniform, in violation of company policy. She’s now interviewing at other airlines. It’s important to know your employer’s social media rules.

Airlines Strand Passengers Who Partied on Flight Without Masks

A Canadian group chartered a plane to party in Mexico for the NewYear. Videos show the group flouting Covid-19 and safety rules. Sunwing Airlines flew the group to Cancún, and canceled the return flight to Canada after an internal investigation found that the passengers “exhibited unruly behavior and did not respect aviation or public health regulations.” Many passengers remained stranded in Mexico after at least three airlines said they would not fly them back.

Biden hails 5G wireless deal averting aviation safety crisis

AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the rollout of C-Band 5G service two weeks – to January 19, 2022, absent any “unforeseen aviation safety issues.” The wireless carriers also agreed that the FAA would provide them “with a list of no more than 50 priority airports that they would propose to be subject to the C-Band exclusion zones.”

Fifty US airports to have buffers when telcos turn on new 5G services

The FAA says fifty U.S. airports will have 5G C-band buffer zones when AT&T and Verizon switch on new 5G services. They include Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’ Hare, Newark, JFK, LAX, Philadelphia, and 43 other airports. Airports with 5G Buffer [PDF].  The airports were selected based on traffic volume, number of low-visibility days, geographic location, and input from the aviation community.

Boone County Jury Awards Nearly $2 million to Pilot Fired for Refusing to Fly in Unsafe Conditions

A pilot with almost 50 years of experience refused to fly a private plane to the Caribbean because he felt it was unsafe. He notified his employer that he’d wait and check the weather the following day, and let them know what the situation was. When he did so, the pilot was told that the company had hired a temporary pilot who made the flight. A few days later, he was informed he had been fired. The jury awarded the pilot $1,990,833 which included $1.3 million in punitive damages.

Plane crashes in Los Angeles County, then is hit by train

A Cessna 172 went down on the railroad tracks at an intersection shortly after taking off. Then, about 20 minutes later, a Metrolink train crashed into it. The pilot had been pulled out and was taken to a hospital. There were no other injuries.

Video: Train smashes into crashed plane seconds after pilot is rescued

Mentioned

The Journey is the Reward – Brian T. Coleman and Micah Engber plan to document Brian’s quest to achieve lifetime United 1K status.

Art For Bricks: Exclusive Brick Mosaic Art for everyone 

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Brian Coleman, Benét Wilson.

683 Boeing 737 MAX

We speak with the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing. In the news, 5G concerns from aviation organizations, a new Boeing 787 production chief is named, a bill in Congress to limit airline fees, Air Force aircraft retirements, Finland selects the F-35, and no more astronaut wings for space tourists.

Guest

Peter Robison is an investigative journalist for Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek, and the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing

Peter Robison

We look back on the events surrounding the two 737 MAX crashes, including how Boeing responded to the first crash and then the second, and the broad cultural issues at Boeing that affected the quality of the work. Peter describes past Boeing leadership strategies and some of the changes the company has made in areas such as sourcing, location, and the engineering workforce. We also consider the relationship between the FAA and Boeing and how that contributed to the issues with the 737 MAX.

Flying Blind book cover.

In the end, it comes down to the question: “Would we fly on a Boeing 737 MAX?” Listen for our answers.

Peter is a recipient of the Gerald Loeb Award, the Malcolm Forbes Award, and four “Best in Business” awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, with an honors degree in history from Stanford University, he lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @petermrobison.

Aviation News

5G now means some flights won’t be able to land when pilots can’t see the runway

Verizon and AT&T plan to rollout C-band “5G” cellular ratio coverage. The FAA has concerns this might affect radio altimeters. The FCC and the carriers see no issues, but the carriers moved their December implementation date to January and more recently said they’d reduce the power output for six months at certain towers near airports. The Aerospace Industries Association (and a large group of alphabet aviation organizations) sent a letter to the FCC suggesting that AT&T and Verizon’s proposed power limits don’t go far enough for safety.

Now the FAA has said, “Landings during periods of low visibility could be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without other mitigations in place.” See also, Aviation Coalition Says Industry Should Expect Significant Delays When 5G is Rolled Out and FreeFlight’s Terrain Series radar altimeters with RF circuitry to mitigate spurious 5G interference.

Boeing Names New Jet-Production Chief as 787’s Woes Slow Rebound

Elizabeth Lund has been named the vice-president and general manager of airplane programs for commercial jetliners. With an engineering background and a 30-year career at Boeing, Ms. Lund brings experience with the 767, 747, and 777 programs.

Markey Aims To Ban ‘Ridiculous’ Airline Fees With Bill

With Holiday Travel Season in Full Swing, Senators Markey and Blumenthal, Reps. Cohen and García Reintroduce Legislation to Stop Sky-High Airline Fees

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) reintroduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act. If enacted, the legislation would prohibit airlines from charging fees (including bag, seating, cancellation, and change fees) that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.

Airlines should not be able to bilk passengers just because they need to check a couple of bags, or charge an extra fee so parents can sit with their kids. It should not cost more to cancel or change an airline reservation than the original cost of the ticket, period. ..we must finally end this price gouging and return fairness to the skies.

Senator Edward J. Markey

The bill would also direct the Department of Transportation to review any other fees imposed by airlines, as well as ensure that children can sit together with their family members on flights at no additional charge.

Congress approves retirement of 160+ Air Force planes – with one notable exception

The US Air Force is asking Congress to retire 42 A-10 Warthogs, but Congress is refusing. The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would keep the A-10 but retire seven F-16C/Ds, 48 F-15C/D Eagles, four E-8 JSTARS ground surveillance aircraft, 20 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones, 18 KC-135s and 14 KC-10s, and three C-130Hs. This would free up resources to modernize the fleet.

Finland Selects the F-35 Lightning II as Its Next Fighter

Finland Chooses F-35 As Its Next Fighter

Finland will reportedly purchase 64 F-35A fighters, as well as a weapons package, sustainment, and training. The deal is valued at €8.4 billion ($9.5 billion). Flightglobal reports “€4 billion for the aircraft, €755 million for weapons, and €3 billion for equipment, spares, and training over the 2025-2030 period. A further €777 million is allocated for infrastructure improvements.” competing for the win were the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Saab Gripen E.

FAA: No more commercial astronaut wings

The FAA will no longer award commercial astronaut wings because so many people are now riding into space. Space tourists who fly 50 miles up on an FAA-sanctioned launch will be put on an FAA commercial spaceflight list. NASA astronauts will continue to receive wings.

Recently Spotted Elf

David Vanderhoof, elf.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

681 Startup Airline Airbahn

New startup airline Airbahn, Boeing’s fighter bid is rejected by Canada, more on 5G and aviation signal interference, people try to bring the darndest things on airlines, what happens when you drop an iPhone from an airplane, an Australian water landing, A350 peeling paint, Airbus suggests a possible single-pilot freighter.

Aviation News

Airbahn: New SoCal-Based US Airline Startup

The CEO of Airblue (Pakistan’s second-largest airline) founded Airbahn in February 2018. The airline received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Interstate Air Transportation in October 2020 from the DOT. Airbahn has now taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 in the United States, an ex-Airblue plane now with registration code N786PB. Airbahn is currently hiring staff in California.

Airbahn logo

Based on their filing, Airblue will operate flights in the Western United States with service to mid-tier markets. Initially based at Long Beach Airport (LGB) or Orange County Airport (SNA), all planes and crews will return to base every day. Airbahn A320s will have 174 seats each, in a one-class configuration.

Boeing told its bid to sell fighter jets to Canada did not meet Ottawa’s requirements

According to sources, Boeing’s bid to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s with Super Hornets has been rejected. Bids were to meet requirements for missions at home and abroad, as well as for substantial Canadian economic benefit. Bids from Lockheed Martin (F-35) and Saab (Gripen) were accepted.

5G aviation fears: Mobile carriers propose to reduce power, especially near airports

First, we saw carriers delay 5G implementations one month to January. Now the mobile carriers are proposing a step further for six months: temporarily reducing base station power everywhere and limiting power near airports and heliports. This would give the FAA more time for further studies. The FAA hasn’t yet responded to the proposal.

4 things TSA really doesn’t want you to bring on an airplane

That would be guns and ammo, full-size hygiene products, alcohol, and fertilizer.

iPhone survives landing after pilot takes Airplane mode way too seriously

A pilot in Orlando dropped his iPhone onto the runway on takeoff, but the “Find My iPhone” app lead searchers right to it on the runway. Surprisingly, the phone was undamaged.

Video: Funny Exchange about an iPhone FOD on the runway!

Costly Airbus paint flaw goes wider than the Gulf

Airlines are discovering that A350 paint is blistering and peeling off, exposing the composite material underneath. On the orders of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar has grounded twenty of its 53 A350s. Airbus says it’s not a safety issue, but airlines want to know what’s happening.

Mentioned

US airman shot down over Romania in WWII is accounted for

Airbus CEO suggests A350 Freighter is a good candidate to implement single pilot operations

Two men escape serious injury after light plane crashes into ocean off Perth

Hosts this episode: Max Flight, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.

679 Teaching the Next Generation of Pilots

Erika Armstrong joins us to talk about teaching the next generation of pilots. In the news, GE plans to split into three companies, preliminary details on the MD-87 crash, Boeing liability for 737 MAX crashes, and a Northeast Alliance update. Also, the Australia Desk and the MotoArt/Plane Tag festival.

Guest

Erika Armstrong, teaching the next generation of pilots

Erika Armstrong has had an extensive career as a Red Cross, charter, corporate, cargo, hazmat, and air ambulance pilot and captain. She flew 28 different aircraft before going to the airlines and eventually becoming captain on a B727-200.

We look at teaching the next generation of pilots and the effects of Covid on student pilot instruction. Erika has been focused on teaching student pilots to spend more time looking at themselves and understanding their startle reflexes in order to better react in an emergency. Erika also comments on student pilot diversity and the high washout rate.

Erika believes this is a good time to become a pilot and explains how business aviation has opened up due to the pandemic. We also hear how business aviation is different from commercial aviation, especially from a pilot’s perspective.

Concerning unruly passengers, Erika makes a good point that airlines and airports should look at how they can help passengers de-stress.

Erika is an aviation professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, the Vice President of Business Development and Director of Instructional Design at Advanced Aircrew Academy, and the author of A Chick in the Cockpit.  Erika uses the power of social media to educate and share the joys of aviation to inspire the next generation of pilots. Find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, her website, and @armstrongerika1 on Twitter.

Aviation News

General Electric Announces Split Into Three Public Companies

GE’s health care business is to be spun off in early 2023, then in 2024 the renewable energy, power equipment, and digital businesses will be spun off. What will remain is GE Aviation, the engine-manufacturing operation. See: GE Plans to Form Three Public Companies Focused on Growth Sectors of Aviation, Healthcare, and Energy.

Runway Excursion, McDonnell Douglas MD-87

The NTSB provided details of the fatal October 19, 2021 crash of Boeing MD-87, N987AK, operated by 987 Investments LLC. The plane overran the departure end of runway 36 at Houston Executive Airport (TME), Brookshire, Texas after a rejected takeoff. The left and right elevator geared tab input rod links were found to be damaged. This is similar to the damage found during an investigation of a Boeing MD-83​ which crashed after a rejected takeoff on March 8, 2017. See: Rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Boeing Accepts Sole Responsibility for 737 MAX Crashes, Wins Agreement that Avoids Punitive Damages

The joint court motion was filed by Boeing lawyers with lawyers for the families of the 157 victims of the 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia. The company accepted sole liability for the accident. Boeing explicitly agreed that the pilots were not at fault.

The defendant, Boeing, has admitted that it produced an airplane that had an unsafe condition that was a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s compensatory damages caused by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident.

American Airlines Ends 60 Years of Shuttle History With New York-Boston Exit

American Airlines acquired the legacy assets of the Eastern Air Shuttle when it merged with US Airways in 2013. American plans to end the Boston to New York LaGuardia service by summer 2022. Instead, Northeast Alliance partner JetBlue Airways will operate the Boston – LaGuardia route for both carriers. Boston to New York JFK and Washington Reagan National service will continue under American branding.

Australia News Desk

Steve and Grant provide news and views from Down Under:

Australia’s International Border Reopens

Virgin Australia re-opens new-look Melbourne Lounge and launches new menu

First QANTAS A380 to land back in Australia today

A question of timing – the future of the RAAF’s air combat force

RAAF’s mysterious surveillance missions from Singapore

Video: ADM Podcast – 100 Years of RAAF

MotoArt/Plane Tags Festival

Brian attended the first annual MotoArt / Plane Tag festival at the company shop in California. He spoke with:

  • Dave, a serious Plane Tag collector
  • Kevin White, the MotoArt Production Manager
  • Dave Hall, the MotoArt CEO

Mentioned

An Anniversary of a Disaster, & a Celebration All in One – November 12, 2021marked the 20th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in New York City.

671 Pilot Mental Health

An airline captain focuses on pilot mental health and tells us what she is doing to bring that conversation into the light. In the news, another aerial refueling tanker competition, a Rolls-Royce electric airplane first flight, an X-Wing at the Smithsonian, a criminal charge stemming from the 737 MAX probe, the Cranky Dorkfest you missed, and emergency landings in Maine. Also, checked baggage issues and gifts for flight attendants.

Guest

Reyné O’Shaughnessy was a commercial airline pilot for over 34 years with a Fortune 50 company. She was a captain on the B767 and logged over 10,000 hours of total heavy jet flight time. In addition to the B767, her experience includes the A300/310, B727, and B747. Notably, thirty-four years ago she was one of the first women to be B747 qualified.

Now retired, Reyné founded Piloting 2 Wellbeing (or P2W) with a mission to create awareness about pilot mental health and mental wellness in the aviation industry. P2W serves individuals, schools, and corporations that want to implement supportive and practical training, experience compassionate forums, and be part of creating a better aviation world.

Reyné explains why the aviation community is so averse to talking about pilot mental health. We look at the need to normalize the conversation about pilot mental health and teach airlines and pilots a more holistic approach to wellbeing, that being a factor in safety performance. Companies need to support their employees with mental health training but the regulator is not currently forcing this. Reyné argues that reaching student pilots with information early in their career will help normalize mental health. The top flight schools are focused on technical training, but they need to incorporate wellness training into their programs.

Reyné’s new book, This is Your Captain Speaking: What You Should Know About Your Pilot’s Mental Health is available on Amazon.com. It looks at stress, anxiety, and depression in the aviation community.

Pilot mental health book This is Your Captain Speaking

Aviation News

Lockheed reveals new LMXT refueling tanker, firing the opening salvo in US Air Force competition

The U.S. Air Force has a bridge tanker competition coming up, also known as the KC-Y, and they released a sources-sought notification in June. The Boeing KC-46 is the incumbent, but they don’t have a lock on it. Lockheed Martin has just announced they will offer their LMXT aerial refueling tanker, based on the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

Rolls-Royce’s all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ takes to the skies for the first time

We previously reported Rolls-Royce’s intentions to build an all-electric airplane and use it in a world-record attempt reaching speeds of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH). They’ve built the plane, which they call the “Spirit of Innovation,” and succeeded in flying it for the first time. Power comes from a 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain. Rolls-Royce says it has “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft.”

Spirit of Innovation, courtesy Rolls-Royce.

Why There’s an X-Wing Flyer at the Smithsonian

The National Air and Space Museum has a Star Wars X-wing on loan from Lucasfilm. Dr. Margaret Weiteka, Curator and Department Chair of the Space History Department, explains why they have it and how it is being prepared for display.

Video: Why There’s an X-Wing Flyer at the Smithsonian

What You Missed at Yesterday’s Cranky Dorkfest

Cranky Flier reports on the event.

Former Boeing Pilot Expected to Face Prosecution in 737 MAX Probe

The Wall Street Journal reports that Federal prosecutors plan to criminally charge Boeing’s chief technical pilot during the 737 MAX development. Mark Forkner was Boeing’s lead contact with the FAA concerning pilot training for the jet. In a criminal settlement with prosecutors earlier this year, Boeing admitted that two unnamed employees conspired to defraud the FAA about 737 MAX training issues in order to benefit themselves and the company.

Bangor airport to close for 2 days in early October for runway repairs

Bangor International Airport will shut down for runway repairs. Concrete runways can degrade as a result of an alkali-silica reaction, which is sometimes called concrete cancer. Since BGR is the last US airport for emergency landings eastbound over the Atlantic, and the first westbound, any emergencies will have to land elsewhere.

Prerecorded

In Defense of the Flight Attendant by Joe A. Kunzler.

Brian Coleman’s gifts to cabin crew.

Why Brian doesn’t check bags.

644 Aviation Art Designs

MotoArt turns unused aircraft parts into high-end furniture and aviation art designs. In the news, Pratt & Whitney’s new hypersonic engine project, the AFRL autonomous Skyborg aircraft and the Boeing Loyal Wingman, Boeing criticizes the A321XLR, Qantas offers mystery flights, and the Southwest Airlines grant program.

Guest

Dave Hall is the co-founder and owner of MotoArt which sells high-end aviation-inspired furniture and aviation art designs constructed from genuine aircraft parts.

MotoArt aviation art designs.
Dave Hall

Dave is also the founder/owner of PlaneTags – collectible, three-inch oval-shaped luggage tags made from authentic aircraft skin. Each PlaneTag is laser etched with the aircraft’s schematic and serial / tail number and is attached to a baseball-type trading card containing the history of the aircraft.  PlaneTags allows collectors the opportunity to hold a piece of aviation history in their hands while simultaneously providing them with an educational experience for each aircraft offered. Nearly 100 different types of PlaneTags have been created to date and several years’ worth of aircraft are in the queue for future releases. PlaneTags fans can expect new releases each month.

Dave began his career working at his father’s fuel storage tank business and later moved on to marketing and selling high-end architectural signage for amusement parks and sports arenas. In 2001, he and former colleague Donovan Fell began creating sculptures out of vintage World War II propellers. The popularity of these sculptures prompted the two to form a partnership and together created MotoArt LLC, which introduced high-end aviation-inspired furniture and art designs constructed from genuine aircraft parts. Since its inception, MotoArt has created over 100 limited edition custom designs for both private and Fortune 500 clients.

Dave has graciously donated four PlaneTags to Airplane Geeks which we’ll be giving away to listeners in a random drawing. In addition, Dave is offering Airplane Geeks listeners a PlaneTags discount. Details in the podcast.

PlaneTags from MotoArt, aviation art designs.
PlaneTags giveaway.

Finally, the Pima Air & Space Museum is running a sweepstakes (open until April 9, 2021) where your donation enters you in a contest to win a $25,000 MotoArt gift certificate.

Aviation News

Pratt & Whitney Makes Hypersonic Revival As Pentagon Pushes Reuse

Pratt & Whitney has a secret development program to develop a low-cost, reusable hypersonic propulsion system. This is a capability high in priority for the U.S. Department of Defense. The program is called Metacomet and comes from Pratt & Whitney’s GatorWorks prototyping division in Florida. David Stagney, senior director of GatorWorks said, “The faster you go, the larger the propulsion system is relative to the vehicle and how much payload and fuel you can actually fit in. So, we have spent a lot of time going back to the fundamentals and thinking about how to solve that problem differently. We know the Air Force wants to go really fast. They also want to have some very low-cost solutions, and to be able to have a large quantity of vehicles.”

Boeing to base U.S. Air Force prototype on Australian pilotless combat jet

Boeing designed and manufactured the unmanned “Loyal Wingman” aircraft in Australia, which just completed its first flight. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Skyborg autonomous aircraft program has contracted with Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to develop the prototypes. Boeing says they are basing their bid on the Loyal Wingman. The technology will be tested during Orange Flag exercises this summer.

Boeing labels new Airbus jet a ‘potential hazard’ just days after being fined millions for safety oversights

The A321XLR gets additional range with a fuel tank that is moulded into the fuselage. Boeing has informed the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that this design “presents many potential hazards.” EASA had already noted the design, saying “An integral fuselage fuel tank exposed to an external fire, if not adequately protected, may not provide enough time for the passengers to safely evacuate the aircraft.”

First there were flights to nowhere. Now there are ‘mystery flights.’

Qantas is launching three flights to unspecified Australian destinations. Passengers will have  “low-level scenic flybys of key landmarks” and land about two hours after departure. That will be followed by a day’s worth of activities on the ground. In order to know what to wear and pack, Qantas will give passengers clues about the destination.

Southwest Airlines donates 7,500 free flights for those in need of medical care

The airline’s Medical Transportation Grant Program is providing roundtrip flights for those in need of urgent medical care. Southwest awarded the tickets to over 75 nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations. The airline valued the transportation at $3 million. To date, more than $38.6 million in free transportation has been provided since the program began in 2007.

Mike Collins

Rob Mark talks about the passing of Mike Collins, AOPA Technical Editor and Director of Business Operations. See Saying Goodbye: AOPA Loses Technical Editor Mike Collins.

Mentioned

Aerojet Rocketdyne

Air Care Alliance

AvGeekFests.com

Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

47th annual Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo April 13-18, 2021. See SnF Covid policy.

Podcasting on a Plane, Episode 091, Remote View Flight Check with Rob Mark.

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll #643: Who would you like to see win the 2020 Collier Trophy?

Cat attacks pilots in cockpit, plane forced to make emergency landing

Trade group again names Portland’s jetport best in North America. Airports Council International recognizes the world’s best airports in customer experience with their annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. The Portland International Jetport was named the best airport in North America for customer experience in its passenger class.

Airplane Flyover

643 Aeronautical Charts

We learn about aeronautical charts produced by the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Services team. In the news, the NTSB will decommission the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction, Collier Trophy finalists announced as are Flying Magazine Editors’ Choice Awards and FAA General Aviation Awards, Boeing fined by the FAA, United orders the Boeing 737 MAX, Delta plans to reactivate pilots, Icelandair flies to Antarctica and back.

Aeronautical chart

Guest

Katie Murphy is a Supervisory Aeronautical Information Specialist in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Services Visual Charting Team. Katie has worked with both VFR and IFR charts for over 17 years and is a self-proclaimed “map geek.”

Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) is the authority for the development of aeronautical charts and services. They are also the authoritative government source for collecting, storing, maintaining, and disseminating aeronautical data for the U.S. and its territories.

The Interagency Air Committee (IAC) Specifications are used in the preparation of United States Government Charts and thus define what appears in aeronautical charts.
Changes can be proposed through the Aeronautical Charting Meeting. Use the Aeronautical Information Portal to submit data forms, make inquiries, and sign up for notifications.

Aviation News

NTSB’s TWA Flight 800 Reconstruction to be Decommissioned

The lease is expiring on the National Transportation Safety Board training facility and the NTSB plans to dispose of the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction. With advances such as 3-D scanning, the need for large-scale reconstruction in teaching investigative techniques is less relevant.

Seven aviation and space achievements to compete for the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy [PDF]

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced the seven finalists competing for the prestigious 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy:

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet virtually in June and the winner will be announced publicly following the selection. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place when health and safety protocols allow.

Flying Announces Editors’ Choice Awards for 2021

These awards recognize collaboration in aviation innovation and one of these teams will be chosen to receive the Flying Innovation Award:

  • Autoland: Garmin Aviation + Piper Aircraft + Cirrus Aircraft + Daher
  • ThrustSense Autothrottle: Innovative Solutions & Support + Pilatus + Textron Aviation
  • Crewed Dragon Capsule to the International Space Station: NASA + SpaceX

Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill – sources

In 2015, Boeing paid a $12 million fine and pledged to implement and improve several certification processes to further enhance the airworthiness and continued compliance of all Boeing Commercial Aircraft products. The settlement agreement resolved multiple pending and potential enforcement cases.  

Press Release – Boeing Agrees to Pay $12 Million and Enhance its Compliance Systems to Settle Enforcement Cases (December 22, 2015)

Under the agreement, Boeing could face up to $24 million in additional penalties over the following five years if it failed to implement its obligations.

Press Release – Boeing to Pay $6.6 Million in Penalties to FAA (February 25, 2021)

Now, the FAA has assessed $5.4 million in deferred civil penalties against The Boeing Company for failing to meet its performance obligations under the 2015 settlement agreement. Boeing also agreed to pay $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases. 

FAA says, “Boeing missed some of its improvement targets, and …some company managers did not sufficiently prioritize compliance with FAA regulations.”

See: Delegated Organizations

United orders another 25 Boeing 737 MAX jets to prepare for recovery

United Airlines ordered 25 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery in 2023. The company also accelerated the delivery of other aircraft in anticipation of post-pandemic demand growth.

Delta To Reactivate All Pilots By October

Expecting a strong recovery, Delta informed pilots it plans to return them to flying status by October, 2021.

Icelandair 767 flying between Iceland & Antarctica

The 20 year old Boeing 767-300 is currently flying between Iceland and Antarctica via South Africa. The 767 has a crew of 20 people, including six pilots, 13 flight attendants, and one mechanic. The roundtrip journey covers over 20,000 miles.

Mentioned

Australian Frontline Machinery will hold the March 2021 Aviation Auction, auctioning demilitarised aircraft and spare parts direct from the Australian Defence Force. See Can civilians buy ex-military aircraft? for more information.

Virtual aviation events:

Aircraft Cabin Air International Conference 2021, March 15 – March 18, 2021.

Creating the Future of Vertical Flight: A Sikorsky Innovations Perspective, March 25, 2021.

Video: UNITED 328 Engine Failure! WHAT CHECKLISTS did the pilots use? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE

636 Boeing Criminal Fine

Boeing agrees to pay a $2.5 Billion settlement for criminal charges relating to the 737 MAX MCAS system, the FAA issued final rules for supersonic aircraft testing, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary says the government mismanaged travel restrictions, flight attendant unions are concerned about disruptive air travelers and the FAA responds with a stern warning, initial reports from the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 crash, and on a lighter note, the TSA celebrates agency canines in a 2021 calendar.

Aviation News

Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 Billion

Boeing Reaches $2.5 Billion Settlement With U.S. Over 737 Max

The Boeing Company has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.

Boeing entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in connection with criminal information that charges the company with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Under the terms of the DPA, Boeing will pay a total criminal monetary amount of over $2.5 billion:

  • A criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million, 
  • compensation payments to Boeing’s 737 MAX airline customers of $1.77 billion, 
  • and the establishment of a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund to compensate the heirs, relatives, and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passengers who died in the Boeing 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers. 

Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception. This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.

Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Aviation analysts react to Boeing criminal fine

Aviation consultant Scott Hamilton (our guest in episode 398) says the penalty is a “slap on the wrist.” He notes that Airbus paid nearly twice that for a bribery case and there were no fatalities involved there. Hamilton wants to see leadership changes at Boeing.

Charles Herrmann, a lawyer representing more than 50 families of 737 crash victims says the fine is appropriate. Boeing has already suffered financially and doesn’t need to be put out of business. “He blames Boeing’s problems on a change in culture that began when they moved headquarters to Chicago.”

See Jon Ostrower’s The Air Current piece Boeing’s MCAS on the 737 Max may not have been needed at all for many insights.

Individuals who believe they may be an heir, relative, or legal beneficiary of one of the Lion Air Flight 610 or Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 passengers in this case should contact the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness Unit by email at: Victimassistance.fraud@usdoj.gov or call (888) 549-3945.

FAA issues rules for supersonic jet flight testing in the US

Press Release – FAA Announces Final Rule to Facilitate the Reintroduction of Civil Supersonic Flight

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule (PDF) to facilitate the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft. The government says the rule is intended to streamline the application procedure for special flight authorizations to operate in excess of Mach 1 over land in the United States by 

  • Amending the administrative requirements for a special flight authorization,
  • clarifying the information that is needed for submission,
  • and specifying the program office within the FAA that processes the applications.

Outside the special flight authorizations under this final rule, the FAA continues generally to prohibit civil supersonic flight over land in the United States. In place since 1973.

This item came to our attention through an issue of Starburst Weekly, the newsletter of Starburst, a global aerospace accelerator.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary says airline’s flights have collapsed from 2,000 a day to 10 but claims summer holidays WILL go ahead

From 2,000 flights per day to “ten or twenty” starting January 21, 2021 is an enormous drop. Covid reductions are catastrophic to the travel industry but O’Leary anticipates that with vaccine availability, by the summer air travel should rebound. He opined that the failure of the Government to end travel restrictions was “beyond him” and it is “one of the great contradictions of the Government’s mismanagement of the Covid travel restrictions.”

Flight attendant union wants pro-Trump rioters barred from flights

FAA chief issues stern warning to travelers after politically-motivated flight disruptions

The president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Sara Nelson, (our guest in episode 545) said “The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard.”

On an American Airlines flight to Dulles International Airport, passengers shouted and cursed at each other. The flight attendant had to turn up the cabin lights and ordered passengers to return to their seats. On a Delta Air Lines flight carrying Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, some passengers started chanting “traitor.” Alaska Airlines banned 14 passengers on a Washington D.C.-Seattle flight.

in a statement, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said.“The FAA will pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time.” Passengers can face fines of up to $35,000.

The message here is clear: Do what the crew tells you to do and don’t argue. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, or if you are right and somebody else is wrong. Do what the crew says or you face serious consequences.

The Sriwijaya Air Crash: A Brief Rundown of What We Know

Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182: Hope for survivors fades as plane wreckage found off Indonesian coast

Indonesian LCC Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 with 62 people on board (50 PAX, 12 crew) crashed into the water off the Indonesian coast about five minutes into its flight. Four minutes after departing Jakarta, the Boeing 737-500 lost over 10,000 feet of altitude in less than a minute. Bad weather was reported in the area. Some wreckage and human remains have been found. A navy ship detected the emergency signals from the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

TSA’s 2021 dog calendar stars airport pups. Here’s how to get a free copy

The Transportation Security Administration has more than 400 canine teams at airports around the country. Now you can see photos and learn fun facts about thirteen of the dogs with the 2021 TSA Canine Calendar [PDF]. For each dog, you’ll find the dog’s name, breed, airport, handler, favorite treat and favorite toys.

Pipistrel G4
Pipistrel G4

Mentioned

Wendover Airfield

Wild Nevada – Episode 411: Wendover to Elko, a PBS video that aired in 2018.

The Pentagon Has 6 Months to Disclose What It Knows About UFOs

633 Aviation Safety

A Congressional report is critical of aviation safety and the FAA, the Air Force flies an AI co-pilot, precision airdrops as a service, Antonov AN-124 cargo, Chinese SODramjet, world’s first female aeronautical engineer, airline emissions statistics, flying through smoke.

Aviation News

Boeing ‘inappropriately coached’ pilots in 737 MAX testing: U.S. Senate report

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation released a Committee Investigation Report titled Aviation Safety Oversight prepared by the Committee Republican staff. In testimony, whistleblowers were critical of Boeing and the FAA.

The report says that concerning this year’s testing of the MCAS system, Boeing officials “had established a pre-determined outcome to reaffirm a long-held human factor assumption related to pilot reaction time … It appears, in this instance, FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 MAX tragedies.”

Southwest Airlines Allegedly Cut Corners, Pilots Struggled to Get Planes to Take Off

Southwest livery

In the same report, a whistleblower working as an FAA safety inspector at a Southwest base alleged that the airline’s Performance Weight and Balance System (PWB) was flawed. The PWB system was introduced in 2017 but Southwest removed safety buffers and some pilots reported difficulty getting airborne. A Southwest spokesperson said, “We discovered a discrepancy between data systems involving the weight of a number of aircraft earlier this year. Southwest took immediate actions to prevent a recurrence, which included notifying the FAA, correcting the data discrepancies, and launching a daily audit to review each of the impacted systems.”

Dash Systems raises $8M for precision-airdrops-as-a-service at distant or disaster-stricken destinations

Dash Systems wants to expedite the “middle-mile” with military-inspired airdrops. They say Land the package not the planeTM and seek to drop pallets of parcels (“pods”) at their penultimate destinations, no matter how inaccessible the location is. The pods have control surfaces and a tail kit, and a method of slowing down and landing.

Swirl-in Airlift: Irregular Antonov Flights Deliver Relief to Phoenix Laxative Factory

Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines has been operating curious flights between Mumbai and Phoenix. Three An-124s have completed the route so far, and a fourth is enroute. Many speculated what the cargo is, but JetTip uncovers the true mission:

“The avgeek rumor-mill provided some hints at its cargo, with people saying it was carrying silica, seeds, or medicine; the payload is tons and tons of psyllium (pronounced “si-lee-uhm”), a plant grown in India, whose primary use is as a fibrous laxative. Coincidentally, psyllium is the main ingredient in Metamucil, which is manufactured in Phoenix.”

The Queen of the Hurricanes drove a Model A Roadster

Elsie MacGill is reported to be the world’s first female aeronautical engineer. Born in Vancouver in 1905, she wore leg braces because of polio. At one point she was told she’d never walk again. In 1938 she became the chief aeronautical engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry (Can Car) in charge of the design and construction of the Maple Leaf II training biplane, the world’s first aircraft designed and built by a woman. MacGill retooled the Can Car factory to mass-produce the Hawker Hurricane, and she was responsible for coming up with a winterized version with skis. Elsie MacGill died in 1980, at the age of seventy-five. She was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983. 

The Experimental Engine That Could Get Us Anywhere in the World in 2 Hours

The Chinese have developed and demonstrated a Standing Oblique Detonation ramjet engine, or SODramjet for hypersonic propulsion at Mach 16. It’s an old concept that utilizes shock waves produced in the engine. The Chinese demonstrator reached Mach 9 in a wind tunnel. See The criteria for hypersonic airbreathing propulsion and its experimental verification in the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.

Air Force U-2 Surveillance Plane Flies First Mission with AI Copilot

The U.S. Air Force flew a U-2 Dragonlady reconnaissance aircraft with an artificial intelligence system as the co-pilot. Going by the call sign ARTUµ (pronounced R-2), the algorithm took control of the sensor systems after take off in an exercise that simulated a missile strike. As the pilot flew the U-2, ARTUµ controlled sensors and navigation and watched for enemy launch weapons.

Countries Ban U.K. Flights Amid Mutant Coronavirus Concerns

Flights between the U.K. and a number of other countries are being banned after a new, more contagious coronavirus strain was detected.

Mentioned

Facebook’s artificial intelligence robots shut down after they start talking to each other in their own language

Flying Dirty: Why Airlines Emissions Rise Even When They Try to Cut

627 Airline Pay Cuts

Airline pay cuts, prospective student pilots told to wait, proposed 737 MAX training requirements, the boat that Boeing sold, and a Brit is set to pilot Air Force One. Also, a holiday flying festival, the Kitty Hawk Flyers, an A-10 pilot receives the Distinguished Flying Cross, an upcoming electric air speed record attempt, and New Zealand’s first electric airplane.

Aviation News

Dutch Airline Pilots Association VNV signs commitment clause

KLM pilots agreed to accept pay cuts that allow the government to make the next installment of a 3.4 billion-euro ($3.96 billion) bailout package that includes a 1 billion-euro loan and guarantees for 2.4 billion euros in bank loans. The Dutch Airline Pilots Association VNV and seven other trade unions agreed to sign a “commitment clause.” 

Nearly all Cathay Pacific pilots, vast majority of cabin crew sign new salary-slashing contracts

98.5% of Cathay Pacific pilots (or 2,613 pilots) and 91.6% of the airline’s cabin crew staff (or 7,346 cabin crew) have accepted what’s characterized as a take-it-or-leave-it deal. Those who refused to accept the new contract would receive an exit package on their way out. The new contracts cut flight attendants pay by 20 to 40 percent, and aircrew pay by 40 to 60 percent.

Air New Zealand’s Staff Ask The Airline To Save Jobs

Over 1,000 staff signed a petition asking the airline to keep jobs in New Zealand. The Kia Kaha Aotearoa petition, meaning Be Strong New Zealand in Maori, asks Air New Zealand to save jobs and stop outsourcing work.

The airlines insist flying is safe. But nearly 100 U.S. air marshals have been infected with COVID-19.

The Transportation Security Administration says 98 federal air marshals have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus. 14 of those cases are active. It’s not known if those Marshals contracted the virus on the job.

Pilots union warns students against starting pilot training courses for the foreseeable future

The British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) has issued a warning to everyone who is thinking about starting a pilot training course – think again. BALPA wants to help students avoid paying upwards of £100,000 for training only to find there are no jobs available. BALPA urges “potential pilots to get experience in another profession first which will postpone any training until the industry is in a more robust shape, provide additional skills and experience and also give them another avenue to fall back on.”

Pilots Want More Frequent 737 MAX Special Training

The public comment period on the FAA proposal for 737 MAX training ended November 2, 2020, and we are hearing about some concerns from the pilot unions. Unions feel the 8-step runaway stabilizer non-normal checklist (NNC) has too many steps and would be difficult to remember. The frequency of recurrent training is also being questioned.

RAF pilot is set to become first non-American to fly US President on Air Force One

According to the Daily Mail, a non-American has never piloted Air Force One. A wing commander with the RAF is set to become the first foreigner to do so. 

Boeing Just Sold The Superyacht You Didn’t Even Know They Owned

Reportedly, Boeing has sold the 151-foot motor yacht Daedalus for $13 million. The yacht can accommodate 10 guests in cabins and has been used for entertaining and hosting corporate customers.

A private jet company is offering $28,000 ‘weddings in the sky’ as charter firms try to offset the loss of business travel

If you want to get married during the pandemic, Air Charter Service is offering a “Wedding in the Sky” experience. These take place in a private jet during a 2-hour flight to nowhere. Vows must have been exchanged in an official setting before boarding the flight. 

Listener Poll

This episode’s listener poll: Besides the Airplane Geeks podcast, what other podcasts do you listen to in order to feed your aviation habit?

Mentioned

Sun ‘n Fun Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show, December 4-5, 2020 on the SUN ‘n FUN Expo Campus in Lakeland Florida.

Kitty Hawk ends Flyer program, shifts focus to once-secret autonomous aircraft. (The American Helicopter Museum has acquired two Flyer aircraft.)

Kitty Hawk Flyer

Kitty Hawk Flyer at the American Helicopter Museum.

A-10 pilot awarded Distinguished Flying Cross for dramatic landing with missing canopy and no landing gear

Maj. Brett DeVries, an A-10 pilot with the Michigan Air National Guard, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “extraordinary achievement” during a 2017 training flight in which his landing gear failed and his canopy tore off.

The Electro-Flight ACCEL project with Rolls-Royce and Yasa Motors to set a new electric air speed record. See Rolls-Royce set to break world record for fastest electric aircraft and Bremont Launches ionBIRD Timepiece as the Company Becomes Official Timing Partner for Rolls-Royce’s Groundbreaking World Record Attempt, which includes footage of the testbed.

Video: NZ’s first electric plane takes off in Christchurch

Seth Jaworski’s great photographs of aircraft parked at Alice Springs.