Tag Archives: Sierra Nevada

799 Doomsday Planes

Korean Air 747s will become the new doomsday planes, the new ATC rest rules have been delayed by the FAA, Breeze flight attendants voted to join the union, a United jumpseat pilot has upset some Southwest pilots, the GA flyover in DC was a success, Boeing employees were found to have falsified 787 Dreamliner inspection records, Airbus hasn’t leveraged an advantage in light of Boeing’s woes, and airlines sue the DOT over a new rule requiring the disclosure of fees.

Aviation News

Former Korean Air 747s Slated To Become USAF Doomsday Planes

Korean Air has confirmed the sale of five of its 747-8s to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), which is building the new Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) aircraft, also referred to as “doomsday planes.” The USAF states: 

The E-4B “Nightwatch” serves as the National Airborne Operations Center and is a component of the National Military Command System for the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command and control centers, the aircraft provides a highly survivable command, control, and communications center to direct U.S. forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions by civil authorities.

SNC acquired five Boeing 747-8s from Korean Air. The current E-4B aircraft are based on the 747-200. SNC specializes in aircraft modification and integration as well as space technologies.

FAA Delaying the Start of ATC Rest Rules

The new FAA ATC rest requirements require controllers to have at least 10 hours off between shifts and 12 hours off before a midnight shift. The rule was to have taken effect by mid-July. However, the FAA has delayed those requirements while it talks to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) union. FAA Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Timothy Arel hopes to reach a joint rest period agreement for the 2025 schedule “or sooner where feasible.”

Flight attendants at this Utah airline just voted ‘overwhelmingly’ to unionize

More than 76% of the roughly 600 Breeze Airways flight attendants voted to join the Association of Flight Attendants. AFA international president Sara Nelson said “We are inspired by their solidarity and thrilled to welcome them to our AFA family. Our labor movement is growing. Everywhere.” See: Breeze Flight Attendants Vote Overwhelmingly to Join the Flight Attendant Union.

“Breeze Flight Attendants organized for a union and a contract due to ongoing issues with constantly-changing work rules, substandard pay for time on the job, inadequate hotel accommodations, insufficient work hours, and inconsistent and disrespectful treatment from management.”

American Airlines is Issuing ‘Poverty Verification Letters’ For New-Hire Flight Attendants Because Their Wages Are So Low

Nearly One in Ten Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants Have Experienced Homelessness in the Past Year and Over a Third Have Been Forced to Use a Food Bank

Poverty verification letters are being sent to some new-hire flight attendants based in expensive areas.

Airline Feud Escalates: United Pilots Barred From Southwest Airlines Jump Seats After Controversial Incident

This stems from an incident where a “relatively new” United pilot reported some “inadequacies” to the FAA after jumpseating on a Southwest flight.

AOPA’s General Aviation Flyover in DC

Video: LIVE DC Flyover – AOPA’s National Celebration of General Aviation

FAA is investigating Boeing for apparent missed inspections on 787 Dreamliner

Boeing voluntarily disclosed to the FAA that some B787 Dreamliner inspections may not have been performed, but were signed off as completed. The inspections are intended to verify adequate bonding and grounding at the wing-fuselage joint.

In a statement to NPR, the FAA said it’s also investigating “whether Boeing completed the inspections and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records.” The agency also said Boeing is re-inspecting “all 787 airplanes still within the production system and must also create a plan to address the in-service fleet.”

Boeing told NPR it “promptly notified the FAA and this is not an immediate safety of flight issue”.

Commercial jet maker Airbus is staying humble even as Boeing flounders. There’s a reason for that

Airbus has over 8,600 orders in backlog and can’t build planes fast enough. There is not much ability of Airbus to take orders from Boeing. (Boeing’s commercial backlog is more than 5,660 planes.)

Major airlines sue Biden administration over fee disclosure rule

The airlines don’t like the new DOT rule requiring upfront disclosure of airline fees. Filing a lawsuit against the DOT are Airlines for America, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. A4A said the new rules would confuse consumers and that its “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.”

Mentioned

Leo J. Kohn Digitization Project and Fundraising – Press Release [PDF]. The digitization and preservation project page where donations are accepted is https://www.wahf.org/kohn/.

Boeing YB-29J, "Pacsuan Dreamboat" on the tarmac.
Leo J. Kohn Photography Collection, #957 – Boeing YB-29J, “Pacsuan Dreamboat”, 44-84061. New York, NY. Photo by Larkins.

Exciting #SpotLAX24 Updates

ANA Star Wars livery
SpotLAX is a must-attend event!

Got $200K & Want To Fly Electric? This Ultralight eVTOL Ships In July & Doesn’t Require A Pilot License

Pivotal Helix eVTOL

Pivotal Helix eVTOL rendering.
Pivotal Helix eVTOL

Hosts this Episode

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

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.