Tag Archives: Coronavirus

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

Guest

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

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

Aviation News

Boeing to restart limited local work on jets

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

Airbus cuts production by a third as airlines struggle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Air Canada Removes Seating From 777s To Increase Cargo Capacity

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

Alaska Airlines’ Creative New “Tag” Flights

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

The Impact of Coronavirus on Airport Planning and Design

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

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

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

Positive Airline Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interview

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

Mentioned

Planes of Fame Airshow T-shirts

RenegadeAV8R Radio Show

Stay at home air show

Short Final: Hostile Target

Rafale Ride Leads To Inadvertent Ejection By Overstressed Passenger

595 Airport Watch

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

Guest

Peter Wagner, Airport Watch

Peter Wagner, Airport Watch.

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

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

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

C-17 by Peter Wagner, Airport Watch

C-17 by Peter Wagner.

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

B747 by Peter Wagner.

B747 by Peter Wagner.

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

Airport Watch

Airport Watch

Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sun ‘n Fun Postpones Event Due To Coronavirus Threat

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

Air Force Suspends Public Outreach Programs Through May 15

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

NBAA, EBAA Shelve EBACE for 2020

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

DOD Officials Explain New Coronavirus Domestic Travel Restrictions

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

American Airlines pilot tests positive for coronavirus, carrier says

Fourth TSA officer at SJ airport infected with coronavirus

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

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

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

In other aviation news…

Southwest Airlines : FAA Probes Problem With Southwest Jet — Update

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

Man Arrested For Allegedly Shooting At San Diego Police Helicopter

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

594 Coronavirus Impact on Airlines

The Coronavirus is heavily impacting the airlines, the entire travel industry, and global economies in general. Airlines are cutting back on flights, looking at hiring freezes and unpaid leave, flying empty planes to avoid losing valuable airport slots, and reassigning widebodies to fly narrowbody routes. We also look at hiring at Boeing, a congressional committee preliminary report on the 737 MAX, aviation event cancellations, the first A220 assembled at the Mobile, Alabama plant, the gigantic market forecast for air taxis, and a petition to drop gender-exclusive words from FAA and ICAO publications.

Coronavirus News

The Coronavirus (or COVID-19) continues to take its toll on airlines and the aviation industry in general. We discuss some of the effects of the virus and the actions being taken.

United trims schedules up to 20%, imposes hiring freeze amid coronavirus fears

Delta’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) website

Lufthansa Considers Grounding Entire Airbus A380 Fleet

Airlines are burning thousands of gallons of fuel flying empty ‘ghost’ planes so they can keep their flight slots during the coronavirus outbreak

IATA requests suspension of slot rules due to COVID-19

#PaxEx Podcast: Coronavirus and MAX grounding level one-two punch

Emirates Offers Leave to Staff as Virus Saps Demand for Travel

Southwest Airlines Has More Bad Coronavirus News for Travel Stocks

The (rare) travel upside to coronavirus? You might have a swankier plane on your spring flight

Trump seeks to stamp out airline bailout talk

Airlines, travel and cruise industries hurt by coronavirus could get tax relief from White House

In Other Aviation News…

Boeing Goes on Hiring Spree in High-Stakes Gamble on 737 Max

When Boeing halted 737 MAX production and redeployed workers, people wondered what all those mechanics would do. We now see that some were deployed to study and improve production processes. In addition, Boeing is looking ahead to the time when deliveries of the jet can resume, and they are staffing up to handle the task.

Boeing : Congressional Report Says MAX Crashes Stemmed From Boeing’s Design Failures and Lax FAA Oversight

After five public hearings over the last year into the design and certification of the 737 MAX, Democrats on the House Transportation Committee have released preliminary findings. The report notes Boeing’s engineering mistakes, a “culture of concealment,” and insufficient federal safety oversight.

Aero Friedrichshafen postponed over coronavirus concerns

AERO Friedrichshafen Postpones Due To Coronavirus Concerns; Sun ’n Fun Weighs In, Too

AERO Friedrichshafen is the big GA show for Europe but the event scheduled for April 1-4, 2020 has been postponed. The Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg is also postponed. As of now, Sun N’ Fun will take place as planned.

Airbus Receives No New Orders In February 2020

Airbus received 274 orders in January, but none in February, Boeing received no new orders in January. 

Airbus rolls out first A220 assembled in Mobile

The first A220 assembled at the Airbus Mobile, Alabama plant rolled off the line. The A220-300 jet is due to be delivered to Delta Air Lines by September. Jets for both Delta and JetBlue Airways will be assembled in Mobile.

The flying taxi market is ready for takeoff, changing the travel experience forever

Flying cars, electric air taxis, urban air mobility, call it what you like, but it’s not going away anytime soon. Companies investing in this idea include Airbus, Boeing, Bell, Toyota, Uber, and  Hyundai. A Morgan Stanley Research study published in January says “…autonomous urban aircraft may no longer be the stuff of comic books. Accelerating tech advances and investment could create a $1.5 trillion market by 2040.” Another study by Frost & Sullivan, sees a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of about 46% over the next 20 years with more than 430,000 units in operation by then.

Petition: Help Eliminate Gender-Exclusive Words that Keep Women out of Aviation

There are over 40,000 references to Airman or Airmen on the FAA’s website. ICAO’s website lists close to 2,000 airmen references. This petition asks the FAA and ICAO to remove gender-exclusive words from all their publications, on- and off-line. The petition is sponsored by the Institute for Women Of Aviation Worldwide (iWOAW) – a not-for-profit organization headquartered in Montreal, Canada.

Mentioned

Flight Safety Detectives, Episode 14: Lion Air Accident Report Analysis.

593 Women in the Aviation Industry

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

Guest

Arpad Szakal

Arpad Szakal

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

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

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

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

Reach Arpad on LinkedIn

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bizjet Operators See COVID-19 Bump

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

United Airlines affiliate Trans States Airlines to cease flying

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

Pilot of Pegasus airplane that skidded off Istanbul airport runway arrested

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

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

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

Mentioned

Video: Ten Questions with James Lipton

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

Japan’s teTra Aviation

Comics Kingdom, a Mike Shelton spoof on airline seats.

eVTOL to be used as ambulances in the coronavirus crisis

eHang 216 eVTOL

eHang 216 eVTOL

592 FOD in the Fuel Tanks

This episode, we have an interview with the president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. In the news, more woes for Boeing with FOD discovered in undelivered 737 MAX airplanes and the DOJ is reported to be investigating the company. Also, the Coronavirus continues to disrupt commercial aviation, a solar electric UAV planned to stay aloft for a year, a new tail-rotor design from Bell that should be quieter and safer, and this year’s Collier Trophy nominees are announced.

Interview

Mel Payne, president, Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

David Vanderhoof and Mel Payne, president, Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

At the American Helicopter Museum, David talks with Mel Payne, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.

Tuskegee in Philadelphia: Rising to the Challenge is the story of dozens of Philadelphia-area natives who served as fighter pilots, bombers, nurses, mechanics, and in many other support roles.

Aviation News

Boeing Finds Fuel-Tank Debris in Two-Thirds of 737 MAX Jets Inspected So Far — Update

Foreign Object Debris (FOD) has been a problem for Boeing. Two-thirds of the undelivered 737 MAX jets that have been inspected were found to contain tools, rags, and boot coverings in fuel tanks.

The DOJ is reportedly probing whether Boeing’s chief pilot misled regulators over the 737 Max

The Department of Justice wants to know if Boeing knowingly lied to the FAA while seeking certification of the 737 MAX. Boeing’s former 737 MAX chief pilot Mark Forkner was subpoenaed last year to answer questions from federal prosecutors in front of a grand jury. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Coronavirus flight cancellations top 200,000, sending jet fuel prices to more than 2-year lows

More than 200,000 flights, mostly in China, have been canceled as a result of the Coronavirus. Delta, United, and American have halted service to mainland China and Hong Kong. With the resulting decrease in demand, jet fuel prices have fallen 17% in 2020. For an excellent explanation of the virus, see: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.

Solar airplane aims to stay afloat for a whole year

BAE Systems and Prismatic designed the unmanned solar-powered PHASA-35 airplane, and have tested it at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera in South Australia. A High Altitude, Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HALE UAV), this “pseudo-satellite” could provide persistent service for defense, security, resource management, and communications. Another high-altitude solar-electric airplane under development is the manned SolarStratos.

Bell’s New Design Could Make Helicopters Quieter—and Safer

Helicopters with a single main rotor need an additional tail rotor to counteract the torque of the main rotor. But the tail rotor contributes a lot of noise and represents a safety hazard on the ground. Bell has come up with a different approach: four smaller shrouded electric fans in the tail.

Video: Bell’s Electrically Distributed Anti-Torque EDAT

Trailblazing Projects to Compete for Collier Trophy

The National Aeronautic Association announced nine projects that will compete for the Robert J. Collier Trophy:

  • Airborne Collision Avoidance System Team
  • Bombardier Global 7500
  • Gulfstream G500 and G600
  • Hubble Space Telescope Team
  • magni500 Electric Propulsion System
  • Project Heaviside
  • Stratolaunch Carrier Aircraft
  • The United States Air Force-Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Team

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet on April 2, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia, and the recipient will be announced publicly the following day. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place on June 11, 2020, at a location to be determined.

Mentioned

Big Ass Fans

Crisis Communications Training For Airline Executives

Airport webcams:

Airbus’s New Concept Passenger Plane Is for the Birds

Waco Air Museum

589 Coronavirus Impacts Aviation

What the Coronavirus means for air travelers, airlines, and other aviation-related activities. Also, a “test flight” program for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the only US state without commercial airline service, the Collings Foundation institutes a ground tour policy, former CEO Dennis Muilenburg’s departure package is announced, a Boeing announcement about the NMA, and the crash that killed Kobe Bryant and 8 others.

Aviation News

The Coronavirus is impacting air travelers, airlines, and other aviation-related activities:

‘Test flight’ for people with disabilities to practice air travel

The Wings for All Program is designed for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to make the flying experience better, or even possible. For many with these disabilities, the anxiety of being at an airport and flying on a plane can be enough to keep them from traveling by air. This program offers “flight tests” where the airport experience can be practiced in advance. Chapters of The Arc, local partners, and airport/airline/TSA personnel work collaboratively to design and carry out each Wings event.

There’s only one US state with no commercial airline service. That’s about to change

Delaware is the second-smallest US state, with a population of 967,171 in 2018, and a total area of 1,982 square miles, and it is the only state with no regular commercial airline service. Now, Frontier Airlines is returning to the Wilmington – New Castle Airport (ILG) May 14, 2020 with nonstop flights to Orlando. The airline left Delaware in 2015.

Collings Foundation agrees to offer ground-only tours following last fall’s deadly crash.

The Collings Foundation said it will now only offer ground tours for its airplanes. The foundation was the owner of the B-17 that crashed at Bradley Airport last year. This was part of an agreement it reached with the FAA. Hunter Chaney, director of marketing of the Collings Foundation said, “We have agreed to a temporary stand-down with our LHFE flights (living history flight exemption) as we work with the FAA thoroughly addressing questions regarding operations. We hope to have this resolved soon and continue this extraordinary living history experience.”

Boeing’s fired CEO got his $62 million payout confirmed the same day 2,800 people in the 737 Max supply chain were laid off

Former CEO Dennis Muilenburg forfeits a $14.6 million severance package, contractually receives equity and pension benefits valued at $62.2 million and retains stock options worth about $18.5 million. New CEO David Calhoun receives a $28 million compensation package, including a $7 million long term incentive award.

Boeing collapses NMA and FSA into a single search for its next airplane

Boeing’s new CEO, David Calhoun sent the NMA back to the drawing board to start with a clean sheet of paper. The New Mid-Market Airplane had planned to hold 220-270 seats.

NTSB details the final moments of the helicopter before it crashed, killing Kobe Bryant and 8 others

In his final transmission, the pilot of a helicopter that crashed, killing nine people including NBA legend Kobe Bryant, told air traffic control he was climbing to avoid a cloud layer, the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

Mentioned

Aviation Festival Americas 2020

Spray planes combat billions of locusts in Kenya

A350 engine shutdown incidents linked to cockpit drink spills