A doctoral dissertation examines success factors for small airports, two bizjets collide at Houston Hobby, an off-duty pilot tries to shut down the engines in-flight, a review of NBAA-BACE, a new FAA administrator gets Congressional approval, and Spirit Airlines halts pilot and FA training.
Dr. Mike Jones researched the factors that affect the economic impact of small airports. In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Florida, he examined the cost to small airports of ill-fitting organizational designs, and what airports can do to improve the situation.
“Jonesy” describes single-function and multi-function airport organizations and how that correlates with airport economic impact. He found that small airports organized under a local government tend to underperform. In his research, Jonesy quantified the economic impact that small airports should generate.
We learn that the most important aeronautical predictor of an airport’s success is the length of the longest runway. The most important non-aeronautical variable is the intensity of economic activity within 15 miles of the airport. Also, a single-function organizational design with a high degree of operational control contributes greatly to airport performance.
For a summary presentation of Mike’s work, see: Measuring the Degree in Which Politicians Degrade the Performance of Small Airports. [PDF]
Jonesy is a feature writer for Cessna Pilots Magazine. He writes about flying adventures, the history of aviation and aviation pioneers, and the technology of aviation. He can often be seen at air shows and fly-in events, collecting interviews for his next feature.
Jonesy served as a U.S. Air Force Lieutenant and was an air traffic controller in Southeast Asia at the end of the Vietnam War. He was chairman of the Pinehurst (NC) Airport Authority for eight years. An active pilot with more than 4,000 hours in the left seat, he’s the proud owner of a Cessna T210 Centurion. He volunteers with Angelflight and has flown more than 800 Young Eagles flights.
A Hawker 850XP departing without ATC clearance clipped a Citation Mustang that was landing at William P. Hobby Airport (KHOU) in Houston. The Mustang tail section was damaged. Despite a damaged left wing, the Hawker returned to the airport after getting airborne. No injuries were reported.
An off-duty Alaska Airlines pilot riding in the jump seat on a Horizon Air Embraer 175 flight attempted to shut down the plane’s engines mid-flight. He was arrested and charged with attempted murder and reckless endangerment. The man didn’t raise suspicions with the plane’s pilots, his neighbors, or those at the flying club where he instructed. His most recent medical exam was in September. However, the pilot told police that he had been depressed for about six months and was having a “nervous breakdown.” Could this result in a ban on jump-seat riders?
The 2023 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE) was held in Las Vegas. Highlights include:
- The debut of the Airbus ACJ Two Twenty
- The Boeing 737-700 BBJ
- The Embraer Phenom 100EX made its global debut
- Updates on Pilatus PC-24
- The HondaJet Echelon
- A Volocopter 2X eVTOL live demonstration
- WIsk Aero showed their 6th Gen aircraft
- VoltAero introduced their Cassio 330 hybrid turboprop concept aircraft.
Also, Kevin Larosa, an air-to-air stunt pilot and aerial co-ordinator showcased his CineJet and explained how air-to-air filming was done in the Top Gun Maverick movie.
On Oct. 24, 2023, the U.S. Senate unanimously voted to approve Michael Whitaker as the new FAA Administrator for a 5-year term. The FAA had gone for 19 months without the position being filled. Whitaker served as deputy FAA administrator from 2013-2016, where he led the FAA’s air traffic modernization program. He was also in charge of the agency’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Office.
The FAA Reauthorization Act of 2023 (S. 1939) was introduced into Congress on June 13, 2023, and is currently in the legislative process. See GovTrack, which is now on Mastodon as @GovTrack@mastodon.social.
Spirit Airlines halts new pilot, flight attendant training after difficult quarter, Pratt engine issue
The airline says it will suspend training for new pilots and flight attendants in November “until further notice.” Demand is soft and dozens of Airbus A320neo aircraft will need to be grounded for inspections due to an engine manufacturing problem. Spirit Airlines posted a third-quarter net loss of $157.6 million. It expects negative margins for the fourth quarter as well.
With the situation in Israel and Gaza showing no signs of easing, the Royal Australian Air Force has been getting involved in repatriation flights for Australian citizens wishing to return home.
Qantas hasn’t had the best of years, especially when it comes to reputational damage, and the latest Roy Morgan Trusted Brands Awards bear this out following a year-long survey. Virgin Australia has now replaced its larger rival as the most trusted airline brand in the land.
Meanwhile, Qantas has found another way to annoy customers (and they likely won’t be the only airline doing it), announcing fare increases of 3.5% for their mainline network, and 3% for Jetstar flights, thanks mainly to the rising cost of fuel.
A local Member of Parliament had a lucky escape when a skydive aircraft he was on board lost power soon after takeoff and returned to Earth with a thud. Everyone walked away, with only two people requiring first aid…which was lucky because this MP just happened to be a former professional firefighter.
And is Australia planning to start its very own Space Force?? Well…probably not, but a recent agreement signed by the US and Australia will unlock the potential for both countries to move ahead with a space launch from Down Under in the near to medium future.
Eric Paterson, Ph.D., Executive Director, Virginia Tech National Security Institute, Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Professor provided additional information about the truss braced wing concept. This concept was developed and explored at Virginia Tech more than 25 years ago. There was a substantial team working on this, including, Dr. Bernard Grossman, Dr. Joseph Schetz, Dr. William Mason, Dr. Rakesh Kapania, Dr. Raphael Haftka, Dr. Frank Gern, Philippe-Andre Tetrault, Joel Grasmeyer, Erwin Sulaeman, Jay Gundlach, and Andy Ko.
- Multidisciplinary Design Optimization of a Truss-Braced Wing Aircraft with Tip-Mounted Engines [PDF]
- Transport Weight Reduction through MDO:The Strut-Braced Wing Transonic Transport [PDF]
- Structural Optimization and Design of a Strut-Braced Wing Aircraft [PDF]
- Nonlinear aeroelastic analysis of sugar truss-braced wing wind tunnel model under in-plane loads
Hosts this Episode
Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.