Tag Archives: Boeing

788 Corporate Flight Attendant

The struggle to mandate corporate flight attendant egress training, the Bombardier Challenger jet crash in Florida, major executive changes at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems whistleblowers, 737 Max Service Difficulty Reports, FAA’s Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative program, FAA safety recommendations for Boeing, and details on Boeing’s “traveled work.”

Guest

Susan C. Friedenberg is the CEO of Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training and Consulting. Over the past 25 years, Susan has been committed to continually raising the standards for flight attendants in all aspects of business aviation. Her school teaches students the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. She has dedicated herself to the idea that egress training is critical to ensuring the safety of the passengers and crew in an emergency.

Susan C. Friedenberg, advocate for corporate flight attendant egress training.

Susan started Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training in 1999 when she realized there were just two valid egress training companies for business aviation and that neither offered students a chance to learn the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. In her 5-day – 50-hour Zoom training, guests include a senior Pfizer employee explaining cockpit resource management and a major business aviation caterer who discusses what their kitchens need to know to expedite and deliver a perfect catering order.

Starting her aviation career as a flight attendant at American Airlines, Susan eventually moved on to Capitol Air until 1984 when that company went bankrupt. Discovering business aviation, she flew full-time for Coca-Cola’s flight department in Atlanta, Dupont Aviation in Wilmington, Delaware, and American Standard Companies from Teterboro, New Jersey. She’s also flown as a contract flight attendant.  

Susan has been active for decades with the NBAA and served on the association’s Flight Attendant Committee and the Scholarship Committee. Susan was also the Chair of the Contract Flight Attendant Group for two years. 

She’s written numerous articles about the corporate flight attendant’s professional role and created a safety presentation called, “Why You Need a Trained Person in the Back of Your Aircraft.” Her company also provides abridged training for Flight Techs (A&P’s) who act in a dual role aboard a business aviation aircraft as both a mechanic and a flight attendant in the back of the plane.

Aviation News

‘We’ve lost both engines,’ pilot said before private jet crashed onto Florida interstate, killing 2

A Bombardier Challenger 600 series jet carrying five people crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing on Interstate 75 near Naples, Florida. The pilot and co-pilot were killed. A crew member and two passengers escaped.

Boeing removes the Head of 737 Max program in wake of safety incidents

Eighteen-year Boeing veteran Ed Clark has been removed from head of the 737 Max passenger jet program. He had previously held the roles of 737 Max chief engineer and chief 737 mechanic. Katie Ringgold fills Clark’s position as head of the 737 Max program. She had been vice president of 737 Max deliveries. Boeing also announced the creation of a new executive position, Senior Vice President for BCA Quality. Elizabeth Lund fills that position. Lund had been senior vice president and general manager of airplane programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Mike Fleming fills Lund’s position. He had been senior vice president of development and customer service.

With Boeing in hot seat, claims against supplier Spirit AeroSystems take shape

Two former Spirit AeroSystems employees have come forward with quality deficiency allegations. The first was a quality auditor at the Wichita plant who was fired in 2022 for allegedly failing to conduct inspections that were his responsibility. Now a second ex-employee who worked alongside the first has corroborated the allegations.

Airlines Filed 1,800 Reports Warning Regulators About Boeing’s 737 Max

More than 1,800 service difficulty reports concerning the 737 Max were filed by operators over the last three years. Alaska Airlines alone filed more than 1,230 737 Max reports over that period. The nonprofit Foundation for Aviation Safety compiled federal safety reports and found 737 Max issues including fuel leaks resulting from misapplied sealant, malfunctioning stabilizing motors, fuel tank FOD, engine stalls, and anti-ice system problems. Under § 121.703, certificate holders must file Service difficulty reports for the occurrence or detection of certain failures, malfunctions, or defects.

FAA panel finds Boeing safety culture wanting, recommends overhaul

The FAA commissioned a panel of independent aviation experts. Their report is critical of Boeing’s safety culture and makes more than 50 recommendations: Section 103 Organizational Designation Authorizations (ODA) for Transport Airplanes, Expert Panel Review Report, Final Report. [PDF]

FAA Moves to Accelerate Air Traffic Controller Hiring by Enhancing College Training Program

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker says, “Hiring more air traffic controllers is a priority. We need more entry points for controller candidates and this enhanced college controller training program is an additional avenue to get controllers into facilities sooner.” The Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program is designed to increase the number of students who can begin facility training immediately upon graduation. As of May 2023, the FAA lists 31 approved AT-CTI schools. [PDF]

Mentioned

Why a Good Flight Attendant Matters

Gulfstream 550 Evacuation Crewmember Training

G550 Will Require Evac Crewmember

PBS – The American Experience: Come Fly With Me: They Wanted to See the World and Ended Up Changing It

The Biden administration’s bet on sustainable aviation fuel

Hosts this Episode

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

787 California Science Center Space Shuttle Endeavour

The vertical stacking of the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, the delay in Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk program, communication interruptions for El Al, infrastructure grants for US airports, Delta Air Lines trading cards, and the possibility of rescinding Boeing’s immunity deal.

The Final Move of the Space Shuttle Endeavour

Back on July 20, 2023, the California Science Center commenced Go for Stack, the process of moving and lifting each of the space shuttle components into place for Endeavour’s upcoming 20-story vertical display. This feat has never been done outside of a NASA facility.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour being stacked at the California Science Center.

Press release: Space Shuttle Endeavour Is Now Fully Stacked and Mated, Completing World’s Only Ready-to-Launch Space Shuttle Display.

Brian Coleman attended the recent Endeavour stacking event and spoke with the museum’s President and CEO and the Curator for Aerospace Science:

Jeffrey N Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California, and the President of the California Science Center Foundation. He provided the leadership for the planning, design, fundraising, and implementation of the California Science Center Master Plan which transformed the California Museum of Science and Industry into the new California Science Center and created an award-winning Exposition Park Master Plan to guide the redevelopment of Exposition Park in central Los Angeles. Jeff serves as a Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology and the Executive Committee for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and the Los Angeles Tourism Marketing District. He is the past chair of the Board of the Association of Science & Technology Centers and past chair of the Board of the American Alliance of Museums. Jeff received an M.B.A. from Yale University and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Kenneth Phillips, PhD, Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center. Ken develops the California Science Center Foundation’s programs and exhibits on aeronautics and space exploration. As curator, he is responsible for creating the vision that shapes these programs and leading the team in the process that includes concept and storyboard development; multiple phases of design; prototype development and testing; artifact acquisition; audiovisual production; exhibit fabrication and research on visitor learning.

Major projects include Phase III of the Science Center’s 25-year Master Plan featuring the space shuttle Endeavour and the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center; the SKETCH Foundation Air and Space Gallery in Science Court; the Roy A. Anderson A-12 Blackbird Exhibit and Garden; and collaboration on the development of the Creative World gallery. 

Ken received his B.S. degree in Physics from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an M.S. in General Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in Environmental Engineering.

Dr. Ken Phillips and Brian Coleman observing the Space Shuttle Endeavour being stacked at the California Science Center.
Dr. Ken Phillips and Brian Coleman.

Aviation News

Will Biden Rescind Trump’s Boeing Immunity Deal?

After the two 737 Max crashes, the previous administration negotiated a deferred prosecution agreement whereby Boeing was granted certain immunity from prosecution, including fraud charges, and protection for Boeing’s senior executives. Many have criticized the deal.

The agreement required Boeing to “protect and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations, including… those of its contractors and subcontractors.” Also, the Justice Department had “sole discretion” to decide if the “Company has breached the Agreement and whether to pursue prosecution of the Company and its subsidiaries.”

A lawsuit filed after the Alaska Airlines door plug blow-out alleges that Spirit AeroSystems had engaged in a “fraudulent scheme” to falsify records and hide “excessive” numbers of manufacturing defects. The theory presented in the article is that if the fraud allegations are substantiated, the Justice Department could rescind the deferred prosecution agreement.

Boeing pushes back T-7 plans due to faulty parts

Low rate initial production (LRIP) of the T-7A Red Hawk training jet has been pushed out to mid-2024. Boeing said part quality problems are to blame, along with supply chain issues. The T-7 will replace T-38 jet trainers. The Air Force plans to buy 351 T-7s by 2034.

Israeli flight from Thailand faced attack by ‘hostile elements’ – report

For the second time in a week, someone attempted to take over the communication network of an El Al plane and divert it from its destination. The crew noticed that the instructions it was receiving were improper and ignored them.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $1 Billion in Grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Improve 114 Airports Across the U.S.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $5 billion ($1 billion annually from 2022 to 2026) to provide competitive grants for airport terminal development projects. In FY24, the FAA is awarding $970 million to 114 airports in 44 states and three territories.

The FAA has an excellent data visualization tool for the airports receiving funding. Hover over an airport to see the amount of the funding and details about how the money will be used. You can filter by better PAX experience, expanded capacity, sustainability, safety, accessibility, serving smaller communities, and tower upgrades.

What the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Means for U.S. Aviation

Portland Jetport to receive more than $10 million from FAA for improvements

Maine airports getting federal funding for critical terminal upgrades

Army CH-47s Fill In For Grounded Marine MV-22s In White House Airlift Role

The fleet of V-22 tilt-rotors was grounded after the fatal crash of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 off the coast of Japan in November 2023. The U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all fly versions of the V-22. Other aircraft are being pressed into service to fill the role of the tilt-rotors. CH-47F Chinooks are accompanying Marine 1, which is unusual in the U.S., but not uncommon overseas. Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) uses a dozen MV-22Bs for presidential airlift support missions. 

Delta has been keeping a secret for the past 20 years—and pilots really want you to ask about it

Unbeknownst to many passengers, Delta Air Lines has had a trading card program since 2003. The cards are exclusive to pilots and feature images of the aircraft they fly. New artwork is voted on by the pilots and introduced every five years. This recently broke on social media and now everyone is after the cards. In 2023, Delta handed out over 1.5 million cards.

Mentioned

Micah had a chance to meet up with listener Stephen Ivey who flies the Embraer Phenom for one of the big charter operations. He was doing a pickup at PWM and had some time to kill. Micah toured the Phenom, which is a smaller jet than he thought, but still very comfortable. This older one flies with a G1000.

Hosts this Episode

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

786 Flying Tigers

The founder and Executive Director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association discusses the legacy of the men who kept the Flying Tigers in the air during World War II. In the news, GPS jamming and spoofing aircraft positioning systems, 737 MAX 9 lawsuits, Boeing quality actions, sustainable aviation fuel options, FAA and airline pilot retirement age, AV-8B Harrier phase-out, and a positive airline story.

Guest

Charlene Fontaine, founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association.

Charlene Fontaine is the founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association, Inc. That organization was founded in 2005 to carry on the legacy of the 350 men who served under Gen. Clare Chenault in World War II. This special squadron was requested by Chiang Kai-Shek and their mission was to drive the Burma Road, fly the Hump, and keep the aircraft flying.

We discuss the history and stories of the Flying Tigers and the 69th Depot Repair Squadron during World War II. Topics include the challenges of flying the hump, the experiences of the men who served, and the importance of preserving and sharing their history. Charlene tells us about the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum and her work on trauma and mental health. She also gives us a little taste of the film she is working on.

Mechanic repairing a Flying Tigers P-40 aircraft.
P-40 Warhawk under repair.
Burma Road switchbacks
Burma Road

In addition to awarding youth scholarships, the Association seeks to educate others on the history of China, Burma, India (CBI) and continue to build relationships with the people of CBI.  The 69th DRS Association works with other WWII organizations to help veterans and their families navigate the challenges of age, injury, and illness.

Charlene is an international consultant, speaker, author, root cause expert, wellness advocate, and researcher. Her main interest is how stress, trauma, and loss affect our daily lives. Her focus is on history and communication: how it shapes us, helps make life better and what can be gained. She works with industry, the military, law enforcement, veterans, and youth. The 69th engagements find her at air shows, conferences, schools, and reunions to inspire youth to learn history and honor our elders and all those who serve our country.

69th test pilots standing in front of a C47 airplane.
69th Test Pilots Heiner, Brecht, Garrison, and Sgt Twiggs.
Truck convoy on the Burma Road.

Aviation News

GPS interference now a major flight safety concern for airline industry

EASA partners with IATA to counter aviation safety threat from GNSS spoofing and jamming

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says GPS jamming and spoofing incidents have increased in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. EASA recently held a joint workshop with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the “high-level conclusion… that interference with satellite-based services that provide information on the precise position of an aircraft can pose significant challenges to aviation safety.” Mitigating these risks requires short-, medium- and long-term measures:

  • Short-term, pilots and crews need to identify the risks and know how to react and land safely.
  • Medium-term the certification requirements of the navigation and landing systems need to change.
  • Long-term the agency needs to be involved in the design of future satellite navigation systems.

The workshop attendees agreed to several measures:

  • Reporting and sharing of GNSS interference event data. In Europe, this would occur through the European Occurrence Reporting scheme and EASA’s Data4Safety programme.
  • Guidance from aircraft manufacturers to ensure that aircraft operators are well-equipped to manage jamming and spoofing situations.
  • Alerting: EASA will inform airlines, air navigation service providers, manufacturers, and airports about attacks.
  • As a backup, aviation must retain a Minimum Operational Network (MON) of traditional navigation aids to ensure there is a conventional backup for GNSS navigation.

Boeing shareholders sue after midair 737 Max 9 blowout

Shareholders filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Boeing misled them about potential “serious safety lapses.” The suit was filed for those who purchased Boeing common stock between Oct. 23, 2019, and Jan. 24, 2024. On that date, Boeing and its executives claimed they were “making steady progress” on their “top priority … the safe return to service of the 737 MAX” following two deadly crashes in late 2018.

The suit claims “Unbeknownst to investors, statements such as those… were false and misleading because Boeing failed to disclose that it had been prioritizing its profits over safety, which led to poor quality control standards in the production of its commercial aircrafts such as the 737 MAX…”

Other related suits:

  • Six passengers filed a class-action suit claiming physical and emotional distress.
  • Four passengers are seeking damages from Boeing and Alaska Airlines for experiencing “havoc, fear, trauma [and] severe and extreme distress.”

Feb 4, 2024: Boeing to dedicate more days in 737 factory to address quality issues and ideas

In a message to employees, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal said the 737 program will spend several days in the Renton factory to focus on quality, including inspecting some undelivered airplanes for potential nonconformances before delivery.

Fat, sugar, trash: All the weird things that may fuel planes by 2050

Right for Whom? Airlines Shift SAF Goals to Easier – And Far Less Effective Targets

Aviation has a net-zero carbon goal by 2050 with sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, being a key driver. The Washington Post says that in 2023, production of SAF in the United States was less than 0.2 percent of the airline industry’s jet fuel consumption. The goal is 100% by 2050. SAF can be produced from fat (cooking oil, vegetable oil, animal fat, Ethanol from corn now and other feedstocks in the future, waste (residue and “cellulosic cover crops” grown in the off-season), and hydrogen.

As the Marine Corps Says Goodbye to Decades-Old Jet, Its Maintainers Hit the Fleet for the Last Time

The F-35B Lightning II STOVL jet is the future for the Marines, replacing the AV-8B Harrier II which has been in service since the 1980s. The Harrier will be phased out over the next two years.

FAA warns US Congress against hiking airline pilot retirement age

In a letter to Congress, the FAA Administrator said the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots should not rise to 67 from 65 without first conducting additional research.

Hosts this Episode

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

785 The Boeing Company

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems continue to dominate the news, along with 737 MAX certification, lap babies, the proposed JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger, route growth at United Airlines and Breeze Airways, and the demise of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Also, flight tests for the B-21 Raider and more favorite aviation movies.

Aviation News

Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems builds the 737 fuselage for Boeing. A person familiar with the situation says the door plug was removed by Boeing, and then reinstalled on the 737.

127 Days: The Anatomy of a Boeing Quality Failure

In The Air Current, Jon Ostrower reconstructs the journey of fuselage 8789 from Spirit AeroSytems to Alaska Airlines. It’s an insightful look at the relationship between Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems.

Opposition grows to Boeing 737 MAX 7 safety exemption

Boeing wants an exemption to certify the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10, despite problems with the engine anti-ice system.

Video: United Airlines CEO: Boeing’s 737 Max-9 grounding is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for us

NTSB Urges Parents Not to Fly With Children on Laps After Alaska Incident 

At a recent press conference, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said “We would urge passengers to put their children under two in their own seat, in an FAA-approved car seat, so they are secure and safe in case something like this happens.” Currently, the FAA allows children under the age of two to be held in an adult’s lap.

Boeing CEO to meet with senators scrutinizing 737 MAX 9 blowout

Dave Calhoun has been meeting with U.S. senators to answer their questions about the 737 MAX 9. After meeting with Calhoun, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said he “offered no assurance” that Boeing would withdraw its exemption request for the 737MAX 7 jet. 

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed

JetBlue casts doubt on its merger deal with Spirit Airlines after judge rules against merger

JetBlue Airways has informed Spirit Airlines that the merger agreement might be terminated. JetBlue feels some conditions of the merger agreement can not be met while Spirit says there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement.

United Airlines To Launch First-Ever Route From Washington DC To Alaska

Breeze Airways Adds Three Airports, 11 Routes To Network

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history by becoming the first craft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet. After sustaining rotor blade damage, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the Ingenuity mission had come to an end after  72 flights.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter sitting on the surface of Mars.
This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023, the 871st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

For more information about Ingenuity, see https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Mentioned

Do Electric Aircraft Face Lapse Rate Challenges?

B-21 Raider Flight Testing Now Underway

Hosts this Episode

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

784 Inflight Connectivity

Inflight connectivity with the CEO of air-to-ground network provider SmartSky Networks. In the news, an update on B737 MAX 9 inspections, unleaded avgas testing, and an Air Force officer has been crowned Miss America. Also, more favorite aviation movies.

Cessna Citation Excel equipped with SmartSky inflight connectivity.
SmartSky-equipped Cessna Citation Excel

Guest

David Helfgott is the Chief Executive Officer of SmartSky Networks, a provider of air-to-ground inflight connectivity services. The company offers real-time, low latency, bidirectional data links that serve the business aviation, general aviation, and commercial aviation markets. The network takes advantage of patented spectrum reuse, advanced beamforming technologies, and 60 MHz of spectrum for enhanced connectivity.

David Helfgott headshot. CEO of SmartSky Networks
David Helfgott, SmartSky CEO

Dave describes the pros and cons of ground and satellite-based inflight connectivity systems. He explains the practical differences between bandwidth, latency, and upload/download speed, and the reasons why some aircraft employ both ground and satellite networks.

We look at the differences in antenna size and weight for the different network solutions and how that impacts system selection for commercial and business aviation use. Dave describes the supporting SmartSky ground network and how the towers use beam forming to provide connectivity to specific aircraft. We touch on several other topics, including the data requirements of the three different domains of commercial aircraft (PAX, operational, cockpit), the unique needs of air cargo, and future industry trends.

Inflight connectivity antenna on belly of plane.
SmartSky Networks antenna

As a 20+ year industry veteran, Dave has extensive experience in airborne communications, satellite broadband, mobile telecommunications, and commercial and government SATCOM networking services.  He was previously President and CEO of phased-array antenna developer Phasor. Before that, he held several senior executive roles including President and CEO of Inmarsat Government, President of Tactical Wireless Communications for Cobham, President and CEO of Datapath, and President and CEO of SES Government. He holds a BA degree from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Darden School of Business.

Aviation News

Boeing Still Without a Timeline to Return to the Skies

Following the loss of a mid-cabin door plug on a Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplane on January 5, 2024, the first round of 40 preliminary inspections was completed. The FAA is reviewing the results. The planes remain grounded until an inspection and maintenance process is approved by the FAA and then applied to all grounded planes.

See also: 

NTSB chair: Boeing CEO called, wants to rectify errors made in past

At a briefing to House of Representatives lawmakers, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said that Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun called and said “they want to rectify errors” made in the past.

Phillips 66 Suspends Unleaded AvGas Testing

Phillips 66 has been evaluating an unleaded avgas alternative with Afton Chemicals under the Piston Engine Aviation Fuels Initiative. After a major test failure, Phillips 66 has “paused” their evaluation. The FAA confirmed that “PAFI evaluation of the Phillips 66/Afton Chemical 100M unleaded fuel has been paused due to issues encountered during durability testing.” Three other companies are developing unleaded avgas:

US Air Force officer crowned as 2024 Miss America

22-year-old Madison Marsh was crowned as the 2024 Miss America. She’s a second lieutenant in the US Air Force and a master’s student at the Harvard Kennedy School’s public policy program. Marsh became the first active-duty Air Force officer ever to win the contest. See One Lieutenant’s Journey from USAFA to Miss Colorado to Harvard from the Air Education and Training Command.

Mentioned

The Myth Of Old Boeing by Bill Sweetman.

17th Annual Triple Tree Fly-In September 23-29, 2024, Triple Tree Aerodrome, Woodruff, South Carolina.

Flashlight damages $14 million F-35 fighter engine beyond repair at Luke AFB

A report by the Air Force Aircraft Accident Investigation Board [PDF] showed the incident occurred on March 15, 2023, while the jet was undergoing some maintenance work.

Japanese startup plans to vaporize space junk using ground lasers

Hosts this Episode

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

783 Favorite Aviation Movies

Our listeners’ favorite aviation movies. In the news, the Alaska Airlines B737 MAX 9 cabin door plug incident and cockpit doors, a British Airways pilot was kidnapped and robbed, Spirit Airlines initiated a sale/leaseback transaction to pay their debt, Netjets instituted a mandatory age 70 retirement for pilots, and Cirrus Aircraft announced a new generation of the SR-22

Listener’s Favorite Aviation Movies

We asked our listeners to tell us their favorite aviation movie, not including Top Gun. (We excluded Top Gun because it would likely overpower the results.) Listeners responded in great numbers. In no particular order, these are our listener’s favorite aviation movies:

The winner of our favorite aviation film random drawing: The Great Waldo Pepper. Theatrical release poster by Gary Meyer.
Theatrical release poster by Gary Meyer

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) (Paul F.) After WW1, an ex-pilot takes up barn-storming and chance-meets a former German ace fighter pilot with whom he co-stars in Hollywood war movies depicting aerial dogfights. Paul: My grandfather learned to fly in a Jenny and that movie just resonated with me.  I recently found it on Netflix and enjoyed it all over again! Winner of the random drawing.

The Arrow (TV miniseries 1997) (Kevin H.) Starring Dan Aykroyd as Crawford Gordon, an experienced wartime production leader after World War II and president of Avro Canada during its attempt to produce the Avro Arrow supersonic jet interceptor aircraft. The film also stars Michael Ironside and Sara Botsford. Kevin: Ok guys…. so I’m not entirely sure if a TV miniseries would qualify, but if you played the four episodes back to back it would be a 180-minute movie. It was only Canada’s greatest aviation achievement, so of course it has a special place in the hearts of all Canadian avgeeks.

No Highway in the Sky (1951) (James H.) Starring Jimmy Stewart and Jack Hawkins in a supporting role (yes it was made in England), Based on a Neville Shute Novel, Great use of visuals, based on models, As the major plot point identified the issue of metal fatigue long before the Comet disasters, And while a black and white film is a well-told yarn.

Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines or How I Flew from London to Paris in 25 Hours 11 Minutes (1965) (Holger L. and Thierry B.) Hoping to push Britain to the forefront of aviation, a London publisher organizes an international air race across the English Channel, but must contend with two entrants vying for his daughter, as well as national rivalries and cheating. Holger: It’s funny but it’s also about aviation history.

Airplane vs. Volcano (2014) (Hendrik N.) Not really my favourite aviation movie, but just to enter a really weirdly bad aviation movie. It is incredible how bad a movie can be. But it is so bad that it starts to be funny again.

Devotion (2022) (Greg H. and Dag G.) A biographical war film based on the 2015 book Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice by Adam Makos, which retells the comradeship between naval officers during the Korean War. Dag G: I saw the preview live-streaming theater in the woods on my laptop during AirVenture, and went to see it in the theater with one of my best friends. It has the most beautiful airplane shots and the most moving story.

Airport (1970) (Rick B.) The original featuring Dean Martin, Burt Lancaster, Jean Seberg, Jacqueline Bisset, and George Kennedy as the mechanic everyone aspired to be; Joe Patroni of TWA.

Air America (1990) (John R. and Tom B.) An action comedy film directed by Roger Spottiswoode and starring Mel Gibson and Robert Downey Jr. as Air America pilots flying missions in Laos during the Vietnam War.

The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) (Michael R.) Watching The Memphis Belle as a kid was a contributing factor to my interest in WWII, and especially in the B-17.

Memphis Belle (1990) (Mark C. and Andrew C.) In 1943, the crew of a B-17 based in the UK prepares for its 25th and final bombing mission over Germany before returning home to the USA. I enjoyed the  Memphis Belle movie, about a flying fortress, when it came out in the early 1990s.I think it is time I see it again.

Midway (1976) (Ted P.) My grandfather took me to see it when I was school-age and it ignited my love of airplanes and naval history.  He flew B-24s in WW2 but did not deploy as his father passed when his squadron was sent to Europe. He ended up training flight crews and family lore was he buzzed the family farm in South NJ and the chickens didn’t lay eggs for a week.

American Made (2017) (Pawel M.) The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug-runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair.

Fail Safe (1964) (JD) A technical malfunction sends American planes to Moscow to deliver a nuclear attack. Can all-out war be averted?

Strategic Air Command (1955) (Jeffrey L.) It holds a special place since my 20-year Air Force career started at Carswell AFB, Texas when it still was a SAC base, and that’s where many of the B-36 scenes were shot.  The hangar where Frank Lovejoy (yes, related) introduces the B-47 to Jimmy Stewart belonged to the squadron I was in from 1986-1992.  The factory across the runway was where Consolidated was building the B-36s, and later F-16s, and now F-35s.  Lots of history there.

Midway (1976) (Mike S.) I can watch that every week!

The Great Waldo Pepper (1975) (Paul F. and Roland H.) Stars Robert Redford, Bo Svenson, and Bo Brundin. Paul: My grandfather learned to fly in a Jenny and that movie just resonated with me.  I recently found it on Netflix and enjoyed it all over again! Roland: I have seen this many, many times as a kid on a VHS tape recorded from TV. Years ago I tried to find it on DVD and it wasn’t that easy. I did find it eventually. I think I just feel the urge to watch it again 🙂

High Road to China (1983) (Adam H.) Grew up in an aviation family and was always fascinated by WW1 aircraft. When this movie came out in the 80’s starring Tom Selleck and Bess Armstrong I was hooked. An heiress hires a washed-out ace and his mechanic to find her father so he won’t be declared dead by the courts. They fly two Belgian Stampe biplanes filling in for Curtis Jennys from England to China and have plenty of adventures along the way.

The Big Lift (1950) (Gerard O.) Experiences of two Air Force sergeants during the 1948 Berlin Airlift. Starring Paul Douglas and Montgomery Clift.

Miracle Landing (1990) (Sarah J.) A made-for-television drama film based on an in-flight accident aboard Aloha Airlines Flight 243 in April 1988. I watched it as a 9-year-old with my mum and wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that she let me watch it. Oh, the thrill of having a secret! Also, the movie isn’t actually bad for 1990.

Hot Shots! (1991) (Kyle T.) A parody of Top Gun (1986) in which a talented but unstable fighter pilot must overcome the ghosts of his father and save a mission sabotaged by greedy weapons manufacturers.

633 Squadron (1964) (Bill A.) A RAF squadron is assigned to knock out a German rocket fuel factory in Norway. The factory supplies fuel for the Nazi effort to launch rockets on England during D-Day. I definitely love the Mosquito and the scenes of them flying what I think is the Mach Loop in Scotland.

Always (1989) (Andrew F.) The spirit of a recently deceased expert pilot mentors a newer pilot while watching him fall in love with the girlfriend that he left behind. It has a great cast, a great storyline, and really cool flying. Fun fact about this movie: The featured B-26 (and others) was owned by Hawkins and Powers Aviation in Graybull, WY. The owner would fly that airplane over to Sheridan, WY where I was based with Great Lakes Aviation. What I thought was really cool was that there were two different liveries painted on each side of the airplane. That way they could use it in the background of different shots representing more than one airplane.

Dunkirk (2017) (Matt R.) Not an aviation movie, but the aviation scenes haunt me. They made me think about how challenging and potentially frightening it would be to fly in a noisy cockpit with limited visibility, little communication, and no source of information except your eyes through goggles to warn you of an enemy whose goal is to destroy you, all with the ticking clock of fuel consumption constantly on your mind.

The Final Countdown (1980) (RT) A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It has multiple military aircraft (airplanes and helicopters), a dogfighting scene of F-14s and Japanese Zeros (What other movie would have that?), an aircraft carrier, and time travel.

The Rocketeer (1991) (Andy B.) A young pilot stumbles onto a prototype jetpack that allows him to become a high-flying masked hero. I fell in love it: pure fiction yes, but full of waning days of the golden age of aviation context- with just the right dash of historical anachronism to “…really tie the room together!”

Bat*21 (1988) (Mike S.) During the Vietnam War, Colonel Hambleton’s aircraft is shot down over enemy territory and a frantic rescue operation ensues. Starring Gene Hackman, Danny Glover, and Jerry Reed.

Behind Enemy Lines (2001) (Peter T.) A disillusioned pilot shot down over war-torn Bosnia goes on the run from the local military and an assassin, as his commanding officer risks all to save him. There is a good plot and is not necessarily aviation-intensive but the aviation scenes are, in my opinion, well done! I actually bought the DVD from Blockbuster. Starring Gene Hackman, Owen Wilson, and Gabriel Macht.

Iron Eagle (1986) (Quinn M. and Shannon V.) A young pilot plans a rescue mission when his father, an Air Force Colonel, is shot down over enemy territory and captured. The one that makes me smile at so many levels is “Iron Eagle” but not the sequels. One of my favorite features is the credits have a statement to the effect the the USAF had nothing to do with it but thanks so much to the Israeli Air Force for their help in filming… Explaining the camo that USAF planes have never used and the Kfir bad guy planes. I am very amused by the “totally not Libya”  bad guy country that had features of Iran and some of the other Israeli neighbors. Shannon:  Louis Gossett Jr. and the music of Queen, are you kidding me? It doesn’t get any better than that.

The War Lover (1962) (Ed L.) In 1943, while stationed in Britain, arrogant Captain Buzz Rickson is in command of a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, but his recklessness is endangering everyone around him. A great, realistic, black-and-white, B-17 movie. It’s also a great book by John Hersey. Starring Steve McQueen, Robert Wagner, and Shirley Anne Field.

The Blue Max (1966) (Kerry K.) A young pilot in the German air force of 1918, disliked as lower-class and unchivalrous, tries ambitiously to earn the medal offered for 20 kills. Probably a favorite because it was seen at an early age and the details of the movie always stuck with me.  Few movies about WWI and biplanes, especially with the same production value.

Cloud Dancer (1980) (Luke H.) A fictionalized account of a competition acrobatic pilot. They used real aircraft, the actors were also in the seat of the two-seat Pitts.

Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress (1944) (Paul A.) A documentary on the 25th bombing mission of the Memphis Belle, a B-17 in the US 8th Air Force. I saw this as a kid and rewatched it recently. The scene that has stuck with me and that I remember as a kid, is the solemn, tense moments depicted when the ground crews wait for the planes returning from the mission. The viewer is on the edge of their seat as we watch real footage of the landing aircraft, the stragglers limping home and arriving one by one…we feel as if we’re on the airfield praying for the safe touchdown of the damaged aircraft.

Flight of the Intruder (1991) (Todd P.) During the air war over Vietnam, a U.S. Navy A-6 Intruder bomber pilot schemes with a hardened veteran to make an unauthorized air strike on Hanoi. “Fighter pukes make movies. Bomber pilots make… history!”

Airplane! (1980) (Markku H., Steve S., Steve L., and Adam W.) After the crew becomes sick with food poisoning, a neurotic ex-fighter pilot must land a commercial airplane full of passengers safely. Harkku: Funny movie, I saw it when I was a little boy. Perhaps not politically correct nowadays with the Air Israel kipa and beard on the plane. Steve S: The best and funniest aviation movie ever. And stop calling me Shirley. Steve L: So many classic one-liners. And don’t call me Shirley! Adam: I saw it many times as a kid and then had the fun of sharing it with my own child.  Even seeing it at a different stage in my life, I laughed at some of the same things while also laughing at some different gags, all having to do with aviation.  No doubt, I’ll watch it again sometime in the near future.

The Spirit of St Louis (1957) (Greg P.) Charles ‘Slim’ Lindbergh struggles to finance and design an airplane that will make his New York to Paris flight the first solo transatlantic crossing. Starring James Stewart, Murray Hamilton, and Patricia Smith.

Twelve O’Clock High (1949) (Rich M. and d12776) A hard-as-nails general takes over a B-17 bomber unit suffering from low morale and whips them into fighting shape. Yes, it is about flying  B-17s in WWII. But it is also one of the best movies about leadership. I was an instructor at the Air Force’s Squadron Officer School in the late 70’s and we built an entire lesson plan on leadership and how Brig Gen Savage changes his leadership style depending on the situation. We taught situational leadership and this movie was a great example. Fantastic movie! Starring Gregory Peck, Hugh Marlowe, and Gary Merrill.

The Final Countdown (1980) (Martin-Guy C.) A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. I love the sequence F-14A v Zero. Sad that VF-84 no longer flies. Another good scene is the A-7E barricade.

American Made (2017) (Chris B. and Job S) The story of Barry Seal, an American pilot who became a drug runner for the CIA in the 1980s in a clandestine operation that would be exposed as the Iran-Contra Affair. Job: Definitely the best aviation movie ever… hands down!

Black Box (2021) (Belinda D.) A young and talented black box analyst is on a mission to solve the reason behind the deadly crash of a brand-new aircraft. A French language aviation thriller. I think it’s a really clever film, particularly in light of recent certification difficulties with Boeing- really really enjoyed it! Original title: Boîte noire.

Things to Come (1936) (Craig L.) The story of a century: a decades-long Second World War leaves plague and anarchy, then a rational state rebuilds civilization and attempts space travel. Starring Raymond Massey. Based on H.G. Wells’ “The Shape of Things to Come.” Check out the Wikipedia synopsis!

Up in The Air (2009) (Brian G.) Ryan Bingham enjoys living out of a suitcase for his job, traveling around the country firing people, but finds that lifestyle threatened by the presence of a potential love interest, and a new hire presenting a new business model. Starring George Clooney, Vera Farmiga, Anna Kendrick.

Wings (1927) (Andy D.) Two young men, one rich, one middle class, who are in love with the same woman, become fighter pilots in World War I. The silent film, specifically when accompanied live by Clark Wilson at the console of a Mighty Wurlitzer theater pipe organ.

As Green As It Gets [Original title: Grüner wird’s nicht, sagte der Gärtner und flog davon] (2018) (Peter W.) The German 2018 movie where the protagonist gardener takes off in his beautiful Platzer Kiebitz biplane and travels through the countryside. The cinematography especially of the airplane scenes is fantastic!

The Aviator (2004) (Martin K.) A biopic depicting the early years of legendary director and aviator Howard Hughes’ career from the late 1920s to the mid-1940s. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, and Kate Beckinsale.

Flight (2012) (Max) An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling. Starring Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, and Don Cheadle.

Air Force One (1997) (Andre M.) It is a great movie, it has Han Solo in it, airplanes, and it is one I watched over and over when I managed to get my laptop to play those new fandangled DVD movies back when they first came out.

Soul Plane (2004) (E.R.) Things get raucously funny aboard the maiden flight of a black-owned airline, thanks to some last-minute passenger additions. Diversity and culture.

The Terminal (2004) (Dee) An Eastern European tourist unexpectedly finds himself stranded in JFK airport and must take up temporary residence there. It’s a demonstration of someone staying positive despite being presented with so many obstacles and loosely based on an actual event.

Godzilla Minus One (2023) (Bill H.) The movie starts with an airplane scene and there isn’t much more aviation until the last part of the movie. But it’s worth the wait. The story takes place in Japan in the immediate aftermath of WWII. A plan is devised to ambush Godzilla, but he must be lured to the right place. This job falls to our hero flying a specially prepared plane, the J7W Shinden. The Shinden was designed to intercept B-29s and inspired some hope among the Japanese at a time when the war had become hopeless. In the new Godzilla movie, the airplane is recast as a warrior in a non-military struggle, a role that suits it perfectly. Yes, it’s a low-budget monster movie, and all of the flying scenes are done with CGI. But it’s well worth it to see this spectacular airplane at center stage facing a worthy challenge.

One Six Right (2005) (Adam F.) There was just something about hearing so many stories of other pilots who loved flying at a time when I was so new to it myself. There are at least three spots guaranteed to bring on tears every single time I’ve viewed it. One section that’s especially powerful is the retired airline pilot explaining that as he was starting out in DC-3s, if he had been told by the end of his career he would fly near 40,000 feet at 600mph he would have considered that prediction as completely crazy – but with only 34 years between the DC-3 and 747, that’s how aviation grew in his career. On a cinematic level, the transitions between various segments can be a little rough – in a single movie covering everything from the history of a specific airport, emotional remembrance of the first solo, future warnings in the wake of Meigs, air traffic controllers, broader community complaints of noise, etc. But admittedly this roughness didn’t really occur to me until I had seen it more than a few times.

Pan Am (2011-2012) (Sarah M.) ABC TV series. Period drama about the pilots and flight attendants who once made Pan Am the most glamorous way to fly. Not really a movie, but…

The Geek’s Favorite Aviation Movies

The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) (Max Flight) After an oil company plane crashes in the Sahara, the survivors are buoyed with hope by one of the passengers, an airplane designer who plans for them to build a flyable plane from the wreckage.

Sully (2016) (Rob Mark) When pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger landed his damaged plane on the Hudson River to save the flight’s passengers and crew, some consider him a hero while others think he was reckless.

Flying Tigers (1942) (Brian Coleman) Capt. Jim Gordon’s command of the famed American volunteer fighter group in China is complicated by the recruitment of an old friend who is a reckless hotshot.

The Final Countdown (1980) (Steve Visscher) A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

One Six Right (2005) (Grant McHerron) An exhilarating documentary film that celebrates the unsung hero of aviation – the local airport – by tracing the life, history, and struggles of an airport icon: Southern California’s Van Nuys Airport.

Strategic Air Command (1955) (David Vanderhoof) An ex-pilot and current baseballer is recalled into the U.S. Air Force and assumes an increasingly important role in Cold War deterrence. Starring James Stewart, June Allyson, and Frank Lovejoy.

Sky King (TV series 1951-1962) (Max Trescott) King usually captured criminals and spies and found lost hikers, though he did so with the use of his airplane, the Songbird. Starring Kirby Grant, Gloria Winters, and Ewing Mitchell.

Micah’s Favorite Aviation Movies

Our Main(e) Man Micah struggled to pick just one favorite aviation movie. In his story, he mentions these films:

  1. Top Gun
  2. The Aviator
  3. Iron Eagle
  4. Air Force One
  5. Snakes on a Plane
  6. Pearl Harbor
  7. Flight
  8. Jet Pilot
  9. Flying Leathernecks
  10. Flying Tigers
  11. Islands in the Sky
  12. Fate is the Hunter
  13. The Wings of Eagles
  14. The High and The Mighty
  15. Task Force
  16. Fighter Squadron
  17. Dive Bomber 
  18. Wings
  19. Hell’s Angels
  20. Keep ‘Em Flying
  21. Captains of the Clouds
  22. Air Force
  23. God Is My Co-Pilot
  24. Zero Hour!
  25. Airplane
  26. Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines
  27. The Flight of the Phoenix
  28. Airport 
  29. Tora! Tora! Tora!
  30. The Great Waldo Pepper
  31. Midway (1976)
  32. Midway (2019)
  33. The Final Countdown
  34. Always
  35. A Guy Named Joe
  36. Twelve O’Clock High
  37. Command Decision
  38. The Dawn Patrol (1930)
  39. The Dawn Patrol (1938)

Move Favorite Aviation Movies

These movies were submitted by listeners after the episode posted:

The Right Stuff (1983) (Obiwankenobi8999, Joe) The U.S. space program’s development from the breaking of the sound barrier to the selection of the Mercury 7 astronauts, from a group of test pilots with a seat-of-the-pants approach.

A Gathering of Eagles (1963) (Tom L.) During the Cold War, Air Force Colonel Jim Caldwell shapes up his Strategic Air Command B-52 wing to pass a nuclear war readiness test.

Whisky Romeo Zulu (2004) (JP) The film tells the story prior to the accident LAPA Boeing 737 on 31 August 1999 after hitting an embankment in central Buenos Aires, killing 67 people.

Only Angels Have Wings (1939) (Peter D.) At a remote South American trading port, the manager of an air-freight company is forced to risk his pilots’ lives in order to win an important contract as a traveling American showgirl stops in town.

Aviation News

FAA investigating if Boeing failed to ensure certain aircraft were safe for operation after door blew on Alaska Airlines plane

The FAA is investigating Boeing to determine if the company ensured that “products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in compliance with FAA regulations.” After the B737 MAX 9 grounding, Alaska and United found loose hardware on some planes. According to the FAA, these “circumstances indicate that Boeing may have failed to ensure its completed products conformed to its approved design and were in a condition for safe operation in accordance with quality system inspection and test procedures.”

Alaska flight incident reveals another feature Boeing didn’t inform pilots about

Immediately following the cabin decompression on the Alaska Airlines B737 MAX 9, the cockpit door swung open, to the surprise of the pilots. That’s the design behavior. NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said that Boeing would make this clear in the MAX 9 manual.

British Airways Pilot Kidnapped, Brutally Assaulted and Robbed in Terrifying Ordeal During Layover in Johannesburg

The First Officer was on a 2-day layover, staying in a gated and guarded community. While returning to the community after shopping, a woman asked him for assistance but then he was forced into a vehicle. Taken to a house for four hours, his bank accounts were emptied.

Spirit Sells 25 Aircraft to Reduce Debt 

The airline entered into a sale-leaseback deal. The transaction allowed the airline to repay $465 million in debt payments for the aircraft. The sale also generated $419 million in net cash proceeds. The specific aircraft involved were not specified. Spirit operates an A320-family fleet of over 200 aircraft.

NetJets Implements Mandatory Age-70 Pilot Retirement

NetJets instituted an age-70 limit for its fractional-share (Part 91K) pilots effective January 10, 2024. Fewer than 100 pilots are affected, and they have been removed from NetJet’s schedule.

Notice of the change was issued by NetJets on January 10, 2023. This came after Congress’s omnibus spending bill that was adopted in December 2022. That bill allowed certain Part 91K and 135 operators to implement an age-70 ceiling. Such operators had to have logged at least 75,000 annual jet operations in 2019 or any subsequent year.

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP) filed a grievance which NetJets denied. An arbitrator found no violation and also denied the grievance. Eight NetJets pilots filed a lawsuit seeking “a preliminary injunction to keep the age cap from taking effect Jan. 10, 2024.” The U.S. District Court Northern District of Texas Dallas Division rejected their arguments and denied the motion for a preliminary injunction.

See: Congress passes rule raising voluntary pilot age restriction

Cirrus Unveils Generation Seven of the SR-22

The G7 features Cirrus Perspective Touch+™ by Garmin®, advanced safety systems, improved visibility, increased legroom, and enhanced convenience features. The G7 integrates a  touchscreen-controlled flight deck with a comfortable and stylish cabin. This redesigned flight deck reduces pilot workload while offering enhanced situational awareness for both pilot and passenger.

Video: SR Series G7 Features

Mentioned

Video: Van Halen – Dreams 1986 (Blue Angels)

Hosts this Episode

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

777 Aviation Accident Litigation

Aviation accident litigation with a partner from a law firm that specializes in that topic. In the news, some distressing recent air traffic controller behavior, the FAA acts on Safety Team recommendations, three United Airlines employees are accused of accepting bribes, a cargo drone airline achieves first flight, the Collings Foundation ends their air tours, and Alaska Airlines looks to acquire Hawaiian Airlines.

Guest

Erin Applebaum, Partner at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, aviation accident litigation.

Erin Applebaum is a Partner at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP. Within Kreindler’s aviation practice, she focuses on representing individuals who are injured or killed in general aviation accidents and commercial airline disasters. 

Erin currently serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Boeing 737 MAX litigation against Boeing and other defendants. She is also part of the team challenging the Deferred Prosecution Agreement between Boeing and the Department of Justice.

Erin maintains a robust practice of representing passengers who have been seriously injured during commercial flights. She specializes in litigating claims governed by the Montreal Convention and teaches a popular aviation accident CLE course for other attorneys – “Montreal Convention for Plaintiffs’ Lawyers: Representing Passenger Personal Injury Claims Arising on International Flights.” For the highly respected, industry-wide publication, “Annals of Air and Space Law,” published by McGill University, Erin contributed her insight on a recent landmark decision regarding British Airways and the application of the Montreal Convention to injuries caused by unexpected conditions present during passenger disembarkation from international flights.

Erin is a member of several legal professional groups. She was recently appointed Co-Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Aeronautics Committee, serves as a Vice Chair on the American Bar Association’s Aviation and Space Law Committee, and is an active member of the American Association for Justice and the International Aviation Women’s Association.

Aviation News

Drunk and Asleep on the Job: Air Traffic Controllers Pushed to the Brink

Some distressing recent ATC incidents have been reported: a drunk controller, one who smoked marijuana during breaks, and an employee who threatened and “aggressively pushed” another who was directing airplanes. There are more reports of sleeping on the job and working under the influence. A New York Times investigation found that air traffic controllers are fatigued, distracted, and demoralized and are increasingly prone to making mistakes.

FAA Takes Action to Address Safety Review Team Recommendations

With the release of the National Airspace System Safety Review Team report, the FAA is taking immediate action to enhance air traffic controller training and safety reporting:

  • The FAA will work with Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) Program colleges and universities to ensure that graduates from these programs have the necessary skills to begin on-the-job training at a facility. These graduates still must pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam and meet medical and security requirements. Previously, these graduates were required to attend the FAA Air Traffic Controller Academy before being assigned to a facility.
  • FAA announced a year-round hiring track for experienced controllers from the military and private industry.
  • FAA will keep filling every seat at the FAA Academy and increase classroom capacity beyond current limits.
  • FAA will expand the use of advanced training across the country. The agency has new facilities in Chicago and San Diego and will be adding them in Nashua and Phoenix in the spring. 
  • Finish deploying tower simulator systems in 95 facilities by December 2025. The FAA will deploy the first system in Austin by January 2024. 
  • To strengthen the safety culture, the FAA will provide reports from the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service to the FAA Administrator and Aviation Safety Associate Administrator.

Three United Airlines Employees Accepted Bribes to Award ‘Lucrative’ Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation Contracts at Newark Airport

Following a Federal probe, three United Airlines employees pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and kickbacks that included renovating their homes and receiving Rolex watches. This was in exchange for awarding contracts to a company that offered higher prices than at least two other competitors. United has terminated all three employees: a corporate real estate director, an airline senior manager, and a contractor.

Qatar Airways Partners With The World’s 1st Cargo Drone Airline

Qatar Airways Cargo and cargo drone airline Dronamics have partnered, initially to link the Dronamics droneports in Greece with Qatar’s worldwide network. The Black Swan remotely piloted aircraft has a 26-foot fuselage with a 52-foot wingspan, 770 lb cargo capacity, a 1,550-mile range, and a top speed of 125 mph. Dronamics was established in 2014 and calls itself “the world’s first cargo drone airline.”

Video: Dronamics Cargo Drone First Flight

Collings Foundation Grounds Air Tour for WWII Aircraft

The Collings Foundation American Heritage Museum newsletter says, “In the wake of the 2019 B-17 Flying Fortress accident… We are moving forward on our long-term plans to bring the aircraft from a nationwide flying exhibition to permanent display here in Massachusetts.” The Wings of Freedom tour brought access to World War II aircraft like the Boeing B-17G, B-25, B-24, and P-51D. Rides on those aircraft were offered as part of a monetary contribution to the Foundation.

The American Heritage Museum is a 501(c)(3) organization located in Hudson, Massachusetts. It displays 50 aircraft and over 90 vehicles from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard vehicles, as well as some from other nations. The museum also has some large artifacts like a rebuilt Hanoi Hilton POW cell and a part of the Berlin Wall.

Alaska Airlines in Deal to Buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 Billion

Under the all-cash transaction, Alaska would buy Hawaiian for $18 per share, valued at $1.9 Billion (which includes $0.9 Billion of Hawaiian Airlines net debt), and operate the airline as an independent brand. Alaska said it plans to expand Hawaiian’s Honolulu hub to enable “greater international connectivity for West Coast travelers throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

The transaction agreement has been approved by both boards and is conditioned on regulatory approvals, approval by Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. shareholders (which is expected to be sought in the first quarter of 2024), and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in 12-18 months. The combined organization will be based in Seattle under the leadership of Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci.

Press Release: Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines to merge

Additional information about the transaction is available at a new joint website at localcareglobalreach.com and investor materials can also be found at investor.alaskaair.com and news.alaskaair.com.

Australia Desk

The GippsAero GA-8 Airvan, which in more recent years became known as the Airvan 8, has been a success story of Australia’s aviation industry over its many years of production. Originally known as Gippsland Aeronautics, the company was founded in 1977 by Peter Furlong at the Latrobe Valley Regional Airport in eastern Victoria.  He was joined by George Morgan in 1984 and together they developed the GA200 Fatman crop sprayer and the GA8 utility aircraft.  The company was purchased by Mahindra Aerospace in 2009, with production continuing until 2020.  

But there’s good news!  George Morgan has now re-acquired the company and he has a vision to get the GA8 back into production in coming years.  This could see the eventual restoration of a large number of local manufacturing jobs, along with maintenance and other work along the way.

GippsAero GA-8 Airvan in flight.
Image credit: Steve Hitchen, Australian Flying Magazine

Co-Founder buys Mahindra out of GippsAero – Australian Flying

New LCC Bonza Air has raised the ire of many, canceling all of their new Gold Coast to Darwin flights for the entire month of December.  The move has left hundreds of passengers stranded and unable to get a satisfactory response from Bonza’s app-based contact system.  The route was announced in September and had been scheduled to commence this week.

Does the move signal troubled times ahead for the fledgling new Australian carrier?  Time will tell, but they will need to improve their customer contact methods, and quickly.

Bonza cancels Darwin-Gold Coast flights for all of December, leaving customers fuming – ABC News

Virgin Australia have announced plans to increase their current order book for Boeing 737 Max-8s to 14, with 3 already delivered, and a planned fleet of 39.  Up until this point, the 737 Max models haven’t been seen in large numbers in this part of the world, and with Qantas looking to progressively replace their 737 fleet with A320s, Virgin will eventually become the nation’s largest operator of the type.

Virgin Australia increases 737 MAX-8 aircraft order

Virgin is also aiming to rekindle its former partnership arrangement with Air New Zealand, following a break of five years.  The codeshare agreement would be most beneficial to VA passengers wanting to cross the Tasman, after the airline cut back services to all New Zealand destinations except Queenstown, as they contracted operations to focus on Australia during financial restructuring in recent years.

Virgin Australia plans to revive Air New Zealand partnership – Point Hacks

Mentioned

Video: How Many WW2 Fighters Survive in 2023?

The Owners Behind the Most Expensive Private Jets in the World

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

772 Managing Small Airports

A doctoral dissertation examines success factors for small airports, two bizjets collide at Houston Hobby, an off-duty pilot tries to shut down the engines in-flight, a review of NBAA-BACE, a new FAA administrator gets Congressional approval, and Spirit Airlines halts pilot and FA training.

Guest

Dr. Mike Jones researched the factors that affect the economic impact of small airports. In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Florida, he examined the cost to small airports of ill-fitting organizational designs, and what airports can do to improve the situation.

Dr. Mike Jones headshot
Dr. Mike Jones

“Jonesy” describes single-function and multi-function airport organizations and how that correlates with airport economic impact. He found that small airports organized under a local government tend to underperform. In his research, Jonesy quantified the economic impact that small airports should generate.

We learn that the most important aeronautical predictor of an airport’s success is the length of the longest runway. The most important non-aeronautical variable is the intensity of economic activity within 15 miles of the airport. Also, a single-function organizational design with a high degree of operational control contributes greatly to airport performance.

For a summary presentation of Mike’s work, see: Measuring the Degree in Which Politicians Degrade the Performance of Small Airports. [PDF]

Jonesy is a feature writer for Cessna Pilots Magazine. He writes about flying adventures, the history of aviation and aviation pioneers, and the technology of aviation. He can often be seen at air shows and fly-in events, collecting interviews for his next feature.

Jonesy served as a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant and was an air traffic controller in Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. He was chairman of the Pinehurst (NC) Airport Authority for eight years. An active pilot with more than 4,000 hours in the left seat, he’s the proud owner of a Cessna T210 Centurion. He volunteers with Angelflight and has flown more than 800 Young Eagles flights.

CommAvia promotional poster showing an unfriendly airport fence with Keep Out signage.
CommAvia poster from the past.

Aviation News

Bizjets Collide after Unauthorized Takeoff Attempt at Houston Hobby

A Hawker 850XP departing without ATC clearance clipped a Citation Mustang that was landing at William P. Hobby Airport (KHOU) in Houston. The Mustang tail section was damaged. Despite a damaged left wing, the Hawker returned to the airport after getting airborne. No injuries were reported.

How safe are cockpits? Aviation experts weigh in after Horizon Air flight scare

An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot riding in the jump seat on a Horizon Air Embraer 175 flight attempted to shut down the plane’s engines mid-flight. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder and reckless endangerment. The man didn’t raise suspicions with the plane’s pilots, his neighbors, or those at the flying club where he instructed. His most recent medical exam was in September. However, the pilot told police that he had been depressed for about six months and was having a “nervous breakdown.” Could this result in a ban on jump-seat riders? 

Video: 2023 NBAA-BACE: World’s Biggest Business Aviation Show

The 2023 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) was held in Las Vegas. Highlights include:

  • The debut of the Airbus ACJ Two Twenty
  • The Boeing 737-700 BBJ
  • The Embraer Phenom 100EX made its global debut
  • Updates on Pilatus PC-24 
  • The HondaJet Echelon
  • A Volocopter 2X eVTOL live demonstration
  • WIsk Aero showed their 6th Gen aircraft
  • VoltAero introduced their Cassio 330 hybrid turboprop concept aircraft.

Also, Kevin Larosa, an air-to-air stunt pilot and aerial co-ordinator showcased his CineJet and explained how air-to-air filming was done in the Top Gun Maverick movie.

Former deputy confirmed as FAA administrator

On Oct. 24, 2023, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to approve Michael Whitaker as the new FAA Administrator for a 5-year term. The FAA had gone for 19 months without the position being filled. Whitaker served as deputy FAA administrator from 2013-2016, where he led the FAA’s air traffic modernization program. He was also in charge of the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office.

The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 (S. 1939) was introduced into Congress on June 13, 2023, and is currently in the legislative process. See GovTrack, which is now on Mastodon as @GovTrack@mastodon.social.

Spirit Airlines halts new pilot, flight attendant training after difficult quarter, Pratt engine issue

The airline says it will suspend training for new pilots and flight attendants in November “until further notice.” Demand is soft and dozens of Airbus A320neo aircraft will need to be grounded for inspections due to an engine manufacturing problem. Spirit Airlines posted a third-quarter net loss of $157.6 million. It expects negative margins for the fourth quarter as well.

Australia Desk

With the situation in Israel and Gaza showing no signs of easing, the Royal Australian Air Force has been getting involved in repatriation flights for Australian citizens wishing to return home.

RAAF flights assist with Israel departures

Qantas hasn’t had the best of years, especially when it comes to reputational damage, and the latest Roy Morgan Trusted Brands Awards bear this out following a year-long survey.  Virgin Australia has now replaced its larger rival as the most trusted airline brand in the land.

It’s Official: Woolworths is Australia’s Most Trusted Brand

Meanwhile, Qantas has found another way to annoy customers (and they likely won’t be the only airline doing it), announcing fare increases of 3.5% for their mainline network, and 3% for Jetstar flights, thanks mainly to the rising cost of fuel.

‘Taking the p**s’: Passengers rage as Qantas flight prices set to soar

A local Member of Parliament had a lucky escape when a skydive aircraft he was on board lost power soon after takeoff and returned to Earth with a thud.  Everyone walked away, with only two people requiring first aid…which was lucky because this MP just happened to be a former professional firefighter.

Victorian MP who survived plane crash says pilot showed ‘amazing skill’

And is Australia planning to start its very own Space Force??   Well…probably not, but a recent agreement signed by the US and Australia will unlock the potential for both countries to move ahead with a space launch from Down Under in the near to medium future.

SIAA welcomes deal to unlock US space launch from Australian shores

Mentioned

Eric Paterson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Virginia Tech National Security Institute, Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor provided additional information about the truss braced wing concept. This concept was developed and explored at Virginia Tech more than 25 years ago. There was a substantial team working on this, including, Dr. Bernard Grossman, Dr. Joseph Schetz, Dr. William Mason, Dr. Rakesh Kapania, Dr. Raphael Haftka, Dr. Frank Gern, Philippe-Andre Tetrault, Joel Grasmeyer, Erwin Sulaeman, Jay Gundlach, and Andy Ko.

A strut-braced wing model in a NASA wind tunnel.
2013 wind tunnel test at NASA Langley.

Boeing Air Taxi Company Flies in Los Angeles

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

769 Transonic Truss-braced Wing

A transonic truss-braced wing aircraft gets an X-Plane designation, some categories of air travel capacity have returned to pre-pandemic levels, detecting germs on airliners, and the Collings Foundation reaches a settlement.

Aviation News

Next Generation Experimental Aircraft Becomes NASA’s Newest X-Plane

The transonic truss-braced wing experimental aircraft has received the designator X-66A. This will be developed under the NASA Sustainable Flight Demonstrator (SFD) project and produced under a partnership between NASA and the Boeing Company. Recently, Boeing flew an MD-90 airplane from Victorville, California, to its facility in Palmdale, California, where the X-66A conversion will take place. The plane’s wings will be replaced with longer and thinner wings stabilized by diagonal struts.

Transonic Truss-braced Wing concept
Transonic Truss-braced Wing. NASA concept.

See the Wikipedia List of X-planes to learn more about past X-planes.

Air travel is back to pre-pandemic levels with new turbulence ahead

Based on data from aviation analytics firm Cirium, capacity (measured by scheduled available seat kilometers) has returned to pre-pandemic levels. However, IATA says industry profits will be more than 40% below 2019 levels. Airline analyst Helane Becker at TD Cowen says, “Industry revenues are back to 2019 levels but costs are over 2019 levels by about 18 or 19%.”

Just how germy are airplanes? We put one to the test.

Using a microbial detection test from Charm Sciences, the author swabbed 10 high-touch points on a recent flight. Nine tests failed. The worst spots were the lavatory sink handle and a tray table. The test that came back with zero contaminants might surprise you. Or maybe not.

Collings Foundation Reaches Settlement With Nine-0-Nine Crash Victims

The Collings Foundation has settled the remaining legal claims involving eight of the 10 passengers who were aboard the Nine-0-Nine B-17 when it crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut on Oct. 2, 2019. Terms of the settlement will not be made public. In its final report, the NTSB found pilot error, lax maintenance practices,  and a dysfunctional safety management system had contributed to the crash. We interviewed pilot Mac McCauley under the wing of that plane one week prior to the crash in AirplaneGeeks.com/573.

Mentioned

FAPA.aero (Future and Active Pilot Advisors) offers “objective and independent advice for aspiring pilots of all levels.”

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight and Rob Mark.

767 Aircraft Seat

We talk with the CEO of an aircraft seat upholstery specialist company. In the news, airline loyalty programs are changing, unapproved parts are plaguing the airline industry, and Boeing is expanding its presence in India.

Guest

Jacobo Mesta

Jacobo Mesta is CEO of Soisa Aircraft Interiors, an AS9100-certified aircraft seat upholstery specialist headquartered in Chihuahua, Mexico, with a further facility in Dubai, UAE. The family-owned and run business was founded in 2006 and provides a range of flexible design and manufacturing services including prototyping, product and quality engineering, and the integration of foams, composites, and other interior parts. 

Soisa employs over 250 skilled workers across its sites and manufactures airplane seat dress covers, cushions, composite panels, curtains, carpets, and armrests. The company works with all major seat OEMs and its products are currently flying with more than 100 airlines worldwide. Soisa also has a robust ESG (environmental, social, and governance) program.

Aircraft seat cover from Soisa.
Soisa aircraft seat cover

We learn how Soisa pivoted in 2006 and joined the aerospace industry, growing its business and adding capabilities over time. Originally a fill-to-print shop, Soisa now has design and engineering capability. Products include seat dress covers, composite panels, and foam for OEMs and the aftermarket.

Jacobo explains who their customers are, the important design criteria, and some of the material and design changes that have occurred. We also learn about Soisa’s very strong ESG  (environmental, social, and governance) program where the company provides surplus material to the local Tarahumara tribe in Chihuahua who then make products they sell for income. Leasing company Avolon has started contributing seat components as well. Also, Soisa works with people in jail in a similar program.

Cross section of Soisa aircraft seat cushion showing layers.
Soisa cushion

Prior to becoming CEO, Jacobo held a number of roles, including Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Sales Director.

Before joining Soisa and the aviation sector, Jacobo was involved in fuel oil trading at PEMEX, serving as a fuel oil trader and managing storage operations in Houston and Panama from 2002 to 2006.

Find Soisa Aircraft Interiors on their website, and on LinkedIn.

Soisa partners with Avalon to recycle used cabin materials

With artisanal interior reuse partnership, Soisa focuses on ESG

Aviation News

Airlines Are Just Banks Now

The Atlantic says airlines “make more money from mileage programs than from flying planes—and it shows.” In Delta SkyMiles changes: Airline overhauls how you earn Medallion status in biggest change yet, The Points Guy says,

Delta Air Lines is overhauling how you earn Medallion status as part of perhaps one of its biggest loyalty updates yet. The airline is retiring Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments, and it’ll instead focus on a redefined version of Medallion Qualifying Dollars… Depending on your personal travel and spending habits, Delta’s news may not necessarily sting that much, but there will certainly be some flyers who will miss the old program.

The Points Guy

Under the old Delta SkyMiles formula, status was based on a combination of dollars spent and miles traveled. In the revised program, status is based on dollars spent, and the amount of spending required to achieve status has gone up. As The Atlantic says, “SkyMiles is no longer a frequent-flier program; it’s a big-spender program.”

Durbin Pushes Legislation to Reduce Credit Card “Swipe Fees”; Critics Say Rewards Programs at Risk

A new bill proposed in Congress would reduce the so-called “swipe fees” retailers pay every time a customer uses a credit card. This could impact airline (and other) credit card loyalty programs.

Escalating scandal grips airlines including American and Southwest, wreaking havoc on flight delays and cancellations as nearly 100 planes find fake parts from company with fake employees that vanished overnight

Airlines around the world have announced they have found parts sourced from AOG Technics that lack valid documentation. Allegedly, the parts were sold to shops repairing CFM International jet engines. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says that certain documents had been forged to make it appear as if AOG Technics’ parts had come from legitimate manufacturers.

Boeing New Facility Outside the US to Open Sooner

Boeing is opening a 43-acre complex in Bengaluru, India that will include laboratories, testing infrastructure, and research and development activities. It may create about 3,000 jobs. The company announced the investment following an order from Air India for 20 787 Dreamliners, 10 777Xs, and 190 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing has headquarters in Delhi and field service offices in other locations. Boeing is also expanding its Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center (BIETC), with locations in Bengaluru and Chennai.

Mentioned

Step-by-step Guidance for Visually Impaired Travelers Now Available at Honolulu Airport

Pratt and Whitney 4360 – $12,000 (Fulton)

For sale by owner, the Pratt and Whitney 4360 Wasp Major R-4360-63A is a 28-cylinder, supercharged, air-cooled engine. This example was removed from a 1955 Douglas C-124 Globemaster II.

Pratt and Whitney 4360 Wasp Major engine on trailer stand.
Pratt & Whitney R-4360-63A

Wikipedia reports the R-4360 is an American 28-cylinder four-row radial piston aircraft engine designed and built during World War II. First run in 1944, at 4,362.5 cu in (71.5 L), it is the largest-displacement aviation piston engine to be mass-produced in the United States, and at 4,300 hp (3,200 kW) the most powerful. It was the last of the Pratt & Whitney Wasp family and the culmination of its maker’s piston engine technology.

The engine was used postwar on many aircraft, including:

Hosts this Episode

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