Tag Archives: Frontier

795 Airline Industry Insights

Marisa Garcia offers airline industry insights. In the news, orders from Korean Air and Japan Air Lines, the Frontier financial incentive to retain new pilots, lower reward values for frequent flyer programs, landing a plane on the road, changing the name of an airport, and jet service for your dog.

Guest

Marisa Garcia headshot

Marisa Garcia is the founder, editor, and writer at FCMedia | FlightChic. She’s a freelance writer and senior contributor with Forbes.

FlightChic provides airline industry insights, analysis, and reviews, strongly focusing on the passenger experience. Marisa covers aircraft interiors, technical advancements, aviation safety and regulations, airline branding, and marketing strategies. Frequent flyers and aviation enthusiasts will find that Marisa’s writing provides valuable insights and perspectives on the evolving aviation landscape.

Marisa joins the conversation as we discuss recent JAL and Korean widebody orders. She offers her perspectives on the premium economy “sweet spot” for airlines and how onboard comfort has improved. Other topics include cabin crew training (especially safety training), the eroding value of airline frequent flyer programs, the criticality of aircraft interiors to safety, and how she became a “safety geek.” Marisa just published Why A B797 Revival Should Be Boeing’s New $50 Billion Plane in Forbes and has a lot to say about a Boeing “middle of the market” aircraft.

Marisa has worked directly designing and manufacturing aircraft interiors and safety equipment for many of the world’s leading airlines. She now applies that hands-on experience to reporting on product innovations, certification requirements, and new programs. The editorial aim of FlightChic is to highlight trends and make the industry easier to understand, both for professionals and everyday travelers.

See some recent articles by Marisa:

Aviation News

Korean Air Favors Airbus With Order For 33 New A350s

Korean Air announced an order for 33 A350 family aircraft: 27 A350-1000s and six A350-900s. The deal is valued at USD 13.7 billion. The A350-1000 can accommodate 350 to 410 passengers in a standard three-class configuration. The A350-900 variant is about 7 meters shorter than the A350-1000 and typically seats 300-350 passengers in a three-class layout.

Japan Airlines Will Introduce 42 New Planes from Airbus and Boeing. Accelerating International Network Growth With Advanced Fuel-Efficient Aircraft

JAL is acquiring 21 Airbus A350-900s, 11 A321neos, and 10 Boeing 787-9 planes. The A350s will be added to its international routes, augmenting its current A350 domestic operations. In January 2024, Japan Airlines debuted new cabins on their A350-1000 fleet of aircraft with enclosed suites.

Frontier Airlines Will Make New Hire Pilots Pay Nearly $60,000 If They Leave the Airline Within Two Years

As of May 1, 2024, the new Frontier Training Cost Repayment Agreement is designed to help the airline recoup the training cost for new pilots. Pilots who leave within two years will pay a prorated portion of the currently estimated $59,190 training cost.

Also, Frontier Airlines recently started a new out-and-back model business model where airplanes (and crew) return to their home base each night. Flight attendants don’t like the out-and-back model saying they earn less and spend more on hotel accommodation and commuting costs. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says that most of Frontier’s crew members don’t live close to their home base, and many commute more than 90 miles. The union wants Frontier to enter into contract negotiations over the issue.

Frequent Flyer Programs Deliver Lower Reward Value in the Era of Basic Economy Fares and Co-Branded Cards – Press Release

The IdeaWorksCompany Reward Seat Availability Survey answers the question, “How costly is points redemption for the most popular basic reward type offered by top US airlines?” The survey reviewed flight award programs from Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. These programs were found to have declining value to flyers.

Plane lands near Poland Springs building after running low on gas

A Cessna running low on fuel made an emergency landing on a road in an industrial area.

Oakland officials vote to include ‘San Francisco’ in airport’s name

The Board of Commissioners for the Port of Oakland voted to change the name of Oakland International Airport to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport. Oakland airport officials say travelers sometimes fly into San Francisco’s airport when their destination is closer to the Oakland airport. San Francisco has claimed a trademark violation and has threatened a lawsuit.

The world’s first doggy jet service will cost you $6K for a one-way ticket

BARK Air offers a “white paw” experience. The check-in process involves no crates or TSA checkpoints. Calming aids are provided in the cabin along with leashes, poop bags and a beverage. The first BARK Air flights take off on May 23, 2024.

Mentioned

LeVeL33 – Meetup April 19 or 20, 2024.

NASA Retires DC-8 Flying Lab

Hosts this Episode

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

793 Hypersonic Flight

Stratolaunch’s Talon A2 hypersonic vehicle, China’s C929 widebody passenger jet, Air Force One pilfering, Gulfstream G700 certification, Spirit Airlines’ credit boost, pilot disclosure of therapy sessions, United Airlines excess pilot capacity, and Frontier Airlines’ April Fool’s Day prank.

Aviation News

Stratolaunch Unveils Talon-A 2, Its Fully Recoverable And Reusable Hypersonic Vehicle

Stratolaunch Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle.
Talon-A hypersonic demonstrator, courtesy Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch was formed in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan to create an air-launched space transportation system. Scaled Composites built the Stratolaunch six-engine twin-fuselage carrier aircraft (“Roc”). A payload launch vehicle carried under the plane was to be released at high altitude and then flown into space. Paul Allen passed away in 2018 and the company was acquired in 2019 by Cerberus Capital Management.

Stratolaunch is working to advance hypersonic technology with the Talon-A, “an autonomous, reusable testbed.” The TA-1 flew on March 9, 2024, after it was released from the Stratolaunch, not quite reaching hypersonic speed. Now Stratolaunch has shown photos of the TA-2, designed to land at Vandenberg Space Force Base and be reused.

"Roc" in flight, courtesy Stratolaunch.
“Roc,” courtesy Stratolaunch

China’s home-grown C929 widebody passenger jet enters ‘crucial’ development stage amid Beijing’s aviation push

China’s commercial passenger aircraft strategy follows a path from the ARJ21 regional jet, to the C919 narrowbody, to the C929 widebody. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) marketing director said of the C929 that it’s in “a crucial stage in the development process” and that “the overall technical scheme of the aircraft has been determined.” Originally, COMAC was partnered with the Russian United Aircraft Corporation to build what was called the CR929. But Russia seems to have dropped out of the program.

The real D.C. crime wave

The press corps flying on Air Force One is leaving with more than they came with. Anything with the Air Force One insignia on it is being carried out. The plane can accommodate up to 76 passengers along with a crew of 26.

Gulfstream G700 Earns FAA Certification

The G700 is the largest business jet Gulfstream has made, and the fastest one it has ever certified. Compared to the G650, the G700 is 10 feet (3.0 m) longer with a top speed increased to Mach 0.935. It’s powered by improved Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Aerotime reports that Gulfstream expects to deliver some 50 G700s and a total of 160 jets across all types in 2024.

Spirit Airlines gets credit from International Aero Engines that will boost liquidity between $150 million and $200 million

Unscheduled engine removals and inspections for certain Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines are required in light of the contaminated powder metal problem. With its A320neo aircraft, Spirit Airlines is the largest operator of that engine in the U.S. Taking aircraft out of service has a financial impact. A deal has been struck where Spirit will get compensation via a monthly credit through the end of 2024. The airline says this will boost liquidity by between $150 million and $200 million.

Panel says FAA should end mandate pilots disclose talk therapy sessions

The FAA appointed an expert panel of aviation associations, pilot and air traffic controller organizations, academia, and medical professionals. They recommended that the FAA discontinue the requirement for airline pilots and air traffic controllers to disclose talk therapy sessions, saying “The FAA should develop a non-punitive pathway for reporting previously undisclosed mental health conditions, treatments, or medications.” The FAA is reviewing the recommendations.

United Airlines is asking pilots to take time off in May because of a shortage of new Boeing planes

United Airlines is experiencing new plane delivery delays and is asking pilots to volunteer to take time off in May. Fewer deliveries mean fewer flight hours which leads to overstaffing. In a note to pilots, United said it expects to make similar requests during the summer and possibly into the autumn. The Air Line Pilots Association said United is offering short-term leaves and unpaid time off, but they are not mandatory.

Frontier Airlines to Add Wide-Body Aircraft to its Fleet Starting in June; Route from New York-JFK to Bora Bora Will Kick Off the Ultra-Low Cost Carrier’s New Long-Haul Service Offering

The airline will add the aircraft to its fleet beginning in June 2024. The new planes will feature lie-flat seating, a chef-curated inflight menu, and free Wi-Fi for all passengers. Two weekly flights will depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (JFK) to Mote Mute Airport in Bora Bora, French Polynesia (BOB) beginning June 1, 2024. On April 1, Frontier offered a one-day-only fare sale with flights to Bora Bora for $1.

Wait, what?? OK…

“April Fool’s! We aren’t really going to add wide-body aircraft to our fleet, or lie-flat seating, or a chef-curated menu, or free Wi-Fi, or fly to Bora Bora. However, we are offering a one-day-only fare sale featuring flights for as low as $38, inclusive of taxes, fees and charges, on all international destinations Frontier serves, to places like Cancun, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, Los Cabos, Puerta Vallarta, St. Maarten, St. Croix, and more!”

Video: Frontier Airlines Auditions: Part 1

Mentioned

See Where Top Aviation Universities Rank – Flying Magazine August 2022

Hosts this Episode

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

732 Cabin Air Management

We talk about cabin air management technology with the president of Pexco Aerospace. In the news, an AD for A220 engines, a terrible ground crew accident, the Southwest meltdown, an airport without jet fuel, and happy pets. Also, our safety card and T-Mobile Un‑carrier On giveaway winners and an Australia News Desk report.

Guest

Jon Page photo.

Jon Page is the President of Pexco Aerospace, a company that produces aircraft interior systems, including trim and finish components. Pexco has developed AirShield, a cabin air management technology that augments existing HEPA filters to reduce shared air by 76 percent and doubles the rate particles are expelled from the cabin and replaced by purified air.

Jon explains how the AirShield product mounts over the gasper air vents in an airliner and creates “air curtains” or compartments for each person. Besides reducing shared air, the AirShields return more air to the HEPA filters and increase the effectiveness of the air purification system. Jon tells us about the design challenges and the STC certification process.

Photo of airplane cabin showing AirShield "air curtains" and 3 passengers.
AirShield “air curtains.”

Before joining Pexco in July 2021, Jon was the President of Shield Restraint Systems. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Sales and General Manager at L.O.F., Inc., which sells automotive aftermarket accessories and hardware. Jon also had multiple roles as Director or Manager of Sales for companies including the IMMI Child Restraints team. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from Purdue University and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin Consortium.

Closeup of AirShield cabin air management system installed over gaspers.
AirShield installed over gaspers.

Aviation News

FAA addresses dual-engine shutdown of A220 P&W engines

An airBaltic Airbus A220-300, registered as YL-AAQ, experienced a dual-engine shutdown while landing at Copenhagen Airport (CPH) in July 2021. The FAA investigation found that “the sequence of the auto-throttle increasing throttle to maintain Mach number, immediately followed by pilot command to decrease throttle to idle, caused a transient disagreement between actual and commanded thrust.” This triggered the thrust control malfunction (TCM) detection logic which shut down both engines as soon as wheel sensors detected that the aircraft had physically landed on the runway. The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that requires a FADEC software update.

American Airlines Ground Worker Reportedly Killed in Horrific Accident After Being Sucked Into Jet Engine

A ground handling agent was killed after being sucked into the jet engine of an Embraer E175LR at Montgomery Regional Airport in Alabama. The victim was an employee of Piedmont Airlines, a subsidiary of American Airlines. FAA and NTSB are investigating.

Southwest Airlines’ holiday chaos could cost the company as much as $825 million

In a regulatory filing, the airline says that holiday disruptions could cost as much as $825 million. More than 16,700 flights were canceled due to weather, staff shortages, and an outdated crew scheduling computer system. Thousands were stranded and luggage piled up at airports. SWAPA (the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association) published a letter that places the blame on the airline’s lack of leadership.

San Diego Airport Has Run Dry of Jet Fuel, Resulting in Lengthy Diversions For Some United and British Airways Flights

A leaking fuel pipe that serves San Diego County has led to the unavailability of jet fuel at San Diego International Airport. Some flights are being canceled, others are being diverted for refueling stops, and airlines are tankering extra fuel.

Puppy abandoned at SFO adopted by airline captain and family

A puppy was abandoned by his owner at San Francisco International Airport after the dog lacked the paperwork to remain in the United States. United Airlines partnered with SF SPCA to find a new home for the pup.

Frontier Airlines will Give You Free Flights For Adopting These Cats

The Animal Foundation named three kittens up for adoption: Frontier, Delta, and Spirit. Frontier offered up to four flight vouchers to anyone who adopted the Frontier kitten, and two vouchers each for the other kittens.

Giveaway Drawing

The winners of the two giveaways from Episode 728 were announced. The Interaction Group owner Trisha Ferguson kindly provides airline safety cards, while T-Mobile Senior Manager of Communications Steve Carlson donated the Un‑carrier On hard-sided suitcase.

Australia News Desk

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron bring us an installment of The Australia Desk with aviation news from Down Under.

Mentioned

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Pilot Proficiency Center
Pilot Proficiency Center

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, and David Vanderhoof. Contribution by Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron.

726 One-Pilot Cockpits

Thoughts on one-pilot cockpits, Frontier drops its customer service line, pigeons on an aircraft carrier, get ready for Real ID, an A-10 pilot gets a flying award, the A-1H Skyraider joins the Museum of the US Air Force, a Mooney crashes into a transmission tower, and America’s best airports.

Aviation News

One-pilot cockpits? Here’s what QF32 hero and ‘Sully’ Sullenberger think

On November 4, 2010, Flight QF32 from Singapore to Sydney experienced a massive engine failure on the A380. Captain Richard Champion de Crespigny describes the explosion, the subsequent systems damage, the resulting cockpit chaos, and how the crew worked together to save all aboard. Sully said, “Those who propose single-pilot airline operations are wrong, dead wrong.”

By Australian Transport Safety Bureau - In-flight uncontained engine failure Airbus A380-842, VH-OQA, Cover Page, CC BY-SA 3.0 au, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=81280480
In-flight uncontained engine failure Airbus A380-842, VH-OQA.
Courtesy Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Frontier Airlines drops its customer service line

Customers can no longer call Frontier airlines on the phone and speak with a live agent. Instead, customer service options are a chatbot Frontier’s website, 24/7 live chat, and social media channels including WhatsApp. The airline said, “[this] enables us to ensure our customers get the information they need as expeditiously and efficiently as possible.” Also, most customers prefer communicating through online channels.

Why the US Navy’s First Aircraft Carrier Also Carried a Pigeoneer

By U.S. Navy photo 80-G-460108 - commons, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=91295306
USS Langley underway, 1927. U.S. Navy photo.

The USS Langley, America’s first aircraft carrier and the US Navy’s first turbo-electric-powered ship, was launched on August 14, 1912. A pigeon house was built on the stern for food storage, nesting, training, and trapping areas. Carrier pigeons were used extensively in the past for military communications.

States begin final push for compliance as Real ID deadline nears

Real ID is an enhanced verification process for State-issued IDs, such as driver’s licenses. The Real ID Act was passed by the U.S. Congress after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and requires that driver’s licenses or state-issued IDs must meet the federal Real ID requirements to be accepted for boarding commercial flights. This takes effect on May 3, 2023.

A-10C pilot earns top flying award for combat successes in Afghanistan

Maj. Kyle Adkison accepted the Distinguished Flying Cross at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for his combat achievements in Afghanistan. The Major is a test pilot with the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron. In 2019, Adkison and his wingman, Capt. Erin Fullam, drove away enemy forces, protected the positions of friendly forces, and kept members of the U.S.-led military coalition alive, the Air Force said in a release.

A-1H Skyraider now on display at AF museum

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force now has an A-1H Skyraider on display in the museum’s Southeast Asia War Gallery. This radial engine aircraft preceded the A-10 in an attack role and was in service from 1946 to the early 1970s in the U.S. and elsewhere to the 1980s.

Douglas A-1E Skyraider. Courtesy National Museum of the United States Air Force.
Douglas A-1E Skyraider.
Courtesy National Museum of the United States Air Force.

Pilot, passenger rescued from plane after crash into power lines that caused widespread outages in Montgomery County [Maryland]

Small Plane Crashes Into Transmission Tower in Maryland

The single-engine Mooney M20J crashed into a transmission tower. It took almost seven hours to extricate the pilot and passenger. Both individuals were injured and ambulances transported them to area trauma centers.

How SFO ended up ranked as America’s best airport

The Wall Street Journal says that San Francisco International is the best among the 20 busiest airports based on passenger numbers. Sacramento International is No.1 among 30 midsize facilities. In its ranking, the WSJ considered 19 factors, including airline on-time performance, average ticket prices, security line wait time, and airport concession costs. Also, the results of J.D. Power’s annual survey of passenger satisfaction and more. 

Mentioned

21st Century Aerospace Writers Facebook group.

Mastodon – Decentralized social media.

Explained: What is Post.news, the emerging easy-to-use Twitter alternative. Link to sign up.

Western Museum of Flight

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Rob Mark, and Max Trescott.

710 Plane Crash

A 737 plane crash flight attendant tells her story. In the news, JetBlue plans to purchase Spirit Airlines, Piper Aircraft and CAE partner on electric aircraft, 2 million aviation professionals needed, FAA wants secondary fight deck barrier, EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2022 numbers.

Miami Air plane crash site, courtesy NTSB.
Miami Air crash site, courtesy NTSB.

Guest

Melissa Gonzalez

Melissa Gonzalez was a flight attendant aboard Miami Air International Flight 293 on May 3, 2019. The charter from Guantanamo Bay carried military and civilian personnel. While attempting to land on an ungrooved runway in heavy rain at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the Boeing 737-800 overran the runway, crashed over the seawall, and came to a rest in the St. Johns River.

In this episode, we learn about something we hope to never personally encounter – a plane crash – from someone who was not only there, but who was a member of the cabin crew. Melissa describes the chaos of a nighttime plane crash into the water and how her training overcame the resulting confusion. Thrust into a leadership role, she was instrumental in getting the passengers out of the plane and to safety.

In 2020, Miami Air declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. However, Melissa has a passion for flying and she’s now a flight attendant doing corporate gigs.

NTSB releases report on 2019 Miami Air crash at NAS Jax

National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report [PDF]

Miami Air plane crash site closeup.
Miami Air Flight 293, Courtesy NTSB.

Aviation News

Spirit terminates Frontier merger deal, paving way for possible JetBlue acquisition

Spirit Airlines has decided to pursue a merger with JetBlue and not Frontier Airlines. Spirit had urged shareholders to accept the Frontier offer but didn’t have the support. The final vote was canceled and Spirit terminated the agreement. The JetBlue offer is all cash. If Spirit shareholders agree to an acquisition, the Department of Justice would have to approve.

Piper Aircraft Partners with CAE to Create Electric Aircraft STC

The Piper Aircraft and CAE partnership intends to develop a conversion kit via a Supplemental Type Certificate for in-service Piper Archer (PA-28-181) aircraft. CAE will convert two-thirds of its Piper Archer training fleet and the conversion kit will be made available to third parties. H55 of Switzerland is set to provide the battery system and the kit will include a SAFRAN ENGINeUSTM 100 electric motor.

Boeing forecasts need for 2.1 million aviation professionals

Boeing has published its Pilot and Technician Outlook 2022 – 2041. “The commercial aviation industry (minus business aviation and helicopter operations) will need 602,000 new pilots, 610,000 new technicians, and 899,000 new cabin crew personnel globally over the next 20 years…”

FAA introduces rule requiring airlines to have secondary flight deck barrier

The FAA has proposed a rule that requires commercial airplanes to have a secondary flight deck barrier. In a statement, Air Line Pilots Association President Joe DePete said, “I am pleased that the FAA has finally taken the first step toward addressing this vulnerability after years of delay—delays caused by airline opposition and that have resulted in thousands of planes coming into service since 2001 without this critical security enhancement.” The proposed Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act is currently before Congress.

Installation and Operation of Flightdeck Installed Physical Secondary Barriers on Transport Category Airplanes in Part 121 Service

“This proposed rule would implement a mandate in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 by requiring that certain airplanes used to conduct domestic, flag, or supplemental passenger-carrying operations have an installed physical secondary barrier that protects the flightdeck from unauthorized intrusion when the flightdeck door is opened.” This document has a comment period that ends September 30, 2022.

David J. Higdon, Jr.

Our friend and fellow aviation podcaster Dave Higdon passed recently. See David Higdon Dies At 73 and the GoFundMe page Honor Dave with a brick at Brown Arch Osh.

Mentioned

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022: Facts and Figures for a Record-Setting Year

Rex Airlines announces plan to retrofit existing fleet with electric-propulsion engines in regional trial – ABC News

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.

701 Aviation Weather

How aviation weather intelligence affects airlines and airports, the FAA wants radio altimeters replaced, Easyjet has a solution to fly with less crew, Spirit Airlines says no to JetBlue, an electric airplane first, jail time for some unruly passengers, and Virgin Atlantic flight training requirements.

Guest

Scott Gilmore, Tomorrow.io aviation weather information

Scott Gilmore is the Global Vice President and GM of Aviation at Tomorrow.io, a company that provides an aviation weather and climate security platform. Scott has over 40 years in the aviation industry, including 27 as a pilot. He drives Tomorrow.io’s aviation go-to-market offerings, including sales activity, revenue management, and the product roadmap.

Scott explains the sources and uses of aviation weather data, and how weather intelligence results in fewer turnbacks, more payload, and better fuel load. He also tells us about the impact on airport ground staffing and de-icing planning.

Tomorrow.io is deploying its own constellation of LEO weather satellites equipped with radar and microwave sounders. This will provide global coverage with a significantly improved refresh rate. Scott describes the goal of being able to machine generate a custom “TAF” (Terminal Aerodrome Forecast) for any selected location.

It’s with noting that the non-profit TomorrowNow.org is committed to helping vulnerable populations adapt to the climate changes that are happening now.

Prior to Tomorrow.io, Scott served as the Head of Flight Deck Solutions with The Weather Company, an IBM Business; Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships at the International Air Transport Association (IATA); and Director Of Business Development Airline Industry Solutions, and Head Of Application Development Aircraft Mission Kit / Electronic Flight Bag at Unisys. Scott was a Senior Strategic Airlift Manager C-5, C-17, and Tanker Operations with the United States Air Force. He’s an FAA Rated Flight Engineer with over 21,000 hours in the flight deck, an Airframe and Powerplant Mechanic, and a member of the American Association of Airport Executives.

Aviation News

FAA wants U.S. airlines to retrofit, replace radio altimeters

The FAA wants to establish “an achievable timeframe to retrofit/replace radar altimeters in the U.S. fleet” due to possible interference from C-Band 5G wireless service. So they are meeting with telecom and airline industry officials where they can hear “options and commit to actions necessary to meet these objectives.”

EasyJet to take out seats so it can fly with fewer crew

Staff shortages are affecting commercial flight schedules globally and EasyJet has a solution to reduce its cabin crew from four to three legally: Take out the back row of seats in its A319 fleet. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regulates the number of cabin crew based on seats, not passengers on board.

Nigerian airlines are threatening to ground domestic flights amid soaring jet fuel prices

Nine Nigerian airlines issued a statement saying that the cost of imported jet fuel had increased nearly fourfold as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that they are threatening to stop domestic flights. Airline operating costs have increased from about 40% to nearly 95%

Frustrated Alaska Airlines Pilots to Vote on Strike

Alaska Airlines pilots have been without a contract for some three years. Pilots started voting on May 9 on whether to strike. Balloting will end on May 25. The Air Line Pilots Association is seeking higher pay and better scheduling for its pilots.

Spirit Airlines rejects JetBlue’s buyout bid, citing approval concerns

The Spirit Airlines board rejected the $3.6 billion takeover bid by JetBlue Airways. They say Spirit will continue to pursue a merger with Frontier Airlines.

The Board determined that the JetBlue proposal involves an unacceptable level of closing risk that would be assumed by Spirit stockholders. We believe that our pending merger with Frontier will start an exciting new chapter for Spirit.

Mac Gardner, Spirit Airlines board chairman.

U.S. Aviation First: Private Pilot Certificate Earned Using an Electric Airplane

In a U.S. first, a student pilot has earned a private pilot certificate with an electric aircraft. Shane Fisher flew his check ride in a two-seat Pipistrel Velis Electro, the world’s first and still only electric-powered airplane to receive a type certificate. Certificated by EASA in 2020, it operates in the U.S. as a light sport experimental aircraft. Fisher’s cross-country was accomplished in a Pipistrel Virus SW, which has a similar airframe but is powered by a Rotax 912 engine. 

Unruly Passenger Who Managed to Open Plane Door Inflight is Sentenced to Just One Year in Jail

A disruptive and violent passenger who opened the aircraft door on a United Express flight just before landing could have received 20-years imprisonment and a $200,000 fine. But instead, he was sentenced to one year behind bars for interfering with a flight crew. Kameron C. Stone, 30, of Fairfax, Virginia was also ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and undergo three years of supervised release. He can also look forward to a fine from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Man Who Assaulted Flight Attendants Gets 60 Days in Jail

Witnesses Describe the Scene When Man Exited Moving Plane at O’Hare, Slid Down Wing

A person opened the emergency exit door of United flight 2874 at O’Hare International Airport as the plane was moving on the runway. The passenger then walked out onto the wing and slid down onto the airfield. 

Our ground crew stopped the individual outside of the aircraft, and the person is now with law enforcement.

United Airlines statement.

Virgin Atlantic Flight Aborted After Pilot Found To Be ‘Untrained’

This was a Virgin Atlantic internal training protocol compliance violation, not a regulatory violation. The first officer had not completed his final assessment, and the captain was not yet qualified as a check airman. The plane returned and the first officer was replaced.

Australia News Desk

This week’s segment covers the big announcement by QANTAS of the purchase of 12 A350-1000s, along with a ton of other variants which will gradually replace, and effectively phase out, Boeing aircraft over the next five years.  We also take a look at QANTAS purchasing regional operator Alliance Airlines, the upcoming RAAF Amberley Air Tattoo, the Pacific Air Show scheduled for Queensland in 2023, and the World Championship Air Race round for Australia which was recently announced.  We also may have had a little fun at Rob’s expense….

What passengers can expect on Qantas’ longest commercial flight in the world

Introducing the Airbus A350-1000

Pacific Airshow comes to Gold Coast in 2023

Pacific Airshow

Qantas has reached an agreement to fully acquire Australian-based operator, Alliance Aviation Services

QANTAS to acquire Alliance Aviation to Better Support Resources Segment

Air race 2022: Lake Macquarie locks in $8 million drawcard for November

Ipswich Amberley Air Tattoo

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott

698 Airline Travel Challenges

Airline travel this summer faces challenges with crew shortages and fatigue. Also, the mask mandate, 100th Bombardier Global 7500 Biz Jet delivered, boarding the airplane without a jet bridge, a rare airline amenity, giving up the seat you paid for, some turbofan failures after storage, when passengers are told their flight would be ditching, and therapy animals at airports.

Aviation News

Airlines are slashing flights due to staffing shortage: ‘The summer will be chaos’

Crew shortages are affecting airlines around the world. Travel demand is up, but staff availability is down. The summer travel outlook looks chaotic.

Pilot union sues American Airlines to block pilot training program

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) filed a suit to “prevent the airline from eliminating the longstanding practice of using experienced Check Airmen during a critical stage of the pilot training program.” The volunteer program encourages pilots to take simulator training sessions on their days off. 

In the press release, Allied Pilots Association Sues American Airlines Over Railway Labor Act Violations, APA President Capt. Eric Ferguson says, 

Having failed to plan properly for the recovery in air travel demand, American Airlines management now finds itself having to deal with the consequences of being the only major airline to have furloughed pilots during the pandemic and its decision to forgo training opportunities at that time… Management continues to fall behind and is scrambling to increase the volume of the pilot training funnel. Consequently, they are now soliciting all pilots to volunteer to replace our specially trained Check Airmen as ‘seat fillers’ during a critical training evaluation stage under terms and conditions that remain largely unknown to APA.

APA President Capt. Eric Ferguson

Fatigue is starting to put safety at risk, pilots say

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA), says “Fatigue, both acute and cumulative, has become Southwest Airlines’ number-one safety threat.” Southwest plans to hire 8,000 new employees this year, forty percent of those flight crew.

Florida judge voids US mask mandate for planes, other travel

A federal judge says the mask mandate exceeds the authority of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and also that the CDC failed to justify its decision and did not follow proper rulemaking procedures.

Bombardier Delivers 100th Global 7500; Milestone Jet Goes to VistaJet – AIN

Bombardier celebrated its 100th Global 7500 delivery with its largest customer, VistaJet, which has taken 10 of the aircraft manufacturer’s flagship business jets so far. The delivery ceremony took place at Bombardier’s Montreal Laurent Beaudoin Completion Centre, where the company outfits the aircraft after they’re flown from its Toronto assembly plant. This is where customers oversee the interior finishing of their Global 7500, familiarize themselves with them, and take delivery. VistaJet is a Part 295 air charter broker.

Frontier Airlines wants to ditch jet bridges in Denver and board by stairs

Starting in 2024, Frontier Airlines plans to use airstairs and switchback ramps to board and deplane its fleet of Airbus aircraft through the front and rear aircraft doors. Frontier’s CEO, Barry Biffle: “A dedicated ground boarding facility will benefit customers by cutting in half the time for boarding and deplaning through the use of both the front and rear aircraft doors. That, in turn, will reduce our time on the ground between flights by nearly half and nearly double our number of aircraft operations per gate.”

This Airline Has Offered One Rare Amenity Since 1952 — and It’s Still the Coolest Thing in the Skies

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offers unique Delftware porcelain amenities that have become collector’s items.

When do you give up an airline seat that you’ve paid for?

Sometimes you don’t want to swap seats with another passenger, but sometimes it’s the right thing to do.

FAA warns of in-flight turbofan failures following long-term storage

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an airworthiness directive (AD) warning of CF34 failures for engines taken out of storage. “Engines installed on airplanes parked outdoors for 250 or more days are at risk of excessive corrosion build-up,” it says. The AD cites several in-flight CF34 troubles.

Airline Passengers Accidentally Told Plane Was Going to Make an Emergency Landing in the Sea

Passengers aboard an Aer Lingus flight from Zurich to Dublin listened to an automated emergency announcement stating, “Ladies and gentlemen, this is an emergency. Please prepare for a ditched landing.” Flight attendants didn’t react and a passenger went into the galley to get more information. After that, an announcement from the flight crew confirmed there was no emergency.

Easter Bunny Story: Scared of flying? SFO’s new giant rabbit is here to help

Alex the Great, a 28-pound Flemish Giant rabbit, has joined the San Francisco International Airport Wag Brigade to help calm nervous travelers. The brigade is composed of mostly dogs but includes LiLou, the “World’s 1st Airport Therapy Pig.” 

37 U.S. Airports Have Therapy Dog Programs. Does Yours?

San Jose International Airport (SJC) in California was the first airport to bring in therapy dogs shortly after 9/11. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was the second airport to introduce therapy dogs.

The Journey is the Reward

Brian T. Coleman and Main(e) Man Micah discuss a letter they received from a United Airlines Captain.

Mentioned

The Air Current – Exclusive news and insight on the business and technology of flying.

The YB-52 prototype, the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, takes its first flight on April 15, 1952

A Look Back At All The B-52 Variants As The Iconic Bomber Hits 70

Airliners International 2022 Chicago – Buy, swap, sell airline memorabilia. June 23-25, 2022.

37 U.S. Airports Have Therapy Dog Programs. Does Yours?

Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood | Official Trailer | Netflix

Airlines Confidential Podcast – Hosted by Ben Baldanza, former CEO of Spirit Airlines, and Chris Chiames, a 30+ year airline/travel industry veteran.

Thunder Over Dover, May 21-22, 2022.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.

697 JetBlue and Spirit Airlines

JetBlue and Frontier eye Spirit Airlines, an Air France B777 and a DHL 757 make emergency landings, the Collier Trophy winner is announced and Airplane Geeks listeners predicted the outcome, airlines are replacing some regional flights with buses, and Boston shuts down a flight crew crash pad.

Aviation News

JetBlue Twists Itself in Knots Trying to Create a Rationale for Buying Spirit

JetBlue is offering Spirit Airlines $33 per share in cash, roughly $3.6 billion. Can Spirit refuse? Is Frontier likely to get into a bidding war? Why is JetBlue interested in Spirit?

French investigators open probe of ‘serious incident’ on Air France flight

The BEA says an Air France Boeing 777 on approach to Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport was involved in a “serious incident.” The BEA reported on social media “instability of flight controls on final, go-around, hard controls, flight path oscillations.”

Video: Pilots of Air France #AF11 reported their B777 didn’t react to commands on final approach to CDG

Costa Rica airport reopens after DHL plane skids off runway in emergency landing

A DHL Boeing 757-200 cargo aircraft made an emergency landing shortly after takeoff, exited the runway, and broke in two. The crew was reportedly unharmed. A hydraulic system failure was apparently a factor in the pilot’s request to make an emergency landing.

NASA’s Pioneering Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Awarded Collier Trophy

The National Aeronautic Association announced that NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Team has been named the recipient of the 2021 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… the first powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, thereby opening the skies of Mars and other worlds for future scientific discovery and exploration.”

American Airlines Restarts Philadelphia Regional Routes With Landline Buses

The Landline Company is providing bus service for American Airlines passengers between airports. Landline provides a similar service for Sun Country Airlines in Minneapolis-St. Paul and United Airlines in Denver.

Inside The Illegal Flight Attendant ‘Crash Pad’ With 20 Bunk Beds That Was Shut Down by Boston Building Inspectors

“Crash Pads” are a popular arrangement for airline crew, but Boston’s Inspectional Services Department raided what they said was an illegal flight attendant crash pad. It was a garage with bunk beds for as many as 20 flight attendants.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.

691 Runway Rehabilitation

Managing a runway rehabilitation project and minimizing the effects on operators, the airport, and the public. In the news, airports are hamstrung in dealing with drone threats, handling emergency landings, some Boeing 737 Max charges are dropped, and North Atlantic tracks below FL330.

Guest

Paul H. Bradbury, P.E. is the airport director for the Portland International Jetport (PWM) in Portland, Maine. 

Paul Bradbury

The Jetport is planning a runway rehabilitation project that will see 34,000 tons of asphalt removed and replaced over 27.5 acres of pavement. A runway lighting upgrade will require 19.7 miles of wire and over 5,000 flights will be affected as the primary runway is closed for two months. The airport has been working with operators and the public to minimize the impact.

Paul explains the difference between runway maintenance, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. We learn about the pavement management plan that includes an assessment of runway condition. Also, the difference between concrete and asphalt runways, and how the paving contractor was selected. 90% of this project was funded through the Airport Improvement Program.

Beyond the runway rehabilitation project, Paul brings us up to date on the Jetport’s de-icing fluid recovery process that allows them to resell the fluid to other airports. The Jetport is the only airport in the U.S. doing this.

Other topics in our conversation with Paul include Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF), drone incursions at airports, unruly passengers, and flight diversions.

Portland jetport’s primary runway to close for nearly 2 months this spring

Runway 11-29 Rehabilitation Project website

Paul was appointed the airport director in 2008 and is responsible for the overall management, operations, and planning for the Portland International Jetport. He’s a licensed professional engineer with a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Paul is an avid runner, triathlete, and snowmobiler.

Aviation News

Airports around the world have been plagued by drone incursions, but the actions they can take are very limited. The non-profit, FAA-funded National Safe Skies Alliance issued a report in September 2021 titled “Airport Response to Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Threats.” [PDF] Both passive and active counter-drone technology exists, but in the U.S., only four federal agencies can use them: the Departments of Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, and Justice.

Is This The Worst Airline Passenger of 2022, So Far?

Frontier Airlines flight 1335 from New York to Orlando had to make an emergency landing in North Carolina. A passenger was convinced the woman in the seat behind him was stabbing him with needles and stealing his DNA. When the man started harassing others, six passengers restrained him and tied him down to his seat. Local police were waiting at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Two Charges Against Former Boeing 737 Max Chief Technical Pilot Dismissed

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Fort Worth Division dismissed two counts against former Boeing Chief Technical Pilot Mark Forkner. In the counts, Forkner was alleged to have “knowingly and with the intent to defraud, made and used a materially false writing, entry, certification, document, record, data plate, label, and electronic communication concerning an aircraft part.” The judge wrote, “Because MCAS is not an aircraft ‘part’ as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 3l(a)(7), the indictment fails to allege an offense that Defendant violated § 38(a)(1)(C).” Forkner still has counts on wire fraud. The trial is scheduled for March 2022.

Why Are North Atlantic Tracks Below FL330 Being Scrapped?

The North Atlantic Organised Track System (NAT-OTS), popularly called the North Atlantic Tracks, are flight path tracks flown by airlines between North America and Europe. The tracks are created daily and take into account the prevailing jet streams. Starting March 1, 2022, operators can fly outside North Atlantic Tracks if they stay below 33,000 feet. Airlines will have more flexibility to fly more efficient routes and produce fewer emissions. This is made possible by the Aireon satellite-based ADS-B system.

American Helicopter Museum

Airplane Geeks listeners can enjoy a one-year individual membership at a 50% discount. For $25.00 (normally $50.00) you get:

  • Unlimited admission to the Museum for one year, including the March 4 event, “The Helicopter and the Presidency.”
  • Two One-Day Guest Passes.
  • Admission to FamilyFest and SantaFest.
  • Invitations to Member Receptions.
  • 10% discount on gift shop purchases.

The offer is good through May 31, 2022, at this link.

Mentioned

HermesTM 900 StarLiner [PDF]

Hosts this Episode

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

690 Charlie Bolden

Our guest is Charlie Bolden, former NASA administrator, astronaut, and naval aviator. In the news, the first production Falcon 6X arrives at the completion center, Air Force accidents decline, FAA proposes changes to autopilot training, Frontier and Spirit propose a merger, and Delta wants a federal no-fly list for unruly passengers.

Guest

Charlie Bolden photo
Charlie Bolden

Charles (Charlie) F. Bolden Jr., was Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 2009 to 2017. He’s a former astronaut who flew on four Shuttle missions, and a retired United States Marine Corps Major General. He is the Founder and CEO Emeritus of the Charles F. Bolden Group.

In our open and wide-ranging conversation with Charlie, he talks about the factors that have led to the prominence of commercial space companies. We look at how Congress reacted to the shift and why the commercial industry changed NASA for the better. These “New Space” companies often use an iterative development process that is very different from the regimented process used, for example, with the James Webb Space Telescope.

We touch on the role of NASA and the need for the Administrator to navigate the politics of Washington. We also consider whether the NTSB or FAA should investigate space accidents.

Charlie explains how returning to the Moon and going on to Mars raised concerns that funding would shift to human space flight at the expense of science missions. He also describes initial skepticism that the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was a good idea. Charlie has some interesting thoughts on the notion of “colonizing” Mars and if that planet is really an alternative to Earth.

Along the way, we look at spherical aberration on the Hubble telescope (and its twin), what the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser bring, and of course SpaceX. Charlie describes an overwhelmingly emotional moment on his first Shuttle flight and how astronauts used ham radio to talk to their families from the Orbiter.

Charlie also provides some insight into the criteria used to select who would receive the four Space Shuttle orbiters after that program ended.

Among a number of other activities, STEM education is a focus of the Charles F. Bolden Group. Charlie talks about the SERVIR-West Africa project, a joint initiative by the US agency for International Development (USAID) and NASA.

Aviation News

First Falcon 6X Arrives at Dassault’s Little Rock Completion Center

The first production Falcon 6X extra widebody twin arrived at Dassault Aviation’s 1.25 million square foot completion center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Serial number five was ferried from Dassault’s production facility in France. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D-powered Falcon 6X is expected to enter into service later in 2022.

Deadly aircraft accidents declined in 2021, Air Force says

The Air Force reported 63 severe mishaps in fiscal 2021, compared to 71 the prior year. “Class A” incidents dropped to 21 from 30 in 2020. The 5-year average is about 27 Class A mishaps.  The manned aircraft rate fell to 0.94 accidents per 100,000 flying hours, the lowest since 2014. At the same time, the rate for unmanned aircraft accidents jumped to 1.96 unmanned aircraft accidents per 100,000 flying hours, which is the highest since 2017.

Retired Boeing 747 Bought for $1.30 Begins New Life As Party Plane

This retired British Airways Boeing 747 can be rented from Cotswold Airport in the south of England. Purchased for just £1 ($1.30), almost £500,000 ($671,000) has been invested in the plane, which costs $1,300 an hour to rent, or $16,000 for 24-hours.

FAA proposes changes in autopilot training

The FAA wants pilots to avoid overreliance on the autopilot and make sure they focus on flight path management. So the FAA issued draft guidance and recommended practices. The FAAs action comes in response to NTSB recommendations after the July 2013 accident where Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall at SFO, killing three passengers. Also prompting the draft guidance are requirements specified by Congress after the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX accidents.

Frontier to buy Spirit Airlines in $2.9 billion low-cost carriers deal

The two carriers are proposing a merger where Frontier Airlines would hold 51.5 percent and Spirit would hold 48.5 percent. A name for the combined airline hasn’t been offered, nor has the CEO or location of headquarters identified.

Delta Air Lines CEO Edward Bastian asked the U.S. Attorney General to set up a nationwide no-fly list for unruly passengers. The ACLU and others are critical, citing problems with the TSA’s current terrorist list.

Mentioned

Inside Marine One
On March 4, 2022, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the American Helicopter Museum is offering members a sneak preview of the new Inside Marine One exhibit. A conversation will feature USMC Colonel Ray “Frenchy” L’Heureux (former Marine One pilot and author of Inside Marine One: Four U.S. Presidents, One Proud Marine, and the World’s Most Amazing Helicopter) and Roger D. Connor, Ph.D. (Curator of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Aeronautics Department). You can still participate in the discussion via Zoom (6:30-7:30) if you can’t join in person. Register by March 3, 2022.

The American Helicopter Museum's graphic for their Inside Marine One exhibit.
Inside Marine One

You Can Now Learn to Fly at Owls Head Airport

Penobscot Island Air has started a new flight school at the Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head, Maine. PIA provides mail, freight delivery, and even medevac services. The CFIs are Penobscot Island Air pilots and in the first three weeks, seven students enrolled.

The airport is shared by the Owls Head Transportation Museum which conducts many events throughout the year, including the annual Wings and Wheels Spectacular Airshow, to be held August 6, 2022, 10:00-3:00.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott.