An aviation espionage conviction, a crew assault by the pilot, a 5G rollout delay, tests to protect airports from drones, more unleaded fuel approvals, a faked inflight emergency, aviation benefits from the infrastructure package, and a Southwest Airlines trip report.
The Chinese national was convicted of trying to steal trade secrets from a number of U.S. aviation and aerospace companies, including GE Aviation. Yanjun Xu was a deputy division director at the Chinese Ministry of State Security and he sought aircraft engine composite fan technology. He recruited aviation company experts and paid them stipends for travel to China, supposedly to deliver university presentations.
After an altercation at a San Jose hotel bar, the pilot was cited for alleged assault and battery, apparently over a mask dispute. The crew was staying the night at the hotel. Sgt. Christian Camarillo from the San Jose Police Department said, “The event involved a disagreement over mask-wearing or masks.” More details were not provided, but the pilot was placed on leave.
In the last episode, we talked about the FAA’s belief there is some possibility of radar altimeter interference when the new 5G spectrum comes online. The FAA issued a warning to pilots and airlines while the FCC doesn’t share the same concern. However, responding to a request from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Verizon and AT&T will push out the new 5G spectrum one month, to January 5, 2022.
The FAA has been quietly testing technology that detects and tracks malicious drones at airports. Last week, six drone detection tests were conducted at three locations at the Atlantic City International Airport in New Jersey. The tests will expand to four additional commercial airports. The FAA UAS Sightings Report shows that these sightings are up sharply, about 100 per month.
General Aviation Modifications, Inc. (GAMI) G100UL high octane unleaded avgas is now approved by the FAA for an additional 611 piston aircraft engines. That’s about 70 percent of the existing engines in service.
A flight operated by Air Arabia departed Casablanca, Morrocco for Istanbul. Into the flight, a passenger faked a diabetic coma, resulting in a diversion to Palma de Mallorca. With the arrival of an ambulance at the aircraft, some passengers jumped out and ran across the tarmac. The airport went on lockdown and inbound flights were diverted. Five passengers were arrested but several escaped.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed the House and provides $25 billion in new funding for airports and air traffic control equipment. Non-primary and general aviation will see $500 million each year over a five-year period.
Brian Coleman speaks to our Main(e) Man Micah about a recent trip on Southwest Airlines.
Green aviation topics such as sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen power. Also, airline flight cancellations due to weather and staff shortages, flight automation for non-pilots, the F-15EX engine competition, FAA and FCC disagreement on 5G interference for pilots, a possible national no-fly list for unruly passengers, and interviews from the 2021 Pacific Air Show.
A number of Cessna piston-powered aircraft are now approved for 91-octane unleaded (91UL), 94UL, or 100VLL (very low lead) fuel. Textron Aviation announced this for the Cessna 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane. The 206 Turbo Stationair HD aircraft is now approved for 100VLL. These fuels are cleaner burning compared to others with higher lead levels.
The short answer: maybe 3 or 4 decades. There are issues with carrying the fuel onboard a large commercial aircraft, creating the infrastructure, and price. SAF, or sustainable aviation fuels, is a much shorter-term step.
Biodiesel is in high demand and Government incentives are helping ramp up production significantly. A third of all soybean oil produced in the U.S. already goes to make biodiesel. This is putting pressure on feedstocks, like soybean oil, which costs around a dollar per pound now. Last year it was $0.35.
Weekend staff shortages and bad weather were blamed for the cancellations. American reported that 376 flights were canceled on Friday, October 29, 551 flights were canceled on Saturday, and 480 more on Sunday. FlightAware said American has delayed more than 1,000 flights since Friday. About 1,800 flight attendants are scheduled to return from leave. The airline recently hired over 600 more and plans to start them by the end of December.
The first lot of eight F-15EX fighters were powered by the competing GE F110-129 engine. The Air Force announced that the engine will continue to power the F-15EX. The firm-fixed-price deal could be for up to 329 engines. Deliveries will start in October 2023 and run through June 2031
In FAA Plans Warnings to Pilots, Airlines Over New 5G Rollout, the Wall Street Journal says the FAA is preparing a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin and an airworthiness directive saying that cell towers transmitting 5G signals could affect certain automated features that help fly and land airplanes. Like radar altimeters. On the other hand, both the FCC and the telecom industry say there is no evidence the 5G signals will interfere with aviation.
The FAA gathered top U.S. airline executives for a meeting to discuss the problem of unruly passengers. The airlines were given a month to develop concrete “additional steps” that reduce such incidents. A national “no-fly” list used by all airlines was suggested by Delta, but others prefer that the issue is handled by law enforcement.
Pacific Air Show
Brian Coleman attended the Pacific Air Show and spoke with a number of people, including Air Force Reserve Master Sgt Uscanga Harris, Ed, Gary with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Jay, and Stephanie.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An Avelo Airlines trip report and a conversation with the CEO of Crew Dog Electronics. Also, bonuses for Piedmont pilots, the FAA Zero Tolerance for Unruly and Dangerous Behavior Toolkit, late-night TV hosts roast Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines cuts flights, and new startup Avelo Airlines makes route changes.
Avelo Airlines Trip Report
Contributing Editor Brian Coleman and our Main(e) Man Micah discuss Brian’s second flight on Avelo Airlines.
Avelo Airlines pulled Monterey, California (MRY) and St. George, Utah (SGU) from its route map. Those destinations were scheduled to start in late September and early October 2021. The airline said they’d “…take another look at our plans for these two markets next spring.” Avelo is also delaying the launch of flights to Provo, Utah (PVU). Service was planned to commence on Sept. 17, but Avelo confirmed that it’s now been pushed to Nov. 15.
Piedmont, the American Airlines wholly-owned subsidiary that operates under the American Eagle brand, has reached a deal with the ALPA pilots union. Captains would receive a $30,000 “retention bonus” in November while current First Officers would get $30,000 when they were promoted to the Captain. Pilots who move on from Piedmont to American’s mainline business would get $70,000. Additionally, pilots who meet working hours targets over the next two years would be eligible for an additional $50,000.
Southwest Airlines responded to complaints from Southwest Airlines pilots about flight delays and cancellations by reducing the number of flights. In a statement, CEO Gary Kelly said “We’re confident these adjustments will create a more reliable travel experience.”
Report from EAA Airventure Oshkosh
Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent Hillel Glazer speaks with Sean Chuplis, the CEO of Crew Dog Electronics.
We talk with a company that provides educational jet fighter cockpit experiences. In the news, Amazon Air adds turboprops to the fleet, Boeing 777X certification, a new 4K Ultra HD flight data recorder, Virgin Galactic approval for commercial passenger space flights, and exiting the aircraft after the door closes.
Dewy Larson is the owner of DreamBIG Entertainment LLC, a company that gives you the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. DreamBIG Entertainment travels exclusively within the United States, attending air shows, festivals, fairs, and other events. They share the history and the rare opportunity to experience fully restored A-7D Corsair II and F-18 Hornet cockpits.
The A-7 and F-18 Hornet cockpits tour the United States as a Mobile Interactive Aviation Museum. The DreamBIG experience runs from February to November and can be brought anywhere. For the latest schedule, visit the DreamBIG Entertainment LLC Facebook page.
Sources have told The Air Current that Amazon Air plans to add about 10 leased ATR 72-500 freighters to its fleet of Boeing aircraft. The company has a strategy to reach smaller communities with a one-day delivery service.
Boeing is trying to certify the 777X but the FAA has informed the company that it has concerns and Boeing may have to increase the number of test flights planned. That pushes certification more than two years, probably too late 2023. FAA concerns include an “uncommanded pitch event” in a Dec. 8, 2020 test flight, a critical avionics system that does not meet requirements, and late hardware and software changes in the flight controls.
Appareo announced a new 4K ultra-high-definition AIRS-400 Airborne Image Recording System (AIRS), equipped for cellular data offload. The unit captures pilot intercom system audio, ambient audio, and detailed flight data. Using internal inertial measurement units, AIRS-400 captures WAAS GPS (altitude, latitude, longitude, ground speed, vertical speed), attitude data (pitch, roll, yaw), rates of rotation, and acceleration data (G forces)
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari spoke with Chris Garberg, the president of Appareo Aviation.
With the upgraded space transportation operator license, Virgin Galactic could begin carrying paying passengers to space. It has been reported that Virgin Galactic currently has over 600 reservations for its planned commercial passenger space flights, with ticket prices running between $200,000 and $250,000.
A United Express flight operated by SkyWest Airlines was leaving the gate but a passenger apparently felt compelled to exit the plane. He tried to get into the cockpit, then opened the emergency door, which deployed the slide, and out he went. Man injured after jumping out of airplane at LAX.
The SE200 concept airliner from SE Aeronautics is a tri-wing design with two rear-mounted engines and a double tail fin. The widebody jet would seat 264+ passengers and burn 70 percent less fuel than a plane of similar size. The SE200 is a 100% molded composite aircraft, with a claimed 80% reduction in CO2 emissions per seat kilometer. Flying at Mach .9, the jet would have a range of 10,560 miles at 500+ PMPG.
Colonial Pipeline’s insufficient security allowed a ransomware attack to shut down the company’s 5,500 mile fuel pipeline from the Texas Gulf Coast to New Jersey. This led to widespread gasoline shortages across the U.S. East Coast, and impacted the supplies of jet fuel.
The emergency exit door separated from a Boutique Airlines flight just before takeoff from Gogebic-Iron County Airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One passenger said his carry-on bag was sucked out. Apparently, the pilots failed to complete a pre-flight checklist.
On March 16, 1962, 93 soldiers, 11 crew, and 3 South Vietnamese soldiers boarded Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 for a secret mission to Saigon. They never arrived and the subsequent search and rescue operation found nothing. The families of those lost never knew what happened.
Warbird Adventures, which operates a World War II P-40 fighter training aircraft certificated in the limited category, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review an FAA emergency cease-and-desist order. The company was providing flight instruction without an exemption to FAR 91.315. In a two-page ruling Warbird Adventures, Inc., et. al. v. FAA., the court refused to review the emergency cease-and-desist order.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson (XTP Media) and Gareth Stringer (Editor of Global Aviation Resource) provide a special Across the Pond segment to mark the tenth anniversary of the first ATP segment on Airplane Geeks.
For more great aviation content, listen to the Xtended podcast, including Episode 116 – Restoration Force & the Cockpiteers with Gavin Hoffen on his new book Restoration Force about cockpit restoration projects.
Fridge Magnet Give-a-way
Send an aviation-themed postcard to:
Airplane Geeks Give-A-Way 2935 Mystic Mountain Lane Belton, Texas. 76513
Elite Airways in Auburn, Maine hosted an “Aircraft Pulling” event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine. Teams competed to pull a 31,000-pound CRJ200 15 feet. The team that pulled the aircraft 15-feet the fastest won a trophy. Elite Airways also gave out two round-trip tickets to the team that raised the most money.
Dr. Geoffrey Bower, the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, discusses eVTOL aircraft for the urban air mobility industry. In the news, bad behavior can get your frequent flyer account deleted, more 737 MAX woes, the Airbus A380 is fading for many airlines, LCC Avelo Airlines starts operation, the Aviation Safety Reporting System is extended to drone operators, and a story of missing luggage.
Dr. Geoffrey Bower is the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, a California-based startup in the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry. The company is developing an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with a mission to advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility.
Geoff describes why UAM is receiving so much attention and why so many companies are involved. We look at the different eVTOL missions and design approaches, and the factors that affect efficiency and the cost of the aircraft. Geoff helps us understand crewed vs. autonomous eVTOL aircraft, and what is limiting the number of passengers they will carry. Pilot type ratings and the GAMA Simplified Vehicle Operations concept are also covered.
Infrastructure requirements are key to UAM success, as are regulator support and managing public acceptance, particularly with respect to noise footprint and affordability. Geoff talks about Archer Aviation eVTOL development and testing, and their timeline for first flight of a demonstrator aircraft.
Geoff has nearly 10 years of industry experience working on eVTOL aircraft. He started his career working on flight control system development and aerodynamic modeling at Zee.Aero. From 2016 through 2019 he was Chief Engineer for Project Vahana at A3, the Silicon Valley innovation center of Airbus. He led the engineering team that designed, built, and completed a successful flight test campaign of the Vahana Alpha demonstrator.
Geoff received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.
The FAA is cracking down on unruly passengers, and so is Delta. After an update to the airline’s SkyMiles program terms and conditions, “documented abusive behavior” is now grounds for termination of the offender’s frequent flyer account. Even being banned from flying on Delta is possible. Delta says examples of abusive behavior include personal threats, profanity, obscene language, insults or slurs directed to a Delta employee or ambassador. It also covers any intentional destruction to Delta property.
Last month, Boeing asked 16 customers to temporarily ground 737 MAX airplanes due to an electrical grounding problem on some specific tail numbers. Boeing said this manufacturing issue was unrelated to the MCAS problem and “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit.” The problem arises from a manufacturing process change. Now the FAA wants to see more analysis that shows this electrical problem does not affect other subsystems.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive to check a pressure transducer for possible corrosion in Boeing 737 MAX CFM LEAP-1B engines after long-term storage. “The checks must be completed before each flight during the first 15h of power being applied to engines following prolonged storage.”
The FAA says a “manufacturing quality escape” affecting high pressure turbine cases could cause uncontained engine failures. “Several x-rays of the bleed ports of the HPT case showed 148 parts with nonconforming indications, eight of which were significant enough to impact the life of the HPT case.”
The A380 was a great idea at the time, motivated by high passenger volume and low airport capacity. But those conditions have changed. Air France, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, and Thai have grounded some or all of their A380s. Malaysia Airlines is about to join that list, with the carrier’s half-dozen A380s unlikely to fly passengers again.
Reports were received that an airplane departed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport with an unsecured luggage compartment. It seems the compartment opened in flight and some luggage may have fallen out. The CRJ-700 returned to the airport without incident and passengers took another airplane to the flight destination, Chicago. One customer reported a missing bag. American Airlines says they are investigating.
This April, 2021 report on the electric aircraft market pegs it at $30 billion where eVTOL accounts for 48%, eCTOL (electric conventional take off and land) under 20PAX at 32%, and eCTOL for 20-100PAX at 20%.
Mayo Clinic Clear Approach podcast – The podcast for aerospace medicine that matters, by Greg Vanichkachorn, M.D., M.P.H., and aerospace medicine specialist, family physician, occupational medicine specialist.
Breeze Airways flight attendant strategy breaks new ground, and not everyone is comfortable. Also, an Air Force One contractor files for bankruptcy, Leap-1B engine orders for the 737 MAX drop, penalties for unruly air passengers under the FAA crackdown, a second Stratolaunch flight, Airbus freighters on the horizon, and Embraer delays the E175-E2 again.
New LCC Breeze Airways plans to begin operations sometime in 2021. Founder David Neeleman spoke with Forbes and Ben Schlappig has some observations in One Mile at a Time.
Breeze Airways requires flight attendants to be “enrolled in college and living in company housing. In other words, the airline is trying to exclude anyone who has a family, a college degree, or is looking to build a career,” says Ben. Flight attendants will “be paid a fixed $1,200 per month, receive $6,000 towards tuition for online coursework, and receive company housing.”
Boeing was previously awarded the $3.9 billion contract to convert two 747-8s to serve as Air Force One. These would replace the 747-200s used now. Boeing subcontracted the interiors to GDC Technics but in April 2021, Boeing filed a lawsuit against GDC Technics and canceled their contracts. Then GDC countersued Boeing, but now GDC is filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. Boeing says GDC hasn’t met its obligations and is 12 months behind schedule. GDC countered that Boeing was mismanaging the program and owed the company more than $20 million in payments.
737 MAX issues haven’t affected only Boeing. They’ve affected the supplier network as well, and that includes the engine maker. The CFM Leap-1B engine exclusively powers the Boeing 737 MAX. It was developed by Safran Aircraft Engines and GE Aviation through their joint company, CFM International.
Two passengers on a Jan. 4, 2021 jetBlue Airlines flight from Haiti to Boston, Mass. drank personal alcohol and acted in a disruptive manner. There was yelling and hand waving and the arms of two separate flight attendants were grabbed. Police escorted the passenger off the plane upon arrival. One passenger was fined $31,750 and the other $16,750. A third passenger was fined $14,500 after a Jan. 14, 2021 SkyWest Airlines flight from Yuma, Ariz., to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights, fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations, or engage in certain conduct described by federal law. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents. “Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Administrator Dickson said.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says the Breeze employment style is “akin to gig economy jobs such as drivers at Uber and Instacart. On the surface, you can also extrapolate that most of the people who will ‘qualify’ for this lifestyle are younger people, with an expiration date when they fail to continue to meet the “youthful” requirements.”
The Stratloaunch test flight from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port lasted a little over 3 hours. The twin-fuselage Stratolaunch carrier was sold to Cerberus Capital Management in October 2019 after company founder Paul Allen passed away. The Stratolaunch website calls it “The Future of Hypersonic Testing” and says, “Providing the most efficient path for transitioning hypersonic technologies from research to implementation. Our unique air-launch system offers a reusable hypersonic platform, tailored for customer instrumentation and experiments.”
Boeing tends to dominate the cargo aircraft market, but Airbus has made it known they want to challenge that. The Airbus CEO said recently, “We do not like the idea to remain weak in that segment in the future. I think we have the right product to be able to be more aggressive in that market.” But what Airbus hasn’t said is what widebody model they have in mind – the A330, A350, or A380. Or when we’ll know.
Our guest is Sporty’s Pilot Shop vice president John Zimmerman. In the news, startup airlines are launching during the pandemic, data on General Aviation shipments, and F-35 software upgrade issues. Also, the recent Blue Bonnet airshow, how to notify the FAA of construction activity, and a hush kit for the Gulfstream.
John Zimmerman is a pilot and a vice president at Sporty’s Pilot Shop. Before becoming an employee, John learned to fly at a Cincinnati airport and regularly attended Sporty’s famous hot dog cookouts. Today as a vice president, he’s responsible for new product development and marketing. John regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12, and a Robinson R44 helicopter. He is an ATP and also holds ratings for multi-engine, seaplanes, gliders, and helicopters. John is also editor-in-chief of Air Facts and a contributing editor at Flying Magazine.
John tells us the Sporty’s story that started 60 years ago. It’s a company where the employees are pilots who use the products they sell. We look at the challenges of the last twelve months and consider the strength of the demand for flight training. John explains how Sporty’s Pilot Shop has responded to training technology that has changed over the years – from videotapes to streaming media.
We also learn about Sporty’s iPad Pilot News, the monthly email newsletter where you can find tips and tricks for using your favorite apps, stay up to date on the latest iPad news, read detailed reviews of new apps, and learn about new iPad accessories and specials.
At least three airlines are planning to start operations in 2021: Norwegian low-cost startup Flyr, UK startup Flypop, and Breeze Airways in the US. Flyr will focus on the Norwegian family and leisure market with the Boeing 737-800. Flypop will offer low-cost long-haul flights with the Airbus A330. Breeze Airways from airline entrepreneur David Neeleman will target the US leisure travel market with the Airbus A220-300 and some Embraer E190 and E195 aircraft.
Global business aviation is reported to be “back to 85% of pre-COVID-19 levels” while the U.S. business aviation market is down just 7% and charter flights are up 4%. Former first class passengers are turning to business jets and some travelers are looking at charter memberships and jet cards.
In 2020, the overall GA industry saw 9.7 percent fewer shipments. Billings fell 14.8 percent. GAMA’s executive committee chairman, Nicolas Chabbert, said, “I must say that these figures are not representing the level of demand, which stays very high and are moderated by our ability to deliver as a global industry.” Supply chain constraints are limiting shipments, as well as company efforts to fight the pandemic and keep employees safe.
The Government Accountability Office issued a 67-page report to Congress, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, DOD Needs to Update Modernization Schedule and Improve Data on Software Development (PDF). The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is DOD’s most expensive weapon system program. Congress directed the GAO to review the F-35 program which is 3 years into a development effort to modernize the F-35 aircraft’s capabilities. GAO is making three recommendations to DOD: that DOD update its modernization schedule to reflect achievable time frames, identify and implement tools to enable automated data collection on software development performance, and set software quality performance targets. DOD agreed with GAO’s recommendations.
The inspiring story of a legendary woman aviator and member of the “Mercury 13” who was also the first female FAA inspector and the first female investigator for the NTSB. Also, the AerCap/GECAS merger of aircraft leasing companies, the Dassault Falcon 6X first flight, FAA 2021 GA award winners, Buzz Lightyear’s mission with Southwest Airlines, and the serial stowaway.
Wally Funk was the first woman civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the 58th woman in the U.S. to earn an Airline Transport Rating (in 1968), the FAA’s first woman operations inspector and Systems Worthiness Analysis Program specialist, and the first woman NTSB accident investigator. She was also one of the “Mercury 13,” hoping to become an astronaut.
Loretta is a freelance writer and nonfiction book author. She’s a long-time space travel enthusiast and is currently a certified Space Ambassador for the National Space Society. Loretta has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel, one of which is The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List: 100 Space Things to Do Before You Die.
Loretta has been interested in space travel since her teenage years when she followed the early NASA programs: the selection of the Mercury Seven astronauts, the suborbital and orbital missions of Mercury and Gemini, and the Apollo steps toward a moon landing. She has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel. Loretta loves finding ways to participate in space activities without being an astronaut. Her newest book was a cooperative effort to produce the memoir of Wally Funk, an icon in the fields of aviation and spaceflight.
AerCap Holdings announced that it would acquire the GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) unit of General Electric in a $30 billion deal. This would consolidate the number one and number two commercial aviation financing and leasing companies, measured by the number of aircraft. The resulting business would be the largest customer for Airbus, Boeing, and the engine manufacturers.
Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 6X long-range, ultra-widebody business jet’s first flight was made from the company’s facility at Mérignac, France, near Bordeaux, on March 10, 2021. The 2.5-hour flight reached FL400 and a speed of 0.8 Mach and was dedicated to Olivier Dassault, who died in a helicopter accident on March 7, 2021.
These articles highlight just some of the amazing women who have had successful careers in aviation. They include
Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; Joan Higginbotham, who helped build the international space station and operated robotic arm; LeAnn Ridgeway, a Rockwell Collins executive leader (now Collins Aerospace); Susan Mashibe, Tanzania’s first female FAA-certified pilot and mechanic and owner of a private jet handling and hangar services company; Rachel King, the founder and owner of the Precision Approach aircraft washing service; and Steffany Kisling, founder of cabin attendant staffing company SkyAngles and SKYacademy, an online training platform for pilots, cabin attendants and aspiring crew.
The story takes place during the Second World War, the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron was stationed on the Mariana Islands of the South Pacific. Its crews policed flight paths searching for B-29 bombers in jeopardy and downed airmen in need of rescue in the open ocean of this war-torn theatre.