Tag Archives: DOJ

806 Fly-In

A look at the fly-in at the Spurwink Farm grass field. In the news, the EASA AD for Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, Boeing and DOG agree to a plea deal, 737 oxygen generators, United travel delay messages, 107-II/CH-46 helicopter upgrade, and air travel complaints.

Spurwink Farm Fly-In

Our Main(e) Man Micah attended the 2024 Spurwink Farm fly-in and interviewed attendees and others.

A gyrocopter landing at the Spurwink Farm Fly-in.
Gyrocopter landing
A V-tail Bonanza landing at the Spurwink Farm Fly-in.
V-tail Bonanza landing.
Micah and 3 air bosses at the Spurwink Farm Fly-in.
Micah and the air bosses.

Aviation News

EASA Issues Airworthiness Directive Over Boeing 787 Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Engine Parts

EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) has issued an updated airworthiness directive (2019-0286R1) for Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. The AD pertains to Low Pressure Compressor front cases installed on Boeing 787 airplanes:

Engineering analysis has identified that 38 LPC front cases have non-optimal material properties. This could inhibit the intended function of the LPC front case to contain certain engine failures. This condition, if not corrected, could, in case of fan blade failure, lead to high energy debris release, possibly resulting in damage to, and reduced control of, the aeroplane.

The corrective action is to remove and replace the fan case for certain serial numbers. However, RR updated the population of affected parts to allow some to remain in service with inspections of LPC front case thickness at 16 locations.

Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge

The US Department of Justice and Boeing agreed to the previously reported plea deal. Boeing will plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge and pay a criminal fine of $243.6m. The judge has to accept the deal. DOJ pointed out that the deal does not grant immunity to individuals.

FAA orders inspection of 2,600 Boeing 737s over oxygen mask issue

The passenger service unit oxygen generators can shift out of position due to a problem with a retention strap. The strap adhesive has been found to allow the generators to move.

Your Flight Is Delayed. Would More Details Make You Feel Better?

United Airlines is sharing a lot of flight delay and cancellation information via mobile alerts, texts, and emails.

Columbia and Piasecki Partner on Upgrade for 107-II and CH-46E Helicopters

Columbia Helicopters and Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC) are collaborating on a program to upgrade the Model 107-II tandem rotor helicopter to create a CH-46 107-III variant. Columbia holds the 107-II type certificate and intends to implement a phased series of STCs (supplemental type certificates) to upgrade the engines, introduce modern avionics, and make other improvements.

Air travel is getting worse. That’s what passengers are telling the US government

The DOT received so many complaints in 2023 that it took them until July to compile the numbers. Last year, the DOT received almost 97,000, just about a 13% increase over 2022. About 1.2% of flights were canceled in 2023, compared to 2.3% in 2022.So far this year, cancellations are around 1.3% In 2023, delays were about 21% of all flights, the same as this year. The DOT partly attributed the increase in complaints to greater consumer awareness of how to file a complaint. 

Mentioned

Land use around airports:

Aviation News Talk

The Journey is the Reward

Hosts this Episode

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

804 Triphibian

Boeing CEO testifies before Congress and prosecutors ask for criminal charges, investigators look into a low-altitude Southwest flight and an activist investor wants Southwest CEO out, NTSB released a close-call preliminary report, and Cirrus won’t approve a certain 100LL fuel. Also, an Australia Desk report, the E-3 AWACS jet, and a Triphibian.

Aviation News

Boeing CEO grilled at Senate hearing: ‘The problem’s with you’

Boeing CEO David Calhoun testified at a two-hour Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing. Calhoun admitted that whistleblowers were retaliated against. Subcommittee chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal stated “After whistleblower John Barnett raised his concerns about missing parts, he reported that his supervisor called him 19 times in one day and 21 times another day. And when Barnett asked his supervisor about those calls, he was told, ‘I’m going to push you until you break.’”

Blumenthal said that in his opinion, the Department of Justice should criminally prosecute Boeing for violating its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. The DOJ has until July 7, 2024, to decide how it will act.

Video: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun testifies before Senate committee on safety issues — 6/18/2024

Victims’ Attorney Asks DOJ To Fine Boeing; Prosecute Executives

In his 32-page letter to the DOJ, Professor Paul Cassell of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City asks for $24 billion in fines, that part of the $24 billion fine should be used for “corporate compliance and new safety measures,” that a corporate monitor is appointed to review the safety measures and “to direct improvement as appropriate.” Also that the DOJ prosecutes former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and other “responsible corporate executives.”

Exclusive: US prosecutors recommend Justice Dept. criminally charge Boeing

U.S. prosecutors asked Justice Department officials to bring criminal charges against Boeing for violation of the deferred prosecution agreement.

Federal officials are investigating a Southwest Airlines low flight over Oklahoma City suburbs

A Southwest Airlines plane triggered an automated low-altitude alert nine miles out from the Oklahoma City airport. Flightradar24 shows the plane descending to about 525 feet AGL over Oklahoma City suburbs. Air traffic control asked, “Southwest 4069, low altitude alert. You doing OK?” The pilot responded, “Yeah, we’re going around.” The air traffic controller responded telling the pilot to maintain 3000 feet. Federal officials are investigating.

Southwest’s Diehard Fans Don’t Want Airline to Change

Activist hedge fund company Elliott Investment Management has taken a $1.9 billion stake in Southwest Airlines and wants to oust the airline’s CEO Robert Jordan. Elliott says Jordan “has delivered unacceptable financial and operational performance quarter after quarter and Jordan and former CEO Gary Kelly (currently the executive chairman) “are not up to the task of modernizing Southwest.” Elliott wants to replace Jordan and Kelly with outsiders and make “significant” changes to the board of directors with others who bring airline experience.

NTSB Releases Preliminary Reports On Two Airline Close Calls

In April 2024, a Swiss Air A330 aborted its takeoff from Runway 4L at JFK after they saw taxiing traffic on the runway. One controller cleared the Swiss flight for takeoff, and a ground controller cleared four other airplanes to cross the same runway. In February 2023, TCAS (traffic/collision alert system) issued “resolution advisories” over an inbound Mesa Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 and a SkyWest Embraer EMB-170 at  Hollywood-Burbank Airport. The two aircraft came within 1,700 feet of each other.

Cirrus: G100UL Use May Void Warranties

GAMI Responds To Cirrus G100UL Service Advisory

General Aviation Modifications Inc. has invested in developing an unleaded, high-octane fuel that could replace leaded avgas in piston airplanes. Cirrus has tested G100UL fuel in SR20, SR22, and SR22T aircraft, but the result is mixed. Cirrus says “While some aspects of the initial Cirrus testing of the GAMI G100UL fuel are encouraging, other areas, including materials compatibility, remain inconclusive. At this time, Cirrus does not approve the use of GAMI G100UL fuel in Cirrus SR Series airplanes.” See Transition to Unleaded Fuel and Use of Non-Cirrus Approved Fuel in SR Series Aircraft [PDF].

Australia Desk

Grant and Steve return for an Australia Desk report, the first for 2024, and much has happened in the first half of the year on the Australian aviation scene.

Sadly, in a case of “we told you so”, new LCC entrant Bonza Air has ceased operations after 15 months, entering into voluntary administration on April 30th.  Despite numerous reports of a buyer being found for the group, lessors had repossessed the company’s 737 MAX8 aircraft, the last of which departed Australia on June 5th.

Bonza joins a long list of failed operators who’ve tried to enter the local airline market, only to find that hype, spin, and fancy PR only go so far before the financial realities of operating in an ultra-competitive aviation environment begin to take their toll.  Previous entrants include Compass, Air Australia, JetGo, Impulse (which morphed eventually into Jetstar), OzJet, and most notably (but for perhaps a wider range of issues) Ansett.

But fear not!  As cringe-worthy as the infantile branding of Bonza was, Grant shakes Steve to his boots with news of a possible new contender under the name Koala Airlines.  Oh, dear….

Bonza owes money to almost 60,000 customers, hundreds of staff, and 120 suppliers, court hears

Koala Airlines

In defence news, the RAAF has taken delivery of its first MQ-4C Triton aircraft; the first of four on order which will be based in northern Australia at RAAF Base Tindal, and operated remotely from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia by 9 Squadron.

9SQN had been stood down since 1989, following the transfer of Australia’s Blackhawk fleet to the Army, and has now been reactivated in this new RPAS role.  The squadron enjoys a rich history however, dating back to its inception in 1939.

First Australian Triton lands at Tindal

No. 9 Squadron RAAF

Plane Crazy Down Under

Mentioned

Familyfest Boeing/Leonardo MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter

MVP Aero Model 3 Amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) –  A prototype “triphibian” light-sport aircraft.

Promotional poster for the Spurwink Farm Fly-In.

Hosts this Episode

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

800 Tail Strike

Airplane tail strike, miracle flights, 737 MAX Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the FAA Reauthorization Act, airport name changes, and fatal helicopter crash in Iran. Also, a report on the Valdez Fly-In and Airshow, and a scenic flight around Denali Mountain.

Aviation News

NTSB Releases Final Report Of United Airlines Boeing 737 Tail Strike In Houston

The NTSB report of the January 2024 tail strike says the 737-900ER touched down three times while landing. The aircraft’s aft fuselage “impacted the runway as a result of a delayed flare and subsequent nose-high pitch inputs.” The initial touchdown force was 1.87G and the second touchdown was 2.87G.

An article in SKYbrary states that “various studies by several of the major aircraft manufacturers have arrived at similar conclusions regarding the primary cause of tail strike. The most significant common factor is the amount of flight crew experience with the specific model of aircraft being flown.” Studies identified eight specific Causal Factors that greatly increase the risk of a tail strike:

During take-off:

  • Improperly Set Elevator Trim or Mis-Trimmed Stabiliser 
  • Rotation at Incorrect Speed
  • Excessive Rotation Rate
  • Improper Use of the Flight Director

During landing:

  • Unstabilized Approach
  • Excessive Hold-Off in the Flare 
  • Crosswinds
  • Over-Rotation During Go-Around

Over 65% of tail strikes occur during landings, while only 25% happen during takeoffs.

With One Simple Change, Southwest Airlines Will Deal Blow To Wheelchair Scammers, Unruly Passengers And Seat Savers

Southwest Airlines is considering implementing assigned seating, eliminating the need for passengers to board early to get a good seat. The change would address “the phenomenon of passengers faking disabilities to board early, end the practice of seat saving, and make it easier to identify unruly passengers on board.” Currently, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t have passenger names and seat assignments on the flight’s manifest.

DOJ Takes Key Step to Hold Boeing Accountable for 737 MAX8 Crash Deaths

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that Boeing breached the January 2021 Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The Clifford law firm (which represents families of the Boeing 787 MAX8 crash victims) says that Boeing could now face a criminal trial, although more action is needed from the DOJ.

Bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act Signed Into Law

American Airlines Bus Service Connecting Wilmington Delaware Airport (ILG) to PHL to Start This Fall

The Delaware River & Bay Authority announced that American Airlines and its partner Landline Co. plan to launch a bus service between Wilmington Airport (ILG) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Passengers flying out of Philly can park, check bags, and pass through security at the Wilmington Airport.

Chicago-Bound United Airlines Boeing 767 Diverts to Ireland After Passenger Gets Laptop Wedged Stuck in Business Class Seat

United Airlines flight 12 from Zurich to Chicago O’Hare was forced to make an emergency diversion to Shannon, Ireland after a passenger got their laptop stuck in a Business Class seat aboard the Boeing 767-300.

Two More Airports Are Fighting Over Using a City Name, This Time in Canada Where a Lawsuit Is Already Underway

Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is suing Saint-Hubert Airport after the smaller airport decided to rebrand itself as Montreal Metropolitan Airport.

Valdez Fly-In and Airshow

Listener Brian and Cora attended the 2024 Valdez Fly-In and Airshow in Alaska and provided a trip report. The couple also took a scenic flight around Denali Mountain and the report highlights the unique experiences and stunning views.

The Valdez Fly-In and Airshow is an annual aviation event held at Valdez Pioneer Field Airport in Valdez, Alaska. Established in 2003, the Valdez Fly-In features world-class competitions, aerobatic displays, and a variety of activities for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Brian and Cora on the glacier.

Hosts this Episode

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

740 Status Match

Status match and airline loyalty programs with an industry leader. Also, an alleged export control violation involving Russia, a hydrogen-powered regional airliner takes flight, Jetblue court cases, and an FAA system problem impacts check rides. We also have an Australia News Desk report from Avalon and a visit to an El Al MRO shop.

Guest

Mark Ross-Smith.

Mark Ross-Smith is an award-winning global airline loyalty industry leader. He’s an author, the founder of industry news site Travel Data Daily, and the CEO of Status Match.com, which helps switch loyalty tier status to a new airline or hotel. Mark has 20 years of experience leading loyalty programs in telecoms and travel, most recently at Malaysian Airlines. He’s published dozen of papers and articles on airline loyalty and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other events.

Mark describes the “status cliff” faced by airlines and customers. As the pandemic halted travel, airlines extended customer loyalty status. Now that demand has returned, airlines don’t want to extend status for free. Large numbers of customers have been or are in danger of being downgraded.

We also learn that an airline’s loyalty program is sometimes valued higher than the airline’s operations. Credit cards are a high-margin business for airlines and contribute significantly to an airline’s valuation. We wonder if airlines these days airlines, or are they marketing companies and loyalty programs that have an airline division? Mark explains that regardless, airlines need to provide the kind of service that makes the loyalty program attractive to their customer demographics.

Mark tells us about the concept of the status match. This is where one loyalty program gives you some status based on the status you have with another. It’s a process that shifts consumer behavior and Mark explains why airlines (and hotels) engage in this practice, and what it means for the consumer. For a fee, StatusMatch.com may be able to arrange one for you.

Aviation News

2 Americans arrested for allegedly sending aviation technology to Russia

The charges include exporting controlled goods without a license, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information, and smuggling goods contrary to US law. US-based KanRus Trading Company allegedly sold equipment to Russian companies and provided repair services for Russian aircraft. Prosecutors say the pair concealed who their clients were, lied about how much the products cost, and they were paid through foreign bank accounts. All this to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

First hydrogen-powered airplane takes flight in Moses Lake

The 40-passenger regional airliner flew for 15 minutes using hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.  Universal Hydrogen developed the plane, nicknamed Lightning McClean. A fuel cell electric powertrain replaces the existing turboprop engines. The FAA granted Universal Hydrogen approval for the test flight under a special airworthiness certificate. The flight test campaign is expected to run through 2025, followed by entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional aircraft that same year converted to run on hydrogen.

JetBlue is at the center of two cases that could remake the industry

JetBlue is deeply into a pair of high-profile antitrust cases that some say could redefine the way U.S. airlines compete. In one case, the Justice Department is looking at JetBlue’s Northeast alliance with American Airlines where the two airlines coordinate schedules and share revenue on selected Northeast routes. The airlines call it an alliance. The DOJ says it’s a de facto merger. In the other case, JetBlue seeks to merge with Spirit Airlines. The DOJ hasn’t yet said what it will do.

Check Rides Grind to a Halt When the IACRA System Coughs

It’s not a NOTAM system crash this time, it’s the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application system (IACRA) that is failing. Without IACRA, designated pilot examiners are having difficulty performing check rides. The FAA confirmed that the IACRA system lost some data.

Australia News Desk

The Australian International Air Show made a triumphant return after a covid interrupted four-year break, and Grant and Steve were there to take in all the action.

The event is located at Avalon Airport, roughly 60 kilometres southwest of Melbourne, and is a major event on the world air show calendar.  This year saw attendance from many nations including the United States, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

Standout displays included the Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles, RAAF F-35A and  F-18F’s, USAF F-22, Air Race World Champion Matt Hall, and aerobatics ace Paul Bennet.

Ostensibly a trade, government, and business exposition, it runs across six days, culminating in two and a half public open days, where the aerial action kicks into high gear.

In this report, the guys discuss some of the military announcements made during the show, take in the impressive array of USAF tankers that made the trip, and a new remote-operated aircraft designed and built by the ADF for ISR operations, which cost only $AU50,000 each.

Finally, they catch up with veteran air show commentator Peter Meehan, who’s retiring from his role as the voice of Avalon after more than 30 years, and his successor, well-known aviation writer and radio presenter Tony Moclair.

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron.
F-35 in flight at Avalon.
F-35 at Avalon.
Biplane flying with explosions in the background.
Action at Avalon 2023.

Aircraft images by Wayne Nugent and Victor Pody.

El Al MRO Facility

Brian Coleman talks with Max Flight about his visit to an El Al MRO facility in Tel Aviv.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and David Vanderhoof.  Contributions by Grant McHerron, Steve Visscher, and Brian Coleman.

672 Leonardo AW609 Tiltrotor

The Head of Tiltrotor Marketing at Leonardo describes the world’s first commercial tiltrotor. In the news, a United stationary tail strike, Congress steps in on the controversial FAA flight training policy, DOJ files an antitrust suit over the American Airlines-JetBlue alliance, an industry-wide no-fly list is proposed, and Rolls-Royce wins the contract to re-engine the B-52 fleet.

AW609 Tiltrotor
Leonardo AW609 Tiltrotor, courtesy Leonardo.

Guest

William M. (Bill) Sunick

William M. (Bill) Sunick is Head of Tiltrotor Marketing at Leonardo. Their AW609 is the first commercial tiltrotor to enter the market and the world’s first pressurized cabin tiltrotor. The AW609 is well-positioned to serve a number of markets, including VIP, corporate, search and rescue, emergency medical services, and offshore energy exploration, as well as government roles.

Bill describes how the AW609 tiltrotor was designed to commercial standards, and how it offers the speed, range, and altitude of a fixed-wing turboprop airplane with the vertical take-off and landing versatility of a helicopter. We learn that the lower vibratory environment and pressurized cabin of this tiltrotor offer advantages for medical flights. Bill explains the FAA certification requirements for this aircraft, which falls into the new Powered Lift category.

Bill is responsible for the development of marketing and business strategies that create new opportunities, shape emerging markets, and influence customer thinking and actions. Prior to joining Leonardo Helicopters, Bill held numerous leadership positions at The Boeing Company within Strategy, Marketing, Sales, Market Development, and Engineering. He was also a member of the Presidential Helicopter team while at Sikorsky Aircraft in 1992.

Bill’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University and a master of business administration degree in Marketing from Saint Joseph’s University.

Aviation News

United 737 Tips on its Tail During Offloading

A United Airlines Boeing 737-900ER experienced a “stationary tail strike” on the ground at Lewiston (LWS Idaho) after a flight from LAX. United explained:

United flight 2509 flying from Los Angeles, California to Lewiston, Idaho landed without incident. Due to a shift in weight and balance during the offloading process, the tail of the aircraft tipped backward.  No injuries were reported among our customers, crew or ground personnel.  The return flight was on a different aircraft as originally planned.

See Boeing Tail Strike Avoidance for takeoff and landing risk factors.

House Passes Amendment to Reverse FAA on Flight Training Policy

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that clarifies that a flight instructor providing student instruction, flight instruction, or flight training shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire. If passed, this would reverse the FAA’s recent flight training policy for certain types of aircraft.

Justice Department Sues to Block Unprecedented Domestic Alliance Between American Airlines and JetBlue

DOJ filed an anti-trust suit challenging the American Airlines-JetBlue alliance

American and JetBlue strike back against DOJ complaint over Northeast alliance

The DOJ claims the American Airlines-JetBlue Northeast Alliance eliminates competition in New York and Boston and harms air travelers nationwide:

The U.S. Department of Justice, together with Attorneys General in six states and the District of Columbia, sued today [September 21, 2021] in the District of Massachusetts to block an unprecedented series of agreements between American Airlines and JetBlue through which the two airlines will consolidate their operations in Boston and New York City. The civil antitrust complaint alleges that this extensive combination, which they call the “Northeast Alliance,” will not only eliminate important competition in these cities, but will also harm air travelers across the country by significantly diminishing JetBlue’s incentive to compete with American elsewhere, further consolidating an already highly concentrated industry.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, “They’re wrong and we’ll prove it. It’s entirely pro-competitive.” Parker argued that the alliance allows the two airlines to compete against Delta and United, which are largely entrenched in the Northeast market, while American and JetBlue would otherwise not be able to mount enough of an offense on their own.

Airlines Weigh Unruly No-Fly List

Delta is suggesting a national “no-fly” list (different from the government’s No-Fly List, which is terror-based). Delta’s own blacklist includes more than 1,600 people. A Delta VP said their list doesn’t work if the person can just hop on another carrier.

Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways to sign $2 bln deal with GE for engines on Boeing jets

In this deal, Bamboo Airways will purchase nearly $2 billion worth of General Electric GEnx engines to power Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and General Electric GEnx-1B compete on the 787. Bamboo will operate its Dreamliner fleet on non-stop routes between Vietnam and the United States.

Rolls Royce Will Provide Long-Awaited New Jet Engines For The B-52 Bomber Fleet

The U.S. Air Force selected Rolls-Royce’s North American division to re-engine the fleet of B-52H bombers with F130 engines. The Drive reports: “Rolls-Royce’s new contract from the Air Force is valued at $500,870,458 over the next six years but could grow to over $2.6 billion if all of its options are exercised.” Work will be performed at the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis and is expected to be completed by September 2038.

Mentioned

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum.

Honeywell and Wood introduce groundbreaking technologies to support efforts toward carbon-neutral sustainable aviation fuel

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge