Tag Archives: FAA

646 Pilot Shop

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.

Guest

John Zimmerman, VP Sporty’s Pilot Shop

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.

Aviation News

How to launch an airline during a global pandemic

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.

Does Reduced Airline Capacity Give General Aviation And Business Jets More Opportunity?

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.

General Aviation Airplane Shipments Fall Off 10 Percent for 2020

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.

Block 4 Software Issues Could Cause F-35 Capability Delays, Costly Retrofits

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.

Mentioned

Valerie Insinna, Defense News’ air warfare reporter. On Twitter: @ValerieInsinna.

The Marshalling Detachment of the Commemorative Air Force

Adventure Flying podcast, Flying Over the Swiss Alps in a PA-28 with Launchpad Marzari. 

Obstruction Evaluation / Airport Airspace Analysis (OE/AAA) The FAA website where a project proponent can determine if they need to notify the FAA about a contemplated construction.

What is the Waffle House Index?

Support

You can support the Airplane Geeks podcast by making a donation.

645 Woman Aviator

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.

Guest

Loretta Hall

Loretta Hall captured the memoir of the extraordinary woman aviator, Wally Funk, in Higher, Faster, Longer: My Life in Aviation and My Quest for Spaceflight.

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.

Wally Funk

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.

Loretta Hall and Wally Funk

Aviation News

This $30 Billion Deal Could Reshape the Aviation Industry

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’s Falcon 6X Makes First Flight

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.

2021 GA Award Winners Announced by FAA, Committee

The awards for National Flight Instructor, Aviation Technician, and FAASTeam Rep of the Year will be presented at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July. The 2021 awards go to:

  • Ronald Jay Timmermans of Orlando, Florida, Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year
  • Michael Colin Dunkley of Coshocton, Ohio, Aviation Technician of the Year 
  • Adam Timothy Magee of Swisher, Iowa, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

‘To infinity & beyond!’ Southwest Airlines reunites Buzz Lightyear with young passenger who left toy behind

After a young boy left his beloved Buzz Lightyear on a flight, a Southwest employee found it, located the family, and arranged for Buzz to return home.

Women’s History Month: A Look at Impactful Women in Aviation

Women Entrepreneurs in Aviation

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.

Mentioned

#PaxEx Podcast 74: Ready to fly, but has COVID reset expectations?

Max Flight’s Aviation Podcast Directory

Airline Pilot Guy podcast

ABC7 Salutes: Filmmakers complete mission to make documentary honoring WWII heroes

Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission is a hybrid documentary and action film with painstakingly accurate recreations filmed using real planes (at the Palm Springs Air Museum and the March Field Air Museum) and recreated models. It is now available on streaming and cable platforms and on DVD.

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.

View the trailer: Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission

World’s best airports for customer experience revealed

Support

You can support the Airplane Geeks podcast by making a donation.

643 Aeronautical Charts

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

Aeronautical chart

Guest

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

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

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

Aviation News

NTSB’s TWA Flight 800 Reconstruction to be Decommissioned

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

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

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

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

Flying Announces Editors’ Choice Awards for 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Delegated Organizations

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

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

Delta To Reactivate All Pilots By October

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

Icelandair 767 flying between Iceland & Antarctica

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

Mentioned

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

Virtual aviation events:

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

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

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

641 AOPA Events for 2021

The AOPA events planned for 2021, Bombardier ending Learjet production, United Airlines investment in eVTOL, VFR charts move to a 56-day production cycle, F-35A engine issues impact the demo team schedule, and a TSA agent saves the day for some confused passengers.

Guest

Chris Eads, AOPA Senior Director, Outreach and Events

Chris Eads is Senior Director, Outreach and Events for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). He’s a private pilot and an AOPA member since 2001. He began working for AOPA in 2013. Chris flies VFR all over the country both for fun and as a part of his role leading AOPA events and regional fly-ins.

We focus on AOPA’s thinking and plans for events late in 2021 and even into 2022. The organization has released plans for two 2021 Aviator Showcase events. Each showcase will be a single-day event designed to provide new product and aircraft information to pilots, aircraft owners, and prospective buyers.

Aviator Showcase at Manassas, Virginia
Aug. 27, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Manassas Regional Airport (KHEF), hosted by Chantilly Air Jet Center.

Aviator Showcase at Fort Worth, Texas
Oct. 1, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Fort Worth Alliance Airport (KAFW), hosted by Alliance Aviation Services.

These events will be one-day gatherings in an exhibit hall, with an aircraft sales display and technology-related seminars. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders in avionics and cockpit technology, flight planning, weather resources, aircraft manufacturing, and more.

To be sure AOPA is in alignment with current CDC guidelines at the time of the event, registration will open approximately 12 weeks prior to each event. Attendance will be limited according to CDC restrictions, and advance registration is required.

In addition to the two Showcases, AOPA is considering “pilot gathering air tours” for when the pandemic clears sufficiently. These would be similar to a barnstormer’s tour and include social functions, unlike the Aviator Showcase events.

Aviation News

Learjet, once the go-to private plane for celebrities, is ending production

Learjet, owned by Bombardier, will stop production later this year. Bombardier said it will concentrate on the Challenger and Global aircraft, which are more profitable. The company was started in 1962 by Bill Lear, with the first entry-into-service in 1963. The company was purchased by Bombardier in 1990.

Archer Aviation gets a $1 billion order from United Airlines, on the same day it announces a deal to go public

Archer Aviation Inc. announced that United placed an order valued at $1 billion for all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL). United has an option to buy an additional $500 million worth of aircraft. Archer also announced its merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. which takes the company public and allows the public to invest in the urban air mobility (UAM) market. United Airlines plans to have a role in the UAM market with “last mile” transportation between airports and urban destinations using low-emission eVTOL aircraft.

VFR charts to go on 56-day publication cycle in 2021

The 56-Day Visual Charts notice [PDF] was published January 15, 2021 and takes effect February 25, 2021. In shortening the update cycle for VFR charts to match the dates on IFR charts, the FAA will now be updating all charts every 56 days.

F-35 Demo Team Forced To Cut Airshow Appearances Due To Fleet-Wide Engine Issues

Turbine blades in the Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engine powering the F-35 are experiencing shorter than expected life. Some F-35As have been running close to design limits which is causing premature cracks in the turbine blade coatings. While not a flight safety issue, it is causing unscheduled engine removals. The depot system is apparently already backlogged, so this extra workload is adding to that problem. This impacts the available engine supply so the Air Force F-35 demonstration team is scaling back the number of air show appearances by about a third.

Wrong Portland: TSA officer helps family fly to correct coast

A family of three Spanish-speaking passengers landed in the wrong Portland airport – Oregon, not Maine. They were about 2,500 miles from where they wanted to be. A TSA agent escorted the family to a ticket agent, and learned the family only had $200. The agent personally provided the additional money that allowed them to book a flight to their correct destination.

Mentioned

Check Out These Stunning Images Of The Super Bowl’s Bomber Trio Flyover

Here’s why Army helicopters have Native American names

FAA Files Reveal a Surprising Threat to Airline Safety: the U.S. Military’s GPS Tests

Gerbino Flight Systems: Innovations in Flight

Gerbino rotorcraft by listener Harold.

640 Australian Women Pilots

Amazing true stories of Australian woman pilots, predicting the air travel recovery, airline response to shifting demand, flying across the Atlantic on the jetstream, roles for USAF tankers, preventing cabin crew from disappearing, and an Alaska Airlines sweepstakes for lovers.

Guest

Kathy Mexted, author of Australian Women Pilots.
Kathy Mexted, author of Australian Women Pilots.

Kathy Mexted is a writer, photographer, and editor of AirSport Magazine from Sport Aircraft Association Australia, a general aviation organization. She’s written for several publications and her recently published book is titled Australian Woman Pilots, Amazing True Stories of Women in the Air.

Australian Women Pilots

Kathy’s book tells the stories of ten Australian women pilots, and we look at three in particular. Gaby Kennard flew around the world in a Saratoga, mostly following Amelia Earhart’s route. In a ferrying operation, Lyn Gray had to ditch a Seminole 500 miles off Hawaii, requiring a U.S. Coastguard operation. Patricia Toole flew cargo and passenger flights in rugged and dangerous New Guinea. Meeting Patricia just before her death motivated Kathy to tell the inspiring stories of these women pilots.

Aviation News

Air travel recovery likely pushed back to 2022

The optimism that the Covid vaccine would quickly turn everything around for the travel industry may have been premature. We see the slow pace of vaccinations, which may not prevent you from transmitting the virus to others, mutations popping up, closed borders, and no consensus on so-called “vaccine passports.” The International Air Transport Association that in a worst-case scenario, passenger traffic may only improve by 13 percent this year.

Airlines Are Ditching Business Hubs and Rerouting Flights to Florida

Leisure travel is showing signs of life, but business travel is not. Since convenience is important to leisure travelers, airlines are responding with more direct routes.

Fly like the wind: Pilots are about to cross the Atlantic in a whole new way

More than 1,300 flights used to occur daily over the North Atlantic. Radar cannot cover the entire distance, so to maintain safe separation, the organized track structure (OTS) was created. Safe, but not the most efficient. However, Reading University researchers found that over the course of a typical winter, a 2.7% saving on carbon emission per passenger could be obtained if aircraft flew routes that took advantage of the wind. 

Air Force Hunts for Ways to Use Not-Quite-Ready Tankers

The behind-schedule Boeing KC-46 tankers are still in testing because of the improvements needed for its refueling system. In addition, two problems exist with the plane’s auxiliary power unit. The Air Mobility Command is “exploring limited operational capability for the KC-46.”

Airline to confiscate cabin crew’s passports after second flight attendant goes missing during layover

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA)  said it will confiscate cabin crew passports during layovers. Twice now flight attendants have gone missing for the return leg of a round-trip.

Alaska Airlines offers pandemic’s locked-down lovers a chance at free flights

This offer expired, but Alaska Airlines held a contest where 100 couples won roundtrip tickets. The “Booking for Love Sweepstakes” requested stories from couples who had “a long-distance love that began during the lock down or was separated by stay-at-home orders.”

AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 Update

Planning for the 2021 event continues, but with Covid-19 protocols in place. Get the latest information at the EAA page for Oshkosh 2021 Covid updates

FAA Creates Gateways for new Presidential TFR

AOPA has been working with the FAA and other agencies since October to gather information about how future presidential TFRs might impact general aviation operations, part of a yearslong effort spanning many administrations to mitigate the economic damage and inconvenience that these restrictions can cause.

Mentioned

DARPA Disc Rotor Helicopter and other projects

Video: DARPA/Boeing DiscRotor

A Curator Special: The Impossible Case of MH370, a special episode of the podcast Monocle 24: The Curator from Monocle.

Hampton Roads Helicopters, a full-service aviation company for both helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft based at Hampton Roads Executive Airport (PVG).

636 Boeing Criminal Fine

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation analysts react to Boeing criminal fine

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

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

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

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

FAA issues rules for supersonic jet flight testing in the US

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flight attendant union wants pro-Trump rioters barred from flights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pipistrel G4
Pipistrel G4

Mentioned

Wendover Airfield

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

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

633 Aviation Safety

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

Southwest livery

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Queen of the Hurricanes drove a Model A Roadster

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

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

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

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

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

Countries Ban U.K. Flights Amid Mutant Coronavirus Concerns

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

Mentioned

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

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

629 Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Airworthiness Directive

We talk with an Air Traffic Controller at London Heathrow who also acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the RIAT airshow. In the news, FAA airworthiness directive permits the Boeing 737 MAX to return to service, Delta and tariffs on Airbus aircraft, Gatwick slot usage and planned labor action at Heathrow, speed dating in the air, Norwegian Air Shuttle troubles, autonomous airplane tugs, and a F/A-18C Hornet goes into the National Air & Space Museum.

Guest

Adam Spink has been an air traffic controller at the Heathrow Airport tower for 22 years. He’s also an instructor, examiner, and supervisor. Adam’s main job is in the Procedures and Development office working on new procedures and equipment.

Adam explains aircraft wake turbulence and the Time Based Separation (TBS) used at Heathrow to increase the aircraft landing rate, including the implications for air traffic controllers when planes are separated by time instead of by distance. See: New separation standard permanently adopted over the North Atlantic.

We also learn how the environmental aspects of aviation fit into key performance measures and controller metrics that include reduced emissions.

In addition to his job as a NATS controller at Heathrow, Adam acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford in the UK. He’s a member of the UK Air Transport Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (the equivalent of NASA ASRS), and a member of various international working groups on low visibility ops, satellite-based navigation, and radar systems. Adam speaks about human factors at various medical school/medical university courses.

Find Adam on Twitter and Instagram.

Aviation News

U.S. lifts Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probes, tough hurdles remain

On November 20, 2020, the FAA issued AD 2020-24-02, Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes [PDF] superseding Airworthiness Directive 2018-23-51, which applied to all Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) airplanes. AD 2018-23-51 required revising certificate limitations and operating procedures of the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to provide the flight crew with runaway horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under certain conditions. 

The new AD requires installing new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual to incorporate new and revised flight crew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an angle of attack (AOA) sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight.

Southwest deploys team to bring 737 MAX jets out of desert

Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 MAX jets in storage in Victorville, California. The airline sent a team of mechanics to start the process of bringing its jets out of storage. 737 MAX flights at Southwest should resume the second quarter of 2021. There will be no re-booking charge for passengers who are uncomfortable flying on the MAX.

European regulator to lift Boeing 737 MAX grounding in January

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) executive director said the 737 MAX is safe to fly.  “We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests. All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We have started to put in place all the measures. It is likely that in our case we will adopt the decisions, allowing it to return to service, sometime in January.”

Delta Skirts Trump Tariffs by Sending Airbus Jets on World Tour

As part of the Boeing/Airbus subsidy battle, tariffs were placed on European-built Airbus aircraft in October 2019. Delta has taken delivery of seven planes since then, but instead of flying them to the United States, the airline based them overseas, avoiding the tariff because they weren’t imports. In a statement to Bloomberg News, Delta said “We have made the decision not to import any new aircraft from Europe while these tariffs are in effect. Instead, we have opted to use the new aircraft exclusively for international service, which does not require importation.”

Suspension of airport “80/20” slot usage rule to last till end of March 2021 – Gatwick not happy

Until March 2020, European regulations required that an airline use 80% of its landing slots or they were lost. But because of the huge drop in travel demand, the rule was suspended for six months, then extended for another 6 months, to 27th March 2021. Gatwick airport wants the old slot rules reinstated before summer 2021.

Heathrow Staff To Strike For 4 Days In December

London’s Heathrow Airport wants to cut costs by reducing wages. The large Unite trade union says the airport plans to fire some 4,000 workers, then rehire them at lower wages. 85% of the union membership voted in favor of strikes in protest.

Airline offers speed-dating on dead-end ‘flight to nowhere’

Taiwanese carrier EVA Air and travel experience company are offering flights called “Fly! Love Is In the Air!” Twenty men and twenty women will depart from Taipei, fly around the island for three hours, return to the airport, and pairs will then enjoy a two-hour date. Seating on the plane is by random draw, but mingling is allowed. Food is prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

Norwegian Air Is the Latest Trans-Atlantic Carrier to File for Bankruptcy in 2020 Due to Covid-19

Norwegian Air Shuttle has filed for protection from creditors in Ireland.

Autonomous Electric Tow Tugs Could Cut Handling Costs

Californian start-up Moonware says the aviation industry is stagnant. They want to do something about that. Moonware says they are “building an AI-powered fleet management network and subsequently deploying autonomous & electric vehicles to fundamentally reshape airport operations.” The company is developing a family of autonomous electrically powered tow tugs for aircraft ground handling.

National Air and Space Museum Welcomes Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has brought a Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet BuNo 163439 into the collection. This is the first “Blue Angels” aircraft and the first F-18 the museum has acquired. 

Mentioned

Save Whiteman airport, a change.org petition.

Dobbins Reservists Tie the Knot Aboard a C-130

615 Supersonic Commercial Aircraft

Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic supersonic commercial aircraft eye Rolls-Royce engine technology, China’s AG600 large seaplane, United’s ERJ-145 regional jets to CommutAir, pilot re-examinations, Boeing’s quarterly loss and good 737 MAX news, airline passengers and booze, the growing stockpile of airline nuts, and Allegiant Air’s clever “work from Vegas” packages.

Aviation News

Boom, Rolls-Royce Partner On Supersonic Overture

Boom Supersonic and Rolls-Royce announced they are exploring a Rolls-Royce propulsion system on Boom’s Overture supersonic commercial aircraft. The companies will investigate if an existing engine architecture can be adapted for supersonic flight. The smaller Boom XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is expected to roll out on Oct. 7, 2020.

See the Boom press release: Engine Studies Advance Program Development and Focus on Sustainability and the outstanding XB-1 progress animation.

Virgin Galactic Unveils Mach 3 Aircraft Design for High Speed Travel, and Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce

Virgin Galactic Holdings wants to create a supersonic commercial aircraft and just unveiled its initial design of a Mach 3 airplane. The company’s manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles, The Spaceship Company (“TSC”), announced the first stage design scope and also the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.

Virgin is targeting a Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft, with a capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet, that is able to incorporate custom cabin layouts, and use sustainable aviation fuel.

The FAA’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation will work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework.

United to drop contract with ExpressJet, dealing fatal blow

United Airlines plans to move its 50-seat United Express Embraer ERJ-145 planes operated by ExpressJet to regional carrier CommutAir, which would become United’s sole ERJ-145 operator. Operations are being consolidated as United looks to be a smaller airline as a result of the pandemic. United says, “This transition will take a number of months.”

The World’s Largest Seaplane Pulls Off Its First Waterborne Flight

The AG600 “Kunlong” is China’s first seaplane and the world’s largest seaplane. The AG600 just had its first takeoff from the ocean, followed by a 31-minute flight. The plane, which did fly from a reservoir in 2018, can carry 50 passengers up to 2,700 miles. It has a 128-foot wingspan and a length of 121 feet. Maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons. Power comes from four WJ-6 turboprops.

Video: China’s AG600 amphibious aircraft completes first sea surface flight

Pilots Who Flew With Discredited Examiner Face Reexamination

The FAA has notified some pilots that they may have to be re-examined because of problems with the work of a specific examiner.

Boeing’s revenue plunges 25 percent as long-term effects of pandemic take hold

Shipments are down and so is Boeing’s second-quarter profit.

FAA gives preliminary approval on design fixes for 737 Max

Welcome news for Boeing. A few details need attention and the FAA will proceed with a 45-day public comment period.

Most airlines aren’t serving booze during the pandemic. Passengers are (illegally) bringing their own

Some people just need a drink when flying, but it’s against regulations for a passenger to bring their own.

There’s A Huge Surplus Of American Airlines Nuts

Fewer people are flying and the stockpile of airline nuts is growing. Order yours now for an at-home experience.

Viva Las remote office? Allegiant Air to pitch ‘work from Vegas’ travel packages to boost bookings

Allegiant Air has a brilliant idea to provide you with a “work at home” experience in Las Vegas.

Mentioned

For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken was our guest in Episode 432.

There is always a ham in the crowd…

614 Choosing a Flight School

An aviation climate control proposal from the EPA, an update on airline furloughs, questions about fighter pilot’s flying experience, Airbus’ autonomous A350, Delta Airline’s fleet simplification, and the Garmin outage that lasted for days. Also, an Australia News Desk from the boys down under, a special discount code for our listeners, and advice on choosing a flight school.

Aviation News

US Says it Will Adopt Global Climate Standards for Aviation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new aircraft emissions regulations that some are criticizing and others are applauding. The proposal adopts 2017 emissions standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Boeing and the Airlines for America trade group welcomed the proposal. Environmental groups and the EPA itself said the proposed regulations would have no meaningful effect.

Southwest Airlines Will Not Furlough Workers On Oct. 1

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced that the airline will not furlough or lay off any workers on Oct. 1, 2020. Kelly said, “We have no intention of seeking furloughs, layoffs, pay rate cuts or benefits cuts through at least the end of the year… I can’t guarantee it will never happen, especially during these dark pandemic times. I can promise you it will be the last thing we do to keep Southwest financially healthy and viable.”

American Airlines’ Grim Warning To Flight Attendants

American Airlines says it has over 20,000 more employees than it will need later this year. The airline has been trying to entice employees to accept voluntary leaves of absence or early retirement, but the acceptance numbers are lower than American wants to see.

Fighter Pilots Warn Of Newly Trained Pilots’ Lack Of Actual Flying Experience

We’ve recently seen a number of military aviation accidents. A team of senior U.S. Air Force officers has been speaking to pilots and aircrew to see if there are common factors. They find that experienced pilots worry about possible cuts in flying hours and increased use of simulators.

Airbus Completes Autonomous Airliner Experiment

Since 2018, Airbus has flown an A350-1000 autonomously 500 times. The airplane is fitted with image recognition technology that uses external cameras. The software processes the images and controls the flight.

Delta Air Lines: Fleet Simplification Will Be A Game Changer

Delta had announced a fleet simplification strategy last December. At the beginning of 2020, Delta operated 20 different aircraft models in multiple configurations, with two more scheduled to join the fleet in 2020 (the Airbus A220-300 and A321neo). Delta has now accelerated its simplification strategy.

FAA warns of Boeing 737 double-engine power loss (EAD)

The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for Boeing 737 Classic and NextGeneration aircraft in storage. The bleed air fifth stage check valve on CFM56 engines stored for seven or more days could exhibit corrosion that could lead to an engine shutdown. Perhaps even a double-engine shutdown. This follows four single-engine 737 shutdowns during flight.

Garmin Aviation App And Services Down in Ransomware Attack

On Jul. 23, 2020, Garmin experienced a major outage attributed in the press to a ransomware attack. The FlyGarmin app for pilots using Garmin GPS based instruments and navigation equipment was affected, as was the Garmin Pilot app and Garmin aviation and navigation watches.

Mentioned

QANTAS Boeing 747 VH-OEJ “Wunala” Final Walkaround at LAX

For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken from PilotPartner was our guest in Episode 432.

Delta CEO: Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis – Boss Files with Poppy Harlow

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the airline industry, Delta CEO Ed Bastian says he is leading the company through a defining moment. He opens up about how Delta is navigating the crisis, mandating masks on all flights, and blocking middle seats. He also pledges as CEO to stand against racism and is committed to promoting more African-American executives throughout the company.