Tag Archives: jetBlue

744 DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit

More states join the Justice Department antitrust lawsuit to block the JetBlue-Spirit Merger, a Delta flight aborts takeoff after another jet raises concerns, Shell cancels it’s plans for a SAF plant in Singapore, Delta uses its partnership with Lyft, and the FAA warns about summer travel disruptions. We also offer a little bit of aviation career advice and talk more about lap babies on airlines.

Aviation News

California, New Jersey Join Suit to Block JetBlue-Spirit Merger

jetBlue logo.

The Attorneys General of California, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina joined the civil antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. Those states now join Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia. The civil antitrust lawsuit seeks to block JetBlue’s proposed $3.8 billion acquisition of Spirit Airlines. The 42-page amended complaint says:

JetBlue’s proposed $3.8 billion acquisition of Spirit would eliminate the largest and fastest-growing ultra-low-cost carrier in the United States. Spirit’s ultra-low-cost business model has increased competition and brought low fares to hundreds of routes across the country, making it possible for more Americans—particularly the most cost conscious—to travel. JetBlue competes hard against Spirit, and views it as a serious competitive threat. But instead of continuing that competition, JetBlue now proposes an acquisition that Spirit describes as “a high cost, high-fare airline buying a low-cost, low-fare airline.”

If the acquisition is approved, JetBlue plans to abandon Spirit’s business model, remove seats from Spirit’s planes, and charge Spirit’s customers higher prices. JetBlue’s plan would eliminate the unique competition that Spirit provides—and about half of all ultra-low-cost airline seats in the industry—and leave tens of millions of travelers to face higher fares and fewer options.

The DOJ’s suit is scheduled to go to trial in a Massachusetts courtroom on October 16, 2023.

Delta flight aborts takeoff as another aircraft crosses runway

Delta Air Lines logo.

Delta flight DL-1482 was cleared for takeoff from New Orleans runway 11 when ATC canceled the clearance and the A321-200 (N342DN) screeched to a halt. The FAA says the Learjet did not cross the “hold short line,” but the controller canceled the takeoff clearance out of an abundance of caution. The Aviation Herald reports the crew rejected takeoff at high speed (about 125 knots over ground) and stopped about 1500 meters/4920 feet down the runway. The Tower explained another aircraft had crossed the hold short line of the runway.

Shell cancels sustainable aviation fuel and base oil plant projects in Singapore

Shell logo.

Shell announced in 2021 that it was planning a biofuel project in Singapore to produce 550,000 tonnes of SAF per year for major Asian hubs like Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN). Shell had planned to make their final investment decision by early 2023. Now the company says the market demand in that region will not support the investment.

Delta Rebooks Passengers On Lyft When There’s No Airline Seats Available

Some Delta Air Lines passengers arriving in Detroit found that strong thunderstorms in the area prevented them from flying to nearby final destinations. Delta stepped in and rebooked some passengers on Lyft. Lyft has been a Delta partner for six years.

FAA Warns of Air Traffic Controller Shortage Ahead of Summer Travel Season

The New York airspace is so congested that the FAA has asked airlines to make operational changes. For the peak summer travel season, the FAA would like to see larger planes and fewer flights. Consumer demand is forecasted to be seven percent higher during the summer than last year. The FAA says if nothing changes, we can expect 45 percent more delays. Staffing at air traffic control centers averages 81 percent of what’s needed. Staffing at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) is only 54 percent of the need.

Career Advice

An Electrical Engineering student with an interest in aviation asked us about career opportunities, how to fund pilot instruction, and general advice. We provide our thoughts and strategies. Mentioned:

Australia News Desk

Australia’s newest airline, Bonza, continues with the rollout of its new route network with the opening this week of its base in Melbourne, Victoria.  The opening comes as figures show they’ve sold over 100,000 seats since commencing operation two months ago. Will the strategy of offering budget fares for Melburnians to access the warmer weather of Queensland and points north be sustainable in the medium to long term?   And will other airlines move to match their destinations and pricing?  Business is business, after all.  We’ll continue to watch with interest.

Bonza hits 100k bookings as it launches Sunshine Coast-Cairns route

Qantas meantime have ventured into the sustainability stakes from another angle – biofuels.  Partnering with Queensland-based biofuel manufacturer LanzaJet & JetZero Australia, the airline will aim to jointly fund the construction of a facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

The proposed facility will utilise LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet technology to produce up to 100 million litres of SAF per year. Construction is expected to start in 2024.

Queensland biofuel refinery to turn agricultural by products into sustainable aviation fuel

The Royal Australian Air Force has returned from a successful Exercise Cope North in Guam, testing new strategies for the use of its C-17J Spartan fleet.  The platform continues to evolve for the RAAF, having been reclassified in 2021 from that of a battlefield airlifter to “Light Tactical Fixed Wing Airlifter”, with impressive results to date.

Exercise Cope North wraps up

Flying with Children and Infants

After the discussion on this topic in the last episode, a listener wrote in to present a different viewpoint on any ban on “lap babies” on airlines.

Mentioned

This battery safety feature can break your Apple AirTags. Here’s how to fix it

FAA Airport Design Challenge

The Airport Design Challenge (ADC) is an interactive learning and collaboration opportunity for students in grades K-12. 

  • Small teams of students work together to learn about their local airport and to complete development tasks in Minecraft Organized lesson plans covering topics from airport layout, pavement, lighting, structures, and innovative growth. Collaborative work between students, parents, and teachers performed in a virtual environment.
  • Airport Design Challenge enrollment opened on April 1, 2023.

Emil Bocek, last Czech RAF pilot during WWII, dies at 100

Hosts this Episode

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

740 Status Match

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

Guest

Mark Ross-Smith.

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

2 Americans arrested for allegedly sending aviation technology to Russia

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

First hydrogen-powered airplane takes flight in Moses Lake

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

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

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

Check Rides Grind to a Halt When the IACRA System Coughs

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

Australia News Desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aircraft images by Wayne Nugent and Victor Pody.

El Al MRO Facility

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

Hosts this Episode

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

739 Decarbonizing Aviation

Decarbonizing aviation with a Program Director from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Also, a venture capital fund to grow the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the PT6 is 60 years old, GA aircraft shipment numbers for 2022, an AD for Continental engines, another close call at the airport, a plea to refrain from putting your pets through the TSA x-ray machine, and we wait to see if the DOJ will object to the Jetblue/Spirit merger.

Guest

Photo of Dan Rutherford, a program director working to decarbonize aviation.

Dan Rutherford is a Program Director at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The ICCT works to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation.

Dan directs ICCT’s aviation and marine programs. In that capacity, he helps national and international regulators develop policies to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases from planes and ships.

We discuss the function and leadership of the ICCT and look at solutions for decarbonizing aviation through technology and policy. Dan describes pathways to net zero by 2050, which include emission cuts from sustainable fuels, increased aviation fuel efficiency, carbon pricing, and a few modal shifts.

We consider how much it will cost to decarbonize aviation as well as regional differences in approach, such as surcharges and subsidies. Dan describes a way to integrate the different approaches across the global air travel industry.

Logo for The International Council on Clean Transportation.

Dan offers his thoughts on hydrogen as a fuel, and on the types of SAF: waste oils, other waste like agricultural or municipal solid waste, synthetic fuel like E-kerosene produced with renewable energy and captured carbon, and crop-based biofuels (from soybeans, palm oil, etc.)

Dan is an internationally recognized expert on measures to promote international transport’s fuel efficiency, control short-lived climate pollutants, and phase out the use of fossil fuels. Dan has helped design environmental policies at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization for over a decade. Dan holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota at Morris and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University.

See also:

Aviation News

United Airlines, five other companies launch effort to develop sustainable aviation fuel

A venture capital fund was created called the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund. Its objective is to invest in startup firms and technology that grows the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Initial investors providing more than $100 million are United Airlines, Air Canada, Boeing, GE  Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said “This fund is unique. It’s not about offsets or things that are just greenwashing. Instead, we’re creating a system that drives investment to build a new industry around sustainable aviation fuel, essentially from scratch.” 

The Sustainable Flight Fund is not open to retail investors but United Airlines is offering 500 United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles to the first 10,000 customers who donate $1, $3.50, or $7 to the fund. Also, the United website and app will show customers booking flights the estimated carbon footprint of a particular flight.

United, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Form Joint Venture to Develop New Sustainable Aviation Fuel Technology Using Ethanol

In January, United Airlines, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Inc. announced a new joint venture – Blue Blade Energy – to develop and then commercialize a novel Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) technology that uses ethanol as its feedstock. If the technology is successful, Blue Blade is expected to proceed with the construction of a pilot facility in 2024, followed by a full-scale facility that could begin commercial operations by 2028. The offtake agreement could provide for enough SAF to fly more than 50,000 flights annually between United’s hub airports in Chicago and Denver.

PT6 Reaches 60 Years, Pratts Fly a Billion Hours

Pratt & Whitney Canada has accumulated one billion flight hours with the PT6 turboprop and turboshaft family. More than 64,000 PT6s have been produced since 1963 for more than 155 different aviation applications. Design work started in 1958, first run was February 1960, first flight was May 1961 on a Beech 18, and the engine entered service in 1964 on the Beech Queen Air.

GAMA: General Aviation Aircraft Shipments, Billings Improve in 2022

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reports that business and GA fixed-wing shipments were up 6.5% in 2022 compared to 2021, billings were up 5.8%, and rotorcraft shipments and billings were up 7.5 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.

Source: GAMA Releases 2022 Aircraft Shipment and Billing Report

Airworthiness Directives; Continental Aerospace Technologies, Inc. Reciprocating Engines

“The FAA received a report of a quality escape involving improper installation and inspection of counterweight retaining rings in the engine crankshaft counterweight groove during manufacture. The FAA has also received reports of two ground engine seizures and one in-flight loss of engine oil pressure due to improper installation of the counterweight retaining rings during manufacture.”

“This AD requires inspection of the crankshaft assembly for proper installation of the counterweight retaining rings in the counterweight groove, and corrective actions if improper installation is found. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.”

Regional Jet Aborts Landing To Avoid Departing Flight At Burbank

A Skywest Airlines E175 (operating as United Express 5326) was cleared to take off at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California. Meanwhile, a Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 (American 5826) was on short final for the same runway.

According to the Aviation Safety Network report, “The air traffic controller cleared UA5326 to take off from runway 33 while the approaching CRJ-900 was around on short final to the same runway. The CRJ-900 discontinued the approach and initiate[d] a climb out. At the same time the ERJ-175 continued with its departure, which prompted a TCAS alert on the CRJ-900. The controller then instructed the CRJ-900 to turn… left. AA5826 circled and landed safely. UA5326 continued to the destiation.”

TSA wants you to stop putting pets through the X-ray machine

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said, “We are seeing more people traveling with their pets and too many people are leaving them in the carrier case and sending them through the machine. No living creature, human or animal, needs to be exposed to X-rays they don’t need.”

JetBlue, Spirit insist merger won’t lead to higher airline fares, as DOJ circles

The Justice Department’s antitrust division hasn’t yet made a decision to block the merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines or let it proceed. The airlines maintain the merger would lead to lower prices.

Mentioned

Video: How to fold a winning distance paper airplane: U.S. champion shares his secrets.

https://youtu.be/E68rUBhuDTA

Video: PCDU…..There’s Been an Awakening….

Hosts this Episode

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

717 Jetblue/Spirit Merger

We talk with a mergers expert about the proposed Jetblue/Spirit merger.

Jetblue/Spirit merger

Amira elAdawi, founder of AMIRA & CO.
Amira elAdawi

Amira elAdawi is an expert merger consultant who has worked with Fortune 100 companies, government entities, and international organizations on mergers and acquisitions. Amira has been featured in Digital Journal, CEO World, Startup Nation, and others.

We talk about the details of the Jetblue/Spirit merger, or perhaps acquisition is a better term. Amira helps us understand the value of the deal expected by Jetblue and Spirit, and how it might affect others. She also helps us appreciate the difficulties that can be encountered, especially in integrating the cultures of the two companies. Amira describes possible impacts on ticket prices when a low-cost provider is removed, and we wonder how Frontier or others might fill any “gap” created.

Amira was formerly a senior principal at Booz & Co, and an external advisor to Bain & Co. In 2013 she founded AMIRA & CO, a boutique global management consulting firm, working exclusively on M&A integrations and enterprise optimization.

In addition to management, Amira is passionate about teaching. She regularly coaches an immersive business boot camp on strategy and financial management and founded a microfinance NGO for single mothers in Egypt.

Amira is fluent in English and Arabic and holds a double-major BA in economics and international relations (magna cum laude), an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Master’s certificate in hospitality management from Cornell.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight and our Main(e) Man Micah.

711 Women Student Pilots

A woman earns her pilot’s license at age 68 and now helps women of all ages successfully become pilots. We also have an interview with the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft. In the news, a hard landing injures a flight attendant, a mother/daughter flying first, JetBlue’s high turnover rate, flight cancellations and delays, a proposed rule for passenger refunds, and the FAA asks for public comments on seat size.

Maria Harrison-Dooley in the Diamond DA42
Maria Harrison-Dooley in the Diamond DA42

Guest

Maria Harrison-Dooley is the founder of You Fly Gal, an organization that provides scholarships and support for women student pilots. For decades Maria had dreamt of getting her Private Pilots License and at the age of 68, she accomplished that dream. Her motto is: “Flying is my passion, inspiration is my mission.”

Maria shows us that age doesn’t have to be a barrier when it comes to becoming a pilot. Noting the very high fallout rate for student pilots, she illustrates the critical role that community plays, especially for women student pilots. The Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots is an example of an organization that fills that need.

Sponsorship for You Fly Gal scholarships comes from several sources, including King Schools and Pilot Workshops, but individual donations are also welcome.

Aviation News

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Ends Up With ‘Broken Back’ After Hard Landing

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture to her T3 vertebra after a firm landing. She was reported to have been in her jumpseat. The pilots of Southwest flight WN2029 were making a visual approach at Santa Ana’s John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA). The NTSB closed the investigation without making any specific recommendations.

Mother, daughter lead historic Southwest Airlines flight to St. Louis

Mother Holly Petitt and daughter Keely Petitt flew the flight from Denver (their hometown) to St. Louis on July 23, 2022. Holly served as the captain and Keely served as the first officer. The airline’s Campus Reach Internship Program helped Keely learn more about aviation and the airline.

JetBlue Boss Says Airline is Over-Hiring Staff Because Existing Employees Are Quitting En Masse

JetBlue is hiring, as are most other airlines, but employee retention is a big problem and the turnover is very high. So the airline is forced to over-hire. JetBlue estimates that by the end of the year, half of its workforce will have been with the airline for less than two years.

Airlines cancel more than 1,500 US flights Friday

Bad weather caused more flight delays and cancellations. FlightAware reported more than 7,700 delays in the United States on one day last week. The day before that, the TSA screened 2.3 million passengers.

DOT rule would require airlines to issue refunds for domestic flights delayed by 3 hours

Under current rules, passengers are entitled to refunds if an airline has “made a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the consumer chooses not to travel.” However, there is no definition of “significant.” If enacted, the proposed rule would define the terms of a “significant” change and cancellation:

  • Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight
  • Changes to the departure or arrival airport
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary; and
  • Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities a­­vailable onboard the flight.

See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections.

How small should airplane seats be? The FAA wants to hear from you

In the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, Congress directed the FAA to issue rules for minimum dimensions for passenger seats necessary for passenger safety. Since then, the FAA conducted simulated emergency evacuations and is now asking for public comment. This is safety-related, not comfort-related.

See: Request for Comments in Minimum Seat Dimensions Necessary for Safety of Air Passengers (Emergency Evacuation)

Australia News Desk

We pay tribute to Glen Towler, Dave Higdon, and Grant’s father, Jim McHerron, all of whom passed away since our last segment.

Australia is about to see a new low-cost carrier take to the skies, in the form of Bonza Airline, flying a small fleet of Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft. The first of those arrived in-country last week, and Steve is cringing at their proposed market strategy. Corny, you may ask? Well, it may be if you speak Australian slang.

Bonza airline’s first plane touches down: Boeing 737 MAX arrives in Australia

Bonza 737 Max-8 VH-UJT. Photo by Cam Hines.
Bonza 737 Max-8 VH-UJT. Photo by Cam Hines.

In defence news, the RAAF has elected to keep Australia’s fleet of F-35A fighters flying, despite safety concerns over ejection seat components in a small number of US and Israeli jets which has seen those nations temporarily suspend operations.  The Department of Defence has issued a statement saying an ongoing risk assessment regime has been put in place with regard to the issue, and developments are being monitored closely.

RAAF to continue flying its F-35s despite ejector seat fault

Beyond the Press Release

Our Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent Hillel Glazer interviewed business executives at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. His objective was to look beyond what anyone can read in company press releases.

In this episode, Hillel talks to Zean Nielsen, the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft.

Mentioned

Museum needs space for more cars, airplanes, and students

The Owls Head Transportation Museum has launched a $9.7 million capital campaign to expand museum space and educational programs.

EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2022 photos by listener Steve:

Cirrus Vision jet.
Cirrus Vision jet.
Focke Wulf FWP-149D.
Focke Wulf FWP-149D.

Video: President Theodore Roosevelt flying in a Wright Brothers plane in 1910

Theodore Roosevelt – First Presidential Flight, 1910

Theodore Roosevelt's first flight.

Hosts this Episode

Your hosts: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark. Contributions by Hillel Glazer, Steve Vischer, and Grant McHerron.

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

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.

680 F-14 Tomcat

A former F-14 Naval Aviator communicates the military aviation experience through his novels, videos, and writing. In the news, the Rolls-Royce all-electric airplane appears to have set three world records, an F-35B crash, flight attendant bonuses for the holiday travel season, flying under the influence, and an open rotor engine demonstrator program. Plus, an Across the Pond segment.

Guest

Ward Carroll, F-14 Tomcat Naval Aviator

Ward Carroll is a former F-14 Naval Aviator who spent 20 years as an F-14 Radar Intercept Officer. He is the author of the bestselling Punk trilogy about life in an F-14 squadron. Punk’s Fight, Punk’s War, and the new Punk’s Wing are widely considered to be realistic portrayals of naval aviators in the context of a techno-thriller.

In his novels, Ward creates characters that are recognizable as representatives of real people doing real jobs. As an example, through his female character, Ward confronts the issues surrounding the integration of women into the Tomcat community.

Ward’s YouTube channel has grown to be very popular and gets much of his focus these days. He talks, as he says, about “airplanes, music, and writing . . . but mostly airplanes.”

In our aviation news segment, Ward shares the perspectives of a Naval Aviator as we discuss the recent F-35B crash after takeoff from a British aircraft carrier.

Outside the Navy, Ward has extensive experience as a military journalist. He was editor of Military.com and Approach magazine, and writes for the US Naval Institute. Besides his passion for aviation, Ward is a lover of music and plays in the band MiLES FRoM CLEVeR.

Find Ward at his YouTube channel. The Punk’s books are available on Amazon.com and on the U.S. Naval Institute website.

Video: The Real Truth About F-14 Tomcats and the Achille Lauro Hijacking

Mentioned: C.W. Lemoine’s YouTube Channel

Aviation News

Rolls-Royce says its all-electric aircraft ‘is world’s fastest’

In test runs, the Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Innovation” electric airplane has flown 387.4 mph (623 km/h). The company believes they have set three all-electric world records and await verification from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI): top speed over 3 km of 345.4 mph, top speed over 15 km of 330 mph, and time to climb to 3,000 meters of 202 seconds.

Video: Rolls-Royce | Spirit of Innovation – the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft

The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is part of the ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project and is based on the Nemesis NXT airframe.

F-35 From The Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth Has Crashed Into The Sea

The pilot safely ejected from the F-35B (the STOVL version) in the eastern Mediterranean shortly after takeoff from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. See: Probe after British F-35 fighter crashes in Mediterranean.

Other F-35 crashes:

JetBlue dangles $1,000 attendance bonuses for flight attendants ahead of holiday rush

According to a company memo, JetBlue Airways flight attendants could earn a $1,000 attendance bonus if they don’t call out through early January. Meanwhile, if they meet attendance goals, Southwest Airlines will provide flight attendants and some other operations employees 120,000 points in the airline’s frequent flyer program. American Airlines flight attendants can earn pay bonuses for peak holiday trips as well as for meeting attendance goals through early next year. $1,000 bonuses are available to other staff and regional airline subsidiaries.

A 63-year-old United Airlines pilot was arrested after being found four times over the legal limit. After drinking whiskey at a Glasgow pub during a 2019 layover, the man became fall-over drunk. A concerned member of the public tipped off the airline with a Tweet. The pilot was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

RISE Tech Plan Could Feed CFM Leap-1 Upgrades Through 2020s

GE Aviation and Safran launched the Revolutionary Innovations for Sustainable Engines (RISE)  initiative in 2021. This open-fan demonstrator program anticipates a mid-2030s application. It could also feed technologies to the LEAP-1 turbofan engine. The open rotor design features a second stage of fixed variable pitch stators, a fan-drive gear system, a compact high-pressure core for increased thermodynamic efficiency, waste exhaust heat used to preheat combustion air, and ceramic matrix composites in the hot section.

Across the Pond

Aviation from the European perspective with Pieter Johnson.

Two Vickers Varsity T Mk 1 aircraft – Copyright BAE Systems and Ron Smith

Trusted Traveler Programs

Our Main(e) Man Micah recently wrote a piece for Johnny Jet explaining the five Trusted Traveler Programs available in the USA through Homeland Security, and an announcement about NEXUS appointments:

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

679 Teaching the Next Generation of Pilots

Erika Armstrong joins us to talk about teaching the next generation of pilots. In the news, GE plans to split into three companies, preliminary details on the MD-87 crash, Boeing liability for 737 MAX crashes, and a Northeast Alliance update. Also, the Australia Desk and the MotoArt/Plane Tag festival.

Guest

Erika Armstrong, teaching the next generation of pilots

Erika Armstrong has had an extensive career as a Red Cross, charter, corporate, cargo, hazmat, and air ambulance pilot and captain. She flew 28 different aircraft before going to the airlines and eventually becoming captain on a B727-200.

We look at teaching the next generation of pilots and the effects of Covid on student pilot instruction. Erika has been focused on teaching student pilots to spend more time looking at themselves and understanding their startle reflexes in order to better react in an emergency. Erika also comments on student pilot diversity and the high washout rate.

Erika believes this is a good time to become a pilot and explains how business aviation has opened up due to the pandemic. We also hear how business aviation is different from commercial aviation, especially from a pilot’s perspective.

Concerning unruly passengers, Erika makes a good point that airlines and airports should look at how they can help passengers de-stress.

Erika is an aviation professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, the Vice President of Business Development and Director of Instructional Design at Advanced Aircrew Academy, and the author of A Chick in the Cockpit.  Erika uses the power of social media to educate and share the joys of aviation to inspire the next generation of pilots. Find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, her website, and @armstrongerika1 on Twitter.

Aviation News

General Electric Announces Split Into Three Public Companies

GE’s health care business is to be spun off in early 2023, then in 2024 the renewable energy, power equipment, and digital businesses will be spun off. What will remain is GE Aviation, the engine-manufacturing operation. See: GE Plans to Form Three Public Companies Focused on Growth Sectors of Aviation, Healthcare, and Energy.

Runway Excursion, McDonnell Douglas MD-87

The NTSB provided details of the fatal October 19, 2021 crash of Boeing MD-87, N987AK, operated by 987 Investments LLC. The plane overran the departure end of runway 36 at Houston Executive Airport (TME), Brookshire, Texas after a rejected takeoff. The left and right elevator geared tab input rod links were found to be damaged. This is similar to the damage found during an investigation of a Boeing MD-83​ which crashed after a rejected takeoff on March 8, 2017. See: Rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Boeing Accepts Sole Responsibility for 737 MAX Crashes, Wins Agreement that Avoids Punitive Damages

The joint court motion was filed by Boeing lawyers with lawyers for the families of the 157 victims of the 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia. The company accepted sole liability for the accident. Boeing explicitly agreed that the pilots were not at fault.

The defendant, Boeing, has admitted that it produced an airplane that had an unsafe condition that was a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s compensatory damages caused by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident.

American Airlines Ends 60 Years of Shuttle History With New York-Boston Exit

American Airlines acquired the legacy assets of the Eastern Air Shuttle when it merged with US Airways in 2013. American plans to end the Boston to New York LaGuardia service by summer 2022. Instead, Northeast Alliance partner JetBlue Airways will operate the Boston – LaGuardia route for both carriers. Boston to New York JFK and Washington Reagan National service will continue under American branding.

Australia News Desk

Steve and Grant provide news and views from Down Under:

Australia’s International Border Reopens

Virgin Australia re-opens new-look Melbourne Lounge and launches new menu

First QANTAS A380 to land back in Australia today

A question of timing – the future of the RAAF’s air combat force

RAAF’s mysterious surveillance missions from Singapore

Video: ADM Podcast – 100 Years of RAAF

MotoArt/Plane Tags Festival

Brian attended the first annual MotoArt / Plane Tag festival at the company shop in California. He spoke with:

  • Dave, a serious Plane Tag collector
  • Kevin White, the MotoArt Production Manager
  • Dave Hall, the MotoArt CEO

Mentioned

An Anniversary of a Disaster, & a Celebration All in One – November 12, 2021marked the 20th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in New York City.