This is a Bits & Pieces episode, where we ask the co-hosts and other contributors to provide pre-recorded segments, then we stitch them together and it’s Bits & Pieces.
Dr. Richard Wahls and David Vanderhoof
David Vanderhoof spent a day at NASA Langley Research Center (LRC) which is adjacent to Joint Base Langley Eustis, and he recorded several interviews. NASA LRC is leading the charge the revitalize focus on the first “A” in NASA: Aeronautics.
The first interview is with Dr. Richard Wahls, the Advanced Air Vehicles Program Strategic Technical Advisor. David and Dr. Wahls talk about the new X- Plane Program and how it is focusing on environmental issues to make commerical, GA, and military aviation “greener.”
The second interview is with Peter Coen, the Commercial Supersonic Technology Project Manager. They talk about “shaping the boom” by changing the shape of the aircraft. While not eliminating the boom, it does reduce its impact on the ground.
David also recorded two other interviews at NASA Langley. He spoke with Dr. Allen about the Autonomy Incubator, and that interview can be found at The UAV Digest.com #145. David also talked with Frank Jones about sense and avoid technology and sUAS package delivery. Find that conversation at The UAV Digest.com #149 which will be released a few days after this episode. You can follow NASA Langley on Twitter at @NASA_Langley. Thanks to Kathy Barnstoff and Bill Baley for arranging the interviews.
Gary tells us his story of buying his own Piper PA-38 Tomahawk.
Our Maine(e) Man Micah
By popular request, Micah brings us a timely update to his piece, News Reporting and the Sport of Speculation or The Surge in Sensational Surrealism. Plus a little bonus piece from Micah called Lighter Than Nomenclature.
Dr. Todd Curtis, founder of AirSafe.com, talks about about MH370 on the second anniversary of its loss, laser and drone threats to aviation safety, an aviation maintenance competition, and improving the quality of media reporting of aviation accidents. In the news, we discuss supersonic planes, all-woman commercial flights, the longest flights, and air service to Cuba.
Dr. Todd Curtis
Todd Curtis is an aviation safety analyst, author, and publisher. He founded AirSafe.com in 1996 to provide the public with useful information about airline safety, fear of flying, plane crashes, TSA security, and other issues of concern to the traveling public.
While an airline safety engineer at Boeing, Todd was directly involved in many plane crash investigations, including TWA flight 800, and he was part of the engineering development team for the 777.
In addition to writing several books on aviation safety and security, Todd has also written the book Parenting and the Internet. He’s been a frequent on-air aviation expert on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, CBC, BBC, Discovery Channel, NPR, and many other major news media outlets around the world.
Visit AirSafe.com for airline safety and security information, as well as information about fear of flying, flying with cash, child travel, the airline complaint process, baggage tips, and much more. Follow @airsafe on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.
Under the preliminary design phase of the quiet supersonic technology (QueSST) program, Lockheed Martin will lead a team to design a half-scale supersonic X-plane that uses boom-suppression technology. NASA administrator Charles Bolden said, “Now we’re continuing that supersonic X-plane legacy with this preliminary design award for a quieter supersonic jet with an aim toward passenger flight.”
NASA plans to start building the supersonic X-plane in 2019, with first flight scheduled in 2020. The acoustic survey would begin in 2021 in southern California and continue for several years. The Lockheed Martin team includes subcontractors GE Aviation and Tri Models Inc.
In celebration of International Women’s Day, Air India set the record for the longest all-women operated and supported flight, which flew non-stop on March 6 from New Delhi to San Francisco. The cabin crew, cockpit crew, check-in staff, and customer care staff were all women
Air India said it would fly 20 all-women domestic flights March 8 to commemorate International Women’s Day. Every year, International Women’s Day is celebrated by Air India with all-women crews on selected international and domestic sectors.
The longest flight in the world is the 8,819 mile flight between Dubai and Auckland, New Zealand. Emirates inaugurated the route with an A380, but switched to the 777-200LR the next day. Of the ten longest flights in the world, the B777 is used on seven of them, and the A380 flies the other three.
Starting June 1, 2016, United will begin the 8,446-mile San Francisco-Singapore service with a 787-9, making it the third-longest flight in the world, and the longest scheduled flight by any U.S. carrier.
The U.S. and Cuba have agreed to permit 110 daily flights between the two countries: twenty daily flights to Havana, and ten daily flights to nine other international airports. The deadline for airlines to submit applications to the Department of Transportation for proposed flight routes has expired, and eight airlines applied.
My Favorite Airplane – Yet Again, by Micah, our Main(e) Man.
We learn all about Active Noise Reduction headsets with the founder and CEO of Lightspeed Aviation. In the news: Bombardier job cuts and a CS300 order, the NASA aeronautics budget request, United 747 retirements, and the FAA reauthorization bill stalls. We also have the winner of the John Mollison print.
Allan Schrader, founder and CEO, Lightspeed Aviation.
Allan Schrader is founder and CEO of Lightspeed Aviation, a leading producer of active noise reduction headsets for aviation. Lightspeed introduced their first product in 1996 at EAA AirVenture and continues to develop and offer innovative products.
Allan tells us how he started Lightspeed and the sound cancellation technologies involved. We learn about the labs dedicated to delivering quieting, comfort, and fidelity; the headset trade-in program; and the different acoustic signatures of GA airplanes, helicopters, and airliners. Allan also talks about the introduction of the wireless headset, and integrating headsets with cockpit information to enhance the cockpit experience.
Allan has a civil engineering degree and an MBA, and started his career at Tektronix where he learned about product development and operations. Allan left Tektronix to launch a startup company producing wireless headsets, then after five years he and some of his Tektronix co-workers started Lightspeed Technologies to design and make Active Noise Reduction headsets.
Bombardier plans to cut about 7,000 jobs from its worldwide workforce of 71,000. Layoffs are expected in both Canada and Europe, split between the company’s plane and train operations. The better news is that Air Canada placed orders for 45 firm and 30 option CS300 airplanes.
The $19B FY 2017 NASA budget request asks for $790M to be used for aeronautics research impacting the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the air transportation system; a major new experimental flight initiative to demonstrate and validate new technologies that dramatically reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and noise, and open new markets for U.S. industry; and research and development for revolutionary low carbon emission aircraft, including associated transportation systems, as part of a multiagency effort to enable a 21st century clean transportation system.
Aviation journalist Brian Sumers reports that almost a year ago, United indicated that its 747 fleet would be around for a while, with maybe a 2020 decision point based on aircraft maintenance requirements. Now however, pilots were told that 747 retirements may occur at a faster rate. If United does move to retire the 747 quickly, they say they will accelerate deliveries of new widebodies.
The FAA reauthorization bill which would privatize ATC will not be introduced to the full House as scheduled. Facing widespread opposition to the bill, Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster will instead try and consolidate support. Expect the bill to be amended before it re-emerges from Committee.
John Mollison Print Giveaway
We announce the winner of the John Mollison signed print showing the B-25 flown by Dick Cole and Doolittle, Bud Anderson’s P51B, Alden Rigby’s P51D, and Maury Magneson’s P47. John was our guest on Episode 388 where he told us about his “Old Guys and Their Airplanes” video documentaries.
We also play a moving recording called “Grandpa’s Untold Story” that describes how the picture of one man’s B-17 came to be on the wall of his grandson.
Airplane of the Week
Listener Glenn Towler tells us the history of the English Electric Lightning.
A conversation about aircraft parachute systems with the founder of Ballistic Recovery Systems, HondaJet certification, the Cirrus Vision SF50, British Airways displeasure with Heathrow expansion plans, abandoned 747 freighters, and efficient but not accurate airport firefighters. Also, the Millennium Falcon, the Handley Page Herald turboprop, ATC job opportunities, and WATS tables.
Boris Popov is the founder of Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS). In 1975, Boris survived a 400-foot fall in a collapsed hang glider and the incident led Boris to develop a whole-aircraft parachute system. Ballistic Recovery Systems was founded in 1980 and their first parachute for the ultralight aircraft market was introduced in 1982. In 1983 the system had its first save of an aircraft and crew and since then has saved hundreds of lives
In 1998 the company collaborated with Cirrus Aircraft to develop the first recovery parachute system used on a type-certified aircraft, the Cirrus SR20. Since then, there have been 56 Saves of Cirrus Aircraft with 114 survivors, resulting in a fatal accident rate that’s half that of typical GA aircraft. The company also offers parachutes for the Cessna 172, Cessna 182, and about a dozen light sport aircraft, including the new Icon A5 seaplane.
Achieving type-certification brings Honda Aircraft close to customer delivery of the HondaJet. The small, jet-powered airplane features an over-the-wing engine mount, natural laminar flow, a composite fuselage, and a Garmin® G3000 next-generation all-glass avionics system. Power comes from two GE Honda Aero Engines HF120 powerplants.
Cirrus Aircraft has released flight profile details of the Vision SF50 single-engine light jet. With a maximum ramp weight of 6,040 pounds, and a fuel load of 296 gallons/1,983 pounds, takeoff ground roll is 2,036 feet. At FL280, maximum cruise at 300 ktas burns 69 gph/462 pph, for a range of 1,000 nm. Fuel burn drops to 47 gph/315 pph and speed to 242 ktas at best-economy cruise, with range up to 1,200 nm.
International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh isn’t happy with plans for Heathrow’s expansion. That plan includes a new runway, a new terminal, an underground train link, and a very expensive (£800m) car park. Walsh says all this would double the £40 fee they pay now for a return trip.
In an effort to remove three abandoned Boeing 747 freighters from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Malaysia, airport officials posted a notice in several newspapers giving the owners 14 days to pay the parking fees and remove the planes. Otherwise, the airport would dispose of the planes. The freighters have now been claimed by Swift Air Cargo, a Malaysian company.
An Air China Boeing 737 had an engine fire while taxiing at an airport in China. This was reported by pilots of another plane who observed the fire. The firefighters arrived and dutifully covered the plane in foam – the reporting plane, not the one with the fire.
The Airplane of the Week
Can you feel it? There has been an awakening, the Dark and the Light. David’s Journey to the Force Awakens ends this episode with the ship that has been in more movies than any other: the YT-1300 Freighter called the Millennium Falcon. “She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the Galaxy” and has some really cool #AVGeek connections.
An early production model Handley Page Herald in BEA livery demonstrating a single engine fly past – Copyright DestinWorld Publishing
Matt Falcus returns to Across The Pond and discusses his latest book The Handley Page Herald about the two-engined turbo-prop aircraft that proved reliable and useful in service, but failed to capture the volume of orders expected. Airline service lead to a later life as a cargo and freight carrier until it finished service in 1999.
From the Timeline series, Matt is looking for new authors and contributors to grow the series of aircraft, airport and airlines books.
Aviation photographer Paul Filmer wrote in: “What a great British aircraft. In the late 80s early 90s I worked for Channel Express in Guernsey, Channel Islands and flew jumpseat in many flights from Guernsey to Bournemouth and return. We flew boxed cut flowers out and mail and express freight (FedEx, DHL etc) inbound. The cargo capacity was 5 tonnes and it was very popular with the loaders as the large cargo door was low to the ground. I loved my time flying on these pax aircraft turned freighters.”
Paul sent in a photograph of a Page Herald in service, and one of a hand carved model he had custom made recently:
Van’s Aircraft kitplanes, Boeing doesn’t plan to change the Dreamliner for Emirates, NASA is looking for astronauts, the first customer-built SubSonex jet flies, the Pilatus PC-12 business jet also has its first flight, and livestock pass gas.
Dick (“Van”) VanGrunsven is founder and CEO of kitplane maker Van’s Aircraft. Van has been flying since 1956 and has logged more than 15,000+ hours (the majority of it in airplanes of his own design) and holds CFI, multi-engine, and ATP ratings.
We talk with Van about the kitplane business in general and the Van’s Aircraft planes in particular. Van tells us what it is about the character of the planes that makes them so popular with kit builders and with the pilots who fly them. We also touch on personal jets, the decrease in numbers of amateur built planes, and how the availability of used experimental planes contributes to shrinking sales of new kits. Van also talks about getting good flight instruction in experimental aircraft.
Throughout high school and college Van flew a Cub and a Taylorcraft from the 670 foot grass strip on his parent’s farm. After finishing engineering school and a stint in the Air Force, he purchased a homebuilt 65 hp Stits Playboy, which he rebuilt with a 125 hp Lycoming engine, bubble canopy, Hoerner style wingtips, and an all new set of cantilever aluminum wings to replace the strut-braced wood and fabric originals. Renamed the RV-1, the Playboy flew like a new airplane.
Van flew the RV-1 from 1965 through 1968 but he felt something better was possible. He wanted an airplane that was able to fly in and out of any reasonable airstrip, with enough power and maneuverability to do good basic aerobatics, and cruise as fast as possible. He reluctantly sold the RV-1 and began design and construction of a completely original airplane.
The single-seat RV-3 flew for the first time in August 1971. Van quit his job at a forklift manufacturer and began supplying basic kits for the RV-3.
Over the next forty years, Van’s Aircraft became the acknowledged leader in the kit aircraft world. New aircraft, from the RV-4 through the Light Sport RV-12 and now the “widebody” RV-14, have been introduced and each has proven successful in the marketplace. For most of that time, Van was chief engineer, head designer, and CEO of the company.
Mark Newton is an Australian private pilot who started learning to fly in 1999, after a weather diversion as a passenger in a Grumman Traveller light aircraft wound-up as an unexpected overnight stay at a gliding field. Over the years Mark has flown 24 types of gliders, and he holds a glider instructor rating.
Gliders in Australia don’t require pilot licenses, so Mark didn’t start training for his PPL until 2008. He bought a well-built RV-6 in 2011, and enjoys using it for traveling to distant parts of the country, aerobatics, the odd “$100 hamburger,” and installing “RV-grins” on new aviators as part of their first taste of flight, including several who have gone on to gain pilot licenses of their own.
Emirates has said they will decide in 2016 if they will order almost 100 planes, either the Boeing 787-10 or the Airbus for A350-900. Emirates needs long-range planes that can operate in hot climates. Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth says, “The plan is not to change the aircraft, we really like what we have.”
NASA announced that by summer 2017 they will begin recruiting a new astronaut class of 8 to 14 people. This is an item that Yong-Lim Foo should pay attention to, our listener from Singapore. There are some basic requirements: You have to be between 62 and 75 inches tall and have a military, science, or technical background. You could end up on the International Space Station, traveling to the moon, or maybe even going to Mars. For more information, see http://www.nasa.gov/astronauts.
Redge Greenberg, of Durango, Colorado, received the first SubSonex kit (S/N JSX0003) in February and is now the first customer to build and fly the SubSonex Personal Jet. The SubSonex is sold as a Quick Build Kit only. Greenberg has 4,500-plus hours in numerous aircraft and says, “…I never got the chance to fly a jet. I first saw the prototype of the SubSonex at Oshkosh, and followed the development for over a year. When Sonex offered the jet as a kit, I was first in line. Like my RV8, the SubSonex is aerobatic, but the Sonex company also included a ballistic parachute for extra safety.”
Pilatus Aircraft is entering the business jet market with its six-passenger PC-24, which had its first flight in May. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2017, the second half of that year for U.S. deliveries. This will compete with the Cessna Citation business jets.
The Aviation Herald reported that a Singapore Airlines plane with 2,186 sheep onboard diverted to Bali after “exhaust gasses and manure produced by the sheep” caused the smoke detector to go off. The airline says there is no evidence the livestock were responsible.
Pieter visits the Science Museum in London to show what visitors can see from an aviation perspective in the center of London. He gives a quick review of the aviation, aerospace and space exhibits on display and talks about other potential aviation sites to visit in the capital and elsewhere in the UK. The Science Museum is free and has a couple of hours worth of aviation exhibits if you want to slowly browse. If you want to speed around you can do them in less than an hour. However, the reset of the Museum will attract some attention as well and worthy of a whole day if you can spare it. Pieter also suggests making contact with him, if you are visiting and he (and his network) will help point you in the direction of aviation sites to visit in both London as well as the rest of the UK.
The NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System, the European Aviation Safety Agency takes issue with pilot license renewal practices in Germany, medical requirements under the Pilot’s Bill of Rights, ICAO creates a site for aircraft tracking, the consequences for air traffic controllers who make mistakes, and the first woman cleared to fly the F-35A Lightning II.
Guest Linda Connell is Director of the NASA Aviation Safety Reporting System and a Research Psychologist for NASA Ames Research Center. The ASRS collects and acts on voluntarily submitted aviation safety incident/situation reports from pilots, controllers, and others.
Linda has been working at NASA Ames Research Center since 1981, and has participated in a number of studies with domestic and international research teams exploring human factor issues in aviation environments.
A Registered Nurse and member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Linda continues to evaluate proactive aviation safety information on a variety of topics, including pilot/controller voice communication, emergency medical helicopter operations, aviation maintenance, cabin safety, and technology applications in aviation environments.
We talk with Linda about the formation of the ASRS, the process to collect safety data in a way that guarantees immunity, the analysis of the data and how subcontractors are utilized, and the 10 day window. We also discuss the alerts process and how to submit reports.
The European Aviation Safety Agency says license renewal practices for pilots in Germany favor privacy over safety. Noting that Germany has addressed some of the concerns, the EU says others remain. If Germany does not comply with the Commission’s demands, it could be taken to court.
The Pilot’s Bill of Rights introduced earlier this year by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. was designed to waive the third-class medical for private pilots flying light aircraft. Now the bill has changed to include:
An online aeromedical course every two years.
Logbook entries that certify the pilot has seen their personal doctors at least once every four years (and received any needed treatment for medical conditions).
A one-time medical for new pilots and pilots who haven’t had a medical in the last 10 years.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has created a Global Tracking Initiativesweb page to serve as “a repository of documents related to aircraft tracking.” The page presents a timeline of events and documents. Adoption of a 15-minute aircraft tracking Standard is expected at the end of 2015.
KPRC-TV in Houston, Texas reports that “air traffic controllers who have made major errors have been allowed to stay on the job, without loss of rank or pay.” This has occurred at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, and at other airports. KPRC reporter Joel Eisenbaum asked, “So you can make an error that causes a plane to crash and you’re not losing your job?”
The FAA response was, “The FAA has learned through experience that a non-punitive safety culture encourages employees to share information and engage in frank and open discussions about situations that they might otherwise be reluctant to bring to a supervisor’s attention. In cases involving willful neglect or dereliction of duties by an employee, the agency does not hesitate to take the appropriate measures as defined under agency policies and collective bargaining agreements.”
Boeing flew the KC-46A Paine Field in Everett, Washington for a four hour first flight. The KC-46A is based on the Boeing 767 commercial airliner.
Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Grinder” Mau
David attended the Joint Base Andrews’ open house on September 19th 2015, where he interviewed Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Grinder” Mau, Deputy Commander for the Operations Group of the 33rd Fighter Wing. Col. Mau was the first woman cleared to fly the F-35A Lightning II, and one of only 52 women fighter pilots in the USAF. She talks about what it’s like to fly the F-35A, and believing in your dreams.
F-35A and R2D2
Micah gives us some thoughts on the late Alan Purwin.
Brian talks with listener Hendrik in Hamburg, Germany.
Michael sends this photo from his Cirrus SR22T looking over Los Angeles on airway V186 from the Paradise VOR to Van Nuys VOR, September 17, 2015. The light in the top right of the picture is a 777 going into LAX.
Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at brotherloverocks.com.
Conversation with a retired charter pilot and freight dog, UTC agrees to sell Sikorsky to Lockheed Martin, Solar Impulse 2 grounded, a SkyWest high altitude “slow speed event,” new NASA astronauts, Piper woes, fault found with an air traffic controller, and United pays out in bug bounty program.
Kimber C. Turner
Kimber C. Turner is both a retired airline pilot with over 18,000 hours of flight time, and a former radio talk show host. Now he is out of the sky and off of the air. In his retirement, Captain Turner does some voiceover work, and an occasional guest spot on the radio. He also writes a book now and then.
Kimber was a Captain on the Airbus A-300 for the last ten years of his career and a Captain on the Boeing 727 before that. He has written three books so far.
The first is “Crooked Creek Farm” which is a humor book about a city family moving to the farm.
The other two books are aviation-related. “Freight Dog: The Dark Side of Aviation” is an exposé and memoir that covers Kimber’s path to an airline career at DHL, and the company’s missteps and eventual downfall. Kimber flew for DHL for over 24 years.
United Technologies plans to sell Sikorsky to Lockheed Martin for $9 billion in cash. Sikorsky will become part of Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training division, and not a separate entity.
United Technologies is the parent corporation of aerospace companies Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky, Hamilton Sundstrand, and Goodrich, and building and industrial systems companies Otis, Carrier, and Kidde.
The flight across the Pacific was considered to be the riskiest part of the Solar Impulse 2’s journey around the world. And they successfully completed the leg to Hawaii. But there was a problem with the batteries: They overheated on the first day of the trip from Japan to Hawaii. Lacking any means to cool them down, the batteries are ruined. The Solar Impulse 2 will stay in Hawaii until repairs can be made.
The FAA says last April, a SkyWest plane experienced a stall en route from Denver to Oklahoma City. The plane rapidly descended from 39,000 feet to 27,000 feet, then landed without incident at Oklahoma City.
In a statement to ABC News, SkyWest said, “Months ago, one SkyWest CRJ aircraft experienced an isolated slow speed event, which is when an aircraft reaches less than optimal speeds. The aircraft’s slow speed alert systems functioned perfectly, and the crew responded appropriately with a 4,000-foot descent. No stall occurred.”
An ExpressJet Embraer waited 15 seconds before starting his takeoff roll, which allowed a United Airlines jet to fly closer to the runway intersection at Newark Liberty International Airport where the near collision occurred. The NTSB says fault lies solely on the Newark air traffic controller.
Jordan Wiens, owner of the security firm Vector 35, found a remote-code execution flaw in United’s website and won a million miles in the United bug bounty program.
Aircraft of the Week
David tells the story of FRED, which has a familiar ring to it.. Due to cost overruns, some wanted the program cancelled. After several expensive fixes, Congress didn’t want to let the Air Force retire the aircraft.
Well, Grant finally made it away for his vacation….but not to Bali as originally planned. Instead, he and his lovely wife flew halfway across the Pacific to Fiji. Now, of course, you’d think he’d be living it up on the beach and all, but Grant still managed to find his way to a local airport from where he filed a quick report for us.
1948 Cessna 195
DragonFly Luxury Yacht
Look Left Look Right Look Up
Across the Pond
French Navy Rafale – Air Day 2015 Copyright XTPMedia
Pieter reports in from Air Day 2015 where he gets to see the new Mk1 Swordfish in the air as well as the Seafire from the Royal Navy Historic Flight. The show is lit up with lots of great aviation noise, notably from the Avro Vulcan XH558 “The Spirit of Great Britain” making her last season of displays and the RNHF Sea Vixrn. But Pieter’s report leaves us with the sound of the French Navy Rafale doing its solo display after displaying with two Super Etendards.
A symposium celebrating the formation of NACA 100 years ago, an AirAsia Flight 8501 update, slimline seats and passenger comfort, how to deboard quickly, and a Mars rover equipped with a drone.
Dr. Bill Barry is NASA’s sixth Chief Historian. Prior to his appointment in September 2010, Bill served as the NASA European Representative at the United States Embassy in Paris and at NASA Headquarters as a Senior International Programs Specialist and leader of the Russia Team in the Office of External Relations.
Bill is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, he also holds a Masters Degree from Stanford University and a Doctorate from Oxford University. He’s a pilot who holds a commercial, instrument ticket for multi-engine land and glider and is (oddly enough) currently working on his single engine rating.
Divers have retrieved some bodies from a section of fuselage that sits about 100 feet down in the Java Sea. Efforts to raise the fuselage have failed. Reports attribute the difficulty to deflating lifting balloons, snapped ropes around the fuselage, and even breakup of the fuselage.
United Airlines plans to grow capacity by 1.5% to 2.5% across its entire fleet, through a combination of new planes and new seats on old planes. The new seats are slimline seats. Installation on 300 aircraft gives United the equivalent capacity of 14 additional aircraft. Thinner seats mean you can fit more in with the same seat pitch. Or even more rows with slightly less seat pitch.
Airlines try different boarding strategies. Sometimes to minimize total boarding time. Sometimes to support a passenger differentiation strategy. But what about at the other end of the trip? The 2014 study “Structured deplaning via simulation and optimization” showed that deboarding by aisle rather than row could cut time by up to 35%.
These days two things are red hot: Mars rovers and drones. The rovers are accomplishing great science and sending us amazing photographs. Drones seem to be showing up everywhere, and are also creating fantastic images. So what if you had a Mars rover that came with its own drone?
The Australia News Desk
It’s Australia Day and the boys are taking a few minutes out from a BBQ to record a quick OzDesk with mentions of special Australia Day items, including:
The Royal Australian Navy had their new Landing Helicopter Dock HMAS Canberra on Sydney Harbour while Qantas flew an A380 over the harbour.
Meanwhile, in the USA, SQNLDR .Andrew “Jacko” Jackson starts his F35 training on Australia Day.
Finally, Steve gives some information about Positive Train Control after Max asked for his input last week.
NASA’s aeronautical research activities, Boeing and Airbus production rates, an NTSB report on pilots and drugs, and an update on the F-35 engine fire.
Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., (USMC-Ret.) has been the NASA Administrator since July, 2009. During Charlie’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps, he served 14 years in NASA’s Astronaut Office and traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle.
Charlie flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. He has a lengthy and distinguished career serving his country, including receiving the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.
We talk about the role of government in general and NASA in particular when it comes to taking the development risks that industry cannot. Charlie tells us about NASA’s development of software tools for the FAA, including NextGen air traffic management tools.
We also discuss the allocation of funding between aeronautics and space, NASA activities in aircraft propulsion such as increasing efficiency of existing systems, recent biofuel tests, and projects with the Boeing eco-Demonstrator airplanes.
Charlie believes that supersonic transports can be in our future and tells us about NASA activity to address the sonic boom problem.
NASA is actively involved with the FAA and the six UAS test sites as autonomous flight technologies are developed. NASA focuses on sense and avoid and is looking at sUAS air traffic control.
We get an update on the commercialization of space flight, climate change and greenhouse warming, and space technology management.
Boeing and Airbus are looking at boosting the production rates for the 737 and A320 families of airplanes. Orders have poured in and the airframers have years of backlog. Will the supply chain be able to sustain higher rates?
The NTSB looked at more than 6,600 toxicology tests performed on pilots killed in aviation accidents from 1990 through 2012, 96% of which were GA. NTSB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart said, “I think that the key take-away from this study for every pilot is to think twice about the medications you’re taking and how they might affect your flying. Many over-the-counter and prescription drugs have the potential to impair performance, so pilots must be vigilant to ensure that their abilities are in no way compromised before taking to the skies.”
At Eglin AFB on June 23, 2014, F-35 AF-27 experienced a significant engine fire, grounding the fleet. It appears that engine flex caused a “hard rub” of the fan stage stator against the rotor. The friction caused heating, which led to micro-cracks in some blades. Then in normal operation, the cracks grew and the blades eventually failed. Pratt & Whitney is redesigning some components, but the root cause for the engine flex has not yet been identified.
David Vanderhoof’s Airplane of the Week
The Douglas C-74 Globemaster.
With all the recent humanitarian news, the Boeing C-17A is getting a lot of attention. It’s often referred to as a Globemaster, but it’s time to set the record straight and talk about the real Globemaster – the Douglas C-74 and its son the C-124 Globemaster II, making the C-17A the Globemaster III.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson has news of the UK Airports Commission decision to reject London Mayor Boris Johnson’s idea for an Estuary Airport (affectionately known as “Boris Island”). He also looks at Ryanair’s Boeing 737Max order, and some new services from both Finnair and Qatar Airways.
This annual event at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located in Chantilly, Virginia offers not only the Museum’s amazing exhibits, but also about 50 vintage, recreational, and home-built aircraft flown in for one day only. This year, United brought in a Boeing 777 that was open for a tour.
National Transportation Safety Board training center tour
The day before the event at the NASM, the NTSB was kind enough to provide us special access to their training center in Ashburn, Virginia. This marvelous facility is used to train NTSB accident investigators, as well as investigators from other agencies and organizations.
We were given a briefing on the TWA Flight 800 accident investigation, and then toured the aircraft reconstruction, which is used for training with permission of the victim’s families. The depth of the investigation (which took over four years) is amazing and the examining the physical evidence first hand is an experience we will not forget.
None of us came away with any faith in the conspiracy theories that continue to swirl around the accident. All the analysis points to an internal explosion of the fuel vapor in the center tank.
General (ret) John R. “Jack” Dailey
A retired U.S. Marine Corps four-star general and pilot, he’s been the director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum since 2000. We talk with the General about his expectations for the event and stimulating STEM. Also, about the future of the Museum with more people visiting online. The NASM is digitizing their database and is planning for free online accessibility. The Museum also plans to bring in more of the aircraft they have.
Capt. Robert Randazzo
Robert Randazzo flew-in the 1945 ex-Pan American World Airways DC-3 (NC33611) he has restored in full Pan Am livery and named the “Tabatha May.” We also talk a bit about Randazzio’s past experience racing a T-6 at Reno.
Matt Desch is the CEO of Iridium Communications, the world’s largest satellite system. Their new Iridium Go! product is the first satellite WiFi voice and data hotspot that works anywhere on the planet at any altitude. Interestingly, Iridium offers an API so developers can create apps for the device.
Matt is also on the Board of AOPA, and we talk about the organization’s mission, the value of being a member, current aviation issues, and the Rusty Pilots program. New AOPA President Mark Baker has initiated a series of regional fly-ins across the U.S., with very good results. On the topic of the cost to be a private pilot, we chat about renovating older airplanes as an affordable option.
Iridium was kind enough to sponsor the Airplane Geeks at the event.
Bill Barry is Chief Historian with the NASA History Program Office, and we talk about what interests an historian at the NASM and the relationship between NASA and the NASM. The predecessor organization of NASA, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), will have been founded 100 ago next year, and we talk about the many significant contributions they made.
A current B757/767 Captain with United, Tello flew in the B777 on display. But he also owns a Republic Seabee and Rob talks with him about that aircraft. The Seabee was envisioned as a sport plane for pilots returning after the Second World War.
Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at www.brotherloverocks.com.
We’d like to thank the staff and crew at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center for their hard work to make this event a success, and for facilitating the content we bring to you. We’d also like to thank the NTSB for giving us access to their training center, and for their strong dedication to making aviation safer for all of us.