Tag Archives: Scaled Composites

789 Scaled Composites

We talk with both the President of Scaled Composites and the VP of Flight Operations. In the news, the FAA tells Boeing to make a plan, Boeing looks at re-acquiring SpiritAerosystems, Skyryse takes deposits for a fly-by-wire helicopter, the V-22 Osprey could be returning to flight, airlines scale back pilot hiring, and the JetBlue – Spirit merger is off.

Guests

Peter Siebold and Greg Norris of Scaled Composites standing on the apron.
Peter Siebold and Greg Morris

Greg Morris is the president of Scaled Composites, and Pete Siebold is the VP of Flight Operations. Scaled Composites is the aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan to develop experimental aircraft. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman and located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Scaled focuses on designing and developing concept aircraft that are often unconventional.

Greg and Pete describe the Scaled “secret sauce” and the company culture that keeps employees engaged and operating at their creative best. We hear about the experience of a first flight in a Scaled aircraft and the preparations made before test flights. Also how Scaled helps customers define their requirements and then designs the aircraft technology to meet those requirements. Interestingly, the design for a technology demonstrator can be quite different than the design for manufacturability. The two explain the personal and professional qualities that position an individual for an aviation career such as you might find at a company like Scaled Composites.

Greg Morris

Greg joined Scaled Composites in 2023 from Gauntlet Aerospace where he was President and Chief Test Pilot. He operated a flight school for 7 years and had 10 years of experience in flight test operations, including teaching in the Qualitative Evaluation Program for the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and target and chase support for the 412th Test Wing. Greg is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and serves on the SETP Membership Committee. He is a nationally designated FAA Experimental Examiner and he’s conducted check-rides for a variety of aircraft, both Scaled Composites and others. 

Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the National Test Pilot School.

Peter Siebold

Pete joined Scaled Composites in 1996 as a Design Engineer on the VisionAire Vantage. He worked extensively as a Flight Test Engineer on multiple programs before becoming a Test Pilot for the company. During his time at Scaled, Pete has held multiple leadership positions within engineering and flight operations, including Director of Flight Operations. Pete has flown 4 first flights at Scaled and 11 different Scaled aircraft. He was heavily involved in the development of Scaled’s simulator and avionics capabilities.

Pete obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became a certified flight instructor while attending the university, a rating he retains to this day. He is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with seven Experimental Aircraft Authorizations and two Type Ratings. In 2004, Pete was part of the test team that won the Iven C. Kincheloe award for SpaceShipOne. He was bestowed the honor again in 2009 for his work as Project Pilot for WhiteKnightTwo.

Video: Model 401 Sierra First Flight

Video: Proteus: 25 years of Flight

Find Scaled Composites on Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Aviation News

FAA to Boeing: Develop a plan to fix your quality issues within 90 days

At a meeting in FAA headquarters, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun that Boeing has 90 days to provide an action plan that addresses its “systemic quality-control issues.” After the meeting, Whitaker said, “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

The plan must take into account the findings of the expert review panel report and the results of an FAA production-line audit. It will include the steps necessary to mature Boeing’s Safety Management System and integrate this with the company’s Quality Management System, to “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers.”

Justice Department Looking Into Boeing Blowout

The DOJ is examining whether the door panel incident falls under the government’s 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing after the two fatal 737 Max crashes. If prosecutors determine that Boeing’s handling of the incident violated the 2021 agreement, they could rescind it and bring criminal charges against the company.

Engineering union and Boeing face off in fraught pilot contract dispute

The labor contract is with 23 flight technical and safety pilots in the flight operations group. These pilots don’t routinely fly production aircraft. The flight technical pilots develop pilot training programs and pilot manuals and liaise with airlines on their flight operations. The safety pilots help develop flight deck systems for new aircraft and support the certification process. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA) says its members have “first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems an expert panel reported on…”

Boeing in Talks to Buy Troubled Supplier Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems has had preliminary discussions with Boeing and has hired bankers to explore strategic options. Spirit is also looking at selling its Ireland unit that makes parts for Airbus. Both companies have confirmed they are having merger discussions. The talks might not result in a deal. In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality, and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Skyryse Taking Deposits for Fly-by-wire Turbine Single

Skyryse One is a Robinson R66 helicopter that has been retrofitted with the proprietary SkyOS operating system. This features a single-stick control and two touchscreens. It’s an IFR-capable, aircraft-agnostic, triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. Skyryse is taking refundable, non-transferrable $2,500 deposits.

V-22 Osprey Fleet To Return To Flight After 3-Month Worldwide Grounding

The V-22 Osprey fleet received approval from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a safe and measured return to operations. The Naval Air Systems Command could lift the grounding and allow the services to resume V-22 flight operations. The cause of the crash has been identified, but the reason for the failure has not. The investigation continues.

Southwest Airlines Scales Back Pilot Hiring In 2024

A Southwest memo says, “Based on expected capacity growth beyond 2024, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend Initial First Officer Training classes through the remainder of 2024 and defer job offers, beginning with our April classes.” The airline said pilots with conditional job offers would be placed in a “deferred candidate pool.” Once hiring resumes, those pilots would be called up.

JetBlue, Spirit end $3.8 billion merger agreement after losing antitrust suit

Citing regulatory hurdles, the two airlines ended their merger agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Today’s decision by JetBlue is yet another victory for the Justice Department’s work on behalf of American consumers.”

Mentioned

Making Like Maverick in an L-39 by Rob Mark in JetWhine.

Bob Heil

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Tesla Model S and Model 3 vulnerable to GNSS spoofing attacks

Wheel Bearings podcast.

Hosts this Episode

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

670 Aerial Sports Broadcasting

We talk with the founder of Winged Vision about aerial sports broadcasting. In the news, Emirates intends to fly the A380 for the next two decades, Scaled Composites may have a Loyal Wingman contender, legislation that would eliminate the diversion of the airline ticket security fee, a 2-megawatt electric motor for aircraft propulsion, and an eVTOL company founder plans to be the first passenger on their uncrewed aircraft.

Guest

Aerial sports broadcasting camera on the Helio Courier.
Bob Mikkelson with camera on the Helio Courier.

Bob Mikkelson is the president and founder of Winged Vision, a pioneering leader in aerial sports broadcasting and the largest operator of stabilized aerial camera systems for sports coverage in the country. If you’ve watched professional football, golf, and many other sports events, you’ve probably seen the work of Winged Vision.

The company was the first in the world to stabilize 40x lenses from aerial platforms in the mid-1980s and the first to fly a new generation of ENG-style telephoto lenses in the early 1990s, setting the pattern for today’s aerial camera systems.

Bob is a 2016 Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductee and Emmy Award winner.

Aerial sports broadcasting from the MetLife blimp.
Inside the MetLife blimp.
Flight track over PGA Tournament (courtesy ADSBEXCHANGE)
Flight track over PGA Tournament (courtesy ADSBEXCHANGE)

Aviation News

Emirates Set To Fly The Airbus A380 For The Next 2 Decades

Dubai-based Emirates has three more A380’s to be delivered this year. The airline’s president says the airline will continue to fly the A380 for two decades.

“Emirates will continue to be the largest operator of this spacious and modern aircraft for the next two decades, and we’re committed to ensuring that the Emirates A380 experience remains a customer favorite with ongoing investments to enhance our product and services.”

Sir Tim Clark

New Unmanned Loyal Wingman Design Based On Stealthy “Son Of Ares” Jet Emerges

Under the “Loyal Wingman” concept, networked unmanned aircraft would accompany manned fighter aircraft. The U.S. Air Force has the Skyborg program and the U.K. Royal Air Force has Project Mosquito. A number of companies are developing prototype vehicles and Scaled Composites might have a contender with the Model 437, which is derived from the Model 401 Sierra, which first flew in October 2017.

Scaled Composites Model 401

Ahead of 20th Anniversary of 9/11 Attacks, Senators Markey and Blumenthal Announce Legislation to Bolster Funding for Aviation Security

A $5.60 Security Fee for air travelers was established in 2003 to pay for aviation security. In 2013, Congress began diverting one-third of the revenue generated by this fee to pay for unrelated programs. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) have reintroduced the Funding for Aviation Screeners and Threat Elimination Restoration (FASTER) Act that would end the diversion of the Security Fee.

Wright tests its 2-megawatt electric engines for passenger planes

Startup Wright says they are “developing megawatt-class, altitude-capable electric motors for high-performance altitude and ground-based applications.” The motor has twice the power (2 MW) and specific power (10kW/kg) compared to other electric motors being tested. The company hopes to use ten motors to power Boeing and Airbus-sized planes. See Wright has Begun Testing our 2 MW Aviation-Grade Motor for Transport-Category Zero-Emissions Aircraft.

Wright electric airplane concept.
The Wright concept design.

Kitty Hawk Founder Will Take First Flight in Its Air Taxi

The founder of air-taxi startup Kitty Hawk said he’ll be the first passenger in the company’s prototype. The autonomous Heaviside single-seat drone will likely fly for five minutes at about 1,000 feet above the ground.

Mentioned

Pilots N Paws

Video: Shark US – VLOG 63 – Remora Demonstration

SharkAero USA YouTube channel

San Diego Navy captain makes history as first woman to command a nuclear aircraft carrier

Air Force thinking of new ways to divest from old systems in 2023

Percentage of License Holders that are Women

548 Champaign Aviation Museum

A look at the Champaign Aviation Museum including their restoration work, the volunteers working on the aircraft, and the role of aviation museums. Also, 737 safety cards, the Scaled Composites Model 401, flight attendant trip brokering, Wow Air, and the 2018 Collier Trophy winner. First-hand impressions of the 2019 SUN ‘n FUN Fly-in and Expo as well.

B-17 restoration at the Champagne Aviation Museum.

B-17 restoration at the Champaign Aviation Museum.

Guest

Aimée Brower works public affairs, donor relations, and education at the Champaign Aviation Museum in Urbana, Ohio.

The mission of the museum is “Touching lives by restoring history.” Their guiding principles include honoring our veterans and their families, educating the public about the experiences of past generations that flew in combat, and educating the public about aircraft construction and maintenance techniques. They focus on education and resources of the WWII era, and the museum seeks to restore and maintain aircraft in flying condition for public appreciation.

In fact, the Champaign Aviation Museum strives to build a reputation as a center of excellence for the restoration and maintenance of WWII era aircraft. The museum is located next to Grimes Field Airport (I74) in Urbana, Ohio, just west of Columbus.

In our conversation with Aimée, we look at the history of the museum’s B-17G project, the many volunteers engaged in the restoration, salvaging parts from five different B-17s, fabricating other parts, and adding to the workshop space.

Champaign Aviation Museum

Champaign Aviation Museum

Aviation News

Passengers on Southwest Airlines thought they were flying on a Boeing 737 Max after confusion about their onboard safety cards

Emergency procedures for the 737-800 and the 737 MAX 8 are the same, and both aircraft have the same safety card, and some passengers are confused.

‘Secret’ Airplane Stops At FBO

A Scaled Composites model 401 was spotted at a Bowling Green, Kentucky FBO. It stopped for fuel on its way to NAS Paxutent River from Mojave. See Scaled Composites reveals mysterious new ‘Model 401’ prototype.

Video: The “Son of Ares” – Scaled Composites’ Mysterious Model 401

https://youtu.be/aUi1izOooYk

UAL Warns Flight Attendants Against Illicit Trip Brokering

United Airlines has warned its flight attendants to stop brokering flights that they will work for compensation.

Budget airline Wow Air collapses and cancels all flights, stranding passengers

Wow Air has ceased operations and advises scheduled passengers to seek “rescue fares” from other airlines.

Auto GCAS Team Wins 2018 Collier Trophy

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced the recipient of the 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy. The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) team “successfully complet[ed] a rapid design, integration, and flight test of critical, lifesaving technology for the worldwide F-35 fleet.” Auto GCAS was developed by Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 Joint Program Office, NASA, and the Defense Safety Oversight Council.

Video: Auto-GCAS Saves Unconscious F-16 Pilot—Declassified USAF Footage

David’s List

David’s list of U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps non-transport variants of the C-130:

ABCCC
Combat King
Combat King II
COMBAT SENT
Combat Shadow
Combat Solo
Combat Spear
Combat Talon I
Combat Talon II
Commando II
Commando Solo
Compass Call
Credible Sport
Dragon Spear
GHOSTRIDER
GUNSHIP ii
HARVEST HAWK
HC-130H CROWN Fulton
PAVE PRONTO
PAVE SPECTRE
SKIBIRD
SPECTRE
SPOOKY
STINGER II
SURPRISE PACKAGE
FAT ALBERT

Mentioned

Final Cut: The Post War B-17 Flying Fortress the Survivors

Three Stooges-Head Noises

Credit

Outtro by Bruno Misonne.

474 The 2017 NBAA-BACE Convention

The National Business Aviation Association’s 2017 Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE). Also, Airbus takes a majority position in the CSeries program, the Global Supertanker is firefighting in California, the Scaled Composites experimental Model 401 first flight, and trouble for Kestrel in Wisconsin and Maine.

Guest

Arthur Rosen is a retired Judge, AOPA-ASN (Airport Support Network) for Scottsdale Airport (SDL), and Chairman Emeritus of the Scottsdale Aviation Commission. He served on the Super Bowl Committee for Aviation, he’s past President of the Arizona Soaring Association, and an aviation expert for ABC TV-Phoenix. Arthur blogs at My Opinion: Thoughts and Comments on General Aviation. Follow him on Twitter at @judgearr.

 NBAA-BACE Convention

Arthur, Rob, and Brian all attended NBAA-BACE held Oct. 10–12 in Las Vegas, and we explore their impressions of the event. Brian recorded some of the speakers, and the following are condensed versions:

Opening Remarks from the Keynote: Ed Bolen and Clark County City Commissioner Lawrence Weekly:


Congresswoman Dina Titus, Representative for Nevada’s 1st congressional district:


Michael Huerta – FAA Administrator:


Robert Sumwalt – NTSB Chairman:


Capt Jim Lovell – Retired test pilot and astronaut:


Rob and Brian at NBAA EBACE 2017.

Rob and Brian at NBAA BACE 2017.

Aviation News

Delta Vows Not to Pay U.S. Duties on Bombardier’s C Series

Despite the tariffs recommended by the U.S. Commerce Department, Delta Air Lines says they will not pay import duties on the 75 CSeries aircraft it ordered from Bombardier. Delta CEO Ed Bastian said, “I can’t tell you how this is going to eventually work out. There may be a delay in us taking the aircraft, as we work through the issues with Bombardier, who is being a great partner in this.”

Airbus to buy majority stake in Bombardier CSeries program

Airbus Group is buying a majority stake in Bombardier’s CSeries program. The CSeries headquarters will remain in the Montreal area but a second assembly line for the 100- to 150-seat plane will be set up at Airbus’ facility in Alabama.

Cal File Calls for “The Largest Tool”

The Global SuperTanker is fighting wildfires in California.

Bombardier’s Global 7000 Debuts in Vegas

The fourth of Bombardier’s Global 7000 test aircraft debuted in Las Vegas the NBAA-BACE
Called “The Architect” it is the “largest purpose-built business jet in the industry.”

Scaled Composites Completes First Flight of Secretive Experimental

Scaled Composites conducted the first flight of the experimental Model 401 proof-of-concept airplane. The airplane (N401XP) was designed for a “proprietary customer” and is the first of two commissioned.

Wisconsin suing Kestrel Aircraft over loan debt, stalled financing

Kestrel Aircraft Company evicted from Brunswick Landing

In 2012, the state of Wisconsin gave Kestrel $4 million in state loans and more in tax incentives to build a plant that was to employ 665 people. Kestrel didn’t build the plant and is in default on their loan payments. Meanwhile, Kestrel has been evicted from its facility in Maine for failure to meet its financial obligations.

Airline Story of the Month

Letter: A positive airline experience

One passenger’s Southwest Airlines experience after giving up her seat.

Aviation Story

Our Main(e) man Micah tells a story about seeing the Blue Angels prior to the The Great State of Maine Air Show.

Our Main(e) Man Micah

Our Main(e) Man Micah

Trip Report

Brian’s “big trip” continues with conversations at the Hamburg meetup with listeners Hendrik, Jan, and Christof talking about their flying experiences.

Then Brian talks with listeners Tilman and Matt about GA flying in Europe during the meetup in Berlin.

Tilman, Brian and Matt

Tilman, Brian and Matt

Mentioned

Video: Unbelievable Airbus A380 Hard Crosswind Landing during a storm at Düsseldorf

Video: A fond farewell to the Boeing 747

Credit

Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.