John Croft, Senior Editor at Aviation Week & Space Technology joins us for our 400th episode. We discuss Safety Management Systems (SMS), the IATA 2015 Safety Report, challenges for a safety culture that embraces self-reporting, and flight simulator changes that include models for high-altitude, high-angle of attack regimes.
In the news, we discuss airline profits and complaints (both up), an aircraft leasing company IPO, thoughts on a B-52 engine upgrade, a female aviation pioneer, sonic booms, and PSA Airlines’ pilot hiring strategy.
John Croft is Senior Editor Avionics & Safety, Aviation Week & Space Technology. He’s a part-owner of a 1978 Piper Archer II, a certified flight instructor, instrument instructor, multi-engine rated commercial pilot, and former NASA engineer. He specialized in avionics and control systems for Earth-orbiting satellites, including the Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer and Rossi X-Ray Timing Explorer.
After leaving NASA in 2000, John earned a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Maryland and went on to work for several aerospace publications, including Flight International as Americas Editor before joining Aviation Week in 2012.
In 2015, fuel prices came down 35%, baggage fees amounted to $3.8 billion, and reservation change fees were $3 billion. At the same time, average fares were down 3.8%, yet U.S. passenger airlines enjoyed $25.6 billion in profits in 2015 vs. $7.5 billion in 2014. But formal complaints grew 30%.
Many airlines lease the airplanes they operate, from companies like ILFC, AerCap, GCAS, and BOC Aviation. Singapore-based BOC Aviation Ltd, is owned by the Bank of China, and they are looking at a possible IPO which could raise as much as $1.5 billion.
Boeing B-52 bombers are powered by Pratt & Whitney TF33 engines, 1950’s engine technology. They are loud, smoky, and burn a lot of fuel. There has been talk in the past of replacing each pair of TF33’s with a single new-technology engine, but such a re-engining would be very expensive. Instead, P&W military engines president Bennett Croswell is proposing a TF33 upgrade package that would lower the cost of maintenance.
Emily Hanrahan Warner became the first female airline pilot in the United States, and she’s now been inducted in the Irish American Hall of Fame. On April 10, 1973, Warner became the first woman hired by an American carrier and in 1976, she became America’s first female airline captain.
Under NASA’s Commercial Supersonic Technology (CST) project, Honeywell was awarded a contract in 2015 to overcome supersonic boom issues. Honeywell has developed a predictive display that tell pilots when a sonic boom is developing.
PSA AIrlines Inc. needs to hire 500 new pilots per year. To attract more pilots they will offer a $20,000 retention bonus to active first officers and a $250 monthly allowance for pilots to offset the cost of commuting hotel expenses.
IATA 2015 Safety Report [PDF]
Pilot Error Movie Trailer – A fictional drama film is inspired by the true story of Air France 447.