Tag Archives: FAA

791 U.S. Space Force

We learn about the U.S. Space Force with this week’s guest. In the news, aviation groups are unhappy with new tax proposals, a probable cause for the LATAM B787 sudden dive, results from the recent FAA production audit at Boeing, the NTSB plans a hearing on the 737-9 MAX door plug blowout, and JetBlue is getting an unfavorable response after a couple didn’t get what they paid for.

Guest

Colonel Erin Dick, standing.

Colonel Erin Dick currently serves in both civilian and military roles. On the civilian side, she is the Director of Public Affairs for the RAND Corporation. This non-profit, non-partisan research organization helps improve public policy through research and analysis. Her military position is IMA to the Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Forces Japan.

Erin’s previous military assignments were with the Space Training and Readiness Command (Space Force) and the US Space Command (Joint Combatant Command). She is a communications and public affairs executive with over 26 years of experience including leadership positions with multiple Fortune 100 aerospace/defense and engineering/architecture firms.

While Erin is not currently in the U.S. Space Force and did not speak to us as a representative of the Space Force, she provides valuable insights that help us understand the organization, its mission, people, and training.

Erin explains that space has become a contested domain and the Space Force was created to address the resulting challenges. The Space Force was formed by pulling resources from all the services and only includes three career fields: satellite operations, cyber, and space intel.

Seal of the US Space Force

Erin helps us understand the challenges of public perception faced by the service and provides her insights on the future of the Space Force and the importance of partnerships with industry and academia.

On a personal level, Erin shares her background in aviation, including her experience as a private pilot. She tells of joining the CV-22 squadron and reflects on her involvement in crisis communication following the recent tragic CV-22 crash.

A Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve, Erin has served for 26 years. As an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) in the Air Force, Erin has some unique responsibilities being directly assigned to an active duty unit and stepping in when needed. She has an MA in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University and a BA in English from Texas A&M University.

New Commands, Ranks, and More: Big Changes for Air Force & Space Force

Growing the Space Force: Is Outsourcing Operations the Answer?

Space Force reveals official song: ‘Semper Supra’

Video: The Official United States Space Force Song (Lyric Video)

Aviation News

Aviation-Labor Coalition Warns of Harm from Tax Proposals Targeting Business Aviation

President Biden recently unveiled the Administration’s FY25 budget plan. It includes increasing the business aviation fuel tax five times and reducing the depreciation schedule to seven years from five for purchased business aircraft. The aviation and labor alphabet groups expressed their displeasure by sending a letter [PDF] to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The letter was signed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), and Vertical Aviation International (VAI).

Boeing Tells Airlines to Check 787 Cockpit Seats After Mishap on Latam Flight

The “technical event” on the LATAM flight that recently experienced a severe dive, injuring many passengers, may have been identified. It appears that a flight attendant serving a meal to the cockpit crew might have inadvertently bumped the switch that adjusts the pilot’s seat. The pilot then pitched forward into the controls. In a memo to 787 operators, Boeing recommends inspecting cockpit seats for loose switch covers and instructs operators how to turn off power to the pilot seat motor if needed. Boeing says this is a known issue and issued a service bulletin in 2017. 

FAA audit of Boeing’s 737 Max production reportedly found ‘dozens of issues’

The New York Times reports that in a recent FAA 6-week production audit at Boeing, the airframer passed 56 tests and failed 33 tests. The NYT based its reporting after reviewing an internal FAA slide presentation. Many of the failed tests centered around a failure to follow “approved manufacturing processes” and a failure to keep proper quality control documentation. The FAA also performed a product audit at SpiritAerosystems which resulted in six passes and seven fails.

NTSB to hear sworn testimonies at public hearing into 737-9 door plug blowout

On August 6 and 7, 2024 the NTSB plans to hold an investigative hearing into the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 door plug blowout on January 5, 2024. Sworn testimonies from witnesses help the NTSB determine the facts, circumstances, and probable cause of the incident. The hearing will be open to the public and will be live-streamed. Only NTSB board members, investigators, scheduled witnesses, and parties to the hearing will be allowed to participate.

See:

Alaska Airlines Flight Was Scheduled for Safety Check on Day Panel Blew Off

Alaska Airlines “engineers and technicians” had concerns and the aircraft was due to go out of service that evening. The NYT implies that the airline should have immediately taken the plane out of passenger service. They report that “Alaska Airlines says the plane did not meet its standards for immediately taking it out of service.”

JetBlue is slammed for charging elderly couple $5,200 for lie-flat seats that wouldn’t recline during seven-hour flight – then offering them just $400 travel credit even though neither wants to set foot on airline again

Traveling from Boston to California and wanting to travel in comfort, the 83-year-old couple purchased JetBlue’s “Mint Class” seats. Available on all transatlantic and select coast-to-coast flights, the service offers: “All suites. All aisle access. All the better to deliver our personalized, award-winning service. Featuring lie-flat seats and our exclusive Tuft & Needle sleep experience.”

But his seat was stuck halfway between upright and flat. Her seat was stuck fully upright. The crew managed to get his seat upright, but neither would recline. Then on the return flight, his seat reclined but her seat did not. Jetblue offered the couple $400 in Jetblue credit, but they plan to never fly on Jetblue again. The airline did increase their offer to $1,200 in travel credit.

Mentioned

Masters of the Air on Apple TV.

35th and Final Heli-Expo Sets Record Attendance Mark

Hosts this Episode

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

789 Scaled Composites

We talk with both the President of Scaled Composites and the VP of Flight Operations. In the news, the FAA tells Boeing to make a plan, Boeing looks at re-acquiring SpiritAerosystems, Skyryse takes deposits for a fly-by-wire helicopter, the V-22 Osprey could be returning to flight, airlines scale back pilot hiring, and the JetBlue – Spirit merger is off.

Guests

Peter Siebold and Greg Norris of Scaled Composites standing on the apron.
Peter Siebold and Greg Morris

Greg Morris is the president of Scaled Composites, and Pete Siebold is the VP of Flight Operations. Scaled Composites is the aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan to develop experimental aircraft. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman and located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Scaled focuses on designing and developing concept aircraft that are often unconventional.

Greg and Pete describe the Scaled “secret sauce” and the company culture that keeps employees engaged and operating at their creative best. We hear about the experience of a first flight in a Scaled aircraft and the preparations made before test flights. Also how Scaled helps customers define their requirements and then designs the aircraft technology to meet those requirements. Interestingly, the design for a technology demonstrator can be quite different than the design for manufacturability. The two explain the personal and professional qualities that position an individual for an aviation career such as you might find at a company like Scaled Composites.

Greg Morris

Greg joined Scaled Composites in 2023 from Gauntlet Aerospace where he was President and Chief Test Pilot. He operated a flight school for 7 years and had 10 years of experience in flight test operations, including teaching in the Qualitative Evaluation Program for the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and target and chase support for the 412th Test Wing. Greg is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and serves on the SETP Membership Committee. He is a nationally designated FAA Experimental Examiner and he’s conducted check-rides for a variety of aircraft, both Scaled Composites and others. 

Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the National Test Pilot School.

Peter Siebold

Pete joined Scaled Composites in 1996 as a Design Engineer on the VisionAire Vantage. He worked extensively as a Flight Test Engineer on multiple programs before becoming a Test Pilot for the company. During his time at Scaled, Pete has held multiple leadership positions within engineering and flight operations, including Director of Flight Operations. Pete has flown 4 first flights at Scaled and 11 different Scaled aircraft. He was heavily involved in the development of Scaled’s simulator and avionics capabilities.

Pete obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became a certified flight instructor while attending the university, a rating he retains to this day. He is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with seven Experimental Aircraft Authorizations and two Type Ratings. In 2004, Pete was part of the test team that won the Iven C. Kincheloe award for SpaceShipOne. He was bestowed the honor again in 2009 for his work as Project Pilot for WhiteKnightTwo.

Video: Model 401 Sierra First Flight

Video: Proteus: 25 years of Flight

Find Scaled Composites on Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Aviation News

FAA to Boeing: Develop a plan to fix your quality issues within 90 days

At a meeting in FAA headquarters, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun that Boeing has 90 days to provide an action plan that addresses its “systemic quality-control issues.” After the meeting, Whitaker said, “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

The plan must take into account the findings of the expert review panel report and the results of an FAA production-line audit. It will include the steps necessary to mature Boeing’s Safety Management System and integrate this with the company’s Quality Management System, to “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers.”

Justice Department Looking Into Boeing Blowout

The DOJ is examining whether the door panel incident falls under the government’s 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing after the two fatal 737 Max crashes. If prosecutors determine that Boeing’s handling of the incident violated the 2021 agreement, they could rescind it and bring criminal charges against the company.

Engineering union and Boeing face off in fraught pilot contract dispute

The labor contract is with 23 flight technical and safety pilots in the flight operations group. These pilots don’t routinely fly production aircraft. The flight technical pilots develop pilot training programs and pilot manuals and liaise with airlines on their flight operations. The safety pilots help develop flight deck systems for new aircraft and support the certification process. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA) says its members have “first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems an expert panel reported on…”

Boeing in Talks to Buy Troubled Supplier Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems has had preliminary discussions with Boeing and has hired bankers to explore strategic options. Spirit is also looking at selling its Ireland unit that makes parts for Airbus. Both companies have confirmed they are having merger discussions. The talks might not result in a deal. In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality, and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Skyryse Taking Deposits for Fly-by-wire Turbine Single

Skyryse One is a Robinson R66 helicopter that has been retrofitted with the proprietary SkyOS operating system. This features a single-stick control and two touchscreens. It’s an IFR-capable, aircraft-agnostic, triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. Skyryse is taking refundable, non-transferrable $2,500 deposits.

V-22 Osprey Fleet To Return To Flight After 3-Month Worldwide Grounding

The V-22 Osprey fleet received approval from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a safe and measured return to operations. The Naval Air Systems Command could lift the grounding and allow the services to resume V-22 flight operations. The cause of the crash has been identified, but the reason for the failure has not. The investigation continues.

Southwest Airlines Scales Back Pilot Hiring In 2024

A Southwest memo says, “Based on expected capacity growth beyond 2024, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend Initial First Officer Training classes through the remainder of 2024 and defer job offers, beginning with our April classes.” The airline said pilots with conditional job offers would be placed in a “deferred candidate pool.” Once hiring resumes, those pilots would be called up.

JetBlue, Spirit end $3.8 billion merger agreement after losing antitrust suit

Citing regulatory hurdles, the two airlines ended their merger agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Today’s decision by JetBlue is yet another victory for the Justice Department’s work on behalf of American consumers.”

Mentioned

Making Like Maverick in an L-39 by Rob Mark in JetWhine.

Bob Heil

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Tesla Model S and Model 3 vulnerable to GNSS spoofing attacks

Wheel Bearings podcast.

Hosts this Episode

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

788 Corporate Flight Attendant

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

Guest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAA panel finds Boeing safety culture wanting, recommends overhaul

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

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

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

Mentioned

Why a Good Flight Attendant Matters

Gulfstream 550 Evacuation Crewmember Training

G550 Will Require Evac Crewmember

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

The Biden administration’s bet on sustainable aviation fuel

Hosts this Episode

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

786 Flying Tigers

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

Guest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

GPS interference now a major flight safety concern for airline industry

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

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

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

The workshop attendees agreed to several measures:

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

Boeing shareholders sue after midair 737 Max 9 blowout

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

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

Other related suits:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FAA warns US Congress against hiking airline pilot retirement age

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

Hosts this Episode

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

783 Favorite Aviation Movies

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

Listener’s Favorite Aviation Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Geek’s Favorite Aviation Movies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Micah’s Favorite Aviation Movies

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

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

Move Favorite Aviation Movies

These movies were submitted by listeners after the episode posted:

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spirit Sells 25 Aircraft to Reduce Debt 

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

NetJets Implements Mandatory Age-70 Pilot Retirement

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

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

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

See: Congress passes rule raising voluntary pilot age restriction

Cirrus Unveils Generation Seven of the SR-22

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

Video: SR Series G7 Features

Mentioned

Video: Van Halen – Dreams 1986 (Blue Angels)

Hosts this Episode

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

781 Astronaut

A veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, and author discusses his journey to becoming an astronaut and his experiences in space. In the news, FAA orders Boeing 737 Max 9 planes grounded, a JAL A350 collides with a Dash-8, seating layout and air rage, American Airlines launches Smart Gating, and JSX plans to buy more than 300 hybrid-electric aircraft.

Guest

Astronaut Tom Jones standing in front of the Atlantis Space Shuttle

Thomas D. Jones is a veteran NASA astronaut, scientist, author, pilot, and speaker. He flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit in more than eleven years with NASA. In 2001, Tom led three spacewalks to install the American Destiny laboratory, the centerpiece of the International Space Station. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space. Tom has written seven space, aviation, and history books. 

Tom’s latest title is Space Shuttle Stories: Firsthand Astronaut Accounts from All 135 Missions from Smithsonian Books. This book is a comprehensive oral history of the thirty years of the Space Shuttle. Tom collected stories from astronauts across all 135 shuttle missions.

Book cover: Space Shuttle Stories

A Distinguished Graduate of the Air Force Academy, Tom piloted B-52D strategic bombers, earned a doctorate in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona, studied asteroids and robotic exploration missions for NASA, and engineered intelligence-gathering systems for the CIA.

Tom’s awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the NASA Exceptional Public Service Award, Phi Beta Kappa, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and Distinguished Eagle Scout. Asteroid 1082 Tom Jones is named in his honor. In 2018, Tom was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Tom served on the NASA Advisory Council and the Association of Space Explorers and the Astronauts Memorial Foundation boards. He consults on the future direction of human space exploration, uses of asteroid and space resources, and planetary defense. A frequent public speaker, he is often seen on-air delivering expert commentary on science and space flight.

For more, see Tom’s website, follow him on Twitter/X at @AstroTomJones, and he’s also on Facebook.

Aviation News

FAA orders grounding of certain Boeing 737 Max 9 planes after Alaska Airlines incident

FAA orders temporary grounding of Boeing 737 Max 9s

A new Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 lost a plugged rear-aft door as it climbed out from Portland, Oregon. The plane depressurized and immediately returned to the airport. No injuries were reported. The FAA ordered maintenance and safety inspections.

Haneda accident outcome the sum of decades of integrated air safety lessons

What if the Haneda Accident Had Occurred in the US?

A landing Japan Airlines A350-900 collided with a Japan Coast Guard (JCG) Dash 8-300 resulting in the deaths of five members of the JCG and the total loss of the A350. All 368 passengers and 12 crew members of JAL plane evacuated safely.

Class ‘Inequity’ Fuels Air Rage

The Physical and Situational Inequality on Airplanes Predicts Air Rage study by Princeton University found that the chance of an air rage incident increased four times when the aircraft had a first-class section. The chance doubles again when boarding economy-class passengers pass through the first-class section.

Smart Gating: How American Airlines Is Using Machine Learning To Reduce Taxi Times By 20%

The American Airlines Smart Gating system is designed to streamline operations, reduce taxiing times, save jet fuel, reduce carbon emissions, and improve operational efficiency. The system uses real-time flight information and assigns aircraft to the closest gate. This can reduce taxiing time by up to 20%. Smart Gating has been deployed across American Airlines’ major hubs.

Video: American Airlines Smart Gating

JSX Plans To Add 300+ Hybrid-electric Aircraft to Fleet

Public charter operator JSX intends to purchase up to 332 hybrid-electric aircraft: 82 Electra nine-passenger eSTOL aircraft (32/50 firm/options), up to 150 Aura Aero 19-seat Era model (50/100), and up to 100 Heart Aerospace 30-seat ES-30 (50/50).

Mentioned

Ramrod to Munster by Stephen C. Ananian [PDF]

Aircraft Accident Investigation (AAI) course, University of Southern California.

The course is designed for individuals who have limited investigation experience. All aspects of the investigation process are addressed, starting with preparation for the investigation through writing the final report. It covers National Transportation Safety Board and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) procedures. Investigative techniques are examined with an emphasis on fixed-wing investigation. Data collection, wreckage reconstruction, and cause analysis are discussed in the classroom and applied in the lab.

Can you spot Max Trescott?

The Journey is the Reward podcast, Episode 60: A Conversation with Capt Jeff of the Airline Pilot Guy.

Hosts this Episode

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

779 Aircraft Leases

Aircraft leases, engine leasing pools, and related aerospace investments. In the news, Southwest flight attendants will have to vote again on the proposed labor contract, the YouTuber who crashed his plane in a video stunt is flying again, the FAA issues an NPRM for the 737NG nacelle retrofit program, another NPRM is out for PW1100G engine inspections, DOT fines Southwest Airlines $150 million, and a new museum is created for WWII crashes flying over “the hump.”

Guest

Nathan Dickstein is Managing Director and Head of Aerospace Leasing at investment firm AE Industrial Partners, LP. The company was founded in 1998 as AeroEquity and later rebranded as AE Industrial Partners (AEI).

Nathan Dickstein, managing director and head of aerospace leasing at AE Industrial Partners, LP (AEI) on aircraft leases.

Nathan focuses on the origination and management of aircraft leases, engine leasing pools, and related aerospace investments. He has over 12 years of industry experience investing in aircraft and engine leasing at investment funds, banks, and leasing companies.

We explore various aspects of aircraft leasing and its impact on the aviation industry. Nathan discusses the challenges faced by airlines due to airworthiness directives and the need for early engine visits. Our conversation also delves into different types of leasing companies and the expertise of AEI in aircraft leasing. Nathan highlights the benefits of aircraft leases and the flexibility they offer. We also consider the growth and resilience of the aircraft leasing industry.

Before joining AE Industrial in 2020, Nathan worked in Marathon Asset Management’s Structured Credit team where he was responsible for the origination and management of aircraft and aviation-related investments. Before Marathon, Nathan was employed by Alterna Capital Partners, responsible for sourcing, executing, and realizing aircraft investments. 

Nathan’s previous industry work experience includes Deucalion Aviation Funds, the equity investment arm of DVB Bank where he was responsible for transaction analysis and deal structuring, and AWAS Aviation Capital, a top 10 aircraft lessor, where he was part of the Risk Management team.

Aviation News

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Forced to Rerun Contract Vote After Crew Discovered Ballot System Was Vulnerable to Fraud

Transport Workers Union Local 556 (TWU Local 556) represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants and contract negotiations have been going on for years. Recently, with 95% of eligible union members voting, the proposed contract was soundly rejected. However, some members questioned the integrity of the voting process. After an investigation, the union says the membership will have to vote again.

Trevor Jacob Goes Flying On Temporary Certificate

Two years ago, Trevor Jacob intentionally crashed his Taylorcraft for a YouTube stunt. His pilot certificate was revoked in April 2022, and he was recently sentenced to six months in prison for hiding evidence. However, Jacob was eligible to apply for a certificate after one year and he says he’s passed the written exam and completed his checkride. With that, the FAA says he has now been issued a temporary pilot certificate.

(a) A temporary pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor certificate or rating is issued for up to 120 days, at which time a permanent certificate will be issued to a person whom the Administrator finds qualified under this part.

(b) A temporary pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor certificate or rating expires: (1) On the expiration date shown on the certificate; (2) Upon receipt of the permanent certificate; or (3) Upon receipt of a notice that the certificate or rating sought is denied or revoked.

Code of Federal Regulations § 61.17 Temporary Certificate.

FAA Starts 737NG Nacelle Retrofit Mandate Process

Following two incidents, the NTSB recommended a redesign of the 737NG nacelle. The FAA issued three notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) that would mandate that operators would have until July 31, 2028, to upgrade their aircraft with new inlet spacers and fasteners, a fan cowl support beam, a stiffer exhaust nozzle, and upgraded inlet aft bulkhead fasteners. Boeing would issue maintenance instructions by Dec. 31, 2029. The changes are intended to keep fan cowls closed, intact, and attached to the airplane in the event of a fan-blade-out event.

FAA Outlines Next Phase Of PW1100G Inspections

In another NPRM, the draft rule based on two service bulletins developed by Pratt would mandate inspections of the PW1100G. The next batch of engines needing off-wing inspection of high-pressure turbine (HPT) stage 1 and stage 2 disks were identified and high-pressure compressor (HPC) stage 7 and 8 integrated blade rotors (IBRs) are to be added to Pratt’s “fleet management plan.”

DOT Penalizes Southwest Airlines $140 Million for 2022 Holiday Meltdown

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $140 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for violating consumer protection laws over the 2022 Christmas holiday and into the New Year after the operational failures canceled 16,900 flights and stranded over two million passengers. Most of the penalty will go towards compensating future Southwest passengers. In its investigation, DOT found the company violated consumer protection laws by failing to provide adequate customer service assistance, failing to provide prompt flight status notifications, and failing to provide refunds promptly and properly.

600 U.S. planes crashed in the Himalayas during WWII. A new museum shows the artifacts

An estimated 1,500 pilots and passengers were killed flying “the hump” due to incorrect maps, weather conditions, flying at high altitudes with unpressurized aircraft, and other causes.

Mentioned

American Heritage Museum

Video: Collings Foundation Hangar (Stow, MA)

Air Force Safety Center: Aviation Statistics

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and David Vanderhoof.

777 Aviation Accident Litigation

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

Guest

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

FAA Takes Action to Address Safety Review Team Recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video: Dronamics Cargo Drone First Flight

Collings Foundation Grounds Air Tour for WWII Aircraft

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

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

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

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

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

Press Release: Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines to merge

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

Australia Desk

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

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

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

Co-Founder buys Mahindra out of GippsAero – Australian Flying

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

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

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

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

Virgin Australia increases 737 MAX-8 aircraft order

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

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

Mentioned

Video: How Many WW2 Fighters Survive in 2023?

The Owners Behind the Most Expensive Private Jets in the World

Hosts this Episode

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

774 Why Flying is Miserable

We talk with the author of Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It. In the news, the NTSB comments on the increase in near-miss aviation incidents, the FAA will appoint an ARC to examine pilot mental health, an NTSB preliminary report on the Hawker/Cessna collision, cargo pilots are offered $250,000 to go regional, and United adjusts their frequent flyer program.

Guest

Ganesh Sitaraman, author of Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It.
Ganesh Sitaraman

Ganesh Sitaraman is a policy expert, Vanderbilt law professor, and the author of the book titled Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It. The book was written to stimulate conversation about the state of air travel in the U.S. and what might be done to make it serve more Americans, more efficiently, with fewer federal bailouts and headaches.

Why Flying is Miserable takes the reader through the history of the U.S. airline industry and how deregulation has brought us to where we are today. In the early years of flight through the 1930’s, policies were defined by the needs of airmail. Then in the 1930s to the 1970s, airlines were regulated largely under a public utility model, ultimately through the Civil Aeronautics Board. This regulated oligopoly was changed to a free market model with deregulation in 1978. The resulting unregulated oligopoly resulted in cutthroat competition in the 1980s which led to consolidation without regulation.

Ganesh describes why flying is miserable for the flying public and miserable for the industry itself. With no changes, another bailout situation will present itself sooner or later, he argues.

Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It book cover

Ganesh offers some reform principles that consider the dynamics of the industry and the goals of a national airline policy: no more flyover country, no bailouts or bankruptcies, and fair and transparent prices. He offers some creative and thought-provoking approaches to achieve those principles.

Ganesh is director of the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation. He’s the author of numerous books, previously a senior advisor to Elizabeth Warren for her presidential campaign, and is a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee

Follow Ganesh on X (Twitter) at @GaneshSitaraman. Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It is available wherever books are sold, as an Audible Audiobook, and on Kindle.

Aviation News

NTSB chair says US near-miss aviation incidents ‘clear warning sign’

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy told a U.S. Senate aviation committee that the increase in near-miss aviation incidents is a “clear warning sign that the U.S. aviation system is sharply strained.” Homendy stated the need for “more technology for runway and cockpit alerting… We cannot wait until a fatal accident forces action.”

American Airlines dangles a $250,000 bonus to lure pilots from FedEx and UPS to fill job shortage that has led to canceled and delayed flights

American Airlines regional carrier PSA Airlines is reportedly offering cargo pilots a $175,000 bonus in the first paycheck, with an additional $75,000 after one year. As the airline cancels flights due to staffing shortages, FedEx and UPS are experiencing reduced demand and flight cuttings. So those carriers are encouraging their pilots to consider the American offer.

Hawker Crew Ignored Instructions from ATC in Houston Bizjet Collision

As previously reported, the left wing of a Hawker 850 (N269AA) hit the vertical stabilizer of a Cessna Mustang (N510HM) landing on a crossing runway at Houston Hobby Airport (KHOU). According to the NTSB preliminary report:

HOU has intersecting runways, and the local controller had instructed the crew of N269AA [Hawker] to line up and wait (LUAW) on runway 22. The crew of N269AA said in a post-accident interview that they believed they heard that they were cleared for takeoff when they took off. The collision between the two airplanes occurred at the intersection of the two runways.

N269AA was in the takeoff roll on runway 22 when the flight data/clearance delivery controller alerted the local controller about N269AA’s movement, and at 1519:47 the local controller stated “november nine alpha alpha, stop, hold your position.” There was no response from the crew of N269AA, and at 1519:53 the local controller again stated, “alpha, alpha, hold your position, stop,” to which there was still no response.

The flight crew from N269AA stated in their post-accident interview they had a rudder bias alert, and a pitch trim alert which they had to resolve as they were in the takeoff roll.

NTSB

HOU tower is equipped with an Airport Surface Detection Equipment – Model X (ASDE-X) system that the FAA describes as “a surveillance system using radar, multilateration and satellite technology that allows air traffic controllers to track surface movement of aircraft and vehicles. It was developed to help reduce critical Category A and B runway incursions.”

ASDE X collects data from 

  • Surface surveillance radar located on top of the air traffic control tower and/or on a remote tower
  • Multilateration sensors located around the airport
  • Airport Surveillance Radars such as the Mode S
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast (ADS-B) sensors
  • Terminal automation system to obtain flight plan data.

By fusing the data from these sources, ASDE-X can determine the position and identification of aircraft and vehicles in the airport movement area, as well as aircraft flying on final approach to the airport. Thirty-five major airports have received ASDE-X.

FAA Naming Panel to Address Pilot Mental Health Issues

The FAA says it is appointing a Pilot Mental Health Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The committee will provide recommendations on breaking down the barriers that prevent pilots from reporting mental health issues to the FAA. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said, “Mental health care has made great strides in recent years, and we want to make sure the FAA is considering those advances when we evaluate the health of pilots.”

The FAA said it would also work to address uncompleted recommendations from a July inspector general’s office report on pilot mental health, which found the FAA’s “ability to mitigate safety risks is limited by pilots’ reluctance to disclose mental health conditions.”

Source: FAA to Appoint Rulemaking Committee to Examine Pilot Mental Health.

In addition, the FAA will work with the ARC to address open recommendations from the July 2023 DOT Office of Inspector General report on Pilot Mental Health Challenges, which found that the agency has “comprehensive procedures to evaluate pilots’ psychological health.”

FAA fact sheet on pilot mental health oversight, Pilot Mental Fitness.

United Airlines tweaks frequent flyer program to reward credit card spending 

UA says they won’t change overall requirements for elite frequent flyer status in 2024. Instead, the airline will give customers 25 qualifying points for every $500 they spend on co-branded credit cards. United will also lift caps on credit card spending that can qualify for elite status. Presently, customers earn 500 points for every $12,000 spent.

Australia Desk

The Indo-Pacific International Maritime Exposition (IndoPac 2023) was held between November 7th and 9th in Sydney, and Grant was in attendance, gathering content for Australian Defence Magazine.  We take a brief look at the expo, particularly in terms of a focus on maritime aviation and defence.

Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition

Local company Rosebank Engineering has secured a contract for RAAF F-35 component maintenance, activating their wheel & brake repair depot, east of Melbourne.

Rosebank Engineering activates F-35 repair depot

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) this week celebrated 30 years of operations at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia, conducting lead-in and advanced training for their military pilots.  The Australian Defence Force enjoys a close working relationship with the Singaporeans not only at Pearce but in several other aspects of training including CH-47 Chinook training at the Army Aviation Regiment’s base at Oakey in Queensland.

The RSAF Commemorates 30 Years of Training in Pearce, Australia

And speaking of maritime topics, what exactly was Steve eating for lunch that has Grant so concerned?  Tune in to find out!  Anchors away….

Mentioned

Frank Borman (left) and Rob Mark (right) at the airport.
Frank Borman and Rob Mark.

Video: Stackhat (Australian ad – 1988)

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and Brian Coleman. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

772 Managing Small Airports

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

Guest

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

Dr. Mike Jones headshot
Dr. Mike Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

Bizjets Collide after Unauthorized Takeoff Attempt at Houston Hobby

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Former deputy confirmed as FAA administrator

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

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

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

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

Australia Desk

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

RAAF flights assist with Israel departures

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SIAA welcomes deal to unlock US space launch from Australian shores

Mentioned

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

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

Boeing Air Taxi Company Flies in Los Angeles

Hosts this Episode

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