Tag Archives: NTSB

791 U.S. Space Force

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

Guest

Colonel Erin Dick, standing.

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

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

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

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

Seal of the US Space Force

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

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

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

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

Growing the Space Force: Is Outsourcing Operations the Answer?

Space Force reveals official song: ‘Semper Supra’

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See:

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

Masters of the Air on Apple TV.

35th and Final Heli-Expo Sets Record Attendance Mark

Hosts this Episode

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

790 Airline Ticket Price

The components of an airline ticket price, Boeing’s contract negotiations with the International Association of Machinists, the NTSB’s frustration with Boeing’s cooperation, American Airlines’ order of 260 planes, an Alaska Airlines flight with an open cargo door, pilots falling asleep mid-flight, an Alaska Supreme Court ruling on aircraft surveillance, and a “technical event” involving a LATAM flight.

Aviation News

UK Air Passenger Duty Increasing, Premium Cabins Hit Hardest

The passenger tax in the UK is called the Air Passenger Duty (APD) and it is just one part of an airline ticket price. One Mile at a Time calls the APD “the highest passenger tax on air travel anywhere in the world.” As of April 1, 2024, the APD is going up:

  • The domestic economy APD will increase by £0.50, from £6.50 to £7 (~$9)
  • The domestic premium APD will increase by £1, from £13 to £14 (~$18)
  • The long haul economy APD will increase by £4, from £84 to £88 (~$112)
  • The long haul premium APD will increase by £9, from £185 to £194 (~$246)
  • The ultra long haul economy APD will increase by £1, from £91 to £92 (~$117)
  • The ultra long haul premium APD will increase by £2, from £200 to £202 (~$257)

Additional increases are planned for 2025.

An airline ticket price is made up of the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges. Government taxes and fees include an excise tax (a 7.5% tax imposed by the U.S. government on domestic flights), flight segment tax (a $4 fee per flight segment), a passenger facility charge (an airport fee determined by the U.S. airport from which you depart), the September 11 security fee ($5.60 per one-way trip to offset security costs), Air Passenger Duty (APD) (for flights departing from the U.K.), and other country-specific charges.

As watershed contract talks with Boeing open, Machinists think big

International Association of Machinists logo.

Boeing and the International Association of Machinists are negotiating a new labor contract. The union’s District 751 represents more than 32,000 Boeing Machinists. The union says they’ll ask for a wage increase of over 40% over the next three years and the restoration of its traditional pension. Also, a commitment to build the next new Boeing airplane in Seattle, more quality inspectors, more union input into quality control, and a shift in the corporate culture to one that doesn’t alienate employees. IAM president Jon Holden said the union “must stand up and save this company from itself.” A mass meeting and strike authorization vote are scheduled for mid-July. The contract expires on September 12, 2024.

NTSB Chair Not Pleased With Boeing’s Cooperation On Door Plug Probe

Regarding the investigation into the Alaska Airlines door plug incident, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy recently testified at a Senate hearing that “Boeing has not provided us with the documents and information that we have requested numerous times over the past few months.” At the hearing, Homendy complained that Boeing was not cooperating as the NTSB attempted to interview team members.

NTSB Chair: Alaska 1282 investigation is like ‘peeling an onion’

In an exclusive interview with The Air Current, Jennifer Homendy said the NTSB is planning a public investigative hearing into the January 5 accident aboard Alaska Airlines 1282. Homendy told TAC that the hearing will occur towards the end of the summer.

American Airlines to buy 260 new planes from Boeing, Airbus and Embraer to meet growing demand

American Airlines ordered 260 new aircraft and placed options for up to 193 more planes. The orders include 85 Boeing 737 Max 10s, 85 A321neo planes from Airbus, and 90 E175 aircraft from Embraer.

Alaska Airlines flight carrying pets arrives with cargo door open as carrier and Boeing face $1B lawsuit

Alaska Airlines logo

An Alaska Airlines flight from Los Cabos, Mexico arrived at Portland, Oregon with its cargo door partly open. None of the pets in the cargo hold were injured. Alaska Airlines told KOIN in a statement that “there was no indication to the crew that the door was unsealed during [last Friday’s] flight and all indications point to the door partially opening after landing.” Also, “Our maintenance teams inspected the aircraft, replaced a spring in the door, tested the door, and reentered it into service.”

A plane was flying with 159 onboard. Then both pilots fell asleep

A preliminary report by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee says both pilots of a PT Batik Air Indonesia flight fell asleep at about the same time for around 28 minutes. The plane was carrying 153 passengers and four crew members headed to Jakarta on a two-hour and 35-minute flight.

Officers need warrants to use aircraft, zoom lenses to surveil areas around homes, Alaska court says

According to the Alaska Supreme Court, law enforcement officers cannot use aircraft with binoculars or cameras with zoom lenses to surveil a person’s home, unless they obtain a warrant. This stems from a 2012 case where Alaska State Troopers flew past a property to verify a tip that marijuana was being grown there. The officers used a camera and zoom lens to take photos of the property. Based on what they saw, a search warrant was obtained.

At least 50 hurt as LATAM’s Boeing 787 to Auckland ‘just dropped’ mid-flight

A Boeing 787 operated by LATAM Airlines experienced what the airline called a “technical event” mid-flight from Sydney to Auckland. Reportedly, the plane abruptly dropped and at least 50 people were hurt. Ten passengers and three cabin crew members were taken to a hospital. One person is in serious condition. The 787-9 Dreamliner (registered CC-BGG) operated as flight LA800 between Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand.

A passenger told the BBC “The plane, unannounced, just dropped. I mean it dropped unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on any kind of minor turbulence, and people were thrown out of their seats, hit the top of the roof of the plane, throwing down the aisles. Some of the roof panels were broken from people being thrown up and knocking through the plastic roof panels in the aisle ways. And there was blood coming from several people’s heads.”

Mentioned

Understanding The UK Air Passenger Duty (APD)

FlightSimExpo

This new Airbus air taxi has a 50-mile range and is quieter than a hairdryer

XPeng’s AeroHT flexes its eVTOL expertise, taking its X2 flying car to the skies above Guangzhou

Aviation Careers Podcast

Hosts this Episode

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

785 The Boeing Company

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems continue to dominate the news, along with 737 MAX certification, lap babies, the proposed JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger, route growth at United Airlines and Breeze Airways, and the demise of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Also, flight tests for the B-21 Raider and more favorite aviation movies.

Aviation News

Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems builds the 737 fuselage for Boeing. A person familiar with the situation says the door plug was removed by Boeing, and then reinstalled on the 737.

127 Days: The Anatomy of a Boeing Quality Failure

In The Air Current, Jon Ostrower reconstructs the journey of fuselage 8789 from Spirit AeroSytems to Alaska Airlines. It’s an insightful look at the relationship between Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems.

Opposition grows to Boeing 737 MAX 7 safety exemption

Boeing wants an exemption to certify the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10, despite problems with the engine anti-ice system.

Video: United Airlines CEO: Boeing’s 737 Max-9 grounding is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for us

NTSB Urges Parents Not to Fly With Children on Laps After Alaska Incident 

At a recent press conference, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said “We would urge passengers to put their children under two in their own seat, in an FAA-approved car seat, so they are secure and safe in case something like this happens.” Currently, the FAA allows children under the age of two to be held in an adult’s lap.

Boeing CEO to meet with senators scrutinizing 737 MAX 9 blowout

Dave Calhoun has been meeting with U.S. senators to answer their questions about the 737 MAX 9. After meeting with Calhoun, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said he “offered no assurance” that Boeing would withdraw its exemption request for the 737MAX 7 jet. 

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed

JetBlue casts doubt on its merger deal with Spirit Airlines after judge rules against merger

JetBlue Airways has informed Spirit Airlines that the merger agreement might be terminated. JetBlue feels some conditions of the merger agreement can not be met while Spirit says there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement.

United Airlines To Launch First-Ever Route From Washington DC To Alaska

Breeze Airways Adds Three Airports, 11 Routes To Network

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history by becoming the first craft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet. After sustaining rotor blade damage, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the Ingenuity mission had come to an end after  72 flights.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter sitting on the surface of Mars.
This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023, the 871st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

For more information about Ingenuity, see https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Mentioned

Do Electric Aircraft Face Lapse Rate Challenges?

B-21 Raider Flight Testing Now Underway

Hosts this Episode

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

774 Why Flying is Miserable

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

Guest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

Hawker Crew Ignored Instructions from ATC in Houston Bizjet Collision

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

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

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

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

NTSB

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

ASDE X collects data from 

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

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

FAA Naming Panel to Address Pilot Mental Health Issues

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

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

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

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

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

United Airlines tweaks frequent flyer program to reward credit card spending 

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

Australia Desk

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

Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition

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

Rosebank Engineering activates F-35 repair depot

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

The RSAF Commemorates 30 Years of Training in Pearce, Australia

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

Mentioned

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

Video: Stackhat (Australian ad – 1988)

Hosts this Episode

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

766 Air Travelers with Disabilities

The Chief Strategy Officer of a global airline holding company talks about the challenges faced by air travelers with disabilities and how to address them. In the news, the DOT is considering increased passenger compensation for delays, a private company offers luxury terminal services, the outlook for the air traffic controller shortage looks bleak, the NTSB finds that posting to social media was the probable cause of a fatal plane crash, and a small Hawaiian airline plans to add electric ground effect “seagliders” to its fleet.

Guest

Michael Swiatek is the Chief Strategy Officer of ABRA Group, a global airline holding company that owns Avianca, the largest airline in Colombia, and GOL Airlines, which is the largest airline in Brazil.

Mike Swiatek

Mike is on a mission to improve the experience for air travelers with disabilities: making it more affordable, easier, and with better service. Being legally blind, Mike has had unique life experiences that have impacted his outlook and career journey.

Mike describes the four primary disability categories: visual, hearing, mobility, and neurodiversity. He explains how disability pain points were identified by examining the Avianca customer journey map. Such points can be addressed in five possible ways: awareness, training, process change, digital technology, and hardware.

As a blind person, Mike developed several “superpowers” that have benefitted his life, both professionally and otherwise. We learn about those and consider related topics, like how to best interact with people with disabilities.

Mike was formerly the Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Avianca, where he transformed the airline’s positioning through alliances, network expansion, and inclusivity initiatives. He’s held senior roles at a number of other airlines, including IndiGo Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Aviation News

United CEO says higher compensation for delays would make flying less safe

United Airlines holding company CEO Scott Kirby said that a plan being considered by the Transportation Department could cost the industry “a god-awful amount of money.” The DOT is considering increasing payments to passengers for disruptions under airlines’ control, such as for hotels, transportation, meals, and re-booking. Kirby said, “We should never risk changing the safety culture in aviation. I do not want a pilot, I do not want a mechanic, thinking about the extra cost of delay when they’re thinking about a decision.”

For $4,850, You Can Now Bypass TSA Lines at Atlanta’s Airport

Private Suite, or PS as it is now known, operates from private terminals at Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, away from the public terminals at those airports. PS calls its service “a back door to your commercial aircraft, private TSA and Customs clearance, luxury spaces, and white-glove service before and after your flight.” Customers can get private suites with plush furniture, snacks, and beverages. PS offers fast, private TSA screening and chauffeured travel directly to the aircraft door.

Secretary Buttigieg Warns of a Lengthy Air Traffic Control Staffing Shortage

Airline executives raise alarm that air traffic controller shortage will continue disrupting flights for years

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the air traffic controller shortage “…is going to be a journey, especially when you factor in attrition, to get to levels we want to see. I think it’ll be a while before we’re at levels we’d like to see.” Across the U.S., air traffic controller levels are at about 81 percent of the need. That’s about 3,000 controllers short. In the New York market, staffing is only 54 percent of what is needed. Industry executives are looking at this as a 5-year problem.

NTSB Says Snapchat Post Resulted in Fatal Crash

“Distracted piloting” during a low-level pipeline patrol flight was the probable cause of the Cessna 182 striking a radio tower guy wire, killing the pilot.

Electric Seagliders Could Come To Hawaii As Soon As 2026

Mokulele Airlines may add electric REGENT seagliders to its fleet, which fly port-to-port about 60 feet over the water. The airline currently serves residents of Molokai and Lanai. Mokulele’s parent company is Southern Airways, which was acquired by Surf Air Mobility in July 2023. Surf Air is a Los Angeles-based electric air travel company and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Video: REGENT Seaglider Achieves First Flight

Mentioned

The Journey Is The Reward podcast, Episode 41 Stuttering… A Live Show!

Portland pilot who helped guard Maine’s coast honored 80 years after World War II

One Mile in Five: Debunking The Myth and Snopes: Interstate Highways as Airstrips.

Washington State Airport Restaurants [PDF]

Outstanding Aviators

Bradford Camps, Munsungan Lake

Hosts this Episode

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

735 Aircraft Automation

The co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics explains how aircraft automation sets the path to bringing certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. In the news, the first graduating class from United Aviate Academy, the NTSB and BEA comment on the Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau’s final report on the 737 Max crash, pilots working to make their airport safer, the government wants to know if the Southwest meltdown was caused by unrealistic scheduling, and ADS-B Exchange purchase by Jetnet.

Guest

Robert Rose headshot.

Robert Rose is the co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics, a company that seeks to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. Their vision is to leverage aircraft automation to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient, and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and has a distributed global workforce.

Robert explains how incremental safety enhancements can lead to the long-term goal of remotely piloted aircraft. Reliable Robotics is developing a higher precision navigation system, followed by the capability for auto-land without airport infrastructure. From there, an auto-takeoff capability that includes takeoff rejection, and auto-taxi. Altogether, these significantly impact the safety of GA aircraft

Admitting that fully autonomous aircraft are not a near-term possibility, Robert says that aircraft automation takes us down the path to autonomous operation.

He sees certification in three phases:

  1. Certification of a continuous engagement autopilot for the Cessna Caravan.
  2. Certifying the management of contingencies outside the system’s control.
  3. Certifying detect and avoid and the communication system with the pilot in a control center.

Robert’s engineering experience spans aerospace, self-driving cars, robotics, gaming, and consumer products. Prior to co-founding Reliable Robotics, he was the Director of Flight Software at SpaceX where he led the development of the onboard flight software for the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft, resulting in the first commercial mission to the International Space Station. At Tesla, Robert was the Senior Director of Autopilot, Robert brought to market the first consumer automobile with fully unassisted self-driving capability. At X (Google’s skunkworks division), Robert led a team bringing advanced machine perception and manipulation technologies to large vehicles. 

Earlier in his career, he developed three Game of the Year award-winning titles as a Game Engine Programmer at Sony PlayStation. Robert holds a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Computer Engineering, and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oregon State University.

Aviation News

United Airlines celebrates historic first graduating class of Flight Academy Pilots

United Aviate Academy graduated the first 51 student pilots out of what United hopes will be 5,000 by 2030. United is the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school. Nearly 80% of this inaugural graduating class is made up of women or people of color. The airline hopes that at least half of the graduates will be women or people of color. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says only 5.6% of pilots are women and 6% are people of color.

What’s next for the graduates?

  • Some will work as Certified Flight Instructors at the academy and build their hours toward 1,500 required flying hours
  • Others will build hours at participating flight schools or universities, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University and Hampton University.
  • Graduates are encouraged to eventually fly for a United Express carrier, take on leadership roles at an Aviate participating Part 135 operator, or become a Fleet Technical Instructor at United to complete their training.
  • Aviate participants can expect to become a United pilot within about six years of graduating from United Aviate Academy.

NTSB Finds More Problems in Ethiopian 737 Max Final Report

The Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (EAIB) final report focuses on system failures, not the actions (or inactions) of the pilots. The NTSB and BEA believe the failure of the pilots to execute proper procedures was a contributing factor. Comments made by NTSB and BEA to that effect were not included in the EAIB final report. NTSB and BEA have gone on record to express their belief that the final report is deficient in this respect.

Boeing pleads not guilty to fraud in criminal case over deadly 737 Max crashes

Boeing pleaded not guilty to felony fraud in the recent arraignment in federal court. The families asked Judge O’Connor to impose certain conditions on Boeing as a condition of release, including appointing an independent monitor to oversee Boeing’s compliance with the terms of the previous deferred prosecution agreement, and that the company’s compliance efforts “be made public to the fullest extent possible.” Boeing and the Justice Department opposed the request and the judge did not rule on those at the time.

Aspen Pilots Want to Improve Airport Safety Record

The Aspen Airport (KASE) has been regarded as a dangerous airport. The Aspen Times called it “the most dangerous [airport] in the United States.” A number of jet and piston accidents have occurred there, some fatal. In December 2022, the formation of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport FlightOps Safety Task Force was announced. The task force includes a dozen volunteer pilots

Transportation Department looking into whether ‘unrealistic scheduling’ played role in Southwest holiday meltdown

A Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson said, “DOT is in the initial phase of a rigorous and comprehensive investigation into Southwest Airlines’ holiday debacle that stranded millions … [and] probing whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice.”

Southwest Airlines says travel disruptions could cost $800 million

“In a …filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, [Southwest Airlines] estimated pretax losses from the disruption of $725 million to $825 million for the quarter. Of that, it expects to lose $400 million to $425 million in revenue directly from the flight cancellations.”

The Flight Tracker That Powered @ElonJet Just Took a Left Turn

ADS-B Exchange was purchased by Jetnet, which Silversmith Capital Partners own. Some people are expressing outrage and worry that ADS-B Exchange will lose its openness. Founder and president of ADS-B Exchange Dan Streufert was our guest in Episode 692.

Australia News Desk

Auckland floods: International flights resume at Auckland Airport, 600% increase in calls to Air NZ

This week we take a look across the Tasman Sea as New Zealand’s capital, Auckland, was hit with historic levels of flooding, leading to the temporary closure of their International Airport, leaving passengers from all corners of the globe stranded for many hours in the terminal, and saw a number of inbound flights diverted.

Steve’s a little tired after being recertified as an instructor…not for airplanes…but for trains.  We discuss the similarities in approaches to training between rail and aviation, including one of Steve’s more interesting sim sessions.

Train simulation

Saber announces first projects to fly in Australian Astronaut Program

Meanwhile, Grant’s literally over the moon following Saber Astronautics’ plans to send Australian tech to the International Space Station in coming years, including beer in a specially made zero-G bottle.  

Sydney Airport chaos as control tower incident triggers evacuations and grounds flights

Flights were temporarily halted in and out of Sydney Airport this weekend when the control tower had to be evacuated following the smell of gaseous fumes in the ventilation system.

And finally, we pay tribute to local aviation photographer Matt Savage, of Mach One Aeromedia, who passed away recently after a long battle with illness.  Matt was a man who shared our passion for aviation and was a big supporter of our work.  Though he left us way too soon, his skill with the lens will live on as a lasting legacy for all of us to enjoy. 

Plane in flight photograph by Matt Savage.
Image by Matt Savage – 2022

Mentioned

Air Traffic Out Of Control podcast.

AutoGyro USA

Calidus Gyroplane on the tarmac.
2014 Calidus Gyroplane

New aviation museum planned at the Santa Maria Airport ready to take off

Donate here: https://www.pofsantamaria.org/

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, and David Vanderhoof. With contributions by Grant McHerron and Steve Vischer.

727 Air Mobility Solutions

A Michigan technology activation manager explains grants made to companies developing air mobility solutions at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport. We also look at the NTSB preliminary report on the fatal Wings Over Dallas airshow collision, retiring the F-22 Raptor, a Boeing 777X engine issue, the Delta pilot’s “me too” contract clause, and an F-16 destroyed by a pilot.

Gerald R. Ford International Airport
Gerald R. Ford International Airport

Guest

Charlie Tyson

Charlie Tyson is the Technology Activation Manager at the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), in the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification. The MEDC is a public-private partnership between the state and local communities that seeks to accelerate economic development opportunities in the mobility space. Charlie talks to us about grants for air mobility solutions and an air mobility corridor.

Air Mobility Solutions

Recently, the Gerald R. Ford International Airport (GRR) in West Michigan announced the second round of grant funding to test air mobility solutions at the airport. The grants are made possible through the Ford Launchpad for Innovative Technologies and Entrepreneurship (FLITE) program, which provides grants and testing opportunities to companies focused on bringing emerging air travel solutions to market.

Cutting Edge Mobility Technologies Coming to Gerald R. Ford International Airport through State-Industry Collaboration

First-round FLITE recipients (see press release here): 

  • Aurrigo: Leveraging their Auto-Sim® software platform, created a “digital twin” of airport operations to optimize targeted metrics and increase operational efficiency.
  • WHILL: Deployed their autonomous mobility device to increase traveler independence and reduce wait times for wheelchair requests.
  • Sunflower Labs: Deployed their remote autonomous drone-in-a-box security system used to conduct inspections and security monitoring tasks.

Second-round FLITE recipients:

  • Aircraft Data Fusion: Utilizing web-based cloud solutions to provide real-time passenger forecasting.
  • Dataspeed: Revolutionizing aviation operations with the Kinetic360 Autonomous Service Vehicle.
  • EVA: Retooling EVA’s drone infrastructure to provide airport services to revolutionize baggage delivery.
  • Renu Robotics: Revolutionizing aviation facilities’ vegetation management with autonomous lawn mowers.
  • Spotter: Developing innovative sensor technology to help travelers identify open parking spots.

Michigan-Ontario Air Mobility Corridor

The aerial mobility corridor study will test the feasibility of commercial drones and other aerial systems, including cross-border between Michigan and Ontario. The study is exploring whether small drones can be flown beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and be used in operations like just-in-time delivery, medical transport, or other small-scale deployments of UAS. The information gathered from this feasibility study will be used to further decision-making in preparing for the future of advanced air mobility in North America.

A newly formed partnership with Airspace Link, a Detroit-based drone technology start-up, and their partners (including Thales) will develop a feasibility analysis as a first step to establishing the infrastructure required to support a range of commercial and public advanced air mobility use cases.

The Airspace Link team will provide an analysis of existing airspace, air traffic infrastructure, and ground infrastructure required to ensure the operational safety of commercial drone skyways.

Another key partner will be the Michigan Central mobility innovation district in the Corktown neighborhood of Detroit. Their collaboration with key stakeholders from the state and city will help advance this research and innovation to a broader idea of autonomy that goes beyond vehicles on the road, but also the water or sky.

Aviation News

No Altitude Advice Before Dallas Air Show Crash NTSB Says

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary report [PDF, Accident Number: CEN23MA034] on the November 12, 2022 midair collision between a B-17G and a P-63F during the Wings Over Dallas airshow. According to the NTSB report, the fighter planes were told to fly ahead of the bombers, but there were no altitude deconfliction briefings. The NTSB is looking into the sequence of maneuvers that led to the crash and if air shows normally have altitude deconfliction plans.

Why Would America Want to Retire the F-22?

Reasons include the relatively small number of aircraft and the high cost of operation, outdated avionics, and the new fighter being developed in the Next Generation Air Dominance Program.

Boeing 777X Test Flights Suspended Over Engine Issue

The unspecified issue was discovered during a borescope inspection of a high-time GE9X flight test engine. Apparently, there was a temperature alert. GE Aerospace says, “We are reviewing a technical issue that occurred during GE9X post-certification engineering testing, and we are closely coordinating with Boeing on our findings to support their return to flight testing.” 

The Fascinating ‘Me Too’ Clause That Will Guarantee Delta Air Pilots The Best Pay in the Industry

The tentative labor agreement with Delta pilots includes a “me too” clause. This benchmarks the Delta pilot’s contract against American Airlines and United Airlines and guarantees at least one percent higher wages than American and United pay their pilots. If the Delta contract is approved, the pilots would get an immediate 18 percent pay rise, as well as a one-time payment equal to 22 percent of their earnings between 2020 and 2022. Then Delta pilots would receive a 5 percent pay rise after the first year of the contract, followed by 4 percent pay raises in the two years thereafter. Delta Allied Pilots Union (ALPA) members must still vote in favor of the proposed contract.

Fighter pilot who tailed a civilian plane blamed for destroying F-16

In March 2022, an Oklahoma Air National Guard F-16C crashed while on a two-jet homeland defense “aerospace control alert” training mission. A GA plane was used as a practice aircraft however neither the GA plane nor air traffic control was notified about the attempted interception. One of the F-16 pilots experienced a “shudder” after selecting the wrong switch and ejected. According to the investigation, “Flight simulations confirmed … the [aircraft] was still in a flyable state prior to ejection. A noticeable shudder and movement of the aircraft [was] indicative of the flight controls responding properly. … The aircraft was not out of control and could have been recovered.”

Mentioned

Flying in 2022, by Patrick Smith in Ask the Pilot.

Covenant Aviation Security

U.S. again delays deadline for Real IDs, until May 2025

ChatGPT

Hosts this Episode

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

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.

690 Charlie Bolden

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

Guest

Charlie Bolden photo
Charlie Bolden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

Deadly aircraft accidents declined in 2021, Air Force says

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

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

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

FAA proposes changes in autopilot training

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

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

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

You Can Now Learn to Fly at Owls Head Airport

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

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

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott.

645 Woman Aviator

The inspiring story of a legendary woman aviator and member of the “Mercury 13” who was also the first female FAA inspector and the first female investigator for the NTSB. Also, the AerCap/GECAS merger of aircraft leasing companies, the Dassault Falcon 6X first flight, FAA 2021 GA award winners, Buzz Lightyear’s mission with Southwest Airlines, and the serial stowaway.

Guest

Loretta Hall

Loretta Hall captured the memoir of the extraordinary woman aviator, Wally Funk, in Higher, Faster, Longer: My Life in Aviation and My Quest for Spaceflight.

Wally Funk was the first woman civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the 58th woman in the U.S. to earn an Airline Transport Rating (in 1968), the FAA’s first woman operations inspector and Systems Worthiness Analysis Program specialist, and the first woman NTSB accident investigator. She was also one of the “Mercury 13,” hoping to become an astronaut.

Wally Funk

Loretta is a freelance writer and nonfiction book author. She’s a long-time space travel enthusiast and is currently a certified Space Ambassador for the National Space Society. Loretta has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel, one of which is The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List: 100 Space Things to Do Before You Die.

Loretta has been interested in space travel since her teenage years when she followed the early NASA programs: the selection of the Mercury Seven astronauts, the suborbital and orbital missions of Mercury and Gemini, and the Apollo steps toward a moon landing. She has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel. Loretta loves finding ways to participate in space activities without being an astronaut. Her newest book was a cooperative effort to produce the memoir of Wally Funk, an icon in the fields of aviation and spaceflight.

Loretta Hall and Wally Funk

Aviation News

This $30 Billion Deal Could Reshape the Aviation Industry

AerCap Holdings announced that it would acquire the GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) unit of General Electric in a $30 billion deal. This would consolidate the number one and number two commercial aviation financing and leasing companies, measured by the number of aircraft. The resulting business would be the largest customer for Airbus, Boeing, and the engine manufacturers.

Dassault’s Falcon 6X Makes First Flight

Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 6X long-range, ultra-widebody business jet’s first flight was made from the company’s facility at Mérignac, France, near Bordeaux, on March 10, 2021.  The 2.5-hour flight reached FL400 and a speed of 0.8 Mach and was dedicated to Olivier Dassault, who died in a helicopter accident on March 7, 2021.

2021 GA Award Winners Announced by FAA, Committee

The awards for National Flight Instructor, Aviation Technician, and FAASTeam Rep of the Year will be presented at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July. The 2021 awards go to:

  • Ronald Jay Timmermans of Orlando, Florida, Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year
  • Michael Colin Dunkley of Coshocton, Ohio, Aviation Technician of the Year 
  • Adam Timothy Magee of Swisher, Iowa, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

‘To infinity & beyond!’ Southwest Airlines reunites Buzz Lightyear with young passenger who left toy behind

After a young boy left his beloved Buzz Lightyear on a flight, a Southwest employee found it, located the family, and arranged for Buzz to return home.

Women’s History Month: A Look at Impactful Women in Aviation

Women Entrepreneurs in Aviation

These articles highlight just some of the amazing women who have had successful careers in aviation. They include

Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; Joan Higginbotham, who helped build the international space station and operated robotic arm; LeAnn Ridgeway, a Rockwell Collins executive leader (now Collins Aerospace); Susan Mashibe, Tanzania’s first female FAA-certified pilot and mechanic and owner of a private jet handling and hangar services company; Rachel King, the founder and owner of the Precision Approach aircraft washing service; and Steffany Kisling, founder of cabin attendant staffing company SkyAngles and SKYacademy, an online training platform for pilots, cabin attendants and aspiring crew.

Mentioned

#PaxEx Podcast 74: Ready to fly, but has COVID reset expectations?

Max Flight’s Aviation Podcast Directory

Airline Pilot Guy podcast

ABC7 Salutes: Filmmakers complete mission to make documentary honoring WWII heroes

Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission is a hybrid documentary and action film with painstakingly accurate recreations filmed using real planes (at the Palm Springs Air Museum and the March Field Air Museum) and recreated models. It is now available on streaming and cable platforms and on DVD.

The story takes place during the Second World War, the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron was stationed on the Mariana Islands of the South Pacific. Its crews policed flight paths searching for B-29 bombers in jeopardy and downed airmen in need of rescue in the open ocean of this war-torn theatre.

View the trailer: Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission

World’s best airports for customer experience revealed

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